As has become my norm for Waitangi holiday weekend early on Saturday morning I pointed the car south and made my way to Lake Rotoiti in the middle of NZ’s North Island. 

2023 marked the 26th anniversary of the event and after a horror week of ‘once in a 100 years’ rain storms I had concerns that the parade might be postponed or cancelled. Well woodys as you’ll see from the above photo gallery, my fears were redundant.

The day started overcast with some light drizzle but this passed thru before the parade kicked off at 11am. Numbers were down a little from last year but conditions were perfect on the lake. 

Enjoy the gallery above – if you’re craft is featured above and you want a high res copy of the photo, drop me an email at the address below. Apologise if I missed your boat or if the odd photo is a little out of focus – just me in a run-about jiggling the throttle, looking out for other boats and holding the camera 🙂

My pick of the boat I’d most like tied up at my imaginary lake jetty is – ELLEN (#14), 26’ in length, built in 2004 in strip planked cedar from a plug taken off an old abandoned hull found in Kopu. Thought to be a ‘Milkmaid’ design by Bailey & Lowe. Powered by a 29hp diesel.  In my eyes just perfect. Photo below

Special thanks again to Dave and Glenys Wilson for the loan of a boat to get me out on the lake.

As always – click on photos to enlarge.

Lastly I never tire of the sound of big V8 (5.7L)  water exhausts. Shawn Vennell, the owner of Judy H, was lining me up for a prop shower – a few words of warning as to what my reaction would be, made him change his mind 😉


Why No Wooden Boat Regatta Today


Today we should have been floating around the Mahurangi Harbour enjoying what has become the biggest one day, on-the-water boating event in New Zealand – the annual Mahurangi Regatta. I have posted a link below to a previous regatta to remind us all how good it can be.

Sadly the weather gods dealt us a crap hand and we all get to stay at home. I understand and support not going ahead with the event this weekend (Auckland’s 3 day Anniversary Day holiday weekend) BUT what I can not understand is why wasn’t there a back up plan in place to run the regatta the following weekend, which is also a 3 day holiday weekend. The organisers of the regatta should have just made the call to run with next weekend. 

This lack of forward thinking means the wooden boating movement misses out on the fun, friendship and fraternity that is acquired rubbing up against like minded woody enthusiasts. We need this to maintain our passion for another 12 months.

As I type this I can imagine the team of volunteers at the Mahurangi Cruising Club and other groups involved – thinking “bloody smart ass, why doesn’t he put his hand up to help” – short answer – ‘already too busy with WW’ BUT at your next committee meeting how about adding to the agenda – How Do We Future Proof The Regatta’ and ‘Is It Time To Appoint A Paid Event Organiser’. If the regatta isn’t already as big as the Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta it must be very close – be brave and pull on the big boys pants.


Great early morning video of some of the fleet at anchor in Sullivan Bay. Cameraman/’pilot’ is Neil Lawton

Mokoia – Sailing Sunday

MOKOIA- Sailing Sunday

Todays woody – the yacht MOKOIA (spelling?) was spotted by Barbara Cooke during the week in the Bay of Islands.

Looks like she is set up for some serious cruising.

Can we learn more about Mokoia?

UPDATE ex owner – Jim Loft – MOKOIA, 39′ Bob Stewart design (Camelot). Woody built c.1965 by Max Carter.

INPUT EX ROBIN ELLIOTT – Mokoia was one of 3 Bob Stewart design Camelots under construction simultaneously at Max Carters in 1965. Photo on page 63, Sea Spray Sept. 1965.

Mokoia for I. Falconbridge, Camelot for I. Broadfoot and Ilex for W. Macky.

She was registered in 1965 as B-54, taking NZYF number 154 in 1969.
Dimensions at time of her 1965 registration were:
39ft x 34ft x 10ft 6in x 5ft, 324 sqft sail area, ballast 3 ton, engine Ruston rover.

Mokoia was raced and cruised by Falconbridge up to at least 1971 and was still registered to him in 1976. ………. but ???

According to Sea Spray April 1973, Mokoia was entered by ‘H. Vega owner/skipper’ of Mokoia in the Auckland Suva race. She was eventually registered to H. Vega in 1978.

As usual, NZYF registration details are plagued by conundrums and obsolete data.

