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”.