MANUKURA – Restoration Update

MANUKURA – Restoration Update

During my frequent visits to Thames I used to see Manukura the 50’ c.1960 Shipbuilders built launch on the hard stand at the Thames marina, always looking a little sad. Then in 2021 we got the good news she had a new owner and work had recommenced on her restoration, and that the plan was to transport Manukura to Whangamata where the work would be finished. Link here to her history and time in Thames.

I was contacted earlier in the week by owner Allen Watson who advised that Manukura is in the process of a major refit. All new wiring, plumbing, gear boxes, shafts, engine mounts for the Ford 120hp 6 cyl diesel engines plus a new lay out inside. The photo gallery above gives us a peek into the work.

Photo below is dated July 2021 

A Recount Of Our Classic Wooden Craft DNA 

CLICK The Headline – Grace Under Sail to view

A Recount Of Our Classic Wooden Craft DNA 

Recently I was sent a link to an article that appeared in the New Zealand Geographic magazine back in 2000 – in fact issue 45 , Jan-March. The article was headlined – GRACE UNDER FIRE, written by Vaughan Yarwood with supporting photos from the late Henry Winkelmann and more recent photos ex Hamish Ross and Paul Gillbert.

The stars of the article is the 42’ 1908 Logan built gaff rigged cutter – Rawene, and her then skipper Russell Brooke.

This is a brilliant insight into the early days of boating in and around Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, I’m sure there will be some mix ups re dates, skipper/craft names but overall we get to see and read the history of these magnificent craft, a lot of which are still sailing today.

Have a read, its only 10>15 minutes, longer if if you linger over the photos 🙂  – even a die-hard motorboat owner like myself found it a fascinating read.

Havoc On The Water Front

Havoc On The Water Front

The recent stormy weather in Auckland claimed another woody at the end of last week. 

Young Luca Beachman was cycling home after completing his Herald paper round on Friday and spotted the 46’ launch Ussco ‘parked’ very precariously on the Tamaki Drive break water. 

Fingers crossed she was re floated with little damage, built of 4 skin kauri so should be able to withstand an oops. Can anyone update us.

Recently advertised for sale  – details here

INPUT EX BRETT KING – Ussco is hauled out at the hardstand at Half Moon Bay marina 

Raindance Gets Some Cosmetic Surgery

For the whole time that I have owned Raindance I have been faced with a do I / don’t I situation regarding the things attached to her hull – too short to be called bilge keels and questionable efficiency as anti-roll stabilizers. All the people whose opinion I value have said get rid of them. So in a weak moment last week at the Slipway Milford I said yes and wham-mo they were gone.

Will be interesting to see / experience the difference…………………

Looking even more like a greyhound 🙂

LADY BESS – Live Aboard Project

LADY BESS – Live Aboard Project

The 1922 Lady Bess was built by Leon Warne, St Marys Beach in Auckland. Originally built for passenger service around Waiheke Island and later in Tauranga. Then purpose modified for fishing charter work out of Helenville on the west coast of the North Island.

She is built of kauri, carvel hull, 48’6” in length and powered by a 471 GM Detroit engine, this gives her a cruising speed of 7>9 knots.

Interior is particularly stripped out ready for a new interior to suit her next life – domestic or back in charter.

Her tme me listing (thanks Ian McDonald) closes on 23-05-2023 and current bidding is sub $2500. Located at Gulf Harbour.

21-05-23 Input ex Alan Johnson (the nice one) – subject to final bidding but it looks like Lady Bess is off to Mangawhai

And from Bill Faulkner — She ran as a workboat for Harbour Transport on Tauranga harbour for many years. At least 1955 -1975 towing barges / logs from Bunns Mill on Matakana Island and ferrying workers / residents at the mill. I recall her coming into Coronation Pier circa 1962ish and the reverse gear failed at the optimum moment and she went under the pier and wiped the wheelhouse off. No injuries thankfully. A nice hull shape and one of the quickest displacement launches on the harbour. Great to see she’s still going strong.



The John Lidgard built launch – Kingfisher* was built c.1965, her owners Noel / Thora and son Gary Sparnon finished the boat off at the Lidgard shed in Glen Eden. With Noel being a cabinetmaker the fit out was to a very high standard. When launched she was 43’, with a beam of 13’6” and drew 3’6”. Her hull is 3 skins kauri with the 2 inner skins on opposite diagonals and the outer skin full length fore and aft + f/glass. 

As launched she was named Avenger and kept at Te Atatu.The Sparnon family did not keep her long because by 1968, the family were living in Paihia, Bay of Islands.

Prior to Avenger there was Olympia II, also built to hull & decks stage by John Lidgard c.1962-63, with Noel S again fitting out the interior – link to previous WW story below.

Noel S also built the Avenger II after her, having bought a 42′ molded Cookson hull, onto which he added & completed all the varnished teak coamings & interior himself, at his daughter’s property in Avondale, Avenger II was later sold.

Noel S never actually kept any of his boats very long after they went in the water. Kingfisher was quite unique  when launched having a fly-bridge styled in to her coamings making it visually part of the boat i.e. not appearing to be an add on or afterthought.

