Amazing Maroro Sequel
Sometimes ww struggles with a story & then other times she rocks. Yesterday as part of the Sailing Sunday story we profiled Russell Ward’s H28 woody Maroro & the fact that she was reluctantly for sale. The story flushed out a connection to one Kenrick Mitchell, son of the late Stuart (John) Mitchell – the builder of Maroro.
Kenrick emailed Russell a treasure trove of historical photos on the building, launch & sailing of Maroro. There are even photos of her on Sydney Harbour post winning the 1961 Trans Tasman race.
I have taken the liability to reproduce the email that Kenrick sent to Russell & also below is a link to Stuart Mitchell’s biography – both excellent reads 🙂 Mitchell, Stuart – excerpt from Mitchell family biographies by Kenrick Mitchell and Shona Wright
Fascinating who one bumps into occasionally in life! It was my cousin who mentioned he’d seen Maroro for sale and as he has a yacht of his own at Stillwater I might bring him along when I visit.
Dad built Maroro beside his parents’ house in Rust Ave in Whangarei while he was in his early 20’s. He worked on farms and on the wharves at Whangarei to raise the money. He did some coastal cruising in her, including a fruit picking trip to Marlborough with some mates. The 1961 trans-Tasman race was won on handicap (I have the trophy) with a crew of four and was followed by a cruise up as far as New Caledonia. In 1963 he set off with Mum on their honeymoon which was to have been a more extensive cruise. However legend has it that Mum threw a wobbly of significant magnitude when the first decent seas were encountered and they returned to leave Maroro in the hands of friends in Whangarei while they took a ship to the U.K. for their OE. Dad worked in a boatyard during his time away. When they returned and built the family home in Ngunguru (I turned up on the scene in 1965) it was with the ambition of establishing a boatbuilding business. Des Townson was Dad’s best man and it was a Townson 32 that first took shape under our house. This was followed by commercial wood turning to fund a crayfishing launch which, after several seasons of fishing, funded a decent shed next to the house – just in time for the infamous 40% luxury tax on boats and caravans to kill the industry. He went on to build numerous boats over his lifetime, ranging from metre long dinghies for my infant brother and I, to the 40’ dive charter cat ‘Pacific Hideaway’. Interestingly, the Townson 34 ‘Slice of Lemon’ is currently also on TradeMe being sold by her original owner at Pine Harbour.
I recall Dad being approached by an owner of Maroro in the 90’s to see if he’d be interested in either looking after her or doing some work on her, but the state she was in served to extinguish his curiosity.
Dad passed away in 2004 at the age of 70 of mesothelioma (asbestosis). I have many photos of his boats and the cruise in Maroro which I’ll put on a stick for you. I the meantime I’ll attach a few teasers here for you. You might be interested to learn that Dad built Maroro II in his retirement and I’ll attach a photo of that too as it really was a flying fish.
Sadly, after a childhood and youth spent helping Dad on boats and playing around in centreboarders and surfcats, I drifted out of boating. However the boating never drifted out of me and for the last few years I’ve been fortunate to score a place as crew on the 1897 Logan classic ‘Thelma’ which is skippered by Tony Blake. There are more albums on Thelma and Maroro II on my Facebook page if you happen to frequent this corner of the cyberverse.
Will look forward to meeting you, though it may take a couple of weekends to make it up your way as my wife and I have recently belatedly taken an interest in the breeding game and it takes a couple of weeks’ of accumulated brownie points to earn a leave pass from a couple of three month old kids and their shattered mother.
Kind regards, Kenrick Mitchell”
Slice of Lemon