Cheoy Lee Vertue
Designed by Laurent Giles

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5 ton Bermudan Sloop

redarrow.gif (56 bytes) Aug. 2016  Roger Robinson and his son have put together a great website for the Cheoy Lee Vertues as well as the Vertues produced by other companies with a great deal of history on these great boats.  The link is

I will not try to duplicate the great info Roger has put together, just give you the link.  james

Pictures from original brochure
From the info e-mailed to us plus the two brochures I have obtained it appears that the Vertue was produced both by Cheoy Lee and also somewhere in England and had teak hulls.  The Vertue Mark II was produced with GRP hulls and I am not sure if they were produced by Cheoy Lee or not.   The brochure sent to us lists "Seaglass" as the producers of the Hulls and Decks and that they were completed by Purbrook Rossiter Limited of Christchurch.

James and Cilla,

I just happened to look at the Vertue page, another of my favorite boats, and thought I'd add a little info on them too.

Over 100 Vertues have been built world wide.  Most were built in England and by several different builders 
Cheoy Lee built a few in the late 50's and early 60's.  The B&W photo on you web site is actually of an E.F.Elkins built Vertue. I have that very photo in my brochure and a very good friend owns a near sister ship to the boat in the photo.
We've studied the photo to death. The clincher that the boat is an Elkins is the cruciform bollard just visible on the foredeck and the details of the wood work around the companion way and the after bulkhead of the cabin.  Elkins built more Vertues than any one else and these boats typically had teak bottoms as far up as the ends of the iron floors and then were Honduras mahogany above that point.  The Cheoy Lees of course were all teak.  Vertues have more recently been built in glass by several different builders and  may still be available new.  The glass builders seem to come and go.  I think the molds keep changing hands.

Again, nice web site,

Bill Sternberg

The following clarification comes from Giles Yachts - "The GRP VERTUE is, and always has been, licensed by only one builder.  This builder is Bossoms Boatyard of Binsey Village, Oxford OX2 0NL.  Telephone +44 1865 247780 Fax +44 1865 244163 contact Tom Ballance."

I have retyped the info from the brochure since it is not very readable from a scan. james...    

"The VERTUE class yachts are the finest cruising boats of their tonnage ever built.  In this design Laurent Giles developed all that was best in the traditional English pilot boat.  The result is a really seaworthy modern yacht with a performance under sail which could never have been approached by her forebears.  Over 130 VERTUES have made long ocean voyages:   Humphrey Barton's famous 'uphill' crossing of the Atlantic in Vertue XXXV (1950), Dr, Joe Cunningham's round voyage, England - West Indies - Newfoundland - Ireland in Icebird (1952-3), Peter Hamilton's voyage from Singapore to England in Speedwell of Hong Kong, in Salmo to Quebec, Panama, Tahiti and California; and in 1960 David Lewis sailed Cardinal Vertue in the single-handed race from Plymouth to New York, and returned in her to Shetland.

   Within this basic design accommodation and rig have been steadily improved since the first VERTUE was built.   This latest teak-built family cruising version, specially designed by Laurent Giles, has four fixed berths and a separate toilet.  It is built by the Cheoy Lee Shipyard, Hong Kong, of fine Burma teak from the yard's own forests, and other exceptionally durable local boat-building timbers.  The specification is up to Lloyd's highest standards, and the boats can be built under supervision, to be classed 100 Al at Lloyd's.  The extra cost is that many centuries of craftsmanship behind them.  Yachts could only be built from these materials in the U.K. at prohibitive cost"

"The most perfect small ocean going yacht that has ever been built" were the words used by Humphrey Barton to conclude the narrative of his celebrated crossing of the Atlantic in "Vertue XXXV" in 1950

We have two great articles submitted on the Vertues.  james...

