1 of 34
The B.B. Crowninshield entry in the Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers notes “few have ever drawn a prettier boat in the old-style, long-ended form than B.B. Crowninshield” and Witchcraft certainly supports the claim. Designed in 1903, just two years after Crowninshield’ s America’s cup contender Independence and a few years before the adoption of the International and Universal rating rules would render the type obsolete, Witchcraft has the exceptionally beautiful, deep keel, long ended, low freeboard, light displacement hull form that that dominated inshore racing boat design at the time.
She was built at the Lawley Yard in Boston, MA in 1903 for William Bowditch Rogers, a relative of B.B. Crowninshield’s and husband of heiress Augusta Kellogg. Witchcraft was initially rigged as a gaff cutter used for day sailing and racing from the Kellogg family’s island on Lake Champlain. She changed ownership a number of times between the 20s and 1970 (detailed below) when Paul Itzel of Dawn Light Boatworks found her languishing in Rock Creek, MD, and purchased her for 1200$.
Paul spent the following 25 years working on Witchcraft between paid gigs, ultimately performing a comprehensive, keel up restoration. All of her planking, frames, deck beams, deck and much if not all of her backbone were replaced, all new mechanical and domestic systems fitted. She relaunched in 1992 with just the Marconi main. The mizzen, which was originally added in 1922, would be re-stepped in 2019.
Though substantially rebuilt Paul Itzel maintained as much of the original interior as possible and Witchcraft retains the ornate detail and original galley forward layout typical of the early 20th century sailing yachts. She has an aft salon with matching sette’s and berths outboard. Moving forward there’s a head to port, owner’s cabin to stb’d, galley to port and spacious forepeak in the bow with berths on either side and ample storage forward.
Witchcraft is one of the few remaining big boats from one of America’s preeminent early 20th century designers and has the exceptional beauty, grace and exciting sailing characteristics only found on the pre-WWI day racer. In her current split rig configuration, Witchcraft is an excellent daysailer and manageable for family cruising, a stately and surprisingly practical 120 year old boat. It’s also hard not to think about what she’d look like fully crewed, racing under her original gaff cutter rig…
Witchcraft is in winter storage in Pasadena, MD.
-Built at Lawley Yard in Boston in 1903 for William Bowditch Rogers, who used her for day sailing and racing on Lake Champlain from Kellogg Island. Won the of the Lake Champlain Yacht Club’s annual regatta the Ladies Cup on a number of occasions.
-Rodgers sold Witchcraft to a gentleman named Karl Sharp in 1920 who only owner her for a year.
-Frank C. Sullivan, commodore of the Harlem Yacht club, purchased Witchcraft in 1921 added the mizzen to make her a yawl in 1922, converted the main to Bermudian in 1935 and sold her in 1943.
-Ken and Dorothy Saffer bought her during WWII in 1943 and sailed her to the Chesapeake where they would keep her and sail her form the Maryland Yacht Club.
-The Saffers sold her Aubrey L. Robertson who owned Witchcraft until 1958.
-The current owner’s father acquired her in Maryland in 1958, while stationed there in the Navy, and cruised the Chesapeake extensively with his two sons. He was restationed and sold her in 1960.
-Found by Paul Itzel in 1970 purchased for 1200$ and spend the next 20-25 years restoring her, finally launching her in 1990 and getting her sailing in ’93 and selling Witchcraft to her current owner in 2008.
White Oak framing
-Volvo Penta diesel engine, 3 cylinder 45 hp 2203T
-Stainless shaft and feathering bronze prop, offset to port
-Clock and Barometer
-12v electrical system with separate house and start batteries
-circuit breaker panel
-30A shorepower hookup
-2 x bilge pumps
-Groco marine head, with electroscan unit
-P.E. Luke 3 burner propane cookstove
-1 x 40 gal. diesel tank
-2 x stainless water tanks 30 and 40 gal.
Sails and Rigging:
-Dacron Main, Mizzen, Staysail, Jib and Jib Topsail
-Stainless standing rigging
-Merriman and Nevins winches
More complete listing to follow.