ROXANE & a 105th Birthday Party

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ROXANE & a 105th Birthday Party

Yesterday I was contacted by Ross Dawson who told me of his plans next week to travel to Port Macquaire to celebrate his brother Keith’s 105th birthday. 105 years is enough to get a mention on WW any day, in fact last year we celebrated Keith’s 104th with the story on the yacht Seaward (link below to this tale). In that WW story Neil Chalmers mentioned Keith’s passage to Australia on the Tercel Brothers built yacht Roxane. Well today you get you read some of that story – it is a fine woody tale, read on 🙂 https://waitematawoodys.com/2017/05/24/a-woodys-104th-birthday-party/

The story starts back in 1937 when Keith together with his mate Dick Wellington, (& a “paying guest”) sailed to Sydney. At that time Roxane was the smallest boat to have crossed the Tasman.

The source for this account of the trip comes from a small book called ‘The Voyage of Roxane’ written by Keith with the assistance of his family around 2006.

Roxane was (is?) 26 feet loa, by 21’ lwl, with beam 8’ & draft of 4’1”. She carried 1 1/4 tons of lead on her keel, sloop rigged with a mast 36’ from the deck. Soon after they purchased her, Dick & Keith reduced the mast to just 27’ with sails cut down accordingly in anticipation of their trans Tasman adventure.

Roxane, I believe was a Tercel Brothers interpretation of a design by the well known American marine architect Charles Mower. The boys purchased her from Arthur Fisher, a jeweller of Whangarei for the sum of 190 pounds.

The current times being dominated by the Great Depression, money was hard to come by and the two partners anticipated they could get one of their eager mates to join the voyage to assist with finances. However, as Keith notes, ”once they saw the size of Roxane, they disappeared…it was unbelievable”

Nevertheless they managed to attract another chap their own age that had never been to sea before, but was keen, and, most importantly was able to pay the 20 pound asking price for a berth on the yacht. He was Les O’Brien.

The three set off from Auckland on Keith’s birthday 24th May 1937 after obtaining a Maritime Services Board seaworthiness clearance. They stopped off at Whangamumu where they collected a 4 gallon drum of whale oil for their oil bag, which came in very handy in the winter Tasman storms.

At a stop in Russell for a scrub and antifoul, their motor and receiving radio were “pronounced dead”, but on the 29th May they were on their way.

They dropped anchor in Cascade Bay, Norfolk Island on June the 5th, receiving a dunking after their small dinghy overturned whilst going ashore. After a ‘social’ time ashore they got back aboard, fortunately, as a wind shift put them on a lee shore, and in a rising gale they managed to claw free of danger but at a cost to a loss of their anchor which had to be cut free. They sailed around to Cable Bay where Dick again went ashore in an effort to ‘borrow’ a replacement anchor. To cut the story short, Keith & Les spent an exciting day or two blown away from Norfolk in a heavy gale finally recovering Dick, and a bagful of rocks to serve as an anchor, & departed Norfolk 9th June bound for Lord Howe Island, which, with improving weather, they reached on June 19.

The Islanders proved to be very hospitable in the 10 days the boys spent there, setting sail for Sydney on 7th July with more storms to test the tiny yacht.

On the 13th July they made landfall at Newcastle where they were met by a Customs Officer who flatly disbelieved that they had come from New Zealand. However, after receiving customs and medical clearances, eventually, the trio set sail for Sydney on July 15 reaching Sydney Heads late the next day…after a small encounter with a naval live firing exercise. This was only mildly interesting at the time to Roxane, but next day when they were ashore, the crew noticed newspaper placards in the street with the headline…”Yacht Crews Ordeal in Bombed Area”.

Les left the yacht in Sydney as planned so Dick, Keith and a couple of Kiwi friends set sail on August 16th for Brisbane as part of their intended voyage to the Great Barrier Reef and thence to Fiji. However Dick decided to return home & it was decided they would sell Roxane back in Sydney. The two partners achieved a very prompt sale to a Mr. Lowe for 325 pound, less 25% duty on their original purchase price, & less 2/6 (25c) duty on the unopened tin food left after their Tasman crossing

Keith records that…”Dick & I split up the balance, and parted good friends”. He heard news of Dick’s ownership of the Auckland yacht “Seaward” & that he later joined the Air Force, unfortunately to lose his life as a Wellington Bomber navigator over Europe during WW11. “A sad end for a great guy”, Keith wrote.

Keith soon after married the “very attractive red head”, Betty, who he had met on his first day ashore after the Tasman adventure! After some 80 years ashore in Australia, he remains a dyed in the wool “Kiwi”, despite his late Aussie wife and three Aussie daughters.

A final postscript – In 1987 on Keith’s 74th birthday his family shouted a trip north to Cairns. Unbeknown to him his son in law Peter had tracked down Roxane in Cairns and to Keith’s surprise they met the then owner for a sail in his old ‘ship’. To Keith’s latest knowledge Roxane is owned by John Keene in Townsville. John, at the time Keith wrote his little book, had good plans to restore the vessel to original condition. Notwithstanding some urgently needed work, Roxane is a remarkable endorsement of the Tercel brothers’ (all be it amateur) boat building skills, almost as long lived as Ross’s 105 year old brother.

(In the 2nd photo above we have the crew on arrival in Sydney…left to right Dick Wellington, Les O’Brien, Keith Dawson)

A Woodys 104th Birthday Party

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A Woodys 104th Birthday Party

We don’t normally do Happy Birthday stories on ww but today is a little special – Keith Dawson is celebrating his 104th birthday. Keith these days resides in Port Macquarie, Australia but 82 years ago he skippered the 34’ ketch Seaward.

