Manaia – A Peek Down Below

MANAIA – A Peek Down Below

Manaia has made several appearance on WW, link below the backgrounds her early days . She was designed by Alex Collings and built in 1965 by Percy Vos. Now thanks to a nudge from Alan Sexton and tme – we get to see the results of some of the recent work on her. She is looking very smart for an ex Harbour Board Pilot boat 🙂

Currently offered for sale but you’ll need a 25m marina. Contact

Previous WW story link below






I was recently contacted by Adam Leyden who approx. 4 months ago purchased the ex Northland Harbour Board Pilot launch Manaia & is looking for any info the woodys may be able to provide on her past. Adam commented that there is a huge amount of history onboard the vessel e.g. log books etc. even a weekly stock take of the onboard bar from when she was a working boat, those boys knew how to party! What Adam would really like is some older photos and details of her many (10+ I believe) trips up to the Pacific Islands. 

Adam purchased Manaia out of Picton & has returned her to her home port of Marsden Point & is in the early stages of planing her restoration. Structurally, she is still in fantastic condition, as is the machinery, drive lines, steering gear etc. Cosmetically she has been let go a little and the priority is to get the decks resealed and re varnish (Uroxsys) the teak wheel house and main cabin. Below is some background that Adam supplied.

She is an A.J Collings design, built in Auckland by P. Vos and launched November 1963. She was built as a pilot boat for the then Northland Harbour Board. Although she was built as a work boat, the spec and fit-out was more at the super yacht end of the scale, launched with a bar, game chairs etc. she had a bit of a reputation as a party boat back then too! She was with the Harbour Board from 1963 to around 1990 and has spent much of her life in Wellington and the Marlborough Sounds since then. She has completed seven trips to Noumea as a support vessel for the Whangarei – Noumea yacht races, the first in 1967 and the last in 1984. Looking through the log books still onboard, she has been on several other adventures through the Pacific too.  

Her hull, machinery, drive lines, steering gear etc. are all in great condition still, probably because of the quality of materials and gear used when she was constructed. Sadly she has not had a lot of maintenance or use over the last ten odd years and there is a bit of cosmetic stuff to get on top of, fortunately she is still quite original and a chainsaw won’t be necessary to get her looking good again. The two 16L straight 8 Rolls Royce diesels performed flawlessly on our trip from Picton to Marsden Point and were surprisingly economical, we averaged 3.9L per NM at 10.5kns on the trip. She cruises at 10 knots happily doing 1800rpm. We did get a touch over 15knots out of her on a short burst, however that destroyed the fuel consumption and the wake was huge!

It would be great to find some photos of her back in her working days when her hull was painted royal blue! It would also be great to hear from anyone who has spent time aboard her or been off shore on her.”

The two below photos are from the beginning and end of her trip from Picton to Marsden Cove Marina



30-01-2018 Input from Richard Morgan

Manaia was certainly a striking vessel when painted navy blue and looked more like an Admiral’s Barge, or a Royal Barge than a Harbour Board work-boat. I presume she was built at the order of the late Ralph Trimmer, Chairman of the Northland Harbour Board, a prominent local lawyer, and strong advocate for Whangarei and its port. Without Ralph Trimmer the refinery would probably have been located at Picton or somewhere. Built ostensibly as a working vessel Manaia was at the same time a pilot launch, a floating board room, a pleasure boat, and a nautical sales office and tourist ship for visiting dignitaries. VIPs entertained on board would have been from other Port Authorities, shipping companies, oil company executives, and representatives from many organisations and governments that the Port Company wanted to influence. As noted, the “Grog Cabinet’ was legendary and we can be sure many well-lubricated lobbying sessions and deal-signing sessions were held on board. RK Trimmer was later prosecuted for various financial mis-managements, but no Whangarei resident felt he was guilty of these as the city and port had benefitted more under his leadership than from any council or board before or since.

In a discussion I had with the late Capt. Peter Wavish, a former Pilot and Harbourmaster for Northland Port, we discussed Manaia, and if I remember correctly, he said she was a beautiful ship, but rolled like a drunken sailor in sea-boots! So those trips into the Pacific Ocean must have been an experience never to forget for those with a land-lubber’s tummy.