The 40’ launch Norana was designed by Joseph Gillanders and built in 1913 by Miller Bros at Port Chalmers for Charles William Sundstrum. She had a beam of 9’ and draw 3’6″.

Sundstrum was a Dunedin dentist who was a key figure in Dunedin yachting circles for many years. His first launch was the 31’ clinker double-ender Valmai of 1910 which had a Dunedin-built 5hp Viking engine. He raced her with the Otago Yacht Club including one of their Ocean races to Timaru.

He replaced Valmai in 1913 with Norana, which had a 16-18hp Jersey Standard marine engine, that gave Norma a cruising speed of 8 3/4 knots. He sold her to Arthur Brett of Auckland in 1927. During WWII she was taken over by the RNZAF and sent to Fiji for towing work.

In the top photo that appeared in a supplement to The NZ Yachtsman, June 5th, 1915, ex Lew Redwood fb, Sundstrum was the then Rear Commodore of the Otago Yacht & Motor Boat Club.

In the bottom photo which appeared on WW back in Sept 2015 as part of a story on the launch Thetis. Sundstrum sold Norana and had J McPherson, Dunedin, build Thetis for him. Thetis measured 35’1” x 8’1” x 2’9” and was launched in 1929. A serious speed machine – as launched she was good for 18 knots. During the war years with a bigger engine, that speed increased to 26+ knots – read / see more at this link

Thanks to Harold Kidd for the back story 🙂

MV Thetis – 4sale

MV THETIS – 4sale

The 45’ (49’ overall) bridge-decker – Thetis was built in 1955 by Lanes on the Tamaki River, Auckland. Built from single skin/fore and aft kauri planking, her beam is 13’ and she draws 4’.

Twin Greymarine 6 cyl. (1960) 120hp diesel engines give Thetis a comfortable cruising speed of 8+ knots.

Lots to read about her from back in the construction  / launching period at Lanes in this WW previous story

Thetis is an exceptionally well built launch and is presented in near original fit-out, which is always a good sign that the designer / builder got it first time. Her subsequent owners have chosen to maintain her as intended and with some modern upgrades, followed by routine maintenance she will continue to be one of the most admired woodys in our classic fleet.

I say this about very few classic boats – but Thetis is one of those boats that attracts admirers both at anchor and as you can see from the above photos – even when she’s hauled out.
The long-term owner of Thetis has made the call that its time for her next custodian to step up – so woodys she is for sale and at a fair price. So if you are looking for classic wooden launch with the wow factor – contact for more details.

Thetis – A Peek Down Below

THETIS – A Peek Down Below

Thanks to a heads up from Glenn Martin and a tme listing we get to have a peek down below on the 1955, Lanes built, 45’  bridge-decker – Thetis.

Lots more to read about her past at the WW link below


Buying or Selling a Classic Boat
Without sounding too much like Jacinda Ardern (“be kind”) – when people ask me about classic wooden boat ownership, I normally say that owning a woody has a positive effect on your life i.e. you end up forging a life you don’t need to escape from.

So woodys in the interest of your mental well being we have listed below a sample of some of the boats that are currently berthed at the virtual Wooden Boat Bureau Sales Marina. We have others for sale, some owners request privacy. To read more about the Wooden Boat Bureau – click
The Wooden Boat Bureau is uniquely placed to offer impartial, up-to-date market information and objective advice to both sellers and buyers. So if you are looking for a wooden boat or considering selling – email us at

Or call Alan Houghton 027 660 9999 or David Cooke 027 478 1877


MAHANUI 🔻42′ 1977 T Atkinson

Learn more

ALLERGY🔻 58′ 1985 Denis Ganley / Pete Culler

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KOTIMANA🔻 25′ 2018 – Dark Harbor 17.5 – gaff rigged sloop – Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building – USA

Learn more

THETIS🔻 45′ 1955 Lane Motor Boat Co.

