Otehei – 1970’s

OTEHeI – 1970’s

Woody Dean Wright sent in the above photo of the launch – Otehei. Dean ‘found’ the photo when having a clean out – its tagged on the back ‘Ian Spedding, Otehei, 1926 vintage’.

Dean’s thoughts are that it may have been taken by Ian Spedding and maybe lated from the late 1970’s. The location of the photos is probably off the old Fullers slipway at Russell.

Back in a 2013 WW story on Otehai – Harold Kidd wrote – OTEHEI was a sister-ship to the Collings & Bell-built hard chine launches built for various operators in the Bay of Islands in 1926-7 to service the game-fishing sport which had grown rapidly after an exploratory trip north by Colonel W.H. Hazard in his VIRGINIA in 1918. The other 3 launches to the same pattern were LORNA DOONE, ZANE GREY (later ALMA G II) and MANAAKI. These launches were all equipped with Redwing engines and were capable of 16 knots. OTEHEI was built for Frank Elliott who painted her red. Like the others, and the later AVALON, she was based at Zane Grey’s camp at Otehei on Urupukapuka Island.

She spent some time on Lake Taupo as GRACE DARLING but is now in Russell/Opua restored for the last 20 years or so as OTEHEI. View that story here  https://waitematawoodys.com/2013/08/28/otehei/

In another WW story that featured lots of photos and reader chat.  https://waitematawoodys.com/2017/01/10/otehei-2/

07-06-2022 UPDATE ex Gavin Bradley (owner)

The photo below is from Gavin’s collection of Otehei and shows her being relaunched at Fuller’s in 1977 post her first big restoration after returning to BOI after 40 odd years on Lake Taupo. Gavin believes it was taken on the same day as the photo above. 

Lorne Doone



The game fishing boat Lorna Doone has been mentioned in numerous WW stories but I have never had a photo – thanks to Lew Redwood we now do.

She is pictured above at the Black Rocks, Bay of Islands. The photo was taken by Tudor Collins.

Lorna Doone is a sister ship to Otehei, Alma G (the first of the Collings & Bell clones) & Manaaki. All were powered by Redwing engines & were capable of 16 knots.

For comparison below is a photo of Alma G, off Cape Brett.


Input from Martin Howson – In the late 50’s both Lorna Doone and Matareka 11 were moored in the Tamaki River at Bucklands Beach L D was owned and operated by a Des Shimanski and M was owned and operated by Rex Sly both vessels were long lining at that time, great to see that both remain both , Des’s son Brian went on produce Briski propellors .On one occasion Lorna Doone came ashore on Hooks Bay on Waiheke with a big easterly blowing and Bert Surbritski with Romo would not tow her home because he knew that he would lose her on the way home with her riding up on the tow and dropping back with a heavy shock load. It was always rumoured that LD had the end of a sword fish bill through her bottom planking beneath the cockpit sole, I never saw it myself.

Some Advice Sought

I have been approached by Graeme Finch the owner of Te Arahi looking for some advice on his name boards (see below). They have a paint effect that appears to have been done to look like a varnish finish. The name / letters are done in gold – which Graeme believes is gold leaf given how well they have weathered.

Graeme is intending to paint the edges white, and would like to find someone who understands the “brown paint that looks like varnish aspect” to touch up the front surface – it’s not too bad at present, but he wants to attend to it before it becomes a major.

So in summary he is trying to preserve the gold leaf lettering so hoping to leave the lettering in place and work around it touching up those small areas, which have started to deteriorate – rather than removing everything and starting again.

So woodys anyone know the paint/varnish effect & who might do a small job like this?

My initial thought was it might be aged Cetol? A horrible product.





The note below (edited) was sent to me by Gavin Bradley  &Maggie Mouat, they are the new owners of Otehei & have asked for help from the ww readers. The top 3 photos above show Otehei in Otehei Bay, December 2016. The bottom two above are by Dean Wright (ex K Ricketts). More details here https://waitematawoodys.com/2013/08/28/otehei/

“I recently became aware of the Waitemata Woody’s site which I have to say is an amazing resource and I am loving the daily posts.

I found the site while searching for old images of the Otehei which my wife and I have recently purchased from the El Dorado Foundation. We have had a reasonably long association with the boat, having largely funded it’s restoration in 1996 and therefore have good knowledge of its history.

We are however on the hunt for any surviving design drawings for Otehei and/or her sister ships – Manaaki, Lorna Doone and Zane Grey as we plan to have Otehei surveyed and without design drawings she will need to be surveyed as a novel craft. I was hoping you might be able to put out the question through your daily posts or you may even know of people with connections to the other boats or Collings & Bell.

