Hello Cameron,


Thanks for a most delightful chat on this most splendid subject of wooden boats – and how to make them live on forever. Well done on what you’re achieving in Knysna – hope that it will grow no end. We’ll support where we can.

Do find attached photos of the good ship HMS Bounty. She is a splendid vessel and I found much interest in the UK from the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships (ADLS)  - we’ve indeed come a quite a way.

HMS Bounty

The good ship HMS Bounty, an all wooden 37’ motorised yacht was built by the Fred Nicholls’shipyard in Durban in 1936.  During the Second World War she was commandeered by the Royal Navy, registered as HMS Bounty and utilised to ferry officers from shore to the battleships, and supply ships  - ‘HMS denoting ‘His or Her Majesty’s Ship’. HMS Bounty is still displaying her Royal Navy flag as currently in use by the United Kingdom’s Merchant Navy and civilian registered vessels. Her specific Red Ensign was flown whenever an Admiral was on board.  She is indeed reminiscent of an era of pomp and splendour as could be observed during the Thames River Pageant when a fleet of sister ships commemorated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Thames River Pageant Queens Diamond Jubilee 2012
Thames River Pageant Queens Diamond Jubilee 2012

After the Second World War ended, the Cohen family from OK Bazaars’ fame acquired the Bounty to use as a private family yacht and took her inland to the Vaal River where she has been ever since. Bounty has been on the hard – dry dock – for almost three decades, well in need of restoration. Here she is on the Vaal in her prime in the 1980s.

HMS Bounty wooden boat 1980
HMS Bounty 1980

She is one of only two known ‘Little Ships’ in Africa, yet in the UK there are a several of these ships in pristine condition with others in various stages of restoration – a programme driven by the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships (ADLS). During 1940, the Royal Navy ‘requisitioned’ around 850 such craft for ‘Operation Dynamo’ to ferry 338,000 trapped British troops from the beaches of Dunkirk back to England – the Little Ships’ finest hour – masterfully depicted in the recent film ‘Dunkirk.’ At the Classic Boat rally in September at St. Katherine Dock adjacent to Tower Bridge in London, about a dozen ‘Little Ships’ attended and we were most fortunate to meet Kevin Finn, the Vice Commodore of the ADLS. Kevin was delighted to hear of Socoro Yachts’ planned restoration project and is following our progress with interest. It’s unlikely the planned ‘return to Dunkirk’ in May 2020, by the Royal Navy, to commemorate the 80thanniversary of Operation Dynamo with around 50 ‘Little Ships’ will go ahead.

HMS Bounty restoration

This restoration was planned as a syndicate.  We were approached by Vaal Triangle resident Clive Dunn who forwarded creative ideas for a private restoration project. Clive has built aircraft, boats and various related structures. After sound-boarding on all aspects we formulated a workable plan, formalised an agreement and commenced work. Ever so creatively Clive and his formidable team have involved themselves with gusto from day one – the work is now complete but the silting up of the river in our parts has the effect that with her draft we cannot launch. They are considering dredging the river but prevent us from doing same.

We shall overcome.

Keep in touch.