The Marine Photographer’s Eye, Benjamin Mendlowitz – OCH Video Featuring Kiwi Classic Wooden Boats

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The Marine Photographer’s Eye, Benjamin Mendlowitz – OCH Video Featuring Kiwi Classic Wooden Boats – The best photos of our fleet you will have ever seen!

Today’s story is rather special as the team at have given waitematawoody readers access to their latest video that features woodys from this years Mahurangi Regatta. The OCH site contains over 500 videos (& 500 articles) that range from boatbuilding, to trimming sails, to a complete course on understanding every aspect of your marine diesel engine. There’s even a 42-part series on how to build a Caledonia Yawl camp cruiser. The collection of videos features mariners and craftspeople at the very top of the boating field, showing exactly how they do things, and which products they use in their work.

One of the OCH founders is Benjamin Mendlowitz who, in my eyes, is the worlds finest photographer of classic wooden boats, this January, Ben and his co-founders escaped the US winter and headed down under. Whilst in NZ their #1 mission was to attended the Mahurangi Regatta and to this end on the Saturday Jason Prew with My Girl & myself with Raindance hosted – Maynard Bray, Benjamin Mendlowitz & Steve Stone for a Regatta photo shoot.

In the 11 minute video, Ben talks us through his day on the water filming woodys. In the opening section when Ben is commenting on our classic fleet he says “I was newly inspired in my photography”. When a photographer with as much experience as Benjamin Mendlowitz says that – that is saying something about our woody fleet. Plus the video is a master class for anyone interested in marine photography.



The OCH site is 100 percent membership driven, and they do not accept advertising. Not lining their pockets with advertising enables them to provide OCH members with the unvarnished truth, straight from legendary masters of their craft – without worrying whether they piss off an advertiser 🙂

In addition to allowing WW woodys to view the video at no-charge, they have also put together a one-off subscription offer for WW readers.

They are offering 50% off the annual rate – thats an amazing US$24.50 – BUT woodys be quick it will not last for long + there is a Risk Free Guarantee – try it for a few days, if your not happy they will provide you with a 100% refund. I’m a subscriber – I love the site, I have watched one story probably 10 times.



  • FULL ACCESS to everything on the site for 1 full year (including our growing library of over 1,000 videos and articles)
  • Your membership includes three full “how-to-build” video series (80+ videos worth over $500 that you get free)
  • You can get your questions answered in the “comments” section under each video and article
  • Join our community of “off-center” boating enthusiasts around the world




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Wairangi has appeared before on ww (link below) but has recently had a big dose of TLC. The above photos are a mix of some taken by owner Owen Foster (via KRickets) while anchored at Rakino Island & mine that show her over Easter anchored in Man o War Bay, Waiheke Island. The newly varnished cabin/wheelhouse looks stunning & combined with a lot of other work, she looks very special – in fact I would be happy to call her mine 🙂

Also looking very smart in one of the photos is Safari, her owner Neil took the below photo of Raindance during the Sunday afternoon squall that hit the bay mid afternoon – rain, hail, wind = boats dragging their anchor all over the bay – fun & games but no damage.


11-08-2018 Update – Photos below taken by Owen Foster using a drone, while at anchor at Oneroa, Waiheke Island. emailed in by Ken Ricketts

Update 19-07-2019 ex model maker John Whyte

Back in February I was contacted by John Whyte seeking info on Wairangi, John was doing the drawings of Wairangi for model maker Paul Berntsen (Havelock North). Earlier today John sent me the photos below of Paul’s finished model. John commented that the wharf behind it is a 1.34 scale model of the Opua wharf which measures just over 6 metres in length. John plans to build a lower wharf for the pilot boat with a ladder coming of the higher wharf.
The boat measures around 450mm long and 110mm wide.
Paul is obviously very talented, I struggle maintaining my own boat – building  something like this would be a recipe for disaster for me 🙂
Wairangi 1

A Lap of Waiheke





A Lap of Waiheke

Over Labour weekend we did a lap of Waiheke Island in Raindance – bumped into a few classic’s, some will appear on ww in the next few days.
As we approached Oneroa mid afternoon on Saturday the weather was doing exactly as predicated  & the southerly was starting to pick up, coming around the point & it was blowing dogs off chains. Headed over to Little Oneroa & it was almost a mill pond, dropped the pick between James Mobberley (Moon Engines)  & Dan Ranell’s stunning N. Herreshoff designed yacht – Jonquil, pictured above with George Ranell ‘on watch’. Potentially it could have been a disaster i.e. 3 kids under 5 between the 2 boats – but good parenting saved the day. A few late afternoon coldies on Jame’s launch ‘Cartel’ was the perfect lead in to dinner – a wood fired pizza on the beach from the resident pizza caravan. Saturday was a cracker of a day on all fronts. Nice weather, people & boats.

