BOATS OF THE FUTURE

Next-generation technology has opened the door to unprecedented advances in marine electronics and engineering, bringing boaties greater safety and convenience than ever. Whether you’re looking to upgrade old gear or add allnew capabilities, you’ll find plenty of choice this coming year.

Technology continues to evolve at lightning pace, and that’s great news for boaties. Curious what the future holds? Here’s just a sample of the new high tech we could be seeing on the water in the years ahead.

If you think you’re hearing about more new technology these days, you’re right. Solar panels, electric cars, virtual meetings – even mobile phones – were all once considered far-fetched ideas straight out of science fiction novels. They have all since gone on to become part of everyday life. So, what’s next?

Where boaties are concerned, the future is full of amazing new technologies. Care for a sneak peek? Here’s just a sample of what’s in development right now.

MAGNETIC SHORE POWER SYSTEMS

One of the realities of having electricity anywhere near water is that corrosion is inevitable, and that in turn can lead to short circuits. In the case of shore power systems, corrosion can cause serious fires if a connection arcs or overheats.

A Canadian company called VoltSafe has developed a new magnetic plug design that eliminates the traditional prong-and-socket configuration altogether, creating what it says is the safest shore power system in the world. Inspired by the magnetic power cords used on Apple laptop computers, VoltSafe invented and subsequently patented a high-voltage magnetic connection that can provide 30, 50 or 100-amp shore power – or even charge an electric boat – without risk of arcing or corrosion.

“The plug will only let power flow once the outlet recognises an exact electrical signature from the plug, and this happens in less than five milliseconds,” says VoltSafe CEO, Trevor Burgess. “So, if you accidentally drop your plug in the water, it’s not going to pop all the breakers or electrocute anyone.”

The company is now talking with boat builders and marina pedestal manufacturers to bring the system to market.


HULL COATING INSPIRED BY SHARK FIN

Most boaties are familiar with stepped hulls, which use an irregular shape to break surface tension and increase performance. In Europe, German engineering firm BASF is achieving even better results by replacing the single abrupt step with millions of much tinier ones.

Inspired by the way sharks can swim at high speeds for long distances with minimal effort, the company has developed a super-slippery film that’s covered with tiny, diamond-shaped structures inspired by the sandpaper-like denticles found on shark skin. This film can be applied to any hard surface to reduce drag and, as a result, significantly lower both fuel consumption and emissions.

In lab tests the new film proved so successful that the German national airline, Lufthansa, has entered into a programme to conduct real-world testing on one of its cargo jets. Initial results have been encouraging, meaning the drag-reducing film could make its way to market in the very near future.

NEXT-GEN STABILISERS

Let's face it, it’s hard to have fun on the water when the boat’s pitching up and down in rough seas. But a new stabiliser technology aims to tame the waves by suspending the yacht above them.

The Martini concept – a collaboration between Servo Yachts and Shuttleworth Design – uses parallel pontoons to form a catamaranstyle hull, with the passenger compartment suspended between them on shock-absorbing legs. Imagine a spider straddling a pair of matchsticks and you get the basic idea.

As the pontoons heave up and down in the waves, their motion is absorbed by the articulated legs, leaving the yacht itself level and still at all times. The unique suspension system is said to deliver the smoothest possible ride in rough seas.

Servo Yachts has tested a series of prototypes and is now partnering with Shuttleworth Design to develop a pair of luxury yachts – dubbed the Martini 6 and the Martini 7 – around the concept.


SOYBEAN SEAT CUSHIONS

Foam seat cushions are made from oil, and with prices skyrocketing these days, boat builders are open to alternatives – like plant-based resins made from soybeans.

The idea of using plant-based resins isn’t new – Ford first tried them a dozen years ago, when it put soy-based foam in the seats of its 2008 model year cars, including the flagship Mustang. More recently, Toyota and BMW have also adopted the use of plant-based resins in their own vehicles.

