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Type: Gaff Cutter
Beam: 9ft 10ins
Displacement: 6.8 tons
Engine: 6hp Stuart Turner
Builder: R Saunders, Folkstone
The advertisement in 'The Yachtsman' of 14th October 1897, three years before she was commissioned, did not overstate the virtues of Cachalot. Locals say that she is the only sailing yacht ever to be built in Folkestone. It was not until 1936 that she first had a small Stuart Turner 6 hp auxiliary engine, so she almost certainly crossed the Channel to Dunkirk under sail.
She is a fine old gaffer, cutter-rigged with a long counter and bowsprit. Her owner in 1936 was Sir Lancelot Elphinstone, a cousin of the Queen who, by a strange coincidence, was taken prisoner at Dunkirk while his former yacht cruised off the beaches taking off survivors.
If you're interested to find out more about Cachalot, please visit her website where you'll find information about her history and our present restoration project.
Her skipper at Dunkirk was a civilian called Spurling. After the war she was variously owned by two stockbrokers, a parson and a Brigadier and cruised extensively round Britain, the Baltic, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean with many fast passages to her credit. But, as the years went on, she fell on hard times and successive owners, in the name of modernisation, removed first her beautiful interior teak panelling, then her brass cabin lamps, copper running lights and unique square compass of which the only other example can be seen in the Science Museum. But, as often happens with boats, she has once more struck lucky in her present owners, Ian and Jen Kiloh, who are painstakingly re-fitting her as closely as they can to her original, beautiful state.
This vessel is one featured individually on a series of stamps called 'Little Ships of Dunkirk'. These were issued in Palau in 2015 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Operation Dynamo.