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History of Argonaut II, a Classic Wooden Yacht: Powell River Company Yacht, 1922-1937 (Greta M)

I was a retired teacher and live-aboard in Seattle. Now I'm back to teaching in a remote area of New Mexico.

The Greta M owned by the Powell River Company

The Greta M owned by the Powell River Company

Introduction

In May of 2006 my husband Jerry and I purchased an old wooden boat, referred to in the Pacific Northwest as a classic yacht . Our plans were to live aboard and cruise. We knew that boats require a lot of work, as we had owned another wooden boat ten years previously. We had no idea that we were purchasing a piece of history—that we didn’t “own” the Argonaut II at all. In fact, in the words of a previous owner, she owned us!

It was love at first sight for Jerry. It took me a little longer.

Just for kicks, we attended our first Classic Yacht Association gathering in Edmonds, WA, just a few weeks after buying the boat. We were overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to come on board, who had stories to tell us about the boat and previous owners, and who just loved the boat. It was the same in June, a few weeks later, at another gathering at the Bell Harbor marina in downtown Seattle. I really started to warm up to the old girl at this point.

I began working on the varnish and, after some trepidation, discovered it was something I could do to improve the boat, something I was actually good at. Jerry has mechanical skills, but, up until that point, I didn’t really seem to have a role on the boat. Passers by started to compliment my work, and I felt even more positive about Argonaut II .

In July, we cruised to Port Townsend, WA, a wooden boat center, and had the boat lifted out of the water into the boatyard. We spent 50 days living on board in the yard to reef out, recaulk, and refasten the entire hull below the waterline. We also sanded and painted the hull above the waterline and refreshed the bottom paint. Though we hired an expert to do the caulking, we did the other work ourselves. It was brutal, filthy, and sometimes painful work. When I take a shower at the end of the day, and the water that runs down the drain is grey, I know I’ve earned my keep. Perhaps because she made me suffer, I was now in love with that old boat.

Because of my own and other people’s enthusiasm and curiosity about Argonaut II , I started to look into her history. Fortunately, the previous owners had collected and passed along to us quite a bit of information. I found it fascinating reading, and I hope you will too.

This original plaque is still on the wheelhouse of Argonaut II

This original plaque is still on the wheelhouse of Argonaut II

This original model of the Greta M is photographed aboard the Argonaut II. The model has now been donated to Maritime Museum in Victoria, BC by Julian Matson(a previous owner)

This original model of the Greta M is photographed aboard the Argonaut II. The model has now been donated to Maritime Museum in Victoria, BC by Julian Matson(a previous owner)

The canoe stern of the Argonaut II glides through the water leaving very little wake

The canoe stern of the Argonaut II glides through the water leaving very little wake

Powell River Company Yacht: 1922-1937

In 1922 Argonaut II was launched as the Greta M in the Menchion’s shipyard of Vancouver, B.C. She was designed by Edison B. Schook. The original rigging card of the Greta M states that the LOA is 73’, the beam is 14’7”, the hull is composed of Port Orford cedar, the decks are of fir, and the deck house is teak. In addition, the hull has an iron bark ice sheathing. The transom is properly referred to as a canoe stern.

The Powell River Company commissioned the Greta M as a company yacht. In 1928 the Powell River Company Digester issued a statement saying, “The Motorboat ‘Greta M’ is used by the Logging Department for making trips to the various camps and inspecting logs that we buy. This is a very efficient boat and is as comfortable a boat as one could wish for.” However, as contemporaries report that the Greta M had a professional chef on board and that company executives and their families took cruises aboard, it would appear that the Greta M was not used solely for business.

The Greta M had a brief encounter with near disaster during her company yacht days. On the morning of November 25, 1925, as she returned from an exploratory cruise around Theodosia Arm, the Greta M ran up on an uncharted rock. Passengers and crew were forced to take to the dinghy as the boat careened over at a dangerous angle. Help was sent and the Greta M was towed to Vancouver for an overhauling. The area on the keel where new planks were scarfed in can be seen today.

After serving as a company yacht for the logging department of the Powell River Company for fifteen years, the Greta M was sold to the Home Mission Board of the United Church of Canada. .

