Welcome to our fourth Newsletter this year!
A SPECIAL AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND FEATURE!
In 1962 Bill Nance worked his way into Fremantle aboard Cardinal Vertue under jury rig, after ‘running his easting down’ from Cape Town and losing some of his mast on the way. It was one of the most audacious passages ever completed with a Vertue, although what happened to him and the boat next was not the proudest moment for the Australian bureacratic machine. By that time, at least four other Vertues were already afloat on the continent. I hope this modest first attempt to illuminate the history of the class in the Pacific might result in new facts being revealed. Please don’t hesitate to let me have any more information I have missed via email@example.com
It may well be that Rakoa V 59, was the first Vertue afloat in Australasian waters. It now appears that she may also be the first of the class to have been built by the Cheoy Lee Shipyard in Hong Kong. We have no idea yet how this came about but have put all we do know in Rakoa‘s own ‘page’ under the ‘Boats’ section on the top toolbar. Please make full use of this database which is now the most comprehensive set of details on Vertues anywhere. We are planning to complete the basic list early next year, and will then be endeavouring to try and fill in the numerous gaps! From then on it will be up to you, the owners and Vertue enthusiasts to keep us up to date with future, ‘Vertual Reality’!
Rakoa V 56 has been in storage for many years. From this picture it is clear that she was built with a very unusual layout on deck. Her fore-hatch is planted directly onto the deck, as her coachroof had been designed to extend only a little way for’d of the mast, in a layout reminiscient of the early Vertues based on the Monie drawings. However, by this time it was normal for the mast to be stepped upon the carefully strengthened coachroof.
Rakoa still has her Cheoy Lee builders plate.
This striking photograph of Austral Vertue V59 is a poignant reminder of her eventual fate, which happened quite soon after it was taken. I’m indebted, as ever, to Mike McKeon for his wonderful support for our modest website and for all the information he has provided about the Australian based Vertues and especially for this, remarkable image of a Vertue hull, dried out for a scrub. Mike has sent me the following caption for the photo:
This photo was taken of Austral Vertue when visiting Abemama in the Central Kiribati Islands where a channel was dug during the war in the lagoon reef through to the beach. This was around 6ft deep and ideal mooring for us. At the beach end was a store with a corrugated iron roof where I collected rainwater from a tank. Here I scrubbed down and repainted the anti-fouling, one day each side, then sanded and repainted the top-sides from the dinghy.
Austral Vertue was probably the first Vertue to be built and launched in Australia, and was tragically lost off the enchanting ‘south sea’ island of Vaitupu in the Tuvalu group. This was then known as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands.
Although both Rakoa and Austral Vertue were afloat by 1958, Bass Vertue V 42, had already been under construction for some time in Adelaide. She was finally launched the following year and as far as we know is still based somewhere in the Melbourne, Port Phillip area of Victoria. However we have no real information about her and hope this Newsletter might prompt some kind soul to get in touch.
Corio Vertue enjoying a fresh breeze.
Andi Indrans owned and raced Corio Vertue for many years before she unfortunately sank at her mooring and was put out to Tender by the Insurance company. She was in serious danger of being cut up but by a fortunate turn of events she ended up being bought by Tim Price who has just written to say that her refit is ongoing. Corio Vertue, or CV as he affectionately calls her, is another Port Phillips based boat, moored at Hobson Bay YC. During lockdown Tim tells me that the Club’s ‘legendary yardy’, John Erickson, has been keeping an eye on her, as Tim was unable to travel to check on her himself during the lockdown.
Fialar was sailed by Mike Elton to Australia from England in the mid 1980’s.
We have written about Fialar V 110 in recent Newsletters, but she is the first of this group of Australian-based Vertues to have sailed there and stayed. She sadly sank off Dangar Island some years ago.
Julia Jane V 127 was built regardless of expense.
When Lambert Latham, a prominent member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, commissioned this Vertue, he went to ace boatbuilder John Griffin at the Church Point yard, Middle Harbour, Sydney, where she was launched in 1965. The Huon pine log selected by Griffin for her planking was apparently over 1000 years old! The teak laid deck, seen here, is 1 1/4″ thick. She was reputedly built for mainly day-sailing, like Rakoa, but unusually had a for’d galley and only two permanent bunks. Her original Scottish-built Kelvin diesel auxilliary is still aboard. She shares her moorings at the well-known Sandringham Yacht Club, near Melbourne with a much later Vertue called Sunbeam which is described later.
