Tahiti Ketch Torea
Jim Cotton loved Hawaiian and Polynesian music. One song called “Torea ~ bird of the sea, from an album called “Drums of
Tahiti he especially liked. Jim decided to name his boat TOREA after the song and because pelagic sea birds have purpose and
destinations – which matched his dream of sailing the oceans. Jim heard about the Island of Rapau – the maiden isle – and wanted
After being commissioned into the Navy, Jim was stationed at the naval base, Subic Bay in the Philippines and sent away for a set
of Tahiti ketch plans to build his dream cruising boat- a Tahiti ketch.
Jim hired Larry Sinclair to build Torea. During WWII, Larry had been a PT boat skipper and had gone native after the war and
started Sinclair Boatworks on the Pasig River. Jim used an APO to receive boat parts to avoid the corrupt custom officials.
Sinclair was dragging his feet and not getting started building TOREA. Jim fired Sinclair and found out about another American
ex-pat named Speedy Knopf. Jim hired Speedy, who was a good craftsman and master Boatwright for spilling, framing, planking
the hull. Speedy was a lead shipwright for Higgins boat in Louisiana. Higgins had built landing craft and PT boats during the war.
Speedy was sent to the Philippines after it was liberated to repair battle damaged boats. After the war he went native and began
building boats for local fishermen.
TOREA’s keel was laid in 1959. TOREA was framed and planked off the base, Subic Bay, north of Manila in the jungle.
Jim and Speedy transported TOREA down the Battan “death march” road and onto the Subic Bay base for fitting out. Jim’s
commanding officer was a boat aficionado and approved Jim’s dream of building a cruising sailboat – in fact, he even found an old
Quonset hut for Jim to use in the final phases of construction.
Jim flew back to the mainland to be decommissioned and landed a job back at Subic Bay with a military contractor. This allowed
Jim to finish the final fitting out and sea trials before taking TOREA on her maiden voyage.
Jim left on a 2 year 3month voyage in 1961 with Wolfgang Walter Voss & one other crew member. The voyage began in Manila
and sailed toward Brunei to the Sundra Straight, sailing past Krakatoa to Koka Kieling and onward towards Mauritius. Jim then
single handed to Reunion Island where he was stuck with no crew. TOREA then sailed on toward Madagascar then towards
Durban. In Durban, Jim found a traveling artist named Lindsay Moeller, the son of a wealthy shipping magnate, from Durban
toward Cape Town From Cape Town they sailed across the Atlantic making landfall on the coast of Brazil. Then to French
In Antigua, Jim met John “Coconut Johnny” Caldwell. John was the author of Desperate Voyage.
Torea then sailed toward Hawaii transiting the Panama Canal. Jim lived aboard Torea for 17 years. During this time Torea
appeared in an episode of Hawaii five 0 entitled “Cloth of Gold”.
In 1979 TOREA was bought by Bob Minton, who lived in Tiburon. Bob removed the paint from the shear strake and applied
varnish to make it bright.. Bob brought TOREA from Hawaii to the Northwest and then down to Svendsen’s boat works in
Alameda. The next person to come along in TOREA's life was Capt. Bode, who looked after her for several years and fell in love
with her charms. Capt Bode enjoyed sailing TOREA around San Francisco Bay even had a beautiful model of TOREA built.
TOREA came into my life on 2 January 2003 or 1/2/03 and has been a
project ever since returning her to her original strength of frame and
character. As Jim Cotton told me ...
"She was built for any Ocean , and any conditions"
For the story of her current rebuild click the link below:
|Tale of a Tahiti ketch ~ TOREA~