A Recount Of Our Classic Wooden Craft DNA 

CLICK The Headline – Grace Under Sail to view

A Recount Of Our Classic Wooden Craft DNA 

Recently I was sent a link to an article that appeared in the New Zealand Geographic magazine back in 2000 – in fact issue 45 , Jan-March. The article was headlined – GRACE UNDER FIRE, written by Vaughan Yarwood with supporting photos from the late Henry Winkelmann and more recent photos ex Hamish Ross and Paul Gillbert.

The stars of the article is the 42’ 1908 Logan built gaff rigged cutter – Rawene, and her then skipper Russell Brooke.

This is a brilliant insight into the early days of boating in and around Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, I’m sure there will be some mix ups re dates, skipper/craft names but overall we get to see and read the history of these magnificent craft, a lot of which are still sailing today.

Have a read, its only 10>15 minutes, longer if if you linger over the photos 🙂  – even a die-hard motorboat owner like myself found it a fascinating read.

Classic Woodys at Sandspit Marina






Classic Woodys at Sandspit Marina

A couple of weeks ago I was up Sandspit way & spent an hour or so mooching around the new (ish) marina. Very impressive set up & with the yacht club’s haul-out facilities its a prefect spot to keep a woody. The real win win factor is the proximity of the ‘Greg Lees Boatbuilder’ yard, in recent years Greg & his talented team have rubbed the magic wand over some of our finest classic woodys. Just type Greg Lees in the WW search box to see the level of workmanship & perfection.

I have included a few photos of the motor camp where I stayed with my ex woodys boater – Chris Miller in this stunning motor home. 

A real bonus was the amazing meal & service we had at the Sandspit Yacht Club on Saturday night – I was expecting burgers & fries but no – everything – décor, service & the food was superb – check it out if you are up that way. The scallop entree was as good as anything you would get in Auckland City. Photos below.


Update: I have been sent by Dean Wright the photo below of the dinghy ‘Tiki’ in happier times 🙂


What Happened to Calypso?



What Happened to Calypso?

Firstly woodys, I love this story, way too many woodys have had a false start on a wooden boat project & just walked away & given up on old wooden boats forever. Well folks I can tell you Nick Davidson, who sent me the above photos, is not one of them, he bounced back, but more on that later – the main focus of this story is to try & uncover the mystery of Calypso. I have re-produced Nicks letter to me below – enjoy 🙂
Hi there Alan, have been thinking about an old kauri launch that I used to own back in the 1990’s, wondered what became of her and thought that perhaps one of your readers might have some information.
It is a story of hope turning to despair, however without the tough stories and the failures I suppose you don’t end up learning much!
As I am sure with many of your readership I was one of those guys that wanted to get into a wooden launch, however at the time had not much in the way of cash. It was mid 1999 and I was looking at boats for sale on ‘trademe’ as you do and there was an advertisement for an old 40’ kauri launch that was sitting in a shed in Avondale, Auckland and urgently looking for a new home, so I went along and had a look.

Basically the deal was that the owner of the shed wanted the building back and there had been veiled threats of chainsaws at dawn. As you can see from the photos of Calypso (very unlikely to be her original name) she was in a sorry state. The diesel was gone and there was a fair bit of rot in the house, but the hull looked sound enough and I could not help but fall for the straight stem (made of Pohutukawa) and fantail stern. The information about her provenance was next to nothing, no numbers, or name plates to be found anywhere. I was told that she was used as a ‘long-liner’ working out of the Viaduct for some years and had a build year of 1905 but have never had that corroborated. The diesel disappeared by way of a chainsaw through the cabin roof and she had then been hauled and transported to a storage unit in Avondale.
As it happened I had access to the old Education Department’s disused central stores warehouses that used to back on to the Avondale College, perfect I thought. I arranged for Calypso to be moved there, paid the princely sum of $300 to the owner (no recollection of the name of the chap) and now owned a 40’ launch that needed a bit of work!
Unfortunately, the arrangement to use the old stores warehouse fell through after a few months and I had her moved out to the Marine Haulage yard in Te Atatu where she stayed for a year or two. During that time I went into a boat partnership with a mate and with unbridled optimism we started stripping her out and removing what was left of the paint on her hull. When the cost of keeping her in Te Atatu became a bit too much for our shallow pockets I managed to find an old vegetable storage shed out in Bombay close to the Pukekohe turnoff and away she went again.

