St Ayles Skiff’s In The Bay of Islands


St Ayles Skiff’s In The Bay of Islands
Time for a break from the miles of Australian varnished wood on display at the recent Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart 🙂
Today we are looking at some very smart St Alyes skiffs that made an appearance at last months Millennium Cup in the Bay of Islands. Woody Dean Wright snapped the above photos at Russell. It appeared that the crews from several of the super yachts ran their own mini regatta – a rowing race around the bay. Dean captured this on video (below) and commented that given the speed they hit the beach obviously the racing crews weren’t the guys in charge of the paint job.
I assume that Mike Mahoney was behind the rowing race as one of the skiffs – Wee Tawera, would have been aboard his magnificent super-yacht – Tawera. Mike was one of the people, including Baden Pascoe and Steve Cranch and others that introduced St Ayles skiffs and the concept of coastal rowing to New Zealand. Wee Tawera was built at the NZ Traditional Boat Building School. View more on her here.



WAITOA – The Real Deal 
Back in March 2017, I run a story on a yacht that according to Ken Ricketts was Waitoa, it all got a little complicated & I won’t even attempt to sort it out. If your interested you can see / read it here (remember to read the comments section)
Yesterday Murray McGehan sent me he great photo above of Waitoa which Murray states (correctly) is the real , Seen in this photo c.1948-49 at Okahu Bay. Owners Merv (cockpit) and Ron McGehan (companion way).
The boats cabin top remained in this configuration until at least 1972 when the cabin coaming height was increased about two and a half inches. The eliptical cabin windows remained untouched and probably HDK can confirm that this did look a little unbalanced. After Murray talked to  subesequent owners it was felt that the current dog house was added c.1977, probably under Mike Vinning’s (Picton Shipbroker) ownership. Waitoa has had at least two owners since Mike, one was Andre Ludwig who Murray kept in contact with.
Waitoa was built by Charlie Hardman in St Mary’s Bay (not Phil Barton who Murray believes had a yard at Bayswater). Alan has some photo’s of the original launch day with the boat alongside the St Mary’s Bay Wharf. When he recovers them from storage & scans (Box Brownie) them I will add them to this story.
Ron was Murray’s father and he was lucky enough to sail on the boat in the seventies under Gordon Reynolds ownership, so Murray can confirm that at that time the basic configuration of Waitoa was unchanged from launch in 1947 even still having the original Stewart Turner petrol auxilary, this has now been changed to a Droffin diesel.
09-07-2018 Harold Kidd Input – Phil Barton, and his father Henry before him, had a yard in St Mary’s Bay to the west of Jas Clare’s/Collings & Bell’s yard since 1900 except for a period around 1916-24 when they were in the US and Leon Warne rented the shed. When the yard was closed in 1955 during the construction of the Harbour Bridge approaches Phil moved to his big shed on the water at the foot of his property at Beachhaven. He was never at Bayswater. Phil built some fine keel yachts until 1955 at St Mary’s Bay and his handsome motor sailer WOODWIND at Beachhaven.
Charlie Hardman was a noted centreboard builder, 18 footers in the main.
If he built WAITOA at St Mary’s Bay it had to be at Phil Barton’s yard.
She was for sale at Picton in 1990 as designed by Bob Stewart and built by Phil Barton. I think Phil had a hand in her building at least.
A Wasted Day
I took Raindance for a run up to Herald Island yesterday to grab some photos of the John Wellsford Small Craft Design owners club day out to the Riverhead Hotel – don’t know what happened but there was no one at the meeting spot / time they published on facebook – bloody yachties 😦
The St Ayles Skiff rowing group were at the Riverhead, photo below of the fleet tied up at the pub wharf. Would have been a fun trip rowing back after a few hydraulic sandwiches 😉
1926 N. Herreshoff designed NY40 MARILEE – 2 Year Restoration + Insights into the Herreshoff world
I posted this link last Sunday but only 386 of you viewed it – I would encourage you to check it out, its a 10/10 in my book & Chris McMullen watched it twice so its a goody.
A Sad Day
Woody Greg Schultz contacted me to say he had a good mate die and now has the sad task of finding new owners for his fleet one of which is a wooden 18ft John Wellsford Pilgrim, decked in cutter, photo below. Looks in excellent condition and only about 4 years old. Includes a brand new galvanised trailer, outboard and very reasonably priced at $9999. These are great yachts & at this price it won’t hang around long. Wouldn’t surprise me given John W’s international following if an Aussie / American doesn’t buy it & ship it off shore.
More photo’s & details ex Greg via email.


Around the Yards – Opua



Around the Yards – Ashby Boat Yard, Opua

Dean Wright has just had his classic Arethusa hauled out at Ashby’s, thats her in the first photo above – she is one of those vessel’s that look fast even when stationary, very pretty lines. You can read all about her provenance here

Dean is a pro photographer & snapped a few other woodys at/off the yard. There is Waitete from Russell, see/read more here  & the ‘spirit of tradition’ classic boat hauled out is Southern Star, owned by ex Fosters darling 🙂 Craig Pippen. These days both the boat & Craig reside at Opua. Craig can be found at Cater Marine Opua – check out their website – lots of classic friendly bits & pieces there 😉

The moored boat is Waimana & normally kept in Opito Bay.