North American boatbuilder Campion Marine started using soy-based seat cushions in 2016 and won a Boat Builder Award for Excellence at METSTrade the following year as a result. As oil prices continue to rise, it’s very likely other companies will adopt foam cushions made from soybeans to curb costs and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

CHARGE YOUR ELECTRIC BOAT IN 5 MINUTES

THE MAIN KNOCKS against electric boats (and electric cars) are limited range and that they take a long time to recharge. Researchers at Purdue University in the USA are aiming to change that with a new type of power cable that could cut recharge times to just five minutes.

Charging time is limited by the capacity of the cable linking the boat to the power source. Pushing more power through the cable speeds the process, but also generates more heat. Too much, and the cable melts.

The Purdue team have developed a water-cooled cable that can take much higher voltage without overheating – allowing charge times 20 times faster than possible with a standard power cable. Patents are pending, and investors are standing by – including major electrical equipment companies.

HIDING BATTERIES IN SAILS

Electric boats need big battery packs, and they can suck up a lot of interior space – especially on sailboats, where there isn’t much room to begin with. But a new flexible battery technology could eliminate that problem by allowing a vessel’s sails to store all the energy it needs.

Researchers at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have developed a flexible, lightweight and paper-thin battery that can be rolled, folded, twisted or even ripped without impairing its ability to supply power. This allows the battery to be integrated into flexible structures like sails, or even a canvas top. Combined with solar panels and an electric motor, the flexible batteries could theoretically give any sailboat unlimited global range.

CREATING FUEL FROM WATER

Several leading engine builders are touting hydrogen gas as a replacement for diesel and gasoline in engines, given that it’s cheap, widely available, and the only emission it produces is steam. Further, engines running on hydrogen would only require minor modifications from existing ICE designs, making the transition fast and cheap.

Like any other propellant, hydrogen would need to be carried onboard in a tank, which takes up space and delivers a finite volume of fuel. But a new technology being developed in the US to strip hydrogen from water could theoretically give boats, yachts and commercial ships unlimited range, allowing them to create their own fuel on the fly as required.

By introducing water to two key elements – aluminum and gallium – researchers at the University of California found they were able to induce a chemical reaction which produces significant volumes of hydrogen gas that can be used to power a vessel.

Best of all, the reaction takes place at room temperature, eliminating any need to heat or cool the water in order to achieve a result.

Whether or not their process for generating hydrogen fuel on demand can be scaled to commercially viable levels remains to be seen. The researchers have filed a patent application for the process, however, so clearly, they believe it possible for boats to produce their own fuel on the go while enjoying unlimited range roaming the oceans of the world.

PAINT-ON SOLAR PANELS

Not everyone likes the look of a solar panel array. But what if the panels could just be painted on, and in any colour you like?

That’s the goal of researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada, who are developing paint-on solar panels using quantum dot solar cells. Quantum dots are tiny, light-sensitive grains small enough to be mixed into regular paint. They are more effective than traditional solar panels because they respond to a broader range of light wavelengths and can be used to coat the entire vessel.

Even better, quantum dots are cheap, so they offer a low cost per watt of power – a key factor in making the technology commercially viable. The technology has already attracted interest – and investment – from major automakers.

FULLY AUTONOMOUS BOATS

Progress toward the development of fully-autonomous boats took a giant leap forward in January this year when a Japanese car ferry completed a 240km voyage through the Iyonada Sea, successfully departing port, navigating the crossing while avoiding other traffic, and docking at its destination – all without human intervention.

Built by Mitsubishi, the Soleil executed several automated manoeuvres in the course of its voyage, including high-speed navigation at speeds of up to 26 knots. The electronics used to guide the 222m vessel include infrared cameras that can detect other ships in even total darkness, an automated ship navigation system collision avoidance capability, and an advanced automated port berthing/unberthing system that provides fully-automatic docking.

