Merlin – Sailing Sunday




MERLIN – Sailing Sunday

I recently received a note from Andrew Hewitt from Ashburton, concerning his 22’ yacht Merlin. Andrew became custodian of her three years ago, when she was put up for sale by a broker on behalf of her former owner’s widow (Peter Beaven, a notable Christchurch architect and heritage advocate).

Peter had had her hull restored professionally in Christchurch some time previously, but the earthquakes and his ultimate death intervened. Andrew completed the job, rigged her and commissioned a trailer for her locally. So she’s now, home from the sea in her retirement – converted for use as a ‘trailer-sailor’ and lives protected from the elements in a boat shed at Lake Hood (just east of Ashburton) – where Andrew sails her when time allows.

Andrew commented that Harold Kidd kindly supplied a little history on her and Les McBean (Dunedin) also did a quite an extensive one (link here Les McBean Merlin), but unfortunately they contradict each other J According to Les, it seems she dates from around 1902 by Mr Derwent Aitcheson of Waikouaiti, where she was originally a fishing boat fitted with an engine. She appears to have been based there and Moeraki, moving about in the general Otago area. At some time mid-century she was converted to a yacht, and was well known in Otago Harbour for some decades, prior to becoming derelict and ultimate salvation by Peter Beaven.

The registration number seems original (V9) – it is on an old cotton sail that came with her.

Like all woodys, Merlin’s restoration is an ongoing thing….. the photos above ange from the fitting out/rigging stage at Andrew’s home to an early pic of Andrew under sail at Lake Hood.

Andrew is keen to discover more on Merlin past, to date he has made one or two connections through the Canterbury Classic Boat meets and tried both the Port Chalmers Maritime Museum and the two yacht clubs down there for info, but nothing forthcoming. The Museum at Waikouaiti knew of the builder, but didn’t supply any info when requested.

2017 Centreboard Cup – Herne Bay Yacht Club – Sat 9th Dec – Sloanes Beach, Herne Bay

Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 2.58.42 pm

Pencil midday on Saturday the 9th of December into the diary, the Herne Bay Crusing Club are hosting their legendary Centreboard Cup Regatta. Its one of the coolest sailing events in town & the venue is rather special.

Details here

And check out my photos from a previous regatta.

Anyone Looking For a Wooden Mast?

The Herne Bay Cruising Club have a 31’6″ laminated, hollow wooden mast that needs a home, the price will be very attractive if its for a classic yacht, if you want it as a flag pole expect to pay more 🙂 email Andrew Mason at



8 thoughts on “Merlin – Sailing Sunday

  1. I remember seeing Merlin hauled out at Otago Yacth Club over a long period in the 1970s/80s. Abandoned I always thought. At Robert Watt,s recent funeral the funeral sheet had a photo of Robert sailing Merlin. Dating,I would guess from the 1960s perhaps. Regards, Keith


  2. I was too polite to say so (being an Aucklander) but surely the boom jaws downhaul needs some energy put into it as well as the peak coming up to stop that gaff lying back in that uncomfortable way.


  3. Looks a serious cutie; hope we do get more detail. I’m guessing Andrew Hewitt is new to sailing, or at least new to gaff rig – in the sailing photo the throat halyard needs setting up and then the peak needs peaking up. Or maybe he just didn’t get time before the pic wuz took? Lake Hood is only a small lake
    “trailer sailor”. The bloke who sails a trailer sailer? (This is national nit-picking Sunday, isn’t it?) 🙂


  4. Andrew owns the boat so he’s at liberty to believe any myth he likes.
    Here’s my myth, with some signposts on the way.
    1. Otago Daily Times of 9th October 1924, “The LARK, a one-time auxiliary, has been purchased by Mr Hugh Davis, son of the late Mr. B Davis (boatbuilder). Extensive alterations have been made to the boat. The old engine has been removed, the ribs refastened and the deck and combings renewed. A new suit of sails has been secured from Mr A Railton of Christchurch. Mr Davis hopes to have the LARK ready for the season’s racing………”
    2. LARK raced for many seasons with Ravensbourne and other Otago Harbour Clubs for many years with a variety of owners (multiple ODT and Otago Witness entries).
    3. In “Southern Sails”, the history of the Otago Yacht Club by Val Maxwell, a pretty reliable text, LARK gets several mentions and says that Robert Watt bought her around 1957-8. From the time of Watt’s ownership the OYC history refers to her as MERLIN “(ex LARK)”.


  5. “A household line and Momeware store”? Must be some weird sort of Otago thing they have to keep warm in winter.


  6. I have very little on Merlin but ot too contradicts the Les McBean history of Merlin as to the time line of ownership and his dates as such must be taken with a dollop of salt.

    Merlin, sail number V-9 appears in the 1949 Seacraft Yearbook as a 22′ x 7′ x 3′ sloop owned by A.A. Inglis of the Pt Chalmers Yacht and Motor Boat Club
    She also is mentioned in Sea Spray Magazine June 1954, Racing in the OYMBC V-class race (keelers and large centreboarders) in April 1954.

    Might be the same person or not but .. A.& T. Inglis Ltd were a household line and momeware store in George St Dunedin in the late 1940’s.


  7. From the bottom photo it looks as though the name may be ‘Marlin’ rather than ‘Merlin’


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