Back in early Dec 2022 Dean Wright sent me a bucket load of woody photos from a dockside walk he did at Havelock Marina while down south – one of the woodys Dean snapped was the launch – Mandalay, seen above. We ran a WW story at the time but did not generate any leads on Mandalay’s history – so today she get to stand alone i.e. not surrounded by a dozen other photos.

Can we learn more on her provenance.

30-05-2023 UPDATE ex PHIL VINING – I remember having her listed back maybe 1980’s. Ian has kindly forwarded the old listing to me from the Vinings archives. Copy of listing below. info as given by then owner.

Been a busy 2 weeks, had my boat hauled out at the Slipway Milford for some TLC – wasn’t all superficial, a few slightly worrying issues needed addressing (my lips are sealed) but being a good patient she was rewarded with some bling – which included a Jason Prew Paint Job (JPPJ) . The ‘painter’ is addicted to Grownup Donuts, there may be a connection between the quantity of donuts and the quality of the finish 🙂

WW Caps – the new low profile, canvas cloth caps have been a winner – the new understated colour topped with the dark brown WW embroidered logo has a dash of understated style. I have reorder 3 times and stocks are getting low – order today – just click the email link here and tell me your name, postal address and number of caps required ( best order was x5) I’ll come back to you with payment details – $38 + $6 p&p.

Bay of Islands Classic Wooden Boats

Bay of Islands Classic Wooden Boats

Bay of Islands WW contributor Dean Wright sent in the great photos  above from when he and partner Deb were out for a few days just b4 xmas. 

Dick and Colleen Fisher’s magnificent Akarana is seen anchored in Orokawa, as is Enterprise.

The photo of Shenandoah was taken by Dean as she came through Wai iti Bay, Moturua Island. I would be a little amiss if I didn’t comment on the brightwork – please someone give her the TLC she deserves.

A nice photo of the 1929 Lanes Motor Boat Co. 35’ launch – Valerie under way.

The sedan launch in the last photo is well known to me, but I just can’t recall her name…….. Nathan Herbert has advised it’s Waihora.

The photo below ex David Cooke is of Akarana heading to Te Puna Inlet yesterday, where she and Trinidad are escaping the unpleasant swells the B.O.I. are experiencing.



Todays classic woody is the launch Varua, and was one of the craft that Dean Wright recently photographed at Waikawa Bay Marina. Certainly has that ‘Sounds’ boat look to her i.e. built to take a few green ones over the bow.

And that woodys is all we know – so who can help us added more details to her history and how she came to be berthed at Waikawa marina.

INPUT ex John Gander: ‘Varua’ 1959 built by Bob Swanson when his boatyard was in Blackwood bay Queen Charlotte Sound, now owned by Gavin Cooper used often and very well maintained.
Bob Swanson built a lot of launches along similar lines. Very likely that Bill Orchard was in on her building he did his time with Bob Swanson, Bill used to walk over the hill from the from his parents home in the Kenepuru Sound.

14-12-2022 INPUT EX GREG BILLINGTON – I believe Varua was built in 1954 by Swanson in Blackwood Bay near Waikawa. A 12 tonne, 40-footer, she was owned for a long time by a chap who I think was known as ‘Brownie.’ He sold it to my brother John, about twenty years ago. At that point, she was pretty decrepit but with a sound hull. John commissioned local boat builder John Cooper to refurbish her, which included replacing the old Nissan with a 130hp Perkins, glassing the topsides, full paint job, replacing the electrics and plumbing and installing the davit for lifting the dinghy. I took her for her ‘maiden’ voyage after Cooper’s refit, resulting in a fine groper off Witt’s Rock in the Strait. My brother kept Varua in Waikawa for a while and then motored her up the East Coast to the Waitemata. However, not long after, he sold her (to switch to sailing), and she was bought by a couple of guys in Paremata, so headed south again. I’m unsure how long they retained ownership, in any event, John Cooper’s son, Gavin, bought her and she came back home to Waikawa. Gavin told me she had not been so well looked after, and he gave her a refresh and upgraded the cabin. 

