MV CLEMATIS – An ideal floating bach


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MV CLEMATIS – An ideal floating bach

WW readers will be familiar with my views on how compared to the price of waterfront property these days, you can buy a classic wooden vessel for a fraction of the cost, that offers the same benefits + more.

Clematis at 45’ is one such vessel, launched in 1939 & built of kauri by Miller and Tonnage Ship Builders in Port Chalmers for J. Falconer & Sons of Timaru.

Her past has seen her serve with the New Zealand Maritime Department, initially in the NZ Navy during WWII & with the various other ad hoc parties until 1995. She was the only vessel still attached to the navy, serving from WWII until c.1995. She was seconded to the US Navy during WWII & during this period she was refitted on three occasions and even given a copper bottom by the Americans for her use in the Pacific Islands. She was later a training boat for the Maritime Department and Ministry of Fisheries.

She was eventually sold to Christchurch businessman, Bryan Mullaly, in 1995, who based her in Picton. Later use saw her working for a time in Lyttleton as a whale watch boat. Back then (c.1995) she was powered by an Isuzu truck / bus engine, converted to marine use, this replaced a Gardner diesel.

Mullaly sold her to her present owner, Pam Holt in 2003 & Pam brought her up to Coromandel & Gt. Barrier, where Clematis became her floating home. Her large saloon, galley, 2 cabins and spacious covered deck made her ideal for enjoying the spectacular scenery and sea life.

With lots of blue ocean miles under her belt, Clematis is a proven seaworthy boat. Having been in MSA survey (expired) for 18 passengers, 10 to Great Barrier Island.

Pam’s days afloat are over & she is looking for a new custodian for Clematis, whether as a floating bach or a fabulous event venue or for sightseeing cruises.

You will see in the photos that she has recently had a lot of TCL applied & is now offered for sale. Interested parties can contact Pam direct at

B/W photos below from launch day.

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Input from Russell Ward

Below are two photos, the colour one is a shot of her on Otago Harbour set to Russell by Ian Mclean –she spent a lot of time in Dunedin –Sea Cadets boat.

The b/w photo shows Clematis on the right in working rig. To her starboard is Aorangi’s bow, Shenendoah and over astern a smattering of the pride of the Auckland fleet. Centre stage, wearing her original funnel in pride is Melodeon.

This pic would be in the ’50s or early ‘60s. A view of the viaduct before it became a eating and watering and posh boat hole 🙂



Input from Peter Marshall

Actually, Brian Mullaly sold CLEMATIS to me around ’95 and I took her to Lyttelton. She was put into survey as a commercial boat in 2001 but was almost immediately involved in the destruction of the marina at Magazine Bay and was out for the 2001-2002 summer season.
Expertly and comprehensively repaired by Stark Bros., CLEMATIS then operated as Godley Head Dolphin Company watch out of Dampier Bay and around the Banks Peninsula until ’95 when I gave up the cause of making Lyttelton a reasonable environment for chartering and she was bought by a young woodworker from Auckland.
As an added note, she was lent to the Yanks during WW II, who took her up into the Pacific and clad her hull in copper to protect her from worm and used her as shallow water picket duty. The Navy League had her on Otago Harbour for around 30 years, and scads of harbour-dwellers knew the sound of her old Gardner.

Tautane (>Centaurus)


TAUTANE (>Centaurus)

The above photo of Tautane was sent to me by her owner Clare Robinson, Clare is hoping that we can uncover more on her past.

What we know is that she is a Miller & Tunnage, completed in 1945 or 1946, operated as fishing vessel for a time and then was purchased by the Napier Harbour Board as their pilot boat and renamed Tautane. Sometime during her tenure there, a Detroit 6-71 manufactured in 1963 was fitted to replace a lower power Gardner.

She was purchased by Colin Davenport in about 1993 and was used to ferry guests out to Endeavour Inlet in Queen Charlotte Sound and for day fishing and diving charters. Colin added the canopy.

Clare bought her in June 2017 and is in the process of converting her to a live-a-board.

The photo shows Tautane as she is currently, sitting at Picton wharf next to the ferry terminal in May 2017. Clare has advised the boat is now named – Serenity.

Do we have any more information on? Russell W you must be able to help?

Input from Russell Ward – below are two photos of the ship one as originally launched – Centaurus and the other being used as she should be. More details in the ww Comments Section.




Otoroa is a Miller & Tunnage double-ender built in 1967 as a MSA Pilot boat, later converted to pleasure use. She measures 55’9″ L, with a beam of 15’5″ & has a draft of 6’6″. Powered via a Cummins diesel. Detail via Ian McDonald via trademe.

Any of the work boat woodys able to enlighten us more about Otoroa?

Update & Photos ex Russell Wardedited by AH
Otoroa’s wheelhouse enabled the skipper to look and see the sky or the ship towering above. They had to be real seaworthy ships in those days. You will notice that except for the Arahina and Tautane who was a recycled Miler and Tunnage fishing boat named Centaurus, all the NZ pilot boats of the day were double enders.
That says a lot for the hull form: The following sea tends to part round the boat rather than heaving t skyward and broaching it. You still can broach in a double ender, but they are good in a following sea.
Hopefully an potential buyer will retain her appearance. She has survived thus far though, so here’s hoping. I am refreshing your memory by also attaching a pic of Wairangi when she was in her prime and working and you can judge.
Also below is a photo looking down on the modest wharf that the Port’s workboats nestled each night to share stories. The RNZN shed was alongside and their HDML were kept there.


Fisher Lassie



Fisher Lassie
Built in 1938 by Miller & Tunnage, Fisher Lassie is a 39’3″ converted fishing boat that is powered by a 1952, 3LW Gardner with a 2UC gearbox & a keel cooled dry stack. The Gardner has done 3380hrs in the last 17 years with no grief using about 3 litres per hour.
She cruises at 6 kts, her ex work holds provide lots of storage & combined with her extensive fit out, has the basics to be a nice live-a-board.

