“I have just come across your website and read the piece about a Mrs Batten who was inquiring into the whereabouts of Rawhiti junior. I don’t know how long ago that posting was made as it appears undated.
I would be interested to tell what I know about her.
My recollection was that she was built in 1904 not 1906 as Mr Kidd has suggested but I stand to be corrected.
She was last owned by my previous brother in law Vernon Harris now of Hahei.
Vern and I did some restoration on her in the 80’s. The most exciting thing was removing the “baby Austin 7 “ inboard petrol engine from her cockpit. We threw it onto the beach in Whitianga on a low tide and waited till the tide came in to see what difference having 200 kg of steel removed from her rear end would make to her handling. It was phenomenal of course, an absolute pleasure to sail after that. Vern acquired a small seagull outboard for the times when there was no wind to shift her.
We assume she was once yawl rigged but in our time the rear mast was just a stub that we used to attach stern lines. A previous owner had modified the main mast , presumably so she could be brought under a low bridge as it was set up to hinge fore and aft.
Vern and I had numerous trips between Mercury Bay and Great Barrier in the 80’s, I have wonderful memories of those trips bringing gear our from the Coromandel to start an alternative lifestyle on Barrier . I don’t think she was 20 ft , perhaps a little less. She had her bowsprit shortened , but we still used two headsails on occasion. Her original centreboard had been replaced with a solid keel which held a large long block of lead , she drew only 18”. She was a pleasure to unload gear from in knee deep water without grounding.
Unfortunately in 1989 she was badly damaged in a substantial storm that struck her while moored in Allom Bay which is the Southern most Bay of Blind Bay on the West Coast of Barrier where I still live on occasion. She had an open cockpit and simply filled with rain and seawater as she thrashed about on her mooring, which held her but she finally sank.
That would have been OK with her resting on the bottom, but as the tide receded , the swell bashed her repeatedly on the sandy bottom. With a large load of loose lead lying in her bilges , there were attempts to dive under the foaming surf and remove some of it. But as a near drowning occurred, this idea was given up .
The end result was that planks broke loose from her stem both above and below the waterline on port and starboard sides.
As the storm abated she was able to be moved into the creek in Allom Bay where she lay in a rudimentary cradle as the tide came in and out around her but she would never float again.
While decisions were made about if and how she could be saved, Mother Nature took the opportunity away.
A deluge of exceptional proportions, only weeks after her sinking, swept her out into the Bay , where she has never been seen since.
Although I have been snorkeling and diving , as have many others in the Bay, she has yet to make a reappearance.
The cabin tops (2), the forward hatch , the rigging and sails were all saved along with the beautiful rudder and tiller, but that was all.
One cabin top became the roof for a chook house and the other still keeps the rain off when visiting the long drop. None of these parts were original though.
The loss of Rawhiti affected Vern badly. As has been said often , we may call ourselves owners , but we are also custodians of historic treasures , so to lose her on our watch was hard to bear. He eventually shifted away from Allom Bay back to Whitianga. I understand he may be, or has been the Commodore of the Yacht Club there”.
13-07-2020 Input from Robin Elliott ex Auckland Star 29th Sept. 1906
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