A31-4 Gellie is one of the twelve Atalanta 31s completed. She was 60 years old in 2023! Four other Atalanta 31s are still sailing or being restored.
The Atalanta 31 was a development of the Atalanta 26 by Fairey Marine’s own designer Alan Burnard. The boat provided more comfort and greater headroom throughout the cabin.
What is Gellie up to now?
The current owner rescued Gellie as a project in 2017. Restoration was initially slow with the boat in Scotland and Ian in Yorkshire. Having moved her to the R.Humber and made her watertight in 2020 the owner has, sensibly, adopted a ‘rolling restoration’ approach. It is easy to spend too many years out of the water just working on boats. Getting some sailing whilst completing the work is much more satisfying. You can read about this in the 2023-24 Bulletin. Gellie is planning to visit Essex and Suffolk this year for AOA events. She will also be open to visitors as part of the Fairey Atalanta National Open Day.
(That we know about – there may be more)
- In 2004 Gellie set off from Stonehaven on a non-stop round-Britain trip. She was hit by poorly forecast strong-gale (F9) winds in the Western Channel and subjected to a harrowing tow into Falmouth. Read about it here.
- In 2005 Gellie joined the Cruising Association Victory Rally and AOA events on the way around. Gellie attended the Atalanta 50th Anniversary celebrations at MDL on the River Hamble (site of the Fairey Marine factory) and took part in the East Coast Race as part of the West Mersea Regatta. Read the story here.
Nothing heavily modified. As with all Atalanta 31s she has hydraulic rams to lift the keels. Gellie also has cabin blown air heating, fridge , 2 toilets and sophisticated furuno navigation equipment.
The first 40 years
As for many Atalantas, details of voyages and cruises in Gellie’s early years are not well documented. We have basic ownership data but depend upon owner’s contributions to AOA publications, magazines and the website.
A31-4 was sold by Fairey Marine as a kit to Babro Boats (not believed to be any relation to the Dutch motor-yacht manufacturer) and completed for the first owner as Jandavina. She was sold relatively quickly, renamed to Tadpole III and moved to the River Medway at Upnor for most of the rest of the 1960s. In 1969 she changed ownership and moved to Swansea where she was completely refitted. Tadpole III spent the next twenty five years in South and North Wales, owned by a syndicate for part of the time. By the mid 1990s she needed some refitting. A new owner in 1995 renamed her Tandwine and started the work.
Into the New Millennium
In 2001 Mike Dixon decided to trade up from his Titania T4 called Gellie. He bought A31-4 as a project renaming her Gellie. He moved her to north-east Scotland where he undertook an extensive restoration before undertaking adventurous cruises around the UK. He sold her in 2007 and in 2012 she was blown over in a gale whilst ashore and badly damaged.
But she was repaired and put afloat again. Then, in 2015 she was severely damaged in a freak storm in Rhu Harbour. 104 mph winds funnelled up the Clyde straight into the harbour mouth. 5 boats were Sunk. Gellie was actually on a pontoon berth that ripped out 2 mooring cleats. The mast was snapped in half and the top half swung like a demolition ball into the Hull and topsides.
Amazingly tough, she survived an in 2017 she was rescued by the current owner. Gellie was in a very bad way. Restoration started in Scotland before the boat was relocated to Yorkshire for repairs to continue before being relaunched in 2022.
|1963 – Still sailing
|Yorkshire (via The Solent, Kent, Wales and Scotland)
Below is a small selection of photos of A31-4 Gellie.