Caresana originally Charles Cooper Henderson

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Shepperton Dec 2013

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We have just learned that the man who skippered Charles Cooper Henderson at Dunkirk recorded his experiences and we hope that his grandson may be able to give us information as to what the boat was doing for the 4 days she was over there. This will be great as we can then give a sensible answer to the question we’re always being asked as to what happened over there.


In July 2011 Caresana was moved to Smallgains Marina on Canvey Island where she was slipped and prepared for a move up river to Shepperton where a berth was available. The 78 year old hull was found to be in remarkably good condition with only local areas requiring attention, but the engines were found to need considerable work before they could be run and it was decided that this would have to be left until after she was moved. After much work had been done including preparing, painting and antifouling the hull, she was launched on 24th October. After a period of taking up and leak chasing she left the yard on Sunday 30th under tow and arrived at her new mooring at Shepperton on the following day.

Much gear has since been stripped out and stored ashore and an overall cover constructed and fitted. The superstructure needs extensive renewal, the electrical system will have to be completely replaced and the engines require a full overhaul.


Looking better already


Type R.N.L.I. Lifeboat
Length 41ft
Beam 12ft 3ins
Draft 3ft 8ins
Displacement 15.6 tons
Engines Originally 2 30hp Weyburn petrol engines, replaced with 47hp Parsons Porbeagle Diesels in 1977
Construction Mahogany on oak
Builder Groves & Gutteridge, IoW
Year Built 1933



The Dungeness-based Charles Cooper Henderson, Britain's longest-serving lifeboat, was first launched on 9th September 1933 and, with her twin 30 hp Weyburn petrol engines, was the first of the 'beach motor lifeboats' which took over from the pulling and sailing ones. During her forty-three years on active service, she took part in 171 rescues and saved sixty-three lives. No lifeboat-style log was kept to record her service at Dunkirk. But we know that, on 1st June, found damaged and drifting off Margate with her four naval ratings aboard, she was herself rescued and towed back to the English coast by Margate lifeboat.

Charles Cooper Henderson

After the necessary repairs, she resumed her duty at Dungeness. Her coxswain, George Tart, won the RNLI bronze medal for gallantry in the rescue of nine men from the collier Teeswood on 29th July 1956 in a rare force 12 storm. Between noon and midnight that day, the Charles Cooper Henderson was launched no less than three times. On each occasion, as her coxswain said afterwards, "it took her a long time to get back, pounding against wind and sea".

There is never a shortage of applicants when lifeboats go out of service and come up for sale. This is only partly due to the strength and stability of their hulls and their meticulous maintenance. Their life-saving history, the affection which stems from the fact that they were donated and manned by volunteers and generous donors, all contribute to their popularity.

In 1977 Eileen and Philip Larkin re-built the Charles Cooper Henderson into a motor yacht with a sensitive and aesthetically pleasing conversion which included a 20ft. wheel-house and deck saloon with fore and aft cabins - enough space for eight people. They also replaced her petrol engines with two 47 hp Parsons Porbeagle diesels.

Re-named Caresana, she moved to Guernsey and then in 1990 to France where she became a floating classroom for a language school.

In 1996, whilst still in France, she was refurbished by a boat-builder on the River Rance where she was re-rigged as a gaff ketch (as she was originally). She still retains her Porbeagle Diesels. She returned to Guernsey in 1996.

Ceresana's recent owner died leaving her to his son who is based in Canada who is only able to visit her once a year.

She has now been handed over to the Trust where she will be restored and looked after for the future.