Type: Auxiliary Ketch
Beam: 13ft 1in
Displacement: 30.51 tons
Engine: 2 x Gardner 4LK Diesels
Construction: Carvel teak
Builder: Thornycroft, Hampton-on-Thames
Skylark was built by John I Thornycroft at Hampton-on-Thames in 1922 for D. Melville Wills of Bristol and the Kyle of Lochalsh, to cruise between his two estates.
After he sold her in 1926, Bristol remained her home port until the war and 1939 found her on the Thames to be laid up.
She was commandeered by the Ministry of War Transport. She took part in 'Operation Dynamo' to rescue our troops from Dunkirk with Sub.-Lt. M.J.R. Yeatman in command. She was hit by enemy fire and the steering was damaged and, after being abandoned, was found drifting off Dunkirk and towed back by 'Southern Queen' under the command of Basil de Matos, together with the Eastbourne Lifeboat, Jane Holland.
She remained in government service, first on harbour patrol and later pilotage duties until 1947 when she returned to cruising the coasts of SW England and Wales and her name was changed to Tahilla.
In 1957 she went to the Mediterranean and cruised there extensively for ten years when she was laid up in Menton and became very run down. The present owners bought her in 1969 and commenced restoration work which has continued up to the present.
She returned to the U.K in 1980 and is based on the Hamble River from where she cruises the South coast of England and the North European ports.
The engines are not original, those were Thornycroft petrol/paraffin motors but in 1966 two Gardner 4LK engines were installed, one built in 1928, the other in 1932 and there are no plans to replace them.