Matai And A Matter Of Urgency 

Matai And A Matter Of Urgency 

Today’s tale comes to us from Bay of Islands woody – John Gander via Dean Wright and covers a wee oops that the 1967 Jorgensen built woody workboat had in Port Hardy, in the Marlborough Sounds in the mid to late 1970’s. As always,I’ll let John tell the story. 


“Our phone rang in the early morning and there was a certain amount of urgency in the callers voice ‘Rutherford’, the ‘Matai’ is aground in Port Hardy, get your gear together, I have a chopper standing by at Omaka get here as quick as you can. 

The caller was Bill Rutherford, marine assessor, I had done a lot of salvage work and repairs with Bill, and I knew the Matai and Gerry Fissenden her then owner-skipper. 

Maitai is a carvel built launch designed and built by Peter ‘Pop’ Jorgensen at his Waikawa Bay boatyard for Ray Roach. Ray was a well known and very experienced commercial launch man in the Marlborough Sounds, and with a majority of properties in the Sounds having no road access at this time, tow boats with a punt astern or alongside were a common sight, often loaded with building materials and machinery, or farm stock. 

Pop Jorgensen’s brief was to design and build a manoeuvrable, strong tow boat with a good towing post, to handle a sixty foot punt, she was powered by a 4-71. N series G.M. with a 3:1 reduction with a four blade Nalder propeller, and launched in 1967. 

I arrived at Omaka airdrome as the helicopter was being made ready, a quick loading of my tools including dive gear, tanks and air lift bags. We didn’t know at this stage if Matai would be above or below water, there was one possible complication. It is very rare to see fog in Blenheim, but this day was one of those rare days, thick fog not ideal for flying in such restricted visibility. With a heavily loaded helicopter with three of us aboard the pilot’s option was to fly just above the main highway and follow it to Havelock, I was relieved to see the fog was clearing as we flew out over the water at Havelock, it was here that the pilot thrust a lands and survey map into my hand, saying you know the way guide me in the right direction. 

I was a bit concerned at this low altitude flying it takes a bit of getting used to, but one thing we wouldn’t have far to go before a splash, and it was a bit of a relief for me, as we just cleared the hills at Port Ligar to fly across Admiralty Bay to Port Hardy, d’Urville island. As we flew over we could now see the predicament that Matai was in. 

There was a gale of N.W. in Tasman Bay and the Cook Strait, and Gerry had left the punt anchored with a load of sheep aboard in Wells Arm, and was then making his way in East Arm towards Allman Bay when right on H.W. Matai went up on an off lying rocky point, it was about a 3.2 m.tide that was falling and we could see the urgency of the situation. 

A great thing about a chopper is that a quick fly around gave us a good look and we could see that some props were needed and fast before she healed over much more, there were some sizeable Manuka trees further up the hill but nowhere to land nearby on the flat at hight tide. As the pilot brought one skid to rest on a rocky outcrop on the side of the hill, I was given instructions to keep my head down when I got out with sharp saw in hand, he didn’t have to emphasise these instructions. In quick time I was up the hill to cut three good size Manuka and then slide these down to the waiting dinghy, it was a wet job but we had these in place with not too much time to spare and Matai was made secure as she continued to dry out. 

Bill put a call out and the Trawler ‘Marina May’ left Motueka to make her way to d’Urville Island in heavy seas, she had a rough passage but arrived before high water in the late afternoon and a tow line was made ready. Her skipper Robie Bloomfield positioned her just right and with a gentle hand on the power, eased ‘Marina May’ ahead quietly and with her own engine assisting Matai cleared the rocks and was afloat and away from the point. 

It was three days before the sea subsided enough for us to leave and see Matai on her way, but she had comfortable accomodation and Bill and I were still on the payroll until we left Port Hardy. I think the Insurance company was well pleased with only a slipping and a small section of keel batten to be replaced”.

606 Rosebank Road, Avondale

Buying or Selling a Classic Boat
Without sounding too much like Jacinda Ardern (“be kind”) – when people ask me about classic wooden boat ownership, I normally say that owning a woody has a positive effect on your life i.e. you end up forging a life you don’t need to escape from.

