Built by Auckland’s Percy Vos in 1936, the 11.5m sloop Tangaroa has returned home after a 60-year absence and, thanks to the kindness of her former American owner, will become a living part of New Zealand’s maritime heritage.

Tangaroa’s 85-year story describes a colourful, adventurous arc and her return to New Zealand is an extraordinary climax to improbable twists and turns. She spent most of her post-NZ years around the Hawaiian Islands and, as the locals there would say: “Aloha – this gal ain’t done yet.” A new chapter beckons.

Tangaroa’s launching from the Percy Vos shed, and the carving commissioned by Jo.

She was born in Percy Vos’ shed in Westhaven’s Hamer Street, built for a Mr Jas Inkster of Bayswater. Auckland’s John Brooke designed her – he was renowned for his inexpensive-to-build-yet-exciting-to-sail yachts, and he based his concept on a larger vessel penned by Scandinavian K Aage Nielsen. Nielsen’s boat featured in a 1933 issue of Rudder magazine.

Brooke’s design was a masthead sloop built in triple diagonal plank kauri. Pohutukawa was used for her stem and mahogany for the interior, with hatches and skylight in teak. The lineage of owners following her 1936 launching is a little unclear, though we know that in 1953 one of them added a doghouse. But to appreciate Tangaroa’s unlikely career path from then on you need to settle back into your chair with a glass of your favourite syrah – and concentrate.

She was designed by Auckland's John Brooke.


She departed our waters in 1961 when she was sold to a young Hawaiian couple – Stuart and Jo Byam. Though she had been raced enthusiastically by her previous owners (Messrs Bates, Stretton and Green of Auckland), the Byams intended to sail her back to Hawaii and adapted her for cruising.

This involved lopping off a significant section of her spruce mast to reduce her sail area and simplify sail handling. The surgery, says Jo, significantly cooled the relationship with the gob-smacked former owners who’d spent years optimising the yacht’s sailing potential.

Jo, it turns out, now lives permanently in Waverley (near Christchurch) – and has done for many years – and when Tangaroa was formerly ‘reinstituted’ as a New Zealand boat in May this year, Jo was on hand to fill in much of the little yacht’s unknown history.

Stuart and Jo soon after buying Tangaroa.

“Stuart and I met in Hawaii – he owned a small Hartley sailboat and taught me to sail – and we married. Soon after he decided – a little impulsively – that he wanted to become a farmer in New Zealand. So we arrived here to buy a piece of land. But the authorities advised us against it – and I think even he eventually realised it wasn’t a good idea.

“Instead, we happened upon the beautiful Tangaroa lying in Bayswater and decided – a little impulsively – to buy her and sail her back to Hawaii. Our voyage began with a shake-down cruise to Great Barrier Island, and from there to Rarotonga, the Society Islands and then to Hawaii. We were relatively inexperienced bluewater sailors, but she was easy to sail and never gave us any trouble.”

Before they left, Jo commissioned a central North Island carver to create a Maori embodiment of Tangaroa (the guardian of the sea) – as much a reminder of her time in New Zealand as something to keep them safe during their voyage. The carving did its job – they arrived in Hawaii in November 1962.

The original builder’s documentation, and US Customs form for the yacht’s entry at Hawaii.

“We had such fun introducing her to our friends,” says Jo. “Hundreds of romances blossomed on her – and who knows how many children were conceived on board?”

A year later they sold her (Jo kept the Tangaroa carving) and, after the new owners spent many years cruising between the Hawaiin Islands, they in turn sold her (in 1977) to Allan Rey Jonsson and his sailing buddy Lloyd Edward Printup. In 1978 the Byams (with memories of New Zealand still lurking in their psyches) immigrated to Waverley. Stuart passed away in 2015.

Allan eventually retired and moved to California to be closer to family. No longer able to sail Tangaroa, he had passed her on to his son, Eric. Years later, when Eric realised his and Tangaroa’s lives would evolve in different directions, he decided it would be good to return her to the land of her birth.


Fun times sailing around Hawaii.

His investigation into the best way to do this eventually led to discussions with Auckland’s Larry Paul (a member of the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust, and Waitangi skipper). And the initial conversation, says Larry, was a little bizarre. It began on April 1st 2019 with his phone ringing and flashing up an unknown number from California. On the end of the line was the very chipper voice of Eric Jonsson.

“I have been reading your website (classicyachtcharitabletrust.org.nz),” said the voice, “and am most impressed with the work being done in New Zealand to restore and sail historically significant classic yachts and launches.

“My family has owned a New Zealand classic yacht – Tangaroa – since 1977. The yacht is based in Hawaii where our family lived. Dad has now moved to mainland USA and is no longer able to sail her. We believe now is the time for her to return to her roots. Would the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust be interested in taking her on?”

