Ghost Rider?

02/01/2010 19:46:53
We have recently acquired a Merlin, thinking she was an NSM 1 design but from my very limited knowledge of Merlins I think she may be an earleir design.  

The mainsail she came with is numbered 3166 ("Gunlaw")but most of her running gear is marked "Ghost Rider". There is no builder's plate or carving mark on her hull. The hull is dark blue with a fine red line. I wonder if anyone may be able to help identify her? I see from another thread that the original "Ghost Rider" is thought to have had two sets of self bailers but there is no sign that this boat was ever fitted with two sets. Maybe she could be "Ghost Rider" II number 2600?

Finally, she needs some work! Overall she is in good condition and has been cared for however her foredeck needs replacement. Any tips regarding the methodology to be adopted and sourcing of suitable plywood would be much appreciated. My skills are limited.

02/01/2010 19:51:41
Chris M.
The number should be carved on the Thwart. I think most were built by Rowsell's and they put their plaque just in front of the centrejammer.

02/01/2010 20:48:44
Many thanks for the quick reply. There is no number on the thwart but there are some marks near the centre jammer which could indicate where a builders plate used to be.

02/01/2010 21:06:50
Chris M.
Is there a number carved into the hog behind the case? The thwart could have been replaced, but i really would have thought that they would have had the nous to carve it back in!

Ghost Riders have a very distinctive hull shape. Steeply V'd on each side and a tucked in narrow transom. It looks as if it would plane on either side of the hull where with most merlin designs the bottom is quite flat.

The origional according to my book was 2340. This probably had a full height bow tank with the chute passing through as a tube as they were a new idea for Merlins. Of course the later false deck may have been retrofitted.

02/01/2010 21:36:03
Dear Chris,

Thank you again. No there is no number carved into the hog. I don't think her transom is that narrow which presumably means she is not a Ghost Rider and perhaps she is an NSM1 after all.

She does have a chute but her bow tank is not full height, this perhaps also means she is not a Ghost Rider.

02/01/2010 22:00:21
Chris M.
some photos would help. one possibility is that thr boat has had a rig donated off an older hull.

02/01/2010 22:51:33
Hello Chris,

Thank you. We shall attempt some photos tomorrow. Yes, it does increasingly look as if her rig is from a different boat.

03/01/2010 18:02:33
Hello again Chris,

Can you please send me your e mail address and I can send you some photographs of this mystery Merlin.

03/01/2010 21:22:21
Chris M
Feel free to send them.

If you email to the webmaster he'll put them on the website for all to see.

my email is embedded, website is

04/01/2010 17:06:56
Peter 3112
I am in unsunny southern Spain at the moment but I will be able to send you some photos of my almost the original NSM 1 on return aftr 8 Jan.


05/01/2010 14:26:43
Tony Lane
The original Gregory designed Ghost Rider 2340 was built by Rowsells for David Robinson in 69/70. If you wish I can probably put you in touch with both Spud and David who might be able to confirm the identity from your photos.

05/01/2010 23:40:12
john watling
Hello Tony,

Thank you for your comments. I beleive that Chris M is kindly arranging for some photos to be posted in the gallery. He has also correctly observed that she is the almost identical sister of the unknown Merlin which appears in the gallery as possibly Moon Rocket. Thus I have followed that thread. One good lead is that both boats have "PYC" on their stern and our boat has a 1981 sticker. Whilst the running gear with our boat is clearly marked Ghost Rider I increasingly think she is not Rowsell build but possibly Bob Hoare, Wyche & Coppock or John Aviston?

06/01/2010 07:37:36
Chris M
PYC would be Parkstone Yacht Club, but it doesn't look like a Bob Hoare build - to me anyway. I don't know who John Avsiatin is, but it's quite likely as he isn't well known.

It is certainly a Ghost Rider or derivative and definately not a Rowsell

06/01/2010 09:49:28
Andrew M
John Aveston, designer and builder of some one-off's in the 70's at Ranelagh?

06/01/2010 10:07:18
Here is a link to the photos (note you want the GHOST RIDER ones not the older MOON ROCKET ones, in this folder).

I do not think this boat is a NSM1 as it has a noticable kink in the transom edge profile, compared to the smooth curve of my own 3245, an 1980s NSM1. (Does the Ghost Rider have the last 2 planks in line by the hog?)
06/01/2010 11:41:57
Andrew M
Whoever built one of these mystery boats built them both though to different designs, characteristic reinforcement of the front of the centrecase.  I wonder if it was a home builder, albeit an experienced one, in view of this reinforcement and the way the foredeck is laid, though I do remember my Bob Hoare boat from 1963 had a similar arrangement with a bit of wood going up the centre of the foredeck.  Date is early 1970's - spinny chute and high bow tank but the hull not really strengthened like later wide boats, the ribs from the side decks do not go to the hog.  Bob Hoare did a modified Ghost Rider for Parkstone in the 70's, Summer Blues, is it this?