The Soleil ferry began navigating with a human crew in July 2021, allowing the vessel to compile six months of passage data in preparation for its fully-autonomous navigation. That data bank can now be shared among other autonomous vessels travelling a similar route or visiting the same ports. The long-term goal is to create a global, shared library of navigation and port data that can be collected by and shared among all autonomous vessels – updating the data bank in real time to reflect any changes.

Scaled-down versions of the system could also allow fully-automated leisure boats to handle the driving while their occupants relax and lay out in the sun. Industry analysts say that automation systems could be just the ticket to encourage more people to come boating by eliminating anxiety over docking or learning navigation skills.

INSULATION YOU CAN EAT

Boats use a lot of insulation, whether it’s to make overnight accommodations more comfortable, or to cut noise from the engine compartment. But traditional insulation isn’t the nicest stuff from an environmental perspective, leading a group of German scientists to experiment with more ecologically-friendly alternatives – like popcorn.

Researchers at the University of Göttingen in central Germany say granulated popcorn is a great insulator that actually outperforms the stuff already in use. Further, popcorn can be formed into sheets or applied with a spray gun for easy installation. It’s highly fire-resistant, costs pennies, and is widely available. Best of all, at the end of its life popcorn insulation is fully biodegradable. You can even eat the stuff.

 


FIND THOSE FISH (PART 1): Current favourites

Oceanic currents, temperature breaks, structure and concentrations of baitfish are key factors when searching for pelagic gamefish.

Predominantly featureless and extending to the horizon, the sea can be a daunting proposition for anglers trying to find fish.

When one factors in an incredibly varied underwater environment and a myriad of different types of fish, each with its own unique characteristics and requirements, solving the puzzle becomes more complicated still.

However, if we isolate the main elements that draw and hold different fish (many of which overlap or are interrelated), identifying likely fishing spots becomes a lot easier.

These elements include: current; water temperature; seasonal migration [of fish]; shelter – from predators or to ambush prey from – food availability; and the need to procreate.

We will start this series by discussing the role of currents and how they affect seasonal fishing in New Zealand, beginning with our world-famous game-fish fishery.

Change direction regularly when trolling a spread of lures.

CURRENTS AND GAME FISH

Oceanic currents are moving bodies of water largely driven by global wind systems fuelled by the sun’s energy. Ocean currents are influenced by wind direction, Coriolis forces caused by the Earth’s rotation, and landforms that interact with them.

Acting like giant conveyor belts, currents transport pelagic predators and their prey to different parts of the globe. Different currents are populated by different animal and plant communities, generally determined by a current’s origin and subsequent journey.

As you might expect, in our hemisphere, currents arriving from the tropics are much warmer than those originating in more southerly climes. The sea life carried along by the former, including the game fish we want to catch, tends to reflect this.

THE GAMEFISH CALENDAR

For Kiwi fishers, the game season usually kicks off in mid-tolate December, starting with the arrival of smaller ‘baitfish’ species like saury, flying fish and skipjack tuna. These are accompanied by the first wave of predators that feed on them – bigeye tuna, several shark species and shortbill spearfish.

A few weeks later, the more tropical predators start arriving, including mahimahi, yellowfin tuna and striped, black and blue marlin.

Fortunately for us, when the water cools again and the more tropical currents retreat in May or June, we find ourselves with new opportunities as different oceanic currents push in.

For example, in winter and spring we have excellent bluefin tuna, albacore tuna and broadbill swordfish fisheries to take advantage of, resulting in exciting sportfishing options virtually all year round.

SST CHARTS

Recent years have provided us with the technology to locate and track the warmest current areas before heading out fishing, saving time and fuel. Sea Surface Temperature (SST) charts are collated using satellite data. The charts reveal water temperature at the ocean’s surface and provide information on current direction and speed.

Having pored over SST charts (ideally over several days), most game fishers will also wish to identify the greatest concentrations of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a green substance found in the leaves of plant and also in phytoplankton, the microscopic building blocks of the marine food chain.