Tangaroa on the way to Wayne Olsen’s shed, and her rejuvenated saloon.

Larry admits to thinking – ‘is this an April Fool’s prank from a mate or a genuine attempt to return a significant piece of New Zealand’s wooden boatbuilding history to New Zealand?’

“Eric, we have quite a fleet of vessels in the Trust and would be unable to take her on, but I would be happy to help you meet your father’s wishes in having her returned to New Zealand. The best way might be to identify an interim local skipper with a passion for classic wooden boats and assist in recommissioning and sailing her in New Zealand until a long-term custodian can be identified to care for her.”

Eric and his dad were most agreeable to this strategy and the lengthy process of building a shipping cradle and organising shipping from Hawaii to Auckland was put in motion. Tangaroa left Honolulu in November 2019 and arrived in Auckland on December 8th. She was trucked to Horizon Boats in Stillwater where Wayne Olsen replaced her decks, tidied up the cockpit lockers, rebuilt and repaired hatches and skylight and added a galley, head and holding tank.

Miles Ostick (Percy Vos’ grandson) and Jo Byam at the formal handover.

Eric and Rey Jonssen – “it was time to return Tangaroa to her roots.”

Tangaroa’s formal handing-over function took place at the RNZYS in May. It was attended by Miles Ostick (Percy Vos’ grandson), and Jo Byam, who used the opportunity to reunite her precious Tangaroa carving memento with the boat. “I think it’s fitting that it now lives with the boat.” Eric and his dad had hoped to be there for the celebration but Covid-19 interrupted their plans.

The little sloop has now fallen under the custodianship of skipper Corey Rademaeker, who carried out the paint work and has spent considerable time re-rigging, completing the finishing work and fitting her out. Corey has built a small racing team and will see Tangaroa competing in Classic Yacht Association events. She is currently berthed at Gulf Harbour Marina.

Perhaps the final words in this prodigal daughter’s story belong to the magnanimous Eric. His well-wishing correspondence ends with this salutation: “The next chapter in Tangaroa’s life has now begun. To the new custodians – sail her, sail her, sail her...” BNZ

THE SINCLAIRS OF LYTTELTON PART 3 - A fascination with lateen rigs

In February 1891 it looked as if the ‘Little Wonder Syndicate’ – which owned Mascotte – might be falling apart, or perhaps they were trying to cash in on their successes.

John Collins, one of the prominent members, advertised her for sale: “Champion Yacht, MASCOTTE, 14 tons, winner of Akaroa, Lyttelton and Wellington Regattas, complete with all new gear, racing sails &c....”

During that winter, Jimmy Sinclair prepared Mascotte for the first New Zealand Championship race to be held at the Wellington Regatta in January 1892. A new club, the Corinthian Yacht Club was formed at Warner’s Hotel in Christchurch as a breakaway from the Canterbury Yacht Club, with the intention of running races to a higher standard of ‘Corinthianism’.

This was ostensibly a reaction to the common practice of ballast-shifting, but clearly a device to exclude Mascotte and Jimmy Sinclair, who wasn’t invited to join. Prof. R.J. Scott, now the owner of the crack Green-built Zephyr, was a leading figure in the new club, which went on to hold a regular series of races – dominated by Pastime of course.

Bettina at the 1896 Lyttelton Regatta.  

The Akaroa Regatta in December 1891 saw an easy win for Mascotte, well ahead of Pastime and Mahanga. On January 1st 1892 the main race at the Lyttelton Regatta resulted in an effortless win for Mascotte, already cheekily flying ‘the New Zealand Champion flag’, with Pastime second and Mahanga third.

Shortly after, Mascotte and Campbell Brown’s Second Class yacht Onawe set off from Lyttelton for the Wellington Regatta and the first official New Zealand Championship races. Jimmy Sinclair sent a pigeon message from Mascotte: “Monday, January 11th; Mascotte off Kaikoura, 7 miles distant, Peninsula bearing WNW. Weather fine, wind southerly. Running 4 knots; every appearance of the weather holding fine throughout the day. We will have enough tucker to bring us back again; no one seems to care about eating. Onawe is within hail and wants more whisky. James Sinclair.”

The Championship race, for £100 and a trophy, was held in half a southerly gale with the three entrants, Mascotte, Mima and Maritana, double-reefed. Mascotte and Maritana were over the line at the start, allowing the shallow-draught Mima to romp away in the first board, a flat run.

Mascotte’s Dominion Yachting Cup, still in the Sinclair family.

But on the hard beat to Worser Bay, Mascotte gained a commanding lead which she just kept extending, to win convincingly. The New Zealand Times commented: “Yachting men freely acknowledge that there is nothing like the Mascotte in these waters, admitting that her builders have taught them a great deal. They also admit that the members of her crew have done the same by their superior skill”.

