ID TXA00340 Article from Mersea Museum
|Title||Yacht ENDEAVOUR missing in Atlantic with several local people on board.|
|Abstract||An object in Mersea Museum leads us into a long story, involving local fishermen, the big racing yachts from before World War 2, the America's Cup and adventures in the Atlantic. The object is a piece of manilla rope, about 1 foot long and 8.5 inches [21.5cm] circumference. The rope was being used to tow the yacht ENDEAVOUR across the Atlantic Ocean in 1937...
Many local fishermen used to spend the summers crewing the big racing yachts before WW2, returning to the fishing for the winter.
ENDEAVOUR I had been replaced by ENDEAVOUR II as the America's Cup challenger in 1937, but ENDEAVOUR I was sent across the Atlantic for tuning-up races with ENDEAVOUR II.
She was captained by Edward Heard from Tollesbury and had several other local crew members, including Jim Mussett from West Mersea. ENDEAVOUR I was towed across the Atlantic by motor yacht VIVI II. Off the east coast of America, sailing into a gale, ENDEAVOUR I had to slip the tow rope and sail in. However, this was just a precursor to the trip home.
After the America's Cup series, where ENDEAVOUR II lost to the American RANGER, ENDEAVOUR I was once more towed back to England by VIVA II. This time, the tow rope broke only 200 miles off the American east coast and ENDEAVOUR I had a rather longer sail. There was much concern in England as ENDEAVOUR I's wireless was broken and nothing was heard from her until she was sighted approaching the English Channel.
ENDEAVOUR I had been owned by Thomas Sopwith and had been the 1934 challenger for the America's Cup.
The 1st Mate on ENDEAVOUR I on the 1937 trip was John Gempton from Brixham in Devon. His original log book of the voyage is in Brixham Museum archives [from granddaughter Linda Gempton].
The America's Cup dates from a race round the Isle of Wight by the American schooner AMERICA in 1851. Her owners had challenged British yacht owners to a race and on 22nd August 1851 she competed with 15 British yachts. AMERICA won convincingly. The boat was sold but the America's Cup Trophy was taken back to America. 1870 saw the first challenge from Britain --- one of the rules being that the races had to take place at a place nominated by the defender (the East Coast of America) and the challenger had to sail to the races. Hence the need to take the ENDEAVOURs across the Atlantic --- which lead to our broken towrope.
It took until 1983 before the Cup was wrested from the Americans by AUSTRALIA II in Fremantle. Since then the Cup has travelled more --- back to America and then to New Zealand and until very recently, Switzerland. In February 2010 the latest series of races took place in Valencia, Spain between the defending Swiss Alinghi team and the challenging American BMW Oracle team of the Golden Gate Yacht Club. In the best of three series, the American challenger won the first two races and so the Cup has returned to America.
|Published||20 January 2010
|Title:|| The blue hulled ENDEAVOUR, K4, and the green hulled ASTRA, K2, prepare for the start at Southend on Sea regatta in 1934. Both have a single reef in the mainsail as the fresh wind will harden when they race seawards into the more open waters of the estuary of the Thames. An excursion paddle steamer lies alongside the pier end embarking trippers for a day's outing, enhanced by the excitement of the big class and the 12 Metre classes racing from Southend, then an annual visit as part of the larger racing yacht programme around the coast to the many regattas and other fixtures from Harwich in the east to Fowey in the west. Until the 1920s the racing fleet extended their racing on to the west coast as far as the Clyde and taking in Irish and Welsh venues.
The steel hulled ENDEAVOUR, owned by Thomas Sopwith, was designed and built by Camper and Nicholson Ltd. at Gosport that year and had a professional crew of 21 drawn from Colne villages, from the Solent area and the west country, under Captain Williams from Hamble, Hampshire. She was to challenge for the Amerca's Cup that September against the RAINBOW and despite dissatisfaction amongst some of her crew which led to their replacement at short notice by amateurs, the ENDEAVOUR came close to winning the disputed cup and was thought by many, including her owner and crew, to have the moral victory in a contest marred by dispute over the handling of her rival RAINBOW.
The ENDEAVOUR was the third British yacth built to the J Class rating rule, adopted by Britain in 1929 to bring equality to competition between British and American large racers. The ASTRA was built under the older International Yacht Racing Union rules and was smaller, rating at 23.2 Metres.
Here the ENDEAVOUR is setting a double-clewed jib, a sail she was supposed not to use until she raced the RAINBOW at Newport, Rhode Island. But enthusiasm of the owner and his friends overcame caution and when she arrived in America her rival had hastily made a similar sail and advantage was lost. [JL]
ENDEAVOUR was built Camper & Nicholsons, Gosport, 1934, for T.O.M. Sopwith, C.B.E. Official No. 162801. "J" Class sail number K4. [Lloyds Yacht Register 1935]
Plate.39 in SWW.
|Source:||John Leather Collection / Douglas Went|
|Title:|| The crew of ENDEAVOUR I, trial horse for the 1937 Amerca's Cup. |
Names that are known are: 1. Jim Mussett, 2. Neville Gurton, 3. Jack Gempton (Mate), 4. Will Lewis, 5. Captain Ned Heard, 6. Cyril Coates, 7. Horace 'Shrimp' Chatterson, 8. Ed Heard. 9. Charlie 'Jumbo' Randall from Hythe, Southampton, 10. Waller Pengelly, 11. Jack Sargent, 12. Leonard Pengelly, 13. thought to be Joe Uglow 14. Dan Mutton (Port Isaac) Bosun, 15. Jim Stubbins (Tollesbury) hand.
Another possible name is L. Wilkinson. Jack Gempton was known as Jack but was actually Samuel John Gempton [Linda Gempton].
Names 10. to 13. are all from Looe in Cornwall. These names are from Barry Jolliff - Waller Pengelly's grandson.
See IA004420 for picture with numbers superimposed and more names.
|Source:||Mersea Museum / David Mussett Collection|
|Title:|| Jim Mussett on ENDEAVOUR Oct 1937 on day arrived Gosport with Gordon Potter mate of 12 metre LITTLE ASTRA. |
|Source:||Mersea Museum / Jim Mussett Collection|
|Title:|| A piece of ENDEAVOUR's tow rope which was severed on the night of 13th September 1937 at about 11 o'clock at night in the Atlantic, 250 miles off Nantucket on the east coast of America, with wind speeds of 105 mph.
The J. Class yacht was being towed back to England by the Motor yacht VIVA II, after a summer's racing for the America's Cup in American waters. The section of rope was cut off a few feet from where it broke.
Nothing was heard or seen of ENDEAVOUR after the tow broke, until she was sighted by the tanker CHEYENNE at the approaches to the English Channel 20 days later. Having lost the tow, the ENDEAVOUR had raised sail and crossed the Atlantic under jury rig.
The Captain of the ENDEAVOUR was Edward Heard of Tollesbury and there were several other local members of her crew from Tollesbury, along with Jim Mussett from West Mersea.
The rope is 8.5 inches (21.5 cm) circumference.
Donated by Mr Jim Mussett who was a member of her crew.
|Date:||3 November 2009|
|Source:||Mersea Museum / Tony Millatt Collection|
This item is part of the Mersea Island Museum Collection. The information is accurate as far as is known, but the Museum does not accept responsibility for errors.