So woodys in the interest of your mental well being we have listed below a sample of some of the boats that are currently berthed at the virtual Wooden Boat Bureau Sales Marina. We have a lot of others for sale, some owners request privacy. To read more about the WBB – click https://waitematawoodys.com/2019/12/01/wooden-boat-bureau-advice-for-buyers-and-sellers/
The Wooden Boat Bureau is uniquely placed to offer impartial, up-to-date market information and objective advice to both sellers and buyers. So if you are looking for a wooden boat or considering selling – email us at waitematawoodys@gmail.com

Or call Alan Houghton 027 660 9999 or David Cooke 027 478 1877


SELECTION ONLY

NGARO – 48′ 1953, Lidgard

PIRATE – 46′ 1938 Leon Warne

MAKA MAILE – 40′ 1936/7 Sam Ford

KOTARE – 50′ 1940 Millar

created by dji camera

POCO LENTO – 33′ 1978 Roy Parris / Geoff Bagnall

MASON CLIPPER – 23′ 1966 Mason Marine

RANUI 48’ 1948 Lidgard

IRENE – 38′ 1955 Orams & Davies


MONTEREY 33’6” 1946 Lidgard


CASTAWAY33’ 1947 Dick Lang

Lady Pamela – 60′ tba tba

TAWERA – >50′ 1935 Logan


TIME 38’ 2001 John Gander


ASTROLABE51’7” 1971 Bruce Clarke/John Salthouse

The Refit of Windborne

The Refit Of Windborne
Today’s story is on the schooner – Windborne, by John Gander, via Dean Wright, John and family refitted and owned Windborne for many years. Its a great read by one of our best woody boatbuilders. I’ll shut up and just let John tell the story – enjoy, I did 🙂 Remember – to enlarge a photo, just click on it 😉

‘Windborne’ was built in 1928 by Cornish boatbuilders Gilbert and Pascoe at their yard in Porthleven and launched as the cutter ‘Magnet’ after launching she took part in the Fastnet yacht race. She again raced in the Fastnet in 1930 but this time re rigged as a schooner, and has continued with this rig.

On sailing to the United States her name was changed to ‘Huguenot’ and registered in San Diego. On being purchased by the Charleson’s a Canadian family from Vancouver, the owner wanted to retain the name Huguenot and she was renamed ‘Windborne’ a very fitting name for her, and she was Vancouver registered. On sailing her to the U.S. port of Blaine just south of the Canadian border Mike and his wife Karol began getting Windborne ready for a voyage to the south Pacific.

The family visited many Pacific islands during their cruising and then headed for New Zealand and on the last part of the voyage encountered heavy weather and Windborne suffered some damage to her bulwarks and rigging. Being designed on the lines of the Bristol Channel pilot cutters and soundly built she is a very sea kindly vessel and delivered the family safely to Auckland.

Bev and I had not long completed ‘Deepstar’ and were planning on building a large sailing craft for our family use, however time was getting on, so before it was too late and our children left home we decided to look around for a suitable vessel. We were introduced to Windborne on her mooring at Herald Island and went for an afternoon sail with the Charleson family, and could see she was worth and deserved an extensive refit.

Her planking is Pitch Pine on sawn Oak frames fastened with galvanised soft iron spikes, I was not familiar with these timbers in our Picton boatyards so flew back to Picton to talk with Peter Jorgensen at his Waikawa boatyard. Pop as he was affectionally know, with his years of experience in Danish boatyards was of course very familiar with these timbers, iron fastenings and European construction, and his knowledge was very helpful when I surveyed her as I did on returning to Auckland and putting her on the grid at Westhaven.

We took possession on the last day of July 1980 and made ready for the voyage to Picton and with a capable crew we sailed from Auckland on the 7th of August. Winter is not the always the best time to head down the east coast and it was somewhere off East Cape that we found that the forward skylight was only held in place by the shiplap joint and no through bolts. With a couple of sections of bulwarks missing and a good sea running this deficiency was made evident, and the hand bilge pump showed it’s worth. I always sail with a fairly comprehensive tool kit and with a selection of fittings and fastening in the ships inventory the skylight was secured in place.