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MATANUI 🔻 44′ 1923 Lanes (Picton) Bridgedecker

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TUAHINE 🔻 43′ 1957 Dickson

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SEQUOIA 🔻 36′ 1938 Lewis McLeod

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NGARUNUI 🔻 48′ 1955/7 Jim Young

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LADY NGAIO 🔻 28′ 1928 Collings & Bell

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PARTICIPATE 🔻42′ 1982 John Lidgard

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MOERANGI 🔻 55′ 1901 Logan Learn more

RANUI 🔻 48’ 1948 Lidgard Learn more

IRENE 🔻 38′ 1955 Orams & Davies Learn more

MONTEREY 🔻 33’6” 1946 Lidgard Learn more

KIARIKI 🔻 40′ K CLASS, 1959 Designed by Jack (John) Brooke and built by John / Jack Logan and John Salthouse Learn more

TAWERA 🔻 >50′ 1935 Logan Learn more

TIME 🔻- 38’ 2001 John Gander Learn more

SOLD – Selection below, some names withheld at seller / buyer request:

ADONIS 45′ – Owen Woolley – 1965

AROHANUI            48’ – Donovan/Hacker – 1965

ATHENA 25′ c.1950 Couldrey

BALLERINA 28′ – Lidgard – 1951    

CASTAWAY            33’ – Dick Lang – 1947

CENTAURUS         42’ – Bailey & Sons – 1967

KAILUA                  36’ – Salthouse – 1960/1

KOKORU               39’ – Jack Morgan – 1960

KOTARE                 24’ – Kingfisher Boats – 1954

LADY ADELAIDE    35’ – Dick Lang – 1922

LADY PAMELA       59’ – Pelin Warrior – 1986

MAHANUI               42’ – Keith Atkinson – 1977

NGARO                   45’ – Lidgard – 1953

PIRATE                    42’ – Leone Warne – 1938

POCO LENTO         33’ – Roy Parris/Bagnall – 1979

WAIKARO                33’ – Roy Parris/Bagnall – 1978

WAIMIGA                 36’ – Robertson Boatbuilders – 1968

SHALOM                  48’ – Keith Atkinson – 1973

Woodys Cruising The Bay of Islands – Summer 2019/20 – Part One



Linda – 1927 – Colin Wild


Nautilus – Oliver & Gilpin


Darleen – 1920 – Possibly Bailey & Lowe


Echo – 1935 – Les Coulthard



Thetis – 1955 – Lane Motor Boat Company


Lady Crossley – 1947 – Colin Wild


Lady Ngaio – 1928 – Collings & Bell


Manapouri – 1960 – Parkes


Just got home yesterday from 10 days mooching around Waiheke and while clearing the in-box I spotted an email from Dean Wright, now Dean is a Bay of Islands based professional photographer with a passion for wooden boats. He even owns one  – the 1917, Arethusa.

Now any email from Dean normally contains some stunning photos and yesterdays one was a cracker – too good to run all as one, so I will split them in two.
Today we have featured pleasure launches – the first being one of the smartest classic wooden launches in our fleet – Linda. She has appeared on WW many times so if you want o know more just enter Linda in the WW search box.
I love the photo above because its the personification of our classic wooden boating movement.
Below I have included a photo of the 2018/19 built ‘spirit of tradition’ launch – Grace, and with her beautiful lines, she could only ever be a Salthouse 🙂
I have captioned the Woodys that I have been able to ID. To read more on the boats featured, use the WW search box 😉


Grace – 2019 – Salthouse




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Chatting with Chris McMullen and he mentioned that he had been recently contacted by Morgan Dawicki, the captain of the 74’ Brigantine – Fritha that Chris built back in 1986 for Jack R Butland. Chris commented that Jack Butland came to him with a modern design of what some one imagined a old time sailing vessel should look like. Chris was horrified and found him a nice design depicted in a 1940’s Rudder Magazine he had. They tracked down the designers son and bought the plans. The result  was ‘The Fritha’ and a very happy owner. Chris said he owed a great deal to the Butland family. McMullen and Wing built them three significant wooden boats. The first order placed was when Chris was under thirty years old.

These days Fritha is owned by the Northeast Maritime Institute, USA, who have recently dedicated a room to Jack Butland at the Institute, check out the opening here:

Her captain – Morgan told Chris that they are doing their best to share the lovely lady with our Kiwi friends and to share in her memories. His words were “She truly is the most beautiful boat on the water (in my opinion!) The craftsmanship is impeccable and it is nice to make the acquaintance of one of her builders”.

As of late, she has been spending the winters in North Carolina and summers in Buzzards Bay as a sail training ship for local high school age students. We mostly sail around Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

The Butland’s are a very old New Zealand boating family and their name has been alongside some of our best  examples of NZ boat building e.g.

J R Butland • an H28 then a Sailar 40 then the Fritha.

Ken Butland • Triton then Sirdar.

J M Butland • Thetis built by Lane Motor Boat Co. Panmure.

• Dufesne built by Max Carter.

