Cromarty Archive

Cromarty Mains Farm - the new and the old

Cromarty Mains Farm - the new and the old

Date Added: 03 December 2007 Contributor: Colin Dunn Year: 2007 Picture No: 2049

Albums: Buildings


Round the corner of the steading to the right of the refridgerated container, in
the mid 1950's, Richard Brooke's 6 metre yacht SABRINA was cradled for painting.
I had the pleasure of adding the name of the yacht, in gold leaf, to the underside of the stern. To accomplish this, a scaffold was built to just under
the stern so as I could scribe on the lettering, lying on my back. Another one
of life's interesting tasks!
Comment left on 03 December 2007 at 20:39 by Clem Watson
Like you Clem I used to take a walk up to look at the Sabrina and the graceful lines. Started my thoughts onto Yacht Design which I still dabble in. Sailed in the other 6 metre Vorsa. Would like to know what happened to them - Ariel, Sabrina and Vorsa. Comment left on 06 December 2007 at 20:40 by Dennis Manson
Two of the new houses planned here are now going to be built. Apparently the original courtyard-type housing planning permission has been 'amended' and approved, but local residents haven't yet been allowed access to the revised plans. An odd way for the planning process to work. Comment left on 16 April 2008 at 09:16 by Colin
Regarding the three yachts mentioned, I sailed on Arielle with Ian Moodie who bought her from Richard Brooks and after many years in Invergordon she ended up being wrecked on the Clyde. Sabrina I don't know where she went after Hugh Ross had her and Stubbs Salveson still owned Vorsa several years ago...does anyone remember "Salotte".. another of Brooks yachts? Lachie Winton can tell a few tales about her.. Comment left on 19 April 2008 at 21:27 by Duncan Murray
Hi there

Dipping in to this conversation. My grandfather owned Arielle from 1939 - 1948 I think.... and have been trying to find out more about her and her fate. Does anybody know any more about when, where and how she was wrecked? Also wondering if any has, or knows of any photographs of her ?


