Sceptre Gets A Top Chop



While mooching around Waiheke Island last week the above launch anchored in the same bay, not long after her owner rowed over for a chat. After a few minutes of pleasantries I popped the question ” so tell me about your launch” & got the reply ” You know her but I bet you can not name her” – well folks I could not. The reason? her owner is one of the few woodys that actually pick up the chainsaw & lop off a flying-bridge addition. If ever someone wanted photographic proof to justify to themselves that their classic launch looks better without the ‘block of flats’ – here it is.

Below is a b/w photo of the Ben Hipkin designed & built 36′ Sceptre when she was launched (possibly c1965) & also one I took during the 2016 Mahurangi Regatta, in the Mahurangi photo Sceptre looks fine but its lost that classic look, she could be easily mistaken for a f/glass boat.

If the owner of Sceptre contacts me at I’ll send them a Lake Rotoiti Wooden & Classic Boat Parade calendar – brave woodys need rewarding 😉

The owner also was the first launch I have seen flying the drinks / gin flag – more proof he is a good bugger 🙂

Note: Lots more interesting photos of yesterdays woody – Otehei added, scroll down this page to view



10 thoughts on “Sceptre Gets A Top Chop

  1. Hi Paul I was talking to Ben yesterday on the phone, — he lives in Australia now, — & it you care to drop me an email to or ring me on 09 424 5505 I will be able to put you in touch with him. — KEN R


  2. Hi Karen,

    I love the photo, seems a bit more formal than the ones we have. We are delighted to have a boat that has a colourful history. Are you aware there was a chap born on her in her early days.

    Alan H comment
    – wow , that would have made a great ww quiz eg “name the person born on Sceptre?” There have been lots of people conceived on boats, not many born 🙂


  3. Hi Paul and Nic, Sceptre is truly looking spectacular now. I’m really happy to see her as she looks today as it was Ben Hipkins who gave Mum and I the original photo of her being launched.


  4. In Reply to Roy’s question, Navy ships have flown the “Gin Pennant” as a signal to the officers of ships in company, they are invited to drinks in the wardroom of the ship flying the Pennant. In Commonwealth Navies there seems to be the tradition of covertly raising the ship’s pennant on a neighbouring ship to force a “shout”. However, if you were caught in the process then responsibility would revert to those attempting to raise the Pennant.

    Ours is a “Beer” Pennant. Whilst my wife was making another pennant and some code flags she stumbled upon this story and we thought it would be fun to have one of our own.

    We are somewhat overwhelmed by this posting and the positive comments. I spent considerable time when Sceptre was getting a birthday last year trying to adjust the flybridge to improve it’s aesthetics. After extensive consultation with all those that thought they should be involved, and more besides, and with surgery revealing less than ideal build techniques, I decided I could not.
    Now you can see the end result.

    We are delighted she is now as designed and are continuing with more bits and pieces (she’s a boat) in her middle age, unfortunately there was too much damage to the mahogany coamings to simply re-varnish as she was launched, hence the paint. We may address this at a future birthday.

    I initially rowed over to chat with Alan in order to find a contact for Ben Hipkins to tell him of our adjustments but it seems this has already been done.


    Paul and Nic Stewart


  5. Have just spoken to the builder, Ben Hipkins, in Australia & told him of SCEPTRE now being virtually original again, which delighted him. He confirmed to me he built her for Stuart Dalton, & also told me he built a second hull, identical to SCEPTRE, called VENTURE, which was built for commercial long line fishing, & had a different coamings style for this reason, which was built for Fred Bailes of somewhere in the Thames area, & built just after SCEPTRE, at Lane Motor Boats premises at Panmure. This boat was featured in a Consolidated Chemicals add in a 1967 Sea Spray magazine. Both boats had 6 cyl naturally aspirated Ford Diesels — KEN R


  6. Interested to hear your comment on flying the “drinks” flag, never heard of it and cannot track any info on the internet about it….more info please

    Roy Norgrove


  7. She’s looking really lovely, a vast improvement — virtually her old self — apart from colour on the coamings. I will let Ben know, his work is now back to her original form just as he made her. KEN R


  8. I agree with the comments you have expressed Sedans look better. I would also say the view up on the flybridge is an advantage in many situations on the water. Form follows function we were taught.


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