Steamboats at Hipango Park

Steamboats at Hipango Park 
Back in February Russell Ward was twisting my arm to join him and a group of steamboat enthusiasts on a trip on the Wanganui River for a meet up at Hipango Park. The park is only accessible by boat, and is a tranquil rest point for kayakers and people making a day trip in a boat up the Wanganui River. I can’t remember my excuse but I missed a great weekend in early March.

In the 2nd photo above we see three steamboats rafted up at the upper part just below the steamer Dancer, They are Romany, Janice and Gypsy –all 3 boats once owned or owned by Russell. Russell reports that Janice and Gypsy are now in the hands of devoted owners who obviously enjoy polishing brass and copper. Gypsy has infected more people with steam enginitas (as Pete Culler said “don’t go near it or you’re hooked” than any other boat 🙂

Russell had promised to pen some copy around the weekend, but life got in the way – so today is a photo essay. Photos ex: Russell Ward, Phil Pollero and Chris Rabey


A Woodys Trip Report from France

A Woodys Trip Report from France
photos & story ex Russell Ward

Getting the other-half to go on holiday in France – thats easy, but how Russell manages to sneak in visits to wooden boat yards, beats me. I need some tips 🙂
I’ll let Russell tell the story. Remember to click on the photos above to enlarge 😉

I visited a fellow steam boater in Arcachon and the conversation on steamboats lulled a trifle and we went on to local work boats the Pinasse! Yep, when the French say Pinasse it is rather akin to the technical term for one’s diddle!
They are a breed of double ender peculiar to Arcachon on the coast out from Bordeaux. Arcachon is a rather larger harbour than Whangateau. Golden sands and sandbars abound. Oyster farms are everywhere and the origin of the Pinasse in the area dates from 1900 or so.

The local work boats abound and many have been retired to pleasure duties and some look real posh.
They have a broad beam, some have elongated bow and stem posts to give a Venetian look; bold sheer (as befits a work boat intended for fishing), self draining cockpit fwd, low deck house and aft cockpit.
The engines were marinised automotive engines and many early ones were made by local engineers.
The older traditional boats have a disappearing prop arrangement akin to the American Dispro boats (check out Wooden Boat). The Dispro has a cast tunnel that the prop shaft and prop pivot up into. The Pinasse has a slot about six inches wide from a third of the way fwd from the stern post. The prop shaft emerges at the fwd end of the slot and there is a bronze universal to allow the prop shaft to pivot up when a lever is raised in the aft cockpit or automatically if the skeg scrapes on a sandbar.
The hull form is interesting. They appear round bilge but in fact have a chine on the middle third of the hull.

One boatyard built most of the boats and above  are several photos of the sheds. Makes my eyes go all misty and George and Pam’s will too. They have so much space in there but only a couple of major rebuilds in progress. One smallish burdensome sailing boat of about 16’ and one elderly Pinasse who has a new stem, chines, set of floors and most of the bottom having new planks.
 Six generations of one family worked the yard and it was recently sold to a man and his sister who continue the work.
Lovely place!

There are a lot of references but few specific to our interests. Go trawling!

Young-Old Man’s Blather.

Russel Ward aka Mr Steam + boat builder Joe Wheeler

Today’s post is to quote the writer (Russell Ward) a ditty on his teenage boating years & sheds some light on the Bayswater boat builder, Joe Wheeler, who is largely unsung but deserves attention.Click the link below to view/read the story/photos.

Harold Kidd knows more about Joe and can be sure to chip in on this one.

Pour yourself a cup of tea & enjoy the story 🙂

Click this link (blue text) to view Young-old man’s blather

Russell in his element


Joe Wheelers last boat built -seen here at Stillwater


Whangateau Traditional Boats Regatta – Part One

Whangateau Traditional Boats Regatta – Part One

This is the coolest thing happening, down under, in the traditional wooden boating world – if you have not been to Tramcar Bay, you need to ask yourself how serious you are about wooden boats.
photos Shane Anderson, Mark Lever, Alan Wallace & Phillip Jones

Clicking on the photos above will enlarge them 😉

Saturday March 8th was the 12th year that Whangateau Traditional Boats has hosted a regatta at Tramcar Bay Whangateau.  The regatta was initiated by Russell Ward who in the early days focused on steamboat maintenance.  Russell held 2-3 regattas before Pam Cundy and George Emtage started repairing their first boats at the historic boat building sheds 9 years ago.

Whangateau Traditional Boats are involved with the preservation and restoration of classic and traditionally built wooden boats, both big & small. George and Pam (both boat builders) have amassed a fleet of traditional planked small craft.  Some purchased, many donated, some saved from the tip but all needing their restoration skills. The regatta is a perfect venue for Pam & George to showcase these boats & provides the local community with the opportunity to participate. The craft are offered for the publics use, as they want to create opportunities and acceptance of our traditional wooden boat heritage. These craft are complementary to the ongoing survival of the historic boatbuilding shed and yard.

On regatta day some arrive with their own small boats, others help and crew on the WTB fleet, many just enjoy the spectacle and a day on the beach.  Among the small boats held by WTB are 7 x Z class, 3 x Idle Alongs, 1 x Frostbite, 3 x Cadet training boats, 2 x Dory’s, 1 x S class open 16ft, 1 x T class open 14ft & then some.

Bridging the gap between these small boats and some of the larger boats WTB are restoring is Desdimona, an 18ft Mullet boat seen in some of the photos.

The conditions on the Saturday were near perfect – full sun, high tide at 1.00 pm & a light 5 knot breeze.

The historic red sheds sit amongst the mangroves on Tramcar Bay. The beach is very tidal with enough water for small boats approx 1.5 hours either side of high tide. So the regatta is a brief 2-3 hours of sailing time & the format is casual – sail it, row it, talk it. All levels & ages of sailors & rowers are welcome. But keep an eye on your watch, get the timing wrong & there’s a long walk over the mud flats. The regatta is a great get together for the local boating community. Pam and George generously host the event with the historic boat building sheds open on the beach. The March regatta was so popular another will be held very soon – date tbc.

Enjoy the photos, more tomorrow 🙂

Motorboat ‘v’ Yacht

A tale from Russell Ward that you might have missed on the Ruamano posting

The launch Ruamano was the cause of some rot setting in in the Ward family. We had been staunch sailers until just before one Christmas, Andrew Johns (then owner of Ruamano) invited us out for the day. Flat calm, no sailing and no family keen. Finally Caroline (Ward minor) volunteered. We set off with the GM growling and a wake that spread out to the sides of the harbour; eventually dropping the hook in Calypso Bay after 40 minutes.
I conjectured that, if we were in “Gloaming”, we would still be slatting round off Devonport with a mutiny on hand in the flat calm. I would be steadfastly refusing to fire up the iron staysail, and we would be rocked round for the day by the likes of Ruamano roaring past. The crew would be grumpy.

You see, I used to preach that we sailers enjoyed the sail and what on earth did the fizzboaters do when they arrived hours ahead of us.
I’ll tell you what we did that day. We swam, talked, laughed, ate, drank and no yachts drifted in that day!
So I bought the good ship Movarie and we became fizzboaters.
Andrew became a farmer in Blenheim – even smarter!