Is This Esme

Is This Esme

During the week an old acquaintance, Nigel Philp, reached out to WW with a heads up that a woody was being extracted from under some trees opposite the Stillwater Boat Club, up the Weti River. At times she was partly submerged.

In her present configuration she’s a launch / motorboat but there is a mullet boat hiding under there, confirmed by Jason Prew. Nigel commented that she appeared to be approx. 26’ and possibly presently named Esme.

The SWBC yard manager, Gareth, hauled her on Wednesday and tucked her into a temporary home. Rumour has it she has changed hands is off for a birthday – we like that.

So woodys – can we shed any light on the boat past?

Lipton Cup – 100th Anniversary – Photo Gallery

Lipton Cup – 100th Anniversary – Photo Gallery

Following on from yesterdays teaser and results oops – I’m a launch person wont know an L Mullet boat from an H Mullet boat – no one died, its a new day, we move on.The winner of the actual Lipton Cup, hosted by the Ponsonby Cruising Club  – L division (22’) was Orion, 2nd went to Limited Edition, with Tamerau 3rd.The H division winner was Corona. As of Sunday night there were no results posted on the PCC website – so at some stage soon 🙂 go there for details.

There are lots of tales around how the PCC obtained the magnificent trophy, which was crafted by the same jewellers as the Americas Cup – you can read more about the history of the cup here

I was land based, using a long lens so some are a little fuzzy, but you get the vibe of the day. Sorry if your boats missing – drop me an email and I’ll check the photos, took lots, but some had other boats in the background etc. As always click on photos to enlarge.

Good to see Geoff Bagnall floating around on his launch, must have escaped Gisborne for the weekend 😉 
Photos below ex Don MacLeod

The Start
Rounding The Second Mark
Fleet Leaders Second Mark – Tamatea > Orion > Tamerau > Limited Edition

Meloa Creek Boating Graveyard







Baden Pascoe recently stepped away from the boat for a few hours and went for a walk – a walk that is unknown / overlooked by a lot of Aucklanders – around the Meola Creek, Westmere / Western Springs area. Baden captured the above photos of using his words a “boating lost in time collection”.

The top photo above is interesting, would love to know the story behind this old girl.
The last photo is a very old school photo – two mullet boats between tides 🙂

The map and photos below are from the Auckland Council website.




Must be the week for the big girls, yesterday we had a feature on the 56’ Turongo coming onto the market and today we see the 1961 Lane built – Marnine.
Marnine measures 50’ and has a 15’ beam and weighs 25 tonnes so very similar in size to Turongo.
Marnine has made numerous appearances on WW – links below. The first one contain a great insight into her past from Terry Porter, son of her original owner Fred Porter.
Today we see her hauled out in Auckland for some TLC.


The boys at The Slipway Milford have a 22’ mullety hauled out which given her existing masts is in 3 pieces and looks like a shark has had a chew, there is an urgent need for a suitable replacement.
Not fussy if its wood or alloy – anyone got one up in the rafters? Contact Jason Prew

Morning Star – There’s A Mullet Boat Hiding In There Somewhere

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Morning Star – There’s A Mullet Boat Hiding In There Somewhere

According to her trademe listing, Morning Star started life as a Logan 28ft Mullet boat yacht. The exact date of her build is unknown, but thought to be around 1910.

Hull of kauri carvel construction, the ‘new’ cabin are of marine ply. 

Powered by Ford D-Series 120hp diesel, that pushes her along comfortably and economically at 8 knots @ 1200rpm. Currently moored at Kaipara Cruising Club Marina, Helensville. 
Can anyone confirm the bloodline and add any info on her conversion to motorboat?
Harold Kidd Input – 28ft mullet boats were quite rare. The Logan 28 footer CORA is now sadly defunct. I suspect this one was the Crossley-built MERMAID or one of the several 28ft fishing boats built by people like Burgess at Judges Bay or Harvey & Lang.
BUT PLEASE may we refer to mullet boats as “mullet boats” or “mulletties” but not as “MULLETS”. According to people under 50 that I know, that term refers to a particular men’s hairstyle and was never used to debase mullet boats until recently and then only by ignorami. (done AH)

Waiata H15

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 A gent by the name of Billy Bott called me last week with a wee problem, with a such a cool name, I couldn’t not help him out

Billy has a 26ft Mullet boat (now in motor launch mode) with a very colourful history. Built by Dick Lang, one of the leading mullet boat builders at the time and launched in 1936. One of the last boats launched before the man power project in 1938. Her first owner, Hec Moylan, won 1st prize in the ‘NZ Art Union’ lottery & commissioned Lang to build the yacht.

