Australian Wooden Boat Festival – Boat Folk Video Series

Australian Wooden Boat Festival – Folk Boat Video Series

The good folks behind the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart have like a lot of people and events been cruelly affected by CV19 but unlike a lot that just rolled over – AWBF has been hosted some innovative channels to keep their festival top of mind with woodys around the world. One of the gigs is tagged – Boat Folk, a video series that profiles the characters and wooden boats the festival attracts. Behind each of these unique vessels is a unique person (or group of people) with a wealth of knowledge, fascinating stories, and a novel perspective on life.

Number 2 in the Boat Folks series features Ben Marris, owner of Saona , Ben Marris was Chair of the AWBF for many years. Saona was the last boat built by Charles Lucas in his yard in 1936. Ben and wife Jane purchased Saona in 1993 and have since sailed her in the 1998 Tall Ships race from Sydney to Hobart, circumnavigated Tasmania. As members of the Kettering Yacht Club, the couple now cruise the waters surrounding Bruny Island on her and enjoy Wednesday night races with family. Saona is one of a small number of wooden boats that have attended every festival since its inception in 1994. 

Camp Cruising the Maine Coast

Camp Cruising the Maine Coast

Some of you will be aware of the name Steve Stone – Steve is one of the founders of the uber cool weblog – Off Center Harbor that I regularly plug on WW, OCH is a subscription driven weblog that just about answers every question you would ever want an answer to concerning wooden boats and enjoying life afloat. 

The team at OCH have been suffering bad from cabin fever as the USA has been savaged by Covid, so as things have eased up in terms of getting out and about – there is some serious on-the-water catch-up happening.

Steve has just started a cruise of the entire Maine Coast (refer chart below) in a 19’ open Caledonia Yawl named Howdy.  Each day Steve is posting images and short video clips of the cruise on Instagram that you can follow on the bottom of the members’ home page (signed in) on Off Center Harbor. You don’t need an Instagram account to follow all that on the members home page of Off Center Harbor. And for those that aren’t OCH subscribers – you can also follow on OCH’s Instagram page directly as well, link below – 

OCH’s Instagram.

I spotted Steve wearing a waitematawoodys t-shirt, so thought I had better give his trip a plug, so far there is some very cool scenery and boat footage – so woodys check in each day and see how the 260+ mile journey is unfolding 🙂

Check out the OCH weblog here

RAINDANCE UPDATE: Following on from the TLC that RD received at the Slipway Milford, I have had Moon Engines upgrading and servicing all the bits that are bolted on – then a quick polish with WD40 – I know, no one sees it, but I know 🙂

Taioma SOS


Over the last 48 hours I have had a lot of calls from woodys that spotted the 30’ Lidgard built yacht – Taioma on trademe as an abandoned vessel. Current bid is $10.50 and the reserve has been meet. The auction closes on July 19th. You are bidding on the hull only, and the motor is unknown condition. But the wooden mast and boom + a mainsail have been located and will go with the boat, if wanted (stored in a different location).

Woodys, someone will ’steal’ this boat and as a last resort that hatch has to be worth what ever the purchase price the boat ends up at. I do not do this often – but here is the tme link

Bill Brown commented to me that Taioma was restored in the 1990’s by Gary Underwood and pointed me in the direction of Gary’s blog, details and photos below:

“Taioma is a 1936 Fred Lidgard kauri sloop of 28 ft. We bought her for  $5000 in 1995 and did a 60 day full refit at the ‘Bolthole’ in Auckland. She was a great live-aboard for a year alongside our boat shed in Whangarei while we were building ‘BOOTSTRAP’. Note the full bulkhead at the mast which gives an end to the saloon and provides support for the table, which lowers to give us a full double bunk athwartships. Its like a kind of ‘dresser’. The f’csle has a portapotti and bosubs store, access thru the fore hatch. Also stiffens the boat up as she had a big rig.”

Oranui – Part Two

Waikawa early 2000’s
Hobsonville Aug 2008
Hutcheson Boat-builders 08-11-2011

ORANUI – Part Two
Yesterdays request for more intel on the yacht Oranui, hit the jackpot when Marl McLaughlin opened his WW email yesterday. Mark sent in the above and below selection of photos. If you missed yesterdays story, might be best to scroll down first and read /view it then read Mark’s input – reproduced below.

“Further to the “what became of her story” on Oranui, I have sent in some extra info and photos. The obituary details are for her builder and original owner Eric Tomkies, taken from the winter 1988 edition of the RPNYC magazine “The Rip”. Eric Tomkies was a distant relation of mine (he and my grandfather were cousins) and I know Oranui well.

Previously brothers Eric, Clinton and Horace Tomkies built the 47ft Burns designed RAKOA and sailed her extensively. I have included a photo (below) of Rakoa from the Gisborne Photo News, June 1954. Unfortunately Rakoa was later lost when working as a fishing boat at Stewart Island and what remains now rests on the seabed in Foveaux Strait. 

Oranui was sturdily built in strip planked kauri on a hardwood backbone. Heavy scantlings are typical of Athol Burns’ style and it is notable in the magazine article that of the six boats that came ashore in the Wahine storm, it was only the two Athol Burns boats (Hinemoana III was the other one), that were re-floated. 

Oranui has spent most of her life in the Wellington and Marlborough Sounds regions. Her 3cyl Volvo Penta diesel was re-powered with a 4cyl 52hp Yanmar diesel engine in 1999 and she circumnavigated the South Island in the early 2000’s. She was then sold to a New Plymouth based owner who cruised her extensively between New Plymouth and Nelson/Marlborough Sounds and also up to Auckland. I have attached a photo of her on the hardstand at Hobsonville Marina during this time. She was then sold in 2011 to a Wellington based Doctor who sent her to Hutcheson Boatbuilders in Tauranga for a refit before taking her back to Wellington. I spotted her motoring around Picton Harbour in January this year looking as good as new.

As per most Athol Burns designs she is functional but beautiful, and very sea-kindly for Cook Strait conditions. “

FOOT NOTE: Mark believes the RPNYC article is confusing the Wahine storm in 1968 with the storm in 1966 which the Sea Spray article about Oranui and Hinemoana III relates to. However, Eric’s brother Clinton Tomkies did tell him that Oranui came ashore in the Wahine storm as well, but he could have been confusing it with the 1966 storm too 🙂