Little Ship, Big Story


Dr. Rodney Pell -

Maura Pell -


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  • by Rodney Pell
  • 25-04-2019

Well, the tidy-up has commenced. A good wipe-down of all surfaces inside has removed the patches of damp and mould. Pictures mounted on the bulkheads have been removed prior to making good the surfaces and getting ready for painting.

Ian Ruffles, Barge-Master and skipper of the Thames Barge 'Cambria' came down from Maylandsea and lowered the mainmast. Ian made it look so easy. Using the main-sheet and its pulley system he demonstrated it could be achieve single-handed!

We have received an email from Nick Stephens e who was a Pangbourne College Cadet on Sheemaun in the 1980s.

"I'm the Nick Stephens, from Pangbourne, and spent many happy hours either stuck in the engine room with Doyne (Doyne Ditmas) trying to clear the weed traps of Hayling Island mud and silt to stop the old David Browns overheating, or flat on my back on the gratings with Doyne ant-fouling with read lead! No Heath and Safety there, we came out from under the bilge keels looking like post boxes!


Doyne is restoring classic boats and ships in the USA, and James Morley is now a Rear Admiral!  We all learnt to love being at sea on good old Sheemaun, God bless her and Rodney for the restoration! Best wishes to you both."

Nick Stephens


I find it fascinating that in the 1980s  Sheemaun's wheel had been handled by so many Pangbourne Cadets, now men in their late 40s/early 50s, and that one of them, James Morley is now  a Rear Admiral. It was in the 1970s that Sheemaun was owned by Rear Admiral G.T.S. 'Peter' Gray CB, DSC, also an Old Panbournian.


Yesterday we had an email from the Maritime Foundation to say that the book 'Little Ship, Big Story' has been nominated for the Mountbatten Literary Award. That's amazing and what an honour. Of course there's a big difference between being the book being nominated and being short-listed.

I was unaware of the Mountbatten Award and having looked it up I see that it is 'An award made to the author of the work of literature published in English during the qualifying period that, in the opinion of the Awards Committee, has contributed most significantly to public awareness of maritime issues.'

'Eligible work must have a maritime focus, and includes scholarly or popular non-fiction on a technical, scientific, environmental, economic, industrial, legal, administrative, social or defence-related theme, as well as works of biography, history, fiction and poetry.'

Well, as I've said before, it was Sheemaun that whispered her stories to me, all I did was to write them down. Certainly the book ticks quite a lot of the boxes, so we will keep fingers crossed and wait and see!

Now, as I look at the varnish tin,  lets see what the weather forecast is!


Cheers all.




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