ALBATROSS II | Niki ButcherChokoloskee © 1995
Photographic Story It is rare to find a beautifully designed wooden boat in south Florida, for wood rarely lasts very long in the warm waters of the south. I was immediately attracted to this beautiful 33-foot-long boat docked in Everglades City on the Chokoloskee. Built by A.C. Hancock in 1951 and originally named The Ace, this vessel was purchased for $1,800 by Captain Glenn Smallwood, a guide and son of Ted Smallwood. She was such a beauty, and the fact she was made from native Florida woods; the frame is cypress, the planking is cedar, and the keel is yellow pine; made her all the more special to photograph and immortalize. After the death of Captain Smallwood, Captain Mervin Noble bought The Ace from the Smallwood family and named her Albatross II. When it came time for Captain Noble to retire, Captain Franklin Adams purchased the boat. It needed a lot of work to bring her back to the beauty she once was. Franklin hired Chris Hancock, son of A.C. Hancock, the original builder of the boat, and he spent a year and a half on the restoration. After the renovation of the boat, Franklin used the Albatross II to guide fishermen, family groups, birders, photographers, and occasional filmmakers through the Everglades. Captain Adams was known to donate trips for various worthy environmental causes, and as Franklin told me, he never made any profit, but guiding allowed him to do something he loved. He felt it was his calling to educate others about the Big Cypress, Everglades, and The Ten Thousand Islands, and he considered it an honor and responsibility to keep the boat in “tip-top shape.” Franklin eventually sold the boat to Curt Hancock, son of Chris Hancock and grandson of A.C., bringing the ship back to the family that originally built her. Chris has since renamed her “The Ace.” The Art of Hand Painting Black and White Photographs Niki prints her images on fiber-base black and white mat surface paper in the darkroom, then using Q-tips and cotton balls, she applies a thin coat of oil paint over the surface allowing the image to gently be seen through the oil paint. Archival Print Making Niki’s open edition gicleé artwork is printed on Sunset Bright Velvet Rag matte finish paper using eight archival inks. A state-of-the-art Epson Stylus Pro printer creates deep, rich dark values that hold subtle detail in the shadows as well as bright vivid colors that are truly tropical.