Yacht WINDFLOWER

The 45 foot yawl WINDFLOWER was designed by E.P. Hart and built in Emsworth in 1928. She was owned for eight years by Colonel Buckle, a West Mersea resident and a member of West Mersea Yacht Club. Sold to Sir Richard Wells in 1936, she remained in the Wells family until 1956. Sir Richard was Member of Parliament for Bedford.

While owned by the Wells family, the skipper was Frank Elgar Mussett. But Mike Wells mentions that many WINDFLOWER pictures have no crew evident. The Wells - 9 children, plus friends - were competent sailors, so I expect unless Sir Richard and Dolly were coming and would need some help, Skipper was able to leave them to it and carry on with his famous oysters.
Other photographs show not just Frank Elgar Mussett, but another crewman, yet to be identified. 'Cromer' Russell crewed on WINDFLOWER with Skipper Mussett, and it is likely that Frank Elgar's son Elgar also crewed on her.

WINDFLOWER had a mud berth at West Mersea, east of the Victory - on the outside of the ARK ROYAL and the VERA houseboats. She had her own store at Wyatts and was well looked after. John Milgate can remember caulking her decks after the War, and at that time was offered a job crewing on her at 30 shillings a day - but he was already busy crewing the KISMET.
During WW2, she was laid up in her mud berth at West Mersea, looked after by Skipper Mussett. She was offered for use at Dunkirk, but was not fast enough. On several occasions bombs fell around her shattering other craft, but WINDFLOWER escaped with nothing worse than a torn cover and being bespattered with mud; after he six year's rest she emerged as sound as ever. The Wells family were relieved to hear in 1945 that Skipper was prepared to carry on, with the proviso that he would not be going foreign.

Dorothy Wells' General News Bulletin (family newsletter) 11 July 1949 gives us a view of life with WINDFLOWER in the years after WW2.

Skipper Mussett catches eels

".... I was jolly thankful to get Daddy away to WINDFLOWER this weekend. We set forth on Friday, leaving Bedford at 12... We unpacked, had tea on board, and then Skipper said would we like to try for eels? So off we set in the dinghy, and looked round all the "withies" or beacons, the small dead trees stuck in the mud to mark the channels.

The eels seem to like to rest there and curl their tails round the little trees - that is at dead low tide. We crept cautiously up to each one, so as to avoid noise or splashing, and sometimes Skipper said "There's one" but we could never see anything.

If there was one, he got his large hand-net neatly down and scooped it up; it looked so easy, but I'm sure if you or I tried to do it, we shouldn't catch a thing. He got about 10 altogether, none of them very large, and skinned them, and Dodo nobly cooked them for our supper, and Skipper had the rest. Very delicious they were too. We had never seen eels caught like that before, it was most interesting.

We went a little way up Mussett's Creek, and there was a man busy on the oyster-beds, and to my great excitement, he was walking in Splatchers! (See "Secret Water" by Arthur Ransome.) We had never seen anyone wearing the things before, either; but Skipper says they have to have them so as not to crush the infant eels, and that "in old days" as he put it they used to race in Splatchers! It must have been fun.

On Saturday we sailed early, at about 9.30, and went up the Blackwater as far as Heybridge, where we anchored and had a comfortable lunch below. Then we sailed back....."

In the following week's letter, 19 July 1949, Arthur Ransome has spent the day sailing with them - he's down in Mersea seeing to his boat PETER DUCK which has been laid up there, and entertains them all with his stories, though apparently very shy of talking about his books.

WINDFLOWER was eventually sold to American solo yachtsman Peter Tangvald, who arrived in Long Beach, California in December 1958 and then sold her. It appears possible that a derelict photographed on blocks at Dun Laoghaire, Ireland around 2000 is WINDFLOWER so she may not be quite gone yet.

Frank Elgar Mussett was born 1885. He was a fisherman and oysterman but served in the Mercantile Marine Reserve in World War 1. He was Skipper of WINDFLOWER 1936 - 1956. Frank Elgar married Nellie Heard - they had a daughter Joan and a son Elgar Frank.
Frank Elgar Mussett died in 1985 at the age of 99.

Elgar Frank was born 1920 and became a joiner with Clifford White & Company on Mersea. He was in Singapore when it fell in 1942. He escaped to Sumatra and the party reached Padang hoping to be rescued by a British destroyer, but things did not work out. They were captured by the Japanese and remained in captivity until end of the War. After the War, he was a carpenter and engineer with the Clarke & Carter boatyard on Mersea.

The Burma Road, the area opposite The Victory that has developed over the years, was named by Elgar Frank Mussett, when he was working on it one hot summer - a reminder of his time in Burma during WW2.

