A snowy day in our marina.  Our dredger waits in the background until the storms and flood tides of winter are over, when she can continue her work restoring the salt marshes beyond.

A new addition arrived from Lowestoft by water.  ‘Eastern Horizon’ A trader 44′ here for winter storage ready for a Spring launch.

‘Pearly Diver’ 45′ DeGroot on the hard waiting her road transport to Lowestoft.

A new boat on the yard she arrived from the South coast by road.  She is an American built, petrol, 38′ fast cruising boat.

‘Sojourn’ a well known local Catamaran 35′ x 17’6″ on the yard for the winter.

‘Blackthorn’ home from a successful barge racing season undergoes winter repairs on the yard.

‘Wakey Wakey’ 33′ x 19′ and ‘Spirit of Europe’ 36′ x 18′ nestle side by side on our quay.

Hardy 27 after her re-prime and antifoul, new shaft bearings and anodes now going afloat.

‘De barra’ a 40′ Degroot shotblasted up to decks all of the hull and bottom, now in black epoxy now awaiting sand down, finish and topcoats.

‘Willsbury’ in primer waiting for top coat to be applied.

‘Willsbry’ a 30′ steel fishing boat arrives from Felixstowe Ferry for shotblasing and epoxy coating.

‘Mist’ adorning our marina with her graceful lines.

‘Windhover’ a Westerly SeaHawk arrives for osmosis treatment (blast, peel and gel coat)

‘Silver Cloud’ pops in for a quick anti-foul and polish.

After a major refit it is launch day for ‘Northumbria’.

A few repairs and a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference.

Our floating pontoons by the quay

Re-fitting a mast to a barge this size takes expertise, patience and precision.

VAHSTI returns from her winter quarters to have her mast stepped and take up in our marina, before heading off to her summer berth.

One of Simper’s fishing smacks has arrived with us for seasonal repairs by her owners.

Glimmering sunrise: where the sky falls into the water creating perfect symmetry.

The beautiful little ‘Eden’ arrives for a quick shot blast and then back to her warm winter quarters at home. We look forward to seeing her again in the Spring.

‘Will Laud’ Aquastar 33 – out for shot blasting and Osmosis treatment.

Roberts 58 – prepare and respray.

VASHTI ‘taking up’ in our marina.  This 37′ Vashti class classic yacht has now gone back to her barn for the winter and further restoration; we welcome her return in the spring.

 Freeman 41 out for stern gear repair and antifoul.

Tam Grundy’s ‘Ben Michael’ out for annual paint and repair.

Ex police launch ‘Northumbria’ arrives for refit – ready to launch Spring 2016.

‘Lisa Life’

‘Barnacle Bill’

65′ Dutch Barge ‘Japi’ arrives by transport for launching and towing to Woodbridge

Life on the yard

January 2018

And so we begin a new year.  It’s been a gloomy month, filled with dank dark days.  Grey clouds and rain have held the light back making the river dull and uninviting.  The wind has blown hard but not full blast.  Squally gusts closed the Orwell Bridge three times and got yard hands scurrying out to secure boats and tarps on the yard, while whistling winds sang, slapping halyards to punctuate the storms.

Nights dominated by large moons, made night time seem brighter than day.  These Phoebe filled nights were accompanied by high tide predictions. Tidal highs and the lows are dominated by forces that scientists still cannot precisely fathom, yet the river men who work on her daily, know her well.  ‘The River… It’s my world, and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing.’ (Kenneth Grahame).  Secretly, the river rises and falls; a reliable element and indicator of passing time on the yard.  This month water has crept steadily up and flooded our quay with no warnings, while at others the media have filled heads of land lubbers with flood alarms – but none came – well a bit of water at times but nothing of note.  Flash flooding seen on other stretches was due to surface water not the salty brine that fills our basin daily.

The arrival of a new barge destined for Bass Dock, Woodbridge has filled our quay and large workshop this month.  After blasting on the quay she was moved inside for epoxy coating, and finishing with gloss on her topsides. With her hull now in gloss black she shines new, awaiting a few warmer days before her decks can be prepared and finished. In the smaller workshop two 20′ launches have completed their restoration and repair work and are ready for their new season’s work.

As the month ends, the yard quietens and thoughts turn to dredging.  Silt delivered by winter tides must be sucked up and used to maintain the saltings opposite.  The unique Deben wildlife rely on this annual task to secure their feeding grounds and each year flock in to check progress and feast on freshly dredged crustations.


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December 2017

‘The North Wind does blow and we shall have snow’ and what does a boat yard do then? “Work as usual”, comes the stalwart reply.  Two extra jumpers, a pair of under trousers and a strong spirit is all that is required by those used to being out in all weathers.

