Being berthed alongside the Paeroa Maritime Park & Museum dock provided me the perfect opportunity to say hi and check out the amazing refit / restoration that took place over 8 years. She was re-launched in 2020 and was a cool father and son project. The pivoting helm seat was one example of the very well thought out utilisation of space.
Maroro has a very large chunk of iron in her engine by – the repurposed Dorman engine has previously had several lives ashore as an industrial work horse.
Her owners the Thomas family understand Maroro was built / launched c.1905, but her designer / builder is unknown, so any help with shedding some light on her past would be much appreciated.
Woodys Classic Launch Easter River Cruise To Paeroa
The Easter weekend cruise was always going to be a biggie – with most launches having to travel upwards of 10 hours to reach the final destination – the ‘waterfront’ Historical Maritime Museum & Park in Paeroa. Most of the woody fleet gathered Thursday evening in Chamberlain Bay, Ponui Island in anticipation of an early start across the Firth of Thames, to rendezvous with the launches arriving from Thames and to collect our guide / navigator for the trip up the Waihou River. I’d have to say that the straight line trip across the Firth of Thames was 4 hours of my life I’ll never get back 🙂
We meet just off the old Kopu Swing Bridge which was opened specially for us to pass thru – and the welcome / turn out on the old bridge was outstanding. Must have been a quiet day in Thames, maybe it was that it was Good Friday and most things (pubs etc) were closed 😉
We shot thru the gap and 10 minutes later our lead boat, with navigator on board, found a mud bank and were ‘stationary’ for over an hour. Once moving again the remainder of the 4+ hour journey was fun to travel together in close proximity, but the scenery got very repetitive and at 5 knots max – the going was slow. The skippers were kept awake by lots of locals who had gathered at wharfs and in paddocks to wave as we went past. The dodging of the occasional ‘grassberg’ (floating mid-stream) also kept skippers on their toes.
The final short leg from the main river to the Museum dock again saw the lead boat aground and a wait for more tide.
We sneaked in just before dusk, a very long 10 hour day.
Jason Prew and Peter Vandersloot oversaw the shoehorning of the 10 woodys into the docking area. Then it was ashore to stretch the legs and a BBQ dinner/ catch up. The Museum had set up an impressive and most appreciated dining / BBQ area for the crews to enjoy. Post dinner most returned to the boats for an early night.
Observation- it’s bloody cold up a creek in the middle of the Waikato, thank god for hot water bottles.
Saturday was another cracker autumn day. The crews enjoyed a trip on the classic launch – Ariana (skippered by Peter Vandersloot) to the Paeroa township for morning tea at the local RSA – hot scones and pastries – always a winner. To balance out the catering, the river trip was split in two – with 1/2 the crew travelling by bus and boating back and same same in reverse for the other 1/2.
The day saw a great turn-out of locals visiting the Museum and walking the docks. I would encourage you to search the following words Kopu Bridge / Waihou River / Maritime Museum & Park on Facebook – the weekend was covered by so many people – lots more photos and videos to see.
Special mention must be made to Peter Vandersloot who masterminded the weekend and was on hand to provide so many insights into the heritage of the area, vessels and personalities. The Museum’s Chairperson Colin James and partner Gloria (a trustee) who were everywhere when needed and helped the weekend run smoothly.
Lastly none of this would have happened without woodys Jason Prew from The Slipway Milford, and Kerry Lilley for pulling everything together – well done guys.
The return trip back down the river had its challenges, very complicated tide table – but to the best of my knowledge no one is still there 🙂
The Museum and their boat trips are a must do if you are passing thru or around Paeroa. And big ups to the local council and business association – Paeroa is a healthy, well presented town, and a credit to everyone living there.
Over the next week I’ll do additional WW stories on the Museum, the river trip to Paeroa on board Ariana and a few of the launches that made the trip.
(Woodys who attended – My Girl, Raindance, Awariki, Lucille, Summer Wine, Ngarimu, Lucinda, Maroro, Cindy Jane, Kaikoura, and guest appearance by Ariana – refer photos below)
(Photo credits to – Jason Prew, Linus Fleming, Andre Thomas, Andrew & Mechaela Dobbs and yours truly)
Dunkirk Little Ship – Lady Gay – Destroyed By Fire
Flicking thru my digital subscription to the UK Classic Boat magazine, I was saddened to read that the Dunkirk Little Ship – Lady Gay has been destroyed in a fire at the old Thornycroft sheds on Platts Eyot, Hampton, on the River Thames.
Lady Gay was 34ft motor yacht built in 1934 for Lord Alfred Dunhill.
One of the builders was interviewed once – this is his tale – “We didn’t have a shed big enough to take her, so we set up a canvas shelter outside, which also saved us extra rates. We only had one 100-watt electric light bulb and no machinery. Every part of her was made by hand. I remember going to Maldon in Essex with templates of the woodwork to get the timber cut to size. Then we shaped it by hand. Three of us worked on her for nearly five months and my pay was under £3 a week. Every Saturday Lord Dunhill came to the yard in his chauffeur-driven car and handed out cigarettes and, on one occasion, pipes. When she was finished, she had cost His Lordship £1,500. Having no slipway, George and Eric, with some helpers, dragged her down the hill, through the local car park and manhandled her over the sea wall next to one of the Bastions and into the water. They went on board with the fuel, the twin Morris Commodores started first time and Lord Dunhill’s boat was on its way.”
You can view the launching on this link – can you just imagine the health & safety / police / city council nazi’s if you tried to do this today 🙂
WOODYS LOVE A RAILWAY HAUL OUT
A nice line up of woodys out at The Slipway, Milford. L>R – Maroro, Raindance, Te Hauraki
PLEASE RSVP FOR THE ABOVE WOODY EVENT – NEXT SUNDAY (23/05) – LOCATION IS 606 ROSEBANK ROAD, AVONDALE – RSVP TO firstname.lastname@example.org
MARORO Back in November 2020 I spotted Brian Thomas’s launch – Maroro, tied up at the marina in Thames, top photo. Over Easter Angus and Charlie Rogers came across Maroro cruising in Te Kouma Harbour. Nice to see her underway. A very salty ship, love the deck-chair on the stern – perfect spot to take in the scenery.