Koputai – Workboat Wednesday

KOPUTAI – Workboat Wednesday

I was recently contacted by Campbell MacLean after he ‘discovered’ the WW stories (links below) on the boat – Koputai. She was built in 1939 by Miller & Tunnage in Port Chalmers for use as a pilot vessel. Her specs are 56’ x 14’6” and she draws 6’5”.

Campbell sent in the above photos he has of Koputai, his grandfather, John Maclean was chief pilot and Harbour Master in Dunedin, and had a bit to do with commissioning of the Koputai in the late 1930’s.
The top photo is a painting by C R Carey in 1940. This was on the wall at the MacLean crib (Pilot House #1) at the Spit, Aramoana, and probably gifted to John before he died in 1940.

The 2nd photo is of Koputai in the harbour near Taiaroa Head, opposite the spit.
Do link on the above below links – so much material and photos from the past and her conversation to pleasure craft.




The folks at the Kawau Boating Club have advised that due to the uncertainty of the ability to gather due to CV-19 restrictions, the decision has been been made to postpone the event – fingers crossed for a new date this year 🙂

Koputai – Work Boat Conversion


Requests for info on boat on WW can be a lot like paying the pokie machines – you ‘feed’ the machine and pull the handle – sometimes it spins and nothing comes up, most of the time we get a small payout, just enough to keep us motivated to keep playing – then sometimes you hit the jackpot.

Today’s story is a jackpot pay out – starts like this – over the last 5>6 years the 1939, 56′, Miller & Tunnage built – Koputai has popped up on WW and we have been trying uncover more of her history. Back in May 2015 she was for sale and the then owner, the late, Louey Sandiant told us everything you would want to know about the photo + photos. Then in Sept 2020 Keith Foster, who purchased Koputai off Louey contacted WW and supplied some updated photos and a request for any further intel on the boat.

It took a few months but Matt Siddells made contact and advised that his grandfather – Russell Bramwell purchased Koputai as a retired pilot boat and did the conversion to pleasure boat. Matt has very kindly shared the gallery above of photos from the family album. You can see and read more about Koputai at the WW links below

2015    https://waitematawoodys.com/2015/05/03/koputai-sailing-sunday/
2020    https://waitematawoodys.com/2020/09/06/koputai/



Koputai was built in 1939 by Miller & Tunnage in Port Chalmers for use as a pilot vessel. Her specs are 56’ x 14’6” and she draws 6’5”.In the early 1990’s she returned to Miller & Tunnage to be converted to a pleasure boat. The WW link below takes you to her 2015 WW story for extensive details and photos, back then she was offered for sale.

Fast forward 5 years and I have been contacted by Keith Foster who purchased Koputai from Louey Sandiant (deceased). Keith sent in the above photos and like all of us is keen to uncover more on her past.


Koputai – Sailing Sunday

KOPUTAI  Sailing Sunday

Todays post is one of the ones I love, lots of details & lots of both old & current photos.

Koputai is a heavily built pilot stye hull weighing almost 40ton. She was built by Miller and Tunnage of Port Chalmers and launched in 1939. She served as a pilot vessel until the early 1990s when she returned to Miller and Tunnage to be converted to a pleasure boat.  Since she has circumnavigated NZ twice including  Chatham Islands, Great Barrier Island, Stuart Island and the Three Kings.

In 2013 her owner, Louey Sandlant, circumnavigated the South Island after fitting rigging and sails to the boat. They spent April-June in Fiordland with friends coming and going. The boat was perfectly suited to this life with spacious living quarters, a warm wheel house, plenty of food storage and fridge freezer space that easily accommodated 7-9 people long term.
On this trip she averaged 1L/NM at 6-7kts and didn’t get to make much use of the full set of sails. On passages Koputai will motor at 6.5-7kts with some sail for steadying. If there is a good blow she will sail 6-9kts with the engine backed off to idle or just over, this brings the fuel consumption right down & can halve the fuel consumption, making long passages very affordable cruising.

Despite the GM Detroits reputation for noise and thirst, Louey reports they have found it to be a very pleasant piece of machinery to live with. It has been very well set up with a 4.5:1 Allison box turning the large propeller and a sound insulated dry muffler set up with a wet exit making it quiet and smooth. Like most Detroits she runs like a clock.

In the sailing department Koputai has a traditional Bermudan style cutter ketch rig. Louey generally always has the mizzen hoisted for stability and with the stay-sail forward this configuration is balanced and happy up to around 35+kts., in lighter airs the full main and code zero style jenoa as well goes nicely up to around 24kts, she will get along at 8 kts off the wind with engine just ticking over. She feels solid pushing into heavy weather and will safely hold her own against most NZ coastal conditions and her owner wouldn’t hesitate to take her offshore. Koputai has been in survey.

Koputai has had a lot of time & money sent on her – in 2012 and 2013 she under went extensive restoration work, including:

-Complete deck re-corking and refinishing
-Complete new Kauri covering board
-Cabins stripped and refinished and windows refitted
-New stainless steel staunch-ens
-All repairs have been done with top quality treated kauri
-In 2013 she has also had a new sailing rig fitted with Canadian Oregon masts, standing rigging and all new sails made by classics sail maker Bud Nalder.

Everything that has been done to her by the current owners has been done with the highest quality products available for traditional boat building and completed by an experience boat builder to a high standard of durability. A useable finish is achieved while maintaining her traditional style.
The rig was designed to suit the era and fit with the original lines to make a well rounded, practical motor sailor for extensive cruising and expedition.

Recent work June 2014 includes; Full repaint above and below the water, new shaft bearing, new zincs, exhaust through hull fitting removed and inspected and refitted, prop removed checked and cleaned, shaft bearing replaced, shaft inspected and cleaned

Now the sad / good news – Loueys sad news is that Koputai is now for sale – the good news is the some lucky boaty is going to get to own one of the best restored, set up motor-saliers around. I don’t normally put prices on ww but I believe this to be such great value – this time I have – NZD$195,000.

If you wanted to a have a South Island experience for a while, there is a mooring in Nelson that is available to rent or purchase by negotiation and she will be delivered anywhere in New Zealand. I have to say that she would also make a great live aboard.

Her owners are currently cruising north over the next month via Great Barrier so if any ww followers are interested – contact Louey on 0274948028

Some Specs:

Leingth 17.1m  –  Draft 1.95m  –  Beam 4.7m

-Engine;  GM Detroit 671 New 2008 4090hrs  – Dry muffler wet exit. 180-200hp

-Running gear; Allison gearbox, 3 1/2″ bronze shaft, 53″ bronze propeller, solid bronze rudder and shaft with hydrolic steering (new main shaft bearing 2014)

-Genset; Newly reconditioned 2.5kva Mase (single cylinder yanmar)
-Fuel;     1700L  –  Water;   2000L

-Power; New batteries all round feb 2013  –  2x290ah AGM deep cycles. 2xNS220 start batteries

-Anchoring;  Nilson maxwell 3500 winch (new 1000w motor 2012.),  13mm galv short link chain (New chain 2012.), 80lb  manson plow

-Refrigeration; Large 200l freezer/chiller with engine driven compressor(new compressor and switches 2013) Dometic 3way automatic fridge freezer (new 2011)

-Sails; Main, Mizzen, Staysail and Genoa (new 2013)

-3m inflatable dingy with yamaha 8hp  –  Or a 4.1m inflatable thundercat with a 50hp yamaha with cradle

-lifting gear with elect capstain for loading tenders up 450kg also very handy for lifting anchors and gear on board.


Update 27-08-2020 Photo below supplied by David Balderston, as per his 2015 comments