Type: Motor Yacht
Beam: 10ft 6ins
Draft: 3ft 6ins
Displacement: 8 tons
Engine: 2 x BMC 1.8L Diesels
Builder: D. Hillyard, Southampton
A gentleman of independent means, E.P. Lewns, designed Iorana himself and had her built under his own supervision by David Hillyard at Littlehampton, Sussex, in 1936. Iorana is the Tahitian word for 'welcome', 'hello', 'hail' or 'good-day,' as used by the natives of that Pacific island.
Each summer before the War, Lewns cruised in Iorana down to Fowey in Cornwall and on to Falmouth and the Helford River. He used her to fish for tunny off Cornwall and tope - small shark of around 6ft, weighing 45-50lbs - from Bournemouth, in Hampshire.
In 1940, The Royal Navy collected Mr. Lewns' boat for Dunkirk from Littlehampton. She was not compulsorily acquired until 1942. When Mr. Lewns was offered her back by the Ministry of War Transport in 1948, he turned her down, because he then wanted a larger boat.
Fred J. Watts, yacht and boat builder of Parham boat-yard Gosport, bought her, together with a number of other vessels which had been requisitioned by the Admiralty for the duration of the war. She was at his yard in 1949 when engineer Donald Berry found her "very tatty but sound and unaltered from the original design". The engines had been completely dismantled and packed into boxes and the rudder was missing. But the job just suited him. Having bought Iorana, he rebuilt the original engines and had twin semi-balanced rudders cast in admiralty bronze. She had a small wheelhouse and was open at the stern, with light hatch covers across the open cockpit.
In about 1954, the Brooke engines went in favour of a handed pair of Vosper V8s which, at full power, gave 17 knots on the measured mile off Lee-on-Solent. Mr. Berry built a larger enclosed wheelhouse and aft cabin for what was essentially a family boat. He kept her until 1963 at Gosport. From there he enjoyed cruising the Solent and along the south coast of England. When he sold Iorana, she became a houseboat, by the mill stream at Windsor, where her owners lived on her for four years. Percy Beaumont, the ADLS Commodore from 1979 to 1981, and Iorana's fourth owner, has kept her on the Thames at Staines ever since.
Iorana 25th anniversary 1965
I was 'crew' on Iorana for the 25th anniversary cruise to of Dunkirk in 1965. The crew were her 2 owners, my friend and myself. She was berthed at Eton and was effectively a house boat. Two details stick in my mind. Firstly, one of the engines packed up at some point which meant we became one of the slower boats towards the rear of the flotilla and, secondly, getting lost in Dunkirk harbour. If anyone is interested I have some photos which I could dig out.
Fast forward to 2015: Iorana remains at Staines and I have cruised past on my current boat on a number of occasions but, unfortunately, I have never seen anybody to chat to. She has been spruced up and is now looking pretty smart.
Iorana in the 60’s
My father, a serving officer in the RAF, proudly owned Iorana during the early to mid 60s. We brought her round from the south coast, possibly Littlehampton, to be moored at Taggs Island on the Thames near Hampton Court. We were very puzzled not to get a mention in the Book "Little Ships of Dunkirk", even though in the index Taggs is referred to as being on her page. For a very few weeks we lived on her between houses, but we never used her as a houseboat. That would have been most undignified for such a grand vessel.
We adored her, but a posting abroad made it impossible to keep her, and she was sold through, I think Toughs Boatyard further downstream from Hampton Court. I may be wrong, but I think that is correct.