Imagine a story of a boat built in 1903 that has cast a spell on each of her owners. She would be the WITCHCRAFT. She was designed by B.B. Crowninshield in 1902 for William Bowditch Rogers for use as a racing yacht on Lake Champlain. She was built at the famed George Lawley & Son Boat Yard in Boston in 1903.
She was launched as Witchcraft II and enjoyed many owners (see Owners tab) prior to being left to rot away in Rock Creek in 1970. She was found by Paul Itzel who purchased her for $1200 and moved on to the boat to start what would be a 30-year restoration project. His friend, restoration partner, and master boatwright Clayton Rhuland helped Paul build a boat shed near Pasadena, MD out of the remains of houses damaged by hurricane Agnes. He also had the help of friends and family during her restoration. For 20 years Paul worked on Witchcraft in his spare time and spent money he made working on other people's boats. 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 until 1999 when she entered the water again close to where Paul found her in Pasadena, Maryland.
Going back in time.......to June 20th of 1958, a Navy Commander, David S. Butler Sr. purchased the Witchcraft. He had two teenage sons, Dave and Bryan. They enjoyed sailing Witchcraft on the Chesapeake. The brothers remember the two years of ownership as some of the best times of their lives. The Butler family sold the Witchcraft June of 1960 when David Sr. was transferred to Florida.
Leaping forward to 2007, Dave, a successful entrepreneur, asked a friend John Dodd to do some research and see if he could locate the plans for The Witchcraft II. Dave wanted to have two models built, one for himself and one for his brother as a reminder of the good times they spent on board. After a search on the internet, he found Paul Itzel and the "Witchcraft". Paul had dropped the II off the name after rebuilding her and John thought it was the sister ship of the Witchcraft II. Once Paul explained to John that this was indeed the original "Witchcraft II" and told him the story of his rebuilding her, John contacted David and informed him not only could he build a model but he could go walk on the real thing.
Captain Paul had reached a point in his life where he was trying to plan a way to ensure the Witchcraft's future. He was having a harder time finding the funds to work on and maintain her. He had put the Witchcraft up for sale. Once John got Dave and Paul together the perfect solution was found. Dave purchased the Witchcraft and asked Paul to stay on full-time as Captain and complete her renovation. Dave and Paul worked together caring for and renovating the Witchcraft until Paul passed away in October of 2015. Paul will never be forgotten for his years devoted to the Witchcraft and his spirit is still with the Witchcraft today. Jody Leonard, a previous business partner, and friend of Paul's has taken over as Sailing Master after stating that Dave should be the Captain. Dave Butler continues as her owner and she can be seen sailing on the Chesapeake and attending antique boat shows.
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