|Boat name||Julia Jane|
|Australian Ship Register O/N||317442|
The Vertue Class of yacht designed by ‘Jack’ Laurent Giles dating from 1936. The class was not named Vertue until after the war when a boat built to the design won the Little Ship Club‘s ‘Vertue Cup’ in 1939 for a passage across the Bay of Biscay. The design has an enviable reputation as a long-distance cruiser, with several remarkable cruises completed by boats of the class. There are more than 250 Vertue’s built, with Julia Jane being the 127th, thus her sail number remains V127.
Julia Jane was commissioned by Lambert Latham, and built in NSW by John Griffin. Instructions from Latham, a Melbourne-born millionaire, owner of Ellerston pastoral station in Scone NSW and member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, were to build regardless of expense. With a hull of Huon pine (Teak garboards) and 11/4 thick teak deck laid directly on top of the deck beams the cost was somewhere near £10,000 for the 25’7” vessel when in 1962 Griffin was building his 30’ ‘Crown’ boats for £4,500. Griffin personally selected the Huon pine tree and had it transported to Sydney where the tree rings dated the tree over 1,000 years old.
Julia Jane (named after Latham’s two granddaughters) is an unusual design due to Latham’s stipulation that it have two 6’ berths, thus having the galley set forward of the mast. Latham also directed that no plywood was to be used anywhere on the boat. She still has the original Kelvin engine purchased directly from Kelvin Diesel in Scotland.
Julia Jane was launched in 1965. When he was finished with the boat Latham sold her back to Griffin and in1988 it was purchased by a Mr John Fergusson for $52,000.
I first visited the boat in WA after seeing a small advertisement in the AFLOAT magazine in November 2015. I had always wanted a Vertue having sailed on one some years before. She was at the Royal Perth Yacht Club and it took me a couple of months of umming and arrhing before going over to the West to have a look. In the end that’s what I did and as soon as I saw her I had to have the boat.
I purchased Julie Jane in March 2016 and after travelling to Perth a couple of times to arrange a mast drop and prelimaries to pack it all up, I had her trucked over to Sandringham YC, Melbourne. Getting the boat the way I want it to look and sail has been a work of love over the past 5 years. We now get a great deal of joy and pleasure sailing it. It is amazing how you can set this boat up to windward and it will track happily by itself with no one on the helm while one can go forward and do other things as it sails along.
The Vertue class of boats is well known and they have been sailed around the world. In 1964 Bill Nance took the engineless Cardinal Vertue around Cape Horne from the UK and after several gales, sailed the remaining 2000 nautical miles to Freemantle where Australian Customs slapped on a bond notice and impounded the boat. Fortunately the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club came to his rescue. For his sailing achievements during this voyage Bill Nance was awarded the Joshua Slocum medal, the International Award for Sailing Achievements. Nance’s has been described as the least known circumnavigator of all times. Cardinal Vertue is perhaps the most famous boat of the class for David Lewis’ achievement of 3rd place (out of 5 competitors) in the first Single-handed Trans-Atlantic yacht race (OSTAR) in 1960.
As things go with wooden boats I will probably never finish but that’s what I like doing. I hope we will be sailing in the Classics out of Royals in Williamstown soon.