Maria CK21 is a 47ft Harris smack built in 1866.

The Colchester smack MARIA (pronounced ‘Mariah’) was built in 1866 by Harris Brothers, at Donyland, Essex (renamed Rowhedge in 1912) for Mr Dunn, of Wivenhoe, and is one of the oldest smacks afloat. Harris mainly built yachts and, reflecting this, MARIA is narrower than later smacks which were more beamy and hence more stable in a blow. She was a first class smack used for oyster dredging and fishing on the east coast. MARIA was also regularly raced in the winter months by owners who all skippered the large racing yachts of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, and was reputed to have been a fast boat.

Colne Match results;

Maria at Morgans, Brightlingsea, ready to launch in 2020.
©Paul Winter.
Maria at Morgans, Brightlingsea, after her spring refit in 2020.
©Paul Winter
Caulking complete.
©Paul Winter
Maria having her decks re-caulked at Morgans boatyard, Brightlingsea, by Pete Hickman in 2020.
©Paul Winter
Maria at the Turkey Race 2019, West Mersea.
©Seamus Masters @glassonion68.
Maria in racing mode at the Colne Match 2019.
©Tim Bees
Maria at the 2019 Colne Match.
©Sandy Miller @litematters
Alberta & Maria at Maldon Regatta.
©Tim Bees
Maldon Regatta.
©Tim Bees
2017 Colne Match, Maria & My Alice cross tacks.
©Tim Bees
Maria passing Mersea Stone in the River Colne.
©OJs photos.

In about 1880 MARIA was bought by the Levetts of Tollesbury who worked her in inshore fishing for over 60 years. In the Second World War MARIA was sunk after being hit by a trawler and remained submerged for eleven years. She was eventually laid up in a creek where she sank and filled with mud. In 1961 she was bought by Tommy Bolton who raised her and rebuilt the stern, albeit 2ft short, but Bolton was drowned in a yachting accident and MARIA was re-rigged by a new owner as a schooner.

Later she was sold to a British owner and was taken to Holland in 1975 to become a live-aboard at Muiden. MARIA was found there in 1996 and brought back to Kent by lorry. She was refitted as a gaff cutter with new sails and competed in Medway and Swale smack races.

In 2004 a full scale rebuilding of MARIA commenced at Maylandsea, Essex, under the efficient and watchful eye of Rick Cardy. However, due to other work commitments MARIA was moved to St Osyth to complete the planking and the remainder of the hull restoration, which was carried out by shipwrights Alan Williams and Andrew Balfe at Andy Harman’s yard. She was fitted with a powerful windlass forward so that she could be used for the traditional stowboat fishing in winter, during which she is anchored.

MARIA (CK21) was re-launched on 20 May 2007. In 2008 she won the ‘Classic Boat’ magazine Restoration of the Year award. In 2009 she was the winner of the Thames Oyster Run (a smack race).

Maria can be seen to the stern of Electron CK36.
Photo — smacks racing in the regatta 1904. The ELISE (Capt. Green) and the MARIA (J. Gunn) both from Wivenhoe, and Capt. William W Cranfield’s SUNBEAM from Rowhedge, furthest from camera.
Used in Saltwater Village Page 93.
Used in Smacks and Bawleys page 128
Maria on the Kent coast at the Swale Match.
Maria at Maylandsea- fully framed.
©Paul Winter
Maria at Maylandsea- beginning of rebuild.
©Paul Winter
Maria at St Osyth boatyard after a paint job ready for the season.
©Paul Winter
Maria pre-rebuild.