Looking for an on-the-water buzz this summer?
Have a go rowing a St.Ayles skiff @ St Heliers beach, most Saturdays this summer. Check out the flyer below or visit



A Salty Little Place – Port Motueka



A Salty Little Place – Port Motueka
photos ex Daniel Renall

Dan, owner of the very beautiful & slippery classic yacht Jonquil* sent in the above gallery of photos from his recent trip south. They showcase a collection of the classic craft moored at the Port Motueka marina. As I jokingly commented to Dan, if you owned the varnish franchise for the area you would go broke very quickly 🙂
Some have been featured on ww before but if a southern woody is looking in on ww today, it would be nice to ID some of the vessels.

* check out Dan’s recent re-fit of Jonquil

Remember to drop into ww on Sunday, I have a great post on the history behind the Okura gigs. A great read & lots of photos.

St Ayles Skiffs

You may recall a few weeks ago that ww featured the recent Raid NZ that took place in & around the greater Auckland area. The event featured the increasing popular St Ayles rowing skiffs. One of the international rowers was Murdo Macleod – click the link below to see Murdo’s photo essay of the event. You will quickly discover that Murdo is a professional photographer. This essay appeared in the UK newspaper/online ‘The Guardian’, some great coverage for the event & NZ.

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Whats Hot In Wooden Boating – Coastal Rowing

Coastal Rowing – The Hot New Wooden Boating Activity

If you have not heard about coastal rowing & the St Ayles skiff movement you need to get out a bit more.

New Zealand’s history is full of coastal rowing journeys and races, many journeys were made out of necessity as basic well founded open rowing boats provided the backbone of transport around the countries many coastal ports, harbours and rivers, transporting all manner of goods, fishing and of course whaling. This lead on to racing and many open rowing boat races are listed in our history including in our Anniversary regattas throughout the country.

The New Zealand Coastal Rowing Association has been formed to promote and encourage the revival of coastal rowing in strong well founded open rowing boats not only for national races between teams fighting it out for victory but also journeys, adventures and exploration of our countries amazing waterways.

Why the St Ayles Skiff?

The NZCRA choose to embrace the international St Ayles skiff rather than a historical New Zealand design for one very simple reason –  the St Ayles skiff has since 2009 has become an international one design rowing boat and with over 100 built around the world it opens up the opportunity of international and trans Tasman racing and comradeship. Already there is a fleet of 10 skiffs in NZ.

For more details on the NZCRA & the NZ St Ayles fleet check out the website

ANNOUNCEMENT  – 2016 Kiwi Raid and Regatta – Jan 29th – Feb 12th

New Zealand’s first major coastal rowing event is The Kiwi Raid and Regatta 2016.

Its starts January 29th 2016 at Sandpit, and finishes fifteen days later in Auckland, see route chart below. Along the way there are lots of short adventures for sailors and rowers alike. There will be a two day St Ayles skiff regatta (short rowing races) at Whangaparoa in the middle. The event has attracted teams from around the world & will show case the sport of coastal rowing to New Zealanders. WW encourages woody boaters to take the opportunity to experience coastal rowing up close over this period – plan a day out or overnight to follow the event. More info & contact details here

Whats a Raid ? A sail and oar adventure combining sailing and rowing. It involves a fleet of small boats capable of being rowed and sailed, exploring a coastline or inland waterway over several days, often with some competitive element.

(photos of the 2015 Australian event, courtesy of Nel Tyson)

17-01-2016 Update

‘Saint Helier’ NZ’s latest St Ayles skiff was launched yesterday morning at St Heliers Beach, where else 🙂


Wee Tawera

photos ex Baden Pascoe

A group of kiwis (& CYA members) led by Mike Mahoney recently attended the 2015 Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Tasmania, Australia, whilst the show is one of the worlds leading classic wooden boat events – their main objective was to partake (compete & win) in the events for the very popular St Ayles rowing skiffs. To this end Mike had commissioned one of the skiffs to be built in Auckland at the NZ Traditional Boat Building School & shipped to Hobart for the event. The skiff was christened ‘Wee Tawera’, Mike owns the magnificant 1935 Arch Logan yacht Tawera.
Little Tawera carried a little extra weight as the boys set her up to carry a little canvas, which she did very well in the events that this was permitted.
Baden or Steve Cranch I’m sure will chip in with their results from the regatta’s – lots of wins.

To see more photos of Wee Tawera & read about these craft, check out

CYA Launch Cruise to Riverhead Hotel

CYA Launch Cruise to Riverhead Hotel

Sunday 10 November saw 18 classic launches cruise to the historic Riverhead Hotel on the banks of the upper Waitemata Harbour. This bi-annual event is one of the most popular on the Classic Yacht Associations calendar & saw around 150 people making the trip (some by car) to enjoy a BBQ lunch in the hotels garden bar.

My were joined on-route by the just completed & launched St. Ayles skiff, built for CYA member Mike Mahoney (Tawera) at the NZ Traditional Boat Building School. Details here