Whitianga Mystery Launch + Akarana Launch Day ‘Home’ Movie

Whitianga 1950

Whitianga Mystery Launch + Akarana Launch Day ‘Home’ Movie
Great photo above dated December 1950 of a lot of pleasure craft at Whitianga – the question is can we ID the white launch in the middle of the photo? Baden Pascoe will chip in, I’m sure 🙂
The Launching of Akarana
I was sent the above 2 minute ‘home’ movie by Ngairene Rogers of the launching of the 1960 Auckland pilot boat Akarana, designed by A.J. Collings & built by W.G. Lowe. Ngairene promised me the a copy of the movie approx. 8 months ago & I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived in the post. I’m sure Dick & Colleen Fisher, owners of Akarana, will be rapt to view it. So thank you Ngarene for sharing it with us.
(sorry about the ‘tattoo’s the middle off the screen – the price you pay for free hosting)
Ngairene’s brother Wade worked on Akarana when he was an apprentice in the early 1960s. He also did all the interior and detail work on Deodar (the harbour police launch), Ngairene commented that Wade was such a good boatbuilder that all the wealthy “yachties” used to ask that he be the one to work on their precious yachts, even though he was an apprentice.
The movie is in two parts, one section in black and white and the other in colour. There are also a few of bits of the boatbuilders clowning around (or working?), such as putting a plank of wood into a steamer.
Ngairene occasionally is in contact with one of the apprentices (Ross MacIntosh) featured in the movie, Ross lives in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill. In the movie Ross is the one wearing a pale short sleeved shirt and (short) brown shorts with a hammer sticking out of the belt on the left side – he walks away from the camera at one point then looks back over his shoulder and bends his left arm backwards as if waving.
You can view/read more on Dick Fisher’s restoration of Akarana here

Manaia – Launch Day + Volvo Race Start






MANAIA – Launch Day

The above photos of Manaia were sent to me by Paul Drake – I’ll let Paul tell the story behind them.

“The first four I took on launching day. I was 15 and in the midst of School Certificate. No exam that day, so off I went on my bike from home in Balmoral, camera in my bag. 

In the second pic, Capt. Warwick Dunsford can be seen in charge on the foredeck (white boiler suit and black beret). 

In the third pic, Percy Vos himself is clearly recognizable just by the fore foot. 

The last two photos I have had since the 1960’s & most likely come from the camera of TW Collins. Great photos, especially the one from the port quarter, and show MANAIA at work.

MANAIA is certainly very original, but note that the stem now has an unattractive (to me) hook near the top. Much better straight in my view.  Also note unusual chine aft. Double ender but hard chine aft. That’s why she can do 15 knots if required!

MANAIA was about the last of the large wooden pilot vessels built for New Zealand ports. About the same time as AKARANA and 10 years after TIAKINA (Wellington – and also a Collings design). TIAKINA of course built in England and steamed out via Suez Canal.”

You can see photos of Manaia today, looking very smart & read extensive details on her past here https://waitematawoodys.com/2018/01/26/manaia/


Volvo Round-the-World Yacht Race -Auckland Start








Photos Below In The Order They Passed North Head








And a couple of Woodys amongst the sea of plastic boats


Peter Boardman – Lady Margaret


Angus Rogers – Mahanui

Waitemata – Pilot Cutter






WAITEMATA – Pilot Cutter
photos ex Hylton Edmonds via Ken Rickettts

The above photo gallery shows the 58′ ex Auckland Harbour Board pilot cutter Waitemata from when first launched to her refit to pleasure vessel & as she is today. Her ‘sister’ ship Akarana has featured numerous times on ww.

I’m sure Hylton & others will chip in with more details on her.

Photo below ex Nathan Herbert

Waitemata - now

The Restoration of Akarana

Details & photos below ex Dick & Colleen Fisher. Edited by Alan Houghton. Above photo ex Dean Wright

Akarana was designed by A.J. Collings & built by W.G. Lowe in 1960 for the Port of Auckland. They sold her 34 years later in December 1994 to Peter McDonald of Whangarei, Peter (deceased) was a long time friend of Dick Fisher & Dick purchased Akarana off Peter in April 2000.
Akarana is built using single skin 1 ¾ inch thick Kauri planking on spotted gum ribs with a hardwood keel & her displacement is 42 ton. W.G. Lowe had the contract to build her & allowed 23,000 man hours for her construction. When Port of Auckland sold her in 1994 she was on engine #6,  having worn out 5 engines while working for the Auckland Harbour Board. From a couple of her log books that Dick has he would estimate that she has traveled somewhere between 600,000 + 700,000 miles during her working life as a pilot boat on Auckland harbour.
The 8L3B Gardner engine which Dick re-built  was originally installed in an oyster dredger based in Bluff. This engine was built by Gardners in 1960. The same year as Akarana. She cruises comfortably at 10 knots.
After purchasing her, Dick took Akarana to his workshop at Kamo & then constructed a shed over her. You will see from the photos that shed is a little bit of an understatement 🙂

The photos below will give you an insight into the scale of the project & the stamina, patience & dedication of Dick Fisher in undertaking this restoration. Akarana is a magnificent vessel & a visit to her engine room normally sees most males gob-smacked at the attention to detail & cleanliness that would equal the finest medical operating theaters.

