One of the biggest of the motor sailers from Jimmy Miller and probably the last one built. Enormous construction makes her strong and reliable, huge interior volume offers a third sleeping cabin which makes her a comfortable boat for extended time aboard. New Perkins engine in 2006 with relatively low hours in a very tidy engine room. Complete new wheelhouse in recent years. This is a superb yacht offering the best of both worlds with a powerful and reliable diesel when necessary, yet a large enough rig to give her credible sailing performance. 6 berths in 3 cabins, large deck saloon, inside and outside steering.
Contact: Richard Gregson. 01803 833899. 07886 081657.
Jas Miller and Sons of St Monance on the Fife coast near St Andrews was one of the best known of the great Scottish yards operating on the same site in the same family ownership for 200 years until closure in 1992 when the last James Miller had no family to continue the business – a sad end to a great heritage.
The yard built both fishing boats and yachts, mostly to in-house designs by James Miller grandson of the first Miller but also building boat by the famous designers G.L. Watson and W.G McBryde, the latter know mostly for his motor sailers.
Millers were always innovators being one of the first yards to change from steam to diesel for the engines in their fishing boats. It was not surprising therefore that James Miller designed the first of the Miller Fifer range of motor sailer in 1957. Royal Fifer is still going strong.
The Fifer range is obviously inspired by the fishing boats the yard built and looking at the strength of the construction and the size of frames and keel it is very easy to see that the same men designed and built these boats as built the fishing boats destined for the wild waters of the North Sea and beyond.
Demonstrating the success and popularity of these boats, over 100 Fifers were built in various sizes, all more or less the same with the same canoe sterned lines although there were a handful of transom stern boats.
The smallest was the 26 footer, a sturdy, purposeful little craft. Then there was the 28 footer which is an ideal size for many people. The 32 footer is an excellent family boat being quite a big boat for her dimensions and like all the Fifers gaining her wonderful sea-kindliness from her weight. These boats did not win any speed records – a cruising speed of 5knts or 6knts was average – but they were very comfortable sea boats. Despite their size, the Fifer is a forgiving boat. Most are fitted with good power so will stop and wait for instructions from the helm without drifting away to leeward on the wind. Give her a kick ahead with the helm over and the bow swings immediately. Pull her into astern and she digs her stern in and stops.
Just as well because with that weight and strength you don’t want to run amok in a crowded marina full of brittle white plastic.
Constance of Fife, launched in 1979 was one of the largest, and probably the last of the Miller Fifers built by which time the wooden boat building industry had almost ceased to exist in the rest of the country. Such was the popularity of this famous brand!
To date she has sailed from Scotland to the South Coast, Britanny, Portugal and round the Med. She has had a couple of name changes in her time but never had nor needed a major refit.
She now sails as reliably and comfortably as ever out of Poole Harbour with her owner – who possesses a bus pass – and is only selling because she is bigger than needed now the family seldom sails together.
Length on deck 43’
Displacement 16 tons
1 3/8”. Mahogany planking above the wl, iroko below all fastened with galvanised boat nails to the massive sawn oak frames, approx 3” moulded in pairs of futtocks making 6” at approx 12” centres rising to 9” moulded depth in the bilge.
Cross cut 4” oak floors span the keelson tying the frame heels together.
Long straight oak keel with almost full length external lead ballast keel.
Massive oak stem, slightly raked forward with twin stem-head chain rollers.
Heavy vertical stern post in the canoe stern.
Galvanised steel plate rudder and stock carried in a galvanised steel tube immediately abaft the stern post. The heel of the rudder is stepped in an extension of the oak keel leaving an aperture above for the prop and thus greatly reducing the possibility of fouling a rope.
Pair of massive oak Sampson posts on the fore deck and also on the aft deck, all capped with a polished stainless steel plate and cross pin provide substantial mooring bitts.
