Robyn Gae – SOS


I was out west Auckland on Sunday and dropped into the Te Atatu Boating Club yard for a nosy. Sad to see that the rather pretty x1934, Cox & Filmer built launch Robyn Gas is still hauled out and looking for a new owner. Given the 4sale sign points people to the yard office, I would suspect its being sold to re-coup yard fees. 

There appears to be some ‘average’ hull work done to her, but at $6k, its a very low entry to a worthwhile project. Surely someone will step up and take her own. Make the TBC an offer, you might be surprised.

For no fault of her own other than bad timings, the boat has been crying out for a passionate woody owner for a number of years – see previous WW stories below.




Pot of Gold


Uncovered today a treasure trove of b/w photos of Waitemata classic woodys. Happy as a dog with two tails (I do learn Murray D) .They will take a while to ID, less than 1/3 are tagged.

Today’s photo is of Royal Falcon the 1934 Cox & Fimer built launch. These days owned by Collette & Steve Pople and just relaunch after an extensive refit – see below links for details.The back of the photo has the RF name, a 4sale price of £3150, and her specs – 38’ x 10’6” x 3′
Lots of history and photos here
Almost ready for relaunch

for sale £3150
July 2021

Royal Falcon Re-launched

We have followed the restoration / refit of Collette & Steve Pople’s 1934 Cox & Fimer built woody – Royal Falcon on WW and been blown away with the quality of the workmanship happening in the Leader Boatbuilders shed.

Today thanks to Mark McLaughlin taking his launch Mapuna for a run on Sunday we get to she Royal Falcon afloat again. Boat shed photos here
We understand all that is required is the final interior finishing, which we will update you on shortly.


A quick heads up, Poco Lento (Lady Janet) has appeared on WW several times and is currently for sale, the vendors are retiring from boating and moving into a retirement village, so woodys as they say in the real estate game – make an offer, you may be surprised at the prize…………. See more here
Contact via

Royal Falcon Restoration – 2021 Update


It is almost a year since I popped into the Panmure boat shed to check on the progress of the restoration of Steve and Colette Popie’s 38’ bridge-decker – Royal Falcon.So last week I accepted the invitation to view the 1934 Cox & Filmer built launch and woodys its a thing of beauty – check out the finish on the hull 🙂

Launch day is a few weeks away, then the final touches will be done on her berth. The attention to detail is 10/10 but in Steve’s words “its the best of both worlds – classic and modern systems, in terms of safety and ensuring she lasts another 80+ years.
Links to previous WW stories below

For the petrol (diesel heads) below is a short clip of the Commer TS3 being fired up for the first time post re-build. Owner Steve commented that the puff of smoke is the residual lube oil from the new cylinder sleeve installation 🙂

Details on the Royal Falcon – Rootes TS3 engine below ex Mark Erskine:

Some basic engine info and specs are as follows:

  • The engine is a Rootes TS3 2-stroke diesel, model 3DB-215 as used in Commer Trucks from 1967 to 1972-ish.
  • Designed and manufactured by Rootes Diesel Engineering Division of Rootes Group, UK.
  • Commonly referred to as “Commer TS3” through their connection to Commer trucks. 
  • Three cylinder, opposed piston (2 X opposing pistons per cylinder), scavenge blown 2-stroke, twin rocker beam, diesel engine (see video of operating cycle
  • 215 cu in / 3.562 litre.
  • Known around the world for their legendary reliability and extreme engine life, high power density and fuel efficiency.
  • This engine was extensively reconditioned and restored to new condition / factory specifications by Rootes Engine Services, Auckland (
  • This engine produces from 65 HP @ 1,000 rpm, to 140HP @ 2,400 rpm.
  • Maximum torque is 340 ft lbs at 1,250 rpm.
  • Most economical running between 1,200 to 1,800 rpm. 
  • Rootes heat exchanger for engine oil cooling.
  • Water cooled exhaust manifold for marine use.
  • Lees type heat exchanger for engine coolant.
  • Savage heat exchanger for gearbox oil cooling. 
  • Diesel fuel consumption (liters per hour) in “Royal Falcon” to be advised, but will be extremely low.
  • Maximum speed with current prop to be advised.
  • Designed as an “under-floor” engine for Commer trucks, these engines have a very low engine height above the crankshaft center line, allowing for a flat cabin floor with no engine box intrusion in the cabin. 
  • Gearbox is a Borg-Warner Velvet Drive 26 spline 72C model (1.91:1 ratio).

Royal Falcon Restoration – Update June 2020





Royal Falcon Restoration Update June 2020

I had a reason to be pointing the car towards what used to be called ‘Nappy Valley’ (Pakuranga) so decided to call into the Panmure River boat shed where Steve & Colette Pople are having the 38’, 1934 Cox & Filmer built bridge-decker – Royal Falcon restored, ‘having’ isn’t the best word because both are actively involved in the project.
As you will see in the above photo gallery, the team are working at an impressive pace. The Commer TS3 engine is back in and looking very shinny. Very impressed to see the team re-purposing as much timber as possible – we like that 🙂
While there I dropped off an age appropriate search light that I had promised Steve, it didn’t suit Raindance so – ‘spread the love’. Thank you Jason Prew who gifted it to me originally 🙂
You can read / view Royal Falocn’s past at the link below + earlier project photos
Below is a video walk by/thru that I did. Have to say it is so cool to see a real, working, waterfront boat shed. Anyone remember something called ‘Heritage Landing’ aka the Vos Shed………….

