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Ketch with a past in need of a future

Wooden yacht was scuttled before it was launched, sailed as a private, commercial and charter vessel

Wooden yacht was scuttled before it was launched, sailed as a private, commercial and charter vessel

Her brightwork is a little distressed. With a LOD of 93 feet and a LWL of 78 feet, her 15 feet of overhang identifies her as a boat from another era. At 114 feet LOA and getting ready to celebrate her 60th birthday, the lovely S.V. Ring-Andersen was up for sale, ready to turn another page in her diverse book of history that already includes war, salt trade and suntan oil.

Designed in the 1930s, she was intended to be the private yacht for Mr. Ring-Andersen, owner of the shipyard of the same name in Svendborg, Denmark. In business continuously since 1867, the yard produced almost 200 boats and ships. Currently under the management of Peter Ring-Andersen, the yard has re-focused their business on restoring and repairing wooden boats, foregoing new construction.

As the boat that was to become Ring-Andersen was beginning to rise from the ways in 1938, the black tide of the German army was heading for Svendborg. To keep her from being stripped or burned, she was sunk in a fjord to wait out the war. The cold waters in those latitudes preserved her timbers until she could be re-floated.

Unfortunately, her intended owner died just prior to her completion in 1948; she was named in his honor.

After being laid-up for some time, the unfinished yacht was sold to a Capt. Rasmus Pilegaard, who put her 230-ton displacement to work hauling up to 155 tons of salt at a time out of Africa.

In 1962 Ring-Andersen was sold. Moved to a yard in Jutland, Denmark, she was fitted with guest and crew accommodations below and a new deckhouse. In 1963, with a Marconi ketch rig carrying more than 4,000 square feet of sail, she was repositioned to the West Indies, where she became an early player in the just-beginning Caribbean charter business for new owner Dennis Love of Toronto.

Sold again in 1971 to the colorful Capt. Jan de Groot, she continued to be a profitable charter. Capt. de Groot used Ring-Andersen as a major character in one of his books about his raucous life, “No Shoes Allowed.”

Another new owner in 1980 and she was again overhauled, this time at the same Ring-Andersen yard whose name she carries. The pride of the yard craftsmen can be seen in her belowdecks, especially the three guest staterooms, each with private head. Using walnut in one, elm in the second and rosewood in the third, they created three examples of first-class cabinetry seldom seen anymore in the boating industry. Also, most of her original planking was replaced with 3-inch oak on 8-inch oak frames. After this three-year, $1.5 million- yard period, she went south again, back to the charter game. The latest information available had her fetching $23,000 per week.

In 2006 Ring-Andersen was donated to the Virginia Maritime Heritage Foundation, the group that operates and maintains the Schooner Virginia out of Norfolk. A stipulation of the donation was that the Foundation hold Ring-Andersen for two years before selling her.

In anticipation of that sale, an auction was held at Wisky Pier in Norfolk last Nov. 13. Atlantic Asset Management Group auctioneer Billy Summs was hoping for a selling price of up to $3 million. Backing that up was an undated advertisement on the Internet with an asking price of $3.2 million and a 2004 survey with a listed appraisal price of over $3 million.

When the appointed hour of 3:30 p.m. came, around there were about 40 people on the quay. The sleek, black-hulled Schooner Virginia and the ship-shape, but a little tired around the edges, dark-blue-hulled Ring-Andersen were stern to stern under threatening skies.

With the retired battleship USS Wisconsin and the NauticusMaritimeMuseum providing a gray on gray backdrop, the auctioneer gave a short preamble and opened the bidding at $350,000. Bidding on eBay the previous day had ended at around $340,000, with the reserve not being met.

No takers on the pier at $350,000. Most of those in attendance were either the crew of Virginia or others interested in the auction, most with their hands in their pockets in mortal fear of making a move that Mr. Summs might interpret as a bid. The opening bid dropped to $325,000, again with no takers. At that, the show was over. The auctioneer announced that there was a registered bidder from Norway who was unable to make the necessary money transfer arrangements in time for the auction, but that he was willing to bid in the range the group was looking for.

At press time, a potential buyer in Iowa had signed a contract to purchase the vessel for $230,000 “as is” and “where is,” but the museum was awaiting a deposit. For now, she is keeping the benefactor of her sale company at the NOAA piers in Norfolk, where the Schooner Virginia prepares for her winter down-time.