The hull is Cascover sheathed to the water-line. This system of hull protection was very popular up to the advent of epoxy and glass sheathing and is regarded as a modern version of copper sheathing. The purpose is to prevent worm damage but a very important additional feature is the enormous strength it brings to the hull. I have known planking holed by collision yet still holding water tight on the Cascover sheathing. The system uses a woven nylon cloth
Glued to the bare wood surface using a Cascophen glue then anti-fouled in the normal way.
Mathway rod and gear steering from wheel to rudder stock.
This later design of Miller Fifer has a step in the deck just forward of mid-ships giving more head-room in the forward accommodation and lower, therefore less exposed side decks.
The step in the deck is nicely reflected in the swept down gunnel in way with 4 bronze port holes forward each side, the powerful sheer line emphasised by a rubbing strake picked out in black and the whole topped off with a varnished mahogany capping on the 6” high toe rail.
A varnished mahogany hand-rail is carried on waist high stainless steel stanchions from the step in the deck right round aft.
The fore deck is protected by twin guard wires on stainless steel stanchions with a pulpit on the stem.
Stainless steel plate round the top of the stem protects the surface from anchor scuffing.
8 bronze panamas each side in the tow rail save capping rail chafe from mooring lines.
Classic Miller deck in plywood sub deck overlaid with screw fastened and plugged ¾” swept teak deck between varnished mahogany cover-boards and joggled in to a centre-line king plank, the seams payed with black butyl rubber. A thick marine ply deck on heavy deck beams adds to the strength of the hull and provides a water-tight structure.
Pair of modern flush deck Lewmar sky-lights on the fore deck. Pair of vents either side of the mast and another pair either side of the windscreen.
The superstructure comprises a mid-ships wheel-house set into the step in the deck with the forward windscreens sitting on the fore deck.
Slide open windows provide ventilation and grab rails above on the roof and on each corner provides the security where required.
The main entrance to the vessel is by double doors and sliding hatch in the after starboard corner providing stand-up entry.
Aft, there is a casing standing approx 2’6” off the deck over the after accommodation with 3 port holes each side.
The deck entrance to the aft cabin is by a sliding hatch with wash-boards on the forward starboard corner of the casing. The deck of the after casing is laid in scrubbed teak to match the deck also with varnished mahogany cover-boards.
Grab rails on the deck each side. Modern flush sky-light in the middle gives light and ventilation.
A delightful grp simulated clinker dinghy is carried on the after casing, hoisted over the side by the mizzen boom.
Between the wheel-house forward and the casing aft a cross passage creates a well-protected helm position with a door each side for protection. This outside steering position with traditional spoked teak wheel with varnished rim is mounted on the back of the wheel-house midships with a console carrying engine and nav instruments.
Single lever Morse engine controls and Sestral compass mounted on the roof.
This carefully planned, remarkably tall Bermudian ketch rig makes the vessel manageable by 2 people.
Tall varnished spruce masts, both with single spreaders and stepped in white painted galvanised steel tabernacles.
All stainless steel rigging with stainless steel rigging screws and internal stainless chain plates.
Mizzen mast with twin lowers and cap shrouds, the forward lower secured on the after corners of the wheel-house.
Main mast with twin lowers and cap shrouds. Single standing back-stay to the mizzen mast.
Stem-head fore stay with Schaefer roller mechanism.
Varnished spruce booms, the main boom sheeted to a bronze track across the wheel-house roof with tufnol blocks, the tail run along the roof aft and easily accessed by the helmsman.
The mizzen boom sheeted to the point of the canoe stern the tail run into the goose-neck.
All boom and mast fittings in heavy duty galvanised steel painted white
Mainsail, slab reefing
Mizzen, slab reefing.
Headsail on the Schaefer roller furling mechanism.
Pair of bronze Lewmar 24 2-speed top action winches on the main mast tabernacle
Pair of bronze Lewmar 2-speed top action winches on the mizzen mast tabernacle.
Pair of bronze Lewmar 44 self tailing winches on the corners of the after casing, accessed by the helmsman.
