Ben Seaborne, Ben Seaborne Boats, Frank Pratt, Frank Pratt Whidbey, Leisure Yacht Charters, Lena and Frank Pratt, Mark Saia, Penn Cove Sailing, Penn Cove Sailing Mark Saia, Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-Op, Pratt and Whitney, Sitka Spruce, Sitka Spruce Main, Suva, Suva Boat, Suva Whidbey, Suva yacht, Ted Geary, Ted Geary Boat, Ted Geary Naval Architect, Wooden Boats Port Townsend
When Captain Mark Saia started Leisure Yacht Charters and then Penn Cove Sailing in Coupeville, his focus was on sharing our beautiful cove and Puget Sound waterways with residents and visitors for their marine education and recreation. He’s done that, but little did he know it would lead to a quest, entering his life.
Saia had been looking for a classic boat to replace his company’s 44 ft. Catalina Morgan sailboat, the ‘Andiamo’, when he came upon the perfect boat for sale in Port Townsend.
“It only took my one try [searching the net] and the schooner ‘Suva’ just popped up; it was meant to be! I did not know the [Whidbey] history until Lloyd the [present] owner filled me in, and then I knew I had a quest to bring her home where she will be a draw for locals and tourists alike, appreciated and admired as an icon vessel for our storybook town.”
Now, along with his quest to purchase Suva, (Sue-Va) Saia is organizing a Coupeville maritime foundation. The foundation is in the earliest days of development, but already they have their first project to bring the Suva (pictured) home to Coupeville.
To that end Saia and Suva’s maritime supporters (local and regional) are pumped up to see Suva at the Coupeville Wharf along side the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain during the Arts and Crafts Festival this summer. She may be dwarfed by Washington’s most famous ‘tall ships’, but she’ll be welcoming them with her upbeat Gatsby style and local heritage.
Owned by the Gig Harbor Historical Seaport Association the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain are considered by many to belong to all citizens of Washington state. Saia wants Suva to be our locally owned boat.
“I want Coupeville to own this boat. It’s only logical for us to have a boat like her. Coupeville’s maritime history is our founding. She’s perfect for us. Not too big, not too small, built for a Whidbey founding father for Whidbey and Puget Sound waters. What could be more perfect. She’ll be a working boat taking people in a step back through time, Whidbey time, Coupeville time, historic time, so they can learn about another era of local sailing. She’ll be a working boat, and making her own money, but she’ll need community support too. Suva is meant to be back in Coupeville, and owned by the community.”
Saia already has enthusiastic support from many local leaders, history lovers and sailors, and has filed the proper paper work for forming a 501(c)3 not-for-profit with the state of Washington and the IRS.
Suva’s present owner, Lloyd Baldwin of Port Townsend, will be part of the foundation’s board, bringing his years of sailing and preserving Suva with him.
Designed by famed naval architect Ted Geary for Whidbey’s Frank Pratt (pictured), the Suva was built in Hong Kong in 1925, shipped to Victoria BC, and then brought down to her new home on Whidbey Island.
Built of old-growth teak, Suva was originally designed as a gaff-rigged schooner for sailing specifically throughout the Puget Sound and British Columbia waterways.
In 1960 she was redrawn to a staysail schooner rig by another famous boat designer Ben Seaborne. Today as a staysail schooner she cuts a classic Gatspy look and hearty constitution.
At a spar length of 68 feet the Suva has a 57 foot deck, a Sitka spruce main mast of 66 feet, and a 7 foot draft. She maintains a hull speed of 8 knots on her 140 HP Detroit diesel engine. With a gross tonnage of 27 tons and diesel heat she is a comfortable sail anytime of year.
Since Frank Pratt had her built Suva’s had 3 owners. Saia’s foundation, the people, are set to be her forth owner.
After sailing her for 15 years Frank Pratt sold the boat to his financial manager, Dietrich Schmidt (pictured far right), for one dollar. Schmidt’s son Allen Schimdt (pictured left) confirms his father paid Frank Pratt one dollar for the Suva.
Schmidt owned the boat for 40 years until Port Townsend native Captain Lloyd Baldwin (pictured center) bought her for charter sailing out of Port Townsend.
While owned by Baldwin Suva has had the benefit of the Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-Op. The Co-Op has recaulked her entire hull, replaced her bowsprit and boom kin, rebuilt her main and fore masts with Sitka spruce, and replaced her standing rigging.
At 68 feet over all, with a Whidbey history, and designed specifically for sailing in our northwest waters, Suva’s classic pilothouse and all teak interior will make for a fine sight at the Coupeville Wharf and sailing regional waters out of Penn Cove.
While Saia forms the foundation donations to aid in endowing Suva can be made to the Island County Historical Society. Checks should be made out to the Island County Historical Society, 908 Northwest Alexander Street, Coupeville, WA 98239, with the words “Donation Purposed for SUVA” written in the memo of your check.
Captain Mark Saia can be contacted by emailing captainmarksaia at yahoo dot com
All images credited to Captain Lloyd Baldwin of Port Townsend.