Sea Craft Clinker Woody

Sea Craft Clinker Woody

Back in late 2020 woody Barrie Abel contacted me to update me on a new addition to his fleet, Barrie owns the classic launch – Matira, photo below. Barrie had just purchased a 1965, 16’ Sea Craft clinker run-about named Touchwood. We first saw her in the flesh when Barrie piloted us up the Wairoa River to the Clevedon Cruising Club.

Fast forward to 2 weekends ago and Barrie was back on piloting duties, this time the clinker had received some TLC and was looking very smart – refer photos above.The Sea Craft woodys are very much in demand these days as they offer a very affordable classic wooden boating experience, with the advantage of being able to taken home and care for it.

Classic Wooden Boat Cruise – 72 photos




S/S Romany












Ann Michelle





Lady Crossley

Raindance CCC trip Aug2020



Lets be honest, a large chunk of 2020 has been very average – locked marina’s, no on-the-water boating and cancelled events. After spending the weekend on-board Raindance, cruising up the Clevedon river and over-nighting with 12 other woody boats at the Clevedon Cruising Club, I realised what I had missed the most was the sense of fraternity that comes with being in a space shared with people who love the same things as I do – woody boats. 
The trip up the Wairoa River revolves around a tide window, so it was a very early start for some of us, helped by coffee on-route, the smart ones left on Friday and were enjoying breakfast in a bay as we were sliding down the Tamaki Strait. We were meet at the river entrance by CCC member Barrie Abel who ‘piloted’ us up the river – no opps, so thank you Barrie.
Awaiting for us at the CCC wharf was Russell Ward with his steam boat – Romany. The gent deserves a medal – all day Saturday and Sunday morning he was taking the CCC members and families + the woodys for rides. Romany is coal fired and as Russell tells everyone getting aboard – “if its metal – its hot, if its varnished – its dirty 🙂 . I’m a big fan of Romany, but the star was Cooper the English springer spaniel – I could have taken him home.
After some wonderful ‘air-traffic control’ we managed to get everyone either alongside the wharf or rafted to another boat that was alongside – soft bumper fenders along the entire wharf makes for very civilized berthing. However – no names, but one woody had to leave the Saturday night BBQ to check that their diesel fired on-board central heating outlet wasn’t roasting the fenders 😉
The day was very leisurely with most people enjoying a dockside lunch and CCC members dropping down to view the boats and people having steam boat rides. One woody took the opportunity to buy some fuel from the club’s dockside bowser, seems he forgot to check the level before departing, staring to become a habit……….
In addition to the activities afloat we were treated to some eye-candy in the car park – a stunning 1947 Ford Coupe and a replica 1945 Fairliner Torpedo speed boat.
Come 4pm we invaded the CCC club house for the main event – as always amazing hospitality from the club and to use that old saying “a good time was had by all”. It was announced that our visit will be a compulsory event on the club’s annual calendar – so woodys – no excuses for missing out next year. Date to be advised.
Check out the outdoor heater – a piece of kiwiana and it worked a treat.
Overnight it was a tad nippy, with several re-filling the boat water bottles in the early hours of the morning. But we woke to a stunning day and departed at 10am for the trip home.
And the Clevedon Coast Oysters were divine – photo below was my lunch – another set were dispatched as a appetizer – 8.5/10 – not Bluff but on the day as good 🙂
Special note of thanks to David Cook (Trinidad) who is my sidekick pulling these events together 🙂

Tides Out 🙂  (photo ex Alan Good)

CCC tide out

Mystery Launch At Waiheke Island



Mystery Launch At Waiheke Island

Mooching around Sandy Bay I spotted the above woody – it looks familiar. Not anchored, on a mooring so maybe she is an Island boat.
I’m sure someone smarter than me can ID her.
Woodys Classics Waiheke BBQ & Pizza Lunch – Trip Report
Another great turn out for Saturdays gathering at Little Oneroa – I counted 16 woodys in the bay, rowing past a couple I may have detected a whiff of PVC but they were lookers and all had a healthy mix of timber and bronze. Attending boats tagged in the story.
Most people decided to order lunch from the wood-fired pizza caravan and were not disappointed – very yum.
The timing seemed to work for everyone – several boat travelled long distances to participate and 1/2 the fleet were just there for the day. Also dog friendly venues are appreciated – again 1/2 the boats had pooches aboard. Perfect weather and very low numbers of what the islanders call ‘day trippers’.
As proof that all you need to be welcomed at a Woody Classics event, is a passion for wooden boats – my boat of the day was Allan and Pam Hooper’s – Katherine. Her dinghy (built by Allan) gets her a 10/10 tick in my book.   You can read more about Katherine here





