Little Jim – A16 – Coastal Classic Race Report

Little Jim – A16 Coastal Classic Race Report

Today’s story and photos comes to us from Little Jim’s skipper and owner James Mortimer and crew – Ash Smith, Rodrigo Salas, Janez Mikec, Max Goutard, Erwann Jooris.

I’ll let James share the story with you, as always – click on photos to enlarge. Enjoy 🙂

“After four long months out of the water at the Milford marina yard over winter, I know that Little Jim had been wanting to stretch her legs and get a good long sail up the coast. She feels fast with her newly reinforced decks, rebuilt rudder, and all over paint job. Or maybe it’s the long winter without any sailing that has made her crew push her along that little bit more.

The weather forecast for Labour weekend had been looking challenging, with light northerlies and rainy weather predicted. On Tuesday night we got together on the boat to go over safety and systems, not at all confident that we would even start the race. Over the next two days the forecast slowly got a little better, with the wind direction moving ever so slightly toward the east. On Thursday night, we made the call to go, knowing full well it was going to be tough. 


Early Friday morning and with enough food and beer to supply a small army, we got ourselves into racing mode and set off for Devonport. There is something special about this race, with more than 150 yachts lining up across the harbour, a sense of anticipation building as the gun gets closer, an adventure ready to start.

We made an early call to cross the channel toward Rangitoto and escape the worst of the incoming tide. Little Jim made excellent ground on most of the fleet who were busy short tacking up Cheltenham Beach in very little wind. A long tack due east across the top of Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands allowed us to finally turn north and lay the outside of Tiri Island and and make some miles to the north. As it turned out, the short stretch between Tiri and Kawau Island was to be the best sailing we would get all day, with a perfect NE’er of 12 to 15 kts, and boat speed above 7 kts.

On any Coastal Classic, there is a decision to make off Takatu Point. Is the boat and the crew in good shape and ok to go on. In any adverse weather this is no small call to make. As all boaties know, crossing Bream Bay can be brutal, and there is no decent shelter until Tutukaka. An easy decision this time, and it was champagne sailing as we passed Cape Rodney. It didn’t last though, and as afternoon slid into evening the wind eased away and turned back north. A frustrating night of slow tacking between the Hen & Chick Islands and Whangarei Heads began, with not a lot of northward miles being made. What the wind failed to deliver the night sky made up for, with an impressive meteor shower, a crystal clear Milky Way, lots of phosphorescence, and an incredible sunrise.

At 8.30am, we made the difficult decision to pull the pin on the race just south of Elizabeth Reef. The forecast was light until afternoon and we had little hope of reaching Russell before cut off at 3pm. 

Ending the race early wasn’t going to put a damper on the weekend though and we spent the next three days sailing downwind back to Auckland under spinnaker via the Poor Knights Islands, Tutukaka, the Hen & Chicks, and Kawau Island. 

Little Jim, built in 1934, was the oldest boat to enter in this year’s race, and it is a fitting testament to the skill of New Zealand’s early boat builders and designers that we can often keep up with boats that are 60 or 70 years younger! 


Can’t wait till 2021”

LITTLE JIM

A16 – bermudan rigged, she was designed & built in 1934 by Arch Logan & Bill Couldrey.
LOA: 42’10”, LWL: 28′, BEAM: 9’1″, DRAFT: 6′

John Spencer – Champion of the Amateur Boatbuilder

John Spencer – Champion of the Amateur Boatbuilder
For the last 3 days the annual classic yacht and launch exhibition, hosted by the Tino Rawa Trust, has been on at Kairanga Plaza, Halsey St, Wynyard Quarter. This year the star of the show is the late designer John Spencer.  You can read more about John below. 

On Friday I got a sneak review of the event at the opening legendary morning tea, that always sees the who’s who of the wooden boating movement making an appearance.
The show is on today from 10am >4pm, so not too late to pop down.

One of the invited speakers was John Street, now when ever John steps up to a mike – I push record. His words are always outstanding, push play on the video below and you’ll have a chuckle as John relays a few memories of times with John Spencer, Turn the volume up 🙂

Its A Woody But It Won’t Float

Its A Woody But It Won’t Float
They say life goes something like this – Boat > Motorhome > Die

Will if you are in or approaching the middle category the Holzmobil woody motor home would have to be the pick of the bunch. They are built from sustainable wood from floor to ceiling and are one of the warmest motor homes you can find. It has all the home comforts – refrigerator, cooker, bathroom etc + the oiled timber finish as well as smelling nice, allows moisture out and prevents warping.