With the assistance of an old boat builder (again I cannot recollect his name, but he lived in Tairua, was involved in relocating the old Ngoiro ferry there, drove an old red van and had a cat that used to accompany him around the country!) we removed all the caulking, over many months slowly jacked up the hull to remove the hog in the keel, splined and glassed her to the gunwale with 10 weight triaxial glass. This was all done over a long period as time and money permitted.

As with many of these sorts of projects, in spite my best intentions and a fair degree of bloody mindedness we found ourselves some 6 years on with a sound hull but a long way from ever getting her back in the water. We had by now removed the cabin and decking which was in a much poorer state than first thought, my circumstances had changed and I no longer had the time or the financial resources to take her any further. We also had to move her again and by about 2005 she was now residing in a factory unit off Mahunga Drive in Mangere.

After a great deal of soul searching the decision was made to put her on ‘trademe’ and eventually she was purchased by a chap who described himself as a boat builder and if my recollection serves me correctly was looking to move her up to the Kaipara Harbour where he had a property and complete the re-fit there. Although disappointed that I hadn’t ever seen her in the water, I consoled myself that we had moved her along and that with the new owner’s intention to complete her she would be saved.
That was the last I saw of her!

Whilst owning Calypso had not dampened my desire to own a wooden launch I was certainly much wiser to the challenges, the cost of such an enterprise and in fact promised myself that if I ever did buy another boat she would have to be floating, have good provenance, and be at least structurally sound.

As it happens my wife and I now own the 1951, 32′ Allan Williams sedan launch Juanita (she has been well covered in Waitemata Woodies), she is a joy to own, gets plenty of use and after a fair bit of work is in great trim. The lessons learned from Calypso although painful have served me well, but I do sometimes wonder what became of her and whether the chainsaw got her in the end?

The photos above of Calypso in the water and being hauled were given to me by the previous owner.
There are a couple of her showing where I got to before having to sell (as you can see she was basically back to a bare hull) and a couple of a scale model that I made of her when I was looking to see how a new cabin would look.

Well woodys, as you have read, Nick & family are re-born woodys, we like that – so can we help Nick sleep better at night 🙂 & confirm what happened to Calypso. Good time for our resident Kaipara woody, Zac Matich, to chip in ………………..

Photos below of Juanita leaving Greg Lees (Sandspit) boat shed after a serious spot of TLC. Link below her time in Greg’s shed.

Juanita b

Juanita a



I was contacted last night by John Sankey who owns the beautiful 16′ classic 1962 Seacraft kauri clinker run-about – Kayla Rose (photo above). If you have been to the Mahurangi  Regatta or a CYA Riverhead Pub cruise you will recognize her. John & his partner Tracey have had a wee incident & urgently need help from the waitematawoody network. I’ll let John tell the story. You can see more photos of KR here https://waitematawoodys.com/2014/05/19/kayla-rose/

“We were towing Kayla Rose (from the mother ship – Calypso- photo below) from Awahoa Bay (south of Ngunguru) on our way to Tutukaka on Friday 2nd June and were caught in very very rough seas. Kayla Rose broke loose at approx 9.30am a mile off Taiharuru Point. We were unable to safely try to retrieve her. She still had 15ft of rope plus 15ft of chain hanging off the front of her when she broke away. We are asking for sightings of debris or any information that may help us work out what happened to her. There was also possible  sighting of a “cute yellow fishing runabout” on a trailer going from Parua Bay towards Whangarei on Saturday 3rd June at around 3pm….. which is obviously concerning for us.
Thanks fellow Woodies. Tracey and John from Calypso. Bon Voyage.

