Arethusa’s New Woody Wheelhouse

ARETHUSA’s NEW WOODY WHEELHOUSE


Back in late 2019 Arethusa’s Bay of Islands owner Dean Wright, a professional photographer by trade, and well known to WW readers gave me the heads up that the 1917, 33’ Bob Brown built, ex gaff rigged cutter, was in for a treat – a new wheelhouse. Since then I have been pestering Dean on a regular basis for photos, even threatened to drive up and take them myself 🙂 Problem was, the mans a perfectionist and didn’t want to send anything in to WW until it was all shipshape. Well woodys as you can see from the above, its very shipshape, in fact in my eyes – perfect. Well done to the team. I asked Dean to tell use about the project, so I’ll hand over to him. Remember you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them – Enjoy 🙂


“Over the years we’ve got keen on changing Arethusa’s wheelhouse to be more in keeping with her age, so at 102 she’s undergone some cosmetic surgery 🙂

We lost 8″ inches of headroom in wheelhouse when we installed the Gardner, so we’ve gone up in height 6 inches and forward 8 inches and gone for more traditional upright windows fw’d.

Boat builder John Gander did the job in his Waipiro Bay workshop. He started by taking patterns off the existing wheelhouse and fw’d cabin top. He replicated the curve of the fw’d cabin top in ply and built the new wheelhouse around that in six sections. He also laminated the new wheelhouse roof, allowing for a good eyebrow fw’d and a smaller one aft.

John learned his trade at Roger Carey’s yard in Picton in the 60’s and 70’s, where beautiful work boats with great looking wheelhouses were the order of the day. John built one of my favorite Carey designs, Hinewai for his own boat and we’ve replicated her fw’d opening half window on Arethusa. 

Once the wheelhouse was complete, we hauled Arethusa at Ashby’s in Opua and got to work with the skill-saw. In no time we’d reduced her to a convertible. We were lucky for Northland’s drought everything stayed reasonably dry and also that we got everything closed in and back in the water before Covid shut the yard down.

I’m in awe of how boat builders can build something like this away from the boat, then fit the pieces with a minimum of shaping. Fitting and gluing the six sections to the existing house went really smoothly.

The wheelhouse is built from 2″ Iroko. This is the first outside varnish we’ve had on Arethusa, we hand brushed 2 coats of Cetol as a base and six coats of Schooner Yacht Varnish.

Over lock-down, the apprentice made new interior joinery, gone are the Warehouse plastic drawers and chipboard frame 🙂 Moved the batteries under the new bench unit so we can now stand at the wheel. John laminated me up some lovely curved trim for the front of the oven unit. Our old manky plywood dash got an upgrade to kauri and the old wheel got a fright with a good scrub and a varnish.

Outside we made nav light boxes and dorade boxes.  We had to move the aluminium framed front hatch fw’d, a more traditional looking one in Iroko is on the to-do list. The liferings also got a birthday.

Here’s some before and after pics and also some that I hope will give some idea of the process. Thanks John for all your incredibly skilled design and build work, we’re really stoked with it.

We’re always keen to learn more of Arethusa’s history, especially the 1955-2000 period in the South Island. If you have any stories we’d love to hear them.”

Links to previous WW stories on Arethusa
https://waitematawoodys.com/2019/12/11/arethusa-new-wheelhouse-project/
https://waitematawoodys.com/2017/12/31/restoring-installing-a-gardner-in-arethusa-revisited/
https://waitematawoodys.com/2013/11/01/arethusa-winsome/

RSVP waitematawoodys@gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Arethusa’s New Woody Wheelhouse

  1. Pingback: BONITTO | waitematawoodys.com #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  2. Great stuff with a purposeful look that suits her, and Lloyds rate the Iroko as more durable than teak, which makes sense the way it blunts saws .

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  3. Agree Russell. I thought I was looking at your boat when its completed. Any news on when this will be? Murray M

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  4. Fabulous! Especially the line of the wheelhouse roof is just perfect. A lesser man might have dropped it a few inches aft and totally spoiled the line. And not a window up fwd raking forward. Well done John, Dean and Deb.

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