Classic Launches at Westhaven Marina c.1971


If you are on fb and have a passion for wooden boats, the name Tad Roberts will be familiar to you, Canadian born Tad has over 1,000 designs in his portfolio and is one of the most prolific postings / commentators on fb. Yesterday Tad posted the above photo and commented “who says a hard-chine plywood sailing yacht can’t be pretty. 40’ design by John Spencer, launched in New Zealand 1971”.

Being plywood and 1971 – Odessa isn’t the focus of todays story, what is, is the impressive line up of launches across the fairway from her. Given its an average day for boating, chances are some you might be spending longer on WW today than normal – lets see if we can collectively put names to the boats, L>R, I have tagged each boating a photo below. Relies via the WW comments section.

Got some very ‘robust’ emails as a result of yesterdays story on the cancellation of the Mahurangi Regatta. But the negative ones were out numbered 7 to 1 by positive feedback. I appreciate them all, especially the negatives on, it can’t be easy typing with 6 fingers. 


1. Kalua (prev Miss Betty)

2. Shipbuilders recently at HMB Marina 

3. Okareka / Fergy

4. Romany II

5. Lady Ethel or sister

6. Wakanui

7. White Cloud

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

Endeavour Gets A Birthday


Todays woody – the 1953 A. Couldrey designed, Brin Wilson built launch – Endeavour is currently out at the Slipway Milford for some serious TLC. The launch as been owned by the Beachman family for many years, originally by Borrie Beachman, then sold to Jack Matich and converted to a motorsailer (photo below) for commercial fishing on the Kaipara Harbour. Borries nephew, Paul Beachman bought the vessel back and returned her to a sedan launch. These days Paul and son Brin look after Endeavour. I’m very happy to see the mast is down, I have been nudging Paul about revarnishing it for years 🙂

Endeavour has made several appearances at woody events and its always cool to see the whole family enjoying the boat.

Link to a previous WW story

03-02-2023 UPDATE ex Harold Kidd – ENDEAVOUR was designed by Bill Couldrey but NOT built by him. Brin Wilson built her for Borrie Beachman.

Mystery Motueka Launch – Awarere


This ones going to be a long shot – the photo above of a newly built launch being transported to Port Motueka comes to us from the Transport (Nelson) Holdings fb site via Brian Mchaffe via Maurice Sharp.

Brian commented that it was from back in the days when the job just got done i.e. no pilot vehicle, no flags. No flashing lights and certainly no cones or a certified trailer.

So woodys anyone able to put a name to the launch and its builder?

UPDATE ex JOHN BURLAND – the boats named Awatere and was built by Keith Calder. Photo below of the launching – the photo comes to us from the Motueka Historical Association via Colin Starnes via Brian McHaffie.

UPDATE EX COLIN STARNES – Awarere built by Keith Calder to his own design. Launched early 1960s originally powered by a Perkins which was swapped out for a 4 cylinder Ford not long after launching. Awarere last noted on Picton Waikawa area. Keith was brother of Don whose launch Graham John recently featured on WW after her fine makeover in Napier – link here


Below as of last night – I understand MCC will be making a decision tonight (Thursday). Dockside chat is that the shore based activities have already been cancelled – TBC

UPDATE 26-01-2023 9.30AM

Amakura II Re-launched


Seems its the time of the year for relaunches, recently we had Haunui back in after a 2+ year rebuild and yesterday it was the turn of Amakura II.

The 52’ Colin Wild designed and built woody was launched in 1936 and excluding a few minor additions has remained very original. I have been aboard several times and was always impressed with her presentation.

Nearly (maybe longer) 3 years ago her owners made the call to haul her out and engaged maestro boat builder / restorer Peter Brookes and his team to intake a complete refit. 

Regular followers of the WW site will know that work at the Brookes yard is a bit like the breeding of elephants, whose gestation period is > 2 years but the workmanship is second to none. Supported by the fact that numerous classic owners have returned to the yard with other craft.

Fast forward to yesterday and Amakura II was gently set afloat again at the Hobsonville Marina in West Auckland.

As we have come to expect from anything that comes out of the Peters Waimauku yard she is a work of art – well done to Yvonne and Chris for this amazing restoration. 

Below are links to previous WW stories on Amakura II – the first one, shows the extent of the refit.

Nov 2020.

May 2018

April 2017

Mystery Launch On The Waitemata

Mystery Launch On The Waitemata – TAMAKI

Another photo from Brian Peet, the craft was designed and built by Jim Young. Brian commented that he assumes the piece of hardware on the cabin top is the exhaust muffler and if so, then that’s a maritime engineering feature thankfully consigned to the ‘no longer a good idea’ rubbish bin. 🙂

So woodys – what’s the name of the launch, who was it built for and what became of her?

Input ex Brian Peet –  It’s the Tamaki Yacht Clubs patrol boat, imaginatively called ‘Tamaki’.  Designed and built by Jim Young. My father John Peet was Secretary of the TYC, so became the go-between for the club and Jim to get the project underway.

