Sand Wyvern

19th March 2007, 04:51
Looking for any information on the "Sand Wyvern", I believe she was the ex "Sand Grebe" of South Coast Shipping. I joined her at Bolsons shipyard in Poole when she was bought by Wyvern Maritime of Padstow, Cornwall.
Hoping to find a photo also.

22nd June 2007, 22:35
Vessel purchased from Wyvern whilst I believe at Padstow, by Westminster Gravels Ltd. of Southampton. (A subsidiary of Bos Kalis Westminster.) They then sailed it to Southampton for use in their various marine aggregate dredging operations. Later they were sold by Bos Kalis to ARC Marine Ltd. also of Southampton, (now Hansons Aggregates Marine). However I believe before these later events took place, Westminster Gravels Ltd. had disposed of the vessel to another operator in the Southampton area Messrs Bowen & Caines. I am unable to remember if it was later renamed.

gil mayes
23rd June 2007, 14:11
She was ex Sand Grebe-73 and bought by T.J. Bowen, Freda Bowen & P. D. Caines in 1978. I gather that at one time in Westminster ownership it was intended to rename her PADSTONE, but this does not appear to have happened. Unofficially she was renamed SEA DRIVER on a restricted load line, but was generally in poor condition and at one stage carried a diesel generator in front of the bridge to provide for her electric drive. She was laid up at Marchwood in Aug 1984.

23rd June 2007, 22:10
I was on the "Sand Snipe" in 63/64 and there was a sister ship called "Sand Grebe" then, is that the same one, or a later version ?

23rd June 2007, 22:32
There were 3 of the same class. Sand Dart ( P.K. Harris, Appledore),1957, Sand Grebe, 1959 and Sand Snipe (Bolson, Poole). The Sand Dart is still operating in Greek waters as Ireni 1. The difference was the Sand Dart had two Lister Blackstone engines onto one shaft whereas the others had single Crossleys. I sailed in the Snipe in 1963 with Captain Owens from Anglesey. There are photos of them in the Gallery.

23rd June 2007, 22:34
Think that was the same one John. reckon I would have been on the "sand martin" at that time. have to check the dates in the book later. I know captain "John Campbell" was master of the Martin at that time though.

gil mayes
24th June 2007, 15:35
SAND GREBE (5310656) Bolson built 5.1959 was 2 x 4stroke 6-cyl Lister Blackstones (648bhp total) driving generators connected to electric motors fluid coupling and reverse reduction geared to single shaft. SAND SNIPE (5310709) from Bolsons had a 2stroke 6-cyl Crossley (590bhp) and SAND DART (6404363) from Harris had a similar diesel electric drive to the SAND GREBE. IRINI (ex Skorpios, Irini-89, Arco Dart-78, Pen Dart-73, Sand Dart-64) was re-engined in 1963 and fitted with a 4stroke 12-cyl Dorman (720bhp), and the electric drive scrapped.

24th June 2007, 22:32
The Master of the "Grebe" when I was there, was Charlie Lock, quite a character, but a really good ship handler. Believe he was ex-RN, and ex-Everards, master on the "Grit" anyone remember him? I heard that they lost the Chief Engineer over the side off the Needles just after I left, an accident with a tow line, which flipped him over the side in a bight, he was a big guy, 18st. or more, and the Pilot boat could'nt lift him out of the water, out there.

25th June 2007, 00:13
I believe Charlie Lock went to Arco Marine, now Hanson Aggregates but he must be well up in years now.

25th June 2007, 04:26
Thank you everyone for your input. Yes, the 'Sand Wyvern' was the ex 'Sand Grebe', I joined her at Bolson's yard in Poole when she was bought by Wyvern Maritime of Padstow, Cornwall. We used to dredge off Hayle and run the cargo to Plymouth, rock and roll during the winter months ! we also spent some time dredging in Britanny. Once carried a cargo road chippings from the Neath River to Littlehampton. Happy Memories.

25th June 2007, 10:10
Sand Snipe broken up Hayle about 2000.

26th June 2007, 00:22
interestin thread so far lads.
Enjoyed my time with south cast shipping. Saw many of the "sand boats" but only ever worked on the two. the martin and the star.
Certainly i would do it all again. met some interesting shipmates there.

28th June 2007, 19:27
Charlie Lock was also skipper with Hoveringham around 1970.

Pete Legg
28th June 2007, 22:08
I Remember Charlie Lock Way Back Around 1972, He Was Then Master Of The Arco Tyne, And Ran A Pretty Tight Ship. I Think The Relief Mate At The Time Was Harry Pope, A Great Friend Of Mine, And Later Master Of Hoveringham I/city Of Bristol.


28th June 2007, 22:18
Anyone rember Gordon Owen, he was 2nd. Eng when I was on the Sand Grebe,Charlie Lock believed in running with minimum crew (to claim short hand money) he sacked the cook on the Grebe, so Gordon & I got volunteered to do the cooking !

