Vintage Vaal Voyages - HMS Bounty
BOUNTY RESTORATION PROJECT: MEDIA PRESENTATION:
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.
After the Second World War ended, the Cohen family from OK Bazaars’ fame acquired the Bounty to use as 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.
She is the only one of her kind in Africa, yet in the UK there are a small number 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. We may be invited to the ‘return to Dunkirk’ in May 2020, by the Royal Navy, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Operation Dynamo; around 50 ‘Little Ships’ could attend.
As with hundreds of Socoro Syndicates’ syndication projects effected over almost four decades, mostly in the leisure property market niche, but also to a limited extent with yachts, this restoration too was planned as a syndicate. Timing was not right for floating such and albeit that there has always been interest, we have been holding back. Invaluable perspectives were gained over time from knowledgeable parties advising, here specifically giving credit to the likes of accomplished shipwright Will Ferreira and others.
We were recently 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 – hence proceeding apace expecting to finish an otherwise lengthy project over a much shorter period – even before the festive season.