• Durville built by Steel Yachts and Launches (McMullen and Wing)

• Inverness built by McMullen and Wing

Pleasant Surprise – while mooching around Mahurangi during the recent regatta weekend, a gent by the name of Tony McNeight unbeknown to me did a sketch of my Raindance, and it popped up on facebook. If you ever want a sketch / drawing of your boat, give Tony a call  021 925 031



photos & details from Luke Richardson

Thetis (Greek for Sea Nymph) was launched in Dunedin on the 31st August 1929.  She was built by Mr J McPherson boat builder of Dunedin for Mr Charles Sundstrum.
Thetis was designed by renown naval architect Mr William H Hand Jnr of New Bedford USA.  William ‘Bill’ Hand was the originator of the V-bottom hull type per Thetis.  In addition Hand was an early pioneer of the motor-sailor type. Thetis was designed as a fast day cruiser.
She is 35’1” in length with 8’1” beam, 2’9” draft and a total height of 6’9”. She is a British Registered ship dated 16th August 1929.  The official number is 127819. Her registered tonnage is 4.68 with a Gross Tonnage of 7.57.

Thetis was originally powered by a Chrysler Imperial 6 cylinder petrol engine producing 160hp at 2800rpm.  Later she was re-powered by a Chrysler Royal engine with 140hp.  With a Ford diesel in between she was subsequently re-powered in 2003 with a Mercedes Benz 5 cylinder diesel engine.  That motor is to be replaced now. Documents show Thetis was originally good for 18 knots.  A bigger engine was installed around the war years and its said she has seen 26+ knots.  In current configuration she’s more like 12-13 knots.

Construction is of kauri hull planking and Kowhai frames with teak decks. The cabin was subsequently modified and enclosed by Magnus Smith of Lyttelton, Luke believes the work was done  for Bruce Stewart of Pigeon Bay.

Known Owners
Charles W Sundstrum                         1929-37
Bruce F Stewart (later Sir Bruce)         1937-50
William Carey                                      1950-54
Clarey Beaumont                                1954-57
Des Sinclair                                         1957-67
Laurie Wales                                       1967-1997?
David Martin                                        1997-2006
Brendon Leech                                    2006-2014
Glenn Tod                                            2014-2015
Luke Richardson                                  2015-

Known History
Dunedin to late 1930’s
Pigeon Bay for some 20 years
War Service – she was commandeered by the NZ Navy Naval Auxilliary Patrol Service (NAPS) in WWII and used as a coastal patrol boat.  She commenced service 9th May 1942 and was relieved of duty 23rd February 1944 when the NAPS formally disbanded.  She was assigned the pennant number Z125 and served in the unit based in Lyttelton.  The owner at that time was B.F. Stewart.

Luke purchased her in July 2015 and she is now hauled out of the water for some long overdue TLC.  A period of neglect following the Christchurch earthquakes meant she was long overdue for some maintenance.  Luke would love to know more about any of the owners over the years and any of her history not covered above.

To view more photos & to follow the work, Thetis has a facebook page –  Friends of Thetis

See below an article on Thetis’s launch from the Australasian Motorboat & Yachting Monthly from October 1929. Its a good read 😉

Harold Kidd Input

Charles William Sundstrum was a Dunedin dentist who was a key figure in Dunedin yachting circles for many years. His first launch was the 31ft clinker double-ender VALMAI of 1910 which had a Dunedin-built 5hp Viking engine. He raced her with the Otago Yacht Club including one of their Ocean races to Timaru.
He replaced VALMAI in 1913 with the 40 footer NORANA designed by Joseph Gillanders and built by Miller Bros at Port Chalmers. She had a 16-18hp Jersey Standard marine engine and was a handsome craft. He sold her to Arthur Brett of Auckland in 1927. During WW2 she was taken over by the RNZAF and sent to Fiji for towing work.
THETIS was NORANA’s replacement. Photo of Norana below.

13-05-2017 – Additional Photos ex trademe (Ian McDonald nudge)


Woodys In The Bay of Islands Xmas/NY 2014-15

Woodys In The Bay of Islands Xmas/NY 2014-15

photos ex Dean Wright

Dean Wright – professional photographer & owner of the classic 1927 Bob Brown built launch ‘Arethusa’ had his camera out over the break & snapped a few of our fleet at rest in the BOI’s. Greg, like most of us, has a bit of a crush on Wirihana 🙂

Can anyone name for me the tram-topper?

To view more of Deans work & see/read about Arethusa – click the link below

Click this link to view my all time favourite classic boating photo. Rings all my bells.


THETIS (II) & The Lane Motor Boat Co.

