Holt GRP Mirror dinghy

What is thought to be a Holt GRP Mirror dinghy rigged up on a lawn

I am still trying to piece together the exact history and provenance of early GRP mirrors such as the one above. We know Bell Woodworking started producing a GRP boat moulded by Ferranti in March 1986. However, boats similar to the one shown above were built and sold prior to March 1986 and differ from the Bell/Ferranti boat in some important ways.

We now know that Bell Woodworking were selling these boats at the 1986 Boat Show (January), before the Ferranti boat was launched. One boat they sold was 67936 - Pointless . We also know there were quality issues with the early hulls. I'm now of the view these were built by Holt (who were also Licence holders). We know that Holt made 70 GRP composite Mirrors (GRP hull, wooden interior) around the early 80s (again, exact dates are unknown), so it would be logical for them to have made an all GRP version. They are quite similar to the Bell/Ferranti with very rounded corners inside the hull where the topsides meet the aft and the bow transoms, following in plan view, the profile of the normal bow shapes and quarter knees. Constructed using chopped strand mat. Similar deck layout to most wooden Mirrors (i.e. Mk2 interior) but no inner gunwales, no bow shapes or quarter knees.The differences between the Holt boat and the Bell/Ferranti are:

  • The deck moulding goes up to the gunwale (so is uniform in colour) and wraps over onto the hull mould. There is a lip along each side deck edge by the cockpit and strengthening knees around the rowlock locations. This is a much stronger construction than the Bell/Ferranti boat where the deck mould stops just above deck level.
  • They often have a coloured hull (dark blue, red, light blue,...) and different, uniform colour decks (white or beige/yellow).
  • They have a wooden skeg (just visible in the photo above). The Holt composite Mirrors are the same, evidence that the same hull mould was used by the same builder. The Bell/Ferranti has a two part GRP skeg.
  • They have wooden thwarts
  • They have a single drainage hole with bung in the transom
  • They originally had Holt sails

Earliest sail numbers found so far are 62846 (? there is some doubt over the original sail number of this hull) , 67936 - Pointless & 67938 - Foxy.

I understand all the buoyancy tanks on a Holt GRP boat are interconnected - this is based on there being one single drainage hole with bung on the transom (if they were not all connected, you would expect a drainage hole per tank), plus the specification for a GRP Mirror allowing a single tank.  In the Specification, 'Construction Details', 9) states:

9. Buoyancy

Either:

(i) 4 separate tanks (bow, stern and two side tanks) that meet current buoyancy rules, or

(ii) Single buoyancy tank (ie no internal bulkheads or non-watertight internal bulkheads), with not less than 120lts of additional foam buoyancy arranged to enable boat to float level and to minimise surge of the water within tanks.

plus experience with draining water out of the buoyancy tanks of 67938 - Foxy.

Inside the stowage cuddies there are curved moulded parts which appear to be 'passage ways' connecting the bow tank to the side tanks. As a result the stowage space of the cuddies are somewhat reduced.

For the record, here is a list of the GRP boats thought to be by Holt Boats I am aware of.

Boat Comment
62846 This sail number, if correct (there is some doubt over this), dates to 1979
67936 - Pointless Sold by Bell Woodworking at the 1986 Boat Show (January). Thought to be one of the very first GRP Mirrors
67938 - Foxy This sail number dates to 1985, so before the Bell-Ferranti boat was introduced
68074 - Startforth One of the last boats built in 1985, so before the Bell-Ferranti boat was introduced
68162 - Nancy  
68614  We are pretty sure this is the correct number for this boat
68849  See slideshow below for details of thwart
69033 - Rock-it!  
69054  
69056 - Squid  
69383 - Goosie  

 

These boats were not very popular, so not very many were made. They can be very heavy (one recorded at 85Kg, by comparison, the minimum hull weight of a Mirror is 45.5Kg). As they are chopped strand mat they are not very stiff. The come up on sites like E-Bay from time to time for around £500 - £800, probably best avoided if you want to race seriously.

These boats had wooden thwarts and some of these had the sail number engraved onto that, for example 68849 below. If not, or it's not readable, you might be able to find the sail number from some paperwork that came with the boat, or the original mainsail (even if the numbers have come off, there may be traces of glue where they were or the sailcloth may be less faded), the original spinnaker, or it may have been written on a some of the equipment (e.g. the rudder). The original mainsail would be made by Holt, with a black oval sailmakers mark as seen on 6861469383 - Goosie.  Remember the sail number will start 6x, i.e. 68xxx, or 69xxx, so you only need to find a few digits.

Holt Mirror number 68849 - thanks to Trevor Wilson for the photos.

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