December brought rain and lots of it, followed by cold icy blasts that made their way through your clothing and bit hard at exposed areas.  Eventually, the wind dropped and rain turned into a sprinkling of white stuff making the yard look fresh and new, well for a couple of days, before it turned to slippery ice and muddy puddles. Pontoons covered in ice were ventured upon only by experienced boat owners and river men.  Two of our hardiest customers made their way up the Deben to finally come onto the hard for their winter storage.  They have extended their sailing window to its fullest and have arrived even later than previous years.

The river has been still and calm for many days at a time with spectacular sunrises and sunsets.  Anyone who has witnessed the Deben at dawn has seen something special that will stay with them in their hearts forever. A flash of blue reveals the kingfisher is about but the Oyster Catchers have gone quiet.  Our regular cormorant hangs round for a feed in the basin at low water, while green shank, swans, ducks and geese enjoy the freedom of having the river to themselves.

A launch in our small workshop received new engine beds and floor, blast and a paint.  She shares the space with Simper’s ‘Three Sisters’, a traditional wooden clinker built day boat, one of the last vessels built by Frank Knights. She is having her floors removed, bilges cleaned and repainted as well as engine removal, clean up and replace. Work continues in our large workshop on the quay constructing a steel mooring barge.

Now your Christmas lists are complete, Simon would like you to turn your focus to your pre-launch work list.  If you plan ahead, send it to Simon (or come in to discuss it with him) at this quiet time of year, work can be completed before your launch date. Last minute requests during traditional launching months can lead to disappointment.

We will be closed for the Christmas break from 23rd to 27th December and then again for New Year’s Day.  We wish all our friends and customers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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November 2017

Those trying to get the most out of the season, have finally given up their fight and come in from the cold.  It’s been a busy month for the travel hoist.  Nearly all our customers are here at last for their winter lay up, causing a flurry of activity to get them all ashore at once – just as the neep tides and dark nights reduced working hours.  Such is life on the yard.  Our marina was bulging with these boats waiting for water and light to coincide, but Spring tides quickly returned and we got them all ashore safe and sound.

As part of the spruce up on the yard, the office and workshop have had a face-lift this month and despite many suggestions that they too should become JCB yellow with a black trim, as per all the yard machinery, it finally was dosed in more muted colours on the same theme and was gently washed in Suffolk Cream with grey edgings.

‘De Uil’, a small dutch sailing barge, popped into the workshop for winterisation and repairs.  We cut the side out of starboard quarter, which was showing signs of rot, spliced in a new piece and finished.  Next she had her leeboards removed for sand, varnish and replace. Finally her hull and topsides were repainted.  She is now laid up for winter on the yard.

Our large workshop on the quay now rings with the sound of hammer on steel.  Tam Grundy and his son Ben are building a new mooring barge which we will see out on the Deben in the Spring.

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October 2017

Clear blue skies and sunny spells have kept boats afloat longer this month, extending the season that usually ends in October for most waterborne folk.  We are seeing this year after year – just as the traditional season comes to an end – a month of good weather falls upon us – and this year was no exception.  Lessons were learnt from last year and so our regular customers delayed their lift outs and enjoyed one more month afloat.  That allowed time for clearing and tidying the yard getting ready for lay up season which consists of busy days lifting and storing ashore on every tide.

‘Papillon’ a 60′ widebeam canal barge turned up brand new on a lorry but had to go into the shed for 3 days prior to launch as she had been damaged in transit.  Once repaired and repainted, she was launched and headed off for her new home in Bass’s Dock, Ferry Quay. ‘Hannah Rose’ a Westerley 33 bilge keel arrived be water from further down the Deben, to be lifted out and gel stripped ready for Osmosis work later on in the winter. Buster – A historic Atlantis 27 originally designed to be dropped from aircraft to rescue people in the sea, returned to the yard for her winter quarters.

Simper’s 1950’s wooden dingy ‘Shuffler’ came in for a gentle shot blast inside and out, taking off all the old paint and vanish to restore her to her original wood.  She looked tiny in the crane brothers, which lifted this precious load onto a road trailer so she could head back home for a fresh vanish coat and storing ashore until next season.

A notable moment this month was when Simon (who unashamedly prefers twin diesel engines to a stick and rag set up) was finally persuaded to go sailing on a small 28′ Mirage.  Now he will tell you he hated it – but he was witnessed racing bigger expensive yachts, outstripping their efforts with his earthy style of haul in the sails, fight the weather helm and hold her tight to the wind.  I don’t think that Mirage has been sailed so hard since she was first launched in1978 but she held up and outperformed even Simon’s expectations.

