Maroro – A Peek Down Below

The Owners – Father & Son

Maroro – A Peek Down Below

One of the classic launches that made the trip up the Waihou River to Paeroa over Easter weekend was the woody – Maroro. Maroro’s home base is the Thames Marina and I have photographed her several times when mooching around the marina, links to these WW stories below

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

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)


AWARIKI – 1967 – Owen Woolley
MARORO – c.1905 – tba
NGARIMU – 1945 – Fred Goldboro
KAIKOURA – 1951 – Percy Vos
SUMMER WINE- Noel May – 1992
CINDY JANE – 1975 – Pelin Empress
MY GIRL – 1925- W H Hand Jr
RAINDANCE – 1928 – Lane Motor Boat Company
LUCILLE – Logan 33
LUCINDA – 1930 – L Coulthard

Dunkirk Little Ship – Lady Gay – Destroyed By Fire

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 🙂


A nice line up of woodys out at The Slipway, Milford. L>R – Maroro, Raindance, Te Hauraki



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.

Link below to previous WW story


A couple of weeks ago we did a story on the woody – Maroro that had recently been relaunched at Thames after a 8 year refit (WW link below).

Yesterday I was passing thru Thames so stopped at the marina and snapped the above photos. She is very salty looking, with a lot happening up top but that just adds to her work boat looks 🙂

FINAL REMINDER RE WOODYS RIVERHEAD LUNCH CRUISE THIS COMING SUNDAY – If you are a starter, drop me an email with boat name. Remember – if you’re boatless, come by car 😉

Maroro + Special Boat Shed Invite

Thames woody – Brian Thomas, sent me the above photo of his launch Maroro, that he and his son have spent the last 8 years rebuilding at Kopu. Since her recent relaunch she now resides at Thames Marina. The above photo was taken of her from the Thames Wharf Cafe. In his note Brian mentioned a blog that featured the rebuild but I have been unable to trace it or get more intel from Brian, so today’s story is a bit of a ’name & shame’ i.e. hopefully Brian will see this and be in touch 🙂

From the photo it appears to have been a very smart restoration.

SPECIAL INVITATION –  A Peek Inside One of Your Best Wooden Boatbuilders Shed

You are invited to an open afternoon at Brookes Boatbuilders, to view the restoration of:

  1. Fife Yacht, Impala
  2. Refit of K class yacht, Katrina II
  3. Restoration of Launch, Amakura II
  4. The many other wooden boats at the yard – Matia, Ladye Wilma, Kotiri, Pilot Cutter, Kenya II (Peter’s own classic launch)

DATE: Sunday 1st November

TIME: 2pm-7pm

ADDRESS: 108 Woodhill Park Road, Waimauku, Auckland
These invites only happen every 3>4 years so woodys do not miss out, it will be an amazing afternoon.

Amakura II

Amazing Maroro Sequel

Maroro - launching day 01, 27 Dec 1957

Amazing Maroro Sequel

Sometimes ww struggles with a story & then other times she rocks. Yesterday as part of the Sailing Sunday story we profiled Russell Ward’s H28 woody Maroro & the fact that she was reluctantly for sale. The story flushed out a connection to one Kenrick Mitchell, son of the late Stuart (John) Mitchell – the builder of Maroro.
Kenrick emailed Russell a treasure trove of historical photos on the building, launch & sailing of Maroro. There are even photos of her on Sydney Harbour post winning the 1961 Trans Tasman race.

I have taken the liability to reproduce the email that Kenrick sent to Russell & also below is a link to Stuart Mitchell’s biography –  both excellent reads 🙂    Mitchell, Stuart – excerpt from Mitchell family biographies by Kenrick Mitchell and Shona Wright

“Hi Russell,
Fascinating who one bumps into occasionally in life! It was my cousin who mentioned he’d seen Maroro for sale and as he has a yacht of his own at Stillwater I might bring him along when I visit.

Dad built Maroro beside his parents’ house in Rust Ave in Whangarei while he was in his early 20’s. He worked on farms and on the wharves at Whangarei to raise the money. He did some coastal cruising in her, including a fruit picking trip to Marlborough with some mates. The 1961 trans-Tasman race was won on handicap (I have the trophy) with a crew of four and was followed by a cruise up as far as New Caledonia. In 1963 he set off with Mum on their honeymoon which was to have been a more extensive cruise. However legend has it that Mum threw a wobbly of significant magnitude when the first decent seas were encountered and they returned to leave Maroro in the hands of friends in Whangarei while they took a ship to the U.K. for their OE. Dad worked in a boatyard during his time away. When they returned and built the family home in Ngunguru (I turned up on the scene in 1965) it was with the ambition of establishing a boatbuilding business. Des Townson was Dad’s best man and it was a Townson 32 that first took shape under our house. This was followed by commercial wood turning to fund a crayfishing launch which, after several seasons of fishing, funded a decent shed next to the house – just in time for the infamous 40% luxury tax on boats and caravans to kill the industry. He went on to build numerous boats over his lifetime, ranging from metre long dinghies for my infant brother and I, to the 40’ dive charter cat ‘Pacific Hideaway’. Interestingly, the Townson 34 ‘Slice of Lemon’ is currently also on TradeMe being sold by her original owner at Pine Harbour.

I recall Dad being approached by an owner of Maroro in the 90’s to see if he’d be interested in either looking after her or doing some work on her, but the state she was in served to extinguish his curiosity.

Dad passed away in 2004 at the age of 70 of mesothelioma (asbestosis). I have many photos of his boats and the cruise in Maroro which I’ll put on a stick for you. I the meantime I’ll attach a few teasers here for you. You might be interested to learn that Dad built Maroro II in his retirement and I’ll attach a photo of that too as it really was a flying fish.

