This photo is a record of part of the family legacy that I salute when I give thanks for a love of little ships and the sea. This is my grandfather Burt Sutton after the launching in the early 1960s of his modified John Hanna designed 'Tahiti Ketch". She was built outside in Bamford Street, Woolston, Christchurch, New Zealand. Those that know the area will recognise the Port Hills and Castle Rock in the background.
Once she was complete she was levered across the road on greased skids at the back of my grandparents property and launched in the Heathcote river. She sat in the river for a time until the masts were completed, then taken down to the Heathcote bridge and the masts installed from the top of the bridge. She was then taken through the Christchurch estuary and across the Sumner bar to Lyttleton. For some time she was on pile moorings at Diamond harbour and finally on piles outside the Banks Peninsula Yacht Club in Lyttleton.
My grandfather always said in relation to any misgivings about the construction, materials etc that "she will see Me out" but sadly it wasn't to be. She was lost on the rocks on Quail Island in a summer gale and was a total loss. Undaunted my grandfather started to build yet another boat, a large flat bottomed boat of sharpie, dory type form.
When the boat was lost, it was found that some parts of the hull were already rotten, and in some ways the ship wreck could have thwarted an even bigger tragedy from happening as the hull was obviously not seaworthy at all. There is a lesson to learnt in all of this. Build your little ship of the best materials money will buy and don't build outside in the rain, build her under cover in a good shed. Freshwater is the enemy of timber, especially if the timber is untreated.
Despite the loss, I still have have happy memories of sailing with my grandfather on Lyttleton harbour in his dream ship. His example of hard work and perseverance has been an inspiration to me.