The syndicate offered Mascotte for sale in Wellington for £600, later reduced to £500. The best Wellington offer was £450, so they decided to keep her and sail her home. Jimmy Sinclair sailed her home under a jury ketch rig in company with Onawe.

Starting early in a light northerly they struck a strong southerly off Kaikoura and sheltered at Amuri Bluff for five days. They headed south in a light NE which hardened to a gale, forcing them to hang oil bags over the stern, finally arriving at their moorings “after a long and perilous voyage” at 2am the next day.

Mascotte (white hull) meets her match in Waitangi (black hull) at Wellington, January 1895.

At the Akaroa Regatta in December, Mascotte, giving a lot of time to the others, was over the line first, followed by Pastime. Mahanga won on handicap. The second of the New Zealand Championships for First and Second Class yachts was held at the Lyttelton Regatta on 1st January 1893. It was a fiasco.

Mascotte was the only entrant in the First Class and Onawe in the Second Class. They sailed over for a win. The Corinthian Club yachts had boycotted the races. Their sporting spirit and their ‘Corinthianism’ were not apparent. The newspapers carefully made no comment.

During the winter of 1893 there must have been some dissension among the members of the Little Wonder Syndicate, which owned Mascotte in shares, for she was offered for sale by Christchurch auctioneers on 31st July. Jimmy Sinclair bought her for £200 with others of the syndicate.

Colin Wild’s version of the bipod mast in 1947 on Tara

All was smiles again when the Canterbury Yacht Club held races at Diamond Harbour with the Corinthian Club in November. Pastime had been further ‘improved’. Mascotte took line honours but Pastime beat her on handicap. Mascotte did not enter the Akaroa Regatta in December; Pastime was first on line but was beaten on handicap by Zephyr, now owned by Scott, back to her bermudan rig, heavily modified in the hull and very fast.

On January 1st, 1894, the Lyttelton Regatta was a drifting match won by Mascotte with Pastime second. The third New Zealand Championship events were held in Auckland during its Anniversary Regatta at the end of January, when there were no outside entrants but drama when the Bloomfield brothers’ new Bailey Viking beat Tom Henderson’s import from Sydney, Volunteer.

Zephyr was the only Lyttelton yacht to enter the Akaroa Regatta that year and won easily from Mahanga. Enthusiasm for yachting in Canterbury seemed to be waning, but the next two years proved to be its high watermark, with some surprising twists favouring Pastime.

Mascotte recovering a crewmember overboard at Wellington, January 26th 1895

The 1895 Lyttelton Regatta resulted in another win for Mascotte with Collins’ Kia Ora second and R.J. Scott’s Zephyr third. Pastime retired with broken gaff jaws. The fourth New Zealand Championship races were held at the Wellington Regatta on 22nd January. Mascotte and Pastime again took the long trip north on January 14th 1895 where they met the new Robert Logan Auckland crack Waitangi sailed by Robert Logan Sr himself.

Waitangi won, with Mascotte second, Pastime third and Maritana fourth. In a handicap race a few days later Pastime went to the assistance of a crewman overboard from Mascotte. The race was resailed and Pastime won. Sinclair put Mascotte up for sale at auction while she was in Wellington, but failed to achieve the reserve of £300.

For some time Sinclair had been building highly competitive small yachts including Pakeha (1891), Queen Mab (1892) and later, Waterlily (1897). He was interested in alternatives to the conventional gaff rig of the time. Pakeha went a short way with ‘a French lug’.

Pakeha with her ‘French lug’ rig.

In December 1895 he built Bettina (named after the heroine in the comic opera Mascotte), a totally radical yacht that performed very well in the under one-rating class, starting with the 1895 Akaroa Regatta.

The Christchurch Press reported, “Bettina, an exceptionally smart little yacht, just built by J. Sinclair. Her rig is quite a novelty in these parts, and is a design of Mr Sinclair’s, for which he has taken out letters patent.” The dhow-like lateen sail was suspended between two iron sheer-legs in place of a conventional mast.

In the light centreboarder, it performed very well. It was an ancient rig, of course, used first by the Nile reed boats. The ‘hairpin’ or bipod mast has had revivals from time to time, notably in Colin Wild’s successful Tara of 1949.

In a gale at Lyttelton in early January 1896, Sinclair demonstrated a side advantage of the rig when he and his crew, his 12-year-old son Jimmy Jr, dropped the sail as the worst gusts hit and raised it again when they passed. In the third re-run of the Regatta up to one-rating, Bettina won handsomely.

