Love Story Page 3

Love Story

Part 3: “The history was out there, in different minds, in bits and pieces, we just had to find it.”

By Elizabeth Ginns Britten — July 2004

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Malahide 65
• Part 2: Malahide 65
• Part 3: Malahide 65
• Malahide Photo Gallery

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• Feature Index

Then came the nationwide economic troubles of 2001, which slowed the travel industry. Putting chartering aside, Gauthier decided that if she was really going to “own” Ursa Major, she also needed to, as she says, “own Ursa’s history.” So, she e-mailed the Irish Life Society in Ireland to uncover the history about Malahide trawlers in general and the specifics of her boat, knowing only that Ursa was built in Malahide, Ireland, and launched in 1972. In return, she received the e-mail address of Dennis Phethean in Australia, who was searching for the same thing. Gauthier says, “Dennis was thrilled when I contacted him. He’d once seen Ursa Major in a wooden boat magazine advertisement. It was the first Malahide he’d seen, and he fell in love.”

It was then that Gauthier realized, “The history was out there, in different minds, in bits and pieces, we just had to find it.” And so the two teamed up to bring together their expertise—hers in research, his in Web design—and launched the Classic Trawler Network ( in November 2001 to “use the site along with people’s enthusiasm to document these vessels’ history.” Shortly after, people started sending in information about the location of Malahides, and they realized that the highest concentration of the boats was in Puget Sound. As Myles Stapleton, Ursa and Explorer’s original designer, said in an interview, “This is where they were destined to end up. These boats are for use in the cold waters.”

Once the information started pouring in, Gauthier organized a rendezvous in Puget Sound to bring Malahide owners together. It also gave her the opportunity to meet Phethean and Stapleton, and give Stapleton, now 58, the first opportunity to see his designs in more than 30 years. (He’d given up boatbuilding when the Malahide yard folded in 1983, reportedly because rising labor costs in Europe compared to that of Taiwan drove the yard out of the market.) Although only six boats were present, Gauthier estimates from various sources, including Stapleton, that there are probably about 30 Malahides out there. For her, the most beautiful moment of the event was flying Stapleton over from Ireland to see his creations. Stapleton said to Gauthier, “One year ago, I could never imagine I’d be seeing these boats again. You have to keep alive the enthusiasm for people to want to learn how to build these...I have a good friend who was the foreman shipwright in the yard in Dublin and is now 86, and when I told him I had the opportunity to come here and see some of our boats, he said, ‘Oh, how I envy you. If only I could go.’” Gauthier says the photo of Stapleton on the upper deck of Ursa (see photo on page 75), “takes my breath away. It’s a beautiful story.”

Two years after her self-established “drop-dead date,” Gauthier managed to bring Ursa to life and uncover her magical history and that of other Malahide trawlers worldwide. (Last April marked the second-annual Classic Trawler Rendezvous, with a total of ten boats participating.) Gauthier continues to work on the Classic Trawler Network in addition to being a full-time physician in the Seattle area. She says she gets about one inquiry each month and hopes someday to uncover all the secrets behind these hidden beauties. Only time will tell, but no doubt, it will be another beautiful story, indeed.

Next page > Photo Gallery > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

This article originally appeared in the June 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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