Imagine a story produced by a movie screen writer in which an entity over 100 years old casts a spell on generations of humans causing them to worship and serve her. A witch if you will, who gives back pleasure both visual and physical in return for service to her every need. Such would be the story of the sailing vessel, Witchcraft. Designed byB.B. Crowninshield in 1902 for William Bowditch Rogers for use as a racing yacht on Lake Champlain and built by the famed Lawley boat yard in Boston in 1903.

Launched as Witchcraft II, she has beguiled a number of servants, lovers and admirers over a span of years until present day. A true Witch of the Sea. Although she has had many lovers/owners through the years none have been more bewitched by her than her present captain, Paul J Itzel, and her current patron, David S. Butler Jr.

Paul Itzel found her rotting away in a canal in 1970, Touching her, the spell was cast; Paul was bewitched. The "Witchcraft" had been waiting for someone such as he to come along. .. She needed him and he needed her. Paul was a young and foolish dreamer bent on becoming a master boatwright and She was getting on in years but with a heart of pure wildness who saw in Paul someone who would devote years of his life to bringing her back to her glory days. Paul moved on board and started the process which would occupy most of his adult life.
These stories are never about just one man, to create such a story as this you have to have lots of supporting cast. Such was the case for Paul. There was his brother George who helped Paul build a ramshackle boat shed on a farm near Pasadena out of the remains of houses damaged by hurricane Agnes and a constant flow of friends and family to help out in the years long restoration.

For 20 years Paul worked on Witchcraft in his spare time and spent money he made working on other people's dreams and delivering other people's yachts. Finally in 1992 she went back in the water. In 1994 she was under sail for the first time in 25 years and again on dry land in 1996 for more work. Out this time until 1999 she entered the water again to live close to where Paul found her in Pasadena.

Let's jump back a bit in time to June 20, 1958 when a Navy Commander, David S. Butler Sr. fell in love with "The Witch" and bought her. He had two teenage sons, David Jr. and William Bryan. What a way to spend time with the family, sailing Witchcraft on the Chesapeake. The brothers remember the two years of ownership as some of the best times of their lives. Witchcraft had thrown a spell on them during those two summers on board.

Returning forward to 2007, David Jr. now a successful entrepreneur, asked me to do some research and see if I could locate the plans for The Witchcraft II; he wanted to have 2 models built, one for himself and one for his brother to celebrate the good times they spent on board. After a search on the net I found Paul Itzel and the "Witchcraft", he had dropped the II off the name after rebuilding her and I thought I had somehow found the sister ship. Paul informed me that this was indeed the original "Witchcraft II" and told me the story of his rebuilding her. After reaching David via phone I informed him not only could he build a model but he could go walk on the real thing. To say it was a movie moment would be putting it mildly.

Captain Paul reached a point in his life where he was trying to plan a way to insure Witchcraft's future and finding that his funds to work on her were getting harder to come by, he reluctantly put Witchcraft up for sale. Dave had the funds to acquire stewardship and he convinced Paul to stay on as full time Captain and provider of care. Only in the movies would such a happy ending occur. But it's no movie .. The Sailing Vessel Witchcraft lives on under the care of two of her most ardent lovers and with multitudes of admirers.
As for the models, Dave has had those build by a master builder, Jean Preckel, one will be as Witchcraft was configured when she was launched and the other, as she is now.....click here to see the models -->
For me, my reward came that year when she gracefully allowed me to sail on board her along with the granddaughter and great grandson of Wm. B. Rogers, her patron David S Butler Jr. under the guiding hand of her Capt. Paul Itzel and his crew. I like to think the ghosts of all her lovers past were on board that day as well.

John Dodd Humble servant and Historian of the Yacht, "Witchcraft."