Koputai – Sailing Sunday

KOPUTAI  Sailing Sunday

Todays post is one of the ones I love, lots of details & lots of both old & current photos.

Koputai is a heavily built pilot stye hull weighing almost 40ton. She was built by Miller and Tunnage of Port Chalmers and launched in 1939. She served as a pilot vessel until the early 1990s when she returned to Miller and Tunnage to be converted to a pleasure boat.  Since she has circumnavigated NZ twice including  Chatham Islands, Great Barrier Island, Stuart Island and the Three Kings.

In 2013 her owner, Louey Sandlant, circumnavigated the South Island after fitting rigging and sails to the boat. They spent April-June in Fiordland with friends coming and going. The boat was perfectly suited to this life with spacious living quarters, a warm wheel house, plenty of food storage and fridge freezer space that easily accommodated 7-9 people long term.
On this trip she averaged 1L/NM at 6-7kts and didn’t get to make much use of the full set of sails. On passages Koputai will motor at 6.5-7kts with some sail for steadying. If there is a good blow she will sail 6-9kts with the engine backed off to idle or just over, this brings the fuel consumption right down & can halve the fuel consumption, making long passages very affordable cruising.

Despite the GM Detroits reputation for noise and thirst, Louey reports they have found it to be a very pleasant piece of machinery to live with. It has been very well set up with a 4.5:1 Allison box turning the large propeller and a sound insulated dry muffler set up with a wet exit making it quiet and smooth. Like most Detroits she runs like a clock.

In the sailing department Koputai has a traditional Bermudan style cutter ketch rig. Louey generally always has the mizzen hoisted for stability and with the stay-sail forward this configuration is balanced and happy up to around 35+kts., in lighter airs the full main and code zero style jenoa as well goes nicely up to around 24kts, she will get along at 8 kts off the wind with engine just ticking over. She feels solid pushing into heavy weather and will safely hold her own against most NZ coastal conditions and her owner wouldn’t hesitate to take her offshore. Koputai has been in survey.

Koputai has had a lot of time & money sent on her – in 2012 and 2013 she under went extensive restoration work, including:

-Complete deck re-corking and refinishing
-Complete new Kauri covering board
-Cabins stripped and refinished and windows refitted
-New stainless steel staunch-ens
-All repairs have been done with top quality treated kauri
-In 2013 she has also had a new sailing rig fitted with Canadian Oregon masts, standing rigging and all new sails made by classics sail maker Bud Nalder.

Everything that has been done to her by the current owners has been done with the highest quality products available for traditional boat building and completed by an experience boat builder to a high standard of durability. A useable finish is achieved while maintaining her traditional style.
The rig was designed to suit the era and fit with the original lines to make a well rounded, practical motor sailor for extensive cruising and expedition.

Recent work June 2014 includes; Full repaint above and below the water, new shaft bearing, new zincs, exhaust through hull fitting removed and inspected and refitted, prop removed checked and cleaned, shaft bearing replaced, shaft inspected and cleaned

Now the sad / good news – Loueys sad news is that Koputai is now for sale – the good news is the some lucky boaty is going to get to own one of the best restored, set up motor-saliers around. I don’t normally put prices on ww but I believe this to be such great value – this time I have – NZD$195,000.

If you wanted to a have a South Island experience for a while, there is a mooring in Nelson that is available to rent or purchase by negotiation and she will be delivered anywhere in New Zealand. I have to say that she would also make a great live aboard.

Her owners are currently cruising north over the next month via Great Barrier so if any ww followers are interested – contact Louey on 0274948028

Some Specs:

Leingth 17.1m  –  Draft 1.95m  –  Beam 4.7m

-Engine;  GM Detroit 671 New 2008 4090hrs  – Dry muffler wet exit. 180-200hp

-Running gear; Allison gearbox, 3 1/2″ bronze shaft, 53″ bronze propeller, solid bronze rudder and shaft with hydrolic steering (new main shaft bearing 2014)

-Genset; Newly reconditioned 2.5kva Mase (single cylinder yanmar)
-Fuel;     1700L  –  Water;   2000L

-Power; New batteries all round feb 2013  –  2x290ah AGM deep cycles. 2xNS220 start batteries

-Anchoring;  Nilson maxwell 3500 winch (new 1000w motor 2012.),  13mm galv short link chain (New chain 2012.), 80lb  manson plow

-Refrigeration; Large 200l freezer/chiller with engine driven compressor(new compressor and switches 2013) Dometic 3way automatic fridge freezer (new 2011)

-Sails; Main, Mizzen, Staysail and Genoa (new 2013)

-3m inflatable dingy with yamaha 8hp  –  Or a 4.1m inflatable thundercat with a 50hp yamaha with cradle

-lifting gear with elect capstain for loading tenders up 450kg also very handy for lifting anchors and gear on board.