Sources were compiled by Julian Matson, previous owner of Argonaut II

Powell River Digester, December 1925

Powell River Digester, March 1928

The Town Crier, Powell River, BC, December 15, 1937

Donaldson, Morris. Pacific Yachting, "Argonaut II," July 1990

The Westcoast Mariner, "Grand old lady of Boat Harbor," March 1989

McClure, Ron. Classic Wooden Boats of the Northwest


Comments

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on May 04, 2019:

Thank you, Brian Grosseth. We've sold Argonaut II, but as far as I know, she's still in Seattle. Contact the new owners through the FaceBook page.

Brian Grosseth on May 03, 2019:

Love these old boats. Are you considering selling?

If you are, keep me in mind. I live on Vancouver Island, I need a classic moror yacht. This one looks appealing ....wow

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on June 15, 2015:

I'm blown away to know that there is a motorized version of the Greta M! I have no idea why these models were made. Good luck with your research, Beard. I'd be very interested in what you find.

Beard on June 13, 2015:

I recently purchased a motorized model of the Greta M like the one that's at the maritime Museum in Victoria at a garage sale. My research on the model led me to this page. Does anybody have an idea why these models were made?

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on November 14, 2014:

Thank you, GetitScene! I'm looking forward to reading your hubs.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on November 09, 2014:

As a fellow boater and liveaboard who owns a boat of some historical interest myself, I absolutely LOVED this article. Can't wait to read more about this boat!

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on December 24, 2012:

I had no idea! Thank you for your information, Rob. I keep learning more about Argonaut II and other classic yachts through my hubs and all the fantastic people I've met over the past couple of years. I've corrected the information above.

rga on November 02, 2012:

"She was designed by Edison B. Schook, who also designed MV Meander, a very similar “sister ship” still moored in Vancouver. "

Lee, in the interests of both historical and technical accuracy, the statement above, which I stumbled across in researching the life of the "Meander" as a United Church missionary vessel, is completely inaccurate. The "Meander" was designed by my Grandfather, Robert Allan, in 1933. (and I still have the original drawings to prove it!) She is by no stretch of the imagination a "sister ship" to Argonaut, other than they are both good representatives of motor yachts of that period. Rob Allan

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on March 11, 2011:

Thank you, gguy!

gguy from new jersey usa on March 10, 2011:

Great hub, I love history and have A business based in Hoboken New Jersey,This city was once home to many shipyards!!

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on October 09, 2010:

Thank you so much, FloBe! I still miss Vancouver Island. Haven't had a chance to get up there for awhile.

Flo Belanger from British Columbia, Canada on October 07, 2010:

I will also be looking for all the "wonderful" details of your boat-restoration and adventures! I'm also a coastal girl...lived on Vancouver Island for years and now in the Lower Mainland of BC...so I know what areas you are talking about personally.

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on September 02, 2010:

I am so glad you shared this with me, billie bob! I sure would like to ask you some questions about your parents, Ocean Falls, and the drawing. I am continuing my research on the history of Argonaut II, and Ocean Falls is one place we plan to cruise to, I hope, by this coming summer.

Sure agree with your thoughts on old things crafted from wood!

If you would, please contact me via my profile page!

Thanks so much,

Lee

billie bob on September 01, 2010:

Lee & Jerry,

She is a beautiful boat. I have a small line drawing / painting my Mom & Dad did of the Thomas Crosby in the late 1940's when they lived in Ocean Falls. It has always been a favorite & always been hanging somewhere in their house.

I "inherited" the drawing & keep it by the door to my shop. It inspires a certain kind of peace for me. A reminder of how some of the most beautiful & inspirational things are old & crafted from wood.

So good to hear she has found such caring owners.

Enjoy & thanks for sharing.

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on August 05, 2010:

Thank you, ahorseback! We do get a lot of attention here on the ship canal. Since our dock is near the locks, just about everyone with a boat ends up cruising by.

ahorseback on August 03, 2010:

Lee B , for a couple of years I lived in North Carolina and worked for Hattarras Yachts , I understand the amount of labor that goes into a ship like her, In new construction tens of thousands of man[Woman] hours goes into a large boat. No one can take away from that acoumplishment of yours , And shes so pretty too ....

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on August 02, 2010:

Thank you, ahorseback! I don't know--when I was in the boatyard, I really didn't feel like I was "living the dream," but most of the time I can't believe how lucky I am.

I've enjoyed reading your work, too.

ahorseback on August 02, 2010:

Great story and you're living the dream of so many too, I am jealous as hell, and I haven't read all your stuff yet, sail safetly!

