How It All Started - The Last Lap - Mike King

Paul feels the weight of a lead ingotAfter returning to Leigh on a lorry Endeavour was completely restored, fitted with a new engine and electrics, and almost ready to be re-launched. But as with all things, the final preparations raised a few difficulties.

When she came back she was painted in a grey undercoat and needed to be over-painted in her original colours: Shannon green for the hull and red anti-slip decks. Under the waterline she needed to be painted with anti-fouling to stop weed and molluscs fouling up the hull and to deter wood-boring pests (yes worms that drill into wood are present in our waters, and can destroy a boat very quickly). Reta Cocks (daughter of  previous  owner), Peter Wexham (previous skipper), George Cocks and Mike King (Chairman)Ron Myall very kindly applied all the necessary painting to leave her looking great. 

But there was one further matter to be attended to - ballast. All craft need to have a low centre of gravity to ensure they don't capsize and when Endeavour was cockling their weight would provide this, but without it she would be very sensitive in a sea-way. One solution was to add concrete inside which is often done, but can create problems of its own. Lead is the best material. This was agreed upon and Peter Wexham and I started the hunt for suitable ingots. Firstly we discovered that lead seemed to be only a little cheaper than gold, then became concerned that we might be putting lead from some Essex church roof into Endeavour!
How the worm can eat the wood if anti-fouling is not done - an example from Leigh (not Endeavour)We enlisted the help of Ron Frasle* who used his contacts to get us a reputable dealer at an affordable price. So it was delivered - all 8 tons of it! Two strong men, Paul Gilson and Steve Cocks fitted the ingots into the hold.

Then - the moment of truth - back into the water. Ron Frasle at the controls of the crane at Leigh Marina eased her into the water and she floated exactly to her original works. Job done!!

Next was to organise a celebration and public recognition of her importance to the history of Leigh as a maritime village. We decided on a re-christening which we will re-live in the next newsletter. To be continued...

* Sadly, Ron very recently lost his fight against cancer. We will pay fitting tribute in the next newsletter.

Diary and Events

Friday 25th July8 pmAlf Legget tape77 Vernon Road, LOSChris Bailey
Sunday 27th July4 pmMaritime FestivalBell Wharf, Leigh Old TownPeter Dolby
Sunday 24th August - View the Southend Barge Match - Mike King
Friday 12th September - Voyage to St Katherine Docks Classic Boat Rally - Mike King
Saturday 20th September7:30 pmQuiz NightEstuary ClubFinlay Marshall
Friday 24th October7:30 pmAGMLeigh Community Center, Elm RoadPeter Dolby
Friday 14th November7:30 pmAnnual DinnerEstuary ClubFinlay Marshall

ADLS Commemorative Cruise to Chatham

Endeavour stands out among the 'little ships' moored in Chatham
Endeavour stands out among the 'little ships' moored in Chatham
When new members Bob Everitt and Anne Hinton van't Hof read in the April newsletter that places were available for the Chatham commemorative cruise they went overboard with enthusiasm. They met up with Paul and crew members; Jeremy, Peter and Finlay on Billet Wharf and in normal Endeavour weather set off for Chatham. With a little gentle persuasion Bob and Anne agreed to pen their experiences of life on board. They also share a love of photography and a few of their snaps have been used here.

Bob Everitt writes:

Peter with the ADLS pennant
Peter with the ADLS pennant
"What a privilege it was to join Endeavour and her expert crew on the first leg of her Ostend journey over to Chatham.

"It's only when you get on board her that you realise how compact she is, and how extremely social she is, as you can't help but talk to everybody on board as they step over and around you - no nice snug cabin with windows on Endeavour!

"The weather wasn't great when we left Leigh, but it didn't seem to matter as we motored over to the Medway, refreshed all the way with tea from Finlay!

"As Peter raised the Dunkirk Little Ships flag on the bow I couldn't help but think back 70 years and realise the history...

The sun came out as we entered the Chatham harbour lock and it was brilliant to see the 20 or so other Little Ships in Chatham.

"Endeavour looked resplendent sitting alongside them - all dressed up for the occasion.