For the first time (that I can remember) we had a peaceful night in Little Oneroa & woke to a stunning day (Sunday), one out of the bag. A quick breakfast ashore at ‘Wai’ & a few provisions from the ‘new’  store on the roundabout, called ‘The Island Grocer’ – its where the old general store (fruit & veg focus was) used to be. Less hairy armpits on display these days & a great hole in the wall coffee operation. Perfect spot to people watch.

Headed down the north side to the bottom end, very pleasant trip & a lot of people both fishing & catching fish. Mooched around a few bays & anchored in Man ‘o’ War Bay. The vineyard operation was a zoo with Island day trippers, so held off going ashore until late afternoon for a drink. Quiet night in the bay, except for 2 sets of very young children doing laps of the bay in dinghies with 2hp outboards – I do not lie when I say it went from 6pm to 10pm, if I had had a gun – I would have popped the tubes.

Slow start in the morning, had to wait for the tide, appears I had discovered a wee mud bank, never went a ground but I draw 2’3″ & the depth sounder was showing 0.700m (27.5″) 😦 So it was a leisurely breakfast 🙂 Th day was overcast & forecast to rain later on, so we headed home at lunch time. As we were leaving MoW, W1 was coming in – first time I had seen her ‘live’ on the water – way more narrow than I expected given her length, but still an impressive sight & a credit to the owner, who under took a lengthy restoration in his driveway in Herne Bay.
Saw Deodar (#1) in MoW looking very smart – photos tomorrow on ww.

A fantastic weekend, only takes a few days of good weather & one quickly forgets all the cursing & swearing over winter about bloody old wooden boats.

Below are a couple of photos from Rod Marler of the classic’s –  Arohanui, Trinidad, Lady Crossley & Nereides (looking none the worse for her oops at the Whangateau boat yard) at Kawau over the weekend. I hear the Kawau Boating Club was going off on Saturday night for the All Blacks v Aust rugby test.

Photo below of Wairangi at West Bay, Rakino Island on Sunday, taken by her owner & emailed in by Ken Ricketts.







I was sent the above photos of the 35′ launch Wairangi by Annette Evans, Wairangi belonged to her late father & Annette is about to undertake a restoration project. Before commencing work Annette is keen to see if ww can shed any light on the boat. They are keen to find out more on her original design, so any help identifying her original design or past owners would be greatly appreciated.

The boat now resides in Marlborough but it originally came from Dunedin and was known to the area as a pleasure launch in the Otago Harbour area before and immediately after World War II.
It’s believed that she was originally built in Auckland in 1932. It was owned in the mid > late 1950’s by a Mr W McCulloch (potentially well known in Otago), then it was transported by rail to Blenheim in aprox 1961, it belonged to a Mr R Foster of Dunedin.

The photos show her being prepped for her 1961 rail journey from Dunedin to Blenheim.

The 2016 Classic Yacht & Launch Exhibition wrapped up yesterday with the legendary beers & bangers 🙂

Over the weekend I read Harold Kidd & Robin Elliott’s booklet – ‘The Mullet Boat -A NZ Yachting Icon’, produced for the exhibition, it really is special. Grab a copy from Boat Books in Westhaven.

Wairangi – heads north




WAIRANGI – Heads North
photos ex Owen Foster via Ken Ricketts

As previous noted on ww Wairangi has been sold & is relocating to Auckland, Waiheke  Island I believe. Owen supplied this collection of photos from the passage from Picton to Auckland. Wairangi was designed by Wren Carey & built by Andy Miller of Miller & Tunnage fame. For a 1934 vessel of her design she is unusual in that she was launched as a pleasure vessel, which goes against her looks that scream ‘work boat’ converted to pleasure use. Wairangi was the opposite as she became a Lyttelton pilot boat c1948.

To view / read more details of her past click here

05-03-2016 Arrives safely at Waiheke Island

07-04-2016 – Wairangi getting a little love at Pier 21. Photo ex Rod Marler

Wairangi at Pier 21

11-04-2016 Update & photos below from CYA member Neil Williamson (owner of MV Safari & the mullet boat Arawa)

Currently doing some work on Wairangi at the moment and thought I would share some pics now the hull has been stripped back showing the planks in fantastic condition
She’s so well made and still in great nick. Great to work on ones like this.