I’m not sure of John’s mobile coverage so post any replies / feedback via the ww comments section.
Given her very distinctive yellow colour, I would like to think we can help find her or uncover where she went ashore.


07-07-2017 – A Sad Conclusion To Kayla Rose

It saddens me to report that Kayla Rose has been sighted / found by some fishermen this morning (07-07-2017) broken up on the rocks north of Taiharuru Headland. A sad day for John, a few tears I’m sure.
John asked me to thank all the Woodies for reading the post on WW. She was a great little piece of NZ boating history. John certainly had a lot of fun aboard you. She was a head turner & always looked 110%. I understand that John has a grand daughter named Kayla Rose, so the memory will live on.
I asked John whether anything had been salvaged but it was too rough to get in against rocks for the fishermen. They did take the photos below. Maybe one day soon someone will be fishing in the area & be able to retrieve a memento for John.

RIP Kayla Rose.


12-06-2017 Update

I have been contacted by Jean-Louis Ecochard in regard to the wreck – see below

“We saw the wreck and went on shore yesterday (10-06-2017) and took these sad photos of the Kayla Rose. 

It’s only today using Google that we came upon the blog story.

If you could kindly send to John Sankey as a memory – though I feel like this is like showing him the body parts of his daughter 😦

The wreck site is not accessible by land and rather difficult by sea. If John wanted, could take the kayak there and try to recover the transom signage in the photo.

I saw the captain wheel under a rock and the instrument panel but they are attached with cables so would need tools to recover.

Hope the images help. So sorry for his loss”


Speaking with John (owner) he told me that the insurance company are sending a helicopter to uplift all the remains as part of the Resource Management Act and we will get name board hopefully then.

Yes, please post Jean-Louis’ kind words and pics on WW. I am glad for her history and sad demise to be on your fine site as a memory of her. Jean-Louis





Max Carter & His Boats

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Max Carter & His Boats
details & photos from Chris McMullen, edited by Alan Houghton
(remember to click on photos to enlarge)

Max Carter was responsible for building a huge number of boats of all sizes in a relatively short time, refer lists below. Chris believes that Max producing his modified H-28 /29ft was the first serious attempt at building stock keel boats in New Zealand. Back then there were no fibre glass boats, no marinas and no travel-lifts in NZ. The industry was experimenting with epoxy resin & glass cloth.
Max was supported by Consolidated Chemicals (Epiglass), the Colmore William’s Bros & their ceo Trevor Geldard. The P-Class & other small boats listed below in big numbers were kit sets for amateur construction. These boats also used up what would have been waste wood in the yard. The idea was to introduce young people to sailing & ensure a future for the marine industry. It certainly worked, but Max never benefited from his effort.

When Chris was reviewing Max’s files he found  a copy of a 1989 New Zealand Power Boat Magazine, which he  had never seen it before. There is an article on Sandy Sands and Sea Craft.  It talks about how Sea Craft increased their productivity by using methods learned by Sandy Sands while working for Uffa Fox. Chris’s previous  observation about a possible Fox connection was right. Sandy Sands commented in the article “without people you have nothing”.  Max realized the value of his skilled staff and treated them as friends. He stayed in contact with many for almost fifty years. There was a list of his ex employees and their addresses amongst his files.
When you consider the age of these photos the presence of all the health and safety gear – fluro jackets, disposable overalls & hard hats really stands out. Chris commented that there was the odd accident but nothing really serious.

All Max’s boats were built from medium kauri treated and will last forever (well a very long time). He had huge stocks of timber. At the time most boat builders built hull’s & decks & the owners finished them in their back yard. Max did some hull’s but mainly catered for the few that could afford a finished product.
The shed photos above are more reminiscent of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, Bristol, Rhode Island. While Max was way ahead of his time, unfortunately, New Zealand’s economy and small population was such that his operation could not survive. Sadly but wisely he closed the doors, sold the plant and leased the buildings.

