Oyster 435

Designed by Holman and Pye

Built in 1989,  Ipswich, Suffolk, UK

Builder     Ego Dridge/Oyster Marine

Construction Material     GRP

Flag     UK

Registered Port     London

Hull Number 46

Length Over All     13.22m
Beam     4.18m
Draft     2.2m
Displacement     13,608kg

Ballast     Encapsulated cast iron keel

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Why Buy An Oyster?

Esper under sail

The boat buying process was full of coincidences and agonies. Our first disappointment came when the original boat we were looking to buy, Pacer, fell through. As it turned out this was a massive blessing in disguise. In fact it couldn’t have worked out better.

The night before we took Pacer out for a sea trial I sat Liz down in a pub and expressed my concern at how the boat did not meet the criteria we were originally after. In fact as we went through each specification Pacer was not satisfying any of the points we were looking for. Whilst in the pub we pulled out the details for Dersu Uzala, the Oyster based in Turkey, and quickly realised THIS was the boat we were looking for. We hadn’t been to see it before then, however, because Dersu Uzala was laid up in Turkey and getting there was expensive. The next day we got carried away with the sea trial, obviously taken with Pacer’s speed and performance, and agreed to buy her. Why we didn’t stick to our gut feeling in the pub the night before we’ll never understand, but fortunately the owner withdrew Pacer from the market and we got out deposit back.

Dersu Uzala, as she was known

So, a trip to Bodrum in Turkey was next on the agenda. Coincidentally Chris, Liz’s brother, was also heading over to Bodrum with his Turkish wife, Duygu, to buy a house. The second coincidence was that the only time Liz could arrange time off work coincided with Chris and Duygu’s trip. The third coincidence was that Chris and Duygu agreed to buy their house on the same day we agreed to buy Dersu Uzala, which was laid up a mile round the coast. Sometimes things are just meant to be.

One look at Dersu Uzala and we knew we had found our girl.

It’s About The Money
So why did we go for her and not another boat? The most important consideration with our purchase was budget. We either spent all our money on a boat that was ready to sail away, or bought one for less that required some work. Invariably most boats require some work, even if they are advertised as blue-water cruisers “ready to sail away”, so our purchase had to leave some money aside. This meant our search was somewhat limited, but not impossible.

Size Matters
Another consideration was that this boat would be our home, so space was essential. Many people told us we didn’t need anything longer than 37ft, but we know ourselves well enough to realise that if we lived 24-7 in such a confined space we’d eventually drive each other mad! We looked at two beautiful Sparkman + Stephen designed Swans, both 41ft, but at £100,000+ they left us NO spare cash and they just didn’t offer the kind of space we were looking for. Whilst this issue will always divide the sailing community we were prepared to sacrifice some performance for the sake of space.

An untidy but spacious interior!

An untidy but spacious interior!

When we originally put an offer in on Pacer we told people we were about to buy a Feeling 1350.  Some of our sailing friends took a step back, clasped their hands over their mouths and shook their heads in dismay: for the sailing snobs out there this was a big no-no because a) it’s a typical French production line boat and b) it’s a light displacement vessel, hence its 2.4m draft. Despite the fact it was designed by Ron Holland many people simply would not buy a boat like this, but at the time there was no better boat that suited our budget. Fortunately for us we ended up with an Oyster 435. This has a great reputation as a blue-water cruiser and was designed and built by an extremely reputable firm. A few sailors take issue with Oysters, their main complaint being that they are over-priced. Esper cost us far less than we had imagined, so we weren’t doing so badly!

Specification Issues
Esper is a ketch-rig and this is something we didn’t have a problem with. Having sailed a ketch in a nasty storm before we knew that their stability would be a boon. All Oysters have skeg-hung rudder, which offers us additional protection from shallow rocks and reefs, as well as lobster pots, whilst the encapsulated iron fin keel has a shallow enough draft without being too twitchy. Engine access is excellent. The galley is nicely set to one side, dividing the spacious saloon and large aft cabin. Forward of the saloon are four bunks, two of which make a double bed. This will either offer us additional storage space or provide ample accomodation for visiting guests. They also get their own heads and shower.