Pete Legg
28th June 2007, 22:23
Hi Gil. I knew Tom & Freda Bowen quite well, and sailed a couple of times with Tom in the Margaret Smith (Freda's full Maiden name) and the Mark Bowen (named after their son Mark) Mark Bowen bought my house from me, but now lives in Hamble. Capt Tom Bowen was a great and generous character, and a good ship handler.

Regards. Pete

Pete Legg
28th June 2007, 22:33
Hi John, I remember Gordon Owen. The last time I saw him was around 1974/5, when he was Chief in the Arco Dart.


30th June 2007, 04:21
The "Sand Wyvern" (ex "Sand Grebe") was a great little ship, happy crew. before joining her I was relief master on board the "Amey 1" which was later renamed "Arco Thames" I believe. My chief mate on the the "Wyvern" was a Nick Childs who had been in the fleet air arm, flying phantom jets !!! What a character ! He took over as master when I left, wondering whether any one ever came across him, never been able to locate him.

30th June 2007, 08:59
Got a feeling he served as relief mate on the sandmartin at one time. the guy i am thinking of was certainly ex-RN and a heck of a character. great guy to work with. Think he was the same gut who painted the house flag on the bow of the grebe or snipe.

gil mayes
30th June 2007, 14:35
Hello Pete
As an observer inquiring about their business I always found Tom Bowen most helpful. The MARGARET SMITH was an ex "Empire", Empire Reaper. She was in a bit of state I gather at the end with wooden plugs in her bottom. As you know she eventually sank in June 1978 entering Cowes and was raised and towed over to Northam for breaking. MARK BOWEN was ex Chattenden a Naval Armament Vessel based at Chatham. She was also scrapped at Northam.

Pete Legg
4th July 2007, 13:36
Hello Gil
Very many thanks for the update. I must agree that the Margaret Smith was in a bit of a state in her latter years, and not too surprised when she sank.
The Margaret Smith had Railway carriage type windows complete with a leather opening strap, Tom was forever losing his lighted fag ends down the gap, he used to extinguish the fag by pouring his tea down the gap. A great character.

Regards. Pete

4th July 2007, 15:31
Before Tommy Bowen went into Ship Owning he was Master of the Sand Runner ex Empire Runner in the early 60's a fine seaman and a real character.
Margaret Smith ex Sand Wren 1969 ex Pen Adur 1964 ex Lerryn 1953 ex Moreton Corbet 1949 ex Browning 1947ex Empire Reaper 1943 I relieved on her twice, once as Pen Adur and once as Sand Wren

5th July 2007, 06:14
anyone know if that awful character "Benbow" is still alive.
Good on deck but a real pain ashore. always playing snooker in the mission in Southampton at the weekends..LOl
Would love to get in touch with capt John Campbell if anyone has an e mail address please PM it to me.

5th July 2007, 14:38
Billyboy, Sadly, Benbow passed away around 1982 in North Wales. I sailed with him in the 'Sand Snipe' and the 'Hoveringham V1' a reformed character, gave up the fags and booze for a lot of years. Capt Campbell, lived in Dover but was originally from the Buckie area. I sailed with his cousin in the 'Bowfleet' his name was John Smith, maybe you can try someone from that neck of the woods to help you out.
good luck

5th July 2007, 22:31
Thanks for that. shame about old benbow, quite a character that man was.
John was living at Dover when i sailed with him. will try the other angle.
tahnks again mate.

24th December 2007, 18:14
Billyboy, Sadly, Benbow passed away around 1982 in North Wales. I sailed with him in the 'Sand Snipe' and the 'Hoveringham V1' a reformed character, gave up the fags and booze for a lot of years. Capt Campbell, lived in Dover but was originally from the Buckie area. I sailed with his cousin in the 'Bowfleet' his name was John Smith, maybe you can try someone from that neck of the woods to help you out.
good luck

John Campbell and John Smith both hailed from Findochty, Banffshire.
Sadly, they are both away - John Campbell died in December 1984 in Dover and John Smith died about 4 years ago in Lossiemouth.

I was recently looking through old postcards from John Campbell on various ships, and he wrote them while on the following Sand boats - Gull, Martin, Skua, Swan, & Weaver.


24th December 2007, 22:39
I am sorry to hear of Johns passing away. I got on really well with him on the Martin. John was a real character, he handled the ship well, No radar in those days and fog never seemed to bother him much.
However I do still have good memories of my times with him. He was in Newhaven one day when i wandered passed, between ships, and he called "away and get yer Bag bill we sail in an hour"
Be interested to see any pictures if anyone has any.

bosun paul
9th January 2008, 21:01
I also sailed out of poole on the sand wyvern my first ship i was so sea sick i left when we docked at plymouth.But went to sea a few years later and got over the sea sickness and had many happy years afloat. bosun paul

10th January 2008, 18:09
Hi Billyboy,
I live in Dover and occasionally have a drink with an ex. seaman named Flett Campbell. His dad was a captain somewhere or other, I can't remember where. It sounds like the John Campbell that you are looking for. I will probably see Flett tomorrow and will find out and let you know.