In 1982 'young' Elgar was interviewed by Dennis Chatters for Lions Talking Magazine. Elgar talks mainly about his time in WW2. You can listen to them online - there are two parts, 25 minutes and 36 minutes respectively.

Play Part 1

Play Part 2

Notes
Lloyds Register of Yachts 1930:
WINDFLOWER 149150 wood aux yawl. Built R. Kemp Emsworth 1928. Owner Dr Herbert S. French, Cudworth Manor, Newdigate, Surrey
LRY 1932 Owner Col. Cuthbert Buckle
LRY 1935 Owner Col. Cuthbert Buckle
LRY 1937 Owner Sydney R. WElls M.P.
LRY 1947 Owner Sir Richard Wells, Bart., D.L.
LRY 1953 Owner Sir Richard Wells, Bt., D.L.

Sources
Most of the background to the WINDFLOWER has come from the Mike Wells and the Wells family.


Related Images

 West Mersea Yacht Club Regatta. From The Yachtsman 30 July 1932.
 The caption from the magazine suggests that WINDFLOWER is the yacht in the centre, but the Wells family who later owned WINDFLOWER believe that the yacht in the centre is not the WINDFLOWER - there are many differences. It is thought that WINDFLOWER is the yacht on the left of the picture. Perhaps it is PETRONA in the centre ?  LC1_AB4_PIC43LC1_AB4_PIC43
West Mersea Yacht Club Regatta. From The Yachtsman 30 July 1932.
The caption from the magazine suggests that WINDFLOWER is the yacht in the centre, but the Wells family who later owned WINDFLOWER believe that the yacht in the centre is not the WINDFLOWER - there are many differences. It is thought that WINDFLOWER is the yacht on the left of the picture. Perhaps it is PETRONA in the centre ?
cJuly 1932
 Racing past Mersea Island. Postcard by Douglas Went. West Mersea Yacht Club Regatta cJuly 1932. The yacht on the left is thought to be WINDFLOWER, built Emsworth 1928, Official No 149150. Owned by Col. Cuthbert Buckle of London EC4. The yacht in the centre is thought to be PETRONA.
</p><p>The picture appears in The Yachtsman, 30 July 1932.  PG2_209PG2_209
Racing past Mersea Island. Postcard by Douglas Went. West Mersea Yacht Club Regatta cJuly 1932. The yacht on the left is thought to be WINDFLOWER, built Emsworth 1928, Official No 149150. Owned by Col. Cuthbert Buckle of London EC4. The yacht in the centre is thought to be PETRONA.

The picture appears in The Yachtsman, 30 July 1932.
cJuly 1932

 Yacht WINDFLOWER off West Mersea Beach. Colonel Buckle and party on board - exactly as a photograph published in The Yachtsman and Motor Boating 29 July 1933 <a href=mmphoto.php?typ=ID&hit=1&tot=1&ba=cke&bid=LC1_AB4_PIC51>LC1_AB4_PIC51 </a>  WFL_003WFL_003
Yacht WINDFLOWER off West Mersea Beach. Colonel Buckle and party on board - exactly as a photograph published in The Yachtsman and Motor Boating 29 July 1933 LC1_AB4_PIC51
cJuly 1933
 Col. Buckle and party on board WINDFLOWER. Laid up ships in the background.  WFL_005WFL_005
Col. Buckle and party on board WINDFLOWER. Laid up ships in the background.
c1936
 Skipper Mussett wonders. Frank Elgar Mussett on yacht WINDFLOWER.
 Mussett, S.R.W., and Mary.  WFL_012WFL_012
"Skipper Mussett wonders". Frank Elgar Mussett on yacht WINDFLOWER.
Mussett, S.R.W., and Mary.
27 June 1936
 Yacht WINDFLOWER racing.  WFL_014WFL_014
Yacht WINDFLOWER racing.
27 June 1936
 Skipper Mussett Grins - he has got the tiller at last. Frank Elgar Mussett on yacht WINDFLOWER.
 Helene, Mussett, Mary, George & Charles.  WFL_022WFL_022
Skipper Mussett Grins - he has got the tiller at last. Frank Elgar Mussett on yacht WINDFLOWER.
Helene, Mussett, Mary, George & Charles.
11 July 1936
 Mussett going aloft. Yacht WINDFLOWER.  WFL_047WFL_047
Mussett going aloft. Yacht WINDFLOWER.
1 August 1936
 Yacht WINDFLOWER - the ship's bell.  WFL_065WFL_065
Yacht WINDFLOWER - the ship's bell.
cAugust 1936
 Yacht WINDFLOWER all sail set.  WFL_073WFL_073
Yacht WINDFLOWER all sail set.
cAugust 1936
 Yacht WINDFLOWER all sail set.  WFL_074WFL_074
Yacht WINDFLOWER all sail set.
cAugust 1936
 Yacht WINDFLOWER port tack  WFL_076WFL_076
Yacht WINDFLOWER port tack
cAugust 1936
 Yacht WINDFLOWER starboard tack  WFL_077WFL_077
Yacht WINDFLOWER starboard tack
cAugust 1936
 Yacht WINDFLOWER trailing.  WFL_078WFL_078
Yacht WINDFLOWER trailing.
cAugust 1936
 Sir Richard Wells on his Birthday. Yacht WINDFLOWER.  WFL_045WFL_045
Sir Richard Wells on his Birthday. Yacht WINDFLOWER.
3 August 1936
 Yacht WINDFLOWER. Oliver Wells.

