Donna Capel

Originally named Françoise Helene, Donna Capel has a fascinating history. She was constructed under German licence in Ostende, Belgium, during 1943/44. The oak was pre-war timber, originally destined for a boat about 90ft in length. This explains why, at 52ft, she is so heavily timbered. She was the last of the sailing trawlers built that worked out of Ostende during the war. Though, the first to be fitted with an inboard engine. Fished off the Belgian coast until the late 1950s, the record fish caught on one trip was 22 tons. She was then bought by Mousehole’s Howard Capel and towed by trawler from Belguim to Brixham. Here she was renamed Donna Capel after his wife and given the new registration number BM142. Mr Capel used the boat for trawling until 1970, when Terry Heard (Gaffers and Luggers) purchased her in Newlyn and took her to Mylor Bridge. Terry passed away before he was able to restore her, though she was restored by Martin Heard and managed Brest and Douarnenez in 1992. She was then bought by John Davison in 2000. With a strong-back and tarpaulins laid on, she spent the next six years untouched at Mylor Bridge. From 2006 to 2009, she was rebuilt and now sails as a stunning 16 meter Gaff Ketch, with 4 meter beam, 2 meter draft and is 40 tonnes in weight. She’s now based in Falmouth.

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