Sinclair was having so much fun sailing Bettina with his son and refining the rig that he seemed to lose interest in sailing Mascotte which was beginning to show deterioration in the hull, probably through the hard off-shore passages she had made when additional shoring of her frames had been necessary and through electrolysis deterioration of her fastenings.

The fifth New Zealand Championship races were held in conjunction with the Lyttelton Regatta in January 1896. The First Class event was a dramatic race, the high water mark of South Island yachting contests of the period, with £100 prize-money.

Waitangi, now Wellington-owned, sailed down for the event and led all the way from the three Canterbury yachts, Zephyr, Pastime and Mascotte. But even the ultra-modern Waitangi could not make up for nippy little Zephyr’s handicap and skilful sailing by R.J. Scott.

On time, Zephyr was first by a whisker, Waitangi was second, Pastime third and Mascotte a bad fourth. Sinclair had taken two tons of ballast out of Mascotte and shortened her rig to lower her rating and increase her time allowance on handicap, but the alterations had ruined her performance.

This was the last of the New Zealand Championships. The interport journeys were hazardous. This was demonstrated by the Centennial Regatta in 1940, a bold revival race from Lyttelton to Wellington, when the fleet was scattered. Then, in 1951, in the Canterbury Centennial Regatta from Wellington to Lyttelton, conditions were even worse than in 1940. Despite vastly improved facilities for offshore racing, including better forecasting, radio and RNZAF air cover, the yachts Argo and Husky and their crews simply disappeared.

In 1898 Pastime again won the Lyttelton Regatta, Onawe was second and Mascotte withdrew. Sinclair had installed a Bettina- type lateen rig in Mascotte, “hardwood sheerlegs to carry a huge lug sail, in place of the ordinary pole mast with mainsail and gaff. She will spread considerably less sail, which has reduced her rating very considerably, but I am somewhat dubious about the success of the alteration,” said the Lyttelton Times. It was a light day. The rig failed to propel the hefty yacht adequately or to point. Jimmy gave up after the second round. Later, when the sheerlegs collapsed on a trip to Akaroa, Jimmy abandoned the experiment.

In a later article I shall follow the fortunes of Jimmy Sinclair, his brothers and their many sons, mainly in centreboard yachting. BNZ

Aquaculture concerns

Aquaculture is often touted as the future of seafood, but is it really?

Scrolling through Facebook the other day, I stumbled across a discussion on the relative merits of wild-caught versus farmed seafood.

It was prompted by someone reporting they’d enjoyed a meal of basa – a farmed freshwater fish imported from Asia. Sold frozen or freshly thawed, basa – a type of river catfish – costs considerably less than wild-caught marine fish.

That anyone would eat basa elicited howls of derision from some members of the group – for a variety of reasons: it was imported from Asia; it was a freshwater fish; it was cheap; it was frozen, but most of all because it was farmed, not wild. “The only fish worth eating is fish you catch yourself,” they cried, with some stating they never buy fish. But most people are unable or uninterested in catching their own fish, just as most people don’t hunt their own meat. They buy it.

And global demand for seafood is growing, even though wild fish populations are in free-fall. With the total commercial catch shrinking, aquaculture is filling the gap in supply, which on the face of it would seem to be a good thing. But is it? Many people don’t think so.

There are many good reasons to be unhappy about industrial- scale commercial fishing, but what exactly is the beef people have with aquaculture? We know the current global consumption of wild seafood is unsustainable, so meeting future demand from wild stocks will be impossible. If we want to continue eating fish, it seems aquaculture is the logical way forward.

Aquaculture is booming: salmon in Norway, Scotland, Chile, New Zealand and Australia; carp in central and Eastern Europe; catfish, carp and other freshwater species in China and southeast Asia; rainbow trout, sea bream and sea bass in Europe; catfish, Aquaculture is booming: salmon in Norway, Scotland, Chile, New Zealand and Australia; carp in central and Eastern Europe; catfish, carp and other freshwater species in China and southeast Asia; rainbow trout, sea bream and sea bass in Europe; catfish,

In Asia, where a wide variety of fish species is raised, along with crustaceans (prawns, lobsters, shrimps) and shellfish, fish farms occupy saltwater, freshwater and brackish environments. Many are built on land, others occupy lakes and rivers, as well as estuaries, harbours and bays.

Environmentally, there is plenty to be concerned about when it comes to aquaculture, particularly fish farming, though environmental standards and operational practices vary widely. The main issue is overcrowding, which leads to disease, high parasite loads, high stock mortality and localised pollution, even when farms are situated in open water.

In the US and elsewhere there is strong opposition from some groups to the consumption of farmed fish due to health concerns.

