Athena – A Peek Down Below

Athena – A Peek Down Below

Todays woody is the 1962, Des Donovan designed / built motor sailer – Athena. She last appeared on WW back in Feb 2019 – link below to that very informative story. Lots of photos, history and comments there.

Thanks to a tme listing we get a look down below. A snap shot – specs – 48’/12’11”/5’5” and powered by a Gardner 127hp diesel.                                                                                          

Her listing fails to mention that she is member of the ‘Submariners Club’ i.e. she has spent time below the waves. She also spent time in the ownership of one Alan Johnson, one of very few people 100% banned from the WW site, but that is another story…..

(photos ex M. Skinner ex trademe)

WW 2019 Story

Day Boat Without The Marina Costs

Day Boat Without The Marina Costs

Its always a a challenge to squeeze the bits  that make boating enjoyable into anything sub 20’, the owners of Tawa (previously Matariki) have managed to do it in a 16’ boat – so well done.

Built in 1958 by a A. Westrupp from double diagonal kauri (+f/glass) and presented in a very high finish – in fact she has won numerous awards at both the north & South Island Lake Rotoiti classic boating events.

The diesel heads amongst us would struggle to ID the 30hp engine – its a German MTU from an old WWII German submarine.

The bonus of Tawa is that she resides on a trailer so no marina fees and your boating locations are almost unlimited. (Thanks Ian McDonald for the tme listing heads up)

ATHENA – The Woody Buy Of The Year – $30,000 ono

Without going into details – the owner of the woody Athena has told me to find the right buyer and sell her – there’s even a B.O.I. marina on offer (extra)

Full details here

Bill Couldrey And His Boats – Help Wanted


Book author and publisher – Jenni Mence (she will hate me using that intro, but its true) whose last book was the uber cool – ‘K CLASS – The Hauraki Gulf’s Iconic Racer Cruiser’, has committed to another mammoth publication. This time focusing on the Arnold Francis (Bill) Couldrey design and boat building bloodline.

Currently in the final research phase, Jenni has called out to WW readers for help identifying the boats and discovering / confirming things like –  the boats built and when, the current owner and/or anyone (owner or otherwise) who has a story to tell about the boat. Jenni would also love to talk to anyone who has memories of Bill himself.One has to assume many of the boats won’t have lasted the distance, however there may still be stories or family photos hanging around of them.
To help keep things semi organised we have broken it into loose categories


# Athena # Shamrock # Hawke # Limerick # Mamaru # Surprise 

# Desdemona # Lanai # Freedom # Nancye # Sonoma # Salome 

# Tamarus # Gay # Maui # Nudger # Kea # Mawera. 


# Gayleen # Awatere # Tarawai # Ocean Phoenix


# Pirimanu # Kereru # Cleone # Manunui # Reremoana # Tirimoana # Lisa Ann

# Rag Doll # Natalie # Cabaletta (may have previously been called Latitude) # Deborah Ann

Any further information anyone has on any of these boats – or other Couldrey boats we may not yet have identified would be really appreciated. 

As a reward for your input, everyone that helps out will go into the draw for a copy of Jenni’s K CLASS book + the best photograph submitted (judged by Alan H) also goes into a draw for a another copy of the book. Thats 2 Copies To Be Won. Draw Close off date is August 1st – just in time for Father’s Day

Initial Contact To Jenni Mence at

ATHENA – Next Caretaker Wanted 

ATHENA – Next Caretaker Wanted 

Whangaroa Harbour is a spot I spend a bit of time in/around – when waiting for pickup I mooch around the marina and there is one launch – Athena, that always catches my eye – its hard not too its just so perfect. Most designers were challenged when it came to getting the lines right on a sub 30’ boat, Athena is spot on.

Her measurements are 25’ x 8’ x 1’6” and her hull is 3/4” kauri carvel planked and the decks, coamings, cabin top and bridge have all been f/glassed for weather proofing and low maintenance. Both fuel and water tanks are s/s. Sleeps 4 in a double and 2 single berths.