Still Looking For A Boat Story – 2pm today at Peter Brookes Boat Yard – details below


SPECIAL INVITATION –  A Peek Inside One of Your Best Wooden Boatbuilders Shed

You are invited to an open afternoon at Brookes Boatbuilders, to view the restoration of:

  1. Fife Yacht, Impala
  2. Refit of K class yacht, Katrina II
  3. Restoration of Launch, Amakura II
  4. The many other wooden boats at the yard – Matia, Ladye Wilma, Kotiri, Pilot Cutter, Kenya II (Peter’s own classic launch)

DATE: TODAY

TIME: 2pm-7pm

ADDRESS: 108 Woodhill Park Road, Waimauku, Auckland
These invites only happen every 3>4 years so woodys do not miss out, it will be an amazing afternoon.

The Rebie – V55 – Sailing Sunday

THE REBIE Y55 – Sailing Sunday
David Campball-Morrsion sent in the above photo of the mullet boat – The Reble, which David’s father in law and a couple of mates owned before the war, his name was Arthur Coughlan (Buster) and they kept her in St Marys Bay in Auckland. The bridge motorway put paid to that area years later.The Reble had the skull and cross bones on the main as in the photo.
Buster played for Ponsonby Rugby Club and became a NZ Barbarian just before the war and became a Ponsonby life member and an Auckland rugby selector, also an active member of the Ponsonby Cruising club.


After the war Buster and family moved to Dunedin for ten years which he claimed was his sentence, they then moved back to Auckland to take up the position of personal manager at Pacific Steel when it opened. David would take him out a number of times on the family yacht, then in their launch Arima, but David commented that fishing in his tinny at Coromandel was his love in his later years.


David is keen to learn what became of The Rebie post the Arthur Coughlan (Buster) ownership period. 


Big WW milestone yesterday, the odometer clicked past 6,000,000 views – I got so excited when it went into 4 digits, used to check it every 1/2 hr to see how many and who was visiting the site 🙂 


 Can we put Russell Ward out of his misery? Russell sent in the 2 photos below of a boat named Silver Spray, that dropped anchor on Friday night below him, in Scotts Bay /Landing – from the distance she appeared to be approx. 40’, with a counter stern, slightly Wild Dock looking. Any one know the boat?

Silver Spray when an Island Bay fishing boat launched c. 1938 (photo ex Baden Pascoe)

Poneke > Nancy Stair

PONEKE – Sailing Sunday
In the above photo, c.1893, we see the Tom Le Huquet built yacht – Poneke. I understand Le Huquet built her in the same year for Fred Hunt. Later on (possibly 1897) she had a name change to Nancy Star Stair and moved to Wellington. The location of the photo is on the hard by the boat sheds in Torpedo Bay, Devonport.


Do we know what became of Poneke?

29-09-2020 Input from Robin Elliott

The ex-Auckland yacht Poneke, renamed ‘Nancy STAIR’ [my capitals], arrived in Wellington in January 1907. The new name came from the titular heroine (no sniggers please) of a very popular American novel by Elinor McCartney Lane written in 1904 that was advertised nationwide in the papers over here throughout 1905 and 1906. By the middle of 1907 there was also a reasonably successful racehorse carrying the same name.

Nancy Stair, the yacht, is last mentioned in the Evening Post 5 November 1927 :
“It seems improbable that the Nancy Stair will come down this season. No work has yet been done on her.”
She was apparently broken up not long after.

The photo below on the WCYT website from the Petherick album shows her lying on the Evans/Lowry Bay foreshore – geography check needed – in a less than satisfactory state, stripped of all fittings and apparently ready for the knackers.

https://manybooks.net/titles/lanee2836628366-8.html


Check In To WW Tomorrow For The Trip Report On The Woody Classics Stillwater Picnic Cruise – Lots of photo 🙂

If you missed Stillwater, circle the diary for Sunday November 8th for our next woody boating cruise.

Tara-Nui

TARA-NUI
The motor-sailor Tara-Nui is a neibour of mine at Bayswater marina, owned by a friend Richard Poor. I have donated a few layers of skin sanding her in preparation for Uroxsys varnishing. Last week Dean Wright emailed in the above photos of Tara-Nui that he took back in 2010 of her in Homestead Bay, Moturua Island, Bay of Islands. 


Back in June 2015 on WW there was talk of Tara-Nui having a sister ship named Tebor. WW link here https://waitematawoodys.com/2015/06/21/tebor-sailing-sunday/At the time it was commented that the vessels were a John Gladden design. Are we able to confirm this and also can anyone tell us more about Tara-Nui’s past. Richard keeps her is top condition and is a frequent visitor to the Pacific Islands. 

