Marabu and Kestrel as club boats

Spain 1998 1 jpg
Marabu 60th Anniversary

The Marabu Syndicate

In October 1977 Marabu came up for sale and sealed bids were requested. John Kapp, who had skippered sister ship Overlord since 1970 and was on their committee, drew together a group of interested people from the Brighton area and a bid for £12,000 was put together. However, Marabu was sold for £14,250 to Ken Graham, the winning bidder. He was not a sailor and he was approached regarding joining with the Marabu sailors so that they could use the boat. In November 1978 Ken Graham sold Marabu to the new Syndicate for £22,000 – and made a handsome profit! Thus the Marabu Syndicate, later renamed as the Marabu Sailing Club was born and based at Brighton Marina. Marabu cruised from Brighton to the coast of Scotland via the West Country in her first year.


Cruising with Marabu

Between 1979 and 2004 Marabu sailed thousands of miles by crews who enjoyed both cruising and racing as a leisure activity in varied waters. She has taken part in the Tall Ships' Race many times, for example cruising as far south as Lisbon in 1982 and as far north as St Petersburg in 1996. She was also a regular competitor in the Royal Escape Race (from Shoreham to Fécamp in France) and the Round the Island race. In the years she was not racing with the Tall Ships, she cruised extensively in Scotland, Brittany, Ireland, Spain and the Baltic. Marabu was also available for shorter trips, such as a weekend away or a day's sail.


Marabu Sea School 

One of the aims of the club was to empower people to sail and become proficient sailors.The Marabu Sea School provided practical instruction on all aspects of sailing – and ran courses for Yachtmasters and Yachtmaster Instructors. Recognised by the RYA since 1982, practical courses were often held on Marabu's sister yacht Kestrel (see below), a 50 square metre vessel also owned by the club. Diesel engine, boat handling and a variety of Skipper training courses were also held. The club had a grading scheme as part of membership, generally based on RYA qualifications. The club was affiliated to a number of Scout groups and schools who also went out sailing with Marabu's qualified Skippers.


Kestrel is a 50 square metre yacht, built in 1937 by Abeking & Rasmussen. She was originally named Seenixe, which means sea mermaid. At some point her name was changed to Seejunger.  She was a 41 foot sloop that was brought to Britain from Kiel in Germany in 1946. She was taken to Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth where she was used for sea training – and her name was again changed, this time to Gryffin. After 15 years  at Dartmouth, she was sold in the mid 1960s. Her name changed again to Kestrel and she was in private hands for a number of years, being restored in 1985 by Joe Mitchell from Liverpool (who had bought her after she was abandoned in a North Wales marina). She was sold to John Kapp and the Marabu Syndicate in 1989/90.


In addition to cruising and RYA courses, Kestrel also provided opportunities for disabled sailors to sail offshore as part of LOSA from 1992. Kestrel went with Marabu to Ipswich when they were both sold by the Club in 2005. What happened over next few years is unclear, but within the decade we know her condition had deteriorated. However, fortunately her story continues and Kestrel was restored in 2014 at HBYM boatyard in Frieburg, Germany on the River Elbe.

 (See also News of Windfall Yachts page).