Stormy Petrel F71 is a 40ft Whitstable smack built in 1890.

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STORMY PETREL was built as an oyster smack in 1890 by Richard and Charles Perkins of Whitstable. Built in an era when the Thames oyster was a celebrated delicacy, the vessel was owned and fished by and for her builders, dredging oysters in the summer and used for stowboating in the winter. This continued until 1928.

Carvel built with oak frames, the vessel has never had an engine and is a rare survivor of her age. The smacks of Whitstable were as common as the Essex smacks but fewer survive. They were built heavy to take ground on the sandbanks of this part of the lower Thames estuary.

From 1928 STORMY PETREL was used as a watch boat, with a watch house cabin fitted by the Seasalter and Ham company, moored at the Pollard Spit overlooking their interests in the oyster fishery east of the Isle of Sheppey.

Following the Second World War she was sold to the famous barge and smack skipper, and author, Bob Roberts of Harwich. He kept her for three years and then sold her to Bernard Rozier, his third hand, who did not fish with her but kept her registered.

STORMY PETREL was bought by the next owner in 1962 and became only her fourth owner in her 120 year life. In 1998 she had a refit lasting three years in dry dock.

She was then sold in 2018 to new owners and is now based in the South West.

©David Cade