I have a lot of information and photographs of Otehei, historical, contemporary and during restoration. I also have some interesting memorabilia including the original 1927 Statement of Accounts and Balance Sheet of the Zane Grey Sporting Club showing the build cost of the 4 boats at 500 pounds each! I will share all of this with you in due course.

Incidentally, when Otehei was found on Lake Taupo in 1976 by John Chibnall, she was the M.V. Rangatira not Grace Darling, although she possibly could have been called that earlier. Would be interesting to know…The skipper at the time was Bob Colville.

Any information and images would be gratefully received!”

Updated with photos below ex Gavin Bradley that show some relevant parts of the Otehei story


Flier for Rangatira charter business



As M.V. Rangatira on Taupo as found by John Chibnall in 1976


Relaunch day off Russell 1977

UPDATE from Paul Drake – below are some pics of her at Taupo.

“The first shows her under the crane about to leave Taupo. The second shows her in Boat Harbour (Taupo), skipper Ivan Vickery. In the third, she is on the beach at Whakaiapo Bay, before she was altered by the addition of a wheelhouse. The fourth shows her alongside the “House Boat” (formerly R S S TONGARIRO, BAILEY AND LOWE 1899), again in Boat Harbour, This would have been late 1930’s. She was laid up on the hard during WW2, and the wheelhouse added when she was returned to service.
The third and fourth pic require an explanation. Recently, Taupo Museum ran an exhibition called “Times Past”. An hours worth of historic photos were screened, for 5 seconds each, on a large screen consisting of two parts. Thus the black line down the middle. I clicked away as they scrolled through. I am sure OTEHEI’s new owners will be interested, as the photos may be new to them, as they were to me. Fabulous boat.”





This Is Actually A Very Cool Idea
Russell Ward sent me the photo below & commented that zimer-frame added a new category to the boating progression – P Class > Starling > Young 88 > Farr biggie > Bridge-decker > Motor Home and now a boaty trundler!
I know a few woodys that need one 😉


12-01-2017 – Update ex Gavin Bradley

“I just bought the photo postcard below of Otehei Bay on TradeMe. That boat definitely has the right bow line and 3 portholes…”




Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 3.13.05 PM

photos & details ex Paul & Roger Drake

Saturdays  post on the Kinloch Woodys prompted Paul & Roger to dig out at their collections of old  Taupo postcards. The brothers uncovered some great photos of Victory from the 1940>1950 era. Also read below Paul’s comments on Victory.
The first photo above shows Victory on the beach at Waihaha with her skipper on foredeck – Ernie Taylor, son of builder Jack Taylor.

The second photo shows her hauled out at Nukuhau, where she was built. Probably in the 1940’s, when she was quite new. Now she has a larger wheelhouse, but is not much changed apart from that.
Boat in foreground is Ahuriri – an ex surf boat from Napier.
On the other side of Victory is Romance, then Lady Pat – well documented and discussed on WW.

The photo below is dated 1959  shows Victory on the other side of the Waikato river sporting her original wheelhouse. It was altered some time later.
Behind her with bow showing only is the Logan Ponui also owned by the Taylor’s at the time.
This side of the river at the breastwork is Rangatira (Otehei) on the left  and El Alamein (Ranui) 4th from left.
Boat Harbour Taupo

Details on Victory ex Paul Drakes comments on last Saturdays ww post

“VICTORY is very much a lake boat. As Colin says, she was built at Taupo by local boat builder and charter boat skipper Jack Taylor.  She was launched, I believe, in 1942 or 1943. It is said that no power tools were used during her construction. Kauri planks on jarrah ribs with totara  floors. She was built to replace ROMANCE (Bailey and Lowe 1914), who was sold by Jack in 1943. VICTORY became a very busy and popular charter boat. The Taylors sold her in 1982. Although it is said that Jack often wished he had never started building such a large launch (40 feet), assisted by his wife, – his two sons were away at the war – he must have enjoyed her immensely once finished. She was a big step up from the 26 foot 6 inch ROMANCE. VICTORY was perfect for the four or five day charters which were very common in the day. VICTORY is a Jack Taylor design, built from a model which Jack towed behind ROMANCE as he refined the shape. She is of shallow draft – a useful attribute on Taupo  (no tidal rise and fall) – as it allows access to beaches where the drill is to put the bow on the beach and disembark via a ladder (in VICTORY’s case a rather long ladder). She did spend a few years in Auckland (Pine Harbour) during the 1990’s, but for 90% of her 70 plus years she has been at Taupo. She is well looked after and nicely appointed internally.”

Victory June 2016 at Kinloch