As a part of the Island's support for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Cowes Harbour Commission provided free craneage for steam launch Kariat before and after she was transported to London for the River Thames Jubilee Pageant.
When in 1897 Captain Dixon, lately retired from the Royal Marines, needed a new tender for his yacht, it was natural for him to come to the Columbine Yard in East Cowes. At that time, the Liquid Fuel Engineering Company were building not only steam cars and lorries but also the finest steam launches.
At 35 feet Captain Dixon chose the largest; in addition to towing the parent vessel up river, she would be required to fetch the Dixon family from their home in Hythe. In order to enable the family to occupy the commodious after cockpit without being overheard by the crew, wheel, boiler and engine controls were situated in the exposed forward cockpit. The brass-bound compound engine, built by the same company in East Cowes, developed 40 h.p. and a brass funnel carried away smoke and fumes.
Exactly 106 years later, John Power, who had lived in Cowes since 1984, found himself in a quandary. Age and ill health dictated the sale of his beautiful 43 ft. yawl Kataree, which had six times taken him across the Atlantic. The predictability and certainty of modern diesel yachts was unattractive. Captain Dixon's steam launch had long since left Cowes; she had spent many years on canals in the Midlands and had even spent a year submerged up a creek in Chichester Harbour. However, she had been restored to her original condition and name Kariat in the 1980s, and perhaps most importantly, her original home port of Cowes was still displayed on her stern. John brought her to Cowes from Strangford Lough in Ireland, and she has become a familiar sight on the River Medina and in the Solent, her wheel and controls now in the after cockpit. Kariat is unique in being the only Liquid Fuel Engineering launch left in the world still with her original LIFU engine, though now with a coal-fired boiler supplying steam.
Kariat is now berthed at Shepards Wharf Marina, and was chosen to carry the Island's Lord Lieutenant in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames on 3 June because both her hull and engine were built on the Island. Cowes Harbour Commission generously provided craneage for her to be lifted onto a specially-built cradle, and she was transported to and from London by Steve Porter Transport and Red Funnel, all at no charge, as a part of the Island's support for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
For the Diamond Jubilee Pageant itself, proudly flying the Island flag, she conveyed the Island's Lord Lieutenant, Major General Martin White, C.B., C.B.E. and Mrs. White, together with Peter Grimaldi, a Deputy Lieutenant, and Mrs. Grimaldi. The Lord Lieutenant was accompanied by four Lord Lieutenant's cadets and the Commanding Officer of T.S.Osborne, Lieuternant Jackie de Bruyne, SCC. Also on board were the owner and chief engineer, his son Richard Power who was at the wheel, and Adrian Birtles of Niton who was second engineer.
The pageant of a thousand boats assembled at Barn Elms, above Putney Bridge, and Kariat steamed through the centre of London past cheering crowds lining the banks of the Thames. Between Westminster and Waterloo bridges the rain began, but failed to dampen the spirits of anyone on board, and Kariat and her crew received a special wave from HRH Prince Philip, Admiral of the Royal Yacht Squadron, who toured Cowes Harbour in her during Cowes Week 2009.
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