Waiata was transported to Japan in 1946 aboard the English aircraft carrier “Gloria” to be used for Rest and Recreation duties by members of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Waiata was also used for recreational sailing at the RNZAF Sunderland base at Lauthala Bay, Fiji.

In 1984 as the result of a rather big storm, she had a wee altercation with the Westhaven sea wall, at the bottom of Curran Street, Herne Bay (refer press clipping below) & more details on her past.

Today Waiata resides in the Milford Creek. Powered by a 25hp Volvo diesel motor and gearbox. The motor has only done a few hundred hours since being reconditioned. She is very roomy for a 26’ boat, with full head room throughout.

Billy’s problem ? – Waiata needs a new owner, sadly she has not been used lately & someone could acquire her for not a lot of money, in Billy’s words “I’m open to all offers”

For more information call Billy on 0274956561

ERNIE SEAGAR RIP – Saddened to learn of the passing last week of Ernie Seagar, one of the giants of our wooden boating community. 

Harold Kidd Input

Sad indeed to hear about Ernie Seagar’s death. He was already a legend as a boy. He was Head Prefect and Captain of the First XV at Takapuna Grammar in the 5th Form and a very useful cricketer, track and field athlete and yachtsman. In his later years he became a truly admirable hard man from his experiences at sea and in life. A true two-fisted tough-minded Seagar of the great New Zealand engineering family. His great-grandfather worked under Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the construction of the GWR Saltash Bridge and the SS GREAT EASTERN at Milwall.
My sincere condolences to his family.
WAIATA was launched by Dick Lang on October 5 1934, not 1936. My father and mother lived in London Street, just up from St.Mary’s Beach. Dad knew Dick Lang well (as well as Lloyd George).
Boylan raced her infrequently with Ponsonby Cruising Club and Richmond but she was well-known on the waterfront.
This “manpower” comment is way off beam. Between 1934 and 1940 (not 1938….WHY 1938, the war was a year in the future?) when tradesman began to be “manpowered”, many hundreds of yachts and launches were built in Auckland, a large number by Dick Lang.

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Ladybird – Sailing Sunday

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Ladybird (Mystery Yacht) – Sailing Sunday

The above photo was sent to me by Russell Ward who obtained them from a patient of his, Bruce Forsyth, whose father was an avid photographer in the pre ww2 period.
This one should be pretty easy to ID 😉 Can we date the photo as well?

Looking For Info of a Mullet Boat named RAWHITI JUNIOR (N13)

I have been contacted by June Batten whose partner used to own (approx. 60 yrs ago) a mullet boat named ‘Rawhiti Junior’ and he is wondering if it is still around. He believes the sail number was N13.  June & ww would appreciate any help you can give them.

Harold Kidd Input

RAWHITI JNR was a  20ft mullet boat built by Andy Tobin in 1906. She had sail number N13 from 1922. She had many owners over the years but was lost in 1989 when owned by Vernon Lees of Hahei. She was swept out to sea from an anchorage at Blind Bay, Great Barrier and disappeared.
She was often attributed to Logan Bros, but in error.

A Woodys Weekend



A Woody Weekend

After the last few days of inclement weather – its time to leave the house & get a wooden boat fix.
This weekend at Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour the Classic Yacht & Launch Exhibition is celebrating the iconic Mullet Boat.
Yesterday at the official opening – aka,  morning tea 🙂 Tony Stevenson from the Tino Rawa Trust, welcomed over 100 of Auckland’s yachting identities to the exhibition. The photos above give you a peek at the displays – on & off the water BUT only a peek, if you can, do make the effort to visit the exhibition – its open 10am > 4.00pm Saturday & Sunday at Karanga Plaza, Halsy St, Wynyard Quarter (in fron of the old Team NZ base)

As always with these events, the team have produced a 48 page booklet (below) to support the exhibition, this years one – ‘The Mullet Boat, is a cracker & from the pen/s of Harold Kidd & Robin Elliott, truely is a must have for any serious woody.
I have a copy to give away – so the first woody that can email me at & tell me the name of the mullet boat that appears the most times on the Lipton Cup, wins the book.


