Story & photos supplied by Russell Ward
Here is a very interesting little boat that has been out of circulation for a while. I have been looking after her since 2005 and she is a shadow of her former self, but in a stable state.
Polaris, a 25’ pilchard trawler was built for a local fisherman by the name of Pearce by H Pearn & Sons Looe Cornwall 1935. The main engine 2 cyl Kelvin with similar engine as port wing engine. Construction is larch and pitch pine on oak frames. As an economy, the planking was not caulked –just fitted well. Pearce employed crews for both his boats and Polaris fished out of Polperro Cornwall until 1947 when she moved to Penarth Wales –I have one of her life rings with homeport Penrath still visible painted on it. She suffered a bilge fire from wing engine exhaust which was dealt with by sinking the vessel.
She was taken over by a boat builder who converted her into a pleasure boat with a strange cabin. In 1950 she was bought by the coroner Col Kenneth Treasure of Tenby Wales. We think the good Colonel had her rebuilt with a rather more aesthetic cabin and I have a copy of a post card of her in Brixham
1954 found her in the ownership of one Griff Board with a Lister diesel installed. Board took the ship to Brixham where, in 1956-7 she was spotted by Wally Sharples who had seen her when he went to Brixham to see the Mayflower replica. The vessel had an extensive overhaul.
1958 Sharples, his family and apprentice John Penney emigrated to Adelaide and Polaris was shipped as deck cargo on “Queensland Star” 1960 found Sharples and family with Penney in Auckland along with Polaris which was rigged with a gaff mainsail and moored at Bucklands beach. Sharples cruised extensively in the Hauraki Gulf, Bay of Islands and Whangaraoa. I can remember seeing her round the bottom end in the ‘60s looking as pretty as a picture.
In 1970 Sharples and his wife moved to Opua, Bay of Islands and Polaris was moored there. Sharples died onboard after a fishing trip and the boat passed to his apprentice Penney. 1993 Jack Barber and Faye Christian bought Polaris from Penney. They used her extensively but the years were catching up with the ship and she was brought ashore for extensive hull work. This was well under weigh with the hull timbers almost all replaced when Jack Barber died 30 September 2002.
The son of the first owner was in touch and emailed a picture of her in her original form. Some part of me says she should be finished off like that.
Not often a boat travels so many miles on other boats’ keels. Even more fun is the knowledge of a boat’s travels halfway round the world leaving a lot of people who fell in love with her.