Phytoplankton is eaten by zooplankton, krill and tiny fish, which in turn are eaten by bigger fish, and so on. Find the chlorophyll and chances are you’ll find bigger predators nearby. (FishTrack.com provides all this information and more.)

Always keep an eye out for current lines, temperature breaks, FADs, birds and bait.

FISHING THE TEMPERATURE BREAKS

After arriving in such areas, more experienced skippers will try to find exactly where cooler water meets warmer water, which is more easily said than done, especially on a rough day. Sometimes temperatures will vary by just fractions of a degree, but in other instances they may vary by several degrees. The colour of the water on either side can be very different, too.

Where warm water meets cooler water is called a temperature break and on a calm day they often show up as long stretches of calmer, oily water, frequently attended by feeding birds and signs of baitfish. They are a potential fishing goldmine.

That is because different fish species often find the temperature on one side of the break or the other more comfortable, especially smaller fish with less bulk to protect them from thermal shock. For them, the temperature break acts as a natural barrier, forcing them to swim along the edges.

Predators understand this and patrol these areas too, their greater bulk providing better protection from temperature variations, allowing them to move easily between warmer and cooler water in their search for food.

Game fishers can find success by adopting a similar movement strategy. Indeed, while the water on one side of the temperature break may look more attractive to us – bright, clear and azure in colour as opposed to a creamier green, say – the strikes often come out of the green zone.

Multiple hook-ups are not uncommon around gamefish hotspots like temperature breaks and underwater structures

However, it’s not necessary to zigzag across the two bodies of water continuously; by all means troll in one direction for hundreds of metres before changing course – and keep the turns modest, so the lures don’t cross over and tangle.

The direction changes are important, though. Not only do they allow you to explore both sides of the temperature break, they also make the lures on one side of the pattern speed up while those on the other side slow down. The sudden variation in lure action might trigger any uncommitted gamefish following the lures to strike.

CURRENT AND STRUCTURE

It is also worth checking out any significant underwater structures in the area, even if they are located in very deep water. Ridges and seamounts serve to push cooler, nutrientrich water upwards, providing fodder for the whole food chain, including large game fish at the top.

The biggest structures also reduce water depth, resulting in stronger currents flowing over them. Large, powerful predators use this to their advantage when pursuing smaller prey.

The Wanganella Banks, Ranfurly Banks, King Bank and Middlesex Bank are excellent examples of structures that provide amazing fishing.

Always investigate feeding seabirds, but don't ignore birds sitting on the water either.

LOVELY MEATBALLS!

You will often find meatballs in the scenarios described above – schools of baitfish coralled into a condensed mass by predators, including tuna and marlin, and dolphins and sharks, too.

They are very exciting to witness. If the predators are yellowfin, you can expect explosive white water activity and will sometimes see big tuna jumping well clear of the water in pursuit of their prey; marlin generally feed more precisely, occasionally showing slashing bills, fins and upper bodies.

It therefore pays to keep an eye out for concentrations of seabirds, either milling around and obviously feeding, or big rafts of them sitting on the surface, perhaps surrounded by a large patch of apparently oily water. You can actually smell where significant feeding activity has taken place if the wind is from the right direction!

It’s always worth investigating concentrations of seabirds. While fishing around actively feeding birds would seem more likely to bring success, fishing around rafting birds often proves worthwhile too, especially where there’s evidence of very recent feeding activity – an oily patch and/or a ‘snowfall’ of glittering scales in the water. Deploying a live mackerel or koheru can work wonders!

NOT JUST A FAD

Very occasionally, if you keep a sharp eye out or maybe get a bit lucky, you’ll come across floating or semi-submerged FADs (Fish Attraction Devices). These can be natural or manmade. Natural can include logs, dead whales or large rafts of floating kelp, while manmade FADs we’ve seen include fridges, navigation devices, broken-off fishing buoys – even a whole shipping container!