To undergo the refit I planned, we needed to have Windborne undercover and were fortunate to find we could have the use of Finn Jorgensen’s big shed at the Waikawa yard for a limited time before it was required for their next commission. On the 24th of December we hauled out and made ready to have the masts lifted out, and started the job of burning off the topside paint. As is often the case fastenings deteriorate around the waterline area but it was not possible to pull the old spikes out of the oak frames so additional galvanised ship spikes were driven adjacent to the original’s, two planks below and three planks above the waterline.

On the last day of December ‘Windborne’ was hauled up into the shed ready for the major refit, and what better way to spend new years day for a family than to spend it working with earnest tearing up the canvas like material covering the decks, I was suspicious that this was laid over the 2 inch Baltic Pine decks because of leaks, the ruination of many fine vessel’s. I was relieved to find the timber was in a good state of repair so the decision was made to retain the deck. Removal of the deckhouse was fairly quick and easy but more time was required to remove deck fittings, deck prism’s, and other deck furniture until we had a clean flush deck. The bulwarks were fastened to grounds over the covering boards with the frames extending to the cap, this is an area of potential leaks. On removing the damaged bulwarks and beltings and sawing off the frames at deck level, the new bulwarks were to be fitted on the outside of the sheer strake as was our practice at the Carey yard.

Next we moved below decks, unfortunately in later years any original furniture and fittings had gone to be replaced with ply, paneling and some pegboard, hardly befitting a traditional yacht, however we did expose the original tonnage and tonnage exemption carvings by removing layers of paint from the deck beams so we had something from her past. I had planned the layout we required so removed all bulkheads and the hull lining. This gave a good opportunity to make a thorough inspection from bilge to deckhead.

While I was fitting new bulkheads, Bev and our boys Wayne and Neville, began removing the rigging and paint from the spars. As is common in these vessel’s cast iron ballast is set in concrete between the floor timbers, however she also carried 2,775 lbs of lead ingots. At some time Windborne had been hauled out on a two bearer slip cradle and for a thirty five ton vessel this was grossly insufficient, the result was that she had damage to the underside of her wooden keel, so I made a casting box and we used the lead ingots to cast a blast keel to replace the damaged section. I next dressed off and sanded the the Baltic Pine decking and laid marine ply using epoxy glue to, and over the outside of the sheer strake.

By late February we were ready to start the new bulwarks and to help with our time schedule Finn offered me the use of one of his men, I chose Keith Hansen, Keith had learned his trade at the Jorgensen Boatyard and Keith and I worked well together ( I hope he still agrees with my comment ). We started on the Bulwarks using double diagonal Matai with a hardwood stringer, followed with new hardwood beltings.

Laying the 5/8” teak deck was a slower job, I don’t like decking laid straight fore and aft and wanted to follow the deck plan as far as practical and run the decking into the king plank in the traditional manner and this means edge setting the deck planking. We departed with tradition when it came to caulking the seams and used thioflex polysulphide with the accompanying mess that follows while the product cure’s. Next it was onto fitting the new Teak Cap and Taff rails. The new deckhouse was built on Kauri coamings and sheathed in glass cloth, all other deck furniture is Teak.

As our time in the shed was limited I was fortunate to be able to engage Bob Clerke a ships joiner, I delivered a load of teak at Bob’s workshop, and with measurements and patterns Bob set to and made skylights, hatches, a magnificent saloon table and other fitments to help with my fit out below decks all done in Teak and Kauri. The topsides were recaulked and my daughter Shirley stopped the seams with white lead putty in preparation to repainting. By the beginning of May the new look ‘Windborne’ was out of the shed.

Masts were stepped with an English silver coin dated 1928 under her main mast and a Canadian coin under the foremast, and on the 6th of May at H.W. she was sent down the rails but remained in the cradle, the summer had been hot and dry and we had pumps ready, next day with a bit of oakum caulking in a couple of seams she was ready to leave the cradle and lay alongside the wharf at our boat shed to complete the fit out below decks.