Our next Aussi-built Vertue is Fionn V140 but, unlike Fialar, she eventually ended up in England, where she has remained ever since. She was built as a gaff cutter by Chris Larrewyn and launched in 1973. We have illustrated and described her in recent newsletters, and of course her details can be found in the ‘Boats‘ section under V 140.
Here is Yacabba V 149 in her jinka!
This photo, and the one heading this Newsletter, typify the Aussi Vertue scene for me! Trim boats with immaculate paintwork over all, shining under clear blue, antipodean skies. If the Vertue’s ‘working boat’ origins are remembered, then it is not surprising that this painted, ‘smart workboat’ appearance, without much ‘yachty’ varnish work in sight, looks entirely right. Jim Croft, her owner, tells me that she now seems to be the only remaining Vertue in Western Australia. Her builder was the first to incorporate large circular portlights in the standard Vertue long doghouse, independently of the designers, although the idea was taken up again many years later aboard several other boats. (Unfortunately, these later boats have used portlights that are much too small, and the resulting appearance is not so successful.) I think they look really workmanlike aboard Yacabba and with that early, jaunty sheer, help make her one of the best looking Vertues afloat.
I could not have been able to put together much of this Newsletter without all the help from the owners of most of these boats. In particular both Mike McKeon, mentioned earlier and Bruce Morley have been wonderfully generous with their decades of knowledge of Vertues in Australasia.
I’m afraid I have no images to offer at all of Mudjimba, V160, but Bruce is trying to get in touch with her original builders, Ron and Emily Mitchell, from Queensland. Mudjimba has apparently sailed thousands of miles, up and down the eastern seaboard of Australia, and French Polynesia since her launch in 1978. I hope to be able to tell Mudjimba‘s story in VertueYachts.com before too long.
Vera is based in Queensland
Greg Curry has lovingly restored Vera V162 and moved her up the east coast from NSW to Hervey Bay near Brisbane. We have lost touch with Greg and we’re very keen to hear how he and boat are getting on.
Tui of Opua
You have to look twice at this photograph to ensure that this isn’t Wanderer III! She has the picked out sheerstrake, and the four portlights in the after part of the stepped coachroof, but isn’t there a little more spring in the sheer? She does look a little small and of course the real ‘give-away’ is the V 167 sail number! Tui is currently based in Newcastle, NSW, where very long-term liveaboards Bruce and Thelma Morely quietly continue with the lives they created when they built their boat in the 1990’s. Their kind guidance about everything ‘Vertual’ in the Pacific is legendary.
Tui is of course an ‘ocean’ Vertue basically built to the drawings that were prepared for Speedwell of Hong Kong shortly after Wanderer III was concieved in 1951. I’m sad to report that Speedwell‘s second owner, John Goodwin has recently passed away in Sidney, Vancouver Island. He is remembered for the fine passages he made with the boat from England to South Africa at a time when such things were regarded as being pretty special, aboard such a small craft. His amusing articles in Yachting Monthly were a joy to read and our thoughts are with his family in Canada.
Sunbeam at the Sandringham YC
Sunbeam V 205, is moored near Julia Jane at Sandringham, Port Phillip and I am hoping to hear about some match racing between the two this summer! Her owner, David Ascott has very kindly been in touch with her full history, some of which will soon be found in her ‘Boats‘ entry as I try and complete the basic list before the next Newsletter in March. David bought Sunbeam overland from Western Australia in 2010, twenty years after her completion by a shipwright called O’Connor in Freemantle.
Sunbeam in the slings: with not a jinka in sight!
As we have seen there appear to be about four Vertues in the state of Victoria, two known to be in NSW and one each in Queensland and Western Australia. I find it hard to believe that there aren’t more, especially in those wonderful sailing waters around Sydney. There remain a further three more Vertues in Tasmania with probably the same number in New Zealand to be described.
Patience of the Huon and Island Vertue in Hobart for the 2013 biennial Wooden Boat Festival.
I have recently been able to feature some information about the Patience in my last Newsletter, thanks to Audun Pedersen’s delightful and comprehensive portfolio of information about his boat. Audun bought the part completed hull which had already been under construction for 26 years! He only spent another thirteen years completing her in an old dairy building near Melbourne, Victoria. Naturally, there was a long term plan, and the boat was duly sailed down to the Huon River, southeast of Hobart in Tasmania, when Audun and his wife Veronica eventually retired.
