200-year-old oyster smack may be world's oldest regularly sailed boat

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London, June 16 : A 30ft, 12-tonne boat, whose owner will celebrate its 200th anniversary on Tuesday, may be the oldest boat in the world that is still regularly sailed.

Owned by Reuben Frost of West Mersea, Essex, the boat called Boadicea was built when Britannia ruled the waves, three years after Nelson died at Trafalgar.

The Frost family has been its owner for 70 years.

Reuben still has the boat's registration document, paperwork detailing the owners over two centuries, and has a website - www.oystersmack.org.uk.

"I think she's survived so long because she's always been loved," Times Online quoted him as saying.

It was Reuben's grandfather, Michael Frost, who bought Boadicea in 1938 for 175 pounds.

"She was built in 1808 as an oyster smack and was worked commercially until 1938, when she passed into the hands of my grandfather," said Reuben, who works as a fireman.

"During the spring and summer Boadicea can be found regularly racing against other smacks and classic yachts and if there is a stiff breeze we can hold our own. During the autumn we still drift net for herring.

"Boadicea is solid as a rock at sea, even in a hard blow with everyone else putting a reef in she comes alive. Aft, at the helm, you can still sit with a cup of tea and bacon sandwich with no fear of losing either if you put them down," he added.

Reuben revealed that Boadicea had been repaired and renovated a number of times, and had an engine fitted in the 1970s.

He expressed hope that his boat would soon have a new life as a charter boat.

"She's only had a dozen owners and they've all taken great care of her. She'll see me out and hopefully pass on to the next generation of the family," he said.

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