SAVING ADLARD COLES' YACHT
Classic Boat|August 2020
Cohoe IV has been in the Osborn family for more than 30 years, but she was commissioned by none other than Adlard Coles
NIGEL SHARP

Siblings Jack and Erin Osborn (aged 16 and 14 respectively) have spent almost all of their lives waiting to go sailing on their father James’s boat. Jack did at least get to sail on her before she was laid up for 15 years, but he was too young to remember it. “I’ve only seen photos of this smiling ginger baby on board,” he said. The boat in question is the Nicholson 36 Cohoe IV, which has been in the Osborn family since 1989 when she was bought by James’s father Bob and his great friend Chris Morrow... but her rst owner was Adlard Coles – the illustrious sailor, author,and publisher – who commissioned her to build in 1963.

The first of Coles’ four Cohoes was a modified Albatross (an extended Tumlare), designed by Knud Reimers and built by AH Moody and Son in 1946. She was already named Cohoe, which is an Indian name for a species of Canadian salmon and, as Coles later wrote, “is quite an appropriate name for a fast kind of yacht, although it took me some time to get used to it”. Coles and his wife cruised and raced her extensively, as he would with all his Cohoes. In one season alone he made 16 Channel crossings, but her most famous voyage was the 1950 Transatlantic Race from Bermuda to Plymouth. Coles was under the impression that the 35ft minimum length requirement would be waived for the 32ft Cohoe, as it was for the 24ft waterline RNSA 24s; it was only when the boat was about to be shipped across the Atlantic for the start of the race that he discovered that it wouldn’t be. However, Moodys worked miracles to extend Cohoe’s bow in Birmabright alloy plating in just 24 hours, and she went on to win the race. “The 1950 event was an important pioneering race which had considerable bearing on things to come,” Coles later wrote. “Among others, it led to the recognition of the ocean-going ability of small sailing boats.”

NICHOLSON DESIGN

Cohoe II was designed by Charles A Nicholson (known as Young Charlie, to distinguish him from his more famous uncle, Charles E Nicholson) and built as a Bermudan yawl by WA Souter in Cowes in 1952. At 34ft 11in (10.6m), she was “a roomy boat of nearly double the size of Cohoe”, according to Coles. She was replaced in 1957 by Cohoe III, another Charles A Nicholson yawl, this time built by RA Newman in Poole. She was slightly shorter than Cohoe II, but Coles liked her for her stiffness and heavy weather performance. She had particular success in the Fastnet, winning Class II in her first and coming fourth overall in the next two.

The Nicholson 36 was Camper & Nicholsons’firrst GRP production boat and was another Charles A Nicholson design, but this time with a significant contribution from son Peter, at the start of his own yacht design career. “The concept was entirely mine,” Peter told me recently. “I drew the whole prole, the sail plan, and the general arrangement, and I roughed out the lines, which my father then finished.” In total, 25 Nicholson 36s were built between 1961 and 1966: all the hulls were molded by Halmatic, while 14 of them were fitted out (with traditional timber decks) at C&N’s Gosport yard, and the remainder at eight other boatbuilding yards throughout England. The first boat, Janessa, was built for Peter Nicholson himself, who sailed her to win 16 prizes in 19 starts in her first season.

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