Building the Mullet boat ‘Tamatea’ by Chris McMullen

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1961 – the build begins @ 67 Waiatarua Road, Remuera

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Building the 22’ Mullet boat ‘Tamatea’ – Sailing Sunday

photos & story by Chris McMullen. edited by Alan H

After Chris McMullen saw last weeks ww story on ‘Tamariki’ he contacted me re sharing his ‘Tamatea’ photos that had been languishing in an album kept for him by his dear mother, Vera McMullen. I couldn’t let Chris escape with just sending the photos to me, so I asked him (nicely) to write us a story. Now that’s something he is always a tad hesitant to do, why I don’t know he tells a good yarn. But being the great guy he is, he put pen to paper, in doing so Chris commented that he hoped that bringing these photos into the daylight may encourage others to share their boating or boat building history on waitamatawoodys.

Below is Chris’s story on the building, launch & sailing of the 22′ mullet boat Tamatea. Remember you can enlarge photos by clicking on them 😉

“In the early 1960’s I was apprenticed to boat builder, Morrie Palmer who was also an enthusiastic Mullet boat sailor. Sailing, cruising and Mullet boats were the conversation most lunch breaks.
Morrie had in mind to build a 22ft Mullet boat but family and business commitments at the time, delayed his plans. He had a new steel centre board plate, a profile plan and the offsets of a design for a hull that was supposed to be the Charlie Colling’s design ‘Tamariki’. I am not sure how he got these offsets but the original lines plan were in safe keeping at the R.N.Z.Y.S and not available to anyone at the time.

Morrie encouraged me to build this design and gave me his centre board plate and loaned me the offsets. I managed to scrounge some primitive basic machinery and set out to build the boat. As an 18 year old apprentice boatbuilder I had no money, no car and no girl friend but I was full of enthusiasm and wanted to go sailing. And yes, I had read Johnny Wray’s book. “South Seas Vagabonds” many times.
The Tamatea was built in my parent’s back yard at 67 Waiatarua Rd Remuera. These days such a project would not be possible due to the noise regulation’s but in the early 1960’s people were remarkably tolerant and it was not unusual to see half built boats on people’s quarter acre sections.

 Riveting of Tamatea at night was not really fair on the neighbours. I got one complaint by working too late. I had to enlist my friends to back up the nails with a dolly. If they came late, we worked late. I was desperate to get it done. Another source of irritation was my Fathers Desoutter electric drill. It had no suppressor and affected the people who had TV’s. I was the neighbour from Hell for a while.

Now to the photos.

The photos feature some of my friends who helped. Recognised in the photos are
John Jennings, Des Laery, Ken Wilding, Murray Napier, sorry but I can’t remember all the names but Alan Bell and Neil Gillard would have been there. In the dinghy sculling is ‘Snow’ (Neville Stacey) who was / is a well known helpful character; he loved boats and spent much of his time at the ‘Okahu Bay’ hardstand.
The young man painting the Tamatea in the colour picture is the late John Eastwood. In the same image but in the cockpit is a another young man, John Court, also since deceased. My Model A truck alongside the boat, used as a work bench. The sailing cockpit shot shows Ken Jaspers and with me on the helm. These three guys and John MacDonald built and loaned me gear and helped finish the boat. I guess this was the year after she was launched. I was grateful for their help as I could not afford to run the boat myself at that time.  

You may notice in some of the images, the concrete blocks on the roof of the shed. These allowed me to force rocker (bend) into the keel using a timber prop under the rafters, their weight prevented the roof lifting. Looking at it now, I am lucky the lot never collapsed on top of me.

I never lofted the hull; I just made the temporary frames (moulds) direct from the offsets and cut the plank rabbet’s (rebate) by eye using battens.
The hull was planked with kauri over temporary frames or moulds. The planks were tapered towards the ends like a wooden barrel. The garboard plank was steamed but most was bent cold and edge set. I broke some planks! They should have all been steamed but with my primitive steam box it would have taken too long and I was in a hurry and wanted to go sailing.  
The short planks left out in some of the photos are called stealers and have to be spiled. I remember the frustration of not having a thin plank to use for a spiling batten. I could have borrowed one from my boss but with no car or trailer, how could I get it from Devonport to Remuera on a motorbike?
The ribs were Tanekaha, all steamed and held with riveted copper nails. The centreboard case was demolition kauri held to the keel with galvanised bolts.

