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On 23rd August 1999 we bought our Norfolk Oyster from Charlie Ward in Morston who built them. She was delivered new on 5th October 1994 and was not used much by her first owner. Just a few outings in Blakeney Harbour with the outboard, that was all she was ever used for. So we got an as-new boat with unused, spanking new sails! The National Squib that I had raced wasn’t the right boat for a young family. We looked for something that was exciting to sail and yet safe for the kids. This Norfolk Oyster for sale probably is the best dayboat we could have found. Our daughters grew up with Molly and learnt to sail in her. On her break-back trailer, Molly travelled far and wide… we sailed her on Rutland Water, Morston/Blakeney (North Norfolk), Rivers Orwell and Stour (Suffolk), Lake Windermere (Cumbria), the Caledonian Canal (header image on Loch Ness – Sail Caledonia), Loosdrecht (The Netherlands), Carrick Roads (Cornwall). Molly is a fantastic dayboat for cruising and certainly is no slouch when racing. We get compliments on how beautiful she looks all the time.

“The Norfolk Oyster has ballast and bouyancy. Yet she is much quicker than a Drascombe Lugger, Dabber, a Cornish Coble, a Bass Boat, or a Cornish Shrimper. She gives a Devon Yawl a good run as she does a Hawk 20 on a broad reach when the Hawk doesn’t fly its kite.”

The Norfolk Oyster is a beautiful 17′ gunter-rigged (high-peaked gaff) centreboard dayboat (Charlie Ward took a mold from his original,  John Leather designed, wooden Oyster). It has a GRP simulated clinker hull (with proper, sharp hull plank edges) and her simple but efficient rig ensures excellent performance under sail in light or strong winds. Her deep bow and ample freeboard make her immensely seaworthy. Her breathtaking weight of 1,500lb (675kg) helps; Charlie Ward used to build liferaft and his attention to detail shows everywhere. Both mainsail and jib have fixed reefing points (2 in mainsail, 1 in jib), so reducing sail is easily accomplished. Molly has -and is mostly sailed with- a genoa as well as the standard jib. Her high-peaked gaff means that her spars are short for ease of trailering and storing. The added benefits of the light weight and flexible gaff is that it tends to bow around the halyard attachment point when the wind gusts, automatically flattening the sail at the right time. Also, by tweaking the peak halyard, you can make very effective sail shape adjustments when changing point-of-sail, or during varying wind conditions. To flatten the sail in strong winds or to loosen the leach in light airs… Her separately moulded internal layout is uncluttered and roomy, allowing adults and accompanying children and/or dogs to be safe and comfortably seated without hampering the efficient sailing of the boat. A cambered lowered foredeck houses 2 large lockers which have separately moulded bins and watertight lids. Sealed compartments under the cambered side benches ensure that the boat is positively buoyant in the very unlikely event of her flooding (that’d would take some doing!). This complements the larch sole boards and wide teak capping over the centreboard case.

Molly not yet for sale after all The 2023 base price for a new Norfolk Oyster from Neil Thompson Boats (who took over from Charlie Ward) is £48,000. Norfolk Oysters are the Fabergé eggs amongst daysailers. Our Molly is for sale at £19,995. Any professional survey at your expense is fine with us. As you may see from her specification below, Molly has many extras* that would significantly add to the £48K base price. Molly is currently on a half-tide swing mooring at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club, see photo below. Why do I sell our Norfolk Oyster? Because I am considering a clinker-built Nordic Folkboat or a Contessa 26 to potentially race, definitely cruise and sleep in overnight. If you are interested in our Oyster then please contact me via this link.

      1. Sturdy simulated clinker glass fibre hull (white with blue top strake)
      2. Hull and deck built to extremely high standards using the best quality isophthalic resins and gelcoats
      3. Clear gelcoat below waterline
      4. Moulded oar stowage in sole
      5. Wooden oars, white blades, varnished oar except the handle for better grip*
      6. Brass rowlock plates (installed into gunwales midship) and rowlocks*
      7. Hard wood protection below the water line for centre board case
      8. Built-in buoyancy (Charlie Ward used to build lifeboats)
      9. Two large watertight forward lockers (with provision for outboard engine stowage) with brass hinged GRP watertight lids
      10. Watertight aft locker with two TCL4 hatches*
      11. Spruce spars (mast/boom/gaff)
      12. Copper protection on mast for gaff jaws*
      13. Dacron mainsail with slab reefing and jib with reefing lines (both tan)
      14. Dacron genoa (cream)* 90% of our sailing is with full main and genny, 10% with reefed main and jib
      15. Snap shackles on jib tack and halyard for easy handling
      16. All running & standing rigging, best quality, stainless steel wire & pre-stretched polyester rope
      17. Manual bilge pump
      18. Custom made brass stem head fitting
      19. Custom made brass outboard motor bracket
      20. Custom made wooden infill for outboard bracket painted in deck colour*
      21. Three mooring cleats and fairleads, various fenders and hand bailer
      22. Teak rudder with lifting blade
      23. Primer and 2 coats anti-fouling (International uno red)*
      24. Pair of long oak tillers, one with a long plastic tiller extension*
      25. Galvanised centreboard with winch
      26. Brass bilge drain bung*
      27. Brass protection on aft deck edge and forward rubbing strakes in line with fairleads*
      28. Solid wood sole boards
      29. Sturdy teak seat over centreboard case
      30. Brass keel band protection for keel and bilge runners*
      31. Teak rubbing strakes
      32. Cove line on top strake (yellow)
      33. Outboard drain for seating and decks
      34. Galvanised tabernacle (easy mast lowering)
      35. Non slip surfaces on all deck surfaces
      36. Topping lift/lazy jacks for mainsail*
      37. Varnished hardwood boom gallows with brass storage clamps in forward locker*
      38. New mainsail 2022, original one included in the sale
      39. New mainsheet 2022
      40. New Seldén top and jamming block for main sheet in lieu of standard blocks 2022*
      41. Galvanised anchor fitted in teak chocks on foredeck
      42. 20m of 10mm anchor warp
      43. 3 chubby fenders with lines
      44. Grey internal boat cover for use when mast is stepped*
      45. Grey entire boat cover for use when mast is stepped i.e. Charlie Ward’s Exhibition cover (in need of some repair)*
      46. Mainsail/boom cover (canvas)*
      47. Comprehensive Owners Manual with detailed sketches covering rigging, sailing and maintenance
      48. Galvanised Bramber break-back road trailer, complete with winch, hitch lock, cable, sparewheel and lighting board*
      49. Full service (also trailer) and varnishing all woodwork at Neil Thompson Boats in 2021, anti-fouling (red) and small jobs in 2022, anti-fouling and small jobs in 2023*