In additional to being a very skilled artisan, Dick is just a seriously good bloke, he once drove down to Auckland from Whangarei so I could show a visiting classic boater from the USA, who was a Gardner nut, over Akarana. You would struggle to find a more hospitable couple afloat than Colleen & Dick Fisher.
One day I’ll post on ‘Hamel’ the Fisher families other wee ship 😉

I have captioned the images – scroll over to view, also remember you can enlarge a photo by clicking on it.

At the bottom of the post (part two), for your interest I have included some papers that Dick acquired from the old Auckland Harbour Board.

A.       Harbour masters comments prior to letting tenders.
B.       Some of the requirements for the construction of Akarana.
C.       AHB reviewing costs.
D.       Breakdown of building costs.
E.        Copy of daily log, note the totals for the month of July 1982 were 278 pilots, 510 hours running, & 2791 miles.

Photos below during her build at W.G. Lowe in 1960

As sold by Auckland Harbour Board – 1994

The restoration

Rebuilding the engine


Back in her happy place – April 2005

Supporting paperwork

Helm Photos


10-04-2018 Update – Photo below of Akarana on launching day. Photo sent in by Paul Drake, taken by his brother Michael.




photos & details ex Dick Fisher

Today’s post features the Collings & Bell launch Selma which Dick’s grandfather, (H.B.Fisher), had built c1913. Interesting that the ‘photograph’ has had the same enhancement that we saw on the 1911 C & B launch – Dorothy. Refer ww post dated 01-05-2015. C&B must have had the services of a photo re-toucher. All in the days before photoshop 🙂
Dick viewed Selma at Gulf Harbour a while back & reports that she was still in good order.

Now a lot of you will know Dick & his wonderful restored ex Auckland Harbour Board pilot boat – Akarana (photos below ex Dean Wright & yours truly)). Dick is a very clever & talented man & one of his many passions is Gardner engines, he has a collection of 15 Gardner engines ranging in age from 1894 to mid 1980’s. Pictured below is a photo of a Gardner heavy oil marine engine complete with marine gearbox, that Dick is presently restoring. This engine was built by Gardners circa 1913. It is a hot bulb air start 2 stroke developing 24HP at 450 RPM .
FYI – the restoration of Akarana with be featured on ww shortly.

Harold Kidd Input

Sadly, SELMA came ashore at Stanmore Bay on 24th January 2006 and was a total loss. She was 32ft x 8ft and originally had a 3 cylinder 15hp H C Doman marine engine when launched in late 1912 for H.B. Fisher. She was in Mahurangi for several years in the 90’s and early 2000’s with an owner who maintained she was a “Logan”.
Weren’t the WW1 British pocket submarines equipped with Gardners like this?
My Barton rellies in Nottingham had a lot to do with the fortunes of Gardners by fitting the new “high speed” Gardner diesels to their red Bartons’ buses in the Midlands during the Depression. And of course the North Shore Transport Co (owned by the North Shore Ferry Co) fitted 5LX Gardners to their fleet soon afterwards.


photos by Russell Ward

The above photos of Nereides were taken at the ‘Tree To The Sea’ meeting  at Auckland’s Maritime Museum. Dick Fishers Akarana in the background.

The standard of workmanship of her is amazing. Given Russell’s fondness for this motorsailer I’m sure he will chip in with more details.


Mondays post on the Patio Bay weekend, hit an all time high for viewing numbers, in the 24hr period the post was viewed 8,689 times.

Money Can’t Buy Moments


Money Can't Buy Moments

Money Can’t Buy Moments

The CYA is full of moments that money can’t buy e.g. hooking an old owner up with the present day owner, facilitating the transfer of a boats artifacts (a name plate, wheel or log book) from someone with an obscure connection to the boat to the current owner etc.

Well todays ww posting is one of those tales.

Push rewind & Dick Fisher has Akarana berthed at the 2011 boat show as part of the CYA’s on-the-water display, Chris Miller is cruising the the docks with his friend Geoff Diggle (Master Mariner) who is the NZ operations manager for Swire Shipping, as they pass Akarana Geoff comments that his father (John Diggle, Master Mariner) was the Auckland Harbour Board senior pilot for over 30 years & spent a large chunk of that time aboard Akarana. Geoff himself as a child spent many an hour aboard as well.
Chris & Geoff hop aboard Akarana for a chat with Dick, which includes the compulsory tour of the engine room 🙂 Geoff casually mentions that some where at home he has a crystal whisky decanter & glasses, that are sand blasted with a line drawing of Akarana. These were presented to the late John Diggle when he retired in 1993. Turns out Geoff’s wife Bev has been threatening to put them out in the next inorganic collection so plans are made to hand them over asap. Well Dick lives up North & Geoff travels a lot.

Now fast forward to Jan. 2014 & the occasion eventually happens at Westhaven. In addition to the decanter set, Geoff had also discovered a wonderful framed photograph of Akarana which will now most likely hang in Dicks engine room (which is the #1 spot on the boat, in Dicks eyes).

It would have been rude to not use the gift for what it was intended so the moment was celebrated accordingly. Now CYA deputy chairman Bruce Tantrum has a good nose for a fine drink & was cruising the docks & either caught a whiff or heard the cork being extracted & joined the gathering.

In the next few days I will do a pictorial posting on the restoration (rebuild) of Akarana from when she was retired by the harbour board into the magnificent ship she is today.

click photo below to enlarge