Little Oneroa – Waiheke Island

I spotted Allan’s dinghy ashore on Sunday morning  at Oneroa – now Allan is a perfectionist, so his score drops to 9.9/10 – he left the stickers on the oars 🙂

Matira – A Peek Down Below




MATIRA – A Peek Down Below
At last weekends Woody Classics Weekend cruise to Clevedon I had a peek aboard Matira. I first spoke to owner Barrie Abel back in 2017 when he was looking for a classic sympathetic insurer to insure his recent purchase. I pointed him in the direction of David Cooke, who helped Barrie out. At the time the vessel was ’sitting’ on Barries front lawn while he addressed some mechanical issues.
I mentioned to Barrie that Matira was a bit of a mystery boat to me, my only exposure to her was seeing moored in the creek off the Te Atatu Boating Club. She was to my eye an unusual mix of styles.
Her builder and launch date are a little unclear – there is talk that she is a Lanes c.1912, but Harold Kidd has previously commented on WW that this is possible except that “Lanes” is usually just a default for ‘old boat’. HDK also commented that he thought she could be a bit earlier than 1912 by when there tended to be a built-up foredeck and a break in the sheer aft of that. She was certainly not built as MATIRA. Probably a well-known early launch whose provenance has been lost / blurred by one or more name-changes.
Fast forward to September (this year) and Barrie made the long haul from Clevedon to attend the inaugural Woody Classics Weekend event at the Riverhead Hotel, an impressive undertaking considering the weather on the day. During the lunch ashore, a group of us chatted about wanting to do the Wairoa River trip to Clevedon, as a member of the Clevedon Cruising Club, Barrie volunteered to be our liaison person – the rest is history, scroll down to Mondays WW story for the full trip report.
While tied up together at the CCC wharf, with Barries permission I popped aboard Matira with the camera, photos above. I have to say I was very impressed with the fit out done by Matira’s previous owner (ex Lidgards boatbuilder) Dan Kamphuis. Dan purchased the boat in c.1997 and as you can see in the photos below, totally rebuilt the boat. She was relaunched in 2004. 
Everyone walking the dock over the weekend loved her, including my wife and she has high standards – well she married me after all 🙂
You can see / read more here



Riverhead – Sept 2019

Matira – Collings & Bell

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 2.02.25 pm

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 2.02.15 pm


Matira, the 1956 Collings & Bell woody, has featured on WW many times before & is what I call a lucky boat, lucky in that her owner has an appreciation for classic woodys & spends what is needed to keep her in spectacular condition.

Due to personal reasons, Matira is now for sale & in my eyes would be the best classic wooden launch on the market.

Over the last 2 ½ years she has had a rolling re-fit that has included re-powering with twin Yanmar 110hp diesels & numerous other significant mechanical work.

The mechanical work has been matched by just about new everything inside. For more details, view the trademe listing (link below) , from where todays photos come from.

The photo below was sent to me by Bryce Strong, a previous owner of Matira, & shows her sporting a steadying sail –



25-07-2022 Input from Sam Harris (son of past owner – Peter Harris)

Peter Harris purchased Matira in 1993 from Herald Island area, Auckland.
Vessel was steamed to Tauranga for refuel then onto Gisborne as a Live aboard and Charter vessel. Peter a Electrician and Electrical Inspector installed Ship Shore 230v system and operated Matira for sight seeing and xmas parties, hens nights and even a funeral at Sea scattering ashes. Matira had many trips up and down the east coast visiting Napier and other harbours




Today’s photo was emailed into me by John Burland, who spotted Matira recently while on a road trip, he took the coast road to Thames & while driving through Kawakawa spotted (hard not to) Matira sitting on Barry Abel’s front lawn.

