Monday, February 8, 2016

The Sad Story of SV Tara

* Update: some history on the vessel Tara supplied by Linda Redfern, daughter of the 
original builder, now tagged on below this post:

This post is dedicated to the memory of George Mills and Rachel Daly, 
and in support of PJ Daly, the sole survivor of this tragic accident.

Tara, a beautiful 47' Holman and Pye Traditional Wooden Yawl.
Solidly constructed of Mahogany Planks over Oak frames,
she was a strong and well-found vessel displacing 13 Tons.
Images of Tara before the wreck courtesy of Roy McBride of CKD Boats. See his excellent blog here.

George Mills, Tara's most recent owner. Larger than life, and very humble at the same time.
George was a true Scot, a true sailor, happy soul, and an enthusiast of Traditional Scottish Music.
You just have to see this impromptu recording of George in action at HBYC just a few days before this accident.

Tara's most recent owner was George Mills, a member of both Hout Bay and Royal Cape Yacht Clubs. Sadly, George perished along with Rachel Daly at approximately 3 a.m. on Monday 1 Feb 2016, when this boat was wrecked near Bokpunt on the Cape West Coast (near Yzerfontein, South Africa). We have a short tribute to him and the crew (all wonderful people and well known at HBYC) - on the club website. George's death was widely reported in several UK newspapers including The Sun, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail, The Scotman as well as a number of local news agencies.

George spent a lot of time on this boat and kept her immaculate.
Tara also served as the Committee Boat for the previous two
Admiral's Regattas at HBYC, with George at the helm.

Yesterday, just six days after the accident, a gathering was held up at the site of the wreck, in a small bay (now called Tara Bay by those who knew George). This is a very remote and wild piece of coast, access possible only with 4x4s or similar vehicles. A number of folk arrived on horseback too from Ganzekraal.

Some beautiful bunches of flowers placed in a remnant of the hull,
 in memory of George and Rachel.

A few of the 4x4 arrivals from HBYC at Bokpunt.
The stern section of the hull was the only piece "in shape"

Friends of George, PJ and Rachel examining the wreck.
Tara had received a severe pounding on the rocks and the remnants
had been prepared for recovery in small piles.

"Bill" (surname unknown to me) - manager of the Bokpunt conservation area - related the events as he recalled. Tara had wrecked at around 3 am Monday morning, in pitch darkness and heavy mist (suspected possible auto-pilot error - but  investigation still in progress). PJ had scrambled ashore and found the vehicle track along this part of the shore. Fortuitously he followed it Southwards and found the (completely unlit) cottage of Bill about two kilometres further down. He (PJ) banged loudly on the door, as one would expect. An equally shaken Bill responded and together they set off back down the track to locate the wreck in the dark. The managed to spot a small section of the mast pointing upwards and so found the wreck. Bill (via his wife in Cape Town at the time) raised the alarm and a fast and well coordinated disaster plan was effected, including National Sea Rescue and all the related disaster teams. By 9 am the project was complete, save for the visit of SAMSA (SA Marine Safety Authorities), who arrived just two hours later.

Desolate coastline near Bokpunt...

I came to know of this tragedy earlier in the week, and we posted a piece in memorial in the HBYC Club website, and laid flowers in the club. I knew George personally via HBYC and had many good drinks with him. But I must confess that this memorial visit to the wreck was absolutely chilling. Besides the human aspect, seeing this beautiful yacht so completely smashed up - along with the rawness of this bleak and vicious coastline - was quite disturbing. To think it all happened in the middle of the night, with dense fog, must have been a complete nightmare.

Go well George, Go well Rachel. 
Our thoughts are now very much with PJ.


Some history and photos from Linda Redfern, (Amsterdamhoek, Port Elizabeth), daughter of Noel Redfern, the original builder, who (re)constructed Tara in a large garden shed at his house in Amsterdamhoek.

She was brought out to SA from Scotland (?) in the UK but got stuck in the tropics for about a year before finally reaching PE due to some political dispute somewhere up north Africa.
She left UK in mid-winter with the net result that her planking split, and so my dad literally took her apart to the very last bit as can be seen in the photographs then reassembled and re-caulked her.  I remember him having a wood steamer going for months as they bent timbers to fit.  There were lathes, band saws and god knows what all – it was a double story workshop and it was kitted out!
Let me see if I can find the documents pertaining to her arrival.  I know I have newspaper clippings…
Ok.. she arrived in PE in April 1960.
She was designed by Kim Holman and was an exclusive design for Noel Redfern who had quite some input in the design process.
She was designed as a racing and cruising yacht.

Her dimensions as follows:
L.O.A                     45 ft 4 in
L.W.L                     32 ft 1 in
Beam                    11 ft 8.5 in
Draft                      6 ft 9 in
Displacement    28,448 lbs
Ballast                   11,872 lbs
My dad sold it to John Desmond Hein of Eston, Natal.  I estimate the time it changed hands to be about 1974 or thereabouts… set sail 1974/5?
The above is accurate to the documentation.


Mahogany planking on Oak frames if I recall...

Built in a shed in the garden, Amsterdamhoek....
Click to enlarge.
"Tara" (then unnamed) arrives in PE Harbour by ship.