Classic Wooden Boats At Waikawa Marina

Classic Wooden Boats At Waikawa Marina

Following on from last Mondays story where we shared Dean Wright’s recent Southern trip and a gallery of photos from the Havelock marina todays photo gallery comes to us from the Waikawa marina. Some stunning woodys and remember – click on photos to enlarge 😉

A lot of woodys that are new to WW and they will morph into WW stories in their own right.

Enjoy 🙂


The big bridgedecker with 4 ports is RAHEMO (launched as Strathmore), built by Dick Lang.

Others I can positively identify are (from the top):

VECA (Arthur Sang)

VAGABOND (Joe Jukes)





HUNTRESS (possibly McManaway designed/built?)

VARUA (Bob Swanson)

OSPREY (Harold Saunders)

PALOMINO (Bob Swanson)

TOANUI (Roger Carey)

Yacht ANNA JANE (?)

NUKUMEA (American “Bartender” design by George Calkins)

YVONNE (Bob Swanson)


Unknown fishing boat

KATOOMBA (Dorman Engineering, Nelson – not wood, built in Corten Steel!!)

Unknown (possibly Bruce Askew?)

CORYLUS (Bruce Askew)

TAREPO (launched TAREPA)


? (looks like a McManaway or Morgan fishing boat design?)

? (under the covers)

CRISTINA (Athol Burns)


Most of these have featured previously on WW, so a quick look in the search bar will glean more details if interested.

Classic Wooden Boats At Havelock Marina

Classic Wooden Boats At Havelock Marina

Back in late October 2022 Dean Wright was in Blenheim attending John Gander’s significant birthday, all birthdays are significant but the ones with ‘0’s’ in them are more significant.

While down south Dean did some marina mooching and todays photo gallery comes to us from the Havelock marina. Nice to see a couple of our bigger northern woodys now safely tucked way down south – Turongo and Durville. Sad to lose them from the Waitemata but if we were keeping score I think we win more than we lose 🙂

A lot of craft unknown to WW and will probably morph into WW stories in their own right. As always click on photos to enlarge.

Arethusa Aground on Farewell Spit

Arethusa Aground on Farewell Spit

Regular readers of WW will be familiar with Bay of Islands photographer – Dean Wright and the stunning images he shares with us. Dean and partner Deb are the custodians of the classic woody – Arethusa, which has one of the best back stories of all the craft in your fleet. The 33’ Arethusa was built in 1917 by Bob Brown and started life as a gaff rigged cutter, 105 years later she has the features of a commercial ex work boat – but a very swish one 🙂 Link below that shows some of the transformation – and being such a looker she has made numerous WW appearance, but today we bring to light a somewhat unknown (to most of us) event in her life – I’ll let Dean do the intro to the above photo essay :-

“Deb and I were down south recently and did the Farewell Spit Bus trip. The tour operators were able to tell us approximately where Arethusa ran aground all those years ago (late December 1955). 

They dragged the boat to the other side of the Spit and relaunched her, about 1.2km’s. An excerpt from book at the Spit lighthouse keepers house: “She was sailing between New Plymouth and Nelson and the crew thought they were heading between the lights of Farewell Spit and Stephen’s Island when they ran aground. Obviously they mistook the light on Cape Farewell for that on the Spit, and, as the Cape Farewell light had only gone into operation in 1951, they may have been unaware of its existence.”

The press clipping above in the Christchurch Press ran the headline – ‘The Arethusa – A Total Loss’ – well they got that wrong – well done to everyone that invested the funds and time to help Arethusa become a centenarian. If anyone knows more detail of her time in the South Island, Deb and Dean would love to hear from you.

Spindrift + Save A Classic From The Chainsaw


One of my ’spotters’,  Dean Wright, in the north sent in on Wednesday night the above photo of Spindrift. Dean commented that Spindrift was a newbie to him and myself also.

The photo shows her coming up the Kerikeri Inlet (Doves Bay). 

