Pastime, race ready at 135 years old

Doyle Sails NZ are honoured to have been involved in the restoration of the Classic Yacht “Pastime” that has recently come out of a five year refit.

Originally built by Malcolm Miller and launched in Lyttleton in 1886, she is now berthed at the Heritage Marine in Auckland, where she will renew a rivalry with “Waitangi” (amongst others) that dates back to the mid-1890’s.
“Pastime” remained in the Miller family’s ownership, through successive generations, until 1963, when she was bought by someone outside of the family for the first time. 

She had various owners & adventures over the following years, including a stint where she sat in a custom-built pool, full of specially treated water, at the Pegasus Arm’s Pub, where patrons could dine aboard the yacht. Unfortunately, a disgruntled customer donned diving gear one night, and drilled six holes in the side of Pastime’s hull, causing her to sink to the bottom of the pool.

Since 1995, she had been sitting in a shed in the Stark Brother’s Boatyard, until John Erkkila and Chris Kendrick tracked her down and bought her in 2016. 

John and Chris, second cousins through their mothers, are the Great-Great-Grandson’s of Malcolm Millar, and were passionate about returning the boat to the family, dedicating five years to refitting the boat back to its original condition.
Erkkila and Kendrick alongside the skills of boatbuilder Craig Wild, worked tirelessly on the yacht in a shed in Tamahere, on the outskirts of Hamilton. 
“This project is about conserving the family heritage of the boat, and the relationship between John and Chris in the Waikato to the Miller family in Lyttelton,” explained Wild. 

Craig Wild and his son Ryan are 8th and 9th-generation boatbuilders themselves and can trace their family lineage of shipwrights and boatbuilders back to the 1860s.
The father and son worked full-time together on Pastime, painstakingly restoring her back to her original condition. 

It was hoped that the yacht would be ready in time to be in the water for the 2021 America’s Cup in Auckland, however lock-down delays due to Covid-19, not to mention the realities of restoring a 130-year-old boat, meant this was delayed. 
Once the restoration was complete in Tamahere, mostly done from historic photographs due to a lack of original plans, Pastime was trucked across to Tauranga. The original mast and spars, which were also restored along the way by Scott McCormick (son of legendary rigger Mike McCormick), were stepped and “Pastime” was finally re-launched in November 2021, 135 years since she was first christened. 

From there Pastime was fitted with a new suite of Classic style Doyle Sails by Andy Pilcher of Doyle Sails New Zealand. To ensure an original look, the owners decided on Contender Classic Cream Dacron, a modern woven cloth with a classic look, and the sails were designed using traditional panel sail layouts. 

Pilcher, who will also Skipper the boat while she is in Auckland, said he was honoured to be asked to join in the restoration project. 
“It was a real thrill to be part of this journey and help bring “Pastime” back to her original glory. We are really excited to join the fleet in Auckland, where we can renew rivalries on the water, and friendships off it, that date back to the 1890s. I’ve known both Chris and John for over 20 years now, and have worked with them on various other occasions, so I was delighted to be invited to join them on “Pastime”.”

Those rivalries will finally be renewed in early March, when Pastime will compete in the ABD Group Classic Yacht Regatta, her first race in more than 30 years. 

While she is in Auckland the yacht will be based in the Heritage Landing Marina, a place where the public is able to see her alongside a showcase of Auckland’s maritime history and celebrate wooden boatbuilders.

Pastime arriving in Auckland – Sunday 5th of Feb 2023. Credit : Roger Mills, from Hummingbird Video & Photography

For a full historical account of Pastime over her 137 years, please see the following article by reporter Jennie-Louise Kendrick, who is the daughter of Pastime conservator Chris Kendrick. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/114193609/familys-yacht-restoration-more-than-a-pastime

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