THETIS (II) &  Building Motor Boats at The Lane Motor Boat Company

thanks to current owner Paul Harris & indirectly Max Carter for photo & details

Thetis was built by the Lane Motor Boat Company in 1955. In a 2004 note to Chris McMullen, Max Carter describes the ‘process’ i.e. like all LMBC boats they came off a model. A solid 1/2 model was carved, usually 3/4″ to the foot – a convenient scale. All these Lane models were unfortunately most likely destroyed when the Panmure office (Riverview Road) & workshop burnt down.

In terms of design style – Max commented that American magazines like ‘Yachting’, ‘MotorBoat & Rudder were always lying around & inspiration for Thetis may have come from these & past models on display.

It worked like this (Max Carters words) – “a solid half model was built from a block of kauri & once the modeler was satisfied, the profile & deck line were penciled around onto the ‘plan’. After an assured waterline & the mould station intervals had been marked onto the model a saw kerf was made part way into the model. Pieces of stiff thin card were rough cut & inserted into the kerfs – a pencil run a around the section & the centre line, deck line & assumed waterline marked on. The card was then very carefully trimmed to the section outline & the section transferred to the ‘plan’.”

The only people at Lanes (at that time) that could calculate the volume off the ‘plan’ was Dick Hart & Max, they got the sections by triangulation. Max was taught how to do this & other basic calculations by Sandy Sands at Seacraft, were Max had been apprenticed.

The Thetis model was craved by Peter Parsons from a block of kauri during breaks. The ‘brains trust’ would pass comments like – ‘more flare’, ‘less tumble home’ etc & if Peter agreed he would scrape a little off a little with a piece of broken window glass & glass paper. They used to have an old mirror there & they would place the models on it to see the effect of both sides – moving it around to see it from all angles.

At the time Max worked for LMBC the yard consisted of an old tin shed, which was the office, lunch room, toilet & joinery shop all in one. There was no road down to the lower shop set into the riverbank, the only way to get there was by a narrow winding path or by water. Materials had to be slid down the path. Max recalls sliding the Grey Marine engines down the hill, knowing that if they got it wrong & they were damaged they would all be sacked. In 1955 everything was still in short supply & you needed an import licence, the Butlands seemed to have no trouble sourcing Thetis’s engines.

LMBC only had a table saw, a band saw, thicknesser & buzzer. The only portable tools being a disc grinder & a few electric drills. Most holes were drilled by hand. Hulls were built right side up & cleaned off by hand plane, blade scrapper & long board (a long & arduous job).

Thetis was built in the shed but they lofted it on plywood in the Anglican Church hall across the road. Like all Lane boats they built on shadow moulds so they could trim a bit off or pack the moulds.
Thetis was single skin, the rule being 1/32″ per foot for planking so it was probably 1 3/8″ thick. They would hold the planks to the moulds with temporary screws & place the steam bent spotted gum timber inside & drive the fastenings while hot (really hard work).

Launching were always an exciting time because no one knew the weight of the vessel & everyone had an opinion of where the hull would float & trim. Once launched they would measure the free board at the stem, stern & amidships & work out the weight.

Max recalls at the launching there was a big crowd gathered including a lot of ladies from the Navy League, Ray Pateman was to work the winch & the rest of the yard workers were to stay in the background to retrieve the cradle & any wayward blocks floating down the river. All workers were issued with white overalls for the day & given strict instructions on what to do & to behave. The bottle was broken & Thetis duly launched down the ways when Rays white overall got caught in the winch & ripped his clothes off – everyone thought that was a even greater event than the launching.

Note: at this time, the order of seniority at Lanes (Max’s memory) was Peter Parsons – foreman, Ray Pateman – leading hand, Dick Hart, Clarence Thorpe, Russell Philpot, Trevor Ford, Roy Deane, Bill Bailey, Max Carter, apprentices were Jimmy Emptage, Bob Ryan, Gary Linkhorn & Arthur Ellis.

An amusing tale from Max Carter – Lanes used to contract painters who came & went as the job progressed. One day one of the painters was limping & had his forearm in plaster. When questioned on what happened he replied he had been on a scaffold painting the outside of the city morgue when a guy in a white coat lent out of the window & asked “Do you want a hand?” & to his reply “Yes”, passed him a severed hand, with the result he stepped back off the scaffold & fell.

