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

Westward – AWBF ‘Boat Folk’ Film


Our friends at the Australian Wood Boat Festival have just released another film in the ‘Boat Folk’ series.

Todays one is on the 1947 Tasmanian built 43′ yacht – Westward. 

Westward started life designed as a recreational fishing yacht but prior to completion was converted to a racing yacht. Quite a successful one – winning the 1947 and 1948 Sydney > Hobart race. 

After a long life of extended cruising Westward was donated to the Maritime Museum of Tasmania. These days she is back home in her home state and has been restored as a floating exhibit at the Constitution Dock in Hobart.

You can see and read more about Westward here

Remember – the next festival is this coming February 10>13th more details here:

Awariki – A Peek Down Below

AWARIKI – A Peek Down Below

Back in November 2021 after 32 years of ownership we sold the 1922 Dick Lang built launch – Lady Adelaide (link below) for Kerry Lilley. In reply to the question “what’s next” Kerry walked me along the dock to Awariki, a 32’ 1967 Owen Woolley built woody. Kerry has a long connection with the boat having worked on her when he was an apprentice.

First thing that hit me was the space – compared to Lady Adelaide, Awariki was a ballroom down below. As purchased she was a little tired, but no better person than Kerry to take her on.

Fast forward to the 2022 Woodys Classic Weekend at Clevedon Cruising Club and we get to have a sneak peek at the almost completed refit. As you would expect, very impressive. 



A Townson 22 Story – Born Slippery > Ceilidh


This a great story with a long tail. I first rubbed up against the boat back in 2009 when a co Kiwi based – WoodenBoat Forum follower named Graeme Tearle, lived in Thames,  mentioned online he was considering buying a Townson 22 – known as a Pied Piper (Piedy) on trademe in Auckland. Turns out it was sitting on the hard at the Devonport Yacht Club (I was a member back then) so I took some photos for him. Graeme bought the boat, below is an edit of his postings on the WBF, he has a unique style of chat and the yanks on the WBF loved him –

“But this boat has issues. For starters, her name. “Born Slippery”. Ye Gods, whatever was he thinking. So my daughter Abby came up with a new name. “Ceilidh”. Pronounced “kay-lee” it is Irish (or Scots) for an informal get-together featuring traditional song, dance and drinking. In other words, a party. My kind of party (I’m half Irish). Perfect. Next, her cabin shape is all wrong. 
Ceilidh has the original, shorter roof, which designer Des Townson lengthened when he redrew it, and I suspect he may have lowered the roofline an inch when he did so. Either way, Ceilidh’s cabin is too short & too high for my tastes. If you can’t stand upright in a boat, there is little point in adding an inch or two to the roof height and you still can’t stand up. It just spoils the aesthetics. Also the cabintop is built in the original style with internal roof beams & a 9mm ply skin. The new style has a laminated roof with no beams. This is vastly preferable; nothing to hit your head on & a much easier paint job. So the whole cabin top has to come off. This has the added bonus of allowing me standing room inside while I do the rebuild, and I can replace the ply coamings with varnished mahogany, as they were with Candyfloss (a previous Piedy he built) In my own personal, very biased, opinion, such a beautiful shape deserves nothing less.

The cockpit has been hacked about in the modern way with an open transom. I will fill the transom back in again & add an aft deck forward to the mainsheet traveler, then an aft coaming across it, aft of the traveler. There can be no lazarette here as the rudder shaft comes up thru the cockpit floor aft of the traveler, making a bulkhead impossible. Also, she has a rise in the companionway of about 300mm, to stop water entering the saloon should the cockpit flood. What absolute nonsense. This is the Hauraki Gulf guys, the best cruising grounds in the world, not Cape Horn. I’ll cut it out, fit a lintel about 50mm high, and should the weather become so severe that I fear a wave might jump into the cockpit, (yeah right, it is sooo going to happen) I’ll fit the first washboard & lock it in place. The ability to easily step thru the companionway without having to clamber over what amounts to a bridgedeck is a boon beyond measure on a cruise. The existing tiller is an ugly stick. I’ll build a new, properly shaped one.”

Graeme did an amazing job restoring the yacht (sadly all the work-in-progress photos on WBF have been lost) and bought Ceilidh by road up to Auckland for a Des Townson exhibition at the Viaduct and motor sailed her back to Thames – memory is hazy but I think I lent him a life jacket and a VHF radio for the trip. Graeme’s past post on the WBF was  c.July 2014 and I think he sold the boat in June 2014.