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September 2017

Excitement prevails on the yard this month, as we greet the arrival of a new crane.  The old one, purchased by Mel in 1991 was already an elderly lady from the ’60s, but she has served the yard well over the years and was certainly the stalwart of the yard until the travel hoist arrived in 2000. Nevertheless, it was time for a little modernisation, a move from man handling outriggers to hydraulic legs and a little extra height for lifting longer masts.  The new crane is much smaller and easier to manoeuver round the yard, which seems quite small in the winter when full with boats on the hard.  An added benefit, is a tiny bit more comfort in the cab, a move from plywood to foam and vinyl and the door shuts.

The arrival of the new crane sparked a drive to repaint all the plant equipment on the yard and now anything that isn’t moving has been refreshed in Tonka Toy colours. Even the travel hoist has had a wash and epoxy preparation ready for it’s own fresh coat of JCB yellow with black trimmings.

Another significant event this month was the departure of ‘Ginger Dot’.  Affectionately known as the giant white slug by our river wall walkers, she had sat in our marina for 15 years while her owners raised the funds for her completion.  Finally the day came when she departed to Foxes Marina for the completion of their dream to restore this 1922 classic motor yacht to her former glory.  He place in our berth has already been taken up by a 40′ Degroot and a 41′ steel blue water yacht returning from her travels in the Mediterranean.


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August 2017

It’s the height of the summer, and days of sunshine make work on the yard hot and difficult but on the river creates warmth and perfect sailing weather.

40′ Degroot ‘Ocean Stream’ continued her spuce up in our workshop last month she was shotblasted and prepared for new paintwork.  She has now had a paint job all over including topsides and has returned to her regular berth in our marina.

70ft Dutch Barge ‘Ganges’ came out for grit blast and painting.  Too large to go in our workshop she sat on our quay making her large presence felt for a couple of weeks; she was admired by our many passes by who inquired about her origins. ‘Ganges’ is based at Woodbridge dock and and has been a houseboat for sometime.

It’s been a month for barge work.  As soon as ‘Ganges’ was launched,we took out a 60ft widebeam canal barge on the same tide. She came in for a blast from the decks downwards.  Topsides and hull received five coats of epoxy paint before anti-fouling the hull and finishing the topsides in gloss black. New annodes were fitted and she was launched; she headed back to Martlesham Creek with her new owner.

The end of August brought typical English weather: wind, rain and sunshine – often all in the same day. ‘Lady Cate’ a classic 1970s classic motor boat was lifted out for topside repaint, antifoul, new shaft bearings, new anodes and relaunch but with both workshops full, weather played havoc with this job which had to be completed outside.  It was either too windy, or too hot or too wet to get the job done but eventually everything came together, the job was finished and she returned to her berth in our marina.



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July 2017

It’s a hectic time of year for the yard.  The sun has been scorching and relentless for days at at a time. The river looks picture perfect; moorings are filling up and more often than not white sails and rippling wakes are seen, making the river seem smooth and graceful. However, despite these idyllic images, we have had some strong blows recently and white horses with 2′ waves have been creating challenging conditions particularly past Kyson as the river opens out and the wind gets a chance to whip up on these wider reaches.

Launching and hauling remains the order of the day and keeps the team busy on every tide.  The travel hoist is working flat out as Simon tries to eek the most out of every tide, but as fast as he launches one boat, it feels as if another is waiting to come ashore. It is an endless task but it is the bread and butter of daily yard work.

This month ‘Ocean Stream’ a 45′ De Groot has been in our mobile workshop for grit blast, re-expoxying, preparations and paint job all over. Another ’45 De Groot joined us for shot blasting and painting.  The De Groot is a popular vessel, due to their strong build and lasting qualities; we have had three of these through the yard recently and they have all aged well.

The lovely ‘Elwing’ finished her osmosis treatment in our smaller workshop and is ready for her season’s sailing in East Anglia’s local waters.

Our workshops have been full all month.  If you need repairs or repainting for next season do book in early or arrange for it to be complete at a quieter time.  Both workshops have heaters and most repair and paint jobs can be completed all season round.  A last minute request to prepare a boat for launch at this time of year is likely to lead to disappointment.

Sae Wyfling has been back to see us again.  We launched her again this month so she could take part in Woodbridge Regatta; this lovely half size Saxon long ship has now returned home to continue her preparations for celebrations planned for later this year.



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June 2017

This month Tam Grundy brought ‘Ben Michael’ to the yard for her annual service, shot blast, repairs and paint. A well known working tug she is often seen working the Deben and local waters.

‘Tudo-Bem’ a much admired local 45′ Dragonfly Trimaran, came in for her annual service and repairs. She has been lifted out and washed followed by an antifoul.  She had a new electric windlass fitted for easier anchor lifting and finally her topsides were polished before she was returned to the water to continue her season.

