Tern II

TERN II

Several weeks ago we run a story on WW about the fate of the Stow & Son – UK yacht – Imatra, that is dining a slow death up the Tamaki River in Auckland. At the time xxx pointed out that there was another Stow & Son yacht (built in 1899) – the 52’,  gaff, yawl – Tern II in New Zealand. She is for sale on the UK yacht brokers website – Sandeman Yacht Company – I have taken the  of reproducing the background story on how she ended up in NZ.This link will take you to their site to see over 40 photos and read more about her   http://www.sandemanyachtcompany.co.uk/yacht/467/stow-and-sons-39-ft-gaff-yawl-1899-project-completion Thanks to Mark Erskine for the heads up on this hidden gem.

Tern II was launched as White Kitten in 1899, from the yard of Stow and Son, in Shoreham, UK. In early 1910 she was purchased by Claude Worth, who owned her for a couple of years and made several changes to her; documented in his book “Yacht Cruising.” Meanwhile all the ironwork he had made at this time is still with the vessel. 

After numerous owners over the next few decades, she came into the hands of Ben Pester, a New Zealand naval officer who had finished a period of service in the U.K. and was keen to return to NZ under sail. This passage, in 1951-52, was written about in his book “Just Sea and Sky”, published in 2010.  

Tern II changed hands again a few times, until she was found abandoned and a somewhat worse for wear in a mud berth near Thames North Island NZ, by Bill Cunningham. Going aboard with a mate unsure if she was worth saving; after downing the bottle of whisky found below it was decided she was indeed worthy – and thus began a 9 year period that she spent hauled out in his back yard in Cambridge not far away, replacing the deck with the addition of a cabin and all her spars, and a new interior. Her counter had been removed sometime before this and the rig changed to a cutter. She was re launched in April 1981.

Bill parted with her in 1991 and she was owned for a time by Mick Reynolds, and then Lyn Avatar, who had planned to sail her to Hawaii but cut the journey short after a 24 day passage to Tonga from the Bay of Islands. She then lay on a mooring there until the current owners came across her on their way to New Zealand. For a sum including coverage of outstanding mooring fees, a bottle of rum, and a kiss, they secured ownership and arranged shipping back to New Zealand. She is currently being stored undercover in a yard in Whangarei, Northland and undergoing restoration.

Imatra And Her Builders Story

Tamaki River, Auckland

IMATRA And Her Builders Story

A little while ago Mark Erskine wrote in regarding the 123 year old Stow & Sons gaff yawl racing yacht – ‘Imatra’ which was sailed to New Zealand in the late 1930’s or 40’s and purchased by the then Mayor of Auckland. Mark used to give her a passing glance on his travels, she is berthed in the Tamaki River,  but over the last few years he hasn’t checked but I can confirm that she is still barely afloat. The last time Mark saw her she was in poor condition, at the time owned by John Hayman, we are unsure who currently owns her. Can any of the river rats enlighten us on the status of Imatra?

Mark also supplied a link to a Youtube video on Stow & Son, master boat builders.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBBVcrmj9qE It gives wonderful insight into just how remarkable their productions were / are. Very humble boat sheds, humble tools, all yachts made by hand, but by craftsmen from the best quality seasoned timbers (oak frames seasoned for up to 16 years, mahogany, rosewood, walnut, pitch-pine, teak, etc) and the sheer quantity of huge, high quality racing yachts and boats made by this firm boggles the mind. The production numbers don’t seem possible for the size of the business, and clearly shows this company were at the very top of their game.

A few Stow & Sons yachts survive fully restored and are worth millions. 

If you Google:

  • “1904 Rosalind yacht”
  • “1913 Harbinger yacht”  Sadly, “Harbinger” was lost at sea a few years ago. 

Input From A WW Reader

The Imatra article today jogged my memory. Imatra was designed and built with a gaff yawl rig and was sailed to NZ in that configuration (see photo) below. Much later, she was modified to her current rig here in NZ. Current owner, John Hayman claims the modifications were carried out by a young Peter Blake, after Hayman damaged her magnificent timber main mast. The current alloy mast looks very much out of place and just adds to the current distressed condition of the yacht. Hayman was also responsible for the awful cabin addition. He claimed the construction was carried out at Baileys. The original rear (aft?) mast postion behind the rudder post was also removed and brought forward of the rudder post. Hayman claimed this was also by “Blakey”.