Environmental and stock health problems are most acute in ponds and other closed systems where water turnover is low. Fish such as basa, carp and tilapia, as well as some species of prawns, can tolerate poor water quality, which is why they are popular for land-based fish farming. Much of the basa farmed in Vietnam lives in water drawn from the Mekong, one of the world’s most polluted rivers, as do many of the prawns sold in New Zealand.

Faeces and uneaten food filters down through sea cages to the seafloor and builds up on the bottom of farm ponds where it rots, depleting oxygen and killing bottom-dwelling plants and animals. In New Zealand, monitoring has revealed two main impacts of salmon farms: raised copper and zinc levels, and nutrient enrichment caused by fish waste.

To a lesser extent, the same thing happens with mussel farms and oyster leases, though shellfish are not ‘fed’, instead filtering what they need from the water. They do, however, produce waste which accumulates on the bottom.

Processed pellets are used in fish farming, which may incorporate cereals, various animal and plant proteins and lots of supplements. Until recently fish meal and fish oil were the main ingredients, but fish meal/oil is processed from wild- caught fish, much of it the natural food of the commercially important fish species we like to eat. Turn all the anchovies and sardines into fish pellets for farmed salmon, trout and catfish and there is nothing left for the tuna to eat.

Marine fish in ocean cages

In recent years rising prices for fishmeal and fish oil, resulting of over-harvesting wild fish, have forced the industry to look for alternatives – cheaper by-products from abattoirs and plant materials such as faba-bean meal, added for extra protein and to act as binding agents.

New Zealand farmed salmon eat pellets manufactured in Australia mostly from abattoir byproducts – poultry off-cuts and feathermeal, as well as bloodmeal from cattle, pigs and sheep. Only a small proportion (around 10%) is fish meal and fish oil (7%) – mostly from Peruvian anchovies.

The desirable pink flesh of wild salmon results from eating krill and other crustaceans; farmed salmon has pale flesh unless artificial colour (astaxanthin) is added to the feed. The flesh of farmed salmon also contains much less Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids wild fish synthesise from their food, and almost twice the fat. The consumption of these Omega fatty acids is touted as an important health benefit of eating fish.

Even hardy species need help to survive in a lot of fish farms, so antibiotics, vaccines and chemical treatments are routinely used to control disease, parasites and pests. Traces of these can persist in the farmed animals we eat and some of them are known to be carcinogenic in humans.

A freshwater basa catfish

Unlike basa or carp, salmon are anything but hardy, making them quite a challenge to farm. Salmon farms overseas have been devastated by diseases associated with high stocking rates and stressed fish. Diseases spread quickly through sea cages and beyond to infect wild salmon populations. Salmon farm operators use antibiotics and vaccines to control diseases, though the salmon industry in New Zealand claims to be antibiotic free.

Fortunately, New Zealand-farmed chinook (King) salmon, a Pacific species, seems to be somewhat resistant to the diseases affecting Atlantic salmon, which make up the bulk of farmed salmon around the world, including Australia.

Salmon farming in New Zealand is facing challenges due to its environmental impact and from climate change too, with warming water increasing fish mortality. The water temperature in the Marlborough Sounds, where the bulk of New Zealand salmon is farmed, is close to the upper limit for chinook salmon in a normal summer.

Farms in the Marlborough Sounds are managed to minimise environmental effects by controlling feed levels and fallowing low-flow sites to give the seafloor time to recover. According to the farm operators, a farm left fallow can regenerate in two to 10 years depending on the water flow.

Nonetheless, in 2011 several sites exceeded guideline levels for copper and zinc. One was found to be operating at the limits of “maximum acceptable environmental quality standards” , its feed inputs described as “beyond the assimilative capacity of the site”. The monitoring report on another Marlborough Sounds farm described it as “highly-impacted” and “biologically impoverished beyond the point at which wastes can be efficiently assimilated”.

Intensive fish farming beside a river somewhere in Southeast Asia.

While improvements have been made in salmon farm management since, pending resource consent there are plans to relocate some of the worst-affected farms to locations with better water flow, or to completely new cold water locations in Southland.

Aquaculture undoubtedly has considerable impact on the environment and its products are not always especially healthy for consumers. I doubt aquaculture will halt or even slow the ongoing rape of the world’s oceans or encourage more sustainable practices for wild fisheries. My guess is that wild seafood will become a luxury item – it’s already happening – and most of the seafood we consume will be farmed.

If that becomes the reality, just like eating tuna, wahoo, marlin and other large fish which concentrate heavy metals, dioxins and other pollutants in their bodies, eating farmed prawns – or farmed salmon – probably isn’t something you should do every day.

In the meantime, I’ll stick with fish I catch myself. BNZ

The case for AIS

Retrofitting an AIS (Automatic Identification System) to your boat is relatively inexpensive and easy, and it might make a significant difference in a rescue situation.

