Former Caroline rigger dies

Harry Spencer, one of the characters who made Cowes the centre of yachting excellence and traditional style, has died. Harry Spencer, MBE, was born in Gurnard on the Isle of Wight, in September 1925. He grew up in Cowes and went to Denmark Road School. Leaving school at 14, he entered employment at J. S. White’s shipyard in Cowes. This was the start of a very varied and colourful career, which included working as shipyard apprentice, pattern maker, yacht hand, yacht yard foreman, a mate on coastal vessels, delivery skipper, shipwright, sail maker, and rigger. Later on he settled back in Cowes and eventually founded Spencer Rigging and afterwards, Spencer Thetis Wharf, and Thetis Engineering. Spencer Rigging was started up in 1958 at West Cowes and since then the business has continuously expanded and has now gained expertise in supplying to many diverse industries on a worldwide basis. Harry and his colleagues completed many unusual and challenging projects, including the rigging of Radio Caroline, converting an Arctic trawler into a three-masted topsail schooner, carving a miniature Edinburgh Castle in the tiller end of the Duke of Edinburgh’s yacht, the manufacture of all the mast, spars and rigging for the Warner Bros. replica of HMS Bounty, and towing a 140 tonne Princess Flying Boat with a 200ft wingspan across the River Medina with his beloved launch, Domino. Spencer Rigging is simply an extension of Harry’s personality, a mere blend of artistic sensibility and brute force, with his unerring sense of the right way to do a thing, and his uncanny skill in managing any impossible job the world brings. He was a larger-than-life character with a heart of gold. He passed away peacefully and leaves his wife, two sons, and four grandchildren.