Owner’s Perspective from Tristram Mayhew


Tristram Mayhew

Tristram Mayhew
Bay Raider 20
The Black Pearl


Why did you choose Swallow Boats?
I think I first came across Swallow Boats at a Southampton Boat Show. I wasn’t in the market for a particular boat at the time, but was attracted by the classic lines and got into conversation on the stand. When I was shown some of the innovative features and intelligent design (water ballast; hollow mast, tiller over engine; etc),  and learned more about Swallow Boats’ and Matt Newland’s story and ambition, I became a fan.

Why did you choose a Bay Raider 20 as opposed to other boats on the market?
When I ordered my BayRaider I had a young family of a 4, 6 and 9 year old, plus a dog. My design criteria was:

A boat spacious enough to get the whole family in, plus another, plus our picnic and our dog (solution: enormous cockpit).

  • Some cover to get the kids under at least should it start getting wet, cold or lumpy (solution: cuddy)
  • Non scary sailing when the kids were on board (solution: water ballast; high boom; ability to rapidly  depower by stowing the main and sailing on mizzen and jib; self-tacking jib; outboard in position and ready to go at short notice)
  • Ability to have more exciting sailing when on my own or with an experienced sailor (solution: asymmetric jib; empty ballast tanks for near fast dingy sailing performance; self tacking jib)
  • Easy trailer-ability. Minimum fuss and time launching, rigging and recovering. (Solution: light-weight boat due to water ballast, can be towed by a family car; lifting centre board; clever swinging arm trailer gets the boat on straight every time regardless of cross winds or current; mast can be raised single handed)
  • A pretty boat with loads of soul and wow factor but with good performance ideal for harbour, creek and inshore work (Drascombe Lugger too slow and won’t point; Hawk 20 too modern, not Swallows and Amazons enough; Devon Yawl doesn’t have an engine well and outboards look ugly bracketed off the transom).
  • A boat you could row and camp on board on overnight if fair weather
  • I wasn’t interested in racing competitively

How do you use your boat (trailering/mooring/marina etc)?
We are lucky enough to live on the water’s edge in Chichester Harbour, and I check ‘The Black Pearl’ on her mooring first thing each day from the comfort of my bed with a cup of tea and binos. She occasionally dries out onto mud so the lifting centre plate and rudder are ideal. Most of  the time  my wife and I sail her on our own in Chichester harbour, or to join friends for a BBQ 3 miles away at East Head. Sometimes one or more of our children will come too, but they sail their Optimists and prefer to jump into the RIB we share with a local family who usually are going to the same beach party.

I also try to take part in a ‘raid’ once a year. In 2012 my then 11 year old daughter asked if she could come too, and we had a magical 3 days raiding in company with 20 similar or smaller sized boats on the Orwell and the Stour. We camped ashore, but I have now bought the bespoke Swallow Boat designed cockpit tent that attaches to and extends the cuddy, which will make camping on board properly comfortable and weather proof. The BayRaider is purpose built for raiding and exploring shallow creeks. If you touch the bottom lifting the centre plate gets you out of trouble. I have also fitted a battery powered chart plotter with depth sounder, for further piece of mind and to facilitate more adventurous missions.

Please could you describe the most memorable experience you had in your Swallow Boat?
We were invited to join friends at their holiday bothy on the shore of Loch Hourn on the West Coast of Scotland. It can only be reached by boat or by foot. I enjoyed trailing the boat with our dog and kit from the South overnight up to Inverness airport where I collected the rest of the family. The last 28 miles were single track and passing places, we forded a burn and launched off a shingle beach. We sailed the final 2 miles and arrived with all our stores and baggage aboard for the week, where the Black Pearl swung at a mooring like she was born to it, and was sailed daily for fishing and foraging trips. Fabulous!

I’m now looking forward to future raids in Venice and the Gulf de Morbihan

How did you find the after sales care at Swallow Boats?
The team at Swallow Boats are very personable. I feel like I have joined  a club as a Swallow Boat owner. At the boat shows there are always a few owners clocking in to have a chat with each other and with Matt. There is a lot of 2 way discussion on how to tweak the designs and the online forum is very active and a font of shared tips and advice. Matt Newland is often available to have a quick word on the phone, and Charlotte is very friendly and willing to send out any bits and bobs that you need, however low value your order may be for them. The strong impression from Matt and his team is that they are inspired to design and build exciting, elegant and innovative boats with soul and pedigree. They want to build long term relationships with their owners and encourage feedback. On the odd occasion that some item may not work out quite as hoped, Matt is willing to put it right quickly, without fuss, and is always fair and reasonable.

Would you recommend Swallow Boats?
Absolutely. I love my BayRaider. In my view there is not a boat to touch it, (although I sometimes think about the Expedition or the BayCruiser with a carbon Bermudan Rig), and I’ve bought into and applaud what Swallow Boats is setting out to achieve.