The Restoration of Akarana

Details & photos below ex Dick & Colleen Fisher. Edited by Alan Houghton. Above photo ex Dean Wright

Akarana was designed by A.J. Collings & built by W.G. Lowe in 1960 for the Port of Auckland. They sold her 34 years later in December 1994 to Peter McDonald of Whangarei, Peter (deceased) was a long time friend of Dick Fisher & Dick purchased Akarana off Peter in April 2000.
Akarana is built using single skin 1 ¾ inch thick Kauri planking on spotted gum ribs with a hardwood keel & her displacement is 42 ton. W.G. Lowe had the contract to build her & allowed 23,000 man hours for her construction. When Port of Auckland sold her in 1994 she was on engine #6,  having worn out 5 engines while working for the Auckland Harbour Board. From a couple of her log books that Dick has he would estimate that she has traveled somewhere between 600,000 + 700,000 miles during her working life as a pilot boat on Auckland harbour.
The 8L3B Gardner engine which Dick re-built  was originally installed in an oyster dredger based in Bluff. This engine was built by Gardners in 1960. The same year as Akarana. She cruises comfortably at 10 knots.
After purchasing her, Dick took Akarana to his workshop at Kamo & then constructed a shed over her. You will see from the photos that shed is a little bit of an understatement 🙂

The photos below will give you an insight into the scale of the project & the stamina, patience & dedication of Dick Fisher in undertaking this restoration. Akarana is a magnificent vessel & a visit to her engine room normally sees most males gob-smacked at the attention to detail & cleanliness that would equal the finest medical operating theaters.

In additional to being a very skilled artisan, Dick is just a seriously good bloke, he once drove down to Auckland from Whangarei so I could show a visiting classic boater from the USA, who was a Gardner nut, over Akarana. You would struggle to find a more hospitable couple afloat than Colleen & Dick Fisher.
One day I’ll post on ‘Hamel’ the Fisher families other wee ship 😉

I have captioned the images – scroll over to view, also remember you can enlarge a photo by clicking on it.

At the bottom of the post (part two), for your interest I have included some papers that Dick acquired from the old Auckland Harbour Board.

A.       Harbour masters comments prior to letting tenders.
B.       Some of the requirements for the construction of Akarana.
C.       AHB reviewing costs.
D.       Breakdown of building costs.
E.        Copy of daily log, note the totals for the month of July 1982 were 278 pilots, 510 hours running, & 2791 miles.

Photos below during her build at W.G. Lowe in 1960

As sold by Auckland Harbour Board – 1994

The restoration

Rebuilding the engine


Back in her happy place – April 2005

Supporting paperwork

Helm Photos


10-04-2018 Update – Photo below of Akarana on launching day. Photo sent in by Paul Drake, taken by his brother Michael.


Update 09-01-2021 – Photos below of Akarana in Kent Passage, Bay of Islands – 6th Jan , sent in by Grant Anson

11 thoughts on “The Restoration of Akarana

  1. The “Akarana” was the second lady in my life – My wife being the first. I was skipper from 3/9/73 till she was sold then moved to the WAITEMATA 2 ( THE ORANGE ROUGHY ) The first fast pilot boat.
    Roy Massicks


  2. Pingback: Whitianga Mystery Launch + Akarana Launch Day ‘Home’ Movie | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  3. Great to see the Akarana again ,my farther was also the Skipper from the launch date till he retired , I Helmed the boat many times going out to meet ships


  4. Great restoration. My father was senior skipper on her for many years at AHB. When Dad started on her she had a Ruston Paxman engine.


  5. I have erred. My brother Brian was Construction Engineer, not Mechanical. Apologies to Brian and to WWs. Judith


  6. Congratulations to Dick Fisher on the restoration of Akarana. A really admirable job and so well documented. My brother Brian was Mechanical Engineer and later Chief Engineer at the Auckland Harbour Board. I look forward to telling him about Alan’s post. Judith


  7. I have a confession to make re today’s Akarana story. Two years ago, in the very early days of ww I used to panic a bit as to what the next days post would be. When I spoke with Dick Fisher & we assembled the Akarana material I always knew it would be a monty of a story, so I filed it away – why? because I was worried that one day ww would nose dive & I would need a great post to bring the viewing numbers back up. So Akarana was always my ‘get-out-of-jail’ card. These days finding content for a daily story is not as bad as it was, so I thought it was about time to dig Akarana out of the files 🙂

    BUT – I’m always needing / looking for photos & boating stories – so have a look in that old draw, shoe box etc. I should add that they don’t have to be ‘old’ – some of the most popular posts are the ones on restorations & people using their wooden boats. Email them to me – details below

    Cheers Alan Houghton


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s