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Clover's Early Years

By Rob Jarman

Rob Jarman, Editor for Offshore Gaffer's Association, had an amazing chat with Mr. Brian Turner in Poole - who at 92 still remembers sailing in with her owner Eric Thompson. We will shortly post the video he recorded in the conversation... lots of good quality info about and Eric and Hamble and the yards and wartime and post-war activities - he's 92 but has a memory full of fascinating facts!

Clover circa 1955

a few nuggets:

- Eric offered to the Admiralty even before the declaration of war in 1939, but on condition that his skipper Fred Matthews was retained as the sole full time skipper during her use by the Admiralty.

- she was assigned to Coastal Command and based in Falmouth, and used as an inspection vessel for the expert assessment of convoy ships coming across the Atlantic as soon as they entered 'safe' water in the Western Approaches. Many of those convoy ships were damaged and the assessor decided where they should be taken for first safest landing so the cargoes could be salvaged. They took off valuable documents and money. was adapted for this work by:

1. Removal of all standing and running rigging, mast and spars. A 'stump' mast was installed with a derrick crane attached, for lifting heavy objects aboard, such as a ship's safe.

2. A wide thick fender was installed all around the hull, almost to the waterline. This was removed at the end of the war and the hull was completely unscathed

3. All the interior arrangements, joinery, equipment etc was kept untouched from the original as fitted by Lukes.

4. All her passages were made under motor, using the original National oil engine.

5. She was not used for any heavy work, salvage, detection, diving etc - she was a 'floating office' as Brian called it. She never saw any action.

She seems to have covered a wide area of sea around Britain, from the SW to the NE and through the English Channel. She was used all year round.

In 1945, Eric took her back and had all the rigging and original mast and sails re-fitted - Brian did not know which yard did the job (ed. note - we believe it was C&N in Southampton) -

could have been in Hamble or IoW or Poole. was kept on the Hamble mostly and looked after by Moody's yard, even though Eric sailed her also from Poole.

Brian joined as crew to support Eric and Fred when they started cruising again, from 1945. He was recommended by Luke's yard, as he had been working on the Hamble all during the war servicing and fueling the motor patrol launches and landing craft operated by the Solent Patrol - incredibly, whilst still at school... he was contracted by the local RN people to work for them, to free up the Navy for other work.

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