Sailing Sunday – Little Jim


Little Jim is a rather special boat, almost royalty – blue blood 🙂 Designed by Arch Logan & built  by Bill Couldrey in 1934 under Arch’s discerning eye.

When you start life with parents like that, when you get older & it comes time for some orthopedic surgery, only the best wooden surgeon will do – enter Peter Brookes, this artisan has worked his magic on Little Jim twice. The first time was a 2 year major refit in 2007/8, which saw strengthening work to the step and bow sections and a full interior reconfiguration. The keel was off & got new bolts & the systems were replaced or overhauled. Currently Little Jim is in Peter Brookes shed getting the finishing touches to an extensive renovation. Hopefully Little Jim’s owner Rod Marler will chip in here & walk us thru whats been happening to Little Jim over the last 12 months (photos ex Peter Brookes shed below).

And at the risk of falling off-side with the gaff-rig cohorts, Little Jim being sloop rigged is just so much more sailable (if there is such a word). No need to spend hours ringing around looking for crew, Little Jim is easily sailed by two.

When she was relaunched in 2008, Lew Barrett, one of the WoodenBoat Forum guru’s made the following comments –

“I like the textures and lightness in the handling of the interior. The glossy highlights of the trim (and the beautiful natural color of the wood) works perfectly against the subdued but flawless finishes of the cabinetry. The paneled locker doors and trim are simple but elegant. It’s exactly what we love about old wooden boats. They fully respected and retained the feel and sense of age while making her new. This is a really sensitive and demanding restoration objective to accomplish.The exterior is as clean and purposeful as the interior. It all really works to make a place you want to be.”

Our own Harold Kidd commented in 2008 at her relaunch
“it remains today an eye-catcher & a head-turner by any standards, so beautifully does form fulfill function. The aesthetics of its lines remain exquisite.

We are almost spoilt by the number of classic wooden yachts in & around our harbour, they are all special in their owners eyes but few are drop dead gorgeous – Little Jim is.

(note: Interior photos ex Chris Miller ex 2010 CYA Classic Register)

6 thoughts on “Sailing Sunday – Little Jim

  1. Pingback: Is This NZ’s Finest Classic Yacht Afloat? |

  2. Great to see this post and to see LITTLE JIM looking “Bristol”. A number of Jim Mitchelson’s grandchildren are friends of mine and I have directed them here.


  3. Thanks Alan, and for considering “the Jim” as a worthy WW Sunday read. We all know how the story goes, “just took her out for a quick repaint…” and the rest is history. Well that’s pretty much what happened last November when we gave Pete the brief to paint the hull and decks – the first “major” since the refit in 2008. Once she was out of the water and in the shed, we felt it was an opportunity to do the only work we didn’t do to the hull during the refit and that was to rebuild the rudder box and replace the copper sheathing. The photos only tell part of the story, but the copper work alone is a true work of art – testament to Pete’s skill. The rudder and stock were found to be in perfect condition, but the box not so – understandable after 80 years… We kept to the traditional methodology, even filling the box once completed with fresh tallow, just as they used to.
    The hull and decks were again stripped back to bare timber, primed, filled and painted and all the teak bright work treated to Pete’s sprayed Uroxsys. I didn’t think we could get her looking even better than the ’08 refit – but we have. You’re right – she is drop dead gorgeous.
    We haven’t forgotten the interior either, with a freshen up of all the bright work.
    She’ll be on display at the September on-water boat show at the Viaduct if you want to drop by for a look and a chat.


  4. This Little Jim has always had a bermudan rig in one form or another Alan…. Rawene of a similar size has been sailed two handed on many many occasions…. you should see how many crew Jim races with !! ,


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