Perkins Sabre M130C 115hp 6-cyl diesel mounted on enormous centre-line oak engine beds to centre-line 3-blade prop. Fresh water cooled with heat exchanger.
This engine was fitted new in 2006 and was seen in exceptionally good and clean condition.
The walk-in engine room is particularly spacious with polished chequer plate sole, all white painted hull structure and tanks and sound-proofed bulkheads and stooping head-room
Clutched Jabsco bilge pump belt driven off the front of the engine.
Steel fuel tank each side, both with easily read sight gauges total capacity 300 gallons.
Both tanks have large bolt-on inspection plates. Separate engine feed and balancing pipe.
Steel fresh water tanks in the after port corner of the engine room, total capacity 200 gallons also with inspection plates. 24v water pressure pump and accumulator tank alongside.
Twin Racor fuel filters
Auto ER fire extinguishing system.
3 banks of 3 x 12v batteries on 24v circuits to both engine start, domestic supply and navigation instruments.
6 berths in 3 sleeping cabins ex saloon.
Below deck the joinery is all original varnished mahogany with mahogany ply bulkheads, typical Miller panelled mahogany doors, varnished mahogany cabin sole with lifting panels all through for total bilge access and deck-heads lined out in white panels with varnished mahogany edging.
In the fore cabin the ship’s side is still lined with white peg-board to give full ventilation in absolutely classic Miller fashion.
The accommodation is divided into 4 distinct areas. In the middle is the deck saloon over the engine room below. The inside steering position is in the forward port corner, the entry from deck in the after starboard corner. Bench seating in blue fabric upholstery with a mahogany drop leaf table in the middle.
Typically Jimmy Miller and ever the practical man, the saloon sole lifts in panels for full access to the engine below and the deck-head above is built so that if absolutely necessary it can be opened to remove the engine.
Aft is a twin berth cabin with separate heads and shower compartment, this “owner’s cabin” accessed through the deck hatch making it distinctly separate from the rest of the boat and very private.
Behind the companionway to deck is thedoor into the engine room.
Forward of the deck saloon, steps down to the galley with circular stainless sink and large work surface to stbd, stainless steel gimballed gas 2-burner grill and oven cooker to port in stainless steel lined recess.
Going forward, heads and shower compartment to stbd.
Guest cabin to port with fixed lower berth and pipe cot above. Large cupboard and bedside locker.
Forward again into the fore cabin with V berths.
6’ head-room all through.
Ample and generous lockers all through
HW from gas water heater over the galley
Vibocold 12v fridge recessed into the galley bulkhead, another fridge in aft cabin below port side berth
Gas bottles outside in a locker by the helm seat.
Showers drain to collecting tanks with immersed auto 12v pumps to over-board.
Sestral steering compass on the deck saloon roof in front of the outside helm position
Raymarine ST60 Multi system
Raymarine 6001 autopilot
Furuno Navnet plotter and radar
Autohelm depth, speed and rudder indicator
Icom M421 VHF radio
Clutched Jabsco bilge pump belt driven off the front of the engine
Manual bilge pump
Gastec gas detector with alarm and shut off
Simpson Lawrence 1500 manual windlass on the fore deck.
45lb CQR anchor
Plough kedge anchor
This is a fine little ship found in very respectable order, obviously ready for a passage. Her owner knows what he is doing on board and has not been afraid to spend money to keep her in good order.
We sold her to him some years ago and it is only because the family have moved on and he does not need a boat of this size that he is putting her up for sale.
These Miller boats are extremely robust giving a sense of total security at sea even for the more timid sailor. The height of the wheelhouse provides excellent visibility from inside. In harbour they provide all the comforts of home, warm and dry, easy to move about without stooping, decent sized comfortable bunks in 3 separate sleeping cabins so room for all the family and guests in privacy.
As a consequence they are hefty boats and the beginner should gang warily as Jimmy Miller would say before venturing to bounce her around a crowded anchorage.