"A really lovely day - more to come I hope!!"

Anne Hinton van't Hof writes:

Peter brings Endeavour's facility on deck much to Anne's surprise
Peter brings Endeavour's facility on
deck much to Anne's surprise

"An early start and a dreary sky greeted us for our trip from Leigh to Chatham in May. I felt very lucky to be given the opportunity to travel on the Endeavour and was looking forward to meeting up with some of the other Dunkirk 'little ships' as they gathered before their trip to Ramsgate and then on to Ostend, for the liberation celebrations.

"Thankfully the wet weather only lasted for a couple of hours and then the sun came out and we were able to enjoy the scenery as we came into the mouth of the Medway.

"Paul is a very knowledgeable skipper and was able to point out the local landmarks such as the Napoleonic fort and the island that was used to dispose of the dead and dying before reaching land!

After a number of cups of tea I tentatively asked if there was a toilet facility on board. Peter assured me there was, disappeared into the hold and reappeared with what can only be described as a large Tupperware box.

Endeavour is in safe hands with Paul at the helm
Endeavour is in safe hands with Paul at the helm

"He put it on the deck and the look of horror on my face must have been a picture at the thought of having to use it in full view!! Thankfully he was only going to move it to the front of the boat, but deciding that limited movement was probably the safer route I opted to just pull the tarpaulin over my head in the hold.

"A few puzzled attempts to remove my clothing was resolved when I remembered that my life jacket had a strap between my legs! A manoeuvre that closely resembled a gymnast's complicated floor routine allowed me to restore my clothing without bursting through the tarpaulin in a state of undress!

"A piece of skilful manoeuvring by Paul bought us into the dock and we saw the impressive sight of the little ships, colourful flags in full regalia all lined up along the quayside. Flags raised and hold secured the pub beckoned and a very enjoyable pint in the sunshine was enjoyed.

"Bob and I then had to make our way back to Leigh via bus, train, ferry and a short walk! A thoroughly enjoyable day with time to reflect on the incredible part this 'little ship' played in the rescuing and saving of the lives of our troops. Thank you for the opportunity it was greatly appreciated and hopefully I will get the opportunity to sail on the Endeavour again soon."

Ostend at Anchor - Paul Gilson

Sails set in Ostend harbourThere are times in your life when you are surprised at where you go and how you got there let alone what happens when you are there. This has to be one of those trips.

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships was invited to attend the festival 'Ostend at Anchor' where we were to be their guests of honour. It is a prestigious event for classic boats from all over the world. This year they commemorated the start of the Great War and celebrated the liberation of Ostend by Canadian forces led by Field Marshal Montgomery.

After the commemorative cruise to Chatham we left for Ramsgate on Monday morning. The weather once again turned against us and we had a right bashing with the sea on our beam all the way. Our fellow little ships, totally unused to these conditions, did not cope as well. They were thrown about violently and had difficulty steering a good course and had a thoroughly miserable trip.

We were due to leave for Nieuwpoort in Belgium the next day in convoy but poor visibility and a fresh wind forced us to stay in port. The weather the following morning was better but only a small tug, Touchstone, another ex-fishing boat and fellow little ship Caronia set off for Ostend. The other ADLS boats waited hoping for improving weather.
Jeremy and Finlay braving the elements on route to RamsgateIt is a long way across the channel in a little boat and it made me think about what it must have been like for those that went before; did they hold back because it was a bit choppy? Our journey was uneventful, although we were the slower boat, we arrived at Ostend only just behind the others. We could cut through the sand banks whereas they had to take the longer route around them. It was just after 4pm local time when we arrived and we were quickly directed into the inner harbour and lock. The outer arm of the harbour was almost devoid of people but the lock area certainly wasn't. Several thousand people lined the walls clapping and cheering our arrival. It was a moving and humbling greeting by so many. We left the lock to another welcome from the already moored ships. Square riggers to classic yachts, steam ships to leisure craft, they all rang bells and sounded their horns welcoming Endeavour and Caronia. We were given pride of place in the docks and on the quay side we were surrounded by many tents and stalls. Everyone seemed to want to talk to us and we did not get clear until quite late.
Entering Ostend with classic yachts and square riggers for companyThe next morning, with no wind, we set our sails - she looked absolutely brilliant. She was like the proverbial sprat for the mackerel of people who came and came. We were taken aback by the interest from so many Belgian, Dutch, French, Canadian and American visitors.