Click Here for great article on a Vertue being sailed through a Force 11 storm by Peter Kinsey. Reprinted from Latitude 48
Sent to us by Dr Wayne Stromberg

Click Here for article by Andrew Pool, WoodenBoat Magazine 1978 submitted by Pat Cassady


Specs on the Vertue

LOA - 25'3"
LWL - 21'6"
Beam - 7'2"
Draft - 4'6"
Sail Area - 300sq'

  • Hull planking: Teak, 3/4 in. finished thickness
  • Keel, stem, sternpost: No.1 Yacal
  • Ballast, 4500Lb Cast Iron
  • Timbers: Ipol, 6.5 in centers
  • Fastenings: Copper & Bronze
  • Deck Beams: Kapore
  • Mast: Sitka Spruce

Click Here for link to Vertue owners site in the UK

Virtuenew.jpg (62431 bytes)
Click Image for full page pic

LOA    25'.62
LWL   21'.5
Beam   7'.8
Draft   4'.43
Sail Area   351 sq. ft
Ballast 2 tons

Again here is the first page from the brochure retyped...

"The pedigree of this sporting English thoroughbred goes back to 1936 when Jack Laurent Giles introduced Andrillot - a gaff rigged cutter along the lines of a Bristol Channel pilot cutter.  Since then almost 200 Vertues have been built with many long ocean voyages to their credit.  The original design has been continuously modified and improved over the years whilst the basic hull form has been maintained.

Laurent Giles and Partners have now given their famous flagship a new lease of life by producing her in GRP.  The Mark II Vertue embodies all the best features of her predecessors but has taken full advantage of modern technology in spars, fittings etc. to produce a yacht of the highest quality.   Her beam has been increased by 8 inches and the cockpit extended further aft.   A single spreader masthead rig has simplified matters on deck and improved her performance on the wind."

The brochure lists the price in 1979 at 21,500 pounds, and the hulls were molded under Lloyds supervision and could be built to class if required.

2005 Email from Enrico Pollini

First Vertue built by Cheoy Lee in 1953 V 58 Bettina is still sailing.  She is owned by my friend Enea Riboldi of Milan and is based in Cavallino near Venice (Italy). I own an Elkins Vertue (V100 Return, also based in Cavallino) and we sail together extensively every summer down the Dalmatian islands in Croatia. Bettina is well keeped, she got a new engine some 10 years ago and recently a new main. Some slight modifications where done to the interior but apart of that the boat is quite original and sails tough and pretty. Recently I got notice of another Cheoy Lee Vertue V 129 Lan Tao, also based in Venice, in the island of Lido. The famous Vertue XXXV (Elkins Built), who sailed first across the Atlantic, is also based in Cavallino (Venice) and that makes a North Adriatic Vertue Fleet up to four boats. Last summer (2004) V123 Jan Gilda, another Cheoy Lee Vertue, sailed from Scotland to Jezera in the Croatian island of Murter via Gibraltar and, as far as I know, will remain in the Adriatic for some time. I am trying to get in touch with the skipper to see if it is possible to organize a Vertue Rally, in Venice or in Croatia, that will see five Vertues together, three of them Cheoy Lees, far away from England. I will update you about. Ciao Enrico Pollini

Email from M Schroeder, 2013

A few fiberglass Vertues were also made by Westerly before they went bankrupt. One of the last ones, hull # 005, was purchased by David Hays, the founding Artistic Director of the National Theatre of the Deaf (USA). He and his son Daniel Hays bought the hull and topside directly from the yard in Portsmouth, shipped it to the US, built and prepared for two years, then sailed around the Horn in 1985; they were "the first Americans to sail around Cape Horn in a boat under 30 feet in length," and they documented their adventure in the book My Old Man and the Sea, a New York Times bestseller. 

Click Here for link to Laurent Giles Ltd website with information on the history of the designer of the Vertues.  Following is email message we received from someone in their company:

"Have found your very interesting page and would be pleased to offer some information which I hope will be of interest. First Cheoy Lee built Vertue Bettina V58 1953 Cheoy Lee built Vertues throughout the late 1950's to the middle 1960's Fibre Glass Vertues (Vertue II) designed in 1976 with minor hull molds to enable GRP molding (less tumble home), in June 1999 VII No 44 under construction in England. 1986 Vertue redesigned for wood/epoxy construction and in June 1999 V227 has just started construction. On average four new Vertues are built each year. Plan cost about 800 Study plans 5"