Thomasina in Port Huon
It seemed that I had lost touch with Thomasina completely, when I recently failed to get through to Sonya Wallace who used to run a delightful blog about the boat. She was based in Mooloolaba, Queensland at that time, but thanks to Audun’s sharp eyes it transpired that she had moved to the Huon River, almost within sight of Patience! In no time at all I had an email from Carol Kassis, her new owner, who has kindly sent some more details of her fine modern Vertue.
Thomasina V 155
Island Vertue V 218
Island Vertue is based in Hobart, where her owner Michael Vaughan took us for a gentle sail back in 2014. He has recently completed a single-handed circumnavigation of Tasmania! She’s an outstandingly beautiful boat with classical looks but built to last forever.
Island Vertue‘s bowsprit…………
……and that’s what it’s for!
Vertue of Kent V 163 was sailed out to New Zealand from England by Mark Pritchard and stayed in the Whangarei area for many years.
Vertue of Kent looks a bit different now but is still afloat and living in Whangarei. We have lost touch with her owner Ross Connon but hope we might hear from him with an update before too long.
We know that a Vertue called Kotimu V117 was built in New Zealand and made some bold cruises up north into the Pacific islands in the late 1960’s. Unfortunately we have no further information about her and wonder if she is still around………? Being a Vertue, she could be almost anywhere in the world!
I first mentioned Vivaldi a long time ago, when my son and I were just setting out to build this modest website. Vivaldi, the ‘racing Vertue’ of Keri Keri, was a slippery boat by all accounts and had by then developed a formidable reputation for speed along the east coast of North Island. From the Hauraki Gulf to the Bay of Islands she was spoken about with awe and I was delighted when her owner Antonio Pasquale agreed to allow me to go and take some photographs of her. I was amazed to find a Vertue like no other, but not so very surprised to hear that she had been built by the Italian maestro Pierino Crosato near Treviso, Venice. But when Antonio told me that her design had been ‘tweeked’ by none other than Barry van Geffen I realised that here was a very special boat indeed.
Vivaldi the ‘racing Vertue’.
Here is a classic example of the design philosophy of Barry van Geffen. Pure logic.
However, it is with great sadness that I have to report the untimely death of Barry van Geffen who passed away suddenly recently. His widow Edina kindly sent me a comprehensive obituary that was written for the local Lymington paper by his brother. He will be greatly missed, especially by those who benefitted from his skill as a designer. He was also the custodian of the Laurent Giles archive of design drawings and it is hoped that it’s future will continue to be secured. Let us hope that it will be found a good and secure home and that it will always remain completely intact. I, personally will miss the lively email exchanges that we have had over the years. I’m sure all who read this will join me in sending our sincere condolences to Edina and the family.
Vivaldi’s engine was removed, and now sits in Wanderer III.
I have only recently managed to make contact with Antonio again and he is going to find some pictures of Vivaldi under sail for me to put in the next Newsletter.
Kainui V 106
This is the boat that failed to be recognised by any of those who kindly contacted VertueYachts with their guesses, after we published her picture in the September Newsletter. Her new owner, Tyler Kellen, contacted me to report that he had just finished a long refit and was setting off on a ‘lazy solo circumnavigation’ over ‘3-5 years’. He left Rockland, Maine in the USA on 1st October and sent me another email from Norfolk, Virginia, on his way south. This remarkable young man, is now communicating with the world with the kind of assurance that fills me with admiration. Kainui already has many thousands of miles under her keel, as you can see in her ‘page’ under ‘Boats‘. She started life as a pretty standard Cheoy Lee-built Vertue, complete with long doghouse, but this was subsequently removed by her fourth owner, Steve Garrand some years ago.
I would like to thank everyone who has helped to make this special Australian feature possible, and for sending me so much information and so many wonderful photographs of all your boats. This modest website relies entirely on your input, and the Vertue community have really come up trumps this time! Over time this community spirit is gradually re-igniting the sense of Association amongst those people lucky enough to own the best small cruising yacht ever designed. Over time we are all helping to create a database of information that can be worthy of the great design idea that Jack Laurent Giles created in 1934, and to see it safely on into the future.
Thank you all for your help.