RSVP waitematawoodys@gmail.com

Aotea

C.1981 Far North
c.1981 Far North

AOTEA – Sailing Sunday 
The owner of the H28 Aotea, Peter Sporle, contacted WW recently seeking help uncovering information on her early history.What we know is that Aotea was built in 1954 in Mangonui Harbour, Northland, from kauri carvel planks. She has an iron keel and was originally ketch rigged.


In 1958 Aotea won the Balokovic Cup for her owner Brian O’Donaghue. Below is an article that BO’D wrote on H28’s and Aotea for the August 1962 issue of Sea Spray magazine.She was owned by Sir Keith Park. And a gentleman named Ian Miller owned for 7 years from approx. 1973>1980. Peter S bought her in Sept 1980 and still owns her – since 1990, she has been based at Tryphena, Great Barrier Island. Aotea was relaunched in October 2018 after a refit on the island.
Above also is a short video of Aotea afloat, post re-launching, looking very smart.

02-09-2020 Input From Robin Elliott –

Aotea has had the following Registered owners – as far as i know:
As D-11, ketch rigged.
B.C. Watson (Mangonui) 1953+?; B. O’Donohue (Whangarei) 1954?/61; Sir Keith Park 1961+?; T. O’Brien 1967+?
The date for B.C. Watson is the date he registered her, not necessarily the date she was launched.

In 1967 she appears to have been converted to single mast as she is re-registered in the E-Class as E-263.
T. O’Brien 1967/69+?; P.J. Cole (Matakana) 1970+? A. Wood 1971+? (Still Registered as Owner NZYF 1978); I.H. Miller 1976+?
You will note the overlap there. The registration lists are notorious for duff information and should always be viewed with caution; e.g. A. Wood appearing in 1971 and still shows as the registered owner in 1977/78 at the same time that Aotea is registered to I H. Miller with RAYC 1976/77 season where we know she did a lot of J.O.G. racing

In 1969 she took NZYF number 663

Trophies are:
RAYC: Balokovic Cup 1958
Onerahi YC: 100 miler 1960
Whangarei CC: Harbour Regatta Assn Auxilliary Cup 1960

SLOW LOADING OF WW SITE – IF YOU HAVE BEEN EXPERIENCING VERY SLOW LOADING OF THE WW HOME PAGE – I APOLOGISE – ISSUE NOW FIXED. Thank you to Geoff Bagnall for alerting me to the issue 🙂

RSVP waitematawoodys@gmail.com

Wooden Pond Yachts + Next Woody Event Details

WOODEN MODEL / POND YACHTS


If you are a regular WW reader you may recall that I have a fondness for pond yachts or as we call them in NZ – model yachts. One of my favourites makes a cameo appearance in the photo below. I don’t ’sail’ them, just collect. Last week I uncovered this very cool video of Rich Hilsinger (WoodenBoat School director) chatting with pond yacht guru – Them McLaughlin.

The video is labeled ‘The Elegance & Joy of Wooden Pond Yachts’ – grab your favourite chair and push play, then sit back as these two gents entertain and enlighten you 🙂

NEXT WOODY CLASSICS WEEKEND EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT

RSVP Via The Form Below 🙂

Input from Russell Ward – “I had a Star pond yacht as a kid aged 4 in the UK. Had a lot of fun with it in Littlehampton, the local harbour where the old man kept his boat. The Star was really just a toy and made in the thousands from 1918 -82. The makers guaranteed them to sail. They are quite collectable now. See the photos below of the business.I made one (The Duke – refer below) up for grandson for his 7th birthday with some slight mods to enable it to cope in Wellington! I was amazed how well it sailed when let adrift with no particular fine adjustments of sails once the sails were set slack and rudder set. It tacked, luffed in the gusts and sailed off, you name it. All with no attention. We caught it at the other side of the pond some time later. Great fun and highly recommended as a bonding exercise.By the way, there were no fences round the pond at Avalon in Petone. No kids appeared to have been drowned that day.

Pakawai

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PAKAWAI

I’m told its difficult to design a small boat that to the eye is proportionally right. Saying that Colin Wild didn’t have any problems – there are some stunning sub 35’ Col Wild launches afloat.

 
Today’s woody – Pakawai, pictured here on Lake Wakatipu in 2004, she ticks all my boxes, which is even more surprising when I learnt she was an ex work-boat. 
 
Parawai started life was as one of two work-boats aboard the Southland Harbour Board tug – Awarua. The tug was built by Lobnitz of Glasgow in 1931.
 
Pawawai started out as an open hull, carvel built, with no mast or engine. Unsure whether she was built in NZ or arrived in NZ on Awarua.
She was rebuilt and named Pakawai by Alistair Young of Invercargill. 
Thanks to David Neville for the above photo and details. Andrew commented that she resides in North Otago these days.

