Vagrant N17



During the week I was contacted by Stuart Windross in regard to the mullet boat Vagrant, built in the early 1920’s by his grandfather Jack Greenhalgh. I’ll let Stuart tell that story below. 
Then out of the blue while I’m on fb & up pops on the Whangateau Traditional Boat yard page the pictorial of Vagrant being salvaged after sinking at her moorings in Okahu Bay 3 weeks ago. Vagrant was raised and barged ashore on Tuesday, then brought up road by Boat Haulage arriving at the WTB yard on Wednesday. 
I understand that Vagrant  was saved from the crusher by Dino Herbisone, who will carry out her repairs at the WTB yard. 
It would be amiss of me to not mention the wonderful contribution to our wooden boating community the Pam Cundy & George Emtage offer up at the WTB yard. I do not think the word NO is in their vocabulary, they so generously offer up the yard to help stop the demise of heritage craft and then pair the boats up to capable tradesman or people that can repair them if need be or indeed use and enjoy them. The yard can be contacted via email at 
“Further to the discussion regarding the builder of the mullet boat Vagrant I have followed up my post confirming it was built by my grandfather Jack Greenhalgh with a delve in the family photos. 
Attached please find photos of Vagrant  N17 under construction and one of her sailing close to the camera in light winds bow on.  These are verified as they have her name inscribed on the back.
The other pics below, are of what I believe to be an 18 footer named Vim that my Pop John (Jack Greenhalgh) also built prior to Vagrant.  From one of the photos it is pretty clear that her number is V34.  I wonder if you have any info about her fate as she seems absent from online records and the literature.
John (Jack) Greenhalgh was born 20 June 1901 at Riverhead and died 13 July 1984 at Waitakere Hospital.  He was the middle child of 11 born to Edward Walls Greenhalgh and Helen Ramsay (nee Paterson).  His grandfather John William Greenhalgh, originally a coalminer from Wigan UK arrived in NZ in 1886 to oversee the establishment of paper mills at both Mataura and Riverhead.  His father Edward Walls Greenhalgh also worked in the paper mills both at Riverhead and Mataura later living in Richmond Road Auckland.   At the time of building Vagrant he would have been 24 and obviously younger when he built Vim.  He kept the scale half models of their hull shapes (shaped from Kauri) throughout his life.  My Auntie may know of their whereabouts. I believe that both of these boats were built in the back yard of his parents home at Richmond Road.  As you will see the set up was fairly basic!   
Albert Greenhalgh (Alby Jack’s brother) was born in 1906 and I understand was a sailing partner.  The two brothers were very close, marrying sisters (Doreen) Vera and (Florence) Rita Lee.   Alby and Rita’s son Keith is still active in the Reactor sailing fraternity and daughter Beverley’s husband Jaape Pos was a boat builder (at Sea Nymph I think).  Another cousin was Roy Parris (the well known launch builder).
Jack and Vera married in November 1926 and soon purchased a new home in Kingsley St.  This transaction probably necessitated the sale of Vagrant. A later craft (a dinghy I believe the kids used for fishing trips and floundering in Coxs Bay) was built in the front room of the marital home much to the displeasure of his new wife.
A mischievous and witty character he was always ready to enthrall us with a prank or yarn.  I recall his stories of searching shoreline pohutakawa for suitable bends for stems or knees and cutting the corners off square balks of timber to fashion his masts.  He was a very patient worker in wood or metal.
I have included a photo of Jack and Vera Greenhalgh(with my Mum) c1938
I am not 100% sure if all the fleet shots are of Vim but the colour scheme suggests so (unless Vagrant’s cabin sides were painted darker at some stage).
Apologies for the picture quality as the originals are very small and showing their age”.
N17 Vagrant under construction c1924 (inscribed)

N17 Vagrant under construction c1924

N17 Vagrant 1920s (inscribed)

N17 Vagrant 1920s

Vera, Jack and daughter Shirley Greenhalgh

Vera, Jack and daughter Shirley Greenhalgh

12 thoughts on “Vagrant N17

  1. Came home and checked the photos…. Definitely the same Vagrant – N17. I have some exterior pics as well as one of the interior.

    Would love to hear an update on her and hope she has been restored and is sailing again.


  2. I was looking through old family photos this morning and amongst the many yacht photos were some of Vagrant, owned by my grandparents in the 50s. Decided to have a Google and I think it’s the same Vagrant. If so I have many photos and a story to tell!


  3. In rereading the information I just twigged that the M Williamson referred to was likely the nephew of the Greenhalgh brothers :Max Williamson. He was born in 1915 to Ned, Jack and Alby’s oldest sister Nellie (Ellen) nee Greenhalgh. It may well be therefore that the photos I assumed were also from the 1920s and have scanned and uploaded are capturing Max’s Vim launched in 1939… among others. Perhaps Jack assisted with that build and I was wrong about the order and timing. Frustrating realising the questions I wished I had asked now that it is way too late!


