Classic Wooden Launches at Kawau Island

Classic Wooden Launches at Kawau Island
Back in the good old days, Mansion House Bay, Kawau Island was the spot to be if you owned a launch in Auckland. I suspect it had something to do with the presence of a licensed watering-hole (pub) on the island 🙂

The two photos above come to us from – Heritage Images via Nathan Herbert. We talked about a competition to name the launches but it would be too hard to judge. So woodys enjoy the photos.
A question – is it Christmas yet? 

Help Needed
If you have any photos you want to share – send them in, I’ll be looking for stories over the xmas / ny break. Send to

Classic Wooden Boats At Kawau Island

Classic Wooden Boats At Kawau Island 

At Sundays Stillwater woodys picnic I was chatting to boat builder Greg Lees and he showed me the above photograph (in its frame) of Mansion House Bay, Kawau Island that a neighbour had given him. Interesting that for once the bay is almost bare of yachts – maybe they were off racing at the time.

Are we able to ID some of the launches? I have numbered the boats in the b/w photo below + included a couple of blow ups of the photo, which may help.

Kawau Island – Unknown Launches


Today’s photo ex Lew Redwood is tagged The Wharf At Mansion House, Kawau Island. There is a WW t-shirt up for grabs for any woody that can correctly name the three launches (L>R) at the wharf. In the event more than one of you get it right, we will do a draw. Entries via email only to


Mystery Launches – Mansion House Bay

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Mystery Launches – Mansion House Bay

Today’s photo of Mansion House Bay, Kawau Island comes to us via Lew Redwood’s fb and is tagged 1920 – 1939 so that date spread isn’t much use to us.
An unusual photo given that no yachts are seen.
Any eagle eyed woodys able or brave enough to ID any of the boats?
Ken Ricketts was probably there (in nappies) and will remember the sound of each boats engine 🙂
WCW Riverhead June2020

Mystery Launch – Kawau 1963

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Mystery Launch – Kawau 1963

The question today is can anyone ID the launch on the right in the above May 1963 Mansion House Bay, Kawau Island?
Thanks to Len Redwoods fb page for the photo.

Steam Boats At Warkworth
Woody boatbuilder Colin Brown sent in the photos below of the recent steam gathering at the Warkworth Basin.



Mystery Woodys at Kawau Island

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Mystery Woodys at Kawau Island

The caption on the above Tudor Collins photo, ex Auckland Museum (via Lew Redwood fb) states that the photo is dated 1936 & possibly / probably Mansion House Bay, Kawau Island.
Interested in ID’ing the closest launch to the shore. At first glance I thought Tasman, then Rehia but the shape & number of portholes is all wrong – what say the Woodys?
The dark hulled vessel behind, could be one of the early pilot boats – Ferro?
And any clever yachties able to ID the small yachts – mullet boats?
Input from Robin Elliott

NOT Mullet boats but 18-foot V-class. See endless posts and publications over the last 20 years (puts hobby horse back in stable)

From what I can make of the name on her transom, the light coloured hull looks to be Vaalele, V-78, built by Charlie Hardman to a Ralph Goodwin design in 1936.She was one of the four Auckland 18-footers that travelled to Sydney for the first World’s 18-footer championship in 1938. Charlie Hardman kept Vaalele until 1939 when he sold her to S.H. Bailey.

The darker boat is a bit later and looks to be quite new. She’s marconi rigged and could possibly be another Charlie Hardman / Ralph Goodwin boat, Vindex, V-35 built in 1939. Marconi rigs were not common in the V-class but by 1939 the more competitive yachtsmen were moving away from gaff.

From other photos I have seen, she was painted a dark colour, either black or royal blue and was marconi rigged. Vindex was laid up in 1940 and In 1944 he sold Vindex to Keith Atkinson who was working at Lidgards with Hardman.

