Dunkirk Little Ship , Officially known as RFC 113, made by the British Power Boat Company, found unrecognisable in a field in 2012
BOAT NAME: RFC 113 / MAKAIRA
BOAT TYPE: Express Cruiser
BOAT LENGTH: 47ft 6ins
BOAT BEAM: 9ft 6ins
BOAT DRAFT: 4ft 6ins
BOAT DISPLACEMENT: 24Tons TM
BOAT CONSTRUCTION: Carvel Pitch Pine on Oak
BOAT BUILDER: The British Powers Boats Company
BOAT YEAR: 1938
Makaira/ RFC 113 was found in a field in 2012, unrecognisable from her original 19030s streamline sporty design. Only identifiable by her hull number carved into her beams. Transported to our yard soon after , work did not commence until 2020, a huge amount of research was undertaken by her owner to ensure this historic wartime hero was sympathetically and traditionally restored down to the very fine details
The story behind 113's reinvention, design, inspiration, research and build process.
From stripping out through to installation and conception, See below for Makaira A Year in the Making, a restoration that caught the eye of 'Classic Boat Magazine and entered into the prestigious Classic Boat Awards 2021
AWARD WINNING RESTORATION
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Makaira or RFC 113 or even 113RFC, like many traditional boats, come under many pseudonyms, is certainly strikingly different from the average traditional 'Gentleman Motor Yacht' of her era, at 47feet 6inches built-in 1938 by 'The British Power Boat Company'. The 'Express Cruiser', terminology EXPRESS and POWER are words which are identifiable with the ideology behind Makaira original conception, was commissioned by Mr John Heron Storey with speed and style in mind. Her original Twin Screw, 2 x 1 00hp Power-Meadows petrol engines driving the shafts through standard Power V-drives gave her a comfortable cruising speed of 18 knots and a top speed of 24. Launched in June 1938 she was the only one of her type ever built.
This sporty powerboat is steeped in history, following the request for ships from the Admiralty in 1940, Mr Storey gave "113RFC" to the Admiralty and she was sent for use as a Crash Boat/ Air-Sea Rescue Boat based at St Helier, Jersey and from there was ordered to Dunkirk arriving in Ramsgate for duty on 31st May 1940. Following Dunkirk, the Admiralty kept 113 and she was involved in the evacuation of North West France on the 17th and 18th June and was the absolute last vessel to leave St Malo as the German forces were entering the town.
She continued to be used throughout the war and even after it had ended the admiralty continued to use 113 for missions until 1947 when she was returned to John Heron Storey - to this day no one knows exactly what the admiralty wanted with her during that period
A YEAR IN THE MAKING
2019 I 2020
Fast forward to modern day and Makaira found her way to Dennett Boatyard on the Thames at Chertsey, after a succession of owners and some not very tasteful modification she became the property of Jon Blair in 2012 and it was only in this year she was confirmed as the same 113 that had this colourful military history. What a find!
Jon, fascinated by his ships past, had a vision to return her to her original good looks and has spent most of the decade researching and obtaining memorabilia and detailed information before undertaking the significant renovation work needed to restore her to her former glory. Jon and Stephen Dennett have gone to the greatest lengths to properly and accurately restore 113.
The restoration focused on speed and style, even those of us with only a moderate interest in things mechanical will be drawn to the twin 375hp V8 Yanmars, chosen for their unusual gearboxes. The forward-facing gearbox configuration means that the shaft runs beneath the engine and slots in forward of the block as per the original design of the engineering in 1938. Notably, the difference being the extra 275hp per engine, why such power needed? After extensive research by Jon, the original hull specification expected 113 to reach speeds of 30knots, she however fell short of this by 6knots this is thought to be because she was under engined.
Such an extensive upgrade in hp, concerned Stephen, it is all very well packing sophisticated engineering into this old lady, but whilst her hull is in sound condition, with all her original mahogany planks, she is after all over 80 years old, adding to Stephens concerns, she had many cracked and in places rotten frames. It was decided that due to this increase of power and the condition of the internal framework, that it should all be replaced and not only that but strengthened as well, with a unique latticework construction mimicking the original design of the engine beds.
It was important to stay true to 113’s original lines, after all this is a speed boat, the high rise cabin which was added on sometime post-war were removed leaving Stephen to recreate the sleek low linear cabins. Working from the few pictures provided by Jon, the new mahogany, as per original, fit seamlessly on 113’s original hull, on top of a newly laid mahogany deck, to the untrained eye it's hard to tell that they have not always been there.
The deep mahogany panelling is highlighted with chromed period fittings, the tan rooftops and glossy black hull complete 113’s vintage appearance
This has been an epic project unlike any other we have seen in the yard, it fills us with great pride that she has was nominated for the prestigious Classic Boat Awards 2021, a true wartime hero traditional restored back to her roots