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Kelpie Is Now Kelpie of Falmouth

The new owners of Kelpie are looking for stories of her history.

Kelpie
©2012 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The 65-ft (82-ft LOA) schooner Kelpie of Falmouth, built in 1928 at the famous Harvey Gamage Shipyard in Maine and known as ‘the fastest schooner in the west’ during the many decades she was known simply as Kelpie in Southern California, arrived at Cornwall, England, in early December. She had just completed a 9,000-mile delivery — almost all of it under sail — from Southern California via the Panama Canal.

The 84-year-old schooner has been taken to the Gweek Quay Boatyard in Cornwall, where she will be refurbished by Asgard Yachts with new teak decks, a new interior, and a modified rig. The project manager is Charlie Wroe, who is also the project manager and skipper for the 135-ft Herrschoff schooner Mariette. Readers may remember that Mariette was owned and raced for many years, mostly in Europe, by Belvedere’s Tom Perkins prior to his building the 289-ft Maltese Falcon.

Kelpie has been renamed Kelpie of Falmouth to distingush her from a similarly sized classic yacht in Falmouth named Kelpie. Once her restoration is complete, Kelpie of Falmouth will be enthusiastically campaigned. 

Trevor Murphy (left), the new captain, and Charlie Wroe (right), the project manager, pose in front of Kelpie of Falmouth.

Kelpie of Falmouth
©2012 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We’re embarassed to say we don’t know that much about Kelpie‘s days in Southern California, except that the Minney family sailed her to Tahiti in ’59. According to the colorful Ernie — who owns Minney Marine Surplus in Newport Beach — he, his father Capt. Bligh, brothers Owen and Joe, plus three other guys, initially set sail for the 300-mile distant Guadaloupe Island. When ‘Capt. Bligh’ couldn’t find it, he decided they should continue on to 3,000-mile distant Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas. They made it, too, but without the use of the engine, which had taken on water, and after suffering a knockdown during which water poured into the main salon. We know of no other details of that adventure, other than that the three brothers eventually staged a mutiny. For what it’s worth, Ernie later circumnavigated with the 82-ft schooner Shearwater

The new owner of Kelpie of Falmouth would love to compile a complete history of the yacht, so if you have stories or photos, please forward them to Sarah Jupp. And while you’re at it, cc Latitude.

6 Comments

  1. Rosemary Springer 5 years ago

    Hi, if this is the same Kelpie that was in San Diego for awhile, I can tell you some of her early history. My father in law, Howard Springer was stationed in Maine during WWII while he was in the Coast Guard. Right after the war he bought the Kelpie. I am not sure how the boat got to New York, but Howard sailed the Kelpie down the US East Coast and went all the way around to California. Sadly when he was a few miles out of San Diego the main mast broke and he couldn’t afford to repair it. So he had to sell the boat. The last he knew of his boat was that it was being used as a charter boat. Howard passed away a couple of years ago, but he once told my husband that he wished he could have sailed the boat with him because they both love sailing.

  2. Terri Middlekauff 3 years ago

    If this was in Southern California I spent a week on Kelpie. It was docked behind the Ancient Mariner restaurant in Newport Beach. This would go back to the 70s when my boyfriend and I went down to visit his sister and her husband who lived on kelpie for a while. I was told it was a charter boat and would go out with groups one of which had been the electric light Orchestra. We sailed to Catalina and docked on the isthmus side. It was a wonderful experience. I had a shirt that said scooner Kelpie

  3. Gail Johnston 3 years ago

    I was in a Mariner senior Girl Scout troop in Whittier California from 1963 to 1968. Mary Alice Muncie was the leader. Twice we (Troop of 14 girls) chartered the Kelpie to live on for a week and sail around Catalina. I fondly remember the daily chores of polishing the brass and raising the sails.

  4. Stephanie Hammond 3 years ago

    In the 80’s I did a modeling shoot on the Kelpie, I still have one of the photos I regret I lost my Kelpie t-shirt

  5. Bart Wilson 1 year ago

    Once about the mid seventies or so my wife and I were going in to Emerald Cove in Catalina. Beautiful if not somewhat small Cove. kelpie was on her own bow hook or so I thought. We dropped our anchor astern of her at what I thought was far enough away. At some point a day or so later I tried to pull the anchor. No way. I had laid it across a stern Kelpies stern anchor. Our boat was an Ericsson 35 Mk. 2. One other boat that was similar in size to mine also caught kelpies stern anchor. The two smaller boats took our anchor lines to kelpie. She powered out of the cove dragging all 3 anchors and lines. She had a lot of power to pull that off. We left the cove and motored out a short distance and came alongside Kelpie and got our anchor and gear. I asked one person on Kelpie to take my bow line and check my forward movement to not align my mast with Kelpies foremast as there was a swell running. Unfortunately we rolled and my mast got caught in her foremast. When the masts pulled away it sound like a cannon shot. No damage but scary. I know it made a log entry on my boat. For years it also made a great story to tell boating friends. Bought a lot of stuff from Minnies back in the day. Cool place. So was their restaurant next door. Kelpie was a very well known schooner up and down the Cali coast.
    Yes, Ernie was colorful.

  6. Deborah Rowe 5 months ago

    My mother in law and father in law owned the Kelpie for a couple of years in the 70s. Al (Buster)Elder and JoAn Elder. It was when it was docked at Ancient Mariner in Newport Beach. I will send this article to her to see if she has any stories for the history

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