Royal Falcon Restoration



Some news on the 38’ Cox & Filmer 1934 built bridge decker – Royal Falcon from her owners Steve & Colette Pople.

Having languished on the Waipuna River for the last 10 years and now 20 – 25 years behind in maintenance its owners have moved her into a shed at Waipuna.

They have a long road ahead of them, as they plan to almost completely rebuild from the deck up plus some hull work. I’m very pleased to say they have already removed the flying bridge, due to rot, and intend to return the exterior to its 1940 shape as per the WW photo at Mansion House Bay Kawau Island (see below).

RF’s engine, a Commer TS3 has already had extensive work done it but is being further worked on by TS3 specialist Mark Erskine and will be good for another 20 years.

WW will follow this project & keep to updated.

You can read more on her here, make sure you read the comments section – lots there

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 9.27.20 am

15-07-2018 Update ex Steve Pople – photos below

The stern tube has been rebored to remove the 20 mm whip in the shaft, apparently from when the cockpit extension went on.

She has had 47 broken ribs replaced with new spotted gum steamed in ribs, and we have nearly finished replacing 1800 copper nails and roves !!

Engine beds have been replaced, and a new anchor locker and bulkheads are about to me made.


And a couple of photos ex the NZ Herald , as she was launched – very smart looking launch.

Royal Falcon 1934 Martin boat 1

Royal Falcon 1934 martin boat 2

Yard Visit Update – 27-06-2019

I dropped into the Leader Boat Yard today to see how RF was coming along – boatbuilder Dave and owner Steve, gave me a ‘guided’ tour. The boat has been completely gutted and her cabin top removed. Lots of new ribs and almost 100% re-rivated, then the hull has been splined and glassed. New decking and beltings are complete and you will see from the photos below the new bulkheads – don’t panic about the height, once the engine is reinstalled these will be trimmed to size. The yard / boat shed is situated on the Panmure River waterfront.

We will be following this project – its estimated to be approx. 2 years before splash date.

If she looks longer than in so of the b/w photos above, thats because 6′ was added to her stern – many years ago.

Royal Falcon is a very lucky boat – not just in having Steve Pople as an owner – she was once owned (briefly) by ‘Tom The Torch’, so that was a lucky escape 😉




Update 24-07-2019 – reconditioned engine (& box) ready & waiting

Royal Falcon engine

Update 21-09-2020 Photos below ex owner Steve Pople , as found in the vessel’s log + one from the Andy Donovan collection


Unknown-1 copy



Rongotia has featured before on WW , as a Mystery Launch, we uncovered the info below on her. What we did not have back then was any colour, recent times photos. Thanks to both Nathan Herbert’s & my own visits to Waikawa Bay Marina, Picton, we can now see her in her finery. Previous WWW story below –

Harold Kidd previously commented that she was built by Cox & Filmer in Auckland in 1939 with twin “64hp kerosene engines” she went almost straight into NAPS at Whangarei as Z31 under Les Waldron’s command. He kept her in a shed on the road to Onerahi. He went to see her with John Gladden around 1982. She was still highly original and in her original shed. She had twin Morris Commodores (which may have been original) and was in very tidy order.

 Dawn Wilschefski – advised that she was the only daughter of Les Waldron & can confirm that Rangotai was launched Christmas Day 1939. Her design was Hughie Coxsmith (? see HDK’s comments above). Her Grandfather James Reid was probably consulted during the process. When the Niagara went down her Dad was in Russell but made the trip back in time to join the other boats out on rescue duty. He was also part of the Naval Auxilliary Patrol that started in Whangarei a few months after the sinking but when the Navy took over the organization Rongotai was transferred to Auckland where she served on the boom patrol, specifically  from Whangaparoa to Cape Colville. When her Dad died in 1963, her brother Bert bought Rongatai and used her for family pleasure for a while. He tried to sell her at an exorbitant price but finally used her for a trade in for a Wellington boat (name forgotten) Last she heard of, Rongotai was working as a “slow” cruising boat for tourists in the Marlborough Sounds. Her Dads reason for building her was (a) family pleasure and (b) for deep sea fishing as a founding boat for the Whangarei Deep Sea Anglers.

A Lot Of Boat For Not A Lot of Money



Water Gipsy > Connie V > Robyn Gae 4Sale

The 1934 Cox & Filmer (Speedcraft Boat Co.) built Robyn Gae has had a very interesting & colourful life – you can read all about it on the WW link below. But to regular WW readers thats old news & not the reason for today story. 

Robyn Gae has been ‘hanging-out’ on trademe for a very long time waiting for a woody to takeover her ownership, I in fact gave the sale a plug on WW just over one year ago, but still no takers.