If this is the case then that would date the photo to the summer of 1939/40, with the two Hardman boats cruising in company, and also explain the patriotic display of the Union Jack from the wharf,

15-07-2018 Update from Steve Pople (current owner)

Steve sent me the 2 b/w photos below (ex NZ Herald) of RF as launched – what a stunner, just about perfect from any angle. Steve confirmed Ken Rickets comments re being lengthened (by 6′). RF is currently in the very capable hands of Dave Patterson of Leader Boats in Pakuranga undergoing a total refit. I will updated the restoration story with new photos.

Royal Falcon 1934 Martin boat 1

Royal Falcon 1934 martin boat 2

Woodys at Kawau Island


Woodys at Kawau Island

The above photo of Kawau Island is ex Lew Redwoood via the facebook page ’New Zealand Cars,Boats,Motorbikes,Trucks,Vans,Utes,Pre 1975′  -the photo is tagged ‘ Pleasure craft at anchor in Mansion House Bay. 

How many woodys can we ID?, I know Nathan Herbert was a little excited to see the family launch Pacific in the shot (top right).

If you are on facebook – you should ‘follow’ this page, there are some very cool old woody photos that pop up from time to time.

Aussie Boat Porn

I have featured several times The Australian Wooden Boat Festival that happens very 2 years in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. The video below is a 100% publicity video for Tasmania & the event – but dam its good. Have look, you’ll be blown away by the number of stunning woodys. Thanks to the USA based on-line membership only video website – for making the video available. Its a great site, I’m a member.

Mansion House Bay On A Bad Day

Mansion House Bay On A Bad Day
photo ex Juliana Cooke (nee Turnwald)

Not sure of the date on the above photos but the presence of all the plastic fizz boats & the navy vessels in Mansion House Bay, Kawau Island, must make dating the photo easier.
If you look at the top photo & out into the bay, it must have been the start of ‘the end’ 🙂 i.e. the arrival of plastic fizz boats & plywood Vindexs .There is a cluster of classics in the right hand corner.
In the 2nd photo, who can ID the launch at the wharf – given the origin of the photos, the Turnwald family, I would suspect its ‘Robyn Gae’ but it does not look right to my eye.

Mansion House Bay – Post WW2

Mansion House Bay – Post WW2

photo ex Rick McCay

The above photo of Mansion House Bay was taken shortly after WW2. Its currently mounted on a bulkhead in Ricks 1920 MT Lane built launch, Luana. Thats Luana centre front & Rick thinks that Tasman is over by the wharf.
Is that Little Jim, 2nd yacht in on the right?

Lets see how many we can ID – Ken Ricketts should ace this one, he grew rowing around these boats.

Ken R Feedback

Boats as per my judgement from right to left LADY SANDRA, JULIANA, (partly out of scope of pic), SUNRAY, MANANUI, MOVARIE, ALCYONE, possibly ATLANTA (ROTOITI,) TASMAN, MARO, AMOKURA, WINSOME II, — I should know but don’t recall the boat in the foreground. This is the first pic I’ve ever seen of the SUNRAY before or after, she had her 1930s sedan motor car cab type bridgedeck added, with the tiny rear window, (next to LADY SANDRA)

All the above are anchored in their classic virtually permanent positions. in that bay in that era, — (except at the times (which was very often,)  that the LADY SANDRA was anchored off the end of the wharf with a long anchor line & a rope tying her stern to the end of the wharf) — particularly MARO, LADY SANDRA, JULIANA & TASMAN, who, one could not be blamed for thinking, they actually owned that little piece of the seabed, at that time.
It has to be circa Christmas 1948-49


Mansion House Bay c1947

photo ex Ken Ricketts ex Allan/Coggan family

From left to right we have Tiromoana, Awarua & most likely Movarie. All 3 have been on ww before so use the search box to see more on each launch.

Not wanting to get start a lengthy debate, but in a discussion with Russell Ward the other day he commented how a varnished wheelhouse isn’t as obtrusive as a white painted one, he is right (he normally is), they just look so much better & show off the designers lines. I understand the pro’s & cons, I myself have a painted lady, but with some of the advances in bright finishes on the market these days, hopefully we will see more of the ‘as built’ 😉