Comment left on 12 April 2019 at 18:11 by Colin Wolstencroft
I recently came across this article on the Cromarty Web-site and thought I might be able to throw some light on a few of the questions raised there.
Richard Brooke owned a succession of boats during his tenure of Cromarty Mains farm.
Persephone or Percy as he called her. This was a 15½ foot sailing dinghy, of a class which was very popular for some unknown reason.
Arielle (also named Ariel) ex-six metre. She had very little freeboard and almost no shear and in consequence was a rather wet boat. Richard sold her to Ian Moodie, Teandallon Farm, Evanton, who raced her successfully in the firth and on the West coast.
Salotte. Previous name Wy Tui Tui (spelling in doubt) Renamed Salotte after the Queen of Tonga who visited the UK for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Salotte was a West Solent One-design yacht. This design was devised to provide a less expensive racing yacht than the Six Metre class. Each six metre yacht was individually designed within a formula and in consequence there was considerable variation between individuals in the class. The West Solent yachts all had identical hulls, thus reducing the cost. They were slightly heavier than the Six metres but not so well built, although they were very well designed and most attractive. Richard moored Salotte just west of the pier at Cromarty, which was very exposed to the prevailing wind and she dragged her mooring in a gale and was reduced to matchwood on the pier.
Tizera Hindustani (or some such language) , meaning "third". Richard meant this to indicate that it was his third yacht. He evidently did not count Percy as a yacht.
This was built by a company which was a wartime builder of military equipment, called Aero Marine which specialised in laminate construction and which attempted diversification after the war. The factory and here my memory is under strain, was somewhere near Gosport. I went with Richard to collect her in a five ton Bedford lorry, borrowed fron Alistair Fraser, Poyntzfield. En route we dropped off five tons of wheat from the Mains, at the Quaker factory at Peterborough. The yacht was not ready for delivery however, so the journey was largely wasted. We went over to Ryde on the Isle of Wight to look at the new Cromarty lifeboat which was being built there. This was the Lilla Maras Douglas and Will to be and we were very impressed with the standard of workmanship on display. Tizera was eventually completed and shipped to Cromarty and duly launched with ceremony and champagne. Disappointment was to follow. She was about twenty three feet long with a fin keel and reverse sheer and was beautifully built but sailed like a tub. In the slightest wind, going to windward required full weather helm. Richard maintained that the keel was in the wrong place. She was quickly disposed of and replaced by a thoroughbred in the shape of Sabrina.
Sabrina In 1954 Richard purchased Sabrina. She had been laid up unused from about 1939 in a yard called Robertson’s, at Sandbank, on the Firth of Clyde. This was the yard in which Britain’s contender for the Americas Cup, Sceptre, was built in 1958. (Designer, Mr David Boyd).
When purchased by Richard, Sabrina had a narrow open cockpit extending forward to the mast and tapering forward, to a width of about two feet. There was no shelter for the crew. Originally the helmsman would have had to sit on the deck. There was a sliding seat below the helm but it was inconvenient to use. Richard intended the yacht for cruising as well as racing and so Robertson’s fitted a coachroof and doghouse, giving shelter and headroom. Four pipe cots, a small cupboard and a stove were also fitted. In this way she was converted into an uncomfortable cruiser. She had no inboard engine but an outboard engine could be fitted to the starboard side on a removable bracket. This could be used in calm conditions only, such as on passage through the canals or returning home in a flat calm.
After the alterations were made Sabrina was launched from Robertson’s yard and because she had been out of the water for so long she leaked copiously. The yard applied a "bran mash" which reduced the leaks and we set off to sail her to Invergordon. This involved sailing through the Crinnan and Caledonian canals, pumping furiously all the while. The pump was a syringe-type hand-pump fitted at the cabin entrance under the cabin floor grating. . This was an original fitting. We had to moor overnight at Inverness, as we were too late to be let out of the canal. I went out on the town for the evening while the rest of the crew went to bed. When I arrived back at 0100hrs, the water was almost up to the bunks and we had to pump for several hours, or so it seemed. We sailed to Invergordon the next day. She continued to leak, especially round the mast step, and the following season a naval architect and Clyde yachtsman, called Joe Dean, designed several galvanised iron members which were fitted at the mast step and which stopped the leaks.
I cannot remember how much she cost when new but it was a very considerable sum.
She was reputed to be among the fastest of her class and I can believe that. I was told that she had been built to compete in the Seawanhaka Cup in New York but am not sure if that is correct. At any rate she won most, if not all of the races in the Cromarty Firth, the Clyde and the Western Isles Regattas while Richard owned her.
Richard was a very generous man and in return for looking after Sabrina, he allowed me to sail her any time I wished and so I spent many hours sailing in the firth, mostly single-handed. Because there was no safe anchorage at Cromarty and in light of the wreck of Salotte, she was kept at Invergordon. On Sundays, I would sail her down to Cromarty, in time to meet him coming out of church. We would then spend the day sailing and I would put him ashore at Cromarty and sail back, often in the dark, to Invergordon.
Richard died in a boating accident on the Clyde in 1958. He had gone down to the Clyde to Robertson’s Boatyard where Sceptre, the 12 metre yacht and contender for the Americas Cup was nearing completion. He knew the designer, David Boyd who invited him to view the yacht. He met up with a yachting friend called Archie McAlpine-Downie, who lived at Port Appin, near Oban and ran a yacht chartering business using a converted Brixham trawler called Servabo.. It was whilst returning to Servabo in the dingy in the evening in rough weather that the accident happened and both Richard and Archie were drowned. Archie’s body was found soon after the accident and Richard’s some considerable time later. Incidentally Archie’s son, Rod McAlpine-Downie was an internationally known designer of racing catamarans. Richard had invited me to go with him to view Sceptre. By this time I had left home to study at Aberdeen University and as I was busy with exams, I had to decline the invitation.
Sabrina was bought, mainly for sentimental reasons, by another farmer and yachtsman friend, Hugh Ross. Hugh owned another Fife designed yacht, Ulva, which he sold.
Hugh did not use her very much and he died in 1968. She was sold before this date but I have no information on this. My brother saw her in Anstruther, in Fife and he thought that an inboard engine had been fitted.
We did many cruises in the open sea on both the west and east coasts of Scotland and looking back, this was rather dangerous, as without a self-draining cockpit, she could easily have been swamped. However we did not go out in the roughest of weather and on some occasions had to turn back and run for shelter. She was not a good sea boat and tended to pound heavily in short seas. She was at her best in sheltered waters and there she was a pleasure to sail in.
Purely by chance, I came across a Web-site which laid out in detail the complete restoration of Sabrina in a yard in Germany. She had reverted to her original name of Fintra. The text was written in German, which taxed my meagre knowledge of the language but the site contained photographs of the complete rebuild.
For those who may be interested the web site address is :-

I hope I might be able to post some photographs shortly.
Gordon F. Legge

Comment left on 29 April 2019 at 21:46 by Gordon Legge
Form Goes Here