Wharram Hui Cornwall 2018 - Event Report

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By Hanneke Boon
Four Wharram boats rafted together

The summer of 2018 in the UK was one of the warmest and nicest for many years. So it was a great pity that during the long planned Cornish Hui at the end of July (27th, 28th, 29th) the weather broke and strong winds and rain came rushing in over the weekend.

Still the boats arrived, some coming from as far away as Holland, this was modified Narai 'Tortuga', sailed by Hanneke's sister Marijke and her husband Ronald. Next was Pahi 42 'Robin Hood' sailed from the Solent by Brian and friends. They both moored up at Devoran Quay on the high tide on the still sunny Thursday afternoon and were soon joined by Tiki 30 'Moku' sailed by Dave from Jersey and the Wharram's Mana 24.


On Friday the forecast clouds came in. Tiki 21 'Heron' arrived on a trailer. Her new Cornish owners had just bought her a few days earlier and trailed her from North Devon. A group of 'experts' gathered to help them put the boat together on the beach.

Wharram cats at Devoran Quay
The visitors boats at Devoran Quay

On the afternoon high tide more boats came. Tiki 30 Moana, now owned by Rory McDougall (of Tiki 21 'Cookie' fame), together with pretty green Tiki 21 'Gratitude' sailed in from Exmouth. 'Heron', on her first sail, sailed down the creek to welcome them. The Wharram's Tahiti Wayfarer sailed out when the tide was high enough at the top of the creek, expertly handled by Dutch Michael, the regular helper at JWD. 27ft Ethnic design Amatasi, now with new local owner Simon, was the last to sail in from her mooring in Falmouth. Melanesia was assembled and ready to sail.

With all the boats safely moored at Devoran Quay the people gathered at Wharram's HQ at the other end of the village. BBQs were lit, food was brought by all and laid out on tables in the tunnel boat shelter, protected from the expected rain, which soon arrived.

People gathered for a BBQ and party
The Friday evening BBQ and party

This was however no deterrent to the party that got underway. Around 60 people turned up, local friends and boat enthusiasts joined the crews from the boats. People without boats arrived with tents from far and wide. One man came all the way from Belgium on his motorcycle. A Tiki 21 owner flew in from Cyprus. A Frenchman, owner of Tiki 36 Nr.1 in the Bahamas, sailed in with Dave on 'Moku'. There were four people from as far as New Zealand; Glenn Edney, author of the highly recommended book 'The Ocean is Alive' with his wife Janey plus Chris Bone and partner who run Oceans Watch. Glenn helped the Wharrams build the Mana in 2015 whilst studying at the Schumacher institute in Dartington and writing his book.

James with Hanneke, being presented with a cake
James is presented with his 90th birthday cake

This was not just a Hui party, it was also the celebration of two landmark birthdays; James had his 90th birthday in May and Hanneke was very soon to be 65 in August. Nicki and Emma, who run the JWD dispatch office, did them proud. Two wonderful cakes were presented and to top it all Nicki had gathered letters and photos sent by Wharram friends from all round the world into a very large book; A total surprise for James and Hanneke and an incredible memento of more than 50 years of designing Wharram catamarans.

Hanneke and James looking at a big book
Hanneke and James browsing their memento book

As it got dark the fire was lit and partying went on long into the evening. It started to blow and flurries of rain fell, people with tents set them up in the workshop. Early next morning people cooked breakfast in the boat shelter. This shelter was a godsend, as it gave a dry place to sit and talk while the wind blew and the rain came down.

People talking, eating and drinking under a canopy, with a small fire outside
The party continued late into the evening


The planned sailing trip for Saturday was cancelled, but the rain held off most of the day, in the sunny spells people gathered at the quay to view the boats and talk to the owners. Duncan was there for the second year with his Hitia 14 'Lil Joka' carried on the car roof from the Midlands and he soon had her assembled on the beach.

A small catamaran being assembled on the beach
Duncan assembling his Hitia 14 on the beach

On the afternoon high tide in the blustery wind Duncan on his Hitia and several of the other small boats went zipping up and down the creek, taking anyone happy to get wet for short sails.

Tahiti Wayfarer sailing
The Tahiti Wayfarer takes people out for short sails in the creek on a wet Saturday


Sunday was another day of boat visiting and talking. Many of the boats had interesting histories. Ronald and Marijke built Narai 'Tortuga' in the early 1970s. After sailing her extensively round the coasts of Europe and to the Atlantic islands they sold her to start a family ashore. Many years later the new owner, who had never used the boat and totally neglected her, gave the boat back to Ronald. In seven long years he totally rebuilt her, making many modifications. Now in their retirement they make long sailing trips every summer, which Marijke records on video.