Sadly, after a childhood and youth spent helping Dad on boats and playing around in centreboarders and surfcats, I drifted out of boating. However the boating never drifted out of me and for the last few years I’ve been fortunate to score a place as crew on the 1897 Logan classic ‘Thelma’ which is skippered by Tony Blake. There are more albums on Thelma and Maroro II on my Facebook page if you happen to frequent this corner of the cyberverse.

Will look forward to meeting you, though it may take a couple of weekends to make it up your way as my wife and I have recently belatedly taken an interest in the breeding game and it takes a couple of weeks’ of accumulated brownie points to earn a leave pass from a couple of three month old kids and their shattered mother.

Kind regards, Kenrick Mitchell”

Maroro II

Slice of Lemon

Slice of Lemon - on launching day, 1976

Sailing Sunday x3


CYA Classic Yacht Regatta Oops
If you ever thought classic yacht racing was a little ‘soft’ i.e.  “let them thru, they are nice chaps” think again, its serious racing – proof? During race one of last weeks regatta the 1898 Arch Logan Rainbow was involved in a wee incident that resulted in her samson post snapping, it takes a lot of force to break a 5” square piece of kauri. The main player in the incident was the bowsprit that compressed under impact and combined with the ‘dead’ force of the backside from the deck, something had to give & fortunately the Samson post took all the load. Effectively became a safety valve, and halted any collateral damage to the deck or bowsprit.
End of the race for Rainbow & potentially end of the regatta – but in steps master boatbuilder Paul Tingey who worked around the clock and did an outstanding job, gluing up, turning and re-installing the new Samson post to get Rainbow on the start line for Sundays racing.


Ngatiawa, below, is a A class keeler that was  owned by Nathan Ross for many years, from the 1940s on wards. Later ownership passed to his son Clive, a school mate & young R.A.Y.C. associate of Ken Ricketts .
Ken’s photo was taken at Christmas 1952 in Mansion House.  Do any of the woodys know more about Ngatiawa – designer / builder / year of launch & what became of her?


H28 Classic Wooden Ketch 4sale

Maroro was professionally built in 1957 in Whangarei & proved herself by winning the 1961 Trans Tasman race and is featured in the NZ book ‘proper NZ yachts’ by Richard Endean.
Maroro is a traditional sailing man or woman’s boat, set up with jib and staysail self furling + spinnaker. She has a near new Yanmar 10hp engine with 60 hours on clock & F & R gearbox. Three berths, toilet in separate compartment. Force 10 diesel heater. Simon Lawrence anchor winch. All ground tackle.  Her mooring at Mahurangi is also available long term.
Owner Russell Ward commented that at the asking price of $18,500 she is would provide a lot of fun for a real sailor.

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Rahemo #2 Post

RAHEMO #2 Post

ww was contacted by the present owner of Rahemo & the information & photos the Rod Turner has supplied deserves its own post, read below
The Chrysler Crown 125s I replaced were “mirror” or a contra-rotating handed pair. They were rugged and reliable, dedicated marine engines. No change of rotation occurred in the gear boxes. They were supplied and installed by Todds as New Zealand agents, not the Navy. Rahemo never had diesel engines before 1987. The “one family from new” is my mistake as I was not aware of Mr Butchers 2 year ownership. I thought the Todd family owner her from new. The Trademe listing was done by Vinnings Brokers. Rahemo returned to Auckland in the 1950s to be used for deep sea fishing in the Bay of Islands before making a second trip back to Wellington.

Richard has supplied 2 photos of Rahemo on the hard showing her under-water hull shape & a stunning black and white is of Rahemo and another family boat, the “Maroro” taken in Onahau Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound in about 1948. Maroro is a Chris Craft from about 1932 still in his families ownership awaiting restoration.




Maroro (leading)

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photos & details ex Harold Kidd & Alan H

This story starts in 1907 when an Auckland family (Matheson brothers) built in St Marys Bay on Aucklands waterfront a 32 ft launch MARORO (flying fish in Maori). Her plans came from the USA Rudder Magazine and she was therefore rather unusual in design in the local New Zealand context. Maroro has a great history but her claim to fame was she won the  Rudder Cup, a night race around Sail Rock & back, held on the 12th December 1908.

Fast forward 100+ years (August 2009) & Harold Kidd, Colin Pawson & myself flew to Great Barrier Island to check out Maroro where she was ‘resting’ at Okupa in Blind Bay, you can view photos from that trip on this link

Maroro was subsequently transported back to Auckland & is now resting again at Marco Scuderi’s yard in Helensville, while her fate is decided. You will see in the Great Barrier photos she was / is as they say in the real estate game – a little distressed. There are lots of posting on the Classic Yacht Association NZ forum on Maroro if you are interested

The purpose of this waitematawoodys posting is to reveal that at long last the original plans for Maroro have been tracked down by super sleuth Harold Kidd, who obtained a copy of the August 1906 edition of the Rudder magazine off Ebay. Featured were the basic layout /plans of a motor launch named Susie. She was 3rd in the Knickerbocker YC long distance power boat ocean race in June 1906, the 2boats that finished ahead of her were much bigger & more powerful. When you compare the photos of Maroro & Susie , disregard the cabin top & focus on the bow & stern, they are almost identical. It would appear that the Matheson brothers were impressed with Susie’s performance in the Knickerbocker race & built a clone.

The above photos include a shot of Susie , the plans, a photo of Maroro winning a race on the Waitemata Harbour & a rather spectacular close up shot of Maroro. What do you think – peas in a pod? (you can freeze the slideshow by clicking on a photo)

Note: the discovery of these layout / plans could help decide the future of Maroro.