Several weeks ago we run a story on WW about the fate of the Stow & Son – UK yacht – Imatra, that is dining a slow death up the Tamaki River in Auckland. At the time xxx pointed out that there was another Stow & Son yacht (built in 1899) – the 52’, gaff, yawl – Tern II in New Zealand. She is for sale on the UK yacht brokers website – Sandeman Yacht Company – I have taken the of reproducing the background story on how she ended up in NZ.This link will take you to their site to see over 40 photos and read more about her http://www.sandemanyachtcompany.co.uk/yacht/467/stow-and-sons-39-ft-gaff-yawl-1899-project-completion Thanks to Mark Erskine for the heads up on this hidden gem.
Tern II was launched as White Kitten in 1899, from the yard of Stow and Son, in Shoreham, UK. In early 1910 she was purchased by Claude Worth, who owned her for a couple of years and made several changes to her; documented in his book “Yacht Cruising.” Meanwhile all the ironwork he had made at this time is still with the vessel.
After numerous owners over the next few decades, she came into the hands of Ben Pester, a New Zealand naval officer who had finished a period of service in the U.K. and was keen to return to NZ under sail. This passage, in 1951-52, was written about in his book “Just Sea and Sky”, published in 2010.
Tern II changed hands again a few times, until she was found abandoned and a somewhat worse for wear in a mud berth near Thames North Island NZ, by Bill Cunningham. Going aboard with a mate unsure if she was worth saving; after downing the bottle of whisky found below it was decided she was indeed worthy – and thus began a 9 year period that she spent hauled out in his back yard in Cambridge not far away, replacing the deck with the addition of a cabin and all her spars, and a new interior. Her counter had been removed sometime before this and the rig changed to a cutter. She was re launched in April 1981.
Bill parted with her in 1991 and she was owned for a time by Mick Reynolds, and then Lyn Avatar, who had planned to sail her to Hawaii but cut the journey short after a 24 day passage to Tonga from the Bay of Islands. She then lay on a mooring there until the current owners came across her on their way to New Zealand. For a sum including coverage of outstanding mooring fees, a bottle of rum, and a kiss, they secured ownership and arranged shipping back to New Zealand. She is currently being stored undercover in a yard in Whangarei, Northland and undergoing restoration.
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Glad to hear the restoration is coming along; I heard some time back that her counter stern was to be rebuilt – hopefully this is true, as it’s docked appearance wasn’t pretty. For a few years she was moored up by Herald island. Less than a mile away was moored “Maud”, the William Fife ketch which was also at one time owned by Claud Worth. Two of Worth’s boats together on the far side of the world!
During the 1930s she was owned by one Clive Wright. Eric Hiscock sailed as crew on her during that period.
At one point she was touted as a “Dunkirk Little Ship” on the strength of some bullet holes in her side, but these were the work of some vandal while she was in her mud berth at Thames.