Update 27-08-2020 Photo below supplied by David Balderston, as per his 2015 comments

23 thoughts on “Koputai – Sailing Sunday

  1. Pingback: Koputai – Work Boat Conversion | waitematawoodys.com #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  2. Pingback: Koputai | waitematawoodys.com #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  3. Koputai has returned to the mainland after a brilliant visit to Great Barrier island we met some fantastic boats and boat people in particular Windborne from Whitianga a 1920s schooner that we rafted up with at smoke house bay and shared some salty tales. we are now visiting Kauwau island for a week.


  4. /Users/sandrabalderston/Pictures/Scan 2015-5-18 0002-3.jpg/Users/sandrabalderston/Pictures/Scan 2015-5-18 0002-4.jpg
    I hope these two come through of the old lady doing what she was designed to do. The group photo was taken on 16th august 1991 with the newly arrived ex Port Phillip Pilot boat VICTORIA soon to be renamed POTIKI. Other pilot boat is OTOROA and the FLORENCE lines boat.

    The one at the heads was taken in her last week of service, what a handsome boat she was.

    David Balderston


  5. well put thank you. Koputai being single helm station in the wheel house i find the windows and the decent brow over keeps the glare off the glass and the dash board improving visibility in difficult conditions greatly


  6. Apart from obviating reflections and improving the view forward and down, one of the main reasons for forward raking screens is in fact to minimise the impact of spray and solid water hitting them.


  7. I spent many a long trip from Port Chalmers out to board ships outside the Heads in the KOPUTAI. She was a magnificent pilot boat and we trusted her to get us pilots safely home no matter what the sea state.


  8. I used to spend a bit of time on her when I was in Dunedin ’66 – ’71. Lovely boat. Very capable as pilot boats in the southern parts have to be. She still had her big slow revving National diesel in her then, but it was not long before the OHB tired of the maintenance and fitted the GM.
    In passing, there is a trend towards putting forward raking screens on the new sheds fitted to retired workboats. While they were an advantage on fishing boats so the skipper could peer down on the men working the winch; and on tugs for the same reason. Also on Ford and Chev 4 x 4s to obviate the reflections, they can look a bit out of place sometimes.
    I wonder how it would cope with a real big hefty dollop of sea if she was punching into it.


  9. Awesome!! That’s what it is all about, being out there.
    We enjoyed the post, well mostly- it would have been nice to see some positive chat from the woodys. Keep up the good work on her and all the best with finding a fun loveing and careing new owner for her.
    I’m wildly envious of you guys out there today!


  10. A beautiful day on the gulf today on our way to the barrier. the sun is out and the wind behind us. Koputai is slipping along smoothly with a clean hull and shiny propeller. the sure burble of the engine in the back ground of some chatter and guitar from our newly arrived crew members. Keenly heading towards Great barrier island for there first time.


  11. Koputai update.
    We have just spent a couple of days and Matiatia bay Waiheke
    on Thursday we put the good ship against the poles here, polished up the propeller and touched up some anti-foul ready to start making our way north. thanks to the friendly and helpful local boatys next stop for us is Great barrier island for 10 days then on to Kauwau island.


  12. Stuart island as in Rakiura
    Genoa, Caulking, Stanchion. so i am not the best speller but i love wooden boats


  13. Thats us still here enjoying the city before we head out again for the next adventure.


  14. Saw her in west haven yesterday looking good. Deck caulking replacing zincs and stern bearing is usually termed as maintenance rather than restoration on this type of vessel.


  15. Well said John ! The rig description had me cringing. Re the 671, without checking further I am sure they were still being built after C.2000. Superceded by the 4 stroke fuel pincher engine. I am sure my deafness can be attributed to my years of close proximity to a ‘screamin’ demon’. Nevertheless, a great engine.


  16. I have always wanted to circumnavigate Stuart Island. Can you tell us which one?


  17. Magnificent ship!! And she demonstrates the virtues of the motor-sailer on passage, whether it be just using her mizzen to steady her as she goes, cutting the rolling and also cutting fuel burn, or with more sail set as described and really saving fuel.
    Two points though:
    “Cutter ketch”. Hain’t no such hanimal! She’s a ketch; without splitting ketch/yawl hairs, a ketch has two masts and one OR MORE headsails. A cutter has one mast and two OR MORE headsails. “Cutter ketch”/ “cutter-rigged ketch”/whatever is a term wet-dreamed up by a yacht broker in the ’70s. We don’t speak brokerese on WW, do we?
    New 6-71 “Jimmy” in 2008? Were the marvellous 71 series still being built then? Or is this a “new” rebuilt engine. Not that important, except form a historical perspective, I guess – a rebuilt “Jimmy” is as good as a new one, eh?


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