'Little Jim' History 1900 - 2007

 Sea Spray Magazine April 1952

Little Jim might be an unusual name for a yacht. The name has its origins in 1900 when an Italian f isherman, Charles Vieri sought finance from a publican to order a schnapper boat f rom Logan Bros. to clinch the deal, Vieri of fered to name the vessel after the financier’s three year old son, Jim Malloy. A photograph of the boy appropriately clutching a greyhound is displayed in the main cabin on board the second Little Jim. Jim Malloy grew up to become a prominent Auckland lawyer.
Schnapper boats w ere designed to sail out into the Hauraki Gulf to catch a bilge load of schnapper and sail home quickly to the market before the catch spoilt before the days of ice and on board refrigeration,. While mullet boats sailed up the Harbour, the schnapper boats w ent out into the Hauraki Gulf .
The advent of efficient marine engines around 1910 made schnapper boats obsolete and uneconomic for fishing. Many, including the first Little Jim, were converted to pleasure craf t for cruising and racing for which they were well suited. Other well known converted schnapper boats include Victory (still racing on the Waitemata under it’s sail number, A8), and reputedly built f rom the same moulds as the f irst Little Jim,
Rangi (lost on Norfolk Island in 1951), Cooee (now cruising the Pacific), and White Heather (lost on a reef in Moorea in 1937).
As schnapper boats w ere specif ically designed for speed, the most modern designs of the time were employed, designs such as Watson’s Britannia and Herreshoff ’s Gloriania. Spoon bows and wide counter sterns are typical features.
When fishing boats were f irst registered Little Jim wore AK 1 on her sail. After conversion to a pleasure yacht she was registered as number 41 when the f irst permanent sail numbers were introduced in 1914 and in 1922 with the introduction of alpha numeric sail numbers, she was registered as B7.
She competed in the Auckland Anniversary Day Regattas with other fishing yachts in the open f ishing boat race, often as the scratch boat, and won the 1903, 1906, and 1907 Regatta races.

Viere sold Little Jim in 1907 to a T. Moody who continued to fish in her until he in turn sold her in March 1910 to J. M. Tregaskis. Tregaskis purchased her with the intention of fitting her out for cruising but f irst had to scrub out 10 years of accumulated fish debris and smells. The New Zealand Yachtsman magazine reported some excitement at the prospect of her joining the racing f leet. Unfortunately this was not to occur until several years later.
Tregaskis spent the summer and w inter of 1910 scrubbing her out and fitting her for cruising, but as the next ow ners continued the work the following season, the changes must have been unf inished. Tregaskis had renamed her Kittiwake, although this change of name was short lived. She sailed at least one known race under Tregaskis’s ownership w ith the North Shore Sailing Club on 19 November 1910.

Tregaskis sold her in June 1911 to E&W Feltham, brothers who continued her conversion by hauling her out at Stanley Bay in the w inter of 1911, stripping her out, fitting a new mast, two new bunks, new sails, and several new lockers. By November she was back in the water under her old name "Little Jim" in a state The New Zealand Yachtsman described as “a marvellous transformation". The Felthams had a fright when she dragged her moorings off Devonport shortly after relaunching in a December southwest gale, although no damage was done. The Felthams were cruisers rather than racers which did not go unnoticed by the New Zealand Yachtsman which commented in February 1912 “it's a pity so good a boat does not
regularly compete".
She continued to be seen cruising the gulf and regularly seen hauled up at Queens Parade Devonport for annual maintenance.

In 1914 her cabin top w as raised and a proposal to send her to Wellington did not eventuate. The following year internal ballast was removed and despite wartime shortages 17cwt of lead was added to her keel giving her 8” more draft and improved performance.
From May 1916 until she sold in September 1920, she was regularly advertised for sale. With a large part of local sailors serving overseas, it is not surprising she did not sell until after the return of servicemen at the end of the war.
Little Jim w as purchased by R. L. Stewart who sold her again 3 months later on 20 July to a partnership of Barney Goldwater and a Mr Denby who immediately began to seriously race her. Stewart may have been a broker or received her as part of a trade which could explain his short period of ownership.

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