Classic Yacht Porn – Mariquita

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CLASSIC YACHT PORN – MARIQUITA

In February the worldwide owners of classic wooden yachts held their breath as one of the worlds most stunning classics – the 125’, 1911 W. Fife III designed and built – Mariquita, went to a no-reserve auction in Paris. This auction would probably set the bench mark for future sails. 
On the day Mariquita sold for £357,000 – that just over NZD$700k, a bargain and I bet you could hear a pin drop in the members bar at the – New York YC, Yacht Club de Monaco, Royal Yacht Club and the Royal Thames Yacht Club. Not that long ago the asking price was £2,750,000.
I came across the YouTube video below – ‘Sailing Aboard Mariquita’ on the Classic Sail fb page. It is a tad sales promo but a great video, they had British sailing legend, Harold Ludmore, onboard calling the shots. Its well worth 12’ of your time to watch. Below also is a transcript.

TRANSCRIPT

Take a look at this boat… she’s one of the most beautiful boats ever built…

She’s Mariquita launched in 1911 and she’s a piece of maritime history – an antique – but very much afloat and being raced like she was new.

I once joined her for a week in Italy sailing aboard as regatta crew, and it’s one of the best experiences I’ve  ever had.

She’s sailed as she would have been in 1911 – no winches , everything is done with pulleys on the deck and she’s gaff rig so there’s lots of cordage.

She has 18 crew – six are permanent, six sign on for a season and then they take on six for each regatta.

She was restored to be sailed at these big classic regattas – especially in the Mediterranean.

She’s a big class yacht – with a length on deck or overall being 95ft – taken out to 125ft over her bowsprit and boom. She draws 12ft… so she’s no creek crawler!

She was rebuilt and relaunched in 2004, by Fairlie restorations, now sadly no more. The craftsmanship of her restoration was superlative, I saw her at the time and every feature about her was excellent. They’d recreated a dream-boat from another time and now instead of being in black and white here was the honey colour of her varnished hatches, the polished brass of her fittings and the lovely warm grey of her teak decks – which feel so good under bare feet.

She’s composite construction so she has a steel rib cage – or frame, over which wooden planks are fastened, and this was how she was built originally. It makes her very strong and she has been and she can… be raced hard.

Her first owner was Arthur Stothert, who was 49 when he had her built in 1911. Her designer was William Fife. She’s built to the 19 M rule – only four boats were built – all in 1911 and Fife built two of them, the other two were by Nicholson and Mylne…

They raced briefly before the first world war and then Mariquita was sold to Norway… she raced again in Britain between the wars – but there was no 19-M class by then, and then she ended up dismasted and de-rigged in a mud berth in WW2 first at the Deben and later on the Orwell at Pin Mill. There she lay as a houseboat, and that was where she was discovered in 1987 by William Collier who was scouting out such classics for the famous Ferrari collector Albert Obrist.

Obrist, who had sold most of his cars, had moved on to boats and had restored and just relaunched the 107ft (33m) 1931 Fife schooner Altair – often cited as the restoration that set the standards for all to follow.

In 1991 Obrist set up Fairlie Restorations, the high quality classic yacht specialist on the Hamble. Mariquita was acquired awaiting an owner and Ernst Klaus and Peter Livanos came to her rescue having a superb restoration completed at Fairlies between 2001 and 2004.

They kept and race Mariquita until her centenerary year – with Jim Thom as her captain… and then ten years later… with her new owners and skipper I got a chance to sail aboard.

This was at Porto Santo Stefano for the Argentario sailing week every June since 1998 in lovely Southern Tuscany.

I was to be one of the six regatta crew they take on for a week… First things first – you get assigned your personal water bottle – no single use plastic here… I met some old friends – Cornelius and Dickie.

The pros are up early, Billy the bosun coils ropes along with Robyn and Pippa, who are sailors as well as chief stewardess and cook

I meet George the captain, who was Jim Thom’s mate – talking to Matty the mate and then the helmsman – also the owner – Johnny Caulcutt came aboard…

Soon it was time to meet a sailing legend – Harold Cudmore who is our tactician for the week. The days start with warm up exercises which include a few stretches and we all get a bit hands on as well – this is a good idea and gets you ready for when you are going to do some pulley hauling… And it’s time to raise the sails.

Cudmore’s already counting down to the start and I’m up here on the foredeck, with Richard Sawle and the bowman Jérôme Collet – Jerome’s a relaxed kind of cat – until he needs to leap into the rigging. Matty the mate and Millie are also on the foredeck, and from my position at the end of the mainsheet I can see right back down the deck.

