IMATRA And Her Builders Story
A little while ago Mark Erskine wrote in regarding the 123 year old Stow & Sons gaff yawl racing yacht – ‘Imatra’ which was sailed to New Zealand in the late 1930’s or 40’s and purchased by the then Mayor of Auckland. Mark used to give her a passing glance on his travels, she is berthed in the Tamaki River, but over the last few years he hasn’t checked but I can confirm that she is still barely afloat. The last time Mark saw her she was in poor condition, at the time owned by John Hayman, we are unsure who currently owns her. Can any of the river rats enlighten us on the status of Imatra?
Mark also supplied a link to a Youtube video on Stow & Son, master boat builders. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBBVcrmj9qE It gives wonderful insight into just how remarkable their productions were / are. Very humble boat sheds, humble tools, all yachts made by hand, but by craftsmen from the best quality seasoned timbers (oak frames seasoned for up to 16 years, mahogany, rosewood, walnut, pitch-pine, teak, etc) and the sheer quantity of huge, high quality racing yachts and boats made by this firm boggles the mind. The production numbers don’t seem possible for the size of the business, and clearly shows this company were at the very top of their game.
A few Stow & Sons yachts survive fully restored and are worth millions.
If you Google:
- “1904 Rosalind yacht”
- “1913 Harbinger yacht” Sadly, “Harbinger” was lost at sea a few years ago.
Input From A WW Reader
The Imatra article today jogged my memory. Imatra was designed and built with a gaff yawl rig and was sailed to NZ in that configuration (see photo) below. Much later, she was modified to her current rig here in NZ. Current owner, John Hayman claims the modifications were carried out by a young Peter Blake, after Hayman damaged her magnificent timber main mast. The current alloy mast looks very much out of place and just adds to the current distressed condition of the yacht. Hayman was also responsible for the awful cabin addition. He claimed the construction was carried out at Baileys. The original rear (aft?) mast postion behind the rudder post was also removed and brought forward of the rudder post. Hayman claimed this was also by “Blakey”.
Input From Harold Kidd – IMATRA left England for NZ in December 1948. Ernie Davis bought her in 1949. L.J.Fisher owned her later then A.M. Jenkinson (1964) then Jack Hayman. SOMEONE’S GOT TO DO SOMETHING!
Input From Russell Ward – I crewed on her Christmas 1964 when she was owned by seafarer and car dealer Arthur Jenkinson – He was a mate of Athol Rusden and is mentioned a lot in the latter’s autobiography “Rascal of the Pacific” It is a cracking good read and puts him in perspective. Athol had the 60’ woody Paulmarkson built by Percy Vos in 1970. She was renamed Dionysus RIP.
Jenkinson had pulled the masts out and was rebuilding them when I crewed. He said he was re-gluing parts so I guess there was rot. She was substantially original below – lovely paneling etc etc. I think she had a piano aft end of the saloon. Wasn’t much for me to do since we motored everywhere.Arthur reckoned she had too much lead aft and that the engine (a Lees 100 hp Ford) ballasted her too much aft. I last saw her on one of the slips at St Marys Bay a year or so after and Arthur was gas axing and hacking a large piece of lead off the aft end of the keel by the rudder post –would have been a ton or more. I lost touch with her after that and she seemed to spend most of her time up the Tamaki. The boxy cabin aft was quite a fine piece of woodwork but the original doghouse was lovely.The picture below is of her at Cooks Lower Landing alongside Skip Lawler’s ex RNZN Fairmile – Ngaroma
27-11-2022 UPDATE – Have just been flipping thru some old ‘scrap books’ of NZ yachting press articles and came across the below – the 1st is dated 30-07-1974 ex the NZ Herald
The bottom two are ex Sea Spray magazine June 1978 edition