Barry has recently sold Lady Jane, see link below, to a young couple & has acquired Matira as the next project. I seem to recall her appearing on WW once before but cannot find her, maybe she is still in the ‘one-day’ file. Te Atatu Boating Club rings bells also.

I also recall she was on the market for rather a long time & no doubt Barry picked her up for a bargain price. There is a nice hull hiding under the additions that showcase a mixed of styles. As an aside her hand basin is from a B747 washroom.

Do we know any more about Matira?

05-10-2019 Update ex Barrie Abel – photo below shows Matira before her refit.

Matira 1912?

Screen Shot 2017-12-19 at 10.31.40 PM

Ideal Woody Xmas Present

I’m a big fan of buying yourself a xmas present & the book ‘Thoughts on Clinker Lapstrake Dinghy Construction’ by Peter Peal, ticks most of the boxes. It is a must have for all serious woodys. 

Copies are available from Chris Peal at a cost of $60 including post and pack within New Zealand.  Transfer the $60 into the back account below & then email Chris with your postal address & a copy of the hard cover book will be mailed out –

Payment is to ANZ Bank – Peter Peal’s Book A/c  01-0210-0030056-47

View the WW story on the book here


Matira reflections

Matira Kaiarara Bay 3

in trouble


Chatting recently on-line with Bryce Strong he mentioned his ownership of the 1956 Collings & Bell launch Matira, the lead photo was taken at Great Barrier Island & also shows Altair nearby, Bryce commented that the water was so still you have difficulty deciding which way the photo should be up.

Bryce kept her on the Clevedon River & at one stage there was a flood & Matira pulled out the front mooring pole, and swung around and collided with Altair, moored behind on the pontoon. Only held by a single stern rope which held her until Bryce could sort it.

Bryce sold Matira in 2009 to Steve Martin, a boat builder who carried out an extensive and immaculate refit in 2011, setting up Matira for another 30 years. Photos below of Steve’s work. There is an extensive documented history of the vessel here

Link below (blue) to a spec sheet of Matira from during Bryce’s ownership period.

Short spec updated version

Note – this shows her powered by twin 4 cyl.Ford 75hp engines, in late November 2015 she was re-powered with twin 110hp Yanmar’s that while lifting her performance, significantly reduced the running noise. Her owner Guy Warman commented to me post her re-launch sea trial, that that alone was worth the cost 🙂 Matira is a lucky lady to have been so well loved & cared for over the years.

M 2




Upper Harbour Cruise to the Riverhead Hotel



Upper Harbour Cruise to the Riverhead Hotel

Yesterday had the makings of a stay at home day – the forecast was looking very average & the All Blacks ‘v’ Ireland test was kicking off at 9.00am. Unfortunately the gods only smiled on us once – the weather never eventuated but the AB’s dropped their guard & for the 1st time ever lost to the boys in green. Given the location – Chicago, I say it wasn’t a real test 😉
The following classics from the CYA launch fleet made the trip – Mahanui, Te Arahi, John Dory, Te Hauraki, Trinidad, Lucille, Juanita, Raindance, Matira, Lucinda, Kumi & the motor-sailer Bliss.  These were joined by others who traveled by car. Over 100 gathered on the outer decks for lunch & one or two cleansing beverages.
Another great day & special thanks to the organizer – CYA Launch Captain Angus Rogers, Tony Stevenson for the use of the Tino Rawa Trust tender ‘Whistleblower’ & the publican, Stephen Pepperell, always nice to greeted at the wharf on arrival.


MATIRA – re-powered

The 1956, 46′ Collings & Bell launch Matira has featured on ww previously & extensive details on her can be viewed here

Matira is a very pretty boat, again one of those designs that look good from any angle & look fast even when anchored. She was for sale on trademe for a long time & I was aware of several people who ‘looked’ at her but were put off by a few things that just were not right. Primary concern was the engines which if I recall correctly were mismatched in hp.
I’m very pleased to advise that she has a new owner, Guy Warman, & work has began on bringing Matira back to the condition that a vessel of her size & provenance desires.
In the last month she has been hauled out at Okahu Bay & the team from Moon Engines have removed the old Ford D series engines & installed twin 110hp Yanmar’s.
On her recent sea-trial Matira comfortably cruised at 9.5 knots with a top speed of 13 knots. I’m told that the reduction in noise & space was worth the expense alone 🙂

Guy is interested in any more history that can be uncovered on Matira’s past so if any woodys can help out , please do.

