During the week we were contacted by Graham Hunter who was seeking information on the 33’ launch – Seaflyte.  Graham was sent the above photos by an old friend, Kevin Short, who commented that the photos were taken during the Christmas of 1972, at the time she was owned by a a family named – Brown who lived in Glendowie.  

Seaflyte was berthed at Westhaven for years but they may have taken Seaflyte to Half Moon Bay when it opened. The flying bridge was added and the only access to the cabin is by the 2 sliding doors.  Kevin commented that Graeme must have taken these photos, because he is sure that is him in the photos.

We know she had 2 x 100hp Fordson engines and was built from double planked kauri to handle the Cook Straight. Both Graham and Kevin would be interested to know what became of the launch.

Classic Wooden Boats At Havelock Marina

Classic Wooden Boats At Havelock Marina

Back in late October 2022 Dean Wright was in Blenheim attending John Gander’s significant birthday, all birthdays are significant but the ones with ‘0’s’ in them are more significant.

While down south Dean did some marina mooching and todays photo gallery comes to us from the Havelock marina. Nice to see a couple of our bigger northern woodys now safely tucked way down south – Turongo and Durville. Sad to lose them from the Waitemata but if we were keeping score I think we win more than we lose 🙂

A lot of craft unknown to WW and will probably morph into WW stories in their own right. As always click on photos to enlarge.

Southern Woodys at Riwaka

Southern Woodys at Riwaka

One of my southern woody spies – John Burland, has just has returned to NZ after summering over in Germany (he lives there, well at least in the northern summer).

Not long after unpacking the bags he was heading down to the Riwaka riverside marina, close to Motueka, Tasman. As the photos show the area is seriously tidal and John’s visit was at low water. 

While John commented that the photos were of the usual suspects, it always good to see what’s normally hidden.

In the photos we see Varlene getting some TLC, as an aside looking at the finish on Varlene’s rail and the tin – it looks like at last Cetol is an ok finish – used to be a horrendous orange/yellow colour, similar to what actor George Hamilton used to use as fake tan (photo below)

Classic Wooden Launch UHURU – Free (almost) To The Right Person

Classic Wooden Launch UHURU – Free (almost) To The Right Person

Now despite what CYA luminary Chad Thomson tells his toadies when they meet once a month in the telephone box in Myers Park – I’m actually a nice person and todays WW story is proof 🙂 Several weeks ago I as contacted by John (Jacky) McElwee who owns the launch Uhuru, John has reached a stage in life where owning a classic wooden boat is just too much of a challenge and he has asked me to help find the next custodian for his bridge decker – Uhuru.

The back story goes like this – built c.1900’s, using kauri planks and measuring 32’ x 9’ beam and a draft of 3’. She was built to do the cream run on Lake Rotorua, which she did for approx. 40 years, her next owners, 30 years, were the Nicol family and John has had her for 20 years – some impressive times there, must indicate she is a sea friendly boat. Nathan Herbert might be able to chip in and explain her special hull shape for shallow water running.  Current powered by a 1992 Nanni 43hp diesel. Obviously needs some TLC and possibly a few dollars spent here and there, but its afloat and the motor runs. 

Now woodys here is the deal – if your are a genuine straight up person and have a real passion for classic wooden boats – John will probably give you the boat, but I’d like to think that a ‘gift will ease the process of letting go of a 20 year relationship 🙂

Seriously interested parties in the first instance to contact John via email –


Woodys Classic Beach Picnic Review + Open Boat

Woodys Classic Beach Picnic Review

On Sunday we held a woodys gathering ashore on Motuihe Island – trip down was commonly described as ‘lumpy’, except for the large woodys skippers who just smiled.

The bonus of a lumpy passage was almost zero trailer craft or pwc’s, so had the beach to ourselves. Very sheltered and sunny afternoon – always good to catch up with other woody owners and swap tales. Trip home was perfect with wind and tide assisting.

Nice to see both Lady Crossley and Pirate after there winter hibernation / haul outs.

My boat of the day was John Wright’s latest project the uber cool double-ender – Kiwa. That man has a wonderful eye for bringing the best out of any classic craft. Photo below when she was at Te Atatu Boating Club + links to previous WW stories on her 




Considering an upgrade or a boat for summer – the 38’ Conrad Robertson designed classic – KATHERINE, has been relocated to Westhaven Marina for one weekend only – inspection by invitation.

More details on this immaculately presented, ready for immediate delivery craft – click here

To book a viewing time email waitematawoodys@waitematawoodys

Arethusa Aground on Farewell Spit

Arethusa Aground on Farewell Spit

Regular readers of WW will be familiar with Bay of Islands photographer – Dean Wright and the stunning images he shares with us. Dean and partner Deb are the custodians of the classic woody – Arethusa, which has one of the best back stories of all the craft in your fleet. The 33’ Arethusa was built in 1917 by Bob Brown and started life as a gaff rigged cutter, 105 years later she has the features of a commercial ex work boat – but a very swish one 🙂 Link below that shows some of the transformation – and being such a looker she has made numerous WW appearance, but today we bring to light a somewhat unknown (to most of us) event in her life – I’ll let Dean do the intro to the above photo essay :-

“Deb and I were down south recently and did the Farewell Spit Bus trip. The tour operators were able to tell us approximately where Arethusa ran aground all those years ago (late December 1955). 

