Page last updated at 07:28 GMT, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 08:28 UK

Boat reaches its 200th birthday

The boat was a working oyster smack until 1938

A man is celebrating the birthday of his boat built three years after Nelson died at Trafalgar and seven years before Napoleon met his Waterloo.

Boadicea, a twelve-and-a-half ton, 30ft (9m), oyster smack owned by fireman Reuben Frost of West Mersea, Essex, was built in 1808.

It is thought to be the oldest boat in the world still regularly sailed.

The smack worked commercially until 1938 when she was bought by Mr Frost's grandfather, Michael, for 175.

Mr Frost, his wife Donna, 36, son Izaak, 10, and daughter Amber, eight, have the boat's registration document and paperwork detailing the dozen owners she has had over the two centuries.

I think she's survived so long because she's always been loved
Reuben Frost

"During the spring and summer Boadicea can be found regularly racing against other smacks and classic yachts and if there is a stiff breeze we can hold our own," said Mr Frost.

"During the autumn we still drift net for herring."

Mr Frost said the boat, which was built by James Williamson of Maldon, Essex, had been repaired and renovated many times and had an engine fitted in the 1970s.

He now hoped to use her as a charter boat.

"I think she's survived so long because she's always been loved," he said.

"She's only had a dozen owners and they've all taken great care of her. She'll see me out and hopefully pass on to the next generation of the family."

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