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Doggersbank 1920 'Constant'

A family endeavour

In the 50 years since Constant, a Doggersbank 1920, was delivered in 1974, the unassuming trawler has achieved great things. At 19.20m / 63’ in length, it began life as the largest Doggersbank built at that time and the first commissioned for export. Over the years, changes in ownership saw Constant journey from the Netherlands, where it was designed by Vripack and built by Jongert, to Curaçao, and later Malta. In 1982 it was sold to Jon and Ann Bowman of Anacortes, Washington, and a 40-year tenure as a treasured family vessel began.

“We lived in the Pacific northwest aboard a 25m fiberglass trawler that my dad built,” says Deveren Bowman, daughter of Jon and Ann. “When that boat sadly caught fire, we bought Constant as a replacement. “Over the years dad simplified the systems and remodelled the galley and master cabin, but Constant’s integrity as a seagoing boat can never be questioned. And that’s what dad wanted, a boat that could go anywhere.”

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The Bowmans lived aboard Constant for the first four years, after which they built a house, but still spent six months a year on board. By this point, Deveren had graduated from university and was often away sailing on tall ships, yet she still found the time to accompany her parents on regular trips, serving as an extra pair of hands.


The family enjoyed myriad adventures cruising to Skagway, flying over Glacier Bay, circumnavigating Vancouver Island, and discovering Alaska’s Inside Passage and Canada’s Queen Charlotte Islands. “We did lots of exploring and often went ashore on land excursions,” she says. “All three of us are qualified pilots, so we’d take planes out and fly them over the icy glaciers and big tundra.”

Jon was an aerobatics pilot who flew jets at air shows in between spending time with the family on the water. “We came to know so many people over the years, some of them Northwest Coast Indians, and made friends in every port that we visited because Constant is the sort of boat that attracts attention,” says Deveren. “She’s beautiful to run, fuel efficient and just rumbles out of port gliding silently along, sitting so nicely in the water.”

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Development of the Doggersbank line of offshore yachts began in the late 1960s, on the drawing board of Dutch naval architect Dick Boon. It was Constant’s classic trawler design that appealed to the Bowmans. “She has that high bow and a really nice shear line going aft with a big stern deck,” says Deveren. “And big saloon windows, which are great for coastal cruising for the views. When at sea, there are steel plates that you can lift up and slide into position to protect the windows, so the whole boat can weather quite a storm.”

The family avoided ports whenever possible, unless laundry and shopping necessitated a visit, or when traversing deep, steep-sided fjord-like bodies of water where it’s hard to find an anchorage. Their preference was for remote cruising and exploring in the RIB, setting crab pots for dinner and watching brown bears catch salmon in the rivers.

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“In the early days there weren't that many yachts in the Pacific northwest, and the water was so clear in the shallows that you could see the bottom of the stream. You didn't always have to put down a crab pot, we just netted them straight out. Sometimes we’d bring the pot ashore and cook them in seawater on the beach.”


In the first few months of ownership, the Bowmans kept the previous owner’s captain to learn about the boat — “we’re still good friends with him,” says Deveren — but they soon reverted to the self-piloting life and converted the captain’s cabin into a cosy family library.


They also refitted the pilot house, adding a sofa and table for when underway. “It was our main hangout where we spent time together, with one of us driving and the rest having lunch or chatting about plans.”


Deveren also favoured being up top outside, manning the second helm. “For a couple of years, we lost our autopilot, so that job fell to me,” she says, smiling.

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As a celebrated sculptor, some of Deveren’s artworks decorated the interior, all inspired by the ice, rock, snow and wildlife that she has encountered at sea. Constant also carried plenty of other artworks that the Bowmans had collected along their travels or been gifted by friends, including authentic Indian art and carvings.


In 2021, after four decades of adventure, the annual maintenance and upkeep became too much in their older age, and the Bowmans made the difficult decision to sell Constant to its current owner, who has continued the legacy of careful custodianship.


“My dad's now in his 90s and can no longer hop into the engine room or crawl underneath areas,” says Deveren. “It’s still very emotional for them. They didn’t want to sell the boat, but they just knew they had to give it up.”

Reflecting on their beloved Doggersbank, Jon and Ann comment: “We miss her sorely even on these dark, misty days. We can imagine being at anchor, warm and cosy inside.”


Listed for sale again in 2024, a new era for Constant is on the horizon.

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Think you’d like to learn more? Connect today to become part of the Doggersbank community and to discuss your next big adventure…


Think you’d like to learn more? Connect today to become part of the Doggersbank community and to discuss your next big adventure…

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