Some of the images show the most distinctive feature of a proper Mullet boat – the hollow sections aft and the deep built down deadwood. The boats are a built to certain design and scantling rules.

Tamatea was transported to the water using a trailer kindly loaned by Sandy Sands of Sea Craft and towed by a neighbour Mr Picket with his (at the time) huge truck. A dangerous load? Well maybe, but we got there!

Tamatea was the last planked 22 foot Mullet boat.

My boss, Morrie Palmer forced change to the class rules by building “Controversy” using 3 diagonal layers of ¼” kauri over stringers instead of carvel planking caulked over ribs. Now Mullet boats can now be built in G.R.P.

I was about 18 when I built Tamatea, she was rather amateur built as I was a second year apprentice and although, I thought I knew it all, I was very green. She was built under difficult conditions almost in the open and exposed to the weather, I had very primitive tools and no transport or money to purchase anything other than what went into the boat. Later, I replaced a damaged plank in the “Contessa” built by Cal Crooks and sailed on the”Patiri”built by Bob Harkin. Both these Mullet boats were beautifully built by apprentice boat builders but to be fair, they were older and more experienced than me.

I built the Tamatea for cruising and she was a raised deck Mullet boat. She was very spartan when launched. Second hand sails and a poor rig. We cruised north to Whangaroa the first season but some time later lost the first mast. Insurance paid Baileys to build a new box section oregon mast and my new crew of engineers made all new mast fitting and a set of backstay levers. Their efforts made a huge improvement to the yacht.
Leo Bouzaid (‘Sails & Covers’) built a new dacron mainsail and gave me a year to pay. That was in April 1962 I still have the original invoice for 126 Pounds!

I/we sailed in the Lipton Cup but with poor results. Since then the raised deck has been cut down to a conventional sheer and she has a modern rig. Sailed by others she has won the Lipton Cup a number of times.

Further – looking back to the early 1960’s to give my story some context :-
• I crossed the harbour every day usually on a steam ferry.
• There was six o’clock closing at all bars.
• There were few restaurants where you could buy a drink with your meal.
• A quart bottle of beer cost 2 shilling and sixpence or 3 shillings and sixpence at the   Mansion House, Kawau Island in ‘The Snake Pit’ sly grog bar.
• Many cruising boats carried a rifle on board.
• There were no imports except for essential industries or you could apply for special licence but it would be most likely declined. You could only buy a new car if you had overseas funds.
• A few importers had import licence and charged accordingly.
• There was death duties and high tax.
• There was black and white poor quality TV and manual calculators.
• There were No mobile phones.
• No double insulated power tools.
• No  epoxy  Glue.
• No GRP boats and very few synthetic sails
• No moorings in Matiatia.
• No marinas or travelift’s
• Most pleasure boats were hauled out for the winter.
• There were NO IMPORTED BOATS and you could buy kauri so wooden boat building was a competitive but viable business.”


Tamariki – Sailing Sunday

Tamariki – Sailing Sunday

photo & details ex Wendy Muir
One of the spin offs in the revival of the classic boating scene has been the increased interest & ownership in smaller ‘day’ boats. At the latest meeting of the Mullet Boat committee at the Ponsonby Cruising Club it was announced that Rob Warring and Martin Robertson announced had acquired the famous 1934 Charles Collings designed mullet boat Tamariki L11. The pair explained their plan to restore her to full race ready condition, this will see her competing against her 1915 class mate Valeria. Both Rob and Martin have the credentials to get this project underway and completed. Both are highly experienced boat builders and mullet boat enthusiasts. Rob has recently restored and relaunched Rangi Manu, so who better to get the job done.  Saving this historic boat is obviously not going to come without effort and cost. Rob and Martin are hoping that there are other enthusiasts out there who will help either with labour or finance. They are not doing this for themselves, but to preserve a very important part of Auckland’s marine heritage.

To read more about the history & current day racing of our Mullet boat’s – click the links below

A Wee Bonus – if you want to see some seriously cool classic yachts & launches – check out the 100+ photos from the 2016 Hurum Trebatfestival in Norway – sooooooo much varnish 🙂