Can anyone enlighten us on Spindrift, there is an interesting mix of styles going on, but overall she looks very salty.


We have a long weekend coming up – Labour W/end – OCt 22nd > 24th) historically we tend to point the bow towards Kawau Island, weather permitting, if the weather gods are nice the plan is a catch up / drink ashore on Saturday at the Kawau Boating Club. Always very informal, so probaly around 3.30>4pm. If your around drop in.


The classic launch Parma recently had an oops and sank – story here

The insurance surveyor has advised they have offered up Parma at no charge other than removal costs from Hobsonville Marina Hardstand – if no takers by Oct 21st – she sadly will be cut up. Interested parties contact Simon Marshall via email

Bay Of Islands Woody Sightings

Bay Of Islands Woody Sightings

One of WW’s spotter in the Far North – Dean Wright was heading out from his home bay, , last Friday and snapped the above woody photos of Quest, Norseman and Tranquila.

Dean commented that Norseman was run as a charter boat out of Tutukaka for years by the late Phil Bendle. She now lives on a mooring at Rangitane, up the Kerikeri River. Good link below to a brief insight into Phil Bendle’s life.



Back in May 2020 we ran a story on the spirit of tradition classic launch – Caravel (link below), at the time the story would have broken the WW record for the number of people emailing me about a boat. Seems she ticked all the boxes for people considering doing laps of NZ in their retirement 🙂 Stunning photos ex Dean Wright at the link + the photo today is Deans also.

We subsequently learnt that Caravel was built c.2004 in Picton, strip planked but using an unusual boat building timber – poplar. Fast forward 10 years and she was hauled out at Tauranga being re-skinned with double diagonal kauri and glassed, boat builder Alan Craig commented that she was now built like a brick-out-house.

Some details – designed by Bob Salthouse, 42’ in length, beam of 14’6” and draws 5’. Built by Miller and Tunnage, Picton.

Forward motion is from a John Deere 135hp diesel that gives her a comfortable cruising speed of 8 knots.

Kerikeri Inlet Mooching


Bay of Islands woody, Dean Wright snapped the above gallery of photos on his iPhone in early August whilst mooching around the Kerikeri Inlet. 

From the top down, left > right we have – Alma G > Shalom > Te Honu > Dareen > Tranquila > Pearl Diver > Westerly > and the very salty looking yacht – Cameo

Input ex Belinda Moss – Cameo is Eric Cox design built by Lionel Jeffcoate for himself. He sailed her with his family in the Pacific, and to the Chathams and Auckland Islands. Sister ship to Encore (sloop rig) which he built after selling Cameo. These are two of the 57 boats Lionel built on his own.

Job opportunities in the marine industry are few and far between even in the current times, particularly in the better companies. Regular WW readers will know I’m a big fan of the crew at Moon Engines, so when James Mobberley mentioned that he was on the hunt for mechanic to join the team, I volunteered to help the search – So woodys if you or someone you know is considering a change of scenery – give James a call, you will have to leave a message, we all do – too busy on-the-job, to take calls- thence this ad 🙂

More details below.

We are still trying to find an enthusiastic, experienced mechanic to join our great team at Moon’s.

We are prepared to pay good money + additional benefits for a good, experienced mechanic who wishes to work in the Marine industry or one who is willing to be trained in marine gearbox and/or marine engine work.

If you are the “Mechanic we are looking for” or know of someone who would be interested in this position, please see our advert below:-


If you are the mechanic we are looking for, you will be enthusiastic, love boats and enjoy being part of a great team that works really well together.

You will be keen to advance your career having already completed your apprenticeship with experience as either a petrol or diesel mechanic. You will need a full licence and of course great work ethics – meaning you’ll be punctual, honest and reliable.

If you are tired of the same old, working in the rain and mud or under a car, we would love to welcome you into the marine industry by joining the friendly team at Moon engines.

To apply, check out our website to see more on who we are and what we do, then call James on 09 828 3524 or email and tell us why you would be one of our amazing mechanics!