The refit / restoration of the 1938 Sam Ford built 43’ brigedecker Lady Karita would have to be a contender for the longest ‘rolling restoration’. I’m sure there are a lot of projects that have gone longer but most likely have been stalled for a number of years. Lady Karita on the other hand has been a labour of love for her Nelson based owner and the level of workmanship is wonderful.

The boat has made numerous appearances on WW – in fact too many to list the individual links – the below one will take you to a summary of all the stories.

The photos above were taken by woody Mark Dixon, owner of the two classic launches – Echo + Awarua. Yes you read correctly – two ! Mark has drunk the cool-aid. 

Mark was in Nelson over Labour weekend and as you do was walking the docks. 

20-11-2022 Update – photo below ex owner, from I suspect the camera of John Burland

Mark also spotted the launch Katoa that back in June 2021 we asked the question on WW of her status – and were advised by her new owners that she was scheduled for some serious TCL that winter – reviewing Marks photos below – she certainly got her share of the love – looking very impressive.

Classic Launches – Lady Karita, Menai, Valsan + Others – 1947 NZ National Film Unit

Classic Launches – Lady Karita, Menai, Valsan + Others – 1947 – NZ Diary #8 Movie

Following on from yesterday story on the launch – Lady Karita, Robert Phillips sent in a link to a 1947 movie tagged – ‘NZ Diary #8’ from the NZ National Film Unit. Its a great look back at post war life in Auckland. The movie is only 5 1/2min long so watch it all but if you’re time poor – go to 1.43min in and to 2.07min where it shows Lady Karita motoring on the Auckland Harbour in 1947 with someone wake boarding (or Aqua-Plane as they called it back then ) behind her. Carrying on further and we see more wake boarding at Kawau Island with Menai and others in the background. Later in the video, more wake boarding, this time behind the launch –  Valsan.

Wonderful to see all the launches and yachts, most of which are still around 75 years later and looking as good or better than in 1947.

Woodys Classics Weekend Cruise To Clevedon – Call for RVSP’s
The dates for the next Woody Weekend Cruise to the Clevedon Cruising Club are Saturday 21st > Sunday 22nd May 2022.As always due to wharf and river size numbers are restricted – so Woodys if you are interested in doing this event RSVP to address below ASAP to avoid disappointment. Send – Your name > Boat name > and if you know approx. numbers on board. Well behaved dogs are welcome. 

RSVP TO   waitematawoodys@waitematawoodys

Lady Karita – 1960’s Flashback

Motuhe – 1960
On the hard Okahu Bay 1961 – Gordon Newman (standing)
Bottom of Waiheke – 1963
Maraeti – 1963

LADY KARITA – 1960’s Flashback
Recently I was contacted by Robert Phillips in regard to the 1934 Sam Ford built 43′ classic launch – Lady Karita, Robert’s parents Jack and Zena Phillips owned Lady Karita for 14 year. They purchased her in 1957 in a very run-down state and during their ownership undertook numerous upgrade changes both internally and externally.
Robert commented that he thought the WW readers would like some historical photos to continue to build to the current photographic heritage of Lady Karita on Waitemata Woodys.Some of those changes and upgrades, all done personally by Robert’s father, were as follows:-

  1. Removal of the four forward bunks and installation of a slide out double bed and toilet and hand basin. Still there today.
  2. Installation of a fridge in the galley and a stainless bench
  3. Removal of the 105 hp petrol Gray marine engine and installation of a Leyland 75hp Diesel, ex truck engine, marinized and fitted with 2:1 Paragon gearbox plus Onan diesel generator. The exhaust for the diesel engine was unique in that is was routed up through the Bridge deck inside rear left window by the Safe, and across the top of the Bridge deck and up through the leading edge of a steel fabricated, galvanised and white painted mast on top of the Bridge deck, replacing the original wooden mast Since all replaced when upgrade later, by subsequent owner Jim Ratcliffe, who installed a 130hp 6 cylinder diesel Ford. The exhaust system and the Leyland diesel were extremely quiet and totally fume free at idle and when under way versus the transom exhaust of the original petrol engine. The power output was not high , but she still cruised happily at 8 knots and timed measured mile max of 10 knots. Various props, 3 blade and 4 blade, were experimented with, and I think the 4 blade was settled on. Average fuel consumption over 9 years for the Leyland was 1.75 gallons/hour versus 4.5 gallons per hour for the Gray marine petrol engine.
  4. Installation of a freezer in the rear right hand seat box in the Bridge deck. It was almost too effective. On the 31/2 hour run to Kawau from Westhaven the freezer would totally freeze beer and lemonade bottles sometimes blowing them apart.
  5. A unique galvanised steel bow (removed by later owners) seamlessly overlaid and attached to the original wooden bow stem to give a forward angle in side profile versus an almost rearward dreadnought look of the original bow stem. You can see it in some of the photos above.
  6. Installation of an ex-war assets auto pilot and Furuno depth finder. The auto pilot worked well but found it a little hard in a following sea to keep up.
  7. Attachment of the rear transom duck board/landing platform and removable step ladder for swimming from the platform that went down into the water.
  8. Removal of a rear auxiliary steering column and engine control in the left side of the cockpit shelf, used for game fishing in the 1950s.

Robert apologised for some of the photo’s lack of sharpness but some them are 60+ years old. He also asked that I commend all subsequent owners for the sympathetic and well thought out, further upgrades over time. She always was a lovely looking boat and looks even better now. Robert has undertaken to send in more photos soon, so fingers crossed 🙂

View previous WW story here

27-04-2022 NEW INPUT – from Mark McLauglin (as told by Mark)

“The attached Marlborough Express newspaper feature contains a few factual errors in it (i.e Harold Kidd confirmed years ago that Lady K had ID numbers during WWII, as did most launches at the time, but she was never commandeered in the NAPS as incorrectly stated here, and I have never seen any evidence of watertight torpedo-proof bulkheads in her either! I also doubt the teak decks (now sensibly replaced by new owner Murray Shaw) were original. Otherwise the article might be of some interest as it records a significant period in Lady K’s life for the 30 plus years since she left the Auckland/Northland region in the late 1980’s.

Sadly my father passed away last year but he was caretaker and skipper of Lady Karita in Havelock from 2001 until she was sold to current owner, Murray Shaw in 2016. The owner during this period was Dad’s cousin, Carroll Smith, who operated the Pelorus Lodge in Havelock. Guests at the exclusive lodge were treated to a complimentary picnic cruise on Lady Karita, usually to Chance Bay in the Pelorus Sound, but occasionally up the Kenepuru Sound as well. I crewed on her quite often with Dad and took some of the other photos of her featured elsewhere on WW during this time – she is certainly a spectacular classic vessel and a fine example of Sam Ford’s work. A number of prominent overseas guests cruised on Lady Karita during this period, including ex-pat Havelock old boy Sir William Pickering, who was a well-known figure in the space race with NASA in the 1960’s. Sir William enjoyed a great day out on Lady K during his final visit back to NZ.”

Lady Karita Summer 2021/22

Lady Karita Summer 2021/22 – HAPPY NEW YEAR

As promised yesterday, today we get a close look, ex the camera of John Burland, at Lady Karita – the 1934, Sam Ford designed and built 43′ launch.

Lady K has been the lucky recipient of a rolling restoration over the last few years, and reviewing John’s photos, all the hard work and $$ has really paid off. She needs to home to the Waitemata ………………..

See and read more here

Nelson Marina Dockside Mooch

Lady Karita

Nelson Marina Dockside Mooch

One of my southern spies (in the summer months) John Burland sent in the above gallery of woodys that he spotted while patrolling the docks. From top to bottom we have Katoa – all spruced up, then Kelvin and then two unknowns. Finally the very regal Lady Karita, who is looking very well turned out these days, more on her tomorrow.

Update – 4th launch down is – Rarangi – WW story here

Lady Karita – Restoration Update


LADY KARITA – Restoration – A Very Late Update
Sometimes I’m bad ……. Looking for a photo in my rather large photo library last week, I stumbled across a group of photos I tool of Lady Karita almost a year ago while in Nelson. A quick check in the WW search box revealed that I had overlooked the photos, so apologies to owner Murray Shaw.
Hopefully today’s story will prompt Murray to send in an update, as I’m sure the restoration will have moved along considerably since early March 2019 🙂
The 43’ Lady Karita was built in1938 by Sam Ford and has made numerous appearances on WW, links below.
The photo below is an oldie but shows off the lady very well.

Screen Shot 2020-02-23 at 5.45.59 PM

LADY KARITA – A Rolling Restoration




LADY KARITA – A Rolling Restoration

Lady K has been on the receiving end of what we call a rolling restoration for the last year+. Now based in the upper South Island, her owner Murray Shaw is very close to finishing a stunning re-fit. The photos above are from the camera’s of both Murray & mutal friend, John Burland & give us a peek at the standard of the work.

The last photos show Lady K relocated last week to the western entrance of Mapua Harbour.

You can read / view more on LadyK at the WW link below-

screen shot 2019-01-11 at 8.10.57 am
I apologise upfront, clicking the link below will consume 30>45 minutes of your time today – but its a great read & Jason’s log includes some cool photos of his travels & lots of other woodys encounter along the way.
In case you missed this 1920’s b/w video showcasing life on Auckland’s North Shore, I have included the link below. Lots of blasts from the past there – enjoy

Mooching Around Nelson Marina


Mooching Around Nelson Marina

A friend of mine, John Burland was recently mooching around the marina at Nelson & snapped the photos above.

Great to see that Lady Karita’s make-over is coming along nicely – I expect nothing less of Murray Shaw

Back in May 2017, I was sent some photos of Julia from Ross Dawson, the story did not un-earth any more info on the vessel, hopefully John B’s photo above will.





Lady Karita






I very happy to be able to advise that the 1938,43′ Sam Ford designed bridge decker Lady Karita is now in the hands of a new woodys friendly owner, Murray Shaw. Murray also owns the Collings & Bell bridge decker Kawhiti so the man has been bitten by the bug 🙂 . Work is already underway to return her to her former glory, see photo above, ex Steve Thomas, of ‘work-in-progress’ restoring her brightwork. The immediate plans are for her to remain in the Nelson region, but hopefully one day we will see her back on the Waitemata.

Lady Karita was built in Kauri for a flag officer of the Ponsonby Cruisng Club, Mr Victor Salek. Powered by Ford 130hp diesel, shaft drive, sees her cruising economically at 8.5 Knots. For many years she has been based in the Pelorus Sounds.

Back in June, CYA member Mark McLaughlin (Mapuna) alerted me to the fact that LK was on the market, Marks father has been Lady Karita’s caretaker/skipper for the last 15 years in Havelock & supplied the 2 press clippings below.


04-04-2018 Photo below ex owner Murray Shaw of Lady Karita hauled out in Nelson. In the background is Lady Ellison – nice to see the two Sam Ford built launches together 🙂



Mahurangi / Warkworth c.1961

Mahurangi / Warkworth c.1961

photos ex Ken Ricketts

Todays post show 2 photos taken c1961, most likely at Xmas & show a collection of launches tied up at the wharf at Warkworth. The really neat thing is hat most of these craft are still a float today & in as good, if not better condition.
It would be nice to see some of those varnished coaming again 😉

Several of these launches will be at todays Mahurangi Regatta & weather & numbers interested – maybe making the trip up the river to Warkworth for lunch.

Ken has attempted to ID the launches – see below.

Front row Gay Dawn, Ken can’t identify outer 2 boats.

Top left row, tiny bit of bow too small to indentify next to wharf next is
Cherokee & next is Menai. Ken can’t identify outer boat of that group


Bottom left Gay Dawn, Ken can’t identify the other 2 boats.
Next row to right is Faye at wharf, next to her is Royal Falcon & next is
Cherokee & then Menai. Ken can’t identify the outer boat.

Far row to right –  boat at wharf is Southern Belle, may have been owned by Stan
Blundell, the outer boat next to her is Lady Karita.

Boat at anchor Reelemin II