Mystery Double Ender – Never Judge A Boat On Face Value

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Mystery Double Ender – Never Judge A Boat On Face Value
photos & detail ex Gavin Bedggood

Several months ago Dean Wright sent me a trademe link to a very run-down small double ender motorboat that a friend of his was looking to sell / move on. She was not a pretty sight & at the time I assumed she would be destined for a Beehive (box of matches) restoration.
Well thank god there are people out there with better vision than I 🙂 because as you will see from the photos below her new owner Gavin Bedggood has uncovered a very sweet vessel that appears to have her roots in our colonial coastal farming days.

Gavin has started a post on the boat on the American WoodenBoat Forum, if you click the link below you can see & read more on the journey Gavin as entered on. The one thing with the WBF is that there is a high % of arm chair experts so unless you know the posters you have to view the comments carefully, saying that most of the ones to date on the post are A-Team.

A little bit of background from Gavin.
“So I have always had a thing for double enders… don’t know why I just like them.
Three weeks ago I was looking on trademe at old wooden boats just passing the time of day when I see a very cheap double ender for sale ….
It was a mess… small very ugly cabin, rot, no engine, leaking water from above and below… a REAL find…. (not).
The ad says it was once and old life boat, built in the UK from New Zealand kauri.
So I send a message to the seller saying that I thought it could be made into something really nice…
We get talking… I take a boat builder friend with me to take a look… he says, this boat is an utter SH$% heap and I should not buy it… BUT that under years of rubbish additions is what looks like a nicely made, sound hull.
The owner takes a liking to me and basically gives me the boat.
Damn, I should have learned that cheap is sometimes to expensive!

We thought it used in the mid 1930’s in a place called Mokau, on the west coast of the North Island, to row wool out to waiting ships from the beach and bring supplies back in.They were called ‘Surf Lighters’. I received an e-mail from a person who is involved with the Mokau Museum, complete with photos. Its really kind of eerie to see what appears to be my boat in these old black and white images….

Then it was converted to a motorboat and used by the harbour board, then converted for fishing for 10 years, then used ad a private boat. I had plans to turn it into a motor launch with a big open cockpit and low forward cabin…. but as you will see if you read the WBF post the story gets changed and more evidence comes to hand”.

Gavin has to be commended for undertaking this project, so woodys can anyone help Gavin out – all input appreciated – details on surf lighters, similar boats, this boats recent past etc etc.

As always – click on photos to enlarge 😉






7 thoughts on “Mystery Double Ender – Never Judge A Boat On Face Value

  1. Oh that was disappointing… For an hour and a half I thought I might have been onto something only to find out I am at least second in line.
    If that person thinks it is far gone or to much work, I will take it on.


  2. OOPS Sorry I gave directions to another person who is on his way. Had my wrist smacked.


  3. Hiya Harold, I never got the message with directions! Please sent to me direct at or let me know your number thanks, I thought you might know were it was as I spotted it in your book which I have on the shelf here now. 🙂


  4. Winkelmann’s 1906 TAWAKI was a Logan Bros 22 footer not an 18 footer. Is that the one you mean? Did the directions I gave you to find her not work out?


  5. Thanks for the comments guys. Do you know of any others still around? I am researching the history of this one as best I can. Does anyone have a picture showing the inside of one of these surf lighters?? It has a very solid history around Mokau so I have offered to restored it to a surf lighter and donate it to the Museum there IF they build a shelter for it that will keep it safe and sound for the future. They are pretty keen to get it as it is a great relic of the early farming and maritime history in that area.
    If this happens I will be looking for another project! Does anyone know were the 18 foot 1906 launch Tawaki currently is and it’s condition? I would love to restore and use that boat 🙂


  6. looking at her hull shape she was designed to carry a good load. Years ago many of our faming communities around the coast had no road access and boats like this were used to service these small communities. To understand this, do some study on the government light house ships. Lots of stories about dangerous landings etc.


  7. I reckon it’s highly unlikely that the boat was built in the UK from kauri. Why ship the timber to England and bring the boat here? Just not cost-effective.
    There were dozens if not hundreds of these “surf boats” all around the country used to take produce (mainly wool) from isolated stations out to steamers and scows standing off in offshore conditions. Most New Zealand boatbuilders produced them as a staple. They disappeared as roads were pushed into the backblocks.
    They had a hard life so few have survived.
    As to her builder, anyone from the Neilsons at Kawhia to Chas. Bailey Jr. in Auckland.


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