26-10-2016 – photo below of Wairangi in Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island 28/03/2016. ex owner via Ken Ricketts.


1934 Miller & Tunnage

1934 Miller  & Tunnage

This 1934 work-boat conversion appeals to me. She is a big old girl 55’8” x 13’5” x 5’ 10” – built in heart kauri & powered by a Gardner 6L3 115hp diesel.

For sale on trademe she recently had an extensive refit. The owner is reluctantly retiring from the sea. would make a nice live aboard.

Anyone able to ID her? Currently in Picton so maybe one of the southern woodys?

More details here

Info ex Paul Drake
Below is the ad for WAIRANGI when she was put up for tender by the Lyttelton Port Company (in the 1980’s?).

Photos ex Frank Stoks of Wairangi taken today (01/10/2014)


Story by Ken Ricketts
Designed by Wren Carey of Christchurch, as a pleasure craft for himself and his family. She was to be 17 meters long x 4.1 meters beam x 1.9 meter draft with 10 berths in 3 cabins. Her weight is estimated at 35 tons and she is perhaps a little different from other classic launches of that era in that she has a cruiser stern which, in a following sea  is very, very comfortable.
Well known boat builder, Andy Millar, of Millar & Tunnage, in Dunedin, was selected by Carey to build her, – which they did, from heart kauri, and completed her in 1934.  It is believed Wren Carey based her in Lyttelton, and mainly cruised Banks Peninsula, but there are photos, which show her in Picton, so Carey and his friends used her in the Marlborough Sounds, probably over the summer holidays. In those pre-war days.
Photos below show she sported 2 masts, the main mast, just in front of the wheelhouse, and the mizzen mast about over what is now the owners cabin, which is fairly well aft.
In those days the super structure stopped at the funnel, so access to the lower areas aft, would have been via an external hatchway, just aft of the funnel casing.
Her engine was Thornycroft, which must have been used as an auxiliary, with sail being used, when possible.
At the outbreak of WW2 she wascommandeered for use by the Lyttelton Harbour Board  as an inspection vessel..
At the end of hostilities, she became surplus to requirements, and was handed back to Carey, who then sold her in 1948, to the Lyttelton Harbour Board, (LHB) (refer Russell Ward’s comment below), as their pilot boat, and small tug. The LHB removed the old petrol motor, and installed a brand new Gardner 6L3 marine diesel, which is still operating perfectly today. They had an engineer in the engine room, who manually shifted the gearbox into forward, neutral & astern, on instruction from the skipper on the helm, but today a Morse system is used at the helm, which goes from mechanical, to electrical, to hydraulic, via an ingenious conversion system. She cruises at about 7.5 knots and uses about 6 – 8 litres of diesel an hour. There are very few 115hp marine engines today, with this low consumption figure, and the 4 new fuel tanks installed recently, will hold around 3,500 litres of diesel, which makes her ideal for expedition work or long passages.
LHB also removed her sails and the mizzen mast, and installed a radar above the wheelhouse, where the mainsail on its boom would have swung.
So began her transformation from a motor sailer, to 100% launch.
It can safely be assumed that Wairangi, during time with the LHB, has rubbed up against virtually every passenger and cargo ship visiting Lyttelton, from 1948, to the late 1980’s, when she was sold to Lionel Jeffries, an Auckland businessman, who used her as a pleasure craft. He also extended the superstructure aft, from the funnel casing, to what is  there today, using teak planking, to match the original wheelhouse upper works.
He sold her to Lew Ritchie, who used her as a dive and charter boat, out of Tutukaka, in Northland, for a few years, before putting her on the market, and finally selling it to Andrew Jackson, – a retired Auckland businessman, now living in Picton, who immediately started a large scale refit, and refurbishment of the vessel. Sadly, through years of neglect, it proved not possible to keep the exterior teak planks varnished, as many had split and needed filling, so they were painted over. To replace them would have been very costly..
Jackson was looking for an old, NZ built, classic launch, to undertake a couple of adventures abroad. At one stage, it looked like funding might appear, for an expedition, to search for the answer to what happened to Amelia Earhart, when she went missing in her epic 1937 round the world flight. A second plan, one which used her in Europe, in a 13 part television series,  looked like it may eventuate, but the worldwide economic downturn, saw both projects shelved.
With her low fuel consumption and huge range she is ideal for expedition work, and long range cruising.
The vessel has been fully refurbished, to the point, where the Jacksons now live aboard her, in the new Picton marina.
She still has her original call sign of ZMTM.
She is now for sale,  contact – Andrew Jackson on 021347988.