SSMV Starbuck

Always on the look out for a good story, I came across this boat, SSMV Starbuck, in Ramsgate harbour. On the harbour was a notice board detailing its illustrious history. It reads as follows:


60ft overall length – 15ft beam – 28 tons gross weight – Larch planking on British oak frame

Built for the Admiralty in 1943 by Carnie of Scotland as Admiralty Type Motor Fishing Vessel 617.

MFV617'S intended wartime use was as an armed supply and escort ship, with anticipated later conversion to a fishing trawler.

During WWII, MFV617 served in flotillas escorting convoys to Egypt, armed with twin .303 machine guns.

In 1945 she was decommissioned from the Navy and joined the Brixham, Devon, fishing fleet under the name Our Lady Lou. In 1971 Our Lady Lou's fishing service ended and she was abandoned.

Boatbuilder Mack Archer of Thames Ditton, Surrey, purchased Our Lady Lou in 1973 and renamed her Starbuck. He then lived on board throughout a 30-year restoration. Extensive work was carried out, including the replacement of 600ft of planking.

From 2003 to 2015 Starbuck was sailed extensively around European waters, the Caribbean and the Bering Sea.

Starbuck was bought by John Ouzman in 2016 and berthed in Ramsgate as a living, sailing piece of maritime history.

Fewer than 50 of this type of vessel survive, and John says his intention now is to look after her for future generations to enjoy.