For once we have a great deal of information about this interesting historical boat. She was built on the Isle of Wight in 1934 by Saunders Roe as the second of two fast tenders for the 178ft Camper and Nicholson motor yacht commissioned by Tommy Sopwith, the aviation pioneer. The mother ship was originally named Vita. His ship to shore vessel Phoenix came with a single Chrysler Crown engine rating 95 hp to give the boat a speed of 18 knots. The second owner, Fred Sigrist an associate of Sopwith renamed Vita as Viva II and she went across the Atlantic to accompany the America's Cup yacht Endeavour, also commissioned by Sopwith. It seems likely that Viva II and her two tenders were requisitioned the Royal Navy. Viva II was sunk in 1941 in the Bristol Channel but the tenders had been removed on requisitioning so they lived on to tell their own tales.
Many years later Phoenix was found abandoned on the Essex marshes in the 1990s. She was professionally restored and her petrol engine replaced with the current Beta engine. A larger cabin, similar to the cabin on an Andrews day launch, was created in lieu of the small day cabin/shelter. Under her current ownership she was comprehensively upgraded by Stanley and Thomas in Windsor at a cost in excess of £40,000 (invoices available to a new owner as part of a very comprehensive file).
The hull was constructed of diagonal mahogany planking overlaid with longitudinal cedar strips which in the first refurbishment were epoxy resin sealed (we have a 2012 survey describing this work). The cabin has two full length berths with lighting inside and out for evenings on board. A Flavel gas hob and grill offers a small galley complemented by a sink with an electric pump to the water supply. The loo is a Porta Potti housed in the aft well which can be closed by the stern canopy as required (also useful for the rain). There is a also a hooped canopy over the bow as well as a full length cover. A full inventory accompanies the boat. The BSS is valid through to 2023.
Phoenix is available for viewing at Beale Park boat store in Lower Basildon by appointment. Please call 01491 578870 for more information.