06/01/2010 15:31:58
Chris Rathbone
John,This looks like a Ghost Rider or derivative,and the deck and mast gate area look like a Bob Hoare build.What is the colour of the ply inside? Bob used to build his boats in gaboon ply whch looked yellowy.


06/01/2010 15:33:24
Chris Rathbone
Also,don't think it is a Moon Rocket as that had a distinctive chine at the transom

06/01/2010 16:13:15
Peter Scott
It is certainly a Ghost Rider or very close derivative and certainly could be Bob Hoare built.

06/01/2010 16:47:33
Chris M
The thing that gets me here is we have two very similar boats with no number. Certainly the Ghost Rider has not had the thwart replaced and surely Bob Hoare would have carved the number in.

06/01/2010 17:25:59
Andrew M
Bob Hoare boats had the number put onto the thwart with a series of little black dots like a tattoo.  Burnt in or inked I don't know.  I suppose it's possible that in a previous energetic rub down and revarnish it has disappeared

06/01/2010 19:41:01
John Watling
Hello, Thank you for all the most helpful comments thus far.To answer Chris Rathbone, yes my guess is that her planking is gaboon ply, it is certainly light in colour. This I understand is another pointer towards Bob Hoare. Andrew M; I cannot discern any sign of tatoo type dots on the thwart but the thwart is worn so it is possible they may have been lost over the years. I wonder however if the abscence of a number might suggest she has been finished by someone else? I think I read another thread relating to "Moon Rocket"? which refers to 2685 "Mr Sanders" ( Odd name for a boat?)and she was built by Bob Hoare and then finished by Scientific sailing. Perhaps in these circumstances the main builder does not carve the number on the hull? Andrew M kindly homes in on the Parkstone connection and refers to "Summer Blues" 3057 a design of the same name, then there is "Summer Song" her near sister which I see is a september girl.  Were "Moon Rocket"? and "Ghost Rider"? built so recently! It must be pretty certain they are built by the same builder but there are some design differences so they are not exact sisters."Ghost Rider"? has a distinctive "arch" to her fore deck which I cannot see in the photos of "Moon Rocket"? I defer to the knowledge of others. regarding build dates My own guideline has been that "Ghost Rider"? has a spinnaker chute which I would say is an integral part of her original build and my understanding is that the real "Ghost Rider" is quite possibly the first Merlin to have this arrangement. Thus if correct both "Moon Rocket"? and "Ghost Rider"? are later than 1970 no 2340.

06/01/2010 20:05:06
Richard S
John, until recently I owned Moon Rocket 2254 built in 1969 by Wyche and Coppock. Your photos are definitley not of a Moon Rocket. I agree with the general view that the V'd transom line looks very like a Ghost Rider but I cannot guarantee it. I can however guarantee that it is not a Moon Rocket.

06/01/2010 20:07:05
Chris M
I made the 2685 connection in the previous thread, but my memory of the boat is hazy at best! It was/is a Hoare shell completed by another firm for the origional owner. In those days many hulls were home finished, to varying degrees of competance!

The cut out for the jib tack on those boats does not look like it's been done by a professional builder. The aluminium rod for the jib tack is not the product of a craftsman. The side benches are very old fashioned for a boat of that era, suggesting a "creature comfort" put in by the origional owner. The rudder and tiller assembly also looks home crafted.

Some of the tell tale signs of Bob Hoare construction could well have been copied by the owner having bought the shell.

These boats are too similar to be a co-incidance, and they must be the product of the same person. What a shame he never numbered his boats!

I suppose it is possible - assuming the number is legible - to email Parkstone YC and ask if they have records of boat park tickets dating back that far.

06/01/2010 20:23:17
The colour of the planking, the stiffening on the plank lands and the mast gate struts are virtually identical to my 1973 Bob Hoare Phantom Kipper, which had the sail number in the hog as 'dots' rather than the thwart. 
There are pictures of the boat in various stages of restoration and rigging on Flickr below - number was 2825 and shares the inlay down the foredeck, the arched deck (probably not remarkable for that era)- it has a small plate at the front of the centreboard case whis may be a vestigial version of the larger ones on the mystery boat, or it may pre date them - It's obviously got Merlin DNA, and very likely traces of Bob Hoare's build about it.
Sounds like a case for Grissom on CSI.[email protected]/sets/
06/01/2010 20:32:29
Chris M
And what a lovely job you made of it too!

