Two Teak Ladies were donated to the Port of Toledo, Oregon, to be used in their Toledo Youth Boating Club program. MaZu was donated by Jim Hitchman of Waldport, Oregon. Che Hon was donated by Bob and Claire MacDonald of Spokane, Washington.
The original Teak Lady was designed by Fenton Kilkenny of San Francisco in the mid-1930s. The design was sent to his uncle, Ted Kilkenny, who worked for Ah King Shipbuilders in Hong Kong. The boat resembled the 23-foot San Francisco Bay Bear Boat, but 6 feet shorter and proportionately heavier, with a deeper full keel and a taller rig.
The Teak Lady featured a raised cabin, two bunks, a well cockpit full keel, as well as a full complement of gear including bedding, sheets, pillowcases, a set of dishes, and a bailing bucket made of teak. Meticulously hand-built entirely of Burmese teak, they were perfectly scaled-down sloop, with intricately carved tillers, inlaid with amber stone as Dragon's eyes. The ladies were also given hand-carved pictographs telling the story about how each boat received its name.
Many of the new boat owners decided to install inboard motors including the Lauson 5 hp marine engines as well as the Kermath Sea Pup.
Fenton Killkenny sailed his Teak Lady (the name he chose to give her), frequently upon San Fransico Bay, and created so much interest that in May 1939, he and his father entered a contract with Ah King to build 14 more boats.
The first boats to arrive coincided with the 1939 San Francisco exhibition and the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge, where a Teak Lady was put on display. By 1940, the 17' 3" Teak Lady was an official San Francisco Bay racing class.
More fame came to the Teak Lady class in the 1940s. A young couple sailed from Monterey, California to Hawaii, then to the South Pacific, logging 8,000 nautical miles. At that time, she was the smallest boat to cross the Pacific Ocean.
MaZu was the last Teak Lady built and was completed in February 1958. Though MaZu is a production boat, she looks and sails like a thoroughbred and sports detailing a petite yacht, constructed entirely of teak with durable bronze hardware.
In July 2009, Jim Hitchman of Waldport, Oregon donated MaZu to the Port of Toledo to be used by the Toledo Youth Boating Club Program. The sloop had some pretty significant damage caused by a crash with a 36-foot fishing vessel in Yaquina Bay.
Shipwright Rick Johnson and Michael Bogoger quickly began work restoring the vessel to its original beauty.
David Keenan, a former owner of MaZu, sailed her in all kinds of weather in San Francisco and San Pablo Bays. He tells me that in one 55-knot winter gale, there was concern at the Vallejo Yacht Club when they noticed MaZu driving hard to weather with the ports submerged. But after seeing through the yacht club binoculars that both captain and crew were sporting ear-to-ear grins, they decided the rescue party could be called off.
A second Teak Lady, Che Hon, was donated to the Port of Toledo by Bob and Claire MacDonald of Spokane, Washington.
Che Hon had been out of the water for twenty years, and it was a milestone just to have her take-up and float.
At that time, her decks were in pretty poor condition - no rot, but they leaked so much the concern was that she would sink over the winter. After many hours of work, her decks are in much better condition. Her broken mast has been repaired, and she has been refinished from stem to stern.
As time and interest arose for these beautiful little ships, Michael and Rick, along with many boat club volunteers, created the group now known as The Teak Lady Society. The Teak Lady Society became a highlight of the Wooden Boat Show, including free sailboat rides by our skippers, Dianne Henkels and Dan Van Calcar, bringing the joy of sailing to so many!
In the summer of 2011, a sailor named David West made a cruise up Yaquina Bay and came across the Toledo Wooden Boat Show. David became immediately enamored with the Teak Ladies, as his own sloop, "Taikoo," was built in Hong Kong, not far from the Ah King slipway.
As well as taking a lead in the Teak Ladies maintenance, David began a research project of the Teak Lady fleet, including their names, numbers, locations, and histories.
The San Francisco Maritime Museum and National Park provided vital information, including a link to Mr. Chris Jannini, the museum's lead shipwright and owner of "Yaun Mun," the original Teak Lady owned by Fenton Killkenny. Chris had purchased a much larger boat and offered "Yuan Mun" for sale.
David could not resist. He purchased the Teak Lady and eventually donated the boat to the Teak Lady Society, giving us a complete set, the first, the middle (Che Hon TL-11), and the last (Mazu TL-21).
With the help of Dr. Constance Quigley, a website was created and a Facebook page, and marketing materials that helped make the Teak Lady Society and the Toledo Wooden Boat Show well-known along the Pacific Coast.
Today, the ladies take an annual sail beginning in Newport, Oregon, up Yaquina Bay, and back to our home at the Port of Toledo. We have an annual Teak Lady "garage sail" to help support our various projects and programs, and we hold a pizza party on International "Talk Like A Pirate" day.
We invite everyone to come to experience the wonderful little ships. Each Teak Lady is not only a sailboat, but a beautiful piece of art, with her own rich history.
Visit us online to learn more about the Teak Ladies Historical Society: