Royal Saxon & Varlene + A trip to Abel Tasman National Park


Kaiteriteri – collection point


Royal Saxon



Split Apple Rocks



Anchorage Bay


Anchorage – northern end

Version 2

Golden quartz sand


Anchorage – southern end




Mapua Wharf

Burlands Deck


Our hosts

Royal Saxon & Varlene + A trip to Abel Tasman National Park
One of the unplanned elements of our recent trip to Nelson to take in the 20th Antique & Classic Boat Show (Lake Rotoiti – Nelson Lakes) was a trip tp the Abel Tasman National Park. Along the way I got to see the 1930, 33’ Colin Wild built – Royal Saxon, one of my favourite boats. The vessel (Wilsons Tours – recommend them) that transports you deep into the park leaves from Kaiteriteri, where by chance Royal Saxon is moored. See / read more on her here
From Kaiteriteri you travel for approx. 1hr on a high speed alloy cat to the drop off point at Medlands Beach. From there depending on your fitness level its a 4 hour coastal / bush walk back to Anchorage Bay for pick up. The walk is not a stroll, its very up and down as it hugs the coastline – but their are plenty of place to rest and take in the stunning scenery. We were very lucky, perfect weather = dry track and not too hot + very few other walkers. You can join / end the walk from several spots so people are walking in both directions. You could ID the nationalities of fellow walkers by their degree of engagement / friendliness 🙂
When you pop out of the bush at Anchorage Bay you are hit with a visual sensory overload – it’s just breathtaking – you could be in Thailand or Europe (but why would you want to be).
While waiting for the boat, the 36’ Supreme Craft build woody Varlene came into the bay, looking very smart, nice to see someone loves her these days. See/read more on her here
Post walk, there was a rehydration session at the Golden Bear Brewing Co. on Mapua Wharf. We added a meal of Blue Cod & fries (the BC was 10/10). Then home for a celebratory glass of bubbles on the deck and an early night.
If you get the chance – do the walk, it’s very special and can be as short or as long as your want or can manage.
(apologies if I bored some woodys with the trip report – but there are a couple of boats included)

Riwaka Wharf






Riwaka Wharf 

The collection of photos above was sent in by my friend John Burland taken at the Riwaka Wharf, located between Motueka & Kaiteriteri. John commented that Aurora II has been in the channel at Mapua & Royal Saxton (one of my all time favorites) is often at Kaiteriteri Wharf.

Will be interesting to know what is hiding under the boat cover. The (to quote JB) ‘Disney World > Boats of the Future’ boat is c1950 & would have to be an ex life boat ? maybe off the sunken (1986) Russian cruise liner – Mikhail Lermontov.

Input from Brian M – Boat under cover is the “Rhonda Marie”. Wee clunker next to Royal Saxon is “West Bay. Life raft is “Jelly Bean”.
“Kairaki” with blue tarp over cockpit. “Mariner” with 2 masts. Pilot looking boat is the “Ponui”.                                                                                                                                                                     

Input from Ken Ricketts – the last photo (bridgedecker with cover across front windows) is Varlene (previously Lady Sunshine) a Supreme Craft build. Also pictured Ken thinks is Al Marie (or La Marie) in the small strip of photos, 3rd for left.   

Input From Paul Drake

Great to see PONUI in such good condition (photos 6 and 7). Named for Ponui Island, she is a 1907 Logan and was advertised For Sale in the Feb 3, 1912 New Zealand Yachtsman for 700 pounds. She became Napier’s pilot boat until 1950 when she appeared at Lake Taupo and worked commercially until the mid 1960’s. She then went to the top of the South Island (by sea from Napier) before going to the Kaipara Harbour where she continued to work commercially. She appeared on Trade Me in more recent years and was spotted departing Onehunga heading back to the South Island as deck cargo on a coastal ship. She is mentioned in the book ‘U-boat in New Zealand Waters’ – the story of U 862’s war patrol off Gisborne and Napier in 1945. PONUI was observed through the U boat’s periscope leading the coaster PUKEKO out of Napier harbour. (Some hours later, a torpedo was fired at PUKEKO but missed). 

One of my favourite boats. Photos below:

First pic – PONUI when she was the Napier pilot boat. 

Second and third pic – at Taupo, where she was a busy commercial boat. The third pic shows her on the beach at Waihaha in the Western Bays. 




Varlene (Lady Sunshine)

VARLENE - BACK SECTION 1958 H T MORTON Builder Mac geady

VARLENE (Lady Sunshine)
photos & details ex Ken Ricketts

Varlene is approx. 36′ long, was originally called Lady Sunshine & built by Mac McGeady at his Summer St, Ponsonby premises. She was one of the comparatively few bridge-deckers he built. She was built for the Tucker Bros., who were food manufacturers (Sunshine jellies etc), hence the name of the boat.

She was bought by Com Hardley, of Hardleys the Newmarket Plumbing Merchants c.1946 & Ken thinks they may have changed the name to Varlene. They owned her for several years & spent quite a lot of time & money on her enhancing her individuality & styling.

The  Hardley’s sold her to H T Morton of Cliff Ave., Belmont  c.1949.  Morton had previously owned the launch ‘Spindrift’. He was lawyer & private pilot & owned his own aircraft since the 1920s. Morton was also a property developer & Varlene Tce. in Mairangi Bay was named after the boat, Morton Ave Glenfield, after him & Dianna Drive, Glenfield, after one of his daughters, Dr Dianna Morton & Rosalind Ave, after his other daughter. The boat & family were real identities on Auckland’s North Shore.

Ken cruised on Varlene  with Morton a number of times in the early to mid 1950s & cared for the boat for 6 months in 1952 whilst he was overseas.

He sold her in the 1950s & Ken lost track of her until Fred Hildich owned her for a shortish period after he sold the ‘Gulf Star’ in the 1980s.

Ken thinks there has perhaps been some minor changes to the bridgedeck in the photo above from original, as remembers her original bridgedeck was a little “squarer” on the corners, but this may perhaps just be due to some remedial or repair work, it is so minor. Also the aft cabin windows seemed to have 2 longer ones, rather than the 3 she had in the 1950s photo of her rear end.

She had a 4 cyl Ailsa Craig diesel when Ken knew her first, in 1946 (which was probably her original engine) & this was replaced some time later with a 6 cyl Ford which she had in the 1980s.

Got to like the kids dinghy race 🙂 AH