Scilly’s Redwing Fleet Set To Grow

redwings 2Scilly’s growing Redwing fleet is set to get even larger with the arrival of two new boats from the mainland.

Enthusiast Keith Buchanan says the traditional wooden sailing dinghies are due to arrive on the islands today, carried over by another vintage sailing boat, the trading ketch Irene, which sailed in last night.

One of the new craft, the Cherokee, was purchased by Keith after being left on a motorway roundabout, filled with flowers. And the Red Breast has been donated to the islands’ Redwing club by well wishers on the mainland.

Keith says 251 Redwings were built, most in the 50’s and 60’s. But their popularity declined in the 90’s and many were left to decay.

A recent revival has seen 15 of the boats being restored and sailed regularly in Scilly.

James Fletcher, who has been restoring Redwings, has been a great “leading light’ for enthusiasts here says Keith. His boat, the Fantastic, did well in last year’s Round the Island Race.

The boats are very suitable for Scilly, having a very traditional appearance and good handling in rougher seas.

Keith says there are at least another 15 islanders who have expressed an interest in owning one. It’s just a matter of tracking down enough from the mainland.

Keith says restoring the boats as a group during the winter can be very therapeutic, and there are even hopes that in the future, new vessels could be built on the islands, as they were by Sam Ellis in the 50’s.

He has just commissioned a new Redwing, which he’ll call the Shag.

The first Redwing race of the season will be on the 12th May, as part of the Old Gaffers’ Association Maritime Gathering.