Large aft cabin

Large aft cabin


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Why Call Her ‘Esper’?

If you take a stroll around a marina one thing will become obvious: there are some damn stupid names for boats out there. Money can’t buy you love, neither does it buy you class, and it certainly doesn’t buy you any sense of originality. Sorry if it sounds rather scathing but could you take to the ocean on a vessel named “Sea Princess” or “Lady Di’s Dream”? How about naming your new love “Freedom” or “Spirit of the Ocean”? Posh names like “Annabella IV of Southampton” are too convoluted and are more appropriate for a Crufts-winning pedigree Yorkshire Terrier, whilst names like “Creightons” are just too dumb for words. We could go on but for fear of upsetting at least half the sailing population we’ll leave it at that.

The flip side is that you occasionally come across some real gems: Jon’s “Barnacle Bill” is genius, whilst “Cambria” is a beautiful, yet simple, name. There’s even a sailing vessel in Felixstowe Ferry on the east coast of the UK called “Passing Wind”! No, we couldn’t call our boat something like that but at least it dispels ideas of snobbery amongst the yachting fraternity, and shows a little sense of humour.

Knowing that we wanted to avoid our boat sounding like a race-horse we set out the following guidelines to naming our vessel:

  • It had to be one word, for the sake of simplicity
  • It couldn’t sound harsh or inappropriate
  • Both of us had to be happy with the name
  • This meant it had to mean something to us
  • We weren’t going to combine our names because that’s just rubbish
  • It had to be original
  • If it provoked a bit of curiosity then all the better

These guidelines, however, were only decided AFTER coming up with a list of possibles. It wasn’t until we read through this list that we realised we had to be a bit more focused. Have a quick read through the list below and you’ll realise how desperate we were getting!

Blade Too pretentious
Bullit Bit aggressive
Mutley Everyone liked this but a bit too comical
Dastardly Wonder where that came from?
Voodoo Ray Jamie’s favourite track, but it meant nothing to Liz
London Calling Liz’s favourite track, but it meant nothing to Jamie. Plus it insinuated the opposite of what we were doing!
Sugar A drunken conversation…see below
Dave Why not? “This is Dave the boat, Dave the boat…..”
Keith Even better!
Doris Might sail a bit slow and wet itself

We realised we needed to find a subject that we both agreed on so we plied some mates with a lot of alcohol and put our heads together. After a few drinks we got onto the subject of the film, Some Like It Hot, and all agreed that it is by far the greatest comedy ever made, so someone suggested that we name the boat after Marilyn Monroe’s character from the film. After a lot of head scratching and a few drinks later someone remembered that it was ‘Sugar’ and in chorus we all agreed that this was to be the name of our new boat. We also agreed that the world was a beautiful place and that “you are my besht mate” and couple of people even sneaked off to pray to god Armitage.

Next morning of course we realised that the name ‘Sugar’ was pretty lame, and what happens when you put sugar in water? Exactly. Despite the stupid naming convention and a few sore heads we had hit on a winning formula: a character from a film that we both really liked. The next month was spent trying to agree on a film. Liz reeled off a huge list of old black and white classics that Jamie had never heard of, whilst Jamie suggested some family favourites like “The Exocist” and “Warriors”. Coincidentally we later found out that “Dersu Uzala” is actually the name of a Japanese film.

One film we did agree on, however, was Blade Runner. If you don’t like or have never seen the film then (a) this won’t mean anything to you and (b) where you at? We got excited and decided to name the boat after the replicant character that Rutger Hauer plays, but we just couldn’t remember his name. We called Jamie’s brother, Tim (a huge Blade Runner fan), and asked him what the character’s name was. “Roy Batty”, he replied. Ahem. If you thought “Sugar” sounded gay……! After a few moments Tim said “Remember the A.I. computer that Harrison Ford’s character used to analyse the photograph? It had a name. It was called Esper.” And that was it. We ended up naming our boat after an artificially intelligent computer that was used to analyse a photograph in a scene from the science fiction classic Blade Runner. Of course! Why didn’t we think of it before, eh?

Next time someone asks us what Esper means we’ll just tell them it’s almost French for ‘hope’. Or we might just rename her ‘Dave’.