Even some from Britain came to talk about Endeavour and what had been achieved at Dunkirk.

Everyone commented on how fantastic Endeavour looked and were amazed that we had crossed the North Sea steering with a piece of wood and no wheel house. Many thought it impossible and checked below for a hidden wheel!

Later that day the other little ships were welcomed but nothing quite like our reception the previous day. We dropped our sails and had a welcome beer (Belgium has a lot of beer) and a walk around the stalls that surrounded us. The next day, now with all the Little Ships, again saw many interested visitors and we took turns to talk to them. We took the time available to walk around stalls studying their merchandise which included; marine art, clothing, cheese, smoked herring, and beer. Everywhere there was music and street artists performed among the crowd delighting but sometimes scaring children.

Whilst talking to visitors two things really struck home. Firstly, although many Belgian children are taught about the Dunkirk evacuation they are captivated that ordinary people volunteered to go to war, without guns, to rescue their countrymen. Secondly and closer to home, a local I spoke to had been evacuated on a fishing boat that, once loaded with fellow Belgians, took them all to England. He remembered shots fired by men on Ostend harbour entrance and the loud explosions that often followed. He found out later that the shots were fired by the few remaining soldiers at the mines in the harbour entrance in an attempt to keep it clear for the fishing boats to leave. Once in England he went to school in Brixham until after the war. This story is especially poignant to me as I recall that after the war my father had a Belgian fisherman as crew for many years. He had also escaped on one of those fishing boats.

We were visited by local television and, yes, I was interviewed! It was shown that evening and we saw it in our hotel.

We estimate that an average of 50 people a day came aboard and we spoke to at least double that number each day telling Leigh's Dunkirk story.

I've always said the Endeavour is a social boat and she gets people to talk, well she proved it in Ostend - big time. Endeavour has a European following now; a Dutchman has sent me photographs, having tracked my email, many Belgian people have offered to buy us beer next time we come and they mean it! The hand of friendship offered is genuine. Undoubtedly Endeavour embraced that hand and hopefully she will never let it go. Next year's event is the weekend following the return to Dunkirk so who knows.

Summer Reception at the Boatyard

Endeavour members and guests fill the Boatyard restaurant's deck area at it summer reception

Our second summer reception was held on 19th June in perfect weather. Paul had brought Endeavour in to a mooring close by and she looked a picture after her repaint. Many thanks to the 100 members and guests who helped to raise some much needed funding whilst enjoying the company of so many like-minded people. 

A very special thank you to everyone who so generously donated raffle prizes. Overall we raised in excess of £800 which is a welcome amount towards the maintenance costs incurred so far this year. All in all the Boatyard, with its panoramic views over the estuary, was an excellent venue. The committee, however, feel that the food was a little disappointing and will try to improve on this next year if, as seems likely, we return to the Boatyard.


We are into July already and the nights are drawing in, so it must be time to think about Christmas!

We are hoping to have Christmas cards for sale again this year and are considering an Endeavour 2015 calendar. Anne Hinton has taken many lovely photographs and with the many we have in archive we feel that we can produce a very attractive wall calendar.

Before we commit to print we need to have some idea of numbers required. Obviously any unsold cannot be used afterwards. Please let Peter Dolby know if you are interested either on the telephone number below or by email.


Subscriptions are due for renewal on 1st September.

Rates remain unchanged, as follows:

  • Individual - £15
  • Family - £20
  • Senior Citizens and under 18's - £10
  • Life Membership - £130

You can if you wish pay your subscription by standing order thus ensuring that your subscription is paid on time, without the need of sending your payment to us. Or, you may wish to use internet banking. If you want to change to either of these payment methods please contact Peter Dolby who will provide the details required.

[Contact details removed as no longer current - please refer to Shop and Membership tab above.]