Matira has joined the CYA launch fleet so we look forward to seeing her attending a few events. She will be in good company with Rod Marler’s Arohanui, due to slide out of Greg Lees Sandspit boat shed this weekend after an extensive renovation.



photos & details ex Steve Martin

Builder: Collings & Bell (1956)        Designer: Alex J. Collings

LWL: 13m (42.5 feet)                      LOA: 14m (45.93 feet)

Beam: 3.35m (11.0 feet)                Draft: 1.07m (3.5 feet)

Engine Details: Twin 75hp 4 cylinder D Series Ford (Year approx.1971)

Transmission Details: V Drive

Fuel Capacity: 800 litres           Water Capacity: 200 litres

Hull Construction: Single skin kauri planked

Deck Construction: Composite Teak/Cedar planked (Fibreglass Skinned)

5 berths, Colour GPS / chart plotter / fish finder, VHF, Stereo, H & C pressure water, gas califont, shower, large freezer (12v) SS Refrigerator (12v), twin rudders, game chair, gas bottle


Matira was designed and built for Stuart Hopwood in 1955 by Alex Collings of Collings & Bell.  Launched in 1956 she was one of the last motor yachts built by the company before they ceased business.  She was originally fitted with twin Gray Marine (GM) petrol engines and at the time of launching would have been considered a most impressive boat on the Auckland Harbor.

The subsequent owner was Peter Burns who owned her from 1959 to 1963.

Keith Hardley became the new proud owner in 1963, trading her for a lakeside property on Lake Tarawera.  She was kept initially at Westhaven and later in the upper Tamaki River and was enjoyed by the family for a couple of seasons with little modification except for the installation of some four hundredweight of lead ingots of trim ballast.  The lead weight placed in the bow was designed to improve the handling in a following sea. The rudders were subsequently increased in size at a later date.

In those days Matira’s head was a conventional household toilet which flushed through a large hole just below water level.  After use a large rotary pump was operated to fill the cistern for the next user.

The seatbacks in the salon were hinged along the top edge and could be pulled up on tackle to make additional pipe berths.

After an otherwise uneventful weekend away cruising and when departing Islington Bay for home Mrs. Hardley slipped off the narrow side deck and had to be retrieved over the stern. It is unclear whether it was the unintentional swim or the mirth of her siblings but Matira was subsequently sold at the end of that season and was replaced by larger sailing yacht.

Vern Petersen became the new owner in 1965.  It is believed that he widened the side decks and added area to the bottom of the rudders to improve her steering.

Bob Green, 1967 – 1969

Fred Cotterill purchased the Matira in 1969, operating her for many years as a sports fishing boat out of Tutakaka.  Fred was a colorful character, owner of the local garage/hardware store.  He had the boat available for fishing charters for a number of years where it became well known with there being many tales of his exploits.  The boat was known as a ‘lucky’ boat, seldom returning without a good catch. Later in 1986 it was still being used for charter cruises around the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland harbor.

It was during his ownership that the engines were changed to the current 75hp 4 cylinder Ford diesels.  He fitted new electronics, a deep freezer and hot water system plus a bait tank and outriggers.  An aft boarding platform and handrails were added for the charter work.

After his retirement Fred kept the Matira in the Clevedon River, making the voyage back to Tutakaka as often as his health allowed.

Bryce Strong bought the boat after Fred’s death in 1999 and owned the boat for ten years.  He did a major refit in a boatshed in Clevedon and later moved the boat to Westharbour

Steve & Wendy Marten purchased Matira in November 2009 berthing her at the Buckland’s Beach Yacht club marina.  During the restoration of Matira a teak capped handrail was added and she was maintained for family cruising and fishing in the Hauraki Gulf.

