Type: Motor Yacht
Beam: 9ft 8ins
Draft: 3ft 6ins
Displacement: 8.7 tons
Engine: 2 x Perkins 4-236 Diesels
Reginald Yebsley built Wanda at E.F. Elkins' Christchurch boat yard in 1935 for Henry Maxim, the head of a tailoring firm associated in business with Austin Reed. The two men frequently visited the Christchurch yard during the nine months or, so it took to build Wanda. There were at most a dozen men working there and they were more accustomed to building small sailing boats. The motor yacht Wanda was well within their capability as craftsmen but stretched their facilities.
Reg recalls how pleased they were with the boat, a double-ender with a canoe stern into which they installed two Morris Isis engines. Her original owner used her mostly in the Solent and remained on friendly terms with the builder. Whenever the weather forced him to leave Wanda at Cowes or Poole, Reg. was despatched to bring her home. All that is known of Wanda at Dunkirk is that she ferried troops off the beaches during Saturday 1st June 1940. Afterwards, it is believed that she was fitted with a Bofors gun and used on patrol and pilot boat duties in Portland harbour. The Navy let her go in 1946 to a motor engineer at Clacton in Essex and for many years a succession of owners cruised in her around the Medway area. During the 1950?s these included the Finch family who subsequently owned Ryegate II and Matoya, both of them Dunkirk Little Ships.
It is usually men who have love affairs with boats, but in Wanda's case, as Bill Finch recalls, it was his mother who fell in love with her and they bought her on the spot! The boat had not been sailed for years and Bill's first job was "to clear out seven sacks full of empty gin bottles". They heard that the previous owner committed suicide the day after he sold her. Over the next two years, Wanda had a series of mishaps which disillusioned the Finch family, but when they sold her, she again gave pleasure to subsequent owners who have again restored her.
Updated from information supplied for the Spring edition of 'ADLS Fleet News':-
Now in the ownership of an 'ex-Commodore', she has had recent work done on a long-standing leak to the starboard shaft log and cutlass bearings replaced (2016). New radio and chargers have also been fitted. Future projects include the renewal of her rigging and sails.
She is currently kept at Datchet on the Thames.
Wanda is one vessel 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 Op. Dynamo.
Thu, 14/06/2012 - 14:18
Just to add to my brother’s comments – our father, Douglas Scott, bought Wanda in July, 1963. The log shows that the journey back to Weymouth was eventful. The petrol engines continued to cause problems, hence they were replaced by the twin diesel Perkins engines which were affectionately named Frank and Mabel (after our great uncle and great aunt).
Wanda’s home became Weymouth’s backwater and, later, Castle Cove in Portland Harbour. She was involved in the International 12m Class races held in Weymouth, June 1962. I remember being on board and helping with the timing for the World Speed Trials in Portland Harbour in the 1970’s. The RYA had a film of these Time Trials and I believe it featured Wanda. She often had the role of Committee Boat or Rescue Boat for many of Weymouth’s races and regattas.
At the first Dunkirk Reunion in 1965 the wreath was laid from Wanda. On that trip my father was accompanied by Dr Frank Turner, a Major in the RAMC, who had been at the Headquarters of the 5th British Infantry at Dunkirk in 1940. I understand that Dr Turner was interviewed by David Dimbleby in 1965. Dr Turner spoke to me about his memories at Dunkirk; he remembers being in the water and being picked up by a boat which was rowed, before being transferred to the Medway Queen. He felt that it is important to stress that the real value of the Little Ships lay in the FERRYING of the soldiers from the shore to the larger vessels.
My father also took Wanda to London when the Dunkirk Little Ships were there to greet Sir Francis Chichester in 1967.
Every Easter our family were engaged in the complete overhaul of Wanda – on the slip in Weymouth harbour. She made a number of cross-channel trips and in 1969 we had an amazing family holiday taking Wanda up the Seine to Paris.
Dad and all the family had the most wonderful times aboard Wanda – she was much loved – and still is. We are delighted that she is obviously still giving so much pleasure to her current owner – I am arranging to send a number of photos. She looks magnificent and it was so lovely to see Wanda taking part in the Diamond Jubilee Pageant.
Mon, 04/06/2012 - 11:22
My father, Douglas Scott bought Wanda at Walton-on-the-Naze in 1962 when I was 10 years old. He sailed it from there to Weymouth where it was kept until his death in 1977. He installed the two Perkins diesel engines and was always working on the boat to keep it ship-shape. He was very active in his membership of the Dunkirk Little Ships Association and took part in the 25th, 30th and possibly 35th Dunkirk anniversaries. He was totally committed to his love of the boat and together with my five(!) sisters he had a ready crew. Unfortunately, we had to let her go a year after his death. I still have the original clock.
Regards, Ian Douglas Scott.
Fri, 18/05/2012 - 10:30
My father, Gordon Whiting, bought Wanda at Walton-on- Naze in around 1955. His only previous boating experience was a smaller cabin cruiser on the Thames, so moving to a swinging mooring on The Twizzle was a great adventure. For several seasons, Frank and John Halls from the local boatyard would only let us out when the boat was skippered by an old coxswain of the Walton life boat!
We had some great holidays in the Essex/Suffolk rivers and once even ventured as far as Lowestoft.
In the early sixties, my Dad sold Wanda, only to realise what a mistake he had made. She was subsequently followed by the similar Elkins-built Manishi, and later by a 12 ton Hillyard, Doojie. Wanda, though, was his greatest love, and he was tremendously proud of her war service at Dunkirk. If it were at all possible, I would love to know where Wanda is now based as I always look out for her wherever I go! I understand at one time she was in Bristol Dock.
Mon, 21/05/2012 - 00:36
Wanda is still a much loved and travelled vessel. She is presently (May 2012) based on the Thames below Windsor.
Sat, 02/03/2013 - 14:26
AHOY THERE WANDA ! My Grandfather was the Henry Maxim who originally had the boat built. Christchurch, its mooring at the time features a lot in my family. I well remember Elkins Boatyard. But with my father’s boat "Drakes Drum" a generation later.
Is the Thames by Windsor her home mooring or was that just a visit for the Jubilee? I have several siblings who will be very interested in this fascinating story.
Thanks to all who topped up the history (thus far).
Bless her and yourselves. Rupert Maxim.