The Classic Yacht Frances was designed by Arch Logan and built by Logan Brothers in 1906 at St Mary's Bay. She was designed as a workboat for Robert Shakespear of Whangaparaoa whose family owned her until 1991. Anson Shakespear, Robert's son, said they could get nine bales of wool below decks and as much as four tonnes of cement. At the height of the season Frances would carry up to 600 large watermelons from the family farm to the market in Auckland.
Marine surveyor John Harrison, reporting on Frances for Mrs Verna Shakespear in September 1991, said in a covering letter: "I found her to be in good condition, without significant defects. Indeed she is exceptional for her age and it was particularly pleasing to be asked to express an opinion of a vessel of her type which has obviously been well looked after and has not been subjected to all manner of ill-advised modifications as is so often the case. I hope that if she is to be sold the purchaser will be selected with great care as she is unique and irreplaceable."
In 1991 Frances moved to the care of Auckland brothers Paul and Adam Cato. They proved to be just the kind of owners John Harrison had in mind for Frances. They carried out a major refurbishment of the yacht late in 1999, including refastening the topsides and giving her a new deck and deck beams. Frances has regularly taken part in heritage and classic regattas and cruised the Hauraki Gulf and the Bay of Islands.
In 2004 the Cato Family gifted her to the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust. Their generous action means that the yacht will continue to generate the sort of public profile her heritage deserves.
Considering her age, Frances' fundamental condition is good and she is maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers. In 2012 her spars underwent restoration in Neil Forresters shed in Cockle Bay. Her mast was restored, with new rigging attached and revarnished in the Percy Vos shed in Hamer Street Wynyard Quarter. Her mast was restepped on the 22nd January 2013 at the Viaduct Harbour. She is currently berthed at the New Zealand Maritime Museum as an active on water display. Regular competition in the Classic Yacht Acssociation of NZ races over the years has seen Frances inspected and cleaned on the Westhaven floating dock 2 to 3 times per year. The most recent inspection in 2021 has revealed considerable deterioration of the hull, and a split longitudinal stringer causing significant ingress of water. A project to repair this damage is currently being planned.
Frances is a protected New Zealand antique under the Protected Objects Act 1975
Frances photo gallery http://www.classicyachtcharitabletrust.org.nz/gallery.htm?gallery_id=37