Fleetwing Re-Launches



Late last week the Pollard brothers – Andrew & Cameron dropped Fleetwing back in the water after giving her a serious makeover. Other than shinny paint job, we are sure what has has been done to her, the brothers are a tad tight lipped on details.
What I can say is that looking at her stern there is a very serious new prop, a bigger exhaust & the addition of a set of trim-tabs, so me thinks that she has had ‘heart transplant’.
The big question is will they be entering the upcoming Rudder Cup launch race? Will be an interesting clash between Jason Prew’s My Girl & Fleetwing. I suspect that if we see an entry from the Pollards, Mr Prew will off to Westhaven marine chandlery outlets for a set to trim-tabs 😉
Speaking of the Rudder Cup, to date we have over 15 confirmed / paid-up entries, with a few more having to pay the late entry fee (>Nov 30th) – it will be a cracker event.
And CYA woodys – remember next weekend (Dec 1>2) is Patio Bay weekend – more on that in a few day.
Check out this WW link to read & view some of the history on Fleetwing. https://waitematawoodys.com/2016/11/09/fleetwing/
Video below of Fleetwing idling post launching.

UPDATE 08-12-2018  My spies snapped a photo of Fleetwing at speed, heading down the harbour toward the Harbour Bridge – looked fast was the comment.







Today’s story has come about by 4 people digging me in the ribs – started off with Chris Manning letting me know that he had purchased Fleetwing, but not really for future ownership – more to protect her from future neglect & to secure a new owner that has the vision & passion to bring her back to the condition a vessel with her provenance deserves.
Next Nathan Herbert gives we a nudge, then Ian McDonald, then Cameron Pollard emails me, now if you know Cameron he is a man of few words (in emails) his message was “some woody needs to buy this”. And someone does.
Fleetwing is a 32′ kauri carvel planked hull, built at St Mary’s Bay, Auckland at the Collings & Bell yard, launched September 1920. She has spent the majority of her life in the Marlborough Sounds as a commuter and work launch.

No engine, no propeller, other running gear in place. No ancillaries/tanks. Hull appears sound and appears to have had significant refastening work done in the recent past. The deckhouse would benefit from the use of a chainsaw.

Currently lying on a mooring in Paremata. Can be shifted to Mana Marina Travel-lift if required.

Above are a couple of historic photos . The photos of her with the Aramoana green hull are as current.

So woodys if you are seriously seeking a historic New Zealand launch for refit or restoration then Fleetwing could be for you.

You can read more about her at the ww link below. You’ll find her list on trademe at $900 ono – yeap – $900.


12-11-2016 update ex Gavin Pascoe – In the colour photos the launch in the background is  another Collings and Bell, named Surprise. Built for Cook Strait whaling again on the concave convex principle.

28-08-2018 Update

I’m very pleased to advise the after a 91 year absence the 1920 Collings & Bell launch – Fleetwing, has returned to her original waters… Auckland.
She joins the Pollard Bros fleet. Photo below ex Andrew Pollard.
More photos below of her at West Park Marina – ex John Wicks 
Update 30-08-2018 Photo below supplied by Andrew Pollard – looking very quick 🙂
20-09-2018 Update – my spies sent in the photo below – rather a zoom zoom prop has been added – maybe the bros are doing the 2018 Rudder Cup race ????
Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 3.06.11 PM
29-09-2018 Another yard photo from Jason Prew, the guy should be working on his own boat 🙂
08-10-2018 Updated photo ex Andrew Pollard – looking very smart 😉
Fletwing Oct2018

Anyone know where this mullet boat is?

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The Mullet boat Waitomo / Disgraceful

Hello – I wondered if anyone might be able to help, I’m trying to track details on a Mullet boat my brother Neil Thompson, who now lives in Australia, used to own.

The boat was named Waitomo – he tells me she was known as “dizzy” or disgraceful from early 70’s to late 80’s as she was a wreck, laid up on the mudflats of Birkenhead for many years and someone wrote on her side in mud – this boat is disgraceful and the name stuck like the mud!

He is wondering where the boat has got too – all he knows is that it was trucked to the Bay of Islands in 1999 and possibly purchased by a gentleman who belonged to the Opua yacht club.

Sorry it’s not much to go on but I wondered whether this might ring any bells.  My brother is coming across in January and is keen to see the boat again if we can locate it.

I tracked down these pics from the web and I’m not sure of the dates.

Many thanks for your help!  Lisa – contact email below


Harold Kidd Input

Strictly speaking WAITOMO isn’t/wasn’t a “mullet boat”. She is/was a 16 footer S Class of roughly mullet boat configuration but in miniature.

Her registered number was S40 originally but changed to V244 (as shown in the images) as she was either over 16ft or was lengthened to 18ft.

I think her original name was BUNGAREE and she was built about 1929.

She was called DISGRACEFUL in 1953 when her owner was Charles Lindegreen and Eriksen, followed by Glen Thompson of Westmere.

Alan H UpdateI think some wag has had a little ‘play’ with the photos in the past, the helmsman looks a bit too curvaceous & its not from the normal mullet boat diet of meat pies and Lion Reds 🙂

Robin Elliott Update 23/12/13

I’m not so sure that the is/was Bungaree, although one cannot rule anything out.
Bungaree appears as S-40 in 1929 and is around until around 1933 when she vanishes.