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So What Does ‘Esper’ Mean?

(Taken from Wikipedia)

The term and concept esper has existed in the field of parapsychology, and in the mainstream of science fiction, for some time, since at least 1950. Properly used, the term refers to an individual born capable of using telepathy and similar paranormal mental abilities; it apparently derives from extra-sensory perception (“ESP”) via the English occupational suffix, thus being literally “ESP-er” with different capitalization.

The concept of the esper appears often in science fiction, much less often in fantasy, and is actually used by name much less frequently than it is referred to. Especially salient appearances of psychic abilities, although never attended by the usual name for them, are in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, especially Second Foundation, where psychological research turns up a means of direct mental contact between humans which was lost with the development of language;[citation needed] in George Lucas’ Star Wars films, where The Force, theological explanations to the contrary notwithstanding, is essentially esperism plus telekinesis (Jedi could practically be called a religious order of espers); and in Jean Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear, which although not science fiction in a strict sense does contain the same view of the mental processes as Asimov described in the Foundation novels.

In fact, the idea of esperism is fairly common in all science fiction, almost certainly due to the high reverence in which Isaac Asimov was held by most other science-fiction authors.

In Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, there is scene featuring a device called an “ESPER” which is used to manipulate photographs. The scene and features of the “ESPER” have influenced many films.

Esperism has appeared sporadically in science-fiction games from fairly early on, more often given its actual name in these than in most other SF sources. One especially remarkable case is the Avalon Hill board game (later adapted to computer systems) Star Command, in which characters formally called Espers are available as support troops in infantry squads, and have abilities more or less matching the parapsychological theories of what an esper would be capable of.

However, in certain circles, the word Esper is most familiar via the Square Co., Ltd. Super Famicom RPG Final Fantasy VI (released as Final Fantasy III in North America), in which beings called “Espers” are essentially demigods who wield Dungeons and Dragons-esque magical abilities, and can be killed to allow these abilities to be transferred to humans. In the original Japanese version of the game, these creatures were known as ??, (?????, genju) which translates roughly into English as “phantom beast.” The English translator of the game, Ted Woolsey, sought to find a word which he felt conveyed the same meaning with as few letters as possible; the English text files for the game were essentially expanded versions of the Japanese text files, taking up far more memory space than was available. In the end, he chose the word Esper. For more information regarding Espers in Final Fantasy VI, see Summon Magic. Espers also make an appearance in Final Fantasy XII, as titanic beings that can be summoned to temporarily aid playable characters in battle, although the player does not control his or her Esper’s particular actions. Each Esper offers a unique range of offensive, defensive, and support abilities, and is capable of unleashing a powerful final attack before being dismissed. There are a total of thirteen Espers appearing in the game: one for each sign of the astrological zodiac, and the thirteenth Serpentarius.

About Esper’s House Flags

Millie writes:

Me, and the best house flag in the world

Me, and the best house flag in the world

Do you have a House Flag? I have. Did you know that it’s also called a Private Signal? Mine has an orange ‘field’ and a black ‘charge'; that’s a black fish on an orange background for the non-vexillologists among you. It is a swallowtail shape.

Esper also has her own house flag; a classic rectangular shape, with a yellow smiley on a sky blue background, given to us by Liz’s friend Vicky. The first version eventually became too tatty to fly so we had another one made by a sail maker. Since then my Dad has made a third version which I reckon is the best one ever. He also made my flag, under my supervision. It was I who chose the design and colours. It’s the prettiest flag on Esper. What my parents don’t know, though, is that it serves as a warning to other cats. It means ‘get off my boat and don’t come anywhere near my fish; they’re all mine’. In feline folklore orange and black are warning colours. One thing I don’t understand, though, is why it is essential to swear when sewing a flag by hand?

Esper smiles

Apparently there are lots of important things you should know about flags if you have a boat. There is a vast code of flag etiquette out there, just waiting to trip us up! Have a look at the full length version of this article on the subject of nautical flags.

One Comment on ““All About Our Boat, ‘Esper’”

  1. Jack Harper

    I love your cat. I watch her swim around the boat at least once a month when I am feeling tired from work.

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