Another photo from Dean Wright, taken in the late 1980’s at Russell in the Bay of Islands. This time its of the classic wooden game launch – Willie-O.

Who can enlighten us more on this beauty?

03-07-2017 Update & photos below from Michael Best (owner)
Willie Oliver built the Willie O in Tauranga approx 1974. He used her as a charter boat for a couple of years out of Tutukaka. Robin Cutfield from Tutukaka then used her for charter work for many years in the Bay of Islands.
Michael has owned the Willie O for approx 11 years. The enclosed fly Bridge was on her when I bought her (can’t blame him for that – Alan H) Willie O is approx 41 feet long, 13ft beam and 4ft draft. Power is from a 3208 Cat 210 hp. Hull is ship plank kauri with mahogany cabins sides.


15 thoughts on “Willie-O

  1. I am not sure now but I think her original engine was a 330 Bedford, Those cats were not on the market back when she was built.


  2. Willie Oliver was a master at the art of wood graining. In that early photo of Willie O, the varnish looks very dark, I think that is because it is not natural. I helped him on one occasion to do the cabin on a steel tug. The base colour is buff followed by a generous heavy coat of a teak pigment mixed with stale beer to a rich creamy slop then he would draw freehand the pattern or appearance of planks and grains using stiff short haired old brushes and a variety of hair combs. God help anyone who came along and smudged the job. It took a few days to go off.


  3. Hi around 2003 i brought Willie-O off Mel Sharples boat was in Opua still in charter then . He traded my 36 ft Athol Burns boat Mary Ann .We had Willie-O in Napier for a while in a shed and removed all the rubber matting that was on the decks and repainted etc
    i sold the boat a few years later to Michael Best .I understand Mikes mate now owns Willie-O and is still in Tauranga


  4. Bill McCallum from Melbourne here. I have many great memories of successfully fishing Willie-O mid through late 70s and early 80s. Your www presentation fills in subsequent details and is much appreciated. Can you fill in any details re Robin and Trish? Regards, Bill McCallum


  5. What a shame the beautiful varnish has gone from the cabin sides, — it was her crowning glory. Maybe someone will get to work with some energy & elbow grease again one day — hopefully!! – KEN R


  6. I believe this was Willie Oliver’s last launch build, and built for himself.

    Ian McDonald


  7. Was one of the first owen woolley boats built, or was his own boat? Was still in survey 4 or 5 years ago and in good nik.


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