Orphans Day


Hows this for a cool idea, in the old days boaties used to rally around & hold an orphans day, where they took orphans (what a horrible sounding word) out on their boats for a magic day out. Not much chance of that happening now with all the PC rules & do-gooders out there.

In my early 20’s I sailed (on a Davidson 28, I know fiberglass) with one of life’s real characters, his name was Kaye Raymond Thode & someone should have written a book about that man, in my circle of yachting friends he was a legend. This was in the days of no cell phones & the skipper Dennis Ross had a few simple rules:

1. The boat leaves the dock at x.xxam, miss the boat & you had better find another boat to sail on for the next race
2. Anything discussed on the boat, stays on the boat
3. When away, personal hygiene was non negotiable – you weren’t even allowed to fa_t
4. Meals were always very civilized & you had to wear a shirt & sit at the table & no elbows on the table etc
5. Talking with a mouth full of food earned you a clipped ear

Well none of these rules applied to Kaye, he was uncontrollable BUT we all loved him & if his life tales had been published it would have been another Johnny Wray book.

I’m still bound by Rule #2 so my lips are sealed on the tales but you could be sitting on the rail, Kaye didn’t like that but there was no chance of ever getting Ron Lusty out of the cockpit & I don’t think the skipper, Dennis Ross, ever went forward of the mast 🙂  & Kaye would drop a clanger like “I grew up in an orphanage, we were poor & so all the kids were sent to an orphanage”, then later I hear from someone else that from his early 20’s Kaye organized a Xmas boating picnic for the kids at the orphanage he had attended – the picnic was really something with Kaye as Santa handing out amazing presents. I understand it was the biggest thing in the kids year. Kaye could be a total rogue but he had a heart of gold. Saying that when I knew him he was single, having been tossed out by his wife for diving drunk into a childs swimming pool & almost paralyzing himself, & my mother was a widower & I made it very clear to Kaye if I ever saw his car outside mums house I would shoot him 🙂

Today’s photo c1950’s was sent to me by Ken Rickett’s ex Dianne Hopson & is of Orphan Day. Ken Rickett’s reports that some of the boats that were involved every year were Valsan (Arnold Baldwin – Valsan, was a key mover in the events), Rehia (again Bill Ryan – Rehia, was also heavily involved),  Hukarere , Gay Dawn, Tasman, Lady Eileen, Margaret S, Apache, Tiromoana, Lady Joan, Aurora, Moanalua, Faye,Royal Falcon &  a lot of others.not sure if its the same day as Kaye’s but it must have been a blast for the kids. Somewhere in that fleet is the launch Hukarere.

How many other classic’s can we ID?

12 thoughts on “Orphans Day

  1. Pingback: Otago Yachting & Motor Boat Club – 100 years ago | waitematawoodys.com #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  2. Wow! Feeling sad about the upcoming 9th anniversary of dads passing and googled his name. Surprised and happy to see this story.- thank you!- Alex Olsen ( new Thode)


  3. The above brings to mind, a special “one off,” day that was organised by the same team one year, circa late 1950s, or early 1960s, for attendees to the British Medical Association conference, which for held here for first, & as far a I know the only time, in Auckland, & eminent specialist medical practitioners from around the world, gathered here for what was an auspicious occasion for NZ.
    We took them out on the same boats more or less, as Orphans day, which organised by the same team, to Motuihi for a delightful break, in their otherwise hectic timetable . The “piece de resistance” to me, was the complimentary supply, of a quantity of tinctures, & Medicinal compounds, specially prepared & bottled, in quart brown bottles & labels, for the occasion, by Dominion Breweries, which on the specially printed labels, it said, “Must be opened under Medical Supervision.” — This really tickled me.
    Still smile every time I think of it, — like now. — KEN R


  4. Also years ago, the Waikawa Boating Club used to have a day out for the Heritage and Birthright organisations, mainly widows with kids whose husbands/fathers had been killed in WWII. It faded out over time as those kids gew up and their places were taken by Welfare mothers and kids who were mostly (Mothers and kids!) pretty undisciplined and increasingly risky to have aboard.

    N.B. Kaye Raymond Thode. Unusual surname. Any relation to the equally famous Con Thode?


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