Ethel Big Game Fishing

Ethel Big Game Fishing

The passage of life sometimes is a tad scary – recently I have been doing several stories based around Whangaroa Harbour in the Far North and  yesterday the phone rings and one of the last standing relatives has passed on – and where is the funeral – Whangaroa, so tomorrow the car will be pointing north. These events are never good but in her mid 90’s, it will be a celebration of life.

Anyway moving on to todays story – thanks to a Lew Redwood fb post we get to see a c.1931 photo gallery of the launch – Ethel in / around Whangaroa Harbour, in her big game fishing heyday. Regular WW readers will known my personal views on this heinous practice – one photo is tagged ‘Mako shark being killed with a spade’. Ok its not a spade, but seriously how barbaric is that.

(Photos ex The British Museum collection)

Get a Wee Bit Excited About The Upcoming Mahurangi Regatta – next weekend – Jan 28th.

The Marine Photographer’s Eye, Benjamin Mendlowitz – OCH Video Featuring Kiwi Classic Wooden Boats

Screen Shot 2019-05-26 at 3.41.08 PM

The Marine Photographer’s Eye, Benjamin Mendlowitz – OCH Video Featuring Kiwi Classic Wooden Boats – The best photos of our fleet you will have ever seen!

Today’s story is rather special as the team at have given waitematawoody readers access to their latest video that features woodys from this years Mahurangi Regatta. The OCH site contains over 500 videos (& 500 articles) that range from boatbuilding, to trimming sails, to a complete course on understanding every aspect of your marine diesel engine. There’s even a 42-part series on how to build a Caledonia Yawl camp cruiser. The collection of videos features mariners and craftspeople at the very top of the boating field, showing exactly how they do things, and which products they use in their work.

One of the OCH founders is Benjamin Mendlowitz who, in my eyes, is the worlds finest photographer of classic wooden boats, this January, Ben and his co-founders escaped the US winter and headed down under. Whilst in NZ their #1 mission was to attended the Mahurangi Regatta and to this end on the Saturday Jason Prew with My Girl & myself with Raindance hosted – Maynard Bray, Benjamin Mendlowitz & Steve Stone for a Regatta photo shoot.

In the 11 minute video, Ben talks us through his day on the water filming woodys. In the opening section when Ben is commenting on our classic fleet he says “I was newly inspired in my photography”. When a photographer with as much experience as Benjamin Mendlowitz says that – that is saying something about our woody fleet. Plus the video is a master class for anyone interested in marine photography.



The OCH site is 100 percent membership driven, and they do not accept advertising. Not lining their pockets with advertising enables them to provide OCH members with the unvarnished truth, straight from legendary masters of their craft – without worrying whether they piss off an advertiser 🙂

In addition to allowing WW woodys to view the video at no-charge, they have also put together a one-off subscription offer for WW readers.

They are offering 50% off the annual rate – thats an amazing US$24.50 – BUT woodys be quick it will not last for long + there is a Risk Free Guarantee – try it for a few days, if your not happy they will provide you with a 100% refund. I’m a subscriber – I love the site, I have watched one story probably 10 times.



  • FULL ACCESS to everything on the site for 1 full year (including our growing library of over 1,000 videos and articles)
  • Your membership includes three full “how-to-build” video series (80+ videos worth over $500 that you get free)
  • You can get your questions answered in the “comments” section under each video and article
  • Join our community of “off-center” boating enthusiasts around the world




Info below ex Capt. Tom Leary    B.V.A. (Syd.)  C.L.M.  N.Z.W.G. – sent in by Judith Gardiner (+ b/w photos). Colour photos ex Alan H
Designed and built by the Logan Brothers at their Devonport shipyards in 1896 (Nov 16th) for H. Dawson the owner of Greater Mercury Island. She was 60′ LOA, 11’8″ beam & 5’8 draft. Triple skin kauri & copper roved. Ethel was built as a family cruiser/ racer with slightly more beam than those of her contemporaries. Ethel spent her early years cruising and racing mainly around Auckland but also in Wellington.

Around 1918 Ethel was taken along with other larger vessels into the snapper fleet and given the sail # 33. After the war years she moved to Waitara on New Zealand’s West coast where she remained for fifty years long lining for snapper, it was during this time she had an engine fitted. Whilst in Waitara where she had her own wharf, she was called by the locals ‘The Queen of Waitara.’

About 1970 she returned to Auckland and continued to fish out of Westhaven.

In approx. 1975 she was purchased by John Smith from Thames who did extensive restoration work including new decks new cabin, new interior work and restored her original yawl rig as the mizzen mast had been removed for fishing.

In 1999 I purchased Ethel from John and again an extensive refit began.

Half of her port side was replaced due to dry rot. New fuel tanks, a recond. engine was fitted, new electronics/ wiring including smart charging systems, electronic toilet  and fridge installed she was completely recaulked including scarfing in slithers to her garboard plank. All this work was done under the guidance of Nortel surveyors. 2003 saw more work done during a winter refit her coach roof was glassed over, her main mast and gaff had another two meters added to them to take her back to her original rig. Her cockpit area was increased with self drainage this was done to take six to eight people comfortably. Wheel steering was added and her decks were recaulked with sika. A yard was added and new sails cut to fit. All Ethel’s standing rig is new galv. most of Ethel’s running rig is also new. Ethel is a very well appointed and maintained classic and has been chartering successfully for the past three years.

The Auckland museum has many early photographs of Ethel, as with today, she is a much admired and photographed yacht.

Alan H – Ethel is now owned by Keith Munro & has again undergone an extensive refit & you will see from the photos below is looking rather smart.

Info ex Judith Gardiner on Ethel’s first owner – Herbert Dawson, who was Judith’s great grand uncle through her mothers line.

Herbert Dawson was born 19 April 1859 In Leeds Yorkshire. He married Jane Eleanor Darrell  on 29 December 1886 in Hutton Buscel East Yorkshire & they had two children –
Ethel Fanny Dawson
Born: 14.11.1887 – Lebberston, Filey, Scarborough

Eleanor Sybil Dawson
Born: 03.05.1889 – Falsgrave, Scarborough

Herbert, Jane, Ethel and Eleanor (known as Sybil)  emigrated to New Zealand and landed at Port Chalmers.  They had sailed on the ship Tainui which had left London on 12 May 1892. Herbert purchased Great Mercury on 02.10.1893. Herbert sold Great Mercury Island on 26.02.1912 to John Kemp of Epsom and Frederick William Kemp of Tauranga.

Herbert contracted Logan Brothers of Devonport shipyards to build a ‘boat’ to accommodate his need to transport to and from Great Mercury Island.  It was launched on 16 November 1896.  It was probably sold within the year that Herbert left Great Mercury Island.

Judith would very much like to know who owned it after Tom Leary any other information would be appreciated.

Herbert & Jane Dawson

Herbert Dawson Jane Eleanor Darrell

Ethel – Sailing Sunday

I took the above photos of Keith Munro’s 1896 yacht Ethel at the CYA Patio Bay Weekend. The close ups where when she was rafted up to Dave Gidden’s Allergy.
Hopefully Harold will chip in with details on Ethel.

Harold Kidd Update

ETHEL was built by Logan Bros for Herbert Dawson who owned Mercury Island. He used her for carrying supplies to the island and wool and stock to the coast, usually Whangapoua. She was therefore more generous in beam than most yachts of her time which proved useful when she was later used for racing on the Waitemata by W.J. Quelch and W.R. Ingram after Dawson sold her in 1912.