Signature (Beluga)




When Ian McDonald found the above boat  for sale at Westhaven she was named “Beluga” as someone thought she looked like a little white whale.

Her history Ian was told is roughly this:  Strip plank built in 1990 as a spec, to be a work or fishing boat, over 2 or 3 years when the Miller & Tunnage yard was quiet in Port Chalmers, then sailed to Nelson in the hope of an easier sale. She was sold from Nelson to become a long-liner out of Leigh. How she got to Leigh, Ian doesn’t know, maybe sailed up, maybe trucked.

In Ian’s words a trendy city fella bought her, post fishing, named her Beluga, and then sold her after a brief ownership. Ian bought her in 1998 having done a lot of sketches of what he would like to do to her, Ian commented that if one imagines her without the wheelhouse door, and no extension to the coach-roof aft, she wasn’t a pretty boat at all.  Miller & Tunnage didn’t seem to go for topsides looks, but their hulls are beautiful.

Ian visited the Miller & Tunnage yard looking for a genuine bronze M & T name plate and was helped by the manager who sent the plate mould into Dunedin and had some cast, one of which should still be in the boat today. During the visit, the manager took Ian up to the mezzanine floor and showed him the frames still there, off which she was lofted. They had previously built the “Deborah” of the same frames, for the older, about to retire partner, which was moored just up the harbour at Deborah Bay. Ian showed them a photo of what he was doing and they said  “that’s Signature”  and, when Ian enquired as to how she was thus named, they told him that when any new build was about to begin, it required paperwork, description, who it was for etc, and, a signature, so that’s what she was called.

The extension to the cabin top, aft from the door to the stern was designed by Ian in conjunction with Mike German & Graeme Lyons ( German & Lyons Boat-builders), in 1998 and fitted by Mike & Graeme in the shed at Half Moon Bay hardstand, as was the wheel-house door which didn’t exist when Ian bought her. The teak cladding around the windows was also Ian’s idea.  She was then powered by a 4cyl Isuzu and had a fuel capacity of 1,000 litres

Ian kept her until 2003 & she went on Jacob’s boat-haulage to Mana Marina & was sailed to Waikawa where she remained for a few years before once again being trucked north to appear again on the Waitemata. Then she was sold and appeared in Nelson, which is where Ian took the marina photo above in 2015. The second photo (of someone who resembles Ian, doing an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression), was taken just entering Port Abercrombie a few summers ago now.
In January this year Ian was at Mana Marina and spotted her being prepared for another trucking north and, Ian believes she now resides in Kerikeri.
This boat has done a lot of road miles 🙂 Anyone able to confirm her current whereabouts?

Photos below ex Dean Wright of Signature at Doves Bay Marina. Looking a tad different 🙂




7 thoughts on “Signature (Beluga)

  1. I remember fondly cruising with Ian and the other Ian McDonald (before he passed away) in the early 2000. Great boat and many fish caught off the back.


  2. Alvin Smith spec built Signature when he owned Miller and Tunnage shame about the cabin.Brian Inglis previous owner of M and T built a launch with the same hull plans at his property at Deborah bay and launched across the road into Otago Harbour the cabin on this vessel was in my humble opinion was perfect,Brian has passed away but the boat remains in the family and is moored at the Deborah bay marina


  3. Hi there
    Signature is moored at Doves Bay marina
    If you ring the Kerikeri cruising club on 094079434 they’ll probably give you the owners details


  4. Pretty little hull, alright. I looked at her in Havelock but decided not to buy. She’s sitting in Doves Bay marina now, B pier. Cheers, Alan.


  5. Hi Alan,

    Just back from Elliott 5.9 Nationals in Doves Bay over the weekend and I think I saw Signature on a marina berth there.

    Shaun Connolly


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