These items offer various small open ocean fishes varying degrees of precious shelter. Perhaps it’s similar to them as it is for us seeing a tree in the middle of a featureless desert. With all those small baitfish, squid and other tiny creatures seeking refuge under them, FADs are an irresistible attraction to larger oceanic predators.

Interestingly, the object does not have to be especially large (a single plastic safety helmet provided us with phenomenal fishing for mahimahi and yellowfin on one occasion), but older ‘floaters’ covered in weed and barnacles tend to be more productive than objects newly adrift.

So, always investigate floating objects in the open ocean during the warmer months, and ensure someone’s up on the bow or on the flybridge wearing polarised glasses to spot any fish holding deeper down.

TO SUMMARISE

• Consult SST charts for the warmest water and best concentrations of chlorophyll

• Keep an eye out for temperature breaks, incorporate occasional zigzags in your trolling, and cover both the warmer and cooler sides of the break

• Troll over and around any significant underwater structure, even if it’s 300 metres down

• Watch for birds indicating possible ‘meatball’ action, as well as any floating objects. BNZ


ONE FAMILY’S BOATING JOURNEY - Jobs Weekends

It’s the first weekend in June, and I’m sitting on SV Sauvage writing this article at Gulf Harbour Marina. We had planned a return sail from the marina to Rakino Island, but staying true to recent weather patterns, the gales and rain have come, so we find ourselves stuck at the marina on a ‘jobs weekend’ instead.

Truth-be-told, I have many ‘jobs weekends.’ Sauvage is the place I go to in order to get away and relax, and I enjoy the challenge of the ‘slow upgrade’.

Before we purchased Sauvage, we knew her autopilot and depth sensors were archaic. The autopilot had not worked in years (I suspect about 15). Knowing we would have to upgrade our electronics suite, I did my research and quickly reached the conclusion we would use B&G (www.bandg.com). B&G is by far the most popular choice of the yachtie YouTubers we follow, which swayed our decision.

Chris rolled the undercoat himself

Recognising that our upgrade would have to happen sooner rather than later, I had no issue at all in replacing them, bar the amount of money I knew I had to spend. But safety first! Accurately knowing your depth when out sailing is vital.

In June 2021, seven months after purchasing the boat, we were ready to install our new Depth, Speed & Temperature (DST) device. I ordered the DST pack which includes the screen appliance along with the transducer (model DST810). Well, when I say, “we were ready,” I actually meant that Sauvage was about to be pulled out of the water onto the hard for antifouling and a repaint. And since I was under the impression that we would need a new through-hull hole, this to me was the obvious time to attempt the installation.

And so… we lifted Sauvage out onto the hard, where she was water-blasted. For the first time ever, I had a good look below her waterline. It was a wonderful and pleasing sight: other than needing an antifoul and a repaint, and while there were some obvious signs of age and wear and tear, there was no water damage to the hull.

Filling and sanding.

Somewhere inside Sauvage we had something that looked just like the DST transducer I had just received from B&G and now needed to replace. But where was it? After removing floorboards, some seats and a couch, I finally found it. Yep, and as expected, it must surely have been one of the first Navionics installations: a depth transducer and a super-old Navionics autopilot compass!

Upon inspection, it seemed that once the old transducer was removed, the new one would literally be a plug-and-play replacement – no through-hole needed. The easiest boat job ever! Whew. I then ran the cable from the new transducer back to the navigation table (a.k.a., the Captain’s Desk) which I intend to be the electronics and electrical connections core of our sailing world. First job done!

Having installed the transducer, the local marine coating team applied the new antifoul and paint, but to digress, as we all know (or maybe it’s just me), generally a ‘small job’ tends to become massive as its scope grows and lack of knowledge kicks in!

