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Gatsby - an exceptional saloon launch


Gatsby is, as you would expect from the name, an exceptional and unique replica gentleman's saloon launch with a massive amount of space both in the cockpit and in the saloon area where a heads compartment and good galley space sit forward of the aft cockpit. Mr Freebody of Hurley knew how to create beautiful lines and the proportions are just perfect.

This launch was conceived in the mid eighties by a wealthy gentleman who wanted a twin screw fast steam launch to impress his friends. She is constructed of cedar strip planking with epoxy and painted black. The saloon with clerestory to add light and height, as well as the general detailing, is typical of a Taylor Bates saloon which no doubt inspired Mr Freebody when he was building this extraordinary vessel - probably the largest he ever built at the eponymous yard in picturesque Hurley just a few miles outside of Henley-on-Thames.

In 2015 the current owners bought the boat attracted by its size and sociability. They had no time for steaming and decided to convert her to twin electric motors with an onboard generator to ensure an adequate cruising range. A battery condition test is available carried out in mid April 2021. A mooring may be available on the mid Thames. The boat has a winter cover as well as a summer overall cover.

This is what I wrote in 2015 :

For a "lay person" it may be preferable to remove the steam plant and to insert an electric hybrid system which would slot fairly comfortably onto the existing shafts to create a twin screw electric boat for silent cruising with a diesel generator for back up. Whatever the locomotive power preferred, with twin engines and decent sized props she is sure to turn in her own length and offer great manoeuvrability to any owner. Putting aside for one moment the working parts and taking a look at the accommodation; there is ample room for the permitted 12 guests both in the forward cockpit and in the beamy cabin. On the port side toward the aft end of the saloon is a good galley with rings, oven, decent sized fridge and sink fed by water pump from the 50 gallon tank. All the working galley components are concealed behind birds eye maple cupboard fronts to match the rest of the cabin interior panelling. On the starboard side is a pump out toilet compartment with a reasonable sized tank. The bunk cushions are blue to match the forward cockpit. Of particular note are the two glass fronted cabinets either side of the door into the forward cockpit and as you would expect from a Freebody construction all the glass is bevelled. The fine clerestory adds to the feeling of space and light and each panel in the ceiling has a matching red and gold design to echo the cove line as well as the signwriting on the bow. To build a boat to this specification today would cost at least £500,000. Freebody and Co constructed the hull in epoxied strip planked teak with reinforcing oak ribs so she, like her Victorian ancestors, should be around for many years to come provided a new owner cherishes her as she deserves.

Please note that the price reflects the necessity of some revarnishing next winter and a thorough survey is recommended.

If you would like to view please ring the office on 01491 578870


Peter Freebody
Year of build

Please call Gillian on 01491 578 870 for more information


Henley Sales and Charter Ltd have gained a reputation over the last 30 years for selling and chartering beautiful, classic boats. Experience of operating and selling boats on the river Thames enables us to offer expert objective advice to prospective owners on all aspects of boat ownership including purchase, surveys, repairs and moorings. We will do our best to find the ideal craft to suit your individual needs - for a day or for a lifetime.

Henley Sales & Charter Ltd

29 Station Road
Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire


01491 578 870

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