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All he asks is a tall ship and a star to steer her by

By JAMES HOLLINGS - The Dominion Post

Last updated 05:00 04/08/2010




HIGH HOPES:Gavin Pascoe inside his 1909 22 foot yacht he is going to be restoring iwith the help of the Wellington Classic Yacht Trust.


A piece of Wellington yachting history has been rescued from an Auckland wrecker's yard to join a growing fleet of wooden classics gracing the harbour.

Lizzie, a former champion racer constructed at Oriental Bay more than 100 years ago, is to be restored by a group of enthusiasts.

Librarian Gavin Pascoe said he heard Lizzie risked becoming firewood at the hands of Greater Auckland Regional Council, after nearly sinking at an illegal mooring spot last month.

"She was trucked down here two weeks ago after serving out a fortnight-long dereliction notice," Mr Pascoe said.

Lizzie had been in Auckland at least since the mid-1980s, when it was last restored.

Mr Pascoe contacted some friends who agreed to chip in the $6500 needed to salvage the yacht and transport it to Wellington.

They have now formed the Wellington Classic Yacht Trust, to restore the 22-foot (8.6-metre) gaff cutter under the direction of Wellington yacht designer Bruce Askew, on the slipway at Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in Oriental Bay.

It will be a homecoming for Lizzie, built in 1909 at the same site by Ted Bailey.

He was part of the Bailey family who built many of New Zealand's famous racing yachts of the early 1900s.

It is a labour of love for Mr Pascoe, who works at the National Library.

"New Zealand boat-building has always been at the forefront in terms of building methods and these vessels have stood the test of time as far as their usability goes," he said.

"They are solid and fast. They are also things of great beauty and part of our national heritage. We want to raise awareness of their cultural value. They are living usable artefacts."

Mr Pascoe said Lizzie needed extensive work, including new frames and deck. The topsides needed to be lowered to the original height. The kauri planking, deadwood and keel were still in good condition.

The trust estimates the restoration will cost $10,000 and is looking for offers of money, materials or time. It plans to race the refurbished yacht.

Mr Pascoe said Charles J Ward, the original owner of the Lizzie, ruled the B division for three years.

Lizzie joins a small but growing fleet of classic wooden yachts in Wellington, part of a renaissance of interest in the capital's rich maritime history.

Enthusiasts say that the almost entirely wooden boats, with their low sides and lack of modern gadgets, give a sense of connection to the sea unavailable in their hi-tech modern counterparts.