 See <a href=mmphoto.php?typ=ID&hit=1&tot=1&ba=cke&bid=WFL_BK1_001>WFL_BK1_001 </a> for the remarkable story of Oliver in the RAF during and after WW2.
</notonweb>  WFL_048WFL_048
Yacht WINDFLOWER. Oliver Wells.
See WFL_BK1_001 for the remarkable story of Oliver in the RAF during and after WW2.
4 August 1936
 Yacht WINDFLOWER. George and former owner Col. Buckle.  WFL_096WFL_096
Yacht WINDFLOWER. George and former owner Col. Buckle.
September 1936
 WINDFLOWER on the Hard at West Mersea. Frank Elgar Mussett on deck.
 Photograph from Little Ships and Shoal Waters by Maurice Griffiths  WFL_171_001WFL_171_001
WINDFLOWER on the Hard at West Mersea. Frank Elgar Mussett on deck.
Photograph from Little Ships and Shoal Waters by Maurice Griffiths
c1937
 WINDFLOWER on the Hard at West Mersea. 
 Photograph from Little Ships and Shoal Waters by Maurice Griffiths  WFL_171_003WFL_171_003
WINDFLOWER on the Hard at West Mersea.
Photograph from Little Ships and Shoal Waters by Maurice Griffiths
c1937
 Yacht WINDFLOWER.  WFL_101WFL_101
Yacht WINDFLOWER.
1939
 Yacht WINDFLOWER. Overboard !
 A cartoon by Peter Milburn, from WINDFLOWER's visitors' book, showing Dolly falling in while Skipper Mussett observes from foredeck. Enough people were on hand to do something and Sir Richard coped with the situation by going below for a large whisky.
 Another family member adds it was on a trip up the Blackwater to Heybridge Basin where we ran aground - easily done - and the ensuing gybe swept poor Gran clean over the side - to Skipper's concerned exclamation Thar She Goo - after a brief disappearance in the muddy water, to everyone's huge relief she stood up, waist deep - and still wearing her sun hat.  WFL_151WFL_151
Yacht WINDFLOWER. Overboard !
A cartoon by Peter Milburn, from WINDFLOWER's visitors' book, showing "Dolly" falling in while Skipper Mussett observes from foredeck. Enough people were on hand to do something and Sir Richard coped with the situation by going below for a large whisky.
Another family member adds it was on a trip up the Blackwater to Heybridge Basin where we ran aground - easily done - and the ensuing gybe swept poor Gran clean over the side - to Skipper's concerned exclamation "Thar She Goo" - after a brief disappearance in the muddy water, to everyone's huge relief she stood up, waist deep - and still wearing her sun hat.
1953
 Yacht WINDFLOWER. S.R.W. and M.D.W. 
 Frank Elgar Mussett standing against the mizzen mast.
 Photograph taken by Charles Wells in the Summer of 1954.  WFL_141WFL_141
Yacht WINDFLOWER. S.R.W. and M.D.W.
Frank Elgar Mussett standing against the mizzen mast.
Photograph taken by Charles Wells in the Summer of 1954.
cAugust 1954
 Yacht WINDFLOWER. 
 U.S.A. The completion of a 13,000 - mile sea voyage alone: Peter Tangvald standing on his English yawl after arriving in California from England. 
 Peter Tangvald, an American, has just completed a fourteen-month voyage alone from West Mersey, England to Long Beach, California, in his 45-ft yawl. He spent four days in a hurricane, forty-eight hours at the tiller without food, and broke two fingers.
</p><p>From Illustrated London News</p>
<p>There is another photograph of Peter Tangvald and WINDFLOWER at <a href=http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll44/id/95422 target=wfl> http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll44/id/95422</a>  WFL_201WFL_201
Yacht WINDFLOWER.
U.S.A. The completion of a 13,000 - mile sea voyage alone: Peter Tangvald standing on his English yawl after arriving in California from England.
Peter Tangvald, an American, has just completed a fourteen-month voyage alone from West Mersey, England to Long Beach, California, in his 45-ft yawl. He spent four days in a hurricane, forty-eight hours at the tiller without food, and broke two fingers.