It is rare these days to find an almost original condition classic that is just in a run-down condition. On face value, mechanically she is good, she has just suffered from a lack of exterior maintenance – in my eyes nothing that could not be fixed by a wooden boat enthusiast with the basic skills. Her interior is very ‘as-built’ but that is all good,most woodys have had square edged MDF cabinetry fitted & need to be gutted, give RG’s interior a good scrub with sugar soap & a lick of paint & you could go boating this coming summer & start a rolling restoration next winter. I suspect the right buyer could own RG for not a lot on money. Take a look at the wonderful old photos of her in the WW link & you’ll see the potential she has to be a stunner.

So woodys, we must know someone thats looking for an entry level classic……………..

Robyn Gae

video ex Martin Turnwald, details ex Martin T & Harold Kidd, photo ex PapersPast ex Nathan Herbert

The video clip above is a little scratchy but features some good footage of the classic woody, Robyn-Gae, owned by Martin’s father, John Turnwald. There is even a cameo apperance of the 1919 Joe Slattery launch Raiona (at 1:30).

Robyn Gae started life as Water Gipsy & was launched in October 1934 for C. Miller by Cox & Filmer (Speedcraft Boat Co) with dimensions 32ft x 8ft 6in. She was a slightly extended version of a 30 footer built by Cox & Filmer for a Mr. Martin. Miller used Water Gipsy for a while and then she “disappears for a while. Ted Valintine bought her in 1937, renamed her Connie V after Mrs. V, had her lengthened to her final dimension of 38ft, with the provision of a cockpit, coaming and dodger over. The work was undoubtedly done by Lanes who also fitted her with a 6 cyl Chrysler Crown petrol engine in September 1939. That was after the Kawau petrol fire in January 1939 when Valintine scuttled her by chopping a hole in her hull, saving the boat (photos below). Valentine sold her to E.M. Henry & the Lambourne family bought her from Henry in 1939. She remained in the Lambourne family until 1956 or so but Lambourne obligingly changed her name to Robyn Gae on 14/11/49 at the time Lanes launched the second Connie V for Valintine.
She is registered as a “Her Majesty’s Ship” in London.
The Chrysler Crown engine was replaced later by a Commer TS3 two-stroke diesel . The bridge roof was raised about 20 centimeters way back in about 1979 Martin thinks, because a stroll on the bridge always ended with  a ding in one’s head . The beams were just that little bit too low and the bridge deck floor had to be raised a bit to accommodate the new engine.
The Commer has since been replaced by a Perkins & with this engine Robyn Gae is able to achieve a true 9.6 knots running a 5 blade prop.

Robyn Gae is for sale – for details contact Martin Turnwald at

Robyn Gae (Connie V)


Robin Gay (Connie V)

New Photo (Water Gipsy) ex Harold Kidd 16/04/2014


CONNIE V was built by Lane Motor Boat Co in 1949 for Valentine of Hamilton and originally had 2 x Chrysler 75hp Ace engines, hopefully the article reproduces well enough to read. The photo shown in the article was taken in 1938 at the long demolished Mechanics Bay wharf.

Harold Kidd Update 16/04/2014

I’ve had a chance since posting the above to review all the above material and to compare images of WATER GIPSY and CONNIE V. Morrie relies heavily on the Register of British Ships and it leads him into a whole bunch of traps because, for various reasons, the information is frequently dodgy. I’ve discussed this with him before. He infers that CONNIE V was built new in 1935 for Valintine, and that’s exactly what I’ve always thought until now.
WATER GIPSY (another image attached) was launched in October 1934 for C. Miller by Cox & Filmer (Speedcraft Boat Co) with dimensions 32ft x 8ft 6in. She was a slightly extended version of a 30 footer built by Cox & Filmer for one Martin (haven’t identified her yet). Miller used WATER GIPSY for a while (eg Marjorie Miller visited yacht LITTLE JIM from her on 2/2/35) and then she “disappears”.
Now, if you compare my image of WATER GIPSY with the image of CONNIE V in Paul Titchener’s highly erroneous article above (I assume whoever posted it had PT’s copyright permission), which was based solely on family anecdote I imagine, as Paul married Valintine’s daughter, you will clearly observe that the two boats are identical back to the aft end of the clerestory.
It is obvious to me that the truth is in the cracks between the various versions.
I think this is what happened.

WATER GIPSY was obviously a bit of a problem, ergonomically. She had no cockpit, had a pair of davits across the counter, and would have been a pain to handle. Valintine bought her in 1937, renamed her CONNIE V after Mrs. V, had her lengthened to her final dimension of 38ft, with the provision of a cockpit, coaming and dodger over…..much more user friendly. The work was undoubtedly done by Lanes who also fitted her with a Chrysler Crown in September 1939. That was after the Kawau petrol fire in January 1939 when Valintine scuttled her by chopping a hole in her hull, saving the boat. It may also have been after he sold her to E.M. Henry (Lambourne bought her from Henry).
She remained in the Lambourne family until 1956 or so but Lambourne obligingly changed her name to ROBYN GAE on 14/11/49 at the time Lanes launched the second CONNIE V for Valintine.

There’s a whiff of assumption in the above which I detest in others………………….