Fast forward to mid July 2022 and the son of old family friends – Gavin Woodward tracked the boat down to a mud berth in Thames and was trying locate the owner, dockside chat was that she had been abandoned. Photos below showing Ceilidh looking very sad.

Fast forward to mid September 2022 and Andrew Sander – a previous owner of the boat , tracked her down and re-bought her. Andrews words “Spent Sunday preparing and Sunday night on the high tide dragging her from her mangrove and rat infested grave, she’s now in a berth in Thames Marina. Her next adventure is going to Tauranga for cosmetic work, a weight loss program and a new set of sails. Then it’s back to Auckland to catch up with her old Piedy mates where she will live. Looking forward to some great racing and antics. Get a Piedy up ya (again)”

Photos below of the extraction at Thames.Wonderful that these iconic craft are held in such high regard that yachties go to these lengths to keep them sailing.


Steam boat woody – Russell Ward contacted me as Russell and some of his fellow steam boaters are bemoaning the loss of Davis Slick Seam. The trailer boaters swear by it. It holds the leaks until the seams take up and it squeezes out -doesn’t set. Stops the incontinence when you launch.

Anyone got a spare tin or know what might have been in it? It was black, had some waxy filler apparently, stayed put and wouldn’t go hard. It is no longer being stocked. West are not answering emails, it is obviously not a big seller.

So woodys what would have been in it -NO EPOXY but maybe some of the filler they use. But it was tarry looking.

Korawai – Getting The Treatment – Updates

KORAWAI – An Update

In late January 2022 I help relocate the 1962 Owen Woolley built 36′ sedan launch – Korawai to her new home in the Bay of Islands. Her new owners had big plans for her and it’s great to see that a refurbishment program is now under way. 

Korawai has recently been hauled and now tucked away in the shed at Ashby Boatbuilders in Opua. First item was to remove all the glass (to be replaced) and restore the varnished coamings. The owners have very good taste so I’m sure there will be more on the list 🙂 

We will keep you updated.

Relocation trip

A Peek Down Below Story

UPDATE 14-09-2022 Say goodbye to the old varnish

UPDATE 15-09-2022

UPDATE 24-09-2022 Primer & one coat.  7>9 to go 🙂

Happy Owner

Tern II – A Big Project

TERN II – A Big Project

On Friday I was contacted by Mike Lyon regarding the 52’ yacht Tern II, built by Stow and Son, in Shoreham, UK.- back in May 2021 we ran a wonderful story on the yacht and how it ultimately to be Mike’s care. It is a great read, full of insights and photos (link below)   

I’ll let Mike share todays story with you – 

“Hi there, we have a project boat that we are looking to find a new home for, her name is Tern II, and she was built in the UK in 1899, and briefly owned by Claude Worth, a well-known sailing writer of the time who included her in his book “Yacht Cruising”.

She was sailed out to New Zealand in the 1950’s by Ben Pester, a returning Naval officer who wrote about the voyage in his book “Just Sea and Sky”.

We came across her in Tonga in 2004, where she had been abandoned after a failed passage to Hawaii. I had worked as a shipwright in the UK restoring similar vessels and so we decided to take her on as a project.

We had her shipped to NZ in 2006 where we had her in storage for several years before moving her to Whangarei where she is now. 

We have replaced the old elm keel with greenheart, wrought iron floors with puriri and 1″ copper keel bolts. There is a large stock of puriri for the framing and the stem and sternpost, and the deck beams.

Due to other work and life commitments, we haven’t been able to work on her for the last few years.

It’s looking like the lease for the shed where she is currently being stored is coming to an end as the whole area is earmarked for development, and so we are looking into ways to secure her future and are putting the word out there to any interested parties who would be willing to take her on.”

Mike can be contacted via email

Uffa Fox + AWBF Video


Todays story has 2 parts – the first being a link to a brilliant article that appeared in the UK Classic Boat magazine on Uffa Fox, from the pen of Barry Pickthall. Pickthall reflects on the legacy of the designer, sailor and the man himself. Its a good read, I enjoyed it, I hope you do as well. Click below to read.


Another short video from the team at the AWBF – this time focusing on Terra Linna, the oldest surviving yacht built in Tasmania, but there is  degree of ‘granddads axe to that claim 😉

Neville Robinson Launches



I was recently contacted by Neil Mosley regarding the two photos above of launches built by Neville Robinson – top photo is Harmony and bottom is Largo. Neil commented that he didn’t know much about the man but he was quite well known at some stage. The bigger boat – Harmony is owned by John Gow and spends most of summer moored at the bottom end of Waiheke. The smaller boat is – Largo and owned by Neil and kept at Havelock.