A year or so later I removed the Isuzu engine and replaced it with a 4 LW Gardner. For the following eighteen years ‘Windborne’ carried our family on many adventures in all sorts of conditions. Roger Carey told us boys that wooden boats are built of living things, and every wooden vessel has a soul, I strongly believe this.

This last few weeks I have I have visited ‘Windborne’ out on the hard at Whangarei receiving care and attention from her owner Avon, he is doing a good job she’s looking good, being well ventilated and with salt water over her decks, the best thing ever.

Arethusa’s New Woody Wheelhouse

ARETHUSA’s NEW WOODY WHEELHOUSE


Back in late 2019 Arethusa’s Bay of Islands owner Dean Wright, a professional photographer by trade, and well known to WW readers gave me the heads up that the 1917, 33’ Bob Brown built, ex gaff rigged cutter, was in for a treat – a new wheelhouse. Since then I have been pestering Dean on a regular basis for photos, even threatened to drive up and take them myself 🙂 Problem was, the mans a perfectionist and didn’t want to send anything in to WW until it was all shipshape. Well woodys as you can see from the above, its very shipshape, in fact in my eyes – perfect. Well done to the team. I asked Dean to tell use about the project, so I’ll hand over to him. Remember you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them – Enjoy 🙂


“Over the years we’ve got keen on changing Arethusa’s wheelhouse to be more in keeping with her age, so at 102 she’s undergone some cosmetic surgery 🙂

We lost 8″ inches of headroom in wheelhouse when we installed the Gardner, so we’ve gone up in height 6 inches and forward 8 inches and gone for more traditional upright windows fw’d.

Boat builder John Gander did the job in his Waipiro Bay workshop. He started by taking patterns off the existing wheelhouse and fw’d cabin top. He replicated the curve of the fw’d cabin top in ply and built the new wheelhouse around that in six sections. He also laminated the new wheelhouse roof, allowing for a good eyebrow fw’d and a smaller one aft.

John learned his trade at Roger Carey’s yard in Picton in the 60’s and 70’s, where beautiful work boats with great looking wheelhouses were the order of the day. John built one of my favorite Carey designs, Hinewai for his own boat and we’ve replicated her fw’d opening half window on Arethusa. 

Once the wheelhouse was complete, we hauled Arethusa at Ashby’s in Opua and got to work with the skill-saw. In no time we’d reduced her to a convertible. We were lucky for Northland’s drought everything stayed reasonably dry and also that we got everything closed in and back in the water before Covid shut the yard down.

I’m in awe of how boat builders can build something like this away from the boat, then fit the pieces with a minimum of shaping. Fitting and gluing the six sections to the existing house went really smoothly.

The wheelhouse is built from 2″ Iroko. This is the first outside varnish we’ve had on Arethusa, we hand brushed 2 coats of Cetol as a base and six coats of Schooner Yacht Varnish.

Over lock-down, the apprentice made new interior joinery, gone are the Warehouse plastic drawers and chipboard frame 🙂 Moved the batteries under the new bench unit so we can now stand at the wheel. John laminated me up some lovely curved trim for the front of the oven unit. Our old manky plywood dash got an upgrade to kauri and the old wheel got a fright with a good scrub and a varnish.

Outside we made nav light boxes and dorade boxes.  We had to move the aluminium framed front hatch fw’d, a more traditional looking one in Iroko is on the to-do list. The liferings also got a birthday.

Here’s some before and after pics and also some that I hope will give some idea of the process. Thanks John for all your incredibly skilled design and build work, we’re really stoked with it.

We’re always keen to learn more of Arethusa’s history, especially the 1955-2000 period in the South Island. If you have any stories we’d love to hear them.”

Links to previous WW stories on Arethusa
https://waitematawoodys.com/2019/12/11/arethusa-new-wheelhouse-project/
https://waitematawoodys.com/2017/12/31/restoring-installing-a-gardner-in-arethusa-revisited/
https://waitematawoodys.com/2013/11/01/arethusa-winsome/

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