30ft motorsailor prepares for 70th anniversary events

Working through a long cold winter in Southern Scotland, Kes Travers, a former Royal Navy submariner, has restored the 30ft motor sailer, Anne, a veteran “little ship of Dunkirk” built in pitch pine and oak by Frank Curtis at Looe in 1925.

His team of shipwrights, gathered from three continents, worked night and day in a workshop at Burnhouses, Berwickshire, before handing her over to a lorry driver for delivery to Ramsgate, just a week before the fleet of forty Dunkirk survivors were due to cross the Channel for the seventieth anniversary of the 1940 evacuation.

A day of commemorations will be held at Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour Marina on Wednesday, May 26, as part of Ramsgate’s Dynamo Day.

 Still leaking water past her new stem post and through various hull seams, she was towed out to sea with all her bilge pumps running for an immediate rendezvous with a Second World War Harvard plane, flying from the old Battle of Britain airfield at Manston.

After a seven minute aerobatic display, the pilot of the Harvard roared over the 85 year old motor sailer with a traditional dipped wing salute.

On board Anne, with his father Leslie Travers, Kes said, “She leaked badly from one particular seam, but she soon started to ‘take up’. We were lucky to finish this job, we had never expected to discover that we had to find and fit a new stem post in midwinter.”

Anne was one of 700 ships sent to Dunkirk to ferry soldiers across the offshore sandbanks towards the bigger rescue ships. She survived the battle, a fall from a crane in Bristol Docks in 1970 and a 20-year back garden refit in the 1980s.

Kes bought her for his Spirit of Dunkirk trust as she lay afloat on the River Weaver in Cheshire, still powered by two 1931 gravity-fed Ailsa Craig petrol engines.