Latona, in Greek legend was the mother of Artemis and Apollo, fathered by Zeus, whose jealous wife Hera made Latona ceaselessly roam the earth.
The Dunkirk Little Ship Latona is a 30ft. single-engine motor boat built by Boats and Cars at Kingston-on--Thames in 1938. She had to change her name to HMS Hamford when she was purchased a year later, to avoid being confused with the 2,600-ton fast mine-layer Latona (later sunk by Italian aircraft off Libya in 1941 and sister to Apollo). She served mainly with the commandos putting them ashore in their endless exercises.
After the war she was sold out and went to the West Country resuming her career as a handy little pleasure cruiser. In the 1950's she was owned by the Chief Test pilot of Gloster Aircraft, W.A. Waterman, who lived aboard her. He disappeared mysteriously leaving the boat to deteriorarate badly.
After this she became a hire boat on the River Avon being renamed Gay Goblin. In 1974 the Skinner family purchased her, initially naming her Senang (the Malay for happiness). They moved her from Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire to the river Thames. They built the new after cabin, and her Gray petrol engine was exchanged for a safer BMC 1.5litre Diesel.
In 1978 her Dunkirk history was discovered and she reverted to her old name of Latona. At the 1980 return to Dunkirk she spent a week in Ramsgate inner harbour outboard of Ryegate II and Matoya. The owner of Ryegate II later owned Matoya and in 1994 bought Latona. Not long after the 1980 Return she went to Plymouth where she cruised until the late 1980?s. She then spent a long time out of the water in Plymouth where her present owner found her in 1994. She returned to Kent by lorry and then underwent a 3?-year rebuild involving new frames, planks, decks and ribs. The wheelhouse was reconstructed and most of her upholstery was replaced. The engine was found to be excellent. She went back into the water in May 1998 and, by special permission of her insurance company, joined the ADLS Commemorative Cruise at Chatham as part of her sea-trials.
Cruised extensively, Latona crossed the Channel and reached Middelburg, Holland, and cruised to The British Kiel Yacht Club which is at the entry to the Baltic. In 1999 she reached Otterndorf on the River Elbe. She has attended the Dunkirk Returns in 2000 and 2005 and Sail 2000 in Amsterdam.
Now back in the UK, and owned by Lynn Fairman, Latona is a fine example of a ship wrights’ craft. The Association is heartened that talented individuals are still prepared to take ownership, renovate and maintain these aging craft.
Source: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11 & 19