Below is a NZ Herald article of 5/10/1935 written by Leslie Crago about a day trip down harbour on Seaward. This article was sent to me by Ross Dawson, Keith’s ‘younger’ brother.

In the article Les Crago refers to himself as the ‘mate’ & while the skipper is not named Ross is confident it’s his brother Keith. Life was a lot harder back then without a motor J

The ‘girls’ onboard may have included the brother’s sister, who turns 101 next month. Good genes in the Dawson family.

Speaking with Harold Kidd he mentioned that he had Leslie Crago’s photograph album that included photos of Seaward on this trip or one similar, these are the b/w ones above.

So Keith Dawson Happy Birthday from all us woodys & I’m sure you will be pleased to see the old girl is still sailing the Waitemata J

Input from Neil Chalmers – The same Keith Dawson who along with his mate Dick Wellington sailed  the 26 foot  ‘Roxane ‘ (built by Lou Tercel and his brothers) from Auckland to Sydney in 1937.
Neil tells me Keith’s  book about this voyage -‘Voyage of the Roxane’ is a good read, I must hunt a copy down.

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A Woody Cruise

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A Woody Cruise

Family commitments & the weather meant that this years Xmas / NY cruise was a tad short this year e.g. 7 days & the location was a lap of Waiheke Island. A lot of classics were in the same boat (pun) with the weather so we tended to be in the same spot at the same time – good for photos 🙂

I’m sure I missed a few so I apologize upfront, I have also saved a few for separate ww posts.
Enjoy the gallery of classics, most I have been able to name (scroll over image) & you can enlarge photos by clicking on them 😉

I can’t wait for the Mahurangi Regatta weekend……………………

CYA Patio Bay BBQ & Xmas Race Weekend 2015

CYA Patio Bay Weekend 2015
photos ex Alan Houghton & Fiona Driver

Just back from another spectacular wooden boat weekend at Patio Bay, Waiheke Island. The weather was good for the yacht racing but a little rolly in the bay. This put a few owners off anchoring but most bit the bullet & dropped the pick & were rewarded with another brilliant evening ashore at Margaret & Burt Woolicott’s waterfront bach. It had all the ingredients of a classic kiwi boating function – sun, sand, wood fired BBQ’s, the odd cold beverage, a barrel of rum, fire works & lots of nice people.

The evening was made special by the presentation to Chris McMullen of the CYA Outstanding Achievement Trophy for services to classic boating. See the previous ww post for more details.

Even yours truly got a mention in dispatches – I was the surprised recipient of the 2015 Patio Bay Trust Book Award – for my work on/with setting up this site & ensuring that future generations will be able to better experience our wooden boating history.

Enjoy the photos. Sorry that its light on yachts but conditions did not suit bobbing around in a wee dinghy & by now I hope most people realize that a ‘drive-by’ past Raindance almost always ensures a photo on ww 🙂

Must also mention the  magnificent sight of having Viking sailing in the fleet.

I have posted on the CYA forum photos from the yacht post race prizing giving  – link here

http://classicyacht.org.nz/cyaforum/topic/cya-patio-bay-race-xmas-party-bbq-weekend/

Yacht race results here http://classicyacht.org.nz/sailing/

10-12-2015 Sailing Photos below ex Carolyn Anderson (Waimiga)

 

Ngtakai / Johnny Wray – South Sea Vagabonds

NGATAKI / JOHNNY WRAY SOUTH SEAS VAGABONDS

Big day down at the waterfront yesterday, we had over 200 people turned out for the Tino Rawa Trust re-launch of Johnny Wray’s Ngataki & the Harper Collins launch of the 75th Anniversary edition of ‘South Sea Vagabonds’.

Todays post is a photo essay of yesterdays events. As always, click any photo to enlarge 😉

Ngataki

Ngataki Memorabilia

South Sea Vagabonds 75th Anniversary edition launch

Friends of Ngataki  (Andrew Fagan’s – ‘Swirly World & K. Hammond /  A. Sully’s – ‘Seaward’)

The legand lives on

Something really cool – at the book launch Findlay MacDonald from Harper Collins Publishing advised that the Red Cross were the benefactors of Johnny Wray’s will, so proceeds from the book sales go to them, BUT the Red Cross has decided they will split the proceeds with the Tino Rawa Trust to help maintain Ngataki. How cool is that – remember the Red Cross next time one of their collectors rattles a money box in front of you – or more likely, you get a phone call.

Remember – the boat & the dockside exhibition is open Saturday & Sunday – see details below.

Click the link below to see some launch day photos ex Tony Stevenson

http://classicyacht.org.nz/cyaforum/topic/ngataki-restoration/#post-124899

Ngataki in the International Media

The relaunch &  book launch is featured in the Oct 2014 edition of the Classic Boat UK

Sailing Sunday – Seaward

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Sailing Sunday - Seaway

Seaward

photo ex Shane Anderson

The photo of Seaward above was taken last week at Kawau. She has just had a major makeover & is looking very sharp, unlike myself who is very hangover 😦 so hopeful others will expand on this very historic yacht.

Update & Some Great Yarns From Harold Kidd

I spent many hours trying to establish her provenance and wrote a series of articles about her in Boating NZ. They also dealt with her extensive ocean racing and cruising career which rivaled Ngataki’s . Links below, read 1>5 😉

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