There are still some gaps in her ownership records, Ken Rickets has established that she was bought c.2015 off a policeman who had been living aboard her for an unknown length of time up to 2015, at Westpark Marina, by Richard & Bernadette Schofield. During their ownership they re-conditioned her Ford 120hp diesel engine and Borg Warner gearbox. 
 She was sold c.2018 to her present owner, then Mangonui resident Brett Walford. Now retired Brett has moved to Great Barrier Island and has the boat for sale, still based at Mangonui. 

Brett W also changed her name to Kingfisher*, he commented to KR he made the change because as she cruises around 8 knots and this is an ideal trolling speed to catch kingfish.

Both of the last 2 owners have spent collectively large sums on maintenance and upgrading of the interior and equipment, hence she is in very good condition and more or less just as KR remembers her when launched.  Keen to fill in any ownership gaps, in particular Noel Sparnon’s son, Garry Sparnon, who may still be in NZ and hopefully he gets to view this story and might be able to embellish it more. (Update – have been in touch with Gary Sparnon , he is still in NZ, father Noel died 3 years ago aged 96. Gary was very happy to read todays story, but has nothing to add. He will however keep a look out for any old photos. AH)

(Thanks to Richard and Bernadette Schofield, and Brett Walford and wife for providing access to the data and images and Ken Ricketts for pulling this story together – edited a lot by Alan H)

Photos below are pre March 2017

Milford Yard Update



Lots of woody activity at the Slipway Milford. The launch – Dauntless being hauled for a quick dose of TLC, more on her here

The 1953 A Couldrey designed, Brin Wilson built launch – Endeavour , under tent, is coming to the end of her refresh – most impressed with the new name board on the stern – nice touch. The gent in the photo is Luca Beachman, the great grandson of her original owner, Borrie Beachman and has been beavering away on the project – no doubt securing his future path to ownership 😉 More on her here

Just across the yard at the Milford Cruising Club slip – the launch Ngahi, photo below, was being relaunched after an extensive re- fit/refurbishment – hopefully we will see interior photos soon. More here


MARINUS – A Peek Down Below 

MARINUS – A Peek Down Below 

The 46’ launch Marinus was designed by A. Deeming and built by Barr Brown (Wellington) in 1946. Over the years she has undone several rebirths, starting as a bridge decker and the most recent one has in her owners words “converted it into a modern style displacement cruiser’. Lots of time and $$ have been spent on her and she presents these days as a high-end wooden launch.

The level of the work and presentation probably helping her be the fastest selling woody in the last 12 months – less than a week on the market.

Some specs- 46’ x 12’4’ x 4’ – her hull is heart kauri, carvel planked and in the 2019 refit play/glass has been utilised. Marinus is powered by twin Cummins 85hp Diesel engines.

As sold she was very highly spec’ed and in my eyes excellent value for a vessel her size.

Lots of photos and chat on this previous WW story –

MV USSCo – 4sale

MV USSCo 4sale

The 45’ launch – M.V. Ussco was launched in 1936 as the Donald Sutherland, built for the first Labour Govt. as a tourist / passenger vessel. She was also previously known as Sea Hawk.

She has spent time as a fishing vessel, and other unconfirmed duties maybe as a lighthouse tender before use as a private cruiser.

Built from 4 skin kauri she has a beam of 12’ and draws 4’, a Gardner 6L2 provides the forward motion and like most southern woodys she is fully spec’ed.

Her owner Pete Worsnap has recently placed her on the market – as architects say “she has good bones” and while she requires a little work, she is priced accordly eg offers around $25k. And that woodys is a lot of boat for the money.

We are a little light on photos, but in the first instance interested parties to contact Pete direct either or 021 998 159

Spec sheet downloadable below

Athena – A Peek Down Below

Athena – A Peek Down Below

Todays woody is the 1962, Des Donovan designed / built motor sailer – Athena. She last appeared on WW back in Feb 2019 – link below to that very informative story. Lots of photos, history and comments there.

Thanks to a tme listing we get a look down below. A snap shot – specs – 48’/12’11”/5’5” and powered by a Gardner 127hp diesel.                                                                                          

Her listing fails to mention that she is member of the ‘Submariners Club’ i.e. she has spent time below the waves. She also spent time in the ownership of one Alan Johnson, one of very few people 100% banned from the WW site, but that is another story…..

(photos ex M. Skinner ex trademe)

WW 2019 Story



The 44’ WG Lowe & Sons built (1959) ex work boat, recently popped up on tme and our woody spotter Ian McDonald advised that it was once his boat. 

Tokatea was built to Goverment spec for Fisheries as a Patrol Boat and lighthouse tender and based at Coromandel until she was retired from service in 1987/88 and bought privately and taken to Tauranga. In recent years she has called the Marlborough Sounds home.

Built from solid kauri – hull and decks she has a beam of 12’5”and draws 5’. Forward motion is via a Gardner 6LW

Got to love the axe in the wheelhouse – a nod to her work boat days 🙂

Back in 2016 we learnt a lot about Tokatea in a very informative WW story – link below to read how Ian purchased Tokatea.