To read the eulogy Chris McMullen gave at Max Carter’s funeral, click the blue link below


Chris McMullen’s comments about the photos:

The photo with the 1/2 model is Max with Les Holt. Of significance in the photo is that the model was made by Chris. It was the Pipe Dream design featured in Francis Kinney’s book. The new version of ‘Skenes Elements of Yacht Design’.
The portrait photo of Max shows the MY Du Fresne in the back ground. The yacht on the hard stand is the Rainbow II. Max has written on the back of the photo. “Built in seven weeks after lofting.! “
Another photo shows the kit set boat production. No CNC machinery, just a good man (Lindsey Stone) on the spindle moulder shown in the left of the photo.
Another photo shows Max with his long time friend Laurie Davidson.
The Stewart 28 is the Hop Scotch.
Seems there are huge gaps. Photographers were always at the yard. Chris believes some photos were lost.
Orinda and White Mischief were both Max’s designs maybe 40 years apart.
The brand new Northerner struck Bollen’s Rock while racing through Tiri Channel. Her first race! Max was her skipper for the day. She was raised and repaired like new. Capt Warwick Dunsford, Owner Boyd Hargrave with the binoculars. (more photos & press clippings below)
The H-29 was an H-28 with the sheer raised. It was an attempt to build a small(ready to sail) keel yacht that people could afford. Tom Beaton, Bryan
Williams and Nick Panich in the photo.
The Du Fresne was built for Mr J M Butland and the first H-29 for his son Mr JR. Du Fresne was a Laurent Giles design. The Butland Family were a well known boating people Thetis, Titan, Sirdar, Dufresne DurVille, Inverness and the brigantine Fritha were commissioned by the family.
The Ta Aroa was a 60 foot Sparkman and Stephens design. A beautiful yacht built for Mr Doug Bremner. She had one of the first imported aluminium masts. A single spreader rig.
The Calypso shown being launched with a crane was built for Max’s own use.
The same design shown under construction is the Tamure. This was a Max Carter
design & the second NZ yacht to do a circum navigation of the world. She
was owned by the late Jerry Challet & Mac Nell. boatbuilder, Dave Baxter
was on the crew. From memory (marine engineer) Terry Burling was part owner
or crew.
All the big Carter boats were launched by the A.H.B floating crane. There were no travel-lifts. Note the ships in the background.

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The Sinking, Re-floating & Repair of Northener

Article below from the New Zealand Exporter magazine that tells the story about
the H-29 better.  In the photo of the three builders bending steamed ribs on a H-29 they are from the left – the
late Eric Wing, Chris McMullen and Peter Sowman.

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Check out the 1967 Prices

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09-08-2016 A Tribute To Max Carter – by Nigel Armitage
Below is a link (in blue) to a downloadable file of rather nice tribute to Max Carter by Nigel Armitage. Nigel worked with Max on the replica scow ‘Ted Ashby’ project that he and Max were very involved in together at the Hobson wharf, Maritime Museum. Its an insight into the amazing work Max did.

A tribute to Max Carter

The Cruise of Calypso – Christmas 1919 – Sailing Sunday

The Cruise of Calypso – Christmas 1919 – Sailing Sunday

Story & photos ex Harold Kidd

The shot below of Calypso, Celox and Waitere II is from NZ Yachtsman and Calypso is on the left.

This photo shows Calypso under tow.

The hotel shot below is at the Duke of Marlborough.

Lastly the crew of Calypso

This log was written in indelible pencil in a notebook by C.B. Madden who, like some of the others, had just returned from active service (and survived the Spanish ‘Flu epidemic). So the cruise must have helped a great deal with the normalisation of their minds.

