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Classic Yachts- Heritage Park at Vos yard

by Alan Sefton on 15 Jun 2012
The veteran Ariki, looks a picture just after the start of the Auckland Anniversary Regatta. She will be the first yacht to be restored at trhe new facility. © Richard Gladwell

A new facility, along with the historic Percy Vos boatshed and slipway close by, will operate under a new charitable trust, the name of which is still to be established. The board of that Trust will include John Street (chairman of the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust), Murray Reade (CEO of the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum), Peter Walker (one of New Zealand’s noted international yachtsmen), Baden Pascoe (classic yacht enthusiast with historical ties to the Percy Vos yard), John Bukowski, and Sam Stubbs (former shareholder in the classic yacht Rawhiti).

Initially, six classic yachts will be berthed at the newly acquired marina. This number will eventually increase to 16.
The historic Vos boatshed will be a restoration and maintenance centre for classic yachts, including those of the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust in its growing fleet of iconic New Zealand yachts from days gone by.

The restoration work, and the classic yachts in the shed or berthed nearby at the Heritage Landing Silo Park Marina, will be open to the public so that traditional boatbuilding skills employed will become a tourist attraction in the Wynyard Quarter. The plan is to link this with the displays and activities of the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum, in the Viaduct Harbour, and the Royal New Zealand Navy Museum in Torpedo Bay, with a continuous boat shuttle servicing all three in one engaging tour.

The first yacht to be restored in the Vos shed will be the ultra-classic Arch Logan gaff-rigger Ariki. This 18.59-metre beauty was launched from the Logan Brothers yard in 1905 and is now due a full upgrade before she joins the Classic Yacht fleet.

She will be followed by the 10.97-metre Rainbow II and then by the 72-year-old, Arch Logan designed 9.7-metre Gypsy which was badly damaged when she was rammed and sunk while taking part in the 2012 Auckland Anniversary Regatta.

The Gypsy, owned by John Pryor and Jill Hetherington, currently sits splintered on the hard in Hobsonville, awaiting her turn in the Vos restoration facility where she will join 7.9-metre mullet boat Corona which has recently been fully restored by Ian McRobie and Ian Stevenson and the apprentices at the Auckland Traditional Boatbuilding School in Hobsonville.

Also in the Vos shed, for a refit, will be another of the super-classics, the 22.56-metre gaff cutter Waitangi, the last major yacht built by Robert Logan Sen, the founder of the family dynasty that, for three generations, was at the forefront of yacht design and building in New Zealand.

Waitangi, launched on 13 December, 1894, is the largest surviving early Logan yacht and is an outstanding example of Victorian design and craftsmanship. She was built of diagonal and horizontally planked kauri over kauri frames. Her purchasers offered a bonus to Logan if she proved successful and won the Anniversary Regatta in Wellington became the Wellington champion. She won handsomely and the £100 prize was paid.

Waitangi had a succession of owners and was raced in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland for much of her history. Regrettably she was later modified and then fell into disrepair. In 1952, she was sold to Sydney where she was used for tourism work and even as a floating hearse – taking the ashes of deceased for burial at sea. She had a series of owners, one of which built a 'tram shed' coach roof on her flush deck, until 1986 when she was bought by a group of Melbourne businessmen, led by Hood sail maker Col Anderson and Doug Shields. This group undertook extensive research in order to restore Waitangi to her original condition.

The work took eight years and Waitangi was re-launched in 1994 to celebrate her 100th birthday. Her rigging, sail plan, hull and interior were, and still are, exactly as designed and built by Robert Logan down to the smallest detail, and her restoration was spectacular.

When, in 2002, the Melbourne syndicate ran out of steam, an appropriate new owner for Waitangi was sought and, in 2006,she was sold to the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust in Auckland where she has raced regularly in classic yacht regattas ever since.

Not in the Vos shed, but at the Voyager Maritime Museum, will be the 11.6-metre gaff cutter Frances, built by the Logan Brothers yard in St Mary’s Bay and launched in 1905.

Frances was built of triple skin heart kauri over pohutukawa floors and frames. Her first owner was an Austrian-born Auckland storekeeper who used her primarily as a fishing boat.

In 1909 she was acquired by Robert Shakespeare, a former employee of the Logans, who had helped to build her. He and his family used her for many years carrying wool and produce from their Whangaparaoa farm (at Shakespeare Bay) to the Auckland markets.

Anson Shakespeare, Robert’s son, claimed they could get nine bales of wool below decks and as much as four tonnes of cement. At the height of the growing season, Frances would carry up to 600 large watermelons from the family farm to the Auckland market.

In 1991, Frances was sold to Auckland brothers Paul and Adam Cato who, in late 1999, carried out a major refurbishment of the yacht, including the refastening of the topsides along with a new deck and deck beams.
Then, in 2004, the Cato family gifted Frances to the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust. She has raced regularly in classic yacht events ever since.

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