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Ted Ashby is a ketch-rigged deck scow, typical of the fleet of scows that once operated in northern New Zealand waters.
Built by Museum staff and volunteers in the traditional manner, she was launched in August 1993. Freightways Ltd sponsored her construction with assistance by many other firms.
Ted Ashby is built of blackbutt, an Australian hardwood grown in Northland, instead of the traditional kauri. She is fastened with galvanised steel bolts and spikes. The hull is framed with fore-and-aft bulkheads, known as partitions, and the bottom is cross-planked. Underwater the hull is sheathed in worm-resistant totara over tarred felt and schenam, a mixture of lime and oil.
Scows were flat-bottomed, centreboard vessels, most of which carried their cargo on deck. They were ideal for working estuaries and shallow harbours, and they carried logs, firewood, sand and shingle, machinery and stock. A few of the larger scows carried timber to Australia and America.
Scows ranged from 45 to 130 foot in length and most were two-masted, ketch or schooner rigged. The largest were three-masted. Some 130 scows were built in the north of New Zealand between 1873 and 1925. The first was the Lake Erie, based on the American Great Lakes scows. New Zealand scows quickly developed their own characteristic form and construction. Today only half a dozen survived.
The Maritime Museum chose to name the vessel after Ted Ashby, a man whose whole life was intimately involved with the scows, and the author of the book 'Phantom Fleet'.