West Mersea fishing smacks coming into port on a squally day. [DW]
The GEORGE & ALICE 76CK leads five other West Mersea and Tollesbury dredging smacks down the River Blackwater in a breeze needing two reefs in the mainsail and a spitfire jib set half-way along the bowsprit, for dredging oysters. The low, tree lined shore shows in the background beyond the anchored cargo steamship, one of several laid up in the river during the 1930s and a feature of the local marine scene repeated at intervals of a few years, when trade contracts.
The hull and rig of the GEORGE AND ALICE are typical of these small, oyster-dredging cutters, as is the habit of leaving the anchor a-trip at the bow, only possible in the comparatively smooth water of the river. By then most of the small smacks had auxiliary engines but continued to work under sail if there was sufficient breeze. The fishermen liked the feel of a smack under sail and besides, as they put it, "Them old engines burn forever 'o oil."
Scenes such as this emphasize the good training such fisheries offered for the close handling of racing yachts. [JL]
Plate.76 in SWW.
Used in The Sailor's Coast page 32.
Comment from Will MacCormac Nov 2010:
Many thanks for posting this- G&A is my dad's smack and he will be thrilled to see this.
This image is part of the Mersea Island Museum Collection.