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Classic Schooner Viveka Relaunched in Richmond

Gleaming in fresh paint, sparkling varnish and polished brass, the 75-foot schooner Viveka was relaunched at Svendsen’s Bay Marine in Richmond last Monday.

The moment had been five years in the making. Viveka arrived at Rutherford’s Boatshop in Richmond in 2015 for a full restoration. But the owner ran out of money and the boat sat for four years until British entrepreneur Sir Keith Mills bought her and gave Jeff the go-ahead to resume work. COVID-19 provided another speed bump, reducing the crew of 18-20 earlier this year to just four or five. (Quarantine requirements also meant Mills could not attend the launching.)

In a way, it was kind of déjà vu all over again. At her original build in 1929-1930 at the George Lawley yard in Massachusetts, the Frank Paine-designed Joan II was to be a ‘fast cruiser’ for J.P. Morgan (or someone in the Morgan family). When the Great Depression hit, work on the boat stopped and the yard took possession. The boat sat for three years before Lawley decided to complete her as a staysail schooner.

But just as happened 90 years ago, it all came together again. Maria Barahona, wife of boat captain Geri Atkins, did christening honors. Two days later, the masts and rigging were fitted. There is about two weeks’ more work on the deck layout and interior before sea trials begin. The good news is that those will occur on weekends, so local sailors will be able to see this historic boat — which has been based in the Bay for many years — in action once again.

After sea trials, Viveka will be loaded onto a freighter for Florida, then onto another freighter bound for Palma de Mallorca. She’s due there in February to prepare for the classic yacht circuit in the Mediterranean next summer. She will eventually be homeported in England.

Read more about Viveka’s rebuild and history (including her longtime ownership by Merle Petersen) in Sightings in Latitude 38‘s May 2020 issue.




  1. Jose Gidley 4 years ago

    What a beauty!

  2. Matt Bazzano 4 years ago


  3. Rev. Dr. Malama 4 years ago

    I thought long and hard about taking on the stewardship of this beautiful yacht but just couldn’t come up with the funding.
    So glad that there are people who can …..

    • Kevin Jensen 2 years ago

      So sad you couldn’t have done it on your own but to have someone as quality conscious as Jeff Rutherford and his crew in Richmond California is amazing that they were able to completely restore such a beautiful craft with such talented craftsmanship. KJ

  4. Chuck Cunningham 4 years ago

    Classic lines. Great that there are sailors with the ability to maintain the historical vessels

  5. Arnold Oliver 4 years ago

    Some serious disposable income there . .

    • Rev Dr Malama 2 years ago

      Honestly! The millions of dollars spent… but we can rejoice in the fact that quality craftsmanship is supported, hopefully I can see the BEAUTY in Spain, even though it will most likely? be behind locked gates instead of open to the people of the world to admire and aspire to forest restoration and conservation of sailing vessels worldwide !

  6. ODUS HAYES 4 years ago


    • Danny Hendrick 4 years ago

      ODUS, I THINK YOU . . . Whoops, I think you left the Caps Lock button on, bro. Or you’re shouting your comment.

  7. Tom Carr ‘Bluebird’ Mirror Offshore 19 4 years ago

    So happy to see Viveka get another life. I used to live across the ‘T’ pier on my boat in the late 60’s making friends with Merle’s ‘care takers’. She was functional (but a work in progress) at that time making inter island voyages.

  8. Lisa Sturm 4 years ago

    I am Merle’s oldest granddaughter, his “favorite oldest,” as he would say. I am the daughter of his first-born, Sherrill. I spent many hours on that boat docked in Waikiki and in Richmond City, but never sailed on her, except maybe when I was too young to remember. I visited him several times while he lived on the boat in the years before he died, and slept deep in her bowels in the freezing cold waters in the middle of the SF Bay summers.

    One year when I was a teenager I spent several weeks with him back home on O’ahu and we worked on the boat. As has been noted, she was always a work in progress. I helped sand and varnish the deck and while at his house had to step over and around what seemed like miles of sail canvas strewn all over his living room.

    Even though I never sailed her, I knew every inch. I was supposed to sail with him through the South Pacific after graduating from high school in ’86, but he was still in the process of gutting and stripping her down to the hull for a rebuild, and she didn’t embark eastward towards Asia until the summer of 1989. By then I was pregnant and could not make the trip. However my cousin Peter did spend time sailing all over Southeast Asia with our grandpa a few years later.

    My mom spent a year and a 1/2 living on and sailing throughout the South Pacific on Vivika when she was 17, and her life was forever changed by it.

    When our Papa died several years ago, my mom and I made a trip to the yard to take a look at the progress. The workmanship being done was beautiful and would have made him quite proud. I cannot tell you how much it makes my heart happy that she has kept her name and that her legacy as an iconic work of art, sailing tradition, and engineering is cherished and will continue in the hands of a new loving owner and crew.

  9. Lisa Sturm 4 years ago

    Also: Lat38 editors please- Please correct to “Petersen”

    • John Arndt 4 years ago

      Thanks and done!

  10. Lisa Sturm 4 years ago

    Thank you, for the correction and for this lovely article from the entire family!

  11. pandy 4 years ago

    What a gorgeous work of art. I hope she fulfills the dreams of many generations yet to come.

  12. Larry 4 years ago

    Incredible sailing yacht! All the artists must be very proud to have contributed to this beauty. Well done!!! Beautiful yacht; beautiful name. Both unusual and lovely.

  13. Mark Anderson 4 years ago

    Viveka right now (December 23-2020) is in Ensenada at Cruiseport Village Marina.

  14. Gordon Fischer 4 years ago

    Sailed on her in ‘77 when we broke both masts Off Molokai trying to make Oahu in record time in the Lahaina Labour Day race, knocking off Peter Fonda’s Tatoosh. Back next year on my honeymoon when 4 of us broke the boom one week before same race. Merle had the boom fixed in time for the race. Stupid me arranged a new ride! Fortunately saw Merle on his boat for his 90th birthday.

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