Click Here for link to Vertue owners site in the UK

Rupert Reed has a website on the Vertue's


6 Members

Boat-  "Patience" - 1963 Vertue 25'3"
OWNER - Bob Cleek
AREA OF SAILING - San Francisco
E-Mail Bob
Boat-  "FAB" - 1962 Vertue 
OWNER - Vic Overton
E-Mail Vic
Boat-  "Phoenix" - 1967 Vertue  #145
OWNER - Ron Geisman
E-Mail Ron 

I purchased Phoenix in March, 2007 from Greg Freidricks, a shipwright in Port Townsend, WA. She is in remarkably good condition due largely to Greg's work. Moored now in Port Angeles, WA, she will come south to Dana Point, CA in September 2007.

Boat-  "Little Virtue" - 1957 Vertue 
OWNER - Pat Cassidy
AREA OF SAILING - Channel Islands California
E-Mail Pat  Acquired "Little Virtue" December 1998. The boat has not been sailed in many years. Hull is sound. No upgrades. Deck and engine (Stuart Turner 8 h.p. 2 cylinder, 2-stroke) need to be replaced. I would like to hear from other Vertue owners.
Boat-  "Kainui" - 1960 Vertue  #106
OWNER - Steve Garrand & Susan Cooney
Camden, ME
E-Mail Steve & Susan
Boat-  "Aries II" - 1956 Vertue 
OWNER - Peter Ouborg
AREA OF SAILING - San Francisco
E-Mail Peter
Boat-  "Drumler" - 1963 Vertue - Sail number 125
OWNER - Rupert Reed
E-Mail Rupert

Rupert has a website on the Vertue's


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Here are a couple of interesting e-mails submitted....

The following e-mail was sent in by Wayne S...
Good morning (well, it's morning in San Diego), James and Cilla--
I notice that someone-- I think Ben Stavis?-- sent you a list of models of older Cheoy Lees; and it hit me that there's a magnificent model that not too many people know about that isn't on the list.  It's the 25' 3" Vertue sloop, made entirely of teak by Cheoy Lee (they never made a glass one) of a design by Laurent Giles, as I recall.   These are absolutely fantastic boats, and pretty rare.  They were made of mahogany in England, and both the Cheoy Lee models and the English ones have made famous trips.   The famous English sailor and racer Humphrey Barton thought they were the very best small cruisers ever built.  He sailed an English one, Vertue XXXV, from England to New York through hurricane-force winds, and wrote a book about it.  The most well known of the Cheoy Lee models also had one of the best boat names I know of, "Speedwell of Hong Kong"-- it made a long voyage, which was written up. 
Good old-time ocean sailors drool when you mention these boats.   One of the rare Cheoy Lee Vertues is in San Diego.  I'll try to get your web page address to the owner, and enlist him in this effort to let everyone know about Cheoy Lees- the world's best boats. 
Many thanks for your work on behalf of all of us! The web page looks great.

Best-- Wayne S..

Received this e-mail from Bob aboard "Patience"

Dear Friends,

Just found the Cheoy Lee website.  I've owned "Patience" a Cheoy Lee Giles Vertue for about 25 years.  She was built on custom order in 1963 of teak on ipol and is Vertue SN 136, Cheoy Lee Hull No.1154.  I'm just finishing a total restoration and rebuild on her.  I have a fair amount of Cheoy Lee information on wooden boats.  I will try to scan in some of their sales materials from the 1960's and send them on to you.  Cheoy Lee also built Alden 32 motorsailers in both teak and later GRP and Herreshoff Rozinante's in teak!  Bit of trivia for you there.  They played a little fast and loose with the designer's work when they started moving from custom production to a model line, and brought out "bastardized" boats in the model line (e.g. the Bermuda 30 = Herreshoff H28) until they acquired their own stable of designs (e.g. the Robbs.)I'll see what I can dig up for you.  Especially with regards to the Vertues.  I have extensive information on them.  There are perhaps 150 built and of these, probably 80 to 100 are Cheoy Lees.  There is a Vertue Owners Assoc. out of England.
I'll send you what I can put together when I have more time.
Fair Winds!  Bob C....


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