About Hunters Yard
Hunter's Yard is the home of the Norfolk Heritage Fleet, a unique collection of traditional sailing craft built by Percy Hunter in the 1930s here in Norfolk.
The fleet is a collection of fourteen cabin yachts and seven half-decker sailing boats. Built from mahogany and other timbers, with terylene sails, our boats are living examples of traditional boat building, featuring special touches that are so often neglected in modern sailing vessels.
Traditionally, none Hunter yachts had an engine, the boats were strictly sail-only, and when the wind dies or the mast has to be lowered for a bridge, the only alternative form of power is the quant pole. However, the Yard's 2020 plans include installing engines but there will be at least one of each class of boat that will not have an engine installed and in time, the boats without engines will be Hustler 2, Wood Rose and Lullaby.
Percy Hunter, with his sons Cyril and Stanley, built the first shed at Womack Water in 1932. Within a year they had designed, built and launched the first two cabin yachts of the Fleet. The Fleet grew each year and a second shed was built in 1935 to help house the 14 yachts in the winter months. The last 2 cabin yachts were completed after the war in the late 1940s.
The Hunter Family operated the Yard until 1968 when it was sold to the Norfolk County Council and was re-named Nortfolk County Sailing Base. The traditions of the Yard were maintained, but the main aim became encouraging young people to sail and experience the team spirit involved.
In 1995 the council decided to sell the Fleet and the Yard as part of an economy measure. After much outcry a group of influential people formed a Trust with the aim of acquiring the Yard and the Fleet, and maintaining the high standards of boatbuilding it represented.
A huge fundraising effort was undertaken, together with a grant of £200,000 awarded from the Heritage Lottery Fund and in 1996 the Norfolk Heritage Fleet Trust took over the Yard and re-established its original name, Hunter's Yard.
The history of Hunter's is very much part of the Yard and its Fleet. The traditions of quality workmanship and excellent customer care remains as strong today as ever.
May 2021: HRH Princess Anne visited Hunter's Yard to mark the 25th anniversary of the Norfolk Heritage Fleet Trust. Full story
Hustler Class - Hustler 2: these single cabin gaff sloops were designed to give a performance that should satisfy the experienced yachtsmen.
Wood Class - Wood Violet: two cabin gaff sloops
Lullaby Class - Luna: gaff sloops equipped for a party of four persons, four boats available
The winter maintenance programme is a very important part of keeping Percy's 'Lovely Ladies' not only looking their best but performing their best. Most of the 21 boats are over 80 years old and all made of wood.
The Yard's attitude is that prevention is better than cure, so they maintain a rolling programme of 'properly' repairing or replacing items before they become major problems. To manage this, they have to run a shorter season than other boatyards; with their yachts and half deckers coming into the sheds by the third week of October each year at the latest. This practice has been observed since Hunters first began letting yachts and goes some way of explaining the good condition the boats are in.
Once in the sheds, the work really begins; this involves detailed assessment of repairs needed to each boat, scraping back and rubbing down, carrying out a wide range of repairs, anti-fouling, varnishing etc.
The Yard's highly-skilled, traditional boat building craftsmen are a dedicated team that work solidly throughout winter to produce the best results for the start of the next season.
Hunter's Yard now offers its boatbuilding team to carry out minor maintenance, anti-fouling, varnish work, quant making, minor accident damage repairs to small wooden craft during the summer season. They can carry out repairs in the water, on a trailer, or in the shed (dimensions of the vessel permitting).
They are available for this type of work from the end of April until September.
Learn to Sail
You can learn to sail with Hunters across the beautiful inland waterways and discover sailing under the big Norfolk skies! The team's experienced skippers can help you learn some of the basics of sailing fairly quickly and, as a Charitable Trust with the responsibility of preserving these historic vessels, they have the pleasure of helping a wide range of adults and youngsters discover sailing for the first time.
RYA Keelboat Courses available:
- Levels 1, 2 & 3
- Assistant Instructor
- Powerboat Level 2 (inland)
- Individual instruction
Cabin Conversion Course
This is a Hunters’ own course designed to help you convert from a half decker to a bigger heavier yacht. MORE DETAILS
Learn to Sail Holidays
For people who want to have a holiday and learn to sail with the bonus of qualifications at the end. MORE DETAILS
For more information about Hunter's Yard see here.