Trampers heading out into the back country usually carry a personal locator beacon (PLB). An EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacon) uses the same technology and no boatie should head out without one. In both cases, activating the beacon transmits a distress signal – together with its precise GPS co- ordinates – to an overhead satellite network.

There are even compact waterproof locator beacons for kayakers and swimmers, and with a suitable housing some PLBs can also be taken underwater by scuba divers. The locator beacon technology is reliable, compact and very precise. Unfortunately, the strong point of the technology is also its greatest weakness – it’s based on a satellite signal.

The Simrad RS40 VHF with Class B AIS was our alternative option.

This means beacons can be used in remote locations with zero radio or mobile phone signal. But it also means the alert has to be passed through the global satellite response system, and then routed to the National Rescue Co-ordination Centre. The centre then decides which local agency (Police, Coastguard, Mountain Rescue, etc) is best placed to deal with the issue, and an appropriate search and rescue operation is initiated.

Apart from the slight delay, the main issue with this for boaties is that other nearby vessels will be completely unaware there is someone in trouble until Coastguard puts out a VHF call. Usually, the best source of help is the closest boat. By the time a Coastguard vessel arrives it may be too late.

A secondary issue is that an EPIRB or PLB is strictly for emergency use. It initiates a full SOS alert which cannot be cancelled by the initiator. Once the process starts there is a formal protocol to be followed even if the beacon is turned off, and there are potential repercussions for false alarms.

There is no way to use this system as a simple ‘Hey, come fetch me’ type signal, which may be all that is required. We faced this situation a few weeks ago while scuba diving in the Hauraki Gulf.

Selecting the symbol on the details of the target, including bearing and distance.

With the moderate current one of the divers had drifted a fair way from the boat before surfacing. He could see the boat but those on board couldn’t see him, and he was too far away for them to hear him shout or whistle. The angle of the sun also made it difficult to see his surface marker buoy.

This caused a major panic on board with a full callout to Coastguard resulting in a local rescue boat being dispatched, its fixed-wing aircraft taking off and even the police helicopter being redirected our way.

In fact, this was unnecessary in the end because a nearby boatie joined the search and shortly afterwards found our missing diver bobbing safe and sound on the surface some way from us.

The Nautilus Lifeline Marine Rescue beacon.

The only issue was he had run out of ways to try and attract our attention. In this case a PLB would certainly have initiated the same rescue scenario, but what he really needed was a simple way to tell those on the boat where he was.

Which is where AIS comes in.

The marine Automatic Identification System is carried by all commercial shipping, and you can track the position of any vessel in real-time at www.marinetraffic.com. On that website you can zoom in to your region of New Zealand and see ferries, container ships and other commercial vessels moving around. The data is updated every few minutes and clicking on any of the targets gives you more information about the vessel.

Simrad’s RS40 VHF comes with an integrated AIS receiver.

AIS has two flavours: class A and class B. It is the class B version of AIS, which operates over the VHF radio frequencies, that is useful for inshore waters. Firstly, an AIS receiver can be installed in recreational boats at a very modest cost. Secondly, it need not be a full emergency – an AIS-based locator beacon has two modes, one of which simply transmits the beacon’s current location. The second mode appends a distress signal to the location and is used for an emergency situation.

So, in our case when our diver popped to the surface and was unable to get our attention, he could have simply activated the ‘location’ signal on his AIS personal beacon. This would immediately display his position on the boat’s chartplotter, and we would know exactly where he was.

If we had pre-programmed the ID of his locator into the unit it would even show us his name rather than just the generic ID. The beauty of this system is that his location would show on any boat in the area with AIS capability, either on their chartplotter or VHF radio.

With this experience fresh in mind, we set about implementing an AIS solution.

The finished installation. Just need to seal the cable holes. Pretty straightforward.

First on the agenda was to source appropriate locator beacons for the divers. There are two solutions readily available in NZ – the Nautilus Lifeline and the McMurdo Smartfind S10. Both are compact, waterproof to well beyond maximum recreational diving depths, and have a five-year battery life.

The Nautilus is more compact and slightly cheaper, while the Smartfind is perhaps slightly easier to activate and also incorporates a flashing indicator light for night- time use. Needing a couple of these units, cost was our deciding factor – we purchased the Nautilus units through our local dive shop, but they are also available online from local distributors Seatech.co.nz.

Next, we needed an AIS receiver on the boat. We could have gone for the best solution and installed a full AIS transponder, which is then integrated to our chartplotter. A transponder transmits a signal to tell other vessels where we are and also receives signals from other AIS units. We have previously reviewed AIS systems from local manufacturer Vesper Marine, and this would be the ideal solution.