10th January 2008, 18:20
Sorry Billyboy and Flett. I sent my post without looking at the end of this thread not realising it was on two pages. After I sent my post it obviously appeared at the end of the thread and I saw the posts by Flett and Billyboy mentioning the death of John Campbell. I hope you understand what I am talking about.
I will tell Flett if I see him tomorrow that people still remember his dad.


10th January 2008, 23:15
Trader. Thanks for that. You may tell Flett by all means that his Father is still remembered by many who sailed with him.

11th January 2008, 13:21
bosun paul......when did you sail on the "Sand Wyvern" ??? Cheers...Glan

bosun paul
14th January 2008, 20:09
i sailed on the wyvern for one trip only that was poole to padstow and back to plymouth were i paid off.I was very green at the time and they did'nt have time to teach me the ropes one thing i still remember is the pumproom door slamed at sea and one of the enginers had chissel it open strange i remember somthing like that.cheers paul.

15th January 2008, 19:40
bosun paul........many thanks for your reply. I joined the "Wyvern" on July 6th, 1973 at Bolson's yard in Poole just when she had been bought by Wyvern Maritime of Padstow. Capt Frank Sluman was the Marine Manager/Skipper, after completing the work at Bolson's yard we sailed to Padstow, then dredged a cargo either off Padstow or Hayle and sailed around to Plymouth. Capt Sluman left shortly afterwards and was based ashore at Padstow, I took over as Skipper and stayed on board until mid 1974. We usually dredged off Hayle and discharged at Plymouth although I did quite a few trips to Appledore and Barnstaple. We even spent a couple of weeks working in Brittany, France !
We certainly had some rough rides around Lands End at winter time ! I dont remember too many of the crew except for the chief engineer, Norman, a Geordie. The mate on board with me was Nick Childs (ex Fleet Arm Pilot !!!), he took over as Skipper when I left. Cheers......Glan

bosun paul
17th January 2008, 20:11
hi Jacktar the only geordie chief engineer i know was norman boyle who also lived in poole.I sailed with him on several sand boats over the years he sadly passed away a few years ago.

17th January 2008, 21:02
Remember the wyvern running into appledore along with the Pen Taw and Wm Woolaway,I also remember seeing her at anchor on Newquay ridge for a week. (which is a bank of sand between appledore and Instow)

21st January 2008, 17:23
bosun paul/sandman..........Regarding the chief engineer Norman Boyle, he could have been the same person that was c/e with me on the Sand Wyvern, unfortunately I cannot remember his surname , think his wife's name eas Susan !!
sandman and bosun pauk....did either of you ever come across Nick Childs ? He took over as master of the Sand Wyvern when I left, I heard that he eventually served on board other sand dredgers after the Wyvern was sold. He was ex RN, a real character......Cheers.....Glan

21st January 2008, 21:43
Hi Glan
nick childs rings abell,but just can't think of where and when.


21st January 2008, 23:42
nick childs...ex RN. wonder if his nickname used to be buck at one time. think back in 1962 he was bosun on the sand snipe if its the same character.

22nd January 2008, 02:40
sandman & billyboy..................thanks for your replies, when Nick Childs joined the Sand Wyvern as Mate he had not long come out of the fleet air arm....flying fighter jets !!!

1st May 2008, 13:47
Hello all, very interesting thread.

Came across this info regarding a dredger submerged in the Solent.

'The Margaret Smith, at 18m, is a good wreck to dive out of Yarmouth. She is a 300ft modern gravel dredger who rolled hard in high seas and then proceeded to sink making a great dive site.'
(Source: )

'MARGARET SMITH. Steel motor dredger of 309 tons, capsized off Yarmouth in the Solent in 1978.'
(Source: )

This seems to suggest that she may not have been raised and scrapped (p.1 of this thread) or is this a different vessel?


20th June 2008, 23:16
Tommy Bowen bought the Sand Wren from South Coast in the early 70's. It was out of class and he used to run it from Eling Creek, Totton to the Solent Bank. He used to run it as a day boat with just himself and 1 other. I don't remember if he renamed it but probably did as all his dredgers were named after his family.
One day ,as I remember it was good weather, we were anchored off Yarmouth and the Wren must have been waiting the tide and was steaming just east of Yarmouth when the bottom fell out and she sunk. The double bottoms were filled with cement as a cheap repare and at that moment the rust couldn't take the weight.