Input ex Neil Chalmers – I found the below extract from ‘’ The Tamaki Yacht Club :  A brief history of its 75 years ‘’ by Frank Davis 13 April 2002.By the way ‘Tamaki’ is moored at OBC and has a blue engine. I think Brian  Peet and I should share the cigar 🙂

25-01-2023 INPUT ex ROBIN ELLIOTT – Neil’s input is correct. Jim Young built her but did not design the Tamaki.

Sea Spray November 1952 page 11. ” At J.H. Young’s yard was the new rescue boat for the Tamaki Yacht Club. She is built to a design by P.W. Willetts and will be finished off by club members.”

I’m not sure when she was actually launched but the second photo appeared in Sea Spray October 1953 page 38. The caption also states that she was a Peter Willetts design. 

As to the exhaust, it is there because she was to rescue and retrieve crews from capsized centreboarders. Most centreboarders of the time could not right themselves (although that was quickly changing) and had to be towed to shore, partly submerged.  

“Note the low freeboard and narrow decks aft, ample cockpit and the exhaust above the cabin top, out of the way of the people being rescued. ….  Power comes from an Austin Skipper.”

WW doesn’t do death notices so you have to have been a good bugger to get one. Well Alan was more than a good bugger he was one of the best. He rubbed up against so many classic boat owners and admirers that I’m sure it will be standing room only at his funeral – 10.30am, Feb 1st, Davis Funeral Home, Henderson.

Our thoughts go out to his partner – Nicky and family.




WoW – double WoW – Luckily WW has spies everywhere – one of the team was walking the docks yesterday and spotted the 1948 Colin Wild built Haunui afloat in one of Auckland’s marinas.

WW has been covering the rebuild / restoration of the woody for several years, links below, click on the headline of each panel to see the full story.

Seems the owner chose to do a sneaky splash, I’m told there is still work to be finished and system testing etc – but woodys I assure you there will be more photos soon 😉

Sorry for low res images – spy needs to upgrade their tools 🙂

Nelson Marina Mooching

Nelson Marina Mooching

Shamus Fairhead, owner of the very smart woody – Sequoia, sent in a photo report from a recent sortie to Nelson.

Above we see the launches – Lady Dorothy > Rarangi > Kanona. Shamus commented that Lady Dorothy had Oliver & Gilpin written all over her. Rarangi has made several appearances on WW – link here

The other two are WW virgins i.e. have not appeared on the site before, so keen to learn more about these wooden craft.

26-01-2023 INPUT EX MARK MCLAUGHLIN – KANONA was built in Havelock by Sonny Johnson in the early 1960’s and was used until the early 1970’s by the Johnson family for the mail run there. She was then used as a commercial passenger boat out of Havelock under different owners (Eric Huddleston was one, there may have been more) until the mid 1990’s when she was sold to Nelson. The flying bridge and cockpit dodger roof and covers are additions since her time in Nelson. I travelled on her once on the way home from a high school camp in the Sounds and she is quite fast.

Eye Candy

One of my Waiheke spies sent in the photo below of Lady Crossley and LC’s owners daughters launch at anchor – we like woody families 🙂

Mystery Launch + Competition

Mystery Launch + Competition (Posiedon > Bontia)

Yesterday I was contacted by Brian Peet regarding the above photo. I’ll let Brian tell the story-

“My late father’s cousin Graham Hamblin gave me a photo of a launch owned by another long departed family member, Percy Hewitt. We don’t have a name or any other details for the boat, but to my untrained eye, it looks under 30ft long, 1950s with possibly American influences. The bow looks most unusual and not a styling that got picked up by NZ designers to any extent. Percy lived at Bucklands Beach and apparently raced the launch a few times in the Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta”. 

INPUT EX KEN RICKETTS – well that was easier than expected, KR advised the boat was named Posiedon, later changed to Bonita – details here in her 2013 WW story

 So woodys has anyone ever seen this launch before? Might be hard to confirm the accuracy of suggestions, so how does this sound – the most believable / entertaining suggestion will get a WW t-shirt and Lake Rotoiti Classic & Wooden Boat calendar. Suggestions in the WW comments section please. Closes off midnight 21/01/23.

Ethel Big Game Fishing

Ethel Big Game Fishing

The passage of life sometimes is a tad scary – recently I have been doing several stories based around Whangaroa Harbour in the Far North and  yesterday the phone rings and one of the last standing relatives has passed on – and where is the funeral – Whangaroa, so tomorrow the car will be pointing north. These events are never good but in her mid 90’s, it will be a celebration of life.

Anyway moving on to todays story – thanks to a Lew Redwood fb post we get to see a c.1931 photo gallery of the launch – Ethel in / around Whangaroa Harbour, in her big game fishing heyday. Regular WW readers will known my personal views on this heinous practice – one photo is tagged ‘Mako shark being killed with a spade’. Ok its not a spade, but seriously how barbaric is that.

(Photos ex The British Museum collection)

Get a Wee Bit Excited About The Upcoming Mahurangi Regatta – next weekend – Jan 28th.