Work carried out since purchasing Matira in 2009:

  • Complete interior and exterior repaint including varnished coamings and hatches.
  • Full engine refurbishment (new water pumps / manifold / reconditioned both ’V’ drive gearboxes / fitted new engine mounts)
  • Comprehensive electrical rewire, new batteries / GPS chart plotter / fish finder and VHF
  • New 12v galley fridge and separate 12v chest freezer
  • New upholstery throughout saloon, forward cabin and cockpit area
  • Installed transom doors / new teak floors in large cockpit area and boarding platform
  • New aft canvas covers.
  • SS Dingy and bait board bracket fitted on boarding platform.
  • Reinstated the wooden mast..


Charles Collings served his time with Robert Logan senior and later joined the Clare brothers in their boatbuilding business in St Mary’s Bay around 1901 as a designer. He soon took over the business, which became Collings & Bell in 1909, and which went on to built thousands of small craft.  Initially building small launches for farmers for the servicing of coastal farms and then later many diverse types of pleasure boats and workboats for use in New Zealand and about the Pacific Islands.  He later specialised in the design and construction of mullet boats, building yachts which were amongst the best of their time. However, the firm soon began concentrating on motor launches, particularly Collings’ square-bilge planing hulls for racing, whale chasing and game fishing.

Charles Collings died in 1946 just a few months short of 77 years of age. Throughout his time in Auckland Charles served the sport of yachting, as Commodore of the North Shore Sailing Club, Officer of the Home Bay Sailing Club, Commodore of the N.Z. Power Boat Association, Commodore of the Ponsonby Cruising Club and as officers of their clubs and the Auckland Regatta. However his greatest service to yachting was in association with the late Frank Chalmers, securing the construction of what is now the Westhaven Boat-harbour.

The business continued under the control of his son Alex J Collings until 1957 when the site was required for the motorway approach for the new Auckland Harbour Bridge.  Tragically many of the records were lost subsequently in a fire although some of the original plans and drawings exist and are now held at the Auckland Maritime Museum.

Jack Taylor who had worked for Collings and Bell during the 1940s and early 50’s recalled “Charlie was a difficult man to work for, with a critical eye and very high standards.  He was a perfectionist, he would swell out the hammer marks in the timbers and would check everything by eye and was constantly fussing and re-fairing. Many an apprentice felt the cut of his sharp tongue and sought the relative refuge of the bilge of some boat with a large brush and a tin of Red Lead.  Only the best could stick it and work for him for any period of time.”

“The old shed positioned in St Mary’s bay beside the Ponsonby wharf had a dirt floor with only the most basic of heavy machinery for splitting and dressing the large Kauri logs.  Much of the work was done with hand tools.  Boats were built on the slipway in remarkably short time and launched without fuss.  The wharf had petrol bowsers on the end of it as pretty much all boats launched in those days had petrol engines.”

“Towards the end of his life Charlie was confined to a wheelchair and would come to the yard to watch and supervise from a corner of the floor.  Jack recalls one time when he was building an 8ft dingy, “They were standard issue with each boat delivered from the yard.” he said, “Charlie parked his chair close to the transom where he could observe me at work.  He sat there every day puffing on his pipe in silence for whole the week and when it was finished he finally uttered “You build a fine dingy lad!”

Charlie’s son Alex came up to Jack and said “I believe that’s a compliment Jack – I’ve worked 40 years for my father and that is the first time I have ever heard him pay a compliment to anyone!”

Jack left the employment of Collings and Bell before the Matira was built but at the age of 89 came out of retirement to help Steve Marten survey the boat prior to purchasing her in November 2009.

Matira is currently for sale & the owner (Steve Martin) can be contacted on 021 530 859

Harold Kidd Update

A couple of little things to add to this excellent piece;
1 Dave Jackson worked on her construction at Collings & Bell.
2. Charles Collings didn’t actually “serve his time” with Robert Logan. He qualified as an engineer first and designed and built bridges and other structures on the goldfields at Waitekauri and Karangahake before coming to Auckland where he worked as a tradesman for Robert Logan Sr. in Freemans Bay until joining the Clare brothers in St. Mary’s Bay after the death of their father James Clare in 1902.