by Alan Sefton
Thelma and Gloriana (background) are the latest additions to Auckland growing Logan classic fleet.
The Logans (father and sons) feature large in New Zealand’s maritime history.
Scottish immigrant Robert Logan Sen began the celebrated family boatbuilding dynasty on Auckland’s North Shore in 1879.
Gloriana showing her classic stern sections
His sons - Robert Jnr, Arch and John - left their father’s business in the early 1890s to set up on their own.
Two of the finest examples of the work of the legendary yacht designers and builders – the Gloriana and the Thelma – have been tracked down and acquired by The Classic Yacht Charitable Trust, brought home to Auckland and fully restored to their original. They are now regular star performers in the growing Classic Yacht racing fleet and both are also on display at the Voyager Maritime Museum in Auckland.
Gloriana was the first yacht built by the fledgling Logan Brothers firm - on spec and in the boys’ spare time. The 10.36-metre gaff cutter was a scaled down version of the great Nat Herreschoff-designed Gloriana and incorporated all the latest thinking of the new Logan firm.
Launched on 14 November, 1892, Gloriana blitzed everything on the Waitemata Harbour, quickly became the flagship of the new firm and brought them a lot of business.
Marine historians Robin Elliott and Harold Kidd, in their book 'The Logans', noted: 'The boat (Gloriana) was an absolute cracker, the platform for the later success of Logan Brothers as New Zealand’s premier yacht builders.'
The 18.29-metre gaff cutter Thelma, was launched by the Logan Brothers in 1897.
Thelma has been immaculately restored
Marine historian Kidd, writing of the period 1890 to 1910, has said that Auckland, at that time, had a group of highly skilled yacht builders and designers who still had access to stocks of superb-grade long lengths of kauri.
Kidd wrote: 'Under the influence of Scottish immigrant Robert Logan Senior, these builders had developed a three-skin diagonal monocoque construction which was immensely strong. The hulls produced were extraordinarily long-lived, being highly resistant to rot and damage. Hulls of more than 100 years old are therefore unremarkable in New Zealand.'
Gloriana shows her V-bow sections
Thelma, the Logan Brothers’ first really large yacht, was built for marine merchants William and Alfred Jagger. Designed by Arch Logan, then only 32, she was launched from the Logans’ yard on October 30, 1897.
Thelma immediately became the scratch boat on the Waitemata, eclipsing the two former heavyweights Viking and the Sydney cutter/yawl Volunteer.
Thelma was bought, in 1912, by J.L.R. Blomfield (the original owner of the Viking) and then, in 1920, by W.D. Wilson and, in 1927, by H.R. Hume and G.E. Creagh who, in turn, in1941, sold her to commercial photographer R.E. Johnson.
Johnson, a confirmed pacifist, equipped Thelma for a lengthy cruise and set off for the then neutral United States. Unfortunately for him, Thelma was impounded in the Pacific and, somewhat ironically, ended up in the employ of the United States Navy in Honolulu, where she was used for military R&R.
At the end of WWII, she gravitated to California where she was acquired by Australian IT developer Phil Dickinson who spent two and a half years restoring her before taking her to the Mediterranean, based out of St Tropez, where she was eventually discovered and purchased by The Classic Yacht Charitable Trust and brought back to Auckland (for the first time in 70 years) to be fully restored.
Robert Logan Senior
'Builder of Yachts, Steamboats, Sailing Vessels, etc., Customs Street West, Auckland'
'Mr. Logan has been well named the Fyfe of Australasia, as, like his prototype in Scotland, he is unrivalled as a designer of champion yachts and coastal steamers. He was born in Dumbarton, Scotland, in 1837, and was educated in Glasgow, where he also learned his trade with a well- known firm of shipwrights. In 1874 he migrated to Auckland by the ship 'Zealandia,' and worked as a journeyman until 1879, when he began to build and design yachts, at the North Shore.
Robert Logan Snr
Since then and up to the present time he has designed and built the following coastal steamers:—The s.s. 'Neptune,' p.s. 'Birkenhead,' s.s. 'Kotiti,' s.s. 'Kapanui,' s.s. 'Kawaii,' 'Waimarie' and 'Taniwha,' and also the well known cutter-yacht 'Jessie Logan,' and the celebrated yacht 'Waitangi,' now owned by a Wellington yachtsman, who has long annually come out first in the yacht races held at Port Nicholson. At present (1900) Mr. Logan is building a steamer of 120 tons register. She is to be named the 'Dueal,' and is intended to be used as a ferry boat by the Wellington Steam Ferry Company.
Mr. Logan has erected a new shed, with a capacity of 120 feet long by 50 feet wide; and this will enable him to build vessels under cover up to 120 feet long, and under most favourable conditions. The shed is fitted up with all the latest appliances, known to Mr. Logan as a past master in the art of designing and building vessels. Seasoned spars are always kept in stock, and all orders entrusted to Mr. Logan receive his best, attention, as everything is done under his own supervision in a thoroughly tradesman-like manner, by experienced workmen.- The Cyclopedia Of New Zealand (Auckland Provincial District, 1902)
Thelma - mainsail rings
Thelma - rigging detail
Gloriana after her relaunching