A 116-year-old, gaff-rigged “Lancashire nobby,” a type of sailboat evolved from fishing vessels around Lancashire and the Isle of Man, is expected to make her return to the water this spring. Currently being restored in Port Townsend, Ziska has seen many owners over the years; she was launched in 1903 and spent time racing off the coast of Ireland. She was then used as a family cruiser before World War II. The boat ended up in Cowes, England, in the 1970s, where what would become a 30-year rebuild began.
In the late 90s, Ziska was in a bad state and purchased by a 19-year-old sailor who completed the repairs and spent the next four years sailing her all around the world. She spent her 100th birthday racing in the West Indies. She was eventually sold to a shipwright who moved her to Port Townsend, Washington. A few years and an owner or two later, she was spotted by Stanford Siver.
“I’d seen the boat in town for 10 years, but I had never seen it sail,” Siver said. “I was rowing by it one day about a year and a half ago and it looked really bad. It’s heartbreaking to see a gorgeous old boat from 1903 going down the tubes,” Siver said in an interview with the PT Leader.
A shipwright at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, Siver purchased the boat and began a restoration. With the help of his fellow shipwrights, Siver created a new mast and riggings, varnished the boat, added new sails, and fixed up the salon. Ziska has been through several restorations and Siver wanted a balance between adding modern conveniences and preserving history. Ziska is currently engineless, and Siver plans to keep her that way.
Siver hopes to have the restoration completed by late March. “I was really lucky to have some amazingly talented people, the whole crew has kind of come together and rallied around this boat,” he said. “Port Townsend is such a magnet for brilliantly talented people.” Siver plans to sail Ziska in the 2019 Race to Alaska, and then find her a new owner.