Thetis – A Peek Down Below

THETIS – A Peek Down Below

Thanks to a heads up from Glenn Martin and a tme listing we get to have a peek down below on the 1955, Lanes built, 45’  bridge-decker – Thetis.

Lots more to read about her past at the WW link below

Woodys Cruising The Bay of Islands – Summer 2019/20 – Part One



Linda – 1927 – Colin Wild


Nautilus – Oliver & Gilpin


Darleen – 1920 – Possibly Bailey & Lowe


Echo – 1935 – Les Coulthard



Thetis – 1955 – Lane Motor Boat Company


Lady Crossley – 1947 – Colin Wild


Lady Ngaio – 1928 – Collings & Bell


Manapouri – 1960 – Parkes


Just got home yesterday from 10 days mooching around Waiheke and while clearing the in-box I spotted an email from Dean Wright, now Dean is a Bay of Islands based professional photographer with a passion for wooden boats. He even owns one  – the 1917, Arethusa.

Now any email from Dean normally contains some stunning photos and yesterdays one was a cracker – too good to run all as one, so I will split them in two.
Today we have featured pleasure launches – the first being one of the smartest classic wooden launches in our fleet – Linda. She has appeared on WW many times so if you want o know more just enter Linda in the WW search box.
I love the photo above because its the personification of our classic wooden boating movement.
Below I have included a photo of the 2018/19 built ‘spirit of tradition’ launch – Grace, and with her beautiful lines, she could only ever be a Salthouse 🙂
I have captioned the Woodys that I have been able to ID. To read more on the boats featured, use the WW search box 😉


Grace – 2019 – Salthouse




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Chatting with Chris McMullen and he mentioned that he had been recently contacted by Morgan Dawicki, the captain of the 74’ Brigantine – Fritha that Chris built back in 1986 for Jack R Butland. Chris commented that Jack Butland came to him with a modern design of what some one imagined a old time sailing vessel should look like. Chris was horrified and found him a nice design depicted in a 1940’s Rudder Magazine he had. They tracked down the designers son and bought the plans. The result  was ‘The Fritha’ and a very happy owner. Chris said he owed a great deal to the Butland family. McMullen and Wing built them three significant wooden boats. The first order placed was when Chris was under thirty years old.

These days Fritha is owned by the Northeast Maritime Institute, USA, who have recently dedicated a room to Jack Butland at the Institute, check out the opening here:

Her captain – Morgan told Chris that they are doing their best to share the lovely lady with our Kiwi friends and to share in her memories. His words were “She truly is the most beautiful boat on the water (in my opinion!) The craftsmanship is impeccable and it is nice to make the acquaintance of one of her builders”.

As of late, she has been spending the winters in North Carolina and summers in Buzzards Bay as a sail training ship for local high school age students. We mostly sail around Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

The Butland’s are a very old New Zealand boating family and their name has been alongside some of our best  examples of NZ boat building e.g.

J R Butland • an H28 then a Sailar 40 then the Fritha.

Ken Butland • Triton then Sirdar.

J M Butland • Thetis built by Lane Motor Boat Co. Panmure.

• Dufesne built by Max Carter.

• Durville built by Steel Yachts and Launches (McMullen and Wing)

• Inverness built by McMullen and Wing

Pleasant Surprise – while mooching around Mahurangi during the recent regatta weekend, a gent by the name of Tony McNeight unbeknown to me did a sketch of my Raindance, and it popped up on facebook. If you ever want a sketch / drawing of your boat, give Tony a call  021 925 031



photos & details from Luke Richardson

Thetis (Greek for Sea Nymph) was launched in Dunedin on the 31st August 1929.  She was built by Mr J McPherson boat builder of Dunedin for Mr Charles Sundstrum.
Thetis was designed by renown naval architect Mr William H Hand Jnr of New Bedford USA.  William ‘Bill’ Hand was the originator of the V-bottom hull type per Thetis.  In addition Hand was an early pioneer of the motor-sailor type. Thetis was designed as a fast day cruiser.
She is 35’1” in length with 8’1” beam, 2’9” draft and a total height of 6’9”. She is a British Registered ship dated 16th August 1929.  The official number is 127819. Her registered tonnage is 4.68 with a Gross Tonnage of 7.57.

Thetis was originally powered by a Chrysler Imperial 6 cylinder petrol engine producing 160hp at 2800rpm.  Later she was re-powered by a Chrysler Royal engine with 140hp.  With a Ford diesel in between she was subsequently re-powered in 2003 with a Mercedes Benz 5 cylinder diesel engine.  That motor is to be replaced now. Documents show Thetis was originally good for 18 knots.  A bigger engine was installed around the war years and its said she has seen 26+ knots.  In current configuration she’s more like 12-13 knots.

Construction is of kauri hull planking and Kowhai frames with teak decks. The cabin was subsequently modified and enclosed by Magnus Smith of Lyttelton, Luke believes the work was done  for Bruce Stewart of Pigeon Bay.

Known Owners
Charles W Sundstrum                         1929-37
Bruce F Stewart (later Sir Bruce)         1937-50
William Carey                                      1950-54
Clarey Beaumont                                1954-57
Des Sinclair                                         1957-67
Laurie Wales                                       1967-1997?
David Martin                                        1997-2006
Brendon Leech                                    2006-2014
Glenn Tod                                            2014-2015
Luke Richardson                                  2015-

Known History
Dunedin to late 1930’s
Pigeon Bay for some 20 years
War Service – she was commandeered by the NZ Navy Naval Auxilliary Patrol Service (NAPS) in WWII and used as a coastal patrol boat.  She commenced service 9th May 1942 and was relieved of duty 23rd February 1944 when the NAPS formally disbanded.  She was assigned the pennant number Z125 and served in the unit based in Lyttelton.  The owner at that time was B.F. Stewart.

Luke purchased her in July 2015 and she is now hauled out of the water for some long overdue TLC.  A period of neglect following the Christchurch earthquakes meant she was long overdue for some maintenance.  Luke would love to know more about any of the owners over the years and any of her history not covered above.

To view more photos & to follow the work, Thetis has a facebook page –  Friends of Thetis

See below an article on Thetis’s launch from the Australasian Motorboat & Yachting Monthly from October 1929. Its a good read 😉

Harold Kidd Input

Charles William Sundstrum was a Dunedin dentist who was a key figure in Dunedin yachting circles for many years. His first launch was the 31ft clinker double-ender VALMAI of 1910 which had a Dunedin-built 5hp Viking engine. He raced her with the Otago Yacht Club including one of their Ocean races to Timaru.
He replaced VALMAI in 1913 with the 40 footer NORANA designed by Joseph Gillanders and built by Miller Bros at Port Chalmers. She had a 16-18hp Jersey Standard marine engine and was a handsome craft. He sold her to Arthur Brett of Auckland in 1927. During WW2 she was taken over by the RNZAF and sent to Fiji for towing work.
THETIS was NORANA’s replacement. Photo of Norana below.

13-05-2017 – Additional Photos ex trademe (Ian McDonald nudge)