Given the amount of interest / chat on trademe, a northern woody might have trouble getting her North 😉 those southerners do not like losing boat north 😉 Current bidding is in the low $3k’s so a good buy. Thanks to Ian McDonald for the heads up on the vessel.

Any of the work boat woodys know anything more about her?

Signature (Beluga)




When Ian McDonald found the above boat  for sale at Westhaven she was named “Beluga” as someone thought she looked like a little white whale.

Her history Ian was told is roughly this:  Strip plank built in 1990 as a spec, to be a work or fishing boat, over 2 or 3 years when the Miller & Tunnage yard was quiet in Port Chalmers, then sailed to Nelson in the hope of an easier sale. She was sold from Nelson to become a long-liner out of Leigh. How she got to Leigh, Ian doesn’t know, maybe sailed up, maybe trucked.

In Ian’s words a trendy city fella bought her, post fishing, named her Beluga, and then sold her after a brief ownership. Ian bought her in 1998 having done a lot of sketches of what he would like to do to her, Ian commented that if one imagines her without the wheelhouse door, and no extension to the coach-roof aft, she wasn’t a pretty boat at all.  Miller & Tunnage didn’t seem to go for topsides looks, but their hulls are beautiful.

Ian visited the Miller & Tunnage yard looking for a genuine bronze M & T name plate and was helped by the manager who sent the plate mould into Dunedin and had some cast, one of which should still be in the boat today. During the visit, the manager took Ian up to the mezzanine floor and showed him the frames still there, off which she was lofted. They had previously built the “Deborah” of the same frames, for the older, about to retire partner, which was moored just up the harbour at Deborah Bay. Ian showed them a photo of what he was doing and they said  “that’s Signature”  and, when Ian enquired as to how she was thus named, they told him that when any new build was about to begin, it required paperwork, description, who it was for etc, and, a signature, so that’s what she was called.

The extension to the cabin top, aft from the door to the stern was designed by Ian in conjunction with Mike German & Graeme Lyons ( German & Lyons Boat-builders), in 1998 and fitted by Mike & Graeme in the shed at Half Moon Bay hardstand, as was the wheel-house door which didn’t exist when Ian bought her. The teak cladding around the windows was also Ian’s idea.  She was then powered by a 4cyl Isuzu and had a fuel capacity of 1,000 litres

Ian kept her until 2003 & she went on Jacob’s boat-haulage to Mana Marina & was sailed to Waikawa where she remained for a few years before once again being trucked north to appear again on the Waitemata. Then she was sold and appeared in Nelson, which is where Ian took the marina photo above in 2015. The second photo (of someone who resembles Ian, doing an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression), was taken just entering Port Abercrombie a few summers ago now.
In January this year Ian was at Mana Marina and spotted her being prepared for another trucking north and, Ian believes she now resides in Kerikeri.
This boat has done a lot of road miles 🙂 Anyone able to confirm her current whereabouts?

Photos below ex Dean Wright of Signature at Doves Bay Marina. Looking a tad different 🙂





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Strathallan was the name given to this Miller & Tunnage, kauri carvel built, double ender, ex pilot boat by the Timaru Harbour Board. She measures 46’6”” LOA & draws 6’5”. The traditional Scottish boat builder, Doug Robb built Strathallan in 1955 at his Timaru yard.

As you would expect from an ex work-boat the engine room is impressive & dominated by the 190hp, 8L3B Gardner. With a displacement of approx. 20 tons and being driven by the classic Gardner with a 3.1 transmission gives her a cruising speed of 8.5 knots at 810 rpm and max speed of approx. 10 knots at 990 rpm. Her size, design & power unit make her a powerful strong seaworthy vessel.

After being decommissioned as a work-boat in the 1990s she was converted to a cruising vessel. The main saloon, galley & engine room have full headroom & her walk-around decks are perfect for fishing. One of the hangovers from her commercial days is the exterior head with the door facing the stern; I can personally vouch for the view J

Strathallan is currently for sale & would be an ideal vessel for the boat owner who wants a classic, traditional boat that is a part of New Zealand’s maritime history. The asking price I understand is <$80k & at that price would be a good buy & still have the potential for a new owner to add their own touch to the boat in terms of decor.

Photo below was taken at Mahurangi Regatta (2012?) by Chris Miller – slightly different paint ‘job’ back then.



Wairangi – heads north




WAIRANGI – Heads North
photos ex Owen Foster via Ken Ricketts

As previous noted on ww Wairangi has been sold & is relocating to Auckland, Waiheke  Island I believe. Owen supplied this collection of photos from the passage from Picton to Auckland. Wairangi was designed by Wren Carey & built by Andy Miller of Miller & Tunnage fame. For a 1934 vessel of her design she is unusual in that she was launched as a pleasure vessel, which goes against her looks that scream ‘work boat’ converted to pleasure use. Wairangi was the opposite as she became a Lyttelton pilot boat c1948.

To view / read more details of her past click here

05-03-2016 Arrives safely at Waiheke Island

07-04-2016 – Wairangi getting a little love at Pier 21. Photo ex Rod Marler

Wairangi at Pier 21

11-04-2016 Update & photos below from CYA member Neil Williamson (owner of MV Safari & the mullet boat Arawa)

Currently doing some work on Wairangi at the moment and thought I would share some pics now the hull has been stripped back showing the planks in fantastic condition
She’s so well made and still in great nick. Great to work on ones like this.

26-10-2016 – photo below of Wairangi in Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island 28/03/2016. ex owner via Ken Ricketts.