Also attached of interest, sent in by Scott Taylor, son of the broker – Mac Taylor –  is the 1964 sale papers when Jack Butland sold Thetis to Dr. Jefcoate Harbutt for 13,350 pounds, a lot of money in those days. In chat with Harold Kidd it appears that on APYMBA records Jack Butland sold the boat to G Robertson, maybe they did not inform the APYMBA of the sale & Harbutt was missed out on the records?
As an aside – the present owner, Paul Harris,  knew Dr Harbutt as he flew him & his family to the Harbutt farm at the bottom end of Waiheke in the 1960’s & Paul lived up the road from Mac Taylor in Devonport –  its a small world we live in.

I hope I have assembled & retold these ‘tales’ accurately – if not I’m sure someone will pull me up & correct me 🙂

New photos ex Ken Ricketts 15/09/2014

26-04-2018 UPDATE

Ken Ricketts reports that having recently spoken with Thetis’s owner that 
the 2 in line, 6 cyl, 4-cycle, 120hp Gray Marine engines, installed in 1960 (still there today) are a very rare model & type. They were manufactured during WWII for the American forces & could possibly be the only 2 in NZ. The owner believes her original owner Jack Butland in the later 1950’s probably reconditioned, or war surplus imported them. 
Ken commented that until now, the only 6 cyl, in line, Gray Marine diesel engines he had heard of, were the 2-cycle, Gray Marine conversion of the 671 Detroit series.

Below are 2 photos of the manufacturers handbook.

Has anyone else ever head of them?




photos & details ex ken ricketts. edited by alan houghton & supplemented by harold kidd

Some fine detective work by Ken has uncovered that the launch Korama is in fact Ronald William Grant’s (b1897-d1984) launch Thetis. Grant named the launch after his wife Thetis Maud Grant nee Braund (b1896 d 1985), a daughter of famous rugby player and yachtsman Albie Braund who named her after his friend Reg Masefield’s steel 5 rater of 1895. Albie named his first launch MAVIS B, after his daughter Mavis (b1899). To complicate matters the vessel has changed name numerous times across her life. More on this below.

Korama is 34feet overall with a beam of 9 ft 6inches & cruises at 8-1/2 knots with a top speed of 14 knots.

She is presently owned by Leo Comesky, who bought her in October 2012 off Gus & Kelcey Gager who had brought her up from Tauranga c.1999. Comesky & Gager  have provided tech. & historical data & info., to Ken.

According to Comesky she was designed by Logan & built by Fred Mann, in 1922, in St Mary’s Bay. She was built for a Bob Knox of Grey Lynn, who apparently, along with his son, used to walk down to see her during construction, every evening. The Logan claim is questionable as she does not look like a Logan & if Arch Logan had designed her its highly unlikely that he would have allowed Fred Mann to build her. Mann was very much a spare-time builder at his John St., Ponsonby home, and nothing he built attracted much attention. His main job was looking after the horses for the Cashmores’ timber mill in Cox’s Creek and maintaining their craft.

Her original engine was an Ailsa Craig petrol engine & is presently powered by a 120hp Ford diesel.

Knox apparently owned her for 15 to 20 years & other owners include a Mr Dickson of Pakuranga (could be Jim Dickson an ASB manager of Pakuranga, who later had a sedan top 34 footer built by Owen Woolley who Ken knew well in the 60s & 70s), Bill Ridley of Pakuranga, Cyril Parker of Mission Bay (for approx. 6 years in the 1980’s – powered by a 110hp Ford diesel), Gary & Fay Lowe of Whangamata, Reg Hodson of Tauranga, & then she went to Picton. She was owned in Picton by a Mr M Montgomery (refer survey letter) & later returned to Tauranga where she was purchased by the Gagers

Leo Gager says that when Bill Ridley owned her, he changed her name back to Thetis. When Cyril Parker bought her, he discovered ‘Korama’ carved in to the tuck & changed her back again to Korama.

The Gager’s sold her to Comesky in October 2012.

In Grant’s day she had varnished coamings which no doubt were original, perhaps one day, someone may reinstate her to her absolute original concept.

What kindled the discovery:

Ken’s shape eyes & a good memory combined with Harold Kidd’s knowledge & wicked database combined with the following elements confirmed the discovery.
1. Both had Ailsa Craig 24h.p. engines
2. The common position of the their engines & exhaust i.e. well forward
3. The common rounding at the waterline at the tuck
4. The reference to Bill Ridley having owned her

07-01-2016 – photo ex Harold Kidd of Korama (c.1970?)


01-05-2017 Update from Leo Comeskey – hauled out at Weti River

Korama @ Weiti April2017