Registration number 691
Status Registered

Previous names

  • 1951 - 1993 Freebooter


Function Fishing Vessel
Subfunction Drifter
Location Gosport
Vessel type Ketch
Current use Private use
Available to hire Yes
Available for excursions Yes
Web address


Builder Oliver, W J & Son, Porthleven
Built in 1919
Hull material Wood
Rig Gaff Ketch
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 2
Propulsion Sail
Number of engines 2
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
14.20 feet (4.33m)
6.00 feet (1.83m)
Length: Overall
46.00 feet (14.02m)


OUR LIZZIE was built between 1919 and 1920 by W. J. Oliver and Sons of Porthleven, Cornwall. Named in loving memory of Elisabeth Penberthy by brothers James and John Penberthy of St Ives, she was one of the last of the sailing drifters registered in St Ives as the lugger SS55.

As a testament to her uniqueness, OUR LIZZIE boasted a distinctive counter stern, setting her apart from her contemporaries. Initially equipped with engines—a 26HP Kelvin and a 24HP Gardiner— she had the benefit of adding extra propulsion and eliminating the need for a steam tug in many ports. Ironically, it was the advent of engines that put the sailing drifters out of business as with the advent of engines vessels of this size that could trawl. But the life of a fishing drifter was fraught with peril. From weathering fierce storms off the coast of St Ives to narrowly escaping the clutches of treacherous rocks near Lamorna, OUR LIZZIE bore witness to the trials and tribulations of the maritime world.

Tragedy struck in 1934 when James Penberthy perished in a collision with a French coaster while aboard the AMELIA (SS93). This tragic event led brother John Penberthy to abandon fishing and consequently, on May 16th 1934, OUR LIZZIE's Certificate of Fishing Registry was closed.

However, in 1936, she embarked on a new chapter under the stewardship of Herbert Ward. OUR LIZZIE underwent a transformation when Ward converted her into a yacht at Tanglio yard, Teddington. Her rig was changed from that of a lugger to a gaff ketch and they ventured to Holland and around the Baltic. With the outbreak of World War II looming on the horizon, OUR LIZZIE was commissioned by the Admiralty to embark on a covert mission, sailing under the guise of a civilian vessel, her true purpose shrouded in secrecy and only known by Lt. Commander Francis Bevan.

In 1940, the Royal Navy collected OUR LIZZIE from Burnham and took her to Dover as part of a fleet of circa 1,200 vessels to help with the rescues on ‘Operation Dynamo’. Post-Dunkirk, the Navy kept OUR LIZZIE, removed her main mast and fitted a small deck gun. She was put to work patrolling the waters between Harwich and the Thames as it was thought there would be early landings ahead of the impending invasion. Following the Battle of Britain, an invasion was unlikely, and she then spent the rest of the war serving with the Royal Army Service Corps on the Clyde under Captain Earnest W Baird, ferrying supplies between ships, anti-aircraft batteries and various installations.

In the aftermath of the war, OUR LIZZIE was sold and renamed FREEBOOTER. She sailed the Mediterranean and appeared in many films, such as "The Onedin Line" and "Dracula." She also took part in events such as the 50th Anniversary of the Evacuation of Dunkirk in 1990 and gained considerable coverage through local and national newspapers. OUR LIZZIE has also been featured in the book, “The Little Ships of Dunkirk” by Christian Brann (1989).

From 1990 until today, OUR LIZZIE has undergone extensive refits and refurbishments, the most recent by current owner P Manning, alongside naval architect James Pratt. After a meticulous three-year refit in Lowestoft by IBTC, new life has been breathed into OUR LIZZIE. The alterations include the replacement of frames and planks, a new deck and superstructure, new engine and gear, including a new ballast which has been increased from 6 to 8.5 tonnes, new sails and rigging, and an interior redesign. 

OUR LIZZIE welcomes guests on chartered holidays, tours and experiences around the Solent and across to Dunkirk and the coast of Normandy. More information about her history and booking details can be found here.

Key dates

  • 1920

    Built at Porthleven, Cornwall, for fishing as a saling drifter owned by brothers James and John Penberthy of St Ives

  • 1934

    James Penberthy perished in a collision with a French coaster while aboard the AMELIA (SS93). This tragic event led brother John Penberthy to abandon fishing 

  • 1936

    Converted to a yacht and embarked on secret missions before WWII

  • 1940

    Played a key role in 'Operation Dynamo' at Dunkirk, and afterwards used in patrolling waters between Harwich and the Thames

  • 1940-45

    Served on the Clyde with The Royal Army Service Corps

  • 1951

    Refitted post-war, renamed FREEBOOTER, engaged in cruising.

  • 1960s

    Featured in films and TV series, including "The Onedin Line", “Kidnapped” and "Dracula"

  • 1990

    Took part in the 50th Anniversary of the Evacuation of Dunkirk

  • 1993

    D Loom, her owner at the time, changed her name back to OUR LIZZIE and sailed her to the Mediterranean. At some point before 2001, she returned to England

  • 2001

    Participated in the International Festival of the Sea

  • 2016

    Her current owner embarked on a major renovation and refit at the International Boatbuilding Training College, Lowestoft

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact

More like this

Vega of Garth - moored

Registered, built 1965 by Gordon Armstrong Marine, Scarborough

Sequoiah moored in the Highlands

Registered, built 1973 by Hillyard, David, Littlehampton

Irene - out sailing after completion of restoration project

Registered, built 1907 by Carver, J F, Bridgwater

starboard side view

Archived, built 1934 by Miller, James N & Son Ltd, St Monans