They dragged the boat to the other side of the Spit and relaunched her, about 1.2km’s. An excerpt from book at the Spit lighthouse keepers house: “She was sailing between New Plymouth and Nelson and the crew thought they were heading between the lights of Farewell Spit and Stephen’s Island when they ran aground. Obviously they mistook the light on Cape Farewell for that on the Spit, and, as the Cape Farewell light had only gone into operation in 1951, they may have been unaware of its existence.”

The press clipping above in the Christchurch Press ran the headline – ‘The Arethusa – A Total Loss’ – well they got that wrong – well done to everyone that invested the funds and time to help Arethusa become a centenarian. If anyone knows more detail of her time in the South Island, Deb and Dean would love to hear from you.

Classic Woody Boating Long Weekend Cruise

Moturekareka Island
Sunset – Smelting House Bay, Bon Accord Harbour, Kawau Island
Sunrise – Smelting House Bay, Bon Accord Harbour, Kawau Island
Lady Adelaide
Vivian Bay, Kawau Island
Meola & Whio

Classic Woody Boating Cruise

For all the wrong reasons I didn’t do a lot of boating (on my boat) this past winter, so the looming long Labour weekend was always going to see me leaving the dock even if the weather was ‘inclement’. Luckily it wasn’t and I slid away early Friday afternoon with the ultimate destination being Kawau Island. The boredom of mostly straight line motoring was broken up by Team NZ cutting up the gulf in their AC40, so so quick.

Decided to spend Friday night anchored at Moturekareka Island, the resting place of the wreck REWA (unsuccessfully scuttled as a breakwater) , not the most settled of spots but the sunset and the bird song made up for it.

Moved on earlier Saturday to Smelting House Bay and picked up a pre-booked mooring, now before you all call me a softy, we had the new dog onboard for its 1st trip and wanted to be close to shore – didn’t want an oops on board. I can report she was an angel – woke me at 5.30am for a row ashore. Sadly she also seems to think the #1 bunk is hers 🙂 The bonus of the dog pee row ashore is catching the sunrise, almost as fine as the sunset.

Mostly just relaxed mooching around, had a drink and dinner catch up with the crews off Meloa, Ngaio, Lady Adelaide and Golandrina at the Kawau Boating Club, which had just taken the shutters down after the annual winter hibernation. Food and service was first rate – if you are not a member – join, they need good support to keep doing what they do so well. The next day we dropped the pick in Vivian Bay – very quiet and later in the day several woodys arrived – seems to be the go-to destination for the Sandspit marina crowd.

I spied a stunning villa on the waterfront in Vivian Bay – photos below, will need to keep buying Lotto 🙂

Trip home on Monday was just about perfect for a straight stemmer e.g. wind and tide on the nose – 3 hours 45 min from KBC > Bayswater, that’s a good clip for my 94 year old girl.

UPDATE 03-11-2022 – Photo below of Rewa as scuttled (incorrectly). Comes to us from Auckland War Memorial Museum libray via Maurice Sharp fb.


Well done Ken Ricketts, the winner from the many woodys that correctly ID’ed the launch as Sobrine. The pool was reduced significantly by a large number spelling the boats name – Sabrine. Link to a previous WW Sobrine story below

Spindrift – The Build & Launching

Spindrift – The Build & Launching

On Friday we featured the launch – Spindrift and asked for more details – well as you can see from the above photo gallery we certainly got an answer 🙂
Firstly Spindrift is a new build, launched in early December 2021 – designed by Gary Underwood (design #71) and owner built by Hilton and Melva Ward. 
To quote Hilton she is a 10 metre, multi-chine ply passage maker powered by a 35hp Beta (Kubota) engine.

Hilton has a very informative blog on the whole back story from design to first cruise, link below. I have just ‘cherry picked’ a selection of photos for todays story.

Spindrift calls Ngunguru Estuary, Northland home, but there are plans for some serious cruising this summer. The build commenced in early 2016, but Underwood did the design work two years prior  – see sketches below + model Hilton made to see how it would look in real life.

As always – click on photos to enlarge 😉

How Not To Sell Your Wooden Classic 

How Not To Sell Your Wooden Classic 

In the opening line the seller says “whole boat made from kauri, no rot!”, well I think rot would be the least of your worries. The major features promoted are the brass bits – “steering wheel, anchor winch, prop – the value of these bits probably dictates a fair starting price for bids….

Vender says -“Opportunity not to be missed” , I suspect it will be a miss.

It is not a bad looking craft, but presented like it is, and with a an engine that doesn’t run – it should be – Free To A Good Home. Way too many negative photos that showcase how neglected she is, then again maybe the woody folks down south like a major project 🙂

MANOWAI – Gets A Visit To The Beauty Shop

MANOWAI – Gets A Visit To The Beauty Shop

The 32’ Lake Rotoiti based launch –  Manowai has been owned by a string of owners that have lavished time and $$ on her. That we know of, this started around 2003 when boat builder Colin Brown undertook major refit, including new interior. Fast forward to 2015 and Manowai has been relocated to Lake Rotoiti (Nth Island) and spends a year in Craig Marines shed where boat builder Alan Craig undertakes a 12 month refurbishment of her interior & exterior. At the same time she was re-powered with a 4 cyl. 40 hp Lombardini diesel.

Now in 2022 she has just emerged from Alan Craig’s shed after some serious TLC and addressed some issues with the steel screws used in her construction. Links below to previous WW stories – lots of photos and chat.

Manowai’s past is a little cloudy but she was possibly built in 1921 by Bailey & Lowe – would be nice to be able to confirm her provenance. 

2013 WW Story

2015 WW Story