CALYPSO was a 26ft mullet boat built to the Restrictions by Tyler & Harvey in 1909 for the Wild brothers of Stanley Bay. Barkey Wild, Colin Wild’s older brother, was killed at Delville Wood in September 1916 and Harold Handley of 73 Calliope Road, Devonport bought her in the winter of 1919. WAITERE II had always been her companion 26 footer as she was owned by the Willetts family who lived close by in Stanley Bay. By a whisker, WAITERE II was probably the fastest pre-CORONA 26ft mullet boat.

The Cruise of Calypso Christmas 1919 (an edited version)

Crew: Skipper Harold Handley, R Rodger, A Madden, C Madden, Arthur Whitely, Tom

“24th December 1919; Left Calliope Dock 8.15pm. Wind SW, weather fine full headsail full main. Waitere waited half an hour for us to start. Reached Rangitoto Beacon 9.30pm. Ruahine with troops passed inwards. We kept watches all night and sighted Sail Rock at daybreak. SS Pakeha passed inwards at 7.30am SS Manaia at 9.30am. Had kept up with Waitere right up to Sail Rock. Several yachts and launches put into Tutukaka, also Waitere also us after short dinghy tow as wind very light. Arrived 8pm had grand Christmas tuck in with assistance of two of Waitere crew.

26th December; sailed North in a nice NNW breeze. Put into Whangaruru and anchored with Waitere. Went to Maori dance ashore.

27th December; ran up to Russell with Waitere in fine SSW wind.

28th December; Waitere was put on the beach for cleaning. The plate was dropped and taken ashore for local craftsmen to remove buckle. Caught 50 or 60 schnapper at Robinson’s Island.

29th December; Left for Whangamumu with Waitere under full sail. Gave caretaker at whaling station two fish. He was pleased to get news regarding liquor poll. We got rid of most of our surplus fish by giving it to the NSSCo’s auxiliary Tuhoe.

30th December; Set sail for Whangarei after cooking breakfast on beach.

31st December; Passenger launch Oleo offered us a tow in. Arrived at Onerahi at 11.15pm. Sailed up to town wharf. After some difficulty in getting a berth tied up alongside Seagar Bros Milly at steps. Went ashore had a look around got stores and had tea at Temperance Hotel.

1st January 1920; Put quantity of ballast and all cruising gear ashore and got ready for race which started at 10.30am. Confusion regarding marks. Result of race Waitere 1 Celox 2, Calypso 3. Race finished at 3.30pm. Had tea and sailed for the Railway Bridge. Launch Ranoni kindly offered us a tow to Town Wharf. Went ashore for a walk but did not get as far as yachtsmen’s smoke concert.

2nd January; Crew went by car to Kamo. In evening gave the pictures a go.

3rd January; Waitere crew entertained us at the Whangarei Hotel. A splendid dinner was put on for us. In the afternoon we all motored out to the strawberry gardens. Left Whangarei 7pm with a great sendoff. Anchored off freezing works for an early morning start.

4th January; Set sail at 5am in light northerly breeze growing in strength. Arrived at Mansion House Bay. Only 3 launches here. After tea hove anchor and moved across the bay for shelter. Had musical evening on board.

5th January; Set sail 10am for Waiwera. No yachts here. Went to Heads to fish. Arrived at Mahurangi Wharf at 9pm

6th January; Beautiful day, very light winds.   All hands went aboard the Waitere and we sailed up the river to Red Bluff where we inspected Morrison’s Orchard. Returned to Waitere and decided to proceed to Warkworth. Tide dead low. Stuck on the mud a few hundred yards from the Wharf. After lunch, floated off and proceeded to Wharf. Found Warkworth very quiet. Left Warkworth at 6pm. For 8 shillings a local launch towed us about ¾ mile past Red Bluff. At 9.30 back aboard Calypso.

7th January; Another day of the best kind. Very little wind early. Left Mahurangi as team for Tiri to fish. Left for Auckland 3pm. Put a good dinner on whilst lying off Tiri Light and entertained Waitere’s crew to their entire satisfaction.”