The truely talented boating photographers talk about the ‘golden hour’, the period just before sunset and just after dawn. Rarely in a bay is it an hour, sometimes it is 10>15 minutes before the sun disappears behind the hills or clouds.
On the Thursday before Easter, this average photographer (me) arrived in Chamberlains Bay, Ponui Island at just the right time and captured some special photos of the woody launches gathering for the Woody Classics Weekend cruise the next day up the Waihou River 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)
Saturdays weather forecast was a wee bit gnarly but with the promise of an improvement later in the day – Harbour bridge > Kauri Point – unpleasant. Kauri Point > Herald Island – average. Upper Harbour > Hotel Good.
The time ashore was perfect, great location, service and the food very good. Return trip ok, except for between the Hobsonville and Te Atatu area – SW wind was whistling thru from the Waitakere Ranges.
We had 10 woodys turn out, 4 of them being newbies to the creek – Awarua, Manu, Margaret Anne and Waione – nice boats, nice people 🙂
Given I have had a very light summer boating wise, we decided to head out on Friday afternoon to Rakino for the night and partake in Auckland’s best wood fired pizzas at Woody Bay.
Again everything lined up – food, good wine and another spectacular sunset. Had a late evening visit from Jason Prew on My Girl, the wife “what’s that noise”. Then we were ‘entertained’ by a plonker and his partner on a Formula 4000, singing karaoke 1/2 the night ……….. they seriously thought they were good, they weren’t 😦
Saturday we headed over to the Weti River at mid day for the Woodys Picnic at the Stillwater Motor Camp. So lucky to get access, with the wharf it just makes the ideal venue for a catch up. Covid made a few gun shy but we had 11 woodys attending and a further 3 owners arrived via car – all in all a great afternoon. Lots of new (restored) woodys and new to the movement owners. The woody launch scene is getting more and more popular.
Post the picnic I pointed Raindance to a new (to me) anchorage and we enjoyed another wow sunset.
NEXT WOODY EVENT IS SATURDAY 26 MARCH – UPPER HARBOUR LUNCH CRUISE TO THE RIVERHEAD TAVERN – More details closer
The answer to yesterdays – name the yacht quiz was ‘Frances – A11’, the 1905, Arch Logan classic from the Class Yacht Charitable Trust stable. Photo below. And no one picked the right answer. So the WW t-shirt, gets to be put up again.