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Conserving the Devonshire Avon from source to sea

GILLAROO – 3rd anniversary exit from the Avon? Bon voyage!

by | Oct 11, 2010 | Main | 5 comments

It is now just 3 years since the Gillaroo arrived in the Avon for ‘restoration’ work, throughout which time the ACA and Aveton Gifford Parish Council have been lobbying  for its removal.   The river is not a suitable environment  for such major re-fits. 

Only a few days ago,  the vessel seemed to have developed a new leak and was taking on water to the extent that the decks were awash on recent high tides (10th Oct 2010).   That happened just as the Duchy of Cornwall (owners of the river fundus) had arranged for the boat’s removal or break up. 

However, I can report that the vessel has been seen, today (13th October), trying to make its way past the oyster beds in a seaward direction – on a falling tide.    Unfortunately,   she will have to await more favourable conditions before finally quitting the river.  The Bantham Harbourmaster has been kept informed of developments by the boat’s owner and has inspected proceedings.   Let’s hope the vessel makes it to open water as soon as possible.  Bon voyage!      

EXODUS – 16th October 2010


  1. martin small

    For your information, Gillaroo was intentionaly anchored at Bantham, so she can be moved at any time, rather than waiting for higher tides where she was. please get your facts straight! And as for 3 years in the river, think this is untrue too! Some people need to get a life!

    • Stuart Watts

      Sorry Martin but I have dated e-mails showing the date of arrival. However, I’m pleased you’re following our website to keep in touch with developments on the Avon.

  2. martin small

    Thanks for posting my reply.Gillaroo is now in Falmouth where she will be restored- hopefully! This boat has seen alot of history (ww1 and ww2) and was criminal that she was nearly broken up with a digger.She was never a threat to the habitat of the Avon, it just seems there are many people down there who wish to try and put a stop to people trying to get on with there lives , perhaps because they have not much better to do. I agree not alot of work was done to Gilaroo whilst she was here but why cant people help one and other get along rather than object and make life difficult for others, they should be ashamed. The river is for boats, and wildlife and just because she did not look great should not be an issue. Its would be interesting to know the real reasons why she was not wanted on the river? As said there was no risk of pollution? as for your recent picture of her sinking, was very likely to her being moved under the instruction of the Duchy as she was placed unevenly on the slipway ready to be broken and cracks in the hull occured. Everyone seems to be moaning about everyone down on the avon, isnt life too short? as said we should all be helping each other, not making each others life difficult! Thanks. Martin

    • Stuart Watts

      Thanks again, Martin. You express some very worthy sentiments but effective collaboration depends on a shared agenda, good communication, a resolve to follow through with promised actions and a suitable working environment; factors which were all missing from the Gillaroo situation.
      In the current context, the main concern of the Avon community, which includes many different interest groups, is that this river is not viewed as a junk yard for old, decrepit or unwanted boats; it is too highly prized for that. Until recently, a state of virtual anarchy existed in the upper reaches of the estuary but thanks to concerted action by the Duchy of Cornwall, Aveton Gifford Parish Council and the ACA this is now changing. As a result, all river users should benefit and I include the wildlife in that.
      The restoration of the Gillaroo was not suited to the Avon which simply does not possess suitable boatyard facilities; the owner was poorly advised in moving her to this river. The vessel was in very poor condition when she arrived and has continued to deteriorate steadily ever since. Contrary to your opinion that recent moves may have damaged the boat, her decks were awash on high tides some time ago when she was berthed by the owner on neighbouring land – see this website and the Kingsbridge Gazette archives for photographs. Since then, twice daily stranding on the river bed at low water has not helped her condition. As a matter of fact, I am told by those who know that the Gillaroo’s back was first broken and repaired years ago, whilst she was berthed in Kingsbridge.
      I am sure that we all wish the owner well in his efforts to restore the boat to her former glory in her new location. Successfully reaching Falmouth was, in itself, a considerable achievement!

  3. martin small

    Thanks for the reply, some fair comments. Regards, martin


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