This month heralded the arrival of another well known blue water yacht, a Vagabond 42. ‘Vagrant‘ can often been seen frequenting the Deben and Orwell or heading off to warmer more exotic climes.  This month she came out for a DIY clean up, antifoul and topsides paint.  We are always pleased to support our owners wanting to do their own repairs, all we ask is you arrange with Simon the best time and place to work and always clear up after yourselves.

‘El Toro’ came in for a grit blast.  Following this she was sanded, re-antifouled and painted all over.

‘Tullis‘ ventured up to out top end of the Deben for a quick visit on her way to Aldeburgh.  Although we don’t have regular visitor berths, we can ususually welcome visitors for a short period of time by moving one of our own boats, so do give us a call and we will fit you in if we can.

‘Janthea‘ a 45’ wooden ex Dunkirk Little Ship came in for an engine rebuild in April.  After pausing a while on the Deben she set off for the Thames to take part in the Dunkirk celebrations. Unfortunately, ‘Janthea’ had to make an unscheduled stop at Shotley marina due to leaking from her underside.  Simon went to see her and after inspecting her closely he soon found the source of the problem.  Simon crawling underneath recorked her leaking planks and and put lead tingles on her garboard to stem the leaks.  She was launched the next morning and made it to the Thames with no further concerns.

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‘Blackthorn’ at home on the yard.

Ex police launch ‘Northumbria’ under our all-weather mobile boat cover

Grand Banks 36 Lift out and transport to Wales.

Lady Ella

Live-aboard barge arrives on the quay for shot blasting, epoxy coating, preparation and finish to hull and topsides.

Simper’s ‘Three Sisters’ after refit and refresh.

‘De Uil’ in our small workshop for repairs to hull and lee-boards. Paint topsides and finish.

Simon Skeet making a puller to remove a seized drum off a capstan, in our workshop.

Our small workshop and office in fresh paint.

‘Shuffler’ Simper’s 1952 wooden rowing boat in for a gentle shot blast, looking tiny in the crane brothers, as she is loaded onto her road trailer.

‘Papillon’ 60′ widebeam canal barge on our quay, repairs to paintwork and launch.

70′ widebeam canal barge houseboat from Martlesham Creek out for grit blast and 5 coats of epoxy from decks down. Finish is shiny gloss black. New anodes and relaunch.

‘Ganges’ a houseboat from Woodbridge arrives for a grit blast and epoxy coating, finished in gloss black with black antifouling.  New anodes fitted and relaunch.

Call out to Shotley Point for emergency caulking to garboard on a a classic gentleman’s yacht – one of the little ships.

‘Tudo-Bem’ receives electric polish to hull, fresh antifouling and new electric windlass before returning to her Deben home

‘Vagrant’ a Vagabond 41′ out for shot blast, antifoul, fresh epoxy and repaint topsides

‘Ostara’ classic 38′ yacht launched after winter ashore where she received fresh paint and varnish work

Sae Wyfling arrives to begin preparations for her move to Whisstocks new Sutton Hoo/Maritime ‘Long Shed’.

65′ barge in strops awaiting launch

28′ classic wooden Twister in for repairs and varnish

‘Second Simo’ arrives for gritblast, antifoul and refit.

‘Jubilee Joy‘ Cyril’s fishing boat up from Felixstowe for stern gear repairs.

‘Scooby’ having arrived from Spain, hangs in the strops awaiting her place on the hard.

Simper’s ‘Silver Harvest’ in for engine and gearbox repair.

Another local Deben barge comes out for her annual spruce up.

The combination of sunshine and rain have led to some spectacular rainbows.

It is June and yet we are busier than ever taking boats out! Space on the quay is at a premium.

Woodbridge Houseboat ‘Ganges’ out for a survey.

Dutch barge houseboat comes out for a full survey prior to sale.

‘Clio’ receiving her osmosis treatment.


‘Lady Cate’ having a light sandblast to remove build up of antifouling.

Simon applying final coat of epoxy to a Bruce Roberts 58 yacht.

‘Silver Cloud’ after her refit, polish and varnish work.

Restoring ‘Gladys’

‘Gladys’ a Finesse 28, once the envy of many on The Deben, had lain neglected on a mud berth at the yard for several years. As the seasons came and went, it saddened many to watch her gradual decline; her beauty faded as green algae began to smother her torn covers and water seeped into her decks. With her fenders squashed, her lines loose and a bilge pump increasingly working hard, Simon eventually approached the owner with the words no boat lover likes to hear, “The time has come to save her or let her go”.

Click on the small arrows opposite to scroll through her journey through to complete restoration.