As thoughts of saving money ran through my mind, I decided that I would sand the gelcoat and then under-coat and top-coat (both twice) above Sauvage’s waterline myself: As luck would have it, I successfully sanded and applied the first two coats of undercoat. It was thoroughly pleasing to see my progress.

The local paint shop applied the top coats.

But soon work commitments and weather slowed me down, and I found myself further and further behind. Of course, I had to prove myself after my wife had asked me numerous times before we started whether I was over-committing myself. (“No, I’ll get it done in a few days,” I had said with confidence.)

At about this time Auckland’s COVID Level 4 lockdowns happened, and to my horror we found ourselves stuck on the hard. We live and work in Cambridge and could not cross the Auckland-Waikato border to get to Sauvage to do any more work! Sadly, she sat on the hard until September when Auckland went to Level 3, but the border did not re-open. Reconsidering my options, and our bank account (sitting on the hard for a lengthy period of time is no free gift), we decided to get our wonderful local painting team to roll on the two topcoats before the Marina Office helped us re-float the boat and put it back in its berth.

This was an expensive lesson – one that I did not particularly enjoy. But I relished my time spent with Sauvage, learning more about her setup.

A very old Navico autopilot compass
The new instrument goes here
Repurposing the old leak

Fast-forward to the Auckland-Waikato border re-opening (middle of December), when we shot up to Auckland and installed the B&G screen in the cockpit and plugged in the cables. Then we used a No.8 wire trick to hold it in place. Why? The side of the spot where I wanted to install the screen was slightly angled, which meant that it was too small for the screen. So, I ran a temporary cable and perched the screen thereabouts, holding it in place with some masking tape. Here it sat for a while, even while we ran away from the world for six weeks on our summer cruise! It was a bit of an eyesore but the instrument worked perfectly out of the box.

On our return in February 2022, I took a long and careful look at this eyesore. Then from teak leftover from an earlier refurbishment of the transom, I fashioned a rectangular box dimensioned to the B&G screen. Epoxy helped give it reasonable structure and stability. After mounting the screen, I screwed the box in place exactly where I had originally planned. After such a mammoth effort – only 10 months, three lockdowns and a six-week sail later – the job was finally done!

My take-away from this? No job on the boat is ever as small, as easy, or as quick as I expect it to be! But perseverance and vision always helps me get there in the end. BNZ

Test install
Screwed and epoxied into place
Finished installation, with a new drip-grade to come below it.

 


HIDE & SEEK

I’m sure every boatie who ever worked on their boat has, more than once, spent more time looking for tools and spares than it took to do the actual job.

Finding stuff drove me to distraction on my first boat, and it drove me crazy (until now) on my latest, a 13.7m schooner. You would think there would be enough room in a nearly 14m hull with an almost 4.3m beam for all the tools and spares under the sun, and there pretty much is onboard Britannia. But the abundance of locker space creates its own problems: It can accommodate a workshopfull of tools and spare parts, but that doesn’t mean I can always find them, or even remember where I put them.

I would frequently spend more time trying to find something – the right-sized screw, a special tool, or a spare part – than it took to fix the problem! I would sometimes give up completely and sleep on it, hoping that something’s whereabouts might come to me in the morning.

It would often cause arguments between my wife and me: “I don’t know where you put the blasted thing! You never put them back in the same place, anyway, so how can you expect anybody to remember where you put so much stuff?” Kati was right of course, so we decided to do something about it.

On a boat of Britannia’s size, it is often possible to stow spare parts relating to a particular ‘trade’, like plumbing, woodwork, electrical, deck fittings, etc., all together in one location, which makes it easier to at least go to the right place. But on a smaller craft that’s not always practical, so you find yourself getting frustrated while rummaging through lockers that are not even relevant to the thing you want.

THE REMEDY

The answer is to accurately catalogue where things are – wherever they are stowed – whether it’s a special shackle or a spare alternator, so you have a method of finding it. In fact, if you think about it, it doesn’t matter where you keep things, so long as you can quickly locate them.

