Memories of Ariki – A3


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Memories of Ariki A3

I was sent the great story below by Mark Newcomb via woody Brian Fulton, Mark wrote it for a recent Ariki (the 1904 Logan Brothers gaffer) reunion. Enjoy the read, it’s a great peek back into yachting in the 1960’s, so many familiar names & locations. Thank god the claret & lemonade early morning eye-opener drink did not make it into the 21st century. (photo above ex Mac Taylor collection)

“I started crewing on Ariki around 1963, aged 19, and sailed with the team for some 15 years, continuing through to the Northerner with them.

Hugh Littler worked as a valuer for Neville Newcomb Ltd., and dad (Pat) of course knew Arthur Angel well through RNZYS, as did my uncle Hal.

The crew then was going through a bit of a change as the friends of Hugh were getting married, children, etc.  Arthur and Hugh shared ownership I think.  Cove Littler had own Kitenui at that stage.

Regular crew when I joined were Jim (Boom Boom) Bailey, Ted Grey (plumber Devonport), John Downer, Dr Ray Talbot, Bill Donovan, Bob Fenwick, young Bruce McKay, Peter Svenson, Peter Cooper, and I introduced John Compton, Laurie Gubb, and Tom Taylor. John Denley sometimes crewed.  Also some others, can’t remember! Warwick Jones (subsequent owner) joined the crew a little later. 

The yacht was moored at Devonport near the RNZN dockyards.

There was keen competition between Bruce, Peter, and myself to become the main topmast hand, as we saw this as a glamour job.  I loved coming into a bay with all rag flying, and showing off my skill at whipping up the mast and letting fly the gaff topsail.  Peter, Bruce, and I became the main foredeck hands.  Hugh was sailing master, Arthur main helm, Jim B on main and spinnaker, John D and Bill D on headsail trim.  Foredeck was pretty dangerous with wildly flapping wooden blocks on clew strops and stiff canvas, big sails.  No winches at all. Bob was enthusiastic steward.

A racing crew of around 13.  Sometimes full 12 hands on main sheet, stretched out along leeward deck, up to your knees in rushing water.

Double purchase ‘handybillies’, rove to advantage, were used to get the last few feet in on the sheets.  New set of Rattray(?) sails a big deal. 4500 sq. foot sail, huge spinnaker, and newfangled genoa/gennaker. Heavy gear.

Seamanship was necessary. The most wonderful powerful yacht, a sailing delight.

Winter haul out at Devonport Yacht Club, old winch, and dangerous shunting of 19 ton ‘Rik on ways greased with mutton fat and timber jacks.  Old local guy always took charge of this, a big day.

Masonic Hotel was very close and ‪6am opening was a constant attraction for crew when we were supposed to be scrubbing down, sanding, varnishing, Singapore Copper antifoul, etc.  Pin line on hull was picked out in gold leaf, but this was changed to gold paint in later years.

After winter make over, trip down to ‘Drunks Bay’, (Islington) under motor, with minimal rig, then the big task of stringing up the running rig.  Ropes everywhere, but fun.  Ropes to be spliced, whipped, wormed/parceled/served/, and riven through the many blocks etc.

Another young man’s job was releasing the fixed prop and shaft prior to racing.  One of us young bucks would dive over and dive down with the heavy bronze 3 blade prop and 2 meter shaft (secured with a lanyard to the top), insert the shaft into the A Bracket, push it home into the stern gland, knocking out the internal wooden bung, to be attached to the engine drive. Then untangle the lanyard, and surface.  The test was to do this in one breath!  A whiskey/milk was usually the reward.  The process was reversed at the end of the race, often in a crowded anchorage, much to the astonishment of the observers.  Another glamour job!  Unbelievably, a few years earlier this job was done by Hugh, who not being a diver, was strapped into a diving bell made of a kerosene can with a glass window puttied into it.  This was put over his head, he sat in the Bosun’s Chair with some chain wrapped around him for weight, then was lowered over the side from the swung out main boom.  A rope slung under the stern pulled him under the counter to line up the shaft with the A Bracket etc.  It had some sort of bicycle air pump, and I think a speaking tube up to Cove on deck.  I saw this contraption under their Vauxhall Road home, and now wish I had saved it! (Mark, later discovered that this tale was an urban legend, created to motivate junior crew members (i.e. Mark) to go over the side)

Having no prop power meant a lot of our manoeuvring was under sail only, often including back winding and stern boards, highlighted the skills of these sailormen,.

Our competition included Ranger, Rawhiti, Ta Aroa, Kahurangi, Achernar, Moana, Thelma, Fidelis, and another dozen or so.

With our gaff rig, no winches, heavy boat, we struggled to take line honours, but did OK on handicap. After a few years the light displacement yachts started to appear- Innnesmara, Infidel and Buccaneer, Neville Price’s Volante, etc.  We expected these new wonders to fall apart, but usually just saw them zoom past us.

The fleet was littered with strong personalities, Joe Kissen, Tom Clark, Lew Tercel, the Duder’s, Bressen Thompson, Jim Davern, Andy Donovan. Fraters, Arnold Baldwin, Peter Cornes, Gordon Pollard, Bill Endean, Roy McDell, Wilf Beckett, Cove Littler,  ……. the list goes on, and on.  Of course there was our own Arthur Angel, Hugh Littler, Ray Talbot, Jim Bailey. Kahurangi under Willie Wilson always seemed to have a team of female followers, as did Arohia with Speed Alan and Pussy Catlow coming to mind.

We had many notable visitors on board- Lord Cobham, Francis Chichester, Adlard Coles (Heavy Weather Sailing), etc.

Cake days, normally a Sunday, were always great fun.  Long Christmas cruises to Bay of Islands very special- my uncle Hal based at Opunga keenly awaiting his play mates Bob, Arthur and Hugh.  Cruises up to Whangaroa wonderful.  Te Kouma race and Squadron Weekend at Kawau.  Somehow, being another era before the cell phone, we all stayed away on endless adventures without a thought, or the means, of rushing home.

Gordons Gin and water was the tipple of the senior members, beer for us- and plenty of it.  A strange drink, Claret and Lemonade, was often our early morning eye opener.

There was a strong sense of heritage, ceremony and formality amongst the merriment.  Flags, watch keeping, dress, respect of senior members, nautical customs, shipshape and Bristol fashion! – not strongly enforced, just understood and expected.  Arthur an ex Commodore, and Hugh a Flag Officer- later Commodore on Northerner- so expectations high.

These are just some random memories- there are many others.”  

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

Starting at midday today, 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   http://hbcc.net.nz/centreboardcup2017/

And check out my photos from a previous regatta. https://waitematawoodys.com/2015/12/20/whats-the-coolest-yacht-club-10-minutes-from-queen-st/

 

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