Built in Cowes by the venerable J.S. White in 1925 as an RNLI lifeboat, Mary Scott has had a long and distinguished career. However for the past few years which one might name 'her retirement' she has been loved and cared for by her current owner who has lived on her for extended periods including long passages to Europe under sail and motor.
But back to her origins and her WWII history: by the time she was requisitioned as a Dunkirk Little Ship she was already 15 and went there behind the paddle steamer Empress of India which towed Mary Scott and two other smaller boats. Between them they returned 160 men to the mother ship and after landing a first time at Dover they made a second journey with 50 men aboard who were carried in safety to another transport vessel. When calamity struck and her motor gave up Mary Scott was beached and abandoned at La Panne. Happily she returned in 2010 and 2015 for the return of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships with all pistons functioning. Her commander Sub lieutenant Stephen Dickenson (a former inspecctor of lifeboats for the RNLI) came back to base with the crew on board the Louise Stephens, the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat.
Fortunately Mary Scott was later refloated and brought back to England where, during her last twenty eight years in the service from Southwold, she was launched thirty times and saved forty seven lives. Finally in 1940 the station closed but Mary Scott continued to serve in fifty two more rescues as part of the RNLI relief fleet.
Sold out of the service in 1953 she was renamed Atanua and converted six years later to a private vessel by a jewellery manufacturer. She was then purchased by William Long who kept her for a decade at Gillingham Pier on the tidal Thames. He used her extensively travelling to the south of France and to the Channel islands on fishing and diving expeditions.
Her present owner has also enjoyed owning her for a decade or more. In 2020 he took her back to Southwold where the reception was warm not to say emotional.
The 'Mary Scott' was named after her benefactor and replaced the Alfred Corry, which is proudly on display at the harbour's museum.
Frank Upcraft's grandfather was the original Coxswain of the lifeboat, winning gallantry medals onboard, and his father was one of the crew who sailed her to Ramsgate for the navy to take her into Dunkirk.
When I first saw it I was nearly in tears and so were my friends whose fathers were on it as well. Eighty years since it last showed its head in this harbour, so you can understand the surprise of everybody. We knew she existed out there somewhere, we just didn't know where.'
She has the benefit of a long keel, a ketch rig, a forward cabin with two berths, Master cabin, heads, a separate shower, a wheelhouse (not in the original design) with 1 berth and additional 2 berths in the saloon.
In 1953 when she was taken out of service her gunwales were raised and she was ketch rigged as a motor yacht. Over the past 14 years she has travelled 6000 miles with her current owner, along the south coast, east coast, Cornwall, crossing the channel to cruise the canals of France, Belgium and the Netherlands for six months. Every three years she is treated to a spell in dry dock to keep abreast of maintenance. Her vendor is looking for a caring owner who will appreciate her long history and love her as he has done 'heart and soul'.
Inventory available and viewing by appointment in Kent. June 2023 survey available