  4. It is fascinating to read this discussion and the information emerging. Here are some further family snippets that now look relevant. Firstly Jack and Alby’s older brother was Ned (Edward) born in 1897 so 4 years older than Jack and 9 older than Alby. The references to an E Greenhalgh and brothers (can confirm x3 in total) do gel. One of their 7 sisters was Phoebe born 1908 and perhaps the inspiration for the naming (or renaming) of the earlier vessel. Phoebe (who later married Fred Humby) I remember as delightful, a real hard shot, a genuine forerunner to Pam Eyres in witty risque poetry, and beloved by her brothers. Pop always referred to building both Vim and Vagrant (in that order) and aside from the dinghy built in the front room later in the 1930s I believe his boat building ended with those vessels. He moved to Simpsons Rd. Swanson during WW2 and in my memory (from the 1950s) owned no further vessels. Please keep up the great discussion and impressive dedication to these historic vessels. I look forward to viewing Vagrant at Whangateau (just up the road from us in Scotts Landing) in due course and meeting and thanking those who are so generously caring for her.


  5. Vagrant spent many years in our boat shed adjacent to Sloanes Beach, Herne Bay (just around from Coxes Bay). I remember playing on her as a child during the the 1970’s. I hope her future is a safe one. Andrew


  6. Yup Greenhalgh Brothers entered Phoebe so there look like to have been at least 2 of them (brothers that is).A. Greenhalgh entered Vagrant in the AAR of 1926

    The Phoebe of 1913 is probably/certainly the same as the S-50 Phoebe, but maybe that just means that the Greenhalghs didn’t build her, but they certainly raced her.all the same in the season before Vagrant was launched.

    woops dinner on the table.


  7. Trouble is, PHOEBE was built in 1913 when Jack was only 12. And what’s her relationship to SEA GIRL, also S50 at the same time? And what’s her relationship to PHOEBE, S16 from 1928? Also, RECRUIT sails in some of the same Regattas as PHOEBE but by E. Greenhalgh in the 1922 and 1923 races; a brother?


  8. Just had a look for all Greenhalgh’s on my database (there are a few) which throws up something interesting.
    Back in the early 1920’s ……….
    Recruit. A 14-footer registered as T-34 is entered by J. Greenhalgh in the Anniversary Regattas between 1921 and 1923.

    Phoebe (possibly 16 or 18ft I don’t know) registered as S-50. Entered the 1923 Anniversary Regatta by J Greenhough (spelling??); In the 1924 Regatta she is entered by the Greenhalgh brothers.
    Phoebe has no known owners after 1924. coincidentally when Vagrant would have been launched.

    Looks like Phoebe was the boat he had before Vagrant which sort of clashes with the ‘Vim’ info but that’s what happens. Ask a question and you get an answer that rivals War and Peace.

    By the way, Vagrant doesn’t appear as a registered yacht (N-7) until the 1926 Anniversary Regatta, which probably explains the blank sail on your photo above. So that is probably a 1925-1925 photo not long after she was launched.


  9. I commented on Vagrant (N-7 1924, later N-17 from 1945) in a previous post

    However, the photo of V-34 interests me.

    The 18-footer Vim that is/was quite well known was built in 1939 by M. Williamson to a Bill Couldrey design and registered as V-96. She was a flat out racer and did not have a covered in cockpit and window in the coaming although she might have had that configuration later on in life as a ‘Cruising V-class’ as they were referred to in the 1950’s.

    Her owners were:
    M. Williamson 1939/41+?; L. Johnston 1943?/45; G. Chester 1945/46; O. Cronin 1946/48+?; A.R. Roberts 1962?/63+?

    NZHerald 39/9/39: Mr M. Williams of Grey Lynn has built an 18ft V-Class for his own use.
    Star 26/11/45: Vim Racing with DYC. Photo p4
    SS Jul 1962: Hauled out at Okahu Bay.

    This is not your Vim.

    In 1924 when Vagrant was built, the V-class was for square bilge 18’s only and their registration numbers had only just reached number V-18. So if the Greenhalgh-built Vim predates Vagrant, she would have been registered in the S-class, if indeed she was registered at all. The V’s didn’t reach V-34 until around 1929 by which time, the round bilge 18’s had been transferred out of the S-class into the V-class.

    In 1934, sail number V-34 was attributed to Drone, which was an error (she was actually V-43) and I find no record of any yacht using V-34 until 1939 when Arthur Sames launched the crack Manukau 18-footer.

    The information you have is not necessarily incorrect. My guess is that if she was launched before Vagrant as you say, she was never registered or raced, just cruised which is why we see no record of her in the Registration books, Club races or Anniversary Regattas – the prime places we look at to see the movement of yachts.

    She was probably registered some time later, after the Greenhalghs sold her and this is the V-34 photograph. Maybe the hand in that photo belongs to a family member saying “Look! there’s our old Vim!!” 🙂

    Sail number V-34 would not have existed until somewhere around 1929.

    The fleet racing photos are tricky because the only Sail number I can clearly see is V-37 which was Athena built by Bill Couldrey in 1939, while the boat ahead her looks very much like V-90 Jeanette also built in 1939 by Bill Couldrey, the 1938 Vim, V-96 is probably in there somewhere.

    EVERYTHING however is open to correction as and when corroborating information turns up.

    Keep probing.


  10. There was an Eighteen footer named VIM (round bilge carvel) rotting away just south of Dargaville a few years back. I looked at it with a restoration in mind but thought it was just a bit too far ‘gone’. About the same time I came across and was also offered Atalanta (V57? ) which I think was a Billy Rogers boat and also on the Kaipara but down at Helensville………..I believe she is still there and ‘up for grabs’, although also in a bad state…………….but so was Scamp when I took it over and she is looking and sailing better than ever…………..even Roy Parris her builder agreed with me on that!


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