The yawl ‘Imatra’ under sail, 1913. (Photo by Kirk and Sons of Cowes/Getty Images)

Input From Harold Kidd – IMATRA left England for NZ in December 1948. Ernie Davis bought her in 1949. L.J.Fisher owned her later then A.M. Jenkinson (1964) then Jack Hayman. SOMEONE’S GOT TO DO SOMETHING!


Input From Russell Ward – I crewed on her Christmas 1964 when she was owned by seafarer and car dealer Arthur Jenkinson – He was a mate of Athol Rusden and is mentioned a lot in the latter’s autobiography “Rascal of the Pacific” It is a cracking good read and puts him in perspective. Athol had the 60’ woody Paulmarkson built by Percy Vos in 1970. She was renamed Dionysus RIP.
Jenkinson had pulled the masts out and was rebuilding them when I crewed. He said he was re-gluing parts so I guess there was rot.  She was substantially original below – lovely paneling etc etc. I think she had a piano aft end of the saloon. Wasn’t much for me to do since we motored everywhere.Arthur reckoned she had too much lead aft and that the engine (a Lees 100 hp Ford) ballasted her too much aft. I last saw her on one of the slips at St Marys Bay a year or so after and Arthur was gas axing and hacking a large piece of lead off the aft end of the keel by the rudder post –would have been a ton or more. I lost touch with her after that and she seemed to spend most of her time up the Tamaki. The boxy cabin aft was quite a fine piece of woodwork but the original doghouse was lovely.The picture below is of her at Cooks Lower Landing alongside Skip Lawler’s ex RNZN Fairmile – Ngaroma

A Woody Tour of the Tamaki River – 70 photos

A Woody Tour of the Tamaki River – 70 photos

Todays story so needed to be done, and woodys, John Bullivant is a legend for grabbing his camera and heading out on our behalf. I’ll let John tell his story 🙂

“Thought it was about time I got a few photos on the Tamaki River boats before they disappear, (and they are going fast by the look of some). There are only a fraction of the numbers of wooden boats that were moored there in the 1960s and 1970s and as I previously mentioned, living on the waterfront at Bucklands Beach for around 25yrs I had seen most of them go by (was like Queen St on Friday nights most summer weekends) I did 2 trips down from Orewa and took pics from Panmure Boat Club and up to and under the new Panmure Bridge, end of Gabadore Pl (off Carbine Rd), the old Panmure Marina, (going with many houses from Panmure to Pakuranga Town centre, to make way for new highway widening), along the Tamaki River walkway for about 4km (Rotary Walk,- starts at the old Panmure Marina and goes all the way to Gills Rd in Howick, for those who like walking), Half Moon Bay and Bucklands Beach.

I also went down to the 1960s site of the private ex RNZAF W1  haul-out ramp below the old Alright property (well covered in bush now and a near vertical climb down a 30ft bank), – lost a bit of blood but well worth it for me, as I last stood on that spot 50yrs ago when we sneaked on board W1 to have a look around while she was up there. Original ramp and haul-out dolly is still there (see pics) although time has taken its toll. I’m amazed, looking at the crude set-up today, how Mr Alright got a 64ft boat weighing many tons, sitting on rubber tyred dollies (which ran in grooved concrete) lined up and hauled out with a winch and by the looks of it, the large tree in line with the ramp, not to mention getting it back out again (I’m assuming he must have winched it back out somehow). Massive effort not only to build the ramp on mud, (all by hand, no concrete pumping trucks) but to be able to use it.

Hope these photos are of interest to people who may be able to identify some of the mystery boats (especially the light blue launch with the chrome ventilators and light, (looks ex RNZAF ?). The yacht hidden near the big boatshed is around 45ft looks very old and has been there for many years, as has poor old Imatra, a once grand yacht which is in a very sad state and in urgent need of care (must have been there 30 yrs odd now). I have included a few other launches and yachts to show the sad state of many good looking (and once expensive) boats on the river crying out for attention, but I guess many people have other priorities and sadly their dreams are just floating slowly into oblivion. It’s pretty hard to get rid of a rusty rotten hulk, so there they will stay till it’s “business time” (flight of the Conchords) for the 20 ton digger.

I may have some of the boats names wrong as I was using a telephoto lens for most of the pics and with enhancing colour, contrast etc was as near as I could get. I’m sure someone will correct any if wrong.”

NOTE: With the photos that John has named, I have tagged the photos with those names. Scroll over the photos to view the names 😉
I could have used the individual images on WW over an extended period, but they need to be together in one spot. Enjoy 🙂