Anyone able to tell us more about the builder – Neville Robinson and what other craft he built.

INPUT FROM PAUL DRAKE“Neville Robinson was foreman mechanic (or similar) with the old Wellington Harbour Board for a very long time. May have served his time there I think. He built at least one other boat apart from LARGO and MELODY. Can’t recall her name but she became a crayfish boat out of Ngawi. He was a meticulous boat builder and his boats were very well engineered. He had a hand in re engineing TUNA (of WW fame) when she was in service with the Wellington Harbour Board (later CentrePort Wellington). He was a quietly spoken, gentlemanly sort of guy. His brother was a tug master on Wellington Harbour for many years, having previously been master of the police launch LADY ELIZABETH 2.”

01-10-2022 INPUT FROM MARIE BREDEN “Hi, I’m Neville Robinson’s daughter, Marie. A friend of Dad’s shared this post with me and so I’ve been searching my memory banks trying to remember all of Dad’s launches.
Paul is correct, Dad worked for Wellington Harbour Board all his working life, he was a motor mechanic but his passion was wood work.
My first memory of Dad’s boat building was when he built a speedboat in our garage.
He named it Cee Bee II and was very successful in his racing days.
He built/altered 6 launches that I can recall. The first boat he built was “Marco Polo”, built in our backyard for some local fishermen. Next was Music, built from scratch, as a family we spent many hours in the boat shed building her. Unfortunately she caught fire and burnt to the waterline. Dad managed to get his hands on some of the burnt timber and made a scale model incorporating the timber into the finished piece. After Music, and I think I’ve got the order correct, was Harmony, Souza, Largo and finally Coda. Jim Carey, previously from Picton, built the hull for Harmony and it was sailed across and finished in Wellington by Dad, and possibly another but I can’t remember sorry. Coda was purchased in Picton, the wheelhouse was removed and rebuilt by Dad, giving it his look and practicality.
Dad passed away in 2018 but he’d be chuffed to think he was still getting the odd mention for his boats.”

YESTERDAYS WOODY QUIZ WINNER – the winner is K Ricketts.

The correct answers were #A Rehutai #B Movaire – as to the identity of #C , that folks remains a mystery 🙂 Had a great number of entries but most unfortunately were way off the mark.

As always I’m indebted to the mind of Nathan Herbert for helping confirm the launch names.

Gil Littler emailed in the observations and photo below

“I believe the photo is 1980, or maybe late-1970s. I say this because the wooden dividing fence between Shipbuilders (from where the photo was taken) and Baileys has already been demolished to make way for what became Orams hardstand. See the photo below taken c.1981 with the old ferries (Toroa and Peregrine) about to be buried in the Z Pier reclamation. The fishing boat Baileys converted to a  pleasure boat is in both photos.”

Looking For A Woody Project


Recently WW was contacted by Ron Hackett regarding a project that has had an incubation period of 64 years, its good read so I’ll let Ron tell the story. But to give you a heads up Ron is looking for a custodian to take on the project. 

BOUNTY – 34’ sail boat in frame.

“In 1958, a Kauri log was purchased by a young apprentice joiner, named Maurice Fleming. His dream was finally coming true!  He started a notebook, and carefully recorded his purchases. The log, from Waihou valley, near Kaikohe, cost 338 pounds. It was railed from there to Whau Valley, Whangarei, and that cost 24 pounds, 10 shillings. [The mill there was Parkers, and sawing the log cost 56 pounds, six shillings and sixpence, producing 5,268 super feet of first class heart kauri.

Maurice continued to work for his father as a joiner, and set up the vessel at his home, working on it as he could. The designer of the ‘Bounty’, Ken Low, was keen to help as well. Ken was a well known boat builder in Whangarei, and with his brother Ron, owned the Low Bros Boatyard in Ewing Rd. Ken had learned his trade with Bailey & Lowe in Auckland. Ron did mainly the engineering side of the business, and another brother, Norman (known as Nip), was a tug-master in New Plymouth and Auckland.