But this was overkill for our specific requirements and also exceeded the available budget. Instead, we looked for a lower-cost solution – a receiver-only option. The AISR120 receiver (manufactured by Australia’s GME), is available from all marine chandlers and even a few auto spares shops. At around $350, it’s a relatively modest outlay, although it also needs a dedicated VHF antenna (or an aerial splitter to share your VHF’s existing antenna).

The red, circular icon indicates the beacon’s location.

The unit has a built-in GPS antenna, though you can connect it to a suitable external GPS antenna if your installation location does not have a clear view of the sky. It has a NMEA- 2000 port and also a NMEA0183 output for older chartplotters, as well as an optional USB interface for connecting to a laptop computer.

Another solution we considered was upgrading our existing VHF to something like Simrad’s RS40 VHF radio with integrated AIS receiver. At just under $800 this would be the easiest in terms of installation – it simply replaces your existing VHF and plugs into the same antenna.

An optional NMEA-2000 cable then connects this unit to your chartplotter, and it has the added advantage that you will get the AIS signals on your VHF radio screen even if the chartplotter is turned off. The unit also works as a stand-alone AIS receiver if you do not have a compatible chartplotter. But in keeping with the minimum costs objective, we opted for the GME.

The AISR120 unit was a simple install. We considered the wide dash area inside the main cabin, but as the unit has an IPX7 waterproof rating we instead fitted it up on the flybridge. This gave the unit a clear GPS signal, and both 12V power and NMEA-2000 connections were close by.

Connecting the VHF antenna was the only complicated part, since an AIS-compatible VHF splitter is not the same as the usual VHF/FM splitter used to run the stereo off the same antenna as the VHF.

The Smartfind S10 was another option for the diver’s beacon.

Signal loss will occur unless you implement an active splitter, which is an additional cost. Luckily our boat had two standard VHF antennae already installed, one of which was redundant and could be repurposed. Total installation took less than 30 minutes.

Configuring the system couldn’t be easier. Our Lowrance chartplotter simply recognised the AIS receiver, and we immediately began receiving AIS signals from nearby commercial vessels. Testing the Nautilus involved turning it on and pressing the test mode button, and within 45 seconds it had obtained a GPS fix and transmitted its position.

Our chartplotter instantly showed the location and beeped a warning and continued to display the beacon’s location even when we took it some distance from the boat. Selecting the target icon gave us more details, including the bearing from us to the target and its distance away.

We were able to customise the icon, and give the AIS device a user-friendly name, but have not bothered. Note the AIS beacon will default to a different icon from commercial shipping, so it’s easy to identify even if there are other vessels around.

Job done, and now we just need to make sure divers pop a beacon in their BCD pocket before heading overboard. BNZ


The days of anchors entering the bow roller upside down or sideways and jamming in the fairlead are over.

Burnsco has introduced a self-righting anchor swivel that auto corrects the anchor’s orientation so that it always enters the bow roller correctly.

Made from highly polished 316 stainless steel, the self- righting anchor swivel is available in two sizes suitable for 6–8mm or 10–12mm chain.



Owners of Raymarine Axiom, Axiom+, Axiom Pro and Axiom XL can now display information from Mercury Marine’s VesselView on their MFD screens.

Using Mercury’s new SmartCraft Connect gateway, Axiom users can access and display performance data and alerts for up to four SmartCraft-compatible Mercury engines on every MFD in their NMEA 2000 network.

VesselView info includes engine status, engine rpm, gear selected, boat speed, boat trim, trim tab positions, fuel tank levels and battery charge, displayed in black graphics on a white background or white graphics on a black background (night mode).

Axiom owners can access VesselView through the new VesselView app on their LightHouse 3 home screen, or from within their chart-plotter, sonar and radar apps via a slide-out sidebar display.



The new Railblaza Trolling Motor Support XL will eliminate trolling motor damage during transport.

The support can be offset inboard or outboard to suit the alignment of the trolling motor shaft and is height-adjustable to suit different shaft stowage heights.

The Trolling Motor Support XL’s StarPort G-Hold 50 with flexible quick-release strap will secure the shaft of your Minn Kota, Motorguide, Watersnake, Lowrance Ghost, Garmin Force and many other trolling motor brands. The G-Hold’s flexible strap holds the shaft captive to avoid vibration on the road or on the water.

The Railblaza Trolling Motor Support XL’s fits any StarPort mount (sold separately) and can be removed to clear the deck when the trolling motor is in use.




The team at Balex Marine has designed and built a trailer that provides a seamless boat launch and retrieve experience, delivering your pride and joy to wherever the fish are biting.

The trailer’s custom-designed marine-grade aluminum chassis includes a frictionless multi-bunk roller system with an integrated Balex Automatic Boat Loading System capable of remote-controlled launch and retrieval. The trailer has a wireless braking system for safe, controlled stopping from any speed.