In 1938 S-40 was allocated to Leilani, a square bilge ‘sharpie type’ of English design built by Roy Brummell, and famously photographed in the NZ Herald, in serous cruising mode, decorated with RAF roundels and with crew wearing US Navy gob hats. (HDK – see the S-class file of photographs now in your possession).

To also confuse, a 16-foot mullet boat type, but ROUND bilge, named Leilani and carrying S-4 was wrecked in Okahu Bay in 1898 and her hull towed away to the tip.

Disgraceful appears as S-40, owned by Erikson & Lindgreen in 1951, then B.S.G. Keene of Whangarei in 1957. I also have an unsubstantiated note that she was built in Whangarei just prior to the War, and she is similar to a couple of unknown (to me anyway) mullet boat types in an old Whangarei photo album that I must get back from the WCC..

Around 1960 she re-appears as Waitomo registered as V-244 because the AYMBA had stopped registering boats for the S-class and all boats less than 18-feet were registered as V’s. Loads of confusion anyway because the V-200 numerical series was begun in 1955 to cater for the 18-foot Flying Squardon V’s (V-201 Envy, V-202 Quandary, V-203 Quiz). By the early 1960’s when Waitomo came along the AYMBA was only half-heartedly registering 18-footers and probably didn’t give a toss that Waitomo was nothing like a Flying 18.

During this period her owners were :L.K. Murray 1961?/63+?; D.O.(Stuart) Munro (Hamilton East) 1965?/77+? (still shows as owner in 1978 NZYF); and Shane Kelly (ex Sea Spray editor) some time in the early 1980’s.

I remember seeing her on the hard at Okahu Bay in the mid-late 1980’s. She was VERY deep chested and probably drew the best part of 18 inches, quite tubby like a little Loloma which for a 16-footer was really unusual.She was wrecked in Okahu Bay in 1989 & her hull towed away to the tip.

Photos below ex Pam at Whangateau Traditional Boat yard

The top photo is Fleetwing  S11 on the left and Des Demona on the right (18 ft mullety), they are laid up in the backyard of 96 Vermont Street Ponsonby in 1942 for war times.
Pam would like to know who built Fleetwing and what happened to her? The photo was given to Pam from Des Pittams a previous owner of Des Demona.

Anyone able to put a make to the van towing Des Demona.

Charles (Chas) Collings – Designer / Boat Builder


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Charles (Chas) Collings – Designer / Boat Builder

The story below on Charles Collings’ approach to design in the immediate post-WW1 period has been penned by Harold Kidd.

Charles Collings emerged from World War I with a massive reputation for fast craft. In late 1914, when the war was just a distant rumble in France, he had built the 21ft restricted racer FLEETWING with which he raced and beat the Christchurch boat DISTURBER on the Waitemata in April 1915 at exactly the time of the landings at Gallipoli. He developed his “concave-convex” hull design where the chine hull had a convex (hollow) entry and progressively transitioned though straight to convex at the stern. He was by no means the originator of the idea, but certainly grabbed it as his own through decades of successful planing hulls he built for racing, fast cruising and whale chasing.
There is no doubt that he was well ahead of his time in a local context, although Major Lane was close behind.
By war’s end in 1918 Charles Collings had been a notable war effort contributor as a pal of local motorboat guru Charles Palmer (see ADELAIDE on this site), had lost his partner Alf Bell who had gone to the Walsh Brothers helping them build flying boats at Kohimarama for their flying school (and did not welcome him back afterwards), and was preparing for the post-war boom in large launch building that was inevitably coming, during which he built MARGUERITE, PAIKEA and RUAMANO amongst many others.
I have had a chip at his aesthetics from time to time but, to be fair to the man, he did not have the hindsight we have on the way launch design went and could not know what looks good to us today.
Faced with the design of a fast cruiser, only 32ft loa by 8ft 6in beam, and the desire for headroom in the main cabin, he came up with his second motorboat called FLEETWING (by now a brand for him). She was an extension of the ideas in the 1915 ADELAIDE.
I think, with this second FLEETWING, Collings’ first training as a civil engineer shows through more than his secondary training with Robert Logan Sr. as a shipwright. To obtain headroom he carried the tramtop/clerestory concept to the point IMHO of ugliness, using the parameters of the railway carriage, the electric tram and the motor bus of the time, abandoning completely the parameters of the yacht, even a token attention to which had kept launches aesthetically pleasing until now.
Anyway, see what you think of this image of the second FLEETWING which I have taken from one of Collings’ own glass plates, very decayed, but an amazing insight into the goings on in St Mary’s Bay in late 1920. Collings & Bell’s yard is out of picture to the left, so we see the yards of Dick Lang and Leon Warne close up.
This launch was on TradeMe at Picton recently, erroneously called MISS FLEETWING.

Update: Charles Collings was a very good amateur photographer with excellent gear. After his death in 1946 his glass plates got scattered around in the workshop, many were used for skipping across the Bay, most were smashed one way or another. A very few survived, most cracked or with their emulsion badly decayed. I have a handful more of which a couple are excellent and the definitive shots of his 26ft mullet boat CORONA after her launching in 1936.

PS Leon Warne took over the shed on the right in 1916 from Henry Barton who left for the US with his family because of his anti-war convictions (and had a shocking time on the way). Warne had served his time with Collings & Bell. He painted up the shed very nicely as you can see but was building in St.Mary’s Bay only until c1924 when he and his brother set up in Russell, building and chartering game fishing launches.