Here your see Molly at her half-tide swing mooring on the Orwell. A fine looking dayboat from any angle of view, you cannot row away from her and not feel good about her.
This Norfolk Oyster for sale probably is the best dayboat - RHYC

Below you see Molly on her Bramber break-back trailer, she is a delight to tow (even behind a Series Land Rover!) and the trailer is braked. Total weight of Norfolk Oyster plus break-back trailer is approximately 1,984lbs (900kg). Note that the (raised) rudder is out for illustration purposes, it is never there during towing. One of the delights of a Norfolk Oyster on this particular trailer is, that I can launch and recover her without needing help from anyone else. I can rig and sail her on my own even though I am nearing my Three Score and Ten. I dry sailed her at Rutland Sailing Club with dry winter storage in a barn.
This Norfolk Oyster for sale probably is the best dayboat - starboard

Here is Molly being launched at the RHYC, she has fine lines from any angle of view and she has her name and Club lettering on her transom. The latter can be removed easily by carefully heating the letters with a hairdryer and peeling them off. Neil Thompson Boats can help you to new lettering in the same font for your Club. If you click this image to see the fuller picture then you can just about see the wooden dummy on the outboard bracket, this makes the transom top look that much nicer when sailing without an engine. An unbroken visual line. Charlie Ward really had an eye for detail…
Norfolk Oyster launching at RHYC

At Low Water Spring, Molly’s RHYC half-tide mooring makes her sit nicely on the Suffolk mud… one of the advantages of a flat-bottomed hull (she is a working boat and her flat bottom helped the oystermen do their work unwobbled). At Rutland Water we beached Molly to enjoy lunch ashore, same we did in Scotland, same in Carricks Roads. All thanks to her (pivoting) centreboard and shallow draft.
Molly waiting for the tide

A view of the inside, the beautifully varnished centreboard cover (if and when you hike out, you hook your toes under this), the handy locker space at the back, the two TCL4 hatches, those side benches are all buoyancy! Oars tucked away in the sole do not get in your way. Brass fittings for brass row locks…
Norfolk Oyster 1 a view inside the boat

Your forward view… two forward watertight hatches (starboard for outboard and fenders, port for sails and all sorts), manual bilge pump. It is a roomy cockpit, we have sailed her with two adults and two children and space was never a problem. Those freeboards on the cockpit side are angled so that you will be very very comfortable.
Norfolk Oyster 3 another view inside the boat

It may be simulated clinker built but Charlie Ward really managed to get those hull planks looking like they are wooden. Not infrequently on the water people ask if this is a wooden boat. Frequently (as in always), people tell us that she looks beautiful and this she does. Servicing her every year and generally being careful with Molly is the reason why she aged so well. Splashing out on Seldén Plain Bearing blocks or getting a new main sail is part good care. She’s sturdy, she sails well, behaves well i.e. tolerant of tomfoolish sailing and she looks gorgeous.
Norfolk Oyster 2 look at those crisp 'hull planks'

Last one to wet your appetite… on a close reach in Scotland, Mark diving into the lunchboxes, me looking at something up there, Molly making good SOG. Note the long tiller extension, this was a mixed-class race and we came first by a very long margin (see comments up top). This Norfolk Oyster for sale probably is the best dayboat you could ever wish for. Our eyes will well up if and when we see her go.
Norfolk Oyster Sail Calidonia

I couldn’t resist adding one little video of Molly sailing on the Orwell (late June 2022), somewhere between Trimley and Stratton buoy in the direction of Ipswich… the Norfolk Oyster is a perfect dayboat for this type of water.

Why did I decide to take Molly off the market? I passed my RYA Day Skipper Theory & Practical on a 35 footer and noticed that I had some difficulty in operating the genoa winches in normal winds (BF4-5). Bigger yachts may not be my game anymore… With a 149 sq ft (13.8 sq m) sail area, Molly will remain manageable for me. Already travels abroad with Molly are being planned and meanwhile there’s the Orwell, Stour and perhaps even the Walton Backwaters on a good 48hr forecast?
RYA Day Skipper Practical with Shearwater Sailing School