Released in June the latest Simrad MFD software update is packed with new technology and visual enhancements.

Updates include a series of radar-interface improvements and features focused on safety, like Dangerous Target Alert, and enhanced integration with partners.

Radar improvements make it easier to view, track and monitor vessels, and identify any that may be a risk to the user’s course. New icons for the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and symbols for radar tracked targets allow greater risk discrimination and can be combined in a unified on-screen view.

Several features in the release enhance connectivity, comfort and control with product integrations including the CZone Control Bar for digital switching, SteadySteer support, Honda Eco Mode instrument bar and Mercury Smart Tow – each easily integrated into Simrad MFDs.

The new Dangerous Target Alert provides a simple diagram in a pop-up window that shows the range, the graphical bearing and heading of the vessel in relation to the operator’s vessel. Moving radar and AIS targets will now display a graduated trail showing the vessels’ post-position history for enhanced situational awareness.

New icons for radar-tracked targets and symbols for AIS targets also make for clearer viewing while the radar display’s new-look includes a more modern Plan Position Indicator (PPI) with clearer numbers and a scaled boat icon for the user’s vessel.



Boat show adopts AC marinas

Marinas created for the America’s Cup will be getting a new lease of life in October when the Auckland (On Water) Boat Show moves in.

The show – from 7-10 October – brings a focus on innovation, commercial excellence and large vessels to central Auckland. Running for 22 years, it has become a focal point for the marine industry. Utilising the America’s Cup marinas offers further scope for growth.

New exhibitors like Euro City Marine (dealers of Crownline and Finseeker boats) will join established show stalwarts like Allan Tong Boatbuilders in showcasing industry-leading vessels.

On-water exhibitors will use the sheltered harbour in front of the North Wharf restaurants, bringing back the ever-popular feature of viewing vessels on the water. A specially-built infrastructure is to be installed to expand on the America’s Cup marina facilities, allowing easy access for show-goers to reach exhibits, displays and sea trials.

The on-land segment of the show will take place in the space adjacent to the challenger bases, which will host boat exhibitors in marquees and hard stand displays, covering everything from anchor components to sails and rigging.

From 2022 onward, the show will move to its new summer dates – 17-22 March – taking advantage of warmer weather conditions to fully promote the New Zealand boating lifestyle.

Organisers plan to use the summer timing of future shows to allow the boating public and new marine audiences to sample and enjoy boating in calmer and warmer weather conditions.

It will make full use of daylight savings so that patrons can enjoy the ambience of one of New Zealand’s newest waterfront precincts within central Auckland. BNZ

Gran Turismo 45

With its large windows, vast sundeck and U-shaped cockpit seating, the Gran Turismo 45 fosters conviviality and offers a great indoor-outdoor experience. With sleek lines and a sporty hull, this 14.78-metre yacht looks like a luxury sports automobile.

The Gran Turismo 45 takes all the best features of its predecessor, the GT 46, and adds Beneteau’s GT evolution markers. This approach extends to the yacht’s modular design and spacious, elegant interior with grey walnut and white lacquered joinery.

Aft there is a full-width owner’s cabin with a private head and separate shower cubicle. The VIP cabin in the bow is fitted with scissor berths configurable as a double bed or two singles. This cabin also has access to the forward head and shower area, which can be accessed from the saloon.

The Gran Turismo 45 carries the latest high-tech equipment for easy onboard living. There is an optional electronics Pack with Ship Control® technology.

Beneteau’s Air Step® hull provides outstanding performance and superb manoeuvrability. At low speed, the boat can be steered easily using the joystick and optional bow thruster. Inboard engines options include Volvo Z-Drive D6-380/DPH (2 X 380 /HP) or Volvo D6-IPS 600 (2 X 440 HP).

The Gran Turismo 45 will be officially unveiled in September 2021.

www.beneteau.com www.36degrees.nz


XO Boats DFNDR 9

The Finnish boating company XO Boats Ltd. has launched its newest product, the DFNDR 9.  

The DFNDR 9 is the first centre-console XO boat for overnight use, which – along with extensive customising opportunities – makes it an exceptional multipurpose boat.

The clever design allows a wide variety of uses, from water skiing and sport fishing to day cruising and challenging adventures. The aft deck and bow areas convert into enormous sunbeds while a private head and berths for two assure comfortable overnight stays.

Equipped with two Mercury 225 V6 engines, the boat can reach a top speed of 50 knots.

The super-strong XO military-grade aluminium structure and deep-V hull make DFNDR 9 an attractive choice for a superyacht chase boat, or for professional use.

XO Boats has strengthened its presence in the Mediterranean region, as well as Taiwan, Australia, Canada and Alaska.