In Te Puna Inlet, Bay of Islands, there lives a vessel built by Bailey and Lowe, in 1911, ‘Waitemata’, a 55’ pilot launch for the Waitemata Harbour. The construction of the Bounty is the same as that used in Waitemata, so it’s clear that Ken designed the ‘Bounty’ to be built with the same methods he had learned at Bailey and Low – three skins on stringers, two diagonals and one fore and aft, plus a sawn bilge shelf. Ken was well known for designing well-balanced, sea-kindly boats. People who knew him had great respect for his skills in designing and building, and many considered him to be one of the best wooden boat builders this country has seen. Ken also designed the sail plan for the ‘Bounty’, as a fractional rig. He knew what would suit ‘Bounty’ best, and it has been said that the sail plan was ahead of it’s time. Ken was a perfectionist. Maurice was working under Ken’s guidance, who helped when he could. Maurice’s standards were also very high, anyone building their dream boat will understand! He wasn’t happy with the first pouring of the keel, and set about doing it a second time, and it came out perfect. The keel is about four and a half Ton. The backbone and floors are all fastened with bronze bolts, floors being 2” thick. There are two bulkheads, and a number of moulds, with the stringers let into the bulkheads, all being perfectly fair. Breast hook and quarter knees are grown pohutakawa, and the beams are fitted.

Unfortunately, Maurice had a major setback of a personal nature. He seemed to go into a depression which he never really recovered from. He hung up his tools, and all work on the ‘Bounty’ stopped. Eventually, when Maurice was ‘getting on’ and was in a retirement home, it was time to tidy up his affairs.

I bought the vessel and timber about 1997 for $27,000, fully intending to complete her, but I have had too many other projects on.

The ‘Bounty’ is a 34’ vessel, at present in frame. All of the Kauri planking milled in 1958 is available. The fore and aft planks are full length, all planking is machined, and the rabbits are all cut.There are a couple of teak planks for cabin coamings.

I feel this vessel is an important part of our history. Aspiring wooden boat builders, of whom there are currently very few, could be encouraged to study the construction and fine workmanship, and even to work on the vessel. Today it’s a rare thing to smell heart kauri in a steam box. Budding boat builders don’t have many opportunities to work on such a vessel.”

Interested parties to contact Ron at 09 4077265 or email

Job Opportunity At Auckland Boat Yard

Todays a shout out to anyone that is this person or knows someone that is – looking for a work-life change. If you have a CV you’re probably not who we are looking for 🙂

In no particular order does this sound like you –

• Good practical hands on general skills

• Not afraid to roll your sleeves up and just get the job done

• Sense of humour

• Looking for full time / part time / flexible hours

• Age open – young > old, its all about attitude

We offer – 

• Small passionate team

• Central Auckland location

• Working railway slip – one of few left in Auckland

• Wide variety of work

• Plenty of parking

INTERESTED? In the first instance email

Lola – NZ37 + Easterly – Picnic Boat


Todays story comes to us from retired boat builder Allan Hooper, just back from an extended trip to visit family the USA (Carlsbad just north of San Diego). I’ll let Allan tell the story :-

Prior to leaving I made contact with Morgan Spriggs the current owner of Lola, an NZ37. Lola was built at Jim Young’s NZ Yachts in 1969-70 while I was the foreman. 

I was very keen to see the boat after all these years. Morgan has spent  a lot of time restoring Lola and she looks as good as the date she left the factory apart from a few alterations and replacements. Morgan was excited to meet me and be able to talk about the build of the boat.

The hull construction is 4 skins of 1/4’” Kauri cold moulded with all of the back bone, floors, transom and bulkhead boundarys set in the mould. The hull was sheathed in Epoxy and glass. After the hull was taken off the mould the bulkheads and the interior were put in place and gunwales fitted.

The cabin,  cockpit and decks were built on a separate mould complete with paint work, glazing and hardware. Then in an operation taking only a couple of hours, was lifted and placed on the hull, located over the bulkheads, glued and fastened down.

The techniques developed to build these yachts enabled a NZ37 to be built from start to finish in 4 weeks.

Read and view more on Lola here

Morgan‘s father Robert owns a beautiful picnic boat, Easterly (photos below), an ex  Maine lobster boat on which we toured the San Diego bay.

It was used by Denis Connor is a chase boat when he was sailing in the Americas cup. Robert Spriggs has owns the boat for 22 years and it is in as new condition, you could have eaten your lunch of the engine or engine room floor.

The teak cockpit sole is the best laid teak I have ever seen, the timber selected is absolutely perfect, as was the whole boat.

The waterfront at downtown San Diego has a beautiful collection of maritime exhibits including a sailing immigrant ship the “Star of India” which was a regular visitor to New Zealand in the 1800s, once a year it is taken out for a sail.

Further along the waterfront is the USS Midway launched in 1945, she was finally laid up in the 1990s. If you’ve never been on an aircraft carrier it’s well worth a visit. 3.5 acres of 3 inch thick steel makes up the flight deck. It is an interesting harbour to visit and extremely busy as it is alongside the international airport, a military airport, a naval base, several marinas and the city. When you go out on the bay you see it and hear it all.