Fritha

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FRITHA

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5L13LucfDQ

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

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Triton

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TRITON

Photo & story by Russell Ward

This gorgeous ship was built by Colin Wild for Ken Butland. I knew her when she was still in her prime and Joe Tatham (New Zealand Motor Corp CEO) owned her in the ’60s -He could afford the petrol and upkeep. She was down at Big Muddy and so were we –anchored alongside so I rowed over. He had to shift anchor and I helped out. She did go well –two big petrol engines. So burbly and smooth. Arrrgh! She was long and thin, quite a hard turn to the bilge, and she would go like stink if given some juice!

I have often thought that Triton might have been part inspired by a Thornycroft launch pictured in Philips-Birt Naval Architecture of Small Craft at p 250 although the Thornycroft boat is hard chine and has a reverse sheer. Triton was a real man’s boat, a sailor’s boat. I distinctly remember the abundance of ex navy fittings and switches –for example those huge chunky push buttons that HDMLs and frigates had to call the watch below, sound the siren etc (presumably they were NOS when she was built). Triton might not suit everybody in her original guise, but she was ideal for her original owner who used to show the ways of the sea to aspiring young seafarers. She had an open bridge (don’t downgrade it by calling it a flybridge. It was a BRIDGE dammit!). It was complete with voice pipe to the chart table directly below in the wheelhouse where the young sailor navigator would be plotting the course and yelling it out up to the helmsman. There was another helm as well as engine controls in the wheelhouse. Those lovely old chrome Morse levers on a circular escutcheon with ramps to stop you over riding neutral without pulling the lever bodily outwards – one each side of the console. She had elegant wood panelling below –so classy.

My picture shows her when I last saw her in Lyttlleton a little down on her luck. Layne Stephens put the shed on over the flying bridge some years back I am sure it made her more livable, but it is not for me, I am afraid. Most of the lovely woodwork was painted over. A little sad. But that’s the problem with age, (especially when we can remember some of these boats when they were new).

There are two things worth mentioning –Harold Kidd reminded me that Colin Wild refused to fit the open bridge and Lane Motor Boat Co finished her off for Ken Butland. The other detail, Joe Tatham told me in ’62. Mitchell, a subsequent owner to Butland, was very tall and her wheelhouse was raised about 6″ -you can see where the plank was grafted in. More obvious than then when the teak was bright finished.

Rumour is that she is available –c’mon someone. Come and get her.  

Hope there will be more details emerging.