I think that's the builder sorted, though i'm suprised about the tack hole and aluminium cross piece.

I'd chase that ticket number up with PYC and perhaps go over the hof with a magnifying glass.

06/01/2010 23:06:58
John Watling
Hello Chris,

yes,I will e mail Parkstone and see if they can look into their records or perhaps one of their memebers will have the answer immediately. "Phantom Kipper" looks superb. I can see that inside and on deck she is very much the same as the mystery Merlins but the hull shape is obviously not quite the same.

07/01/2010 12:21:51
I agree that the jib tack arrangement looks unlikely, but I've seen it on a few boats of that era since.  On the 'kipper, it was large diameter tube enclosed at each end by a block glued to the inside of the top plank.  I looked at it for quite a while (don't get out much)before deciding on ballance it had been there from new - couldn't see a way it could have been retro fitted given the decks were original too. It was anodised gold to match the proctor spars and actually matched in quite well. The struts coming out from the front of the CB case were retained/enclosed against the planks in simiar blocks to the tack tube.

My rudder and rudder box looked very similar / identical to the mystery boat, although my tiller was a nicely shaped laminated job with a sweep upwards half way along - perhaps too much work for an amateur build. From memory the rudder was shorter than modern winder types, OK for inland, but looked well faired - hadn't seen another the same shape on a merlin till the mystery boat.

Looking at the photos more closely for similarities, the gunnels have the same sycamore inlay as the kipper too - although the solid inner returns on the decks look like an earlier detail - more like a 9B I once had briefly.
I'd agree with Chris that those seats look earlier, and go a long way back. There are no knees at the thwart position which may point to an earlier design / build too. The front knees are further back than on the kipper (other side of the levers) so the crew 'seat' is also further back - maybe necessitating the seats at the front of the case to get the crew further forward. Without those extra knees the side deck looks relatively un supported in the helms perching / hiking position.

The curve in front of the mast step and the stregthening panel around the centreboard pivot are almost the same as the kipper. It looks more and more like they were build by the same hands, whoever that was.

In my opinion (much less experienced than Chris)comparing the builder's details it looks like its from Bob Hoare's yard, but design details look earlier, into the Ghost rider age of early seventies. Hope you find a number to put on it!

08/01/2010 17:27:36
Andy Hay - 3626 Business as Usual
2508 Witzend was a Bob Hoare build MR that also featured the same crew / helm seats. WE cut them out to save a few kgs of mahogony!

08/01/2010 19:39:34
I went through the yearbook last night,counted 70 ghostriders of many different builders, rowsells, wyche & coppock ,aln and bob hoare seem to be attributed to the majority but left quite a few by not that wellknown builders,maybe its one of those? last one is 3191 keith probert but youall knew this anyway!

09/01/2010 17:46:29
Peter 3112
Hi John,

Thanks for your email. I am sure your boat is not an NSM1 since they are not as vee'd throughout as your boat and the garboard is nothing like as wide. Photos separately.



09/01/2010 20:57:26
Chris M
Having just picked up 2427 from a shed in the north Midlands, I think that although the plank layup is differant this boat is an origional shape Ghost Rider built according to the plans.

Interestingly we habe had 2427 and 2500 next to each other in the workshop. They are both Rowsell built, but the transoms are a totally differant shape, 2500 being much rounder while 2427 has the semi chine apparant on john's boat.

09/01/2010 21:02:17
Chris M
Both 2427 and 2500 are Ghost Riders by the way!

10/01/2010 11:19:08
I've got a couple of photos of the inside of 2500 and one of the transom if it would help anyone - I don't know if the owner would mind?

10/01/2010 16:29:06
I work part time in a chandlers. We had a Ghost rider in a couple of weeks ago(In a shockingly poor state!) and this boat STRONGLY RESEMBLES it, I am not going to poke my neck and guarantee that it is, but I am sure it is. Hope this helps. 
Kind Regards
Jon Cooper

10/01/2010 17:38:07
ive taken some shots of 2500 and 2724 ill get chris to put them on the pics site!

11/01/2010 16:43:31
Andy M
Just a thought - wasn't Echo a development of the GhostRider? And it had a similar transom as I recall - which could also explain two Rowsell "GhostRiders" with different transoms.

11/01/2010 19:56:07
Andy Hay - 3626 Business as Usual
My Pa had 2733 "Black Sovereign" - a Rowsell built Echo - which was true round bilge, no knuckle in the transom like the pictures. The bow was rather full and the whole hull was a bit shallow. Had a bit of a tendancy to nose dive too ....

17/03/2013 19:43:34
William Aveston
Ghost rider was not built by my father having looked at the photos!


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