The 18th century sailing yacht - “Peggy”

“Peggy” is a clinker built sailing yacht constructed in 1789 for George Quayle of Castletown, Isle of Man.

“Peggy” is a clinker built sailing yacht constructed in 1789 for George Quayle of Castletown, Isle of Man. Quayle was a member of the House of Keys for 51 years and, during the wars with France from 1793, he was an officer in successive Manx forces raised for Island defence. He was co-founder of the earliest bank on the Isle of Man and an enthusiastic inventor and traveller.

There is clear documentary evidence that Quayle was experimenting with a sliding keel on Peggy and sailed her across the Irish Sea to take part in a regatta on Lake Windermere in 1796. His harrowing account of the return journey in bad weather makes the specific reference “without the Slidg, Keels we cd not have carried enough sail”. At some point after the Windermere trip, Peggy was considerably altered. Her freeboard was raised by fitting a new strake and gunwale, the oar ports on the original strake were blocked with small timber panels, a new stern seat fitted and the transom raised to approx twice its original height.

Peggy is one of only a handful of 18th century sailing vessels still in existence and is a remarkable survivor, largely due to the fact she was left abandoned and undisturbed for more than 100 years in the walled up boat house, built by Quayle at the same time he commissioned “Peggy”.

Peggy is now in the care of the Nautical Museum at Castletown and undergoing a careful and painstaking programme of restoration, prior to her eventual redisplay.

Although repaired and repainted soon after the second world war, much of Peggy’s original paint still survives on her transom and original strake and beneath the later layers paint applied in the 1950’s.

The University of Lincoln were contracted by Manx National Heritage to investigate and analyse the historic paint layers, to define her original appearance and how this evolved during her working life. A number of key samples were removed for analysis by optical microscopy and SEM/EDX, and in conjunction with archival evidence uncovered by the Drury McPherson Partnership we were able to build up a clear picture of Peggy’s paintwork.

When first constructed Peggy’s hull was painted pale blue/green, with the transom and original strake in a green oil paint referred to in Quayle’s account book as “Patent Green” (see included website image), with the name “PEGGY” picked out in gold leaf on the stern transom. The external hull beneath the water line was coated in a thick layer of black bitumen, and the gunwale, rubbing strake and framing around the transom in black. Over the following years, Peggy was then repainted 5 times using the same colour combination, with the exception of the external hull which was painted pale ochre.

Then, following her return from Windermere and the subsequent alterations she was repainted in dark ochre and the inscription “GEORGE QUAYLE CASTLETOWN” with a red swag painted above on the newly raised stern transom.

Internally, Peggy was painted in a strong red oil paint (referred to in Quayle’s account book as the iron oxide pigment – Venetian Red) above deck board level and coated in black bitumen below deck level.

Also of interest was a thin layer of deteriorated white paint extant on the original strake (the area with blocked oar ports). Analysis by SEM/EDX (see included website image) identified the pigment in this water soluble layer as lithopone, which was not introduced commercially until 1876 and used extensively throughout the 1930’s & 40’s in water paints. This suggests this layer was applied possibly just pre-war for reasons that remain unclear.