Narai Tortuga
Narai 'Tortuga'

Pahi 42 'Robin Hood' has a history close to the Wharram's heart. The hulls were built near Truro in the 1980s by Andy Smith as his own boat. Divorce led to the sale of the unfinished hulls, which were bought by a man from London who got Wharram Built Ltd. to finish her. Crossbeams (the first new I-beams) and deckpod were built in Wharram's workshop in Devoran and the boat was launched at Devoran Quay in 1990. Andy Smith had joined Wharram Built Ltd by this time as manager/builder of the Tiki 28 and Tiki 36. Brian bought 'Robin Hood' in the Spring after seeing her offered for sale on eBay, lying in Brighton Marina in a bad state of neglect. He had worked like a slave for three months to get her ready to sail to the Hui. So she had come home!

Pahi 42 resting on mud
Pahi 42 'Robin Hood'

Tiki 30 'Moku' was also built - beautifully! - nearby in Camborne by a cabinetmaker, who had to sell for financial reasons. David her current owner is an excellent sailor and often enters her in races in the Channel Islands.

Tiki 30 on the mud
Tiki 30 'Moku'

Tiki 21 'Gratitude' was built a long time ago by Mike Wynn, treasurer of the PCA committee for many years. Ian, her current owner keeps her in an excellent condition and sails her on long treks in the summer.

Tiki 21 sailing
Tiki 21 'Gratitude'

Tiki 30 'Moana' was recently bought by Rory McDougall as he wanted a boat big enough for the whole family to sail and a double bunk to sleep with his wife. The two tiny hulls of his round-the-world Tiki 21 'Cooking Fat' were just too small, so regretfully he finally sold her.

Tiki 30 sailing
Tiki 30 'Moana'

When the tide came in on Sunday the wind started to drop, more sailing was done on the creek for several hours. Mana raised her new Jeckells sails for the first time and could easily carry six people for trial sails.

Mana 24 sailing in a creek
'Mana' taking people for trial sails on the creek

The end of the weekend was also the end of bad weather. Most of the boats had left to sail home on Sunday and Monday, but four remained and had another day of Hui in glorious sunshine. On Tuesday Narai 'Tortuga', Tiki 30 'Moana', 'Mana' and Tiki 21 'Heron' sailed to the Helford river and rafted up there for lunch. A pity the other boats were no longer there to join them.

Tiki 21 sailing
Tiki 21 'Heron'
People having lunch on a boat
Rafted on the Helford river for lunch

We will have another Hui next year! Provisionally this will be the full moon weekend in July, 12 - 15th. Put it in your diary and pray for good weather.

Sad post script

On her voyage home to the Medway, Pahi 42 'Robin Hood' was in collision with a freighter. It happened in the night whilst they (2 crew) were sailing with a following wind near Dungeness off the Kent coast. The freighter, on a course North to the British coast, did not see her and even though the Pahi's crew did everything they could to take evasive action, the ship struck her starboard side doing catastrophic damage. The Pahi's rigging got caught in the protruding bridge of the ship and she was dragged along till an astonished crew noticed them. After a Mayday call the Coastguard came to the rescue and towed the boat, which stayed afloat, to Dover. She is now in Brian's boatyard in the Medway, but the damage is enormous. He is still in a legal battle with the Dutch shipping company that owns the freighter. We do hope he gets compensation, though that will never bring back the boat or make up for all the hard work he had put into her.

Pahi 42 on the beach with people aboard
Raising mast of 'Robin Hood' in Devoran, 1990.

Cornish Hui article in PBO

David Harding, who attended the Hui this year, has written a beautiful article about the event, published in the January issue of Practical Boat Owner. It gives a wide-ranging view of what Wharram catamarans and their owners represent, illustrated by some great photos.

Twenty two hulls and a Hui
Article about the event in Practical Boat Owner magazine

More photos and videos

You can see all the photos of the Hui here, and you can add your own.

Marijke de Boer Boon has made two videos of the Hui:

Wharram Hui Cornwall 2018
Wharram Hui Cornwall 2018 - Helford River Extra

Video about the Florida Hui 2017 and the history of Hui's:

Mystery of the HUI finally unveiled - Sailing Luckyfish Episode 46