Kowai was spotted on the hard at Half Moon Bay las week by Alan McDonald. She lives up the Tamaki River at Panmure, on piles.

Thats all we know about her – so can any woody supply more details? One of the river rats must know the boat.

Input from Peter Morton (ex Ken Ricketts)

Help needed – I have been contacted by Kerry Costello with a question. I’ll let Kerry tell it.

“Recently I found a small wooden sailing dinghy (below) at an op shop – unintentionally – and now I’m trying to piece her together and get her in the water. I really want to find out what the make and model is. My partner and I are taking the paint off and want to fix her up nice – figure out the correct paint, put fiber glass on the seams and a of couple dents, and find a mast for her!
It seems that knowing the make and model would be helpful in finding the right mast. I’ve looked on trade me and someone told me that the lumber yard might mill one for me? But it seems that finding a used one would be more appropriate than anything else; using something made by a boat builder rather than milled by someone who doesn’t know boats. So as I said before any advice that you can give me would be so so appreciated.”

So woodys, can we ID the yacht design & any chance someone as an old mast in the garage rafters ?



26 thoughts on “Kowai

  1. The sailing dinghy is what was then (1963) referred to as an Australian Moth, the first of which was Puriri designed by Hal Wagstaff, but it is not a Puriri design as they were double chined and looking at the transom shot it appears to be a single chine hull. In addition the timbers running across the floors were not typical of the Puriri types. I have copies of the lines of all of the top boats that emerged in the first few seasons and she doesn’t seem to fit any of them, but we have to remember that there were any number of “own designs” built in the class in the first couple of seasons by guys who wanted to try out their own ideas. The unstayed ” Finn Type” rig only stayed around in the first couple of seasons, as by 1966 most of the better boats in the class were the Australian double chine scows that carried alloy spars and fully battened mains, and the Finn style rig was no longer competitive.

    Occasionally an Australian moth of that era appears on trade me which has a suitable spar and sail cut to fit it, or you could look at an old wooden spar off an OK dinghy still a few around, but the Starling sail apart from being 60 sq ft instead of the moths 80 sqft simply would not work on an unstayed mast as it is cut completely differently. A cutdown OK sail 90sqft would work, but then you have to find a sail maker who would know where and how to cut 10sq m out of the OK sail.

    Maybe you should get an used Sunburst main sail, which although smaller would work well enough to have some fun in the boat.


  2. Ken, Kowai was built for Merv’s own use then sold as her as he required a larger boat. Glen , Merv’s son will be sending me some photos. Merv learnt his trade from Dick Lang, who built several boat at Coromandel. A fisherman who had boat building in his blood. He was also one of the most effective seine fisherman on the gulf.


  3. I have a real dislike of these twin topic posts – ripe for confusion and some stuff will just get missed altogether. a bit pointless really. Two separate posts are MUCH clearer option!

    Re the little centeboarder
    Need much better photographs but if the mast is def unstayed then it could be a Cherokee, John Chapple design

    Cherokee monotype. 11’6″, 10’6″ lwl 4’5′ beam oa 3’3″ beam wl 78 sqft unstayed mast.

    The prototype used cut down finn mast and trimmed zephyr sails


  4. the hull appears to me to be an 11ft wagstaff moth. I built one in the mid 1960,s. it had a shaved down and quite bendy wooden mast with groove to take the boltrope on the sail luff. no stays, the mast swivelled so the mast step and throughdeck was quite strong. the sail shown is from another boat. regards keith


  5. A little correction Young Harold (not old Harry), bought her in 1967 nearly new, when she replaced the LADY NOELEEN


  6. Sorry to be tedious about this, but “ko wai” can also mean “What?” or “Who?” which also seems unlikely. Still a lovely vessel no matter what the spelling or who spelt it.


  7. Have just got off the phone to Peter Morton. Details below –
    She is definitely the KOWAI (not KOWHAI). She passed to Peter M. on Harold’s death in May 1999, & he sold her in the early 2000’s. Peter also confirmed the 6LW & that Harold had totally rebuilt, prior to his passing.

    Kowai replaced the LADY NOELEEN which was owned by Harry Morton from the mid to late 1940s, to 1967.
    Kowai is built by Strongmans of 3 skins of kauri, & massively strong according to Peter Morton. Ken R (edited by Alan H)


  8. That’ll be it! It does mean funny things in Maori too….”division” or “here’s the water!!”


  9. Also does it have chainplates? Looks to be an unstayed mast arrangement in photo.
    A photo side on could be helpful, seems to be alot of distortion as the mainsheet traveller looks to be a long way forward.
    It could be a Javelin, but this is a bit of long shot


  10. KOWAI belonged for many years from the 1950s to the late 1980s to the Morton Family & I knew Harold Morton, who owned a property originally owned by his father, the late Harry Morton, at Harris Bay, Kawau Island, up on the point at the inner end of the bay, & she was more or less permanently moored to his wharf, & used for general commuting, & was also a work horse for him, as he was a very practical person, with great engineering & other skills & did much engineering & mechanical type work for the residents around the Island for many years & also helped out lots of boaties, in an hour of mechanical need, in his time. He was a dive equipment expert as well as this & refrigeration was a specialty of his to boot.
    KOWAI was originally built for Harold’s father & passed to Harold on his death. Harold died about 10 -15 years ago
    I am told she was built by Strongmans, & she had a 6 LW Gardner — KEN R


  11. KOWHAI indeed was a long-time Kawau boat on a mooring up past Schoolhouse Bay owned by Harold Moreton. I think she was powered with a 3LW Gardner. It was said she was built by Strongman of Coromandel, however I am sure she was built by Ken Turner another prolific Coromandel builder.


  12. According to my records, she is a 42x13x4 Strongman, built 1967 as a fishing trawler, but never used for fishing– was a mooring maintenance vessel somewhere. Has a Gardiner 6LW, recond around 2003. Current onr Gary Little . Lovely lines and condition for an ex-workboat


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