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on May 24, 2010:

No problem, habee! Just check out my "Living aboard Argonaut II: A Classic Wooden Yacht" hub. Thanks for stopping by!

Holle Abee from Georgia on May 24, 2010:

Too cool! I wanna see pics of the inside!

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on May 24, 2010:

Thank you again, Prasetio! I'm so lucky that the former owners of Argonaut did the research on the boat's history for me. I feel like I'm the caretaker of a bit of history.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on May 24, 2010:

Great history about classic yacht. I learn much from you. I wish I could sailing together with you and your husband of course. And glad to have classic wooden boat like Argonaut II. Thumbs up!

Prasetio

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on May 24, 2010:

Oh yeah, Cheeky Girl, it certainly is a buyer's market these days, and I don't think that's going to change any time soon.

Cassandra Mantis from UK and Nerujenia on May 22, 2010:

Oh, the boat is a long term thing on a long wish list I am making! LOL! No fear! It will be within the next 5 years. But it is my dream to get a nice boat some day. And have it close to where I live for convenience. The prices are lower and so there are bargains for boat lovers out there now. Thanks for the advice! Cheers Lee! : )

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on May 18, 2010:

There is something about being out on the water. I call it the "Ahhhh" feeling. Being from New Mexico, I was not brought up around boats or particularly interested in boats, so it is a surprise to me how much I enjoy it.

It's good to think ahead about exactly what you need and what kind of boat you want rather than get caught up in the moment when you're ready to "take the plunge."

Thank you so much, Cheeky Girl, for stopping by!

Cassandra Mantis from UK and Nerujenia on May 18, 2010:

Thank you Lee for a great hub as always. I would love to have my own boat some day. It is a dream I have. My Grandfather had a boat in Italy many moons ago, and my memories on board stay with me still! I love being on the water. I think I would go for a motor cruiser. I came across a marvelous boat called the "Grand Banks". Don't know what country it comes from, but it has everything I would need as a boat. Anyway, thanks for another lovely marine themed Hub!!

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on April 17, 2010:

Thank you, loua! I'm not done with the history of Argonaut II yet. There's a lot left to go. Hope you check it out.

loua from Elsewhere, visiting Earth ~ the segregated community planet on April 17, 2010:

Sounds like fun stuff, I always wanted to live on a schooner... Thanks for sharing this great article...

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on April 15, 2010:

Thanks for stopping by, tonymac04! There are more current photos on my "Living Aboard" hubs and plenty more to follow. Of course, one of my future plans is to do a hub all about varnishing. In fact, it is what I call "varnishing season" here on E Dock. Ah, the smell of fresh, volatile, organic, carcinogenic, brain-cell-destroying compounds!

Tony McGregor from South Africa on April 15, 2010:

A really interesting ship and your Hub about her is also fikrst class. Thank you for sharing this bit of maritime history. Would love to see pix of her s she now is. And of course of your quality varnishing!

Love and peace

Tony

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on April 15, 2010:

So glad to hear from you, Mentalist acer! No need to thank me for sharing information about Argonaut II, I love showing off!

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on April 15, 2010:

Thank you, David Stone! Argonaut II has become an absolute obsession for me. There is a lot more to the history that I'm writing up now. Hope you check out the next installment!

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on April 15, 2010:

Oh, don't worry, De Greek! I have a hub planned with ALL the gory details of our boatyard stay! Thanks for stopping by!

Mentalist acer from A Voice in your Mind! on April 15, 2010:

She,s a beautiful Rig thank you for shareing.

David Stone from New York City on April 15, 2010:

Great stuff, Lee, and a subject I've long been interested in. Thanks!

De Greek from UK on April 15, 2010:

Mooooooooore! :-) Come on now, 50 days of showering off grey stuff and that's all you can say? :-)

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on April 14, 2010:

Thank you, kowality. I have several more hubs to go to tell the whole story.

kowality from Everywhere on April 14, 2010:

Very nicely done Lee. This is definitely a "Quality Hub".

Lee A Barton (author) from New Mexico on April 14, 2010:

Thank you, the voice! I think you'll be interested in the next hub in this series about the mission boat years of Argonaut II, then named the Thomas Crosby IV. It should be done soon. (I hope)

thevoice from carthage ill on April 14, 2010:

first grade hub work well done thanks