I’m not talking about a spreadsheet in Excel, or any other computer program (we tried that first and it’s too complicated), because you can bet your life the laptop battery will be flat when you want to open it, and if someone else is searching for something they might not be able to open the correct page anyway.

The simple solution is a hard-copy binder, stowed where you will always keep it – maybe the chart table… but then, if you lose even the book, you really are in trouble!

So, buy a loose-leaf spring binder, complete with an alphabetical index and plenty of blank pages, along with a pencil with a rubber on the end. This becomes The Book.

Buy a loose-leaf spring binder with an alphabetical index.

Then make a detailed drawing of every cabin on your boat where ‘stuff’ is stowed, which of course, means everywhere! An example is our fo’c’sle, where we have two spacious storage compartments under the vee berths, a hanging locker to stb’d, along with a block of four drawers and a cupboard above. On the port side there is also a large locker with four shelves and a second hanging locker. The bank of drawers and the locker with shelves needs a frontal sketch on the page, labeling them on the sketch A, B, C, or 1, 2, 3, etc., if you like.

Having prepared The Book, we started the tedious and timeconsuming operation of cataloguing every single item on the boat. We never dreamed it would take three more weekends and run into many hundreds of items (360, to be precise). However, if this ‘finding’ problem also sounds like you, I assure you it’s time well spent, saving many hours of labour on your boat in the future.

Cataloguing is really a two-person job, one calling out the item and its location, the other writing. And this is where it becomes tedious. Every individual part stored in every single drawer, shelf or locker must be catalogued in the appropriate alphabetical page of the book. For example, my six bags of various sizes of teak wood plugs go under page W for ‘wood plugs’, but also under page P for ‘plugs – wood’, indicating where they are kept. Thus, you can find the plugs under ‘wood’ or ‘plugs’ in the fo’c’sle, cupboard C. If you can’t remember where C is, it is just a matter of looking at the fo’c’sle sketch. Bingo! It’s that simple for anyone to find anything on the boat.

No matter what you are looking for, with the catalogue, you will be able to find it - for wood plugs, look up W for wood or P for plugs - wood.

Yes, a major advantage of the book is that everyone in the crew can find things quickly. Many things have more than one name anyway, so it pays to call a nautical item by a simple generic term as well, so landlubbers can also find it. For example, ‘Stainless-steel set-screws’ are also catalogued under ‘bolts,’ and ‘nuts and bolts.’ You get the drift?

Every cabin or compartment where things are stored needs to be illustrated in this way in the front of the book, including outside lockers, deck boxes and lazarettes. Just how deep you catalogue this process is up to you. I have a compartmented box of different sizes of electrical wire crimp fittings, which are all catalogued under the general name ‘electrical crimps.’ But I also have a compartmented box of many different small items, which are all in the book individually.

During this long process, you may even find things you never knew you had, or else find them in a different place to where they should be. Whatever you do, just catalogue it in your book, under as many separate headings as it takes to make them easier to identify.

You will eventually finish up with your book full of items on each alphabetical page, but they will not be in alphabetical order because you wrote them down as you catalogued them. Some pages will be full of items, others not, like X, which in my book has only one item, ‘Xylene,’ which is also under S for ‘Solvents – Xylene,’ along with a long list of other solvents. Port cabin, locker A.

Therefore, having finished the actual cataloguing, this is the point where you open your computer and re-type each item on a page in alphabetical order. Thus, on page W we have 26 items, the first being ‘walkie-talkies’ and the last ‘Woodruff keys’. I expect there is a program somewhere which re-calibrates lists into alphabetical order with one click, but I don’t have it. This process is tedious, but it saves having to scour through a long list on the same page. At least it’s a sitting-down job.

FORWARD CABIN: The fo'c'sle sketch showing all the cupboards and lockers.