From 1980 through to 2000, she had no registered owners with any of the published NZYF registers. My last recorded details are owners J.& K. Lott 2014-2021+

All details are subject to change 🙂




Earlier this month WW was contacted by Greg Philpott in regard to a comment on WW back in March 2018, concerning a gent named Ron Morgan who was trying to locate his old 24’ mullet boat named Echo. Echo had been at Whitianga but was taken to Beachlands to be rebuilt by a painter from the marina who Ron thinks went overseas before it was completed. Ron commented that the boat had a long history and was raced early last century. When Ron had it she was configured as a launch. Before selling it she had its cabin stripped off so could be just a hull.  Enter Greg Philpott who recently posted the picture above on the ex RNZN Facebook page with the primary interest being the Naval Base and the warships HMS Diomede and HMS Dunedin. The photo came from the British Museum files. On the fb posting there was a comment added by a William Ohealy as below. 

“That launch in photo is the Echo . We rebuilt her into a fine fishing boat / charter boat. But me dad got to old so was sold. We put a 6LW Gardner. Dam she was fast, 11 knots at 1100 rpm – sad to see her go. Last I saw her at Herald Island in the upper Auckland Harbour, sorry no photo. Put a forward wheel house on her. aft cockpit cabin and walk around deck. When first built was a 28 ft. mullet boat steamed up to Whangarei Harbour and added 7 ft. to the stern and made into a motor sailer. With a whole new keel. As a racing mullet was the fastest on the Auckland Harbour.”

So woodys, after digesting the above (some what convoluted) intel – can we ID the actual launch in the photo and possible join the dots to a Mullet boat link?

13-01-2023 Input ex Chris McMullen – Refer page below out of the 1945 Book  “Little Ships” by Ronald Carter.  It shows an early photograph of a Mullet Boat called “Echo”  (top left). Mullet Boats have built down aft sections (no deadwood)  Difficult to fit a propeller and make into a launch, but it has been done.  The design weakness in Wooden  Mullet Boats was the Centre board case.  Once Toredo worm got in the case and keel the damage was a big job to fix.  Enthusiast owners have done these repairs them selves. To have it done professionally would cost more than the boat was worth. So mullet boats were sold cheap. The new owner blocked off the centreboard slot, strengthened the keel, installed a motor and went fishing. 

The 26 foot Mullet Boat  “Corona”(now extensively rebuilt) almost suffered that fate. She disappeared for many years. As far as I know and fortunately the owners never worked out how to fit a propeller. Her hull was saved by some Mullet Boat Enthusiasts. Her Spars and Sails were long gone.   

INPUT EX HAROLD KIDD – There was an ECHO launch, 29ft, originally with a 10hp Lozier built by James Reid and domiciled in Devonport around this time. She was hauled out on the Devonport Ferry slip in 1919 and took part in the first race run by the Milford Cruising Club in 1924. I reckon this is the boat. As for the 1900 Clare 24ft mullet boat ECHO, she went to Thames in 1904 and was still in existence at Whitianga in a terrible state in 1989. NOT this boat.


WW has been contacted by Kerry Lilley, owner of the Woolley launch – Awariki asking for owners of Woolley designed/built classic launches attending this years Mahurangi Regatta (Jan 28th) to join Awariki in Saturday mornings launch parade – Kerry’s contact details are below, so drop him an email or call and he will explain in detail the plan to celebrate the Woolley marque. If you don’t own a Woolley but know someone who does – be nice and pass the message on 🙂

CONTACT DETAILS   –   027 292 3823

Classic Woody Summer Cruising – A Game Of Two Halves


Classic Woody Summer Cruising – A Game Of Two Halves

Happy New Year Woodys – WW is back ‘live’ so no more oops boating photos 🙂

On Saturday when I was reviewing and editing the above photos I struggled to believe that we had a xmas/ny cruise, but as they say the truth is in the photos 🙂

I decided to break todays story into two parts:

1. Raindance related

2. Woodys Out & About 

Mostly from my camera but assisted by Barbara Cooke (Bay of Islands), Mark Edmonds (Waiheke), Russell Ward, Jason Prew (upper harbour) and Alan Gilder (Woody Bay Rakino)

Raindance’s cruise / tiki tour mainly consisted of bouncing between Rakino Island and Waiheke Island. Left on 27 Dec and the weather was just stunning with crystal clear, warm water. On 01 Jan the forecast was starting to look very average and most concerning was all 3 weather platforms that I follow were saying the same thing. So early morning on 02 Jan we made the call to up anchor and head home. Turns out that was a good call because for the next 5+ days if it wasn’t raining it was drizzling non-stop + ugly seas and high winds.