The sheet is called by Peter or Tubsy Brook. I help in hanking on the jib topsail… It’s good to be out on the bowsprit when you’re office bound… of course in my head I still think I’m the schoonerman of my youth!

Fully rigged she looks fully dressed – with a lot of sail area high up to catch the wind; note the jib topsl which is flaked and tied up in wool ready to be broken out by tugging it sheet when needed…

With an upwind sail area of more than 6,000 sq feet she’s capable of kicking up some sea dust – even in these light airs.

If people in Santo Stefano look out of their window they get a nice view today – we’re here with some other big boats –Shamrock and Cambria

Shamrock V was the first J Class to be built – in 1930 – for Thomas Lipton’s fifth attempt to win back the America’s Cup for Britain. She’s uncompetitive in the modern J Class but she just leaves us in her wake… she’s built of wood on steel frames as well.

Eleonora the replica Herreshoff schooner is the biggest vessel here…

Between tacks the crew lies on the weather deck, with Milly, forward, calling the trim on the jib with hand signals.

The folk of another Fife – Halloween, from 1926 and a Bermudan design are slowly overtaking us… The next boat to overtake us is Cambria and she takes about four minutes to haul ahead – hand over hand she’s the faster boat and although our gaff handicap will help she’s the one to beat – she won in our class the year before.

And has Cudmore got a plan? I like his look of concentration – and it turns out, the next day he does…  But we’re sailing well and the pros have taken us newbies in hand – hauling on ropes can be hard work – but my hands aren’t sore…

A few hours later we get to the end of the race and realise Cambria has missed a mark – she’s stopped and her sails are coming down. They get radioed and put them back up to carry on racing. Later Cudmore notes that it gave us 23 minutes on them, we have won… Day One. We have a beer with our debrief and there are tacit congratulations… Cudmore mentions the light airs are suiting us with Shamrock V as well – plus they left their big genoa behind.

Saturday’s a magic day – not just to be sailing in these waters, but we’re going to see a master tactician at work

The race is about 26 miles in a flat diamond course north of Porto Santo Stefano out into deeper water and then round a second mark in the bay of Talamoné  – the third mark is an inshore-ish mark

The wind forecast had the wind backing SW to SE – mainly light airs – which would suit us.

The race starts well and shortly after midday we’ve rounded the second mark – Cambria is ahead of us, and we can see her slowed right down with yachts around her pointing in different directions –

Away off to port on the shoreside the NY40 Chinook is hugging the shoreline and she has wind… Cudmore alters us to steer between Chinook and Cambria. And unbelievably there is enough air to carry us past them. We are literally 200 yards to Cambria‘s port… we hit the convergence ourselves about a couple of minutes later and Cudmore has everyone lying on deck with the sails sheeted amidships… we don’t dare breathe as we feel the 36 tons of lead carrying us forward with sheer silent momentum through the pellucid green waters below.

It was extraordinary thing to call  and even better to witness, especially sailing that close to the convergence zone which was caused by the meeting of an offshore and offshore breeze…

Later Harold told me: “There were two breezes today and we had three occasions – crossing back and forwards between them – to benefit from that. Picking where and how to do that was the race decider.

Cambria was clearly ahead of us but when she lost her wind we saw a smaller boat over on the shore side (Chinook) which had wind, so we could steer between the two and just keep our wind (and stay out of the convergence). Today was a day you would call a heads-out-of-the-boat day. We were all looking at what was happening around us – but there was also a lot of luck involved.

“I think it’s great that we are beginning to race these boats as they were raced 100 years ago and we have more and more respect for our forebears who raced them then. We have better materials now – better rope and so on – but otherwise the conditions are similar.”

It gave us another decisive win and Harold was rightly congratulated; when he comes into the Marco Polo restaurant later that evening he gets a round of applause.

After that a win the next day seems assured. We are on a high. Captain George says this is the first time since she was launched that Mariquita won three races in a row… It’s an auspicious season start – that year she wins the Panerai Trophy in the Big Class overall…

It was a shame to hear she was laid up in Lymington – under covers in 2015 and has been ever since – but there are a few of us who can’t afford to run boats at the moment… She remains a boat of dreams, a vessel that others flock to see. And I treasure that week, the fantastic sailing… and seeing Mr Cudmore’s genius at work.

Mariquita 1911, Designed by Wm Fife III

LOS 125ft (38m)
LOA 95ft 6in (29m)
LWL 66ft (19m)
beam  17ft 4in (5.3m)
Draught  12ft (3.7m)
Sail area Upwind  6,171 sqft (573m2)