I have just had an email from my Dad telling me that Uncle Les Windley has died.
Les stayed with us for a couple of years when he came over from Nevis & St Kitts but we had a bit of a falling out after a while.
I don’t have any details of Les’s death at the moment but I know that he came back to England suffering from cancer and was in a home recently.
A quick google search on Les and a sailing boat that he was associated with for many years – the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter Marguerite T – will reveal that many people regard him as a real character – which he certainly was – and miss him. Particularly he is missed in Oualie Beach, Nevis where he lived for many years.
You could write a book on Les and maybe someone will one day. Perhaps people will post stories about him here.
Les’s association with Marguerite T – a very famous Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter – began when he purchased her whilst in the Hamble and rebuilt her over many years and with the help of many friends.
Builder: E Rowles, Pill, near Bristol
Build Date: 1893
Length on Deck: 53 ft
Beam: 13ft 10in
Displacement: 43 tonnes
Thames Tonnage: 35
Draught: 8ft 3in
Present Location: River Fal, Cornwall
Current Owners ( 2011 ) : Robert and Anna Brunyee
As I understand it he also learned to sail and navigate aboard Marguerite and also with my father Peter aboard various R.A.F. yachts.
I spent a memorable time as a teenager aboard Marguerite whilst she was in the Medina River, Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Les was working on the J class Endeavour and living on Marguerite – he also played music in The Jolly Sailor.
We came up to the piles in the Medina and Les told me to pass a rope through the pylon and back to a bollard on the deck. What he forgot to tell me was to surge the rope around the bollard as he went astern. I held it fast – the bollard pulled out of the deck and went over the side. Les ran up the deck and when he realised what happened he grabbed me and threw me overboard saying ” and you can get the effing bollard back ” or similar. He had a short temper did Les.
Having rebuilt Marguerite Les sailed her down to South Africa and then to the Caribbean – ending up in St. Kitts and Nevis. This was quite an achievement for a boat of which the surveyor was reputed to have said ” This boat can neither be towed, trailed or sailed anywhere “.
I am going to add more stories about Les over time.
Les would come to see us in an old Mark 1 capri which he loved
You could not exactly say that he was at home on the motorways of today but he got there – just !
Captain Les Windley, an old sea dog originally from England plays harmonica and blues guitar on Tuesday nights in the Oualie Beach Boys Band. The rest of the time he is usually taking guests out sailing on his charter yacht. Ask him to tell you the yarn about the time he and another foolhardy young fellow lassoed a 13.5 foot hammerhead shark from a 13 foot boston whaler and went waterskiing up the channel behind the thing!
Please Note: I will try and make the information here as accurate as possible and please feel free to point out errors where they occur.