So woodys the second half of our planned cruise was sent at home enjoying good food, wine, movies and watching almost every wooden / classic boating video on YouTube.

Very grateful we had 6 days of great weather before we pulled the pin. As an old salt told me once – when it comes to happy family boating – better to have a handful of fabulous days than an abundance of average days – very sage advise.

Enjoy the gallery.


Circle the calendar:

28 January – Mahurangi Regatta launch parade – more details closer to the day

25 February – Stillwater Picnic + Dockside Raft-Up – more details closer to the day

Johnny Wray’s Essentials Cruising List

Johnny Wray’s Essentials Cruising List

I’m sure all of you are aware of Johnny Wray’s book – ’South Sea Vagabonds’ , if you aren’t – where have you been 🙂

In the December 1949 issue of Seaspray magazine there was an article on Johnny’s 2nd boat – the 1946 launched – 44’ Waihape. As part of the story Johnny lists his 6 key essentials for extended cruising.

Link below for more details on Waihape ex previous WW story

Classic Wooden Boats At Waikawa Marina

Classic Wooden Boats At Waikawa Marina

Following on from last Mondays story where we shared Dean Wright’s recent Southern trip and a gallery of photos from the Havelock marina todays photo gallery comes to us from the Waikawa marina. Some stunning woodys and remember – click on photos to enlarge 😉

A lot of woodys that are new to WW and they will morph into WW stories in their own right.

Enjoy 🙂


The big bridgedecker with 4 ports is RAHEMO (launched as Strathmore), built by Dick Lang.

Others I can positively identify are (from the top):

VECA (Arthur Sang)

VAGABOND (Joe Jukes)





HUNTRESS (possibly McManaway designed/built?)

VARUA (Bob Swanson)

OSPREY (Harold Saunders)

PALOMINO (Bob Swanson)

TOANUI (Roger Carey)

Yacht ANNA JANE (?)

NUKUMEA (American “Bartender” design by George Calkins)

YVONNE (Bob Swanson)


Unknown fishing boat

KATOOMBA (Dorman Engineering, Nelson – not wood, built in Corten Steel!!)

Unknown (possibly Bruce Askew?)

CORYLUS (Bruce Askew)

TAREPO (launched TAREPA)


? (looks like a McManaway or Morgan fishing boat design?)

? (under the covers)

CRISTINA (Athol Burns)


Most of these have featured previously on WW, so a quick look in the search bar will glean more details if interested.

Shipwright Boat Builder Yachtsman – Woody Summer Reading Suggestions


#1 Summer Woody Read

I was contacted by Chris McMullen during the week with a suggestion that I make contact with noted kiwi yachtie and boat builder – Gilbert (Gil) Littler. Now when Mr McMuMullen ’suggests’ something I normally respond pretty quickly, second only to suggestions from Robert Brooke 🙂 24hrs later I’m having coffee with Gil and his wife Susan – why am I telling you this? Because Gil has just penned an amazing book titled – SHIPWRIGHT BOAT BUILDER YACHTSMAN 1962-1992. The 100+ page book is split into 3 sections:

Part One – A brief history of the Bailey Family 

Part Two – My Apprenticeship Years

Part Three – My Yacht Racing Years

I have squirreled away a copy for summer boat reading but I did do a quick dive into some of the pages and its a wonderfully refreshing read, more like sitting in a comfortable spot afloat and listening to Gil entertain you with his life story. Lots of photos and illustrations also to view. In CMcM’s words – This book is a gold mine of history and information. Written by a guy on the floor in the boatshop and a foredeck hand on a very famous Kiwi Yacht. By winning the One Ton Cup put New Zealand on the yachting map.

The $40 – + P&P – 100+ page book is self published so obtaining a copy is not as easy as walking down to your nearest book store but it is worth the effort. So to order a copy:

Email Gil at or go to (the website is being set up, so if you are in a hurry – use email) 

Gil & Susan are currently traveling so do not expect an instant reply 🙂

My 2nd Pick Is The Mahurangi Cruising Club Year Book

Now the title may sound a little boring but the contents certainly are not. Always a fantastic publication pulled together by design guru Steve Horsley. This year the theme is restorations and of interest to all woody boaties is an article on electrolysis. Plus a 16 page photo gallery of the 2022 regatta – all that for $20. As we speak its at the printers – so to secure / order a copy either email BOAT BOOKS or call 09 358 5691 (Boot Books 22 Westhaven Drive)

Copies will be available at the normal random outlets but BB is the safest bet.

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.