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Mary Amelia

Built in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War. The Osbourne family purchased her to dredge for cockles out of Leigh on Sea. In 1981  she was rescued from being sunk by Colin Fox and was later sold to Jonathan Simper in 2001.

Jonathan carried out a huge re-build and restoration in 2008-9 replacing 70% of the vessels structure. Mary Amelia has been written up in many books by of Jonathan’s father Robert Simper.

She has been used in film work and cruised to Calais and back.

She has and still can be been used for shell fish trawling under sail and is possibly the only genuine working bawley on the East Coast of England.

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  • Length overall : 52 ft
  • Length on deck : 34 ft
  • Year built : 1914
  • Vessel/rig : Gaff Bawley
  • Guest berths :4 overnight
  • Guest 6 for a day sail.


The Experts View: What Amelia Does Best

Mary Amelia - Lying quietly in the golden evening light
Mary Amelia at Snape by the Snape Maltings Concert Centre

London is near but far away.

Mary Amelia is the expert in exploring the quite back waters of Essex and Suffolk. London is just a drone flight away but you will be in totally unperceived hidden locations. The skipper Jonathan Simper grew up in these waters and knows every twist and turn of the secluded creeks and waterways he loves so dearly.

Let Jonathan show you the beauty of the rivers and estuaries. You can see and help in all aspects of the sailing, no previous experience is necessary and at the end of the day sit back relax and enjoy the tranquillity our daily lives so often lack.

Relax on Mary Amelia


Looking astern from Mary Amelia

What to Expect

Style of Sailing

On arrival Jonathan Simper, who is the owner and skipper of Mary Amelia will welcome you.  He is a professional oyster man and operates three commercial fishing boats and has had a lifetime’s experience of sailing on traditional boats.

The first evening will be spent getting to know the boat, the skipper and crew. A local hostelry may help. You will then return to the vessel for the night and  Sleeping bags will be provided.

The Skipper and crew will be up early for morning tea and to prepare the vessel for the days sailing. A basic breakfast will be prepared for eating once under way.

The morning will be spent sailing in the sheltered waters or making progress to the evenings destination.

Packed Lunch will be provided. Local fish and shellfish including the Simpers Deben Oysters can be part of the menu if requested in advance. Special diets can be catered for.

More sailing or possibly exploring ashore in the afternoon followed by an evening meal onboard.

You will sleep aboard the Mary Amelia if you have another day to go.

A General Note With Regard to Sailing: -

“ Mary Amelia” is a sailing boat and the Skipper Jonathan Simper will sail her when he judges it suitable to do so. The decision to sail rests entirely with Mr Simper as skipper of the boat whose first consideration is the safety and comfort of the passengers and crew and safety of the boat.

Mary Amelia Racing

Food on Mary Amelia 

The food on Mary Amelia is a not in keeping with her humble character. Remember you are sailing with a man who grows asparagus and a son who dredges for oysters. They may be country folk, but they are defiantly not simple and they defiantly have high standards of catering.

Great food on Mary Amelia

Below Decks on Mary Amelia

The Salon on Mary Amelia

 Mary Amelia has basic equipment including a toilet, comfortable below decks but not luxurious.

Crew setting sail on Mary Amelia

Home port


'Mary Amelia', 1914, is used for cruising and part of the Simper family shellfish business. She is possibly the only genuine working bawley on the East Coast of England.

  • Length overall : 52 ft
  • Length on deck : 34 ft
  • Draft 2.83 ft with the centre board keel lifted.
  • Tonnage 
  • Year built : 1914
  • Vessel/rig : Gaff Bawley
  • Guest berths :4 overnight
  • Guest 6 for a day sail.
Mary Amelia Winter berth.


Mary Amelia Skipper Jonathan Simper

Skipper and crew

Skipper, Jonathan Simper is the middle generation currently sailing the East Coast of England. His father Robert Simper is a well-known author and historian of traditional sailing vessels around the coast of Britain but especially the east coast Smacks and Bawleys.

Apart from sailing Mary Amelia Jonathan runs an asparagus farm and helps his son dredge for Deben Oysters off the coast of Essex.

In addition Jonathan He has extensive local knowledge so that something that interests you ashore he will know about. (Or if not he can always make up a convincing story to amuse and beguile you.)


The Crew is his son Harry and between them they form a perfect crew to help you sail Mary Amelia.

Mary Amelia Crew Harry Simper
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