1905 LAWLEY SLOOP 49' -- VEGA
OVER 100 YEARS OLD!
PHOTO ABOVE: COURTESY MIT MUSEUM
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BOAT: 1905 LAWLEY SLOOP 49'
30' LWL. 12'2" beam.
5'6" draft. Cast lead ballast keel. 62' wooden mast.
April 1, 2011, I received an email from Ron Peaslee with the subject
line "A Lawley Classic of 1905", and a message succinctly stating:
"Still looking for a buyer and a person to restore it. Once owned by J
Malcolm Forbes and kept at his Island (Naushon) in Massachusetts." Ron
knew how to grab my attention. In fact, he had me with the subject line.
Well, I came across the photo above of the 1905 Lawley one day recently.
Wondering what had become of her, I reached out to Ron to ask that very
question. The answer: not much. This is one of those glass-half-full /
glass-half-empty kinds of things. Sure, a great answer would have been
that she was undergoing a first class restoration. But hey, at least she
is still with us and available. We just need one hearty soul who is
ready, willing, and able to take on the project of bringing her back. As
Ron put it, "The object is to have her saved and restored. She needs a
lot of work, but the end result would be non replaceable."
"We are getting down to the last straw as far as she is concerned. A lot
of of work, but the end result would give some one a lot of pride to own
a boat with her history." - Ron
Back in the Spring of 2011, Ron was hoping to get $10,000 for the
boat to recoup some of his expenses. VEGA is now FREE TO A
Owner says, "It was our father's dream to finish this boat and spend his
retirement sailing around the world. He did a lot of work on it, but it
was too much and he died before he could finish. We would like to see
his work finished and the boat sailing again. The main issue is to find
someone with the care and interest that will restore this boat and put
her back in the water. We did have a lot of interest in her after the
article in WoodenBoat and we had someone to take her, but the recession
took care of that."
Image above: as she appeared in Spring 2013 BYB newsletter
VEGA was designed by F.D. Lawley as Hull #551 and built in South Boston
in 1905 by Geo. Lawley & Son at their City Point yard for a man named
Stone. Her original name seems to have been URSULA II, and an owner by
the name of Jones renamed her ASHUMET II according to Maynard Bray's
"Save a Classic" article that appeared in the February 2007 issue (#194)
of WoodenBoat. Forbes had Lawley add the marconi rig, renamed the sloop
DUNA, and sailed her for over 20 years. The Peaslee family acquired the
boat 60 years ago in 1952 and named her VEGA, as she is still known
today. Ron told me that his father worked diligently on the boat for
years replacing ribs, refastening, etc. Her hull is planked in longleaf
pine, and her design is keel-centerboard. She has a Herreshoff capstan,
a rounded trunk cabin, and reportedly has leaded glass cabinetry. She
has been out of the water since the early 1960's and sits on the
Peaslee's property in CT. Her mast is stored separately. It is believed
that plans for Lawley #551 are available at MIT's Hart Nautical
UPDATE 9/12/2013: I
had heard through the old wooden boat grapevine that a well-known
restoration shop was interested in taking on VEGA as a project. I
was able to confirm with the owner of the shop that he was, indeed,
planning to "adopt" the vessel. I checked in with the owner to see
if things were firmed up enough for him to declare that VEGA had been
'spoken for' and was officially off the market.
"Dave, it was spoken for twice before and didn't go, so let's see what
happens. We are getting ready to move her on the 16th. Looks good,
and I will keep you informed. - Ron"
I'll be keeping my fingers crossed and will hopefully be updating the
Bone Yard Boats community very soon with news of the successful move of
VEGA and the beginning stages of that first class restoration I
mentioned above. If things don't work out, we'll still be looking
for a new owner for this classic sailboat.
UPDATE 9/27/2013: SAVED! Pictured below, the 1905
Lawley 49' sloop sits still on the lowboy outside of Redd's Pond
Boatworks shortly after her arrival Tuesday morning, September 25th.
The 180-mile trip from the Connecticut yard that has been her home for
over 60 years to the Marblehead, MA, wooden boat shop represents the
first giant step in the long journey back to the waters where she was
first splashed 108 years ago. I took dozens of new photos that I
will get onto the BYB website over the weekend.
Photo Above: VEGA on 09/25/2013 at the REDD'S POND SHOP
PHOTO CREDIT: I would like to thank the MIT Museum's
Hart Nautical Collection for granting BYB permission to use the photo of
VEGA above, taken shortly after launch. The photographer, Willard B.
Jackson (1871-1940), prowled the waters north of Boston in his powerboat
ALISON hunting for subjects such as URSULA II/VEGA to capture on his
glass plate negatives. This photo is part of the Foster Collection that
was donated to MIT in 1957 by the estate of yachtsman Charles H.W.
Foster. The collection includes 4300 photographs by Stebbins, Jackson,
and Peabody of yachts and commercial vessels taken between the years
1885 and 1930. In 2006, WoodenBoat magazine editor Matt Murphy published
a book of Jackson's photographic work titled Glass Plates & Wooden
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