From Illustrated London News

There is another photograph of Peter Tangvald and WINDFLOWER at http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll44/id/95422
10 January 1959

 Yacht WINDFLOWER. Companionway on port side.
 Georgina explains that WINDFLOWER had a comfortable deep cockpit which had no access below to the cabin. Access was by a companion forrard port side, as in this photograph, very difficult on starboard tack sometimes! A strange design.  WFL_102WFL_102
Yacht WINDFLOWER. Companionway on port side.
Georgina explains that WINDFLOWER had a comfortable deep cockpit which had no access below to the cabin. Access was by a companion forrard port side, as in this photograph, very difficult on starboard tack sometimes! A strange design.
 Yacht WINDFLOWER.  WFL_103WFL_103
Yacht WINDFLOWER.
 Yacht WINDFLOWER. Danny and Mary.  WFL_111WFL_111
Yacht WINDFLOWER. Danny and Mary.
 Yacht WINDFLOWER.
 Oliver, Mr Buckle, Sarah, Dick, George and Mary.
 Standing against the mizzen mast on right, Frank Elgar Mussett ?  WFL_123WFL_123
Yacht WINDFLOWER.
Oliver, Mr Buckle, Sarah, Dick, George and Mary.
Standing against the mizzen mast on right, Frank Elgar Mussett ?
 Yacht WINDFLOWER.
 Dick, Mr Buckle, George and Mary.
 Patient crew standing by the mizzen. Probably Frank Elgar Mussett on the right.  WFL_124WFL_124
Yacht WINDFLOWER.
Dick, Mr Buckle, George and Mary.
Patient crew standing by the mizzen. Probably Frank Elgar Mussett on the right.
 Yacht WINDFLOWER.  WFL_126WFL_126
Yacht WINDFLOWER.
 Frank Elgar Mussett, skipper of yacht WINDFLOWER 1936 - 1956, sitting by the mizzen and looking 'unusually jolly'. His guernsey has WINDFLOWER R.T.Y.C. [Royal Thames Yacht Club] on it.  WFL_161WFL_161
Frank Elgar Mussett, skipper of yacht WINDFLOWER 1936 - 1956, sitting by the mizzen and looking 'unusually jolly'. His guernsey has WINDFLOWER R.T.Y.C. [Royal Thames Yacht Club] on it.
 Yacht WINDFLOWER. 21 tons. Article by Colonel Buckle, former owner.
 From Little Ships and Shoal Waters by Maurice Griffith, Page 5. 1937.  WFL_171WFL_171
Yacht WINDFLOWER. 21 tons. Article by Colonel Buckle, former owner.
From Little Ships and Shoal Waters by Maurice Griffith, Page 5. 1937.
 Yacht EUDORA, Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, owned by Charles WellS of Bedford and kept at Gosport. Photo by Debenham of Ryde.
</p><p>Charles Wells had been on the Melbourne run in the Blackwall Frigates 1856-72 and never lost his love of the sea, despite setting up the brewery in Bedford. Charles Wells was the father of Sir Richard Wells who owned the yacht WINDFLOWER.
</p><p>
EUDORA 105944 Wood cutter. Built Camper & Nicholsons Gosport 1896. Owner Charles Wells, Newnham House, Bedford [LRY 1914].
 The Archivist at Camper & Nicholsons says she was built as EUDORA for Fred Hewett in 1896 and acquired by Charles Wells in 1900.
</p>  WFL_221WFL_221
Yacht EUDORA, Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, owned by Charles WellS of Bedford and kept at Gosport. Photo by Debenham of Ryde.

Charles Wells had been on the Melbourne run in the Blackwall Frigates 1856-72 and never lost his love of the sea, despite setting up the brewery in Bedford. Charles Wells was the father of Sir Richard Wells who owned the yacht WINDFLOWER.

EUDORA 105944 Wood cutter. Built Camper & Nicholsons Gosport 1896. Owner Charles Wells, Newnham House, Bedford [LRY 1914].
The Archivist at Camper & Nicholsons says she was built as EUDORA for Fred Hewett in 1896 and acquired by Charles Wells in 1900.

ID: WFL
Source: Mersea Museum