The beautiful Wivenhoe Front from a famous 75 year old smack. [DW]
Wivenhoe at mid-day, 1935. The Wivenhoe-owned, Brightlingsea-built bawley PRIMA DONNA lies on Fingringhoe hard. Mr Eves, the ferryman, takes a fare across the turgid, hurrying Colne ebb to the then well-washed Wivenhoe ferry hard at the right. The mellow quayside catches the sun all day and remains little changed 40 years later.
The shapely smack lying stern-to-the-quay is the 15-ton A.E.F.A., built at Tollesbury in 1905 for Elijah and Frank Bowles and later owned at Wivenhoe. Although laid up, she carries a topmast on end. The bowsprit is run in and her fine entrace is accentuated by the mud berth. The smack beside her is Mr Green's ELISE, broken up soon after, having given 60 years' hard service in the fisheries, owned throughout by the Green family.
The PRIMA DONNA was by then diesel-propelled, her topmast and bowsprit laid ashore, though Mr Woodward retained her mainsail and staysail for fair winds or use in emergency. Her cluttered deck is typical of the smaller smacks and the barrel windlass is in contrast to the trawl-warm capstan on deck, amidships. She was much used for shrimp trawling and the fine meshed shrimp trawl hangs from her masthead to dry, its back ribbed by cork floats and cod end protected from chafe by old motor-cycle inner tubes. The trawl beam, with iron heads, rests by the bulwark, its weight helping to keep the bulky hull listing to port while her tarred bottom is scrubbed clean of growth --- equally important to a low-powered auxiliary as to a fully rigged sailing smack. [JL]
PRIMA DONNA LO368, A.E.F.A CK114.
The ferry man was Ernest Fredrick Eves.
Plate.71 in SWW.
Used in The Sailor's Coast page 27.
Published in East Anglian magazine Feb1956 page 198 under pseudonym Fieldfare.