A report on the Silver Anniversary cruise

The following article is repeated from the Teignmouth Gazette of the of the 30th July 1998, by permission of the reporter Gareth Woodgates

Seal class yachts silver anniversary cruise

A flotilla of 14 Seal-class yachts flying distinctive gold and black burgees sailed into Teignmouth last Thursday on the penultimate stage of a marathon coast crawl from Boston in Lincolnshire to the Exe. For it was there that the first Seal - built at John Baker's Kenton Forge workshop - was launched 25 years ago.

The silver anniversary cruise in company to mark the event began at current builders Parker Yachts yard near Boston, over .400 nautical miles distant. Members of the 350-strong class association joined in - and dropped out - in relays as the flotilla passed their home ports.


It was a flag-waving exercise for the popular class of cruising yachts ranging in size from 21 to 32ft and distinguished by their lifting keels.

A special large 25th anniversary flag was flown in turn by every one of the participating yachts on the cruise that ended with a presentation to original builder John Baker, guest of honour at a reception at Topsham Sailing Club on Saturday night, organised by River Exe Seal owners.

'It's like carrying the Olympic flame,' said the association's Commodore, Martin Hopton, on board his Chichester-based Seal 27, Shemar.'

He and the others were all first-time visitors to the Teign. 'The pilot books and sailing guides make the entrance seem very intimidating, but it is not so difficult really, though the strength of the tide surprised us,' he judged. 'I 'think it's done deliberately to keep people away from a lovely harbour and pretty town which deserves to attract more visiting yachts, especially Seals which are designed to sit on mud banks.' His crew, oldest association member Brian Campbell-James, 82, joked: 'I'm "too decrepit to skipper, but I still appreciate all the pubs!'

At the opposite end of the age range was two-year-old Kate Surplice, daughter of Ken and Sue who had sailed from Calshot, Hants. in Saffie, a Seal 21.


On Saturday the flotilla, its numbers increased by local yachts, sailed up the Exe for the party which was attended by Mrs Murlo Primrose, widow of Seal designer Angus and owner of Seal No 2, called, appropriately. Seal.

John Baker, 70, of Stokeinteignhead, was presented with, an engraved silver tankard. He said: 'It was lovely to meet a lot of old friends - some of them very old indeed! - for a sentimental reunion. It is very satisfying to have created something that has enabled me to maintain a friendship with customers over many years and to know that Seals are still going strong.'