|LEIGH DORRINGTON YACHT BROKERS:
INTRODUCING 'ZEPHYR' AUSTRALIA'S OLDEST SAILING VESSEL.
THE DESIGNER, BUILDER & SAILMAKER
‘Zephyr’ was designed by William Taylor the Superintendent of the Government Dockyard at Port Adelaide and built by Robert Playfair in 1873. Taylor was formally from Twofold Bay where he had previously built two vessels for the Imlay brothers: the 50-ton schooner Agnes and the 90-ton Ellen.
‘Zephyr’s original sails were made by William Russell whose business as sailmaker and ship’s chandler is still being conducted in Port Adelaide today. Russell with his brother-in-law John Playfair was a founder of the South Australian Yacht Club in 1869. His interest in the ‘Zephyr’ continued from 1894 when he was a part-owner and from 1913 as sole owner, remaining nominally so until her Custom House registration was cancelled in 1961.
William Henry Bundey arrived in Australia from his native Hampshire with his parents in 1849. In 1865 he was called to the Bar and married the daughter of Sir William Milne. Bundey had already taken up yachting in chartered craft but in 1868 had the White Cloud built and the ‘Zephyr’ five years later. They were followed eventually by the Wanderer and the Pastime. Despite his election to Parliament, where he held the portfolios of justice and education minister Bundey nevertheless found time to continue his yachting activities. He was the first Vice Commodore of the South Australian Yacht Club and then it’s Commodore for ten years until retirement in 1883. The following year he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court and was knighted in 1905.
After using chartered craft such as the schooner Nancy for some years, William Henry Bundey had the 8-ton cutter White Cloud built by John Mitchelmore to the design of William Taylor and with sails made by Thompson, Russell & Co. Five years later he felt the need for a larger vessel that would be able to undertake longer cruises and provide more spacious accommodation in which ‘three or four companions could be comfortably entertained’. He obtained the design for a cutter of twenty-eight tons (Thames measurement) from Taylor and this time engaged Robert Playfair to build her and William Russell to provide the sails. The new boat the ‘Zephyr’ attracted much attention even during building, the newspapers reporting that the lines and standard of construction were greatly admired [Obs. 25 Aug. 1873].
The ‘Zephyr’ was ready for launching on 23 August 1873 [Reg., 25–6 Sept. 1873]. The banks of the Port River were crowded and eager spectators watched from ships in the stream and from the Queen’s Wharf. The official party crossed to Le Fevre Peninsula in the ketch Bronzewing, towed by the steam launch Margaret. Mr J. H. Barrow MP, proprietor of the Adelaide Advertiser proposed the toast, although not a yachtsman himself. When the tide rose sufficiently and enough liquid refreshment had been consumed, the vessel was christened by Bundey’s ‘tiny daughter Miss Ellie’, who cracked a bottle of wine on the stem. Over the next seven years Bundey engaged in racing and cruising in both gulfs and off Kangaroo Island as often as health and parliamentary duties permitted. The ‘Zephyr’ was outstanding as a racing boat, carrying a large press of sail. Even as a yacht, but particularly when carrying extra ballast and under reduced cruising rig, she was found to be a safe and comfortable sea-boat.
THE ‘ZEPHYR’ 1873 GAFF CUTTER
No plans or half-model are available and the reconstruction of probable details has been based on measurement of the craft, description, and the few pictures that have survived.
The Custom House Register provided basic dimensions and description. The ‘Zephyr’ as a carvel-built cutter with a square stern, straight stem, and a single deck, built in Port Adelaide in 1873 by Playfair. She measured 45 feet in length, with a beam of 12 feet and a depth of 8 feet. Her tonnage was 15.61 under deck and register and the Official Number allocated was 89434.
THE SALE OF ‘ZEPHYR’ 2012
The owners of ‘Zephyr’ have retained the services of Leigh Dorrington Yacht Brokers in the forthcoming sale of this historic icon of Australian yachting.
All offers will be considered. $250000