Powered by a Perkins 40hp 4107 engine (new in 1972, rebuilt 1991) she cruises comfortably at 7 knots. Some history – originally designed and built by Cauldrey in c.1950’s, she was rebuilt (hull up, photos below) in 1991 by her owner as a family launch with game fishing characteristics. Based in the Bay of Islands the owners lost count of the game fish landed over the last 30 years. Athena is still fully game rigged.Owned by a seriously devoted boaty, Athena is fully equipped with all the safety gear for coastal cruising.

We have been tasked with finding a new owner for this very salty looking classic woody – for more details on Athena – contact the Wooden Boat Bureau c/o

1992 – 1st Marlin caught




The above motor-sailer, Athena, was spotted by John Wicks at Te Kouma Village, Coromandel.
John commented that she was a sturdy looking old girl and wondered if the woodys could shed some light on per background?
Input from Cameron Pollard – ATHENA was built by Des Donovan (Andy’s brother).
Des bulit her at his devonport property and had her craned into the tide off devonport wharf.
Originally had an AEC but that was replaced by her next owners the Johnson family.
They fitted a new 6lx gardner which is still in her.
She is currently hauled out at kopu for a paint.
Her present new owners completed a 9 year rebuld/ transformation on her and is a absolute credit to them.
The stories on Athena over the years have more up and downs than a busy hotel elevator some good and others not.
It’s very good to know she finally made it back to the water.

Update 2 from Cameron P

She ran over a bit of nz. ( like many still do). There was a photo album on board with pictures of her on the rock that Des took while sitting in the dinghy.

Sadly when the tide dropped so did Athena.
She filled up and skidded off the rock.
Story has it she was lost for quite a few days as the tide took her for a underwater voyage.
When she was later found and salvaged the mud and foul inside her was quite unreal.
Des,s photos showed her tied alongside the harbourboard slipway getting repaired.
I think the Johnsons purchased her not long after.
A. Johnson snr owned Lady Margaret (col wild one) before Athena.
Photo below ex Cameron of her at Kopu, looking vert smart
Athena @ Kopu

Update 23-02-2020 –  The top photo of Athena is dated January 1962 and shows her about to be launched at Devonport. She was built by Des Donovan.

The 2nd and 3rd photos are dated 12 March 1967 and Athena is ‘wrecked’ north of Elephant Cove.
Athena Launching Day
Ken Ricketts Input – ATHENA replaced the 32 foot ADARA Des D had built himself c1948/50 which was an identical sister ship to building contractor Fred Steele’s FAYE, & they both built those 2 boats together, at the same time, alongside each other, on the North Shore.
Big story tomorrow – Achilles re-launched + the end of a era – boatyard closes + 90th birthday party – 60+ photos

Far North Woody Road Trip








Far North Woody Road Trip

First part of the xmas holiday was a road trip to Kerikeri > Te Ngaere Bay > Whangaroa > Mangonui > Karikari Peninsula.
I had never been to Te Ngaere Bay before, its one of those off the main highway, not sign posted places. Simply stunning spot, I’ll bore you with a few photos below. Popped over to Whangaroa & snapped a few of the classics at the marina – most have been on ww before but they deserve to be seen again 🙂
The ‘headlights’ on Leilani are an unusual feature…….. , even snapped a couple of yachts.





Whangaroa Walk-About





Sapphire & Waimana

Sapphire and Waimana

Whangaroa Walk-About
photos ex Dean Wright

Dean took the camera on a wander down to the marina at Whangaroa on Saturday. From the photos above it appears the north are also enjoying our stunning autumn weather. These photos are just what they call ‘happy snaps’ to view some of Dean’s professional photography work click here

I went to the Hutchwilco Plastic Fishing Trailer Boat Show on Saturday & was pleased that I was fortunate enough to have not had to pay the $22 entry fee. There was not much there to excite a woody, but saying that I was surprized by the number of woodys I did bump into, mostly sniffing out small tenders & new fishing gear.

The speedster below was the exception & I only discovered it on the way out 🙂