Awana shed

Awana is a Brin Wilson design, launched in 1967. She is 36′ with a beam of 11’4″ and powdered by a 120 h.p. Ford motor.
Her current owners Rachel McKinnon and Derek Molander purchased her in March 2014 from the estate of Neil Johnson in Whangarei. Johnson purchased her in July 2012 from Tauranga (seller unknown). Her new home is Pine Harbour.
Her new owners have already started work bringing her into prime condition, to date they have hauled her out and changed her cabin sides from a brown stain (owners words) to a light grey, at the same time all her were removed & re-sealed + anti-fouling.
Her new owners report Awana is a very sea worthy boat and are looking forward to a long future with her.
Like all owners they are interested in uncovering more of her past – anyone able to help?


12 thoughts on “Awana

  1. Pingback: Awana – A peak down below | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  2. PLAYMATE was built by Sam Ford in 1936 for Roy Swales of Epsom. Her original engine was a 2 cylinder National 20hp diesel, later replaced with a Fairbanks Morse in RNZAF service. I suspect she went to Nelson after she was sold off by the RNZAF.
    She is often confused with the 1950 bridgedecker MY PLAYMATE built for M.V. Wilson of Awatea Road, Parnell by the O’Rorke brothers.


  3. Information from Peter Sample

    Awana was berthed at Westpark marina during the 80’s and early 90’s and was owned by Andy and Joyce Keyworth. Andy sold here sometime in the early 90’s and she went to Lake Taupo. She was on the marina there for a number of years.
    While at Taupo her combings were taken back to bare timber and varnished.
    Andy was mate on the sailing vessel Pamir during the war and senior master with the Union company until his retirement.

    I owned the Sam Ford bridgedecker, Ida Mae (ex Playmate) for 25 years.She has since been renamed Playmate by the new owner when I sold her in 2007. I had her history back to 1970 when she was at Napier but sadly nothing up to then after the Airforce disposal from service in Fiji after the war. She carried wartime registration 414 which could still be seen scribed into the bow planking after sanding back. Airforce number 72 also visible.

    Peter Sample


  4. Hi Derek & Rachel,, it’s great that w are of like mind — so sad that life had taken a toll on her coamings in days gone by. — if you look up the story of my own boat, I had built in 1976-79 (TIARRI) on woodys you will see my own contribution to the vanish thing. — yes I know just too well how much time & money it takes (I was part of the “varnish club” for many years)


  5. AWANA was at Taupo for a while, owned by a well known local businessman. In 2008 she underwent quite a major refit at the local yard of Dale Boatbuilders, who replaced her cabin tops and decks, and fitted an anchor winch. AWANA always seems to me to be a little unusual, in that she has flared aft sections, as opposed to the more usual (for her vintage) tumble home.She was always well maintained whilst at Taupo. .


  6. To avoid privacy issues, send your contact details to Alan and I’ll let you know. Cheers.


  7. Hi Harold
    We looked at quite a few boats before we purchased Awana, and her workmanship looks very good. We would love to know more with regards to the Speight family connection.


  8. Ken thanks for your comments on Awana, the original photo does look like varnish, but unfortunately it was a brown paint/stain combination which hadn’t been maintained. Yes we would have loved to have returned her cabin sides to varnish, but unfortunately due to the sun damage to the wood on the starboard side, and the repairs needed it wasn’t an option at this stage. This decision was not made lightly and we did seek professional advice.
    As I’m sure you know any varnished sided boat needs a huge time commitment to get the wood perfect, as any imperfection becomes highlighted under varnish. These wooden beauties take a lot of time and money to maintain and preserve, with a young family and other financial commitments we made the decision to preserve her as best we could, if everyone felt that it was only possible for these boats to look their best with the sides varnished, then you would find that due to the extra time/costs involved these boats wouldn’t continue to be preserved by a ‘younger’ generation.
    I grew up on Lady Rae and certainly realize the time needed to maintain these beautiful boats, but this is outweighed by the pleasure gained in cruising on them.
    Cheers Derek and Rachel


  9. AWANA was built by Brin for Jack R. Speight, watchmaker of 23 Hamana St, Devonport, Vic Speight’s brother. Jack Logan was Brin’s foreman at that time I think, so the workmanship will be A1. If you are interested in following up the Speight family connection for information and images, let me know?


  10. A lovely example of Brin Wilsons beautiful work, she has got excellent balance & symmetry, & is obviously going to be loved. However there is little doubt she originally had varnished cabin sides, probably teak or Mahogany, & she can certainly never look “original,” or as she was really intended to look, in my view, with any type of paint on this part of the boat. It actually looks to me in the older pic., as if it may have been varnished original timber when that was taken. — Surely no one would commit the sacrilege of painting over lovely timber, in this day & age, of the desire by many & the need to preserve our maritime history intact & maintaining the original beauty of our maritime classics & heritage, when there are such excellent marine varnish & polyurethane products available to maintain the full character of these craft without too much effort. Hopefully one day she will be restored to the absolutely original format — KEN RICKETTS


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