MATAROA (KENYA) – A Great Read


Mataroa 2

Mataroa 3

Elaine aboard Mataroa

Mataroa 1

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MATAROA (KENYA)

The life story of the 1928 Joe Slattery built launch, Mataroa (formally Kenya) & her restoration has been very well documented on ww. It was however a pleasure to be contacted earlier in the week by Elaine Reynolds, whose parents – Maurice & Pauline Reynolds owned the launch from 1968 to 1994.
Elaine sent in a great collection of unseen photos from their ownership period & shared with me the story of Mataroa’s mishap & near sinking at Great Barrier Island in late Dec 1970 – its a great read, so I have published it as sent. Enjoy 🙂
For photos of the damage, beaching & repairs mentioned in the story – click this ww link     https://waitematawoodys.com/2016/10/31/mataroa-kenya-2/

“Hi Alan

You have posted several wonderful articles on M.V. Mataroa and also posted some of the many photos taken by my father, Maurice Reynolds (a mechanical engineer and jack-of-all-trades) who owned Mataroa 1968-1994.  The photos include those of when Mataroa was hit amidships at Great Barrier Island, between Christmas and New Year, I think it was 1970, about 29-30th December. It was the first week of our usual 3-week annual Christmas cruise.

I was on board Mataroa when she was hit, standing on the aft platform, looking foreward – I saw it all happen. At the time of the accident we were in 90 ft of water. It was a beautiful sunny day, almost flat calm with barely any wind. We were just idling along with the motor out of gear, the rest of the family were on deck or in the cockpit.

The boat that hit us was owned by my father’s best friend, Jack. His launch was of similar vintage to Mataroa, also with a straight stem. Jack was going to come alongside to pick up his daughter, Jenny, who’d been aboard Mataroa spending time with me. Unfortunately, Jack was on the wrong turn for his boat’s prop, but didn’t remember, and thought he’d just give a burst on the throttle to spin 90 deg to bring her alongside but instead, he slipped, hit the throttle hard and rammed Mataroa amidships at full speed. Horrified, I watched the wood smash and shatter inside the cabin and the “hole” that was created in Mataroa, through which we could now see daylight, went from the deck to 3-4 inches below the waterline

Jenny, my younger brother and I were ordered into the dinghy and cast off. Dad ripped up the floorboards, gave my older brother a bucket to bail with and had Mum stand with her thumb firmly on the electric bilge pump button which was on the instrument panel just inside the engine room. Dad steered for shore with Mataroa’s throttle full open, just heading for shallower water to start with but it was a rocky shore and would have torn Mataroa apart. Then he realised that the water ingress was slowing.

What Dad discovered was that when underway at full speed, the waterline wave fell away from the hull to below the waterline at the place where Mataroa had been hit, so he made a sharp turn to starboard and full throttled Mataroa (remembering that for this graceful lady, cruising speed was 7-7.5 knots, Dad’s orders!) to the other side of the harbour, going through the usual Christmas throng of anchored boats at Smokehouse Bay at a speed that drew many raised voices and eyebrows, and beached Mataroa on the sand, with people scattering out of the way.

Unfortunately, this was also at the peak of the highest tide – full moon, etc – and that caused problems in itself.

From there, the insurance assessor/shipwright was contacted and flew out to us on a sea plane and you can see from the photos Dad took that they stripped Mataroa out, used available materials and lots of willing helpers to patch and shore her up for the journey back to Auckland. They used sheep fat/lanolin to seal the ply to the hull. Due to the extreme high tide when Mataroa was beached, they had a difficult time launching her off the beach. Again, many hands and lots of Kiwi ingenuity.

It was a harrowing night-time journey back to Auckland on 30th-31st December, with my younger brother and I on Jack’s boat. I think Mum was on board with us, but my older brother, Kevin, was on board Mataroa. Jack’s boat couldn’t keep up with Mataroa, being smaller, slower and definitely not as sea-kindly, so Mataroa was an ever smaller and disappearing set of lights in a dark night.

Back at Auckland, Mataroa was slipped at Baileys in Westhaven and up there for about 6 weeks (I think) in their shed. During this time, Dad had the portholes enlarged, the dodger raised and changed the shape of the dodger windows. Mataroa was stripped back to bare wood. I’m not sure if this was when Dad removed the muntz metal that had been used to shield the hull from toredo worms while Mataroa was seconded by the Air Force up to Fiji during the war (another story there). With the paint stripped, we found the Air Force rings scribed into the bow. We also discovered that Mataroa had been made from single planks of kauri from stem to stern. Dad painted the sides of Mataroa around the new windows to look like varnished wood but was in fact painted-on wood graining, something he’d learnt to do from his father.

As a result of Mataroa being at Baileys for that time, my older brother, Kevin Reynolds, decided to become a shipwright, doing his apprenticeship with Baileys. Kevin was well known in the Auckland boating scene, and passed away in 2010 at the age of 55 from melanoma. Dad passed away in 2012. Both were old salts who’d enjoyed their lifetime on the ocean and mucking about in boats.

I have attached some photos of Mataroa that you won’t have, plus a photo of myself in the cockpit of Mataroa in about 1986. The group of 4 photos-in-1 are #1. Me/Hilda Reynolds (Dad’s mum)/Pauline Reynolds (my Mum). # 2. Mum & Dad waving bye to me from Mataroa in early 1979.  #3. Our cat Gidget on board Mataroa.

I’ll ask her the name of Jack’s boat another day – I remember it started with a ‘T’ possibly Tewara but Mum may remember the spelling. Of note, Tewara only lost a palm-sized chip of paint off the stem from the accident.

Thank you so much for posting about Mataroa. She was a very much-loved a part of my life and I was heart-broken when I saw the state of her when for sale the other year.  

Huge kudos to Rob and Sue Uivel (current owners) for the work done. It is so wonderful that Mataroa is being loved and looked after again.  Mataroa is amazingly comfortable in seas that most other boats would or could not handle.  Does Mataroa still have the boom with “gaff” steadying sail set-up that Dad rigged and can be seen in the photo below?  It was really worth putting up in a cross sea – Mataroa settled down and didn’t roll much at all.

Btw, the last photo shows Kevin putting the scrubbing brushes in the dinghy, with me at the oars.  It was our “pram” dinghy with which we spent many fun-filled hours, and that’s our old Seagull outboard on the back.”

A question for the woodys – can anyone name the other launch involved in the collision ?

HELP WANTED ON VALHALLA
Robert Brooke is trying to track down a copy of the plans for the Gladden built 1964 launch ‘Valhalla’, can anyone help?

6 thoughts on “MATAROA (KENYA) – A Great Read

  1. Yes what a wonderful article, sorry I had missed this thread.
    Yes Mataroa does still have the oregon mast and spars , all varnished and ready but I need to
    work out how it all goes together.

    Like

  2. Our master craftsmen have a combined experience of over 100 years building, restoring, and repairing wooden boats. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.

    Like

  3. What a wonderful addition to her life story, & as we are animal lovers, I love the obviously loved, (& probably spoilt), pussy cat too. KEN R

    Like

  4. Re “Valhalla’ I can ask Gary Barnett the previous owner if he has any. When I drew the fly-bridge I can’t remember any back then.

    Like

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