Having compiled a neat alphabetical page, print it to replace the pencilled original. Now trace over your drawing with a ballpoint pen – or do a new drawing in Photoshop as I did. If you leave your original drawings in pencil, they will slowly fade until you don’t know which compartment is which. Incidentally, all this effort will someday impress a potential buyer.

It almost goes without saying that it is very important to put things back where they came from when you are tidying up, otherwise the system breaks down. This might sound like common sense, but it is easy to slip a bunch of tools back in the wrong place after use. In other words, become methodical, and your efforts will pay dividends in time saved looking for things, not to mention eliminating the frustration of emptying a locker only to find the item in another. My memory is sometimes so dull I check the book to see where to stow things again after I’ve used them.

Being able to find things quickly can also be a lifesaver in emergencies. Once, a friend who was stronger than he looked snapped the end off a seacock while trying to close it with a big pipe wrench [spanner]. He plugged the inrush of water with this hand while my wife looked in the book and found ‘wooden seacock bungs’, in saloon stb’d side seating C. In a jiffy the seacock was plugged. By the way, the remainder of the bungs are now attached to their respective seacocks, where they should have been in the first place, and that item has been erased from the book.

I once searched high-and-low for a specially spliced length of line that acted as the fore-staysail topping lift. Eventually I gave up and made a new one, using 9m of line. Later, when I was rummaging through one of our aft deck boxes, I found the line in the bottom of the box. It had been thrown in and not entered in the book. Me, methodical? Well, not always!

Before
After

Roger's Kia van has a large space underneath the rear floor, which utilises to store a multitude of common multi-use tools, all filed in the The Book under K for Kia.

So, what do you do with common tools used both on your boat and also at home, or at your work, like a big lump hammer, a large pipe-wrench, or a crowbar? One reason I bought a Kia passenger van about the time I bought my boat was that it has a very large storage space under the rear floor. Other vehicles commonly use this space to store the spare wheel; in the Kia the spare’s housed underneath this storage area.

So, I keep these multiple-use tools, like my circular saw, Dremel kit, belt sander, electric planer, woodworking clamps, saws etc. – plus a multitude of other tools stored in this space – under ‘Kia’ in the book. If your vehicle doesn’t have a space like this, you could store these common tools in a box in the vehicle— or buy duplicates. Otherwise, when you need something on the boat, for sure it will be in your garage, and vice-versa.

Finally, never forget to add anything you have recently bought, or to delete any consumable you have used up and not yet replaced. In other words, keep the book current, because someone else might need to find something in a hurry, when you are not around.

The total number of items we have catalogued to date is 360. No wonder it was impossible to remember what we have on Britannia, and where things were stowed. Now I don’t have to remember, leaving room in my mind for more important things, like where I put the Guinness… BNZ


INAUGURAL ALAN WRIGHT DAY: 100+ BOATS, ONE DESIGNER

Forty-one years ago, one man was amazed to observe over 100 yachts of his own design gathered on the line by the Auckland Harbour Bridge for the start of Richmond Yacht Club’s inaugural Alan Wright Day.

This unique annual event, held for 20 years, was a tribute to Wrighty’s versatility. Every one of these very different boats evolved from his drawings and these ‘seeworthy’ craft were still sailing in New Zealand and Australian waters.

How did this happen? In 1964, Alan Wright (‘Wrighty’) tutored the art of building wooden boats full-time at Auckland Technical Institute. Basic yacht design was also included in the course. So when one student, realising his tutor was not an expert in this field, asked: “What do you know about this subject? How many boats have you designed?” it “hit an ego nerve,” as Alan put it, “so I had to design a yacht.”

Wright studied the subject for over a year, learning to draw plans. When he felt ready, he eventually sold a plan to an amateur builder. The result was a pretty 28ft (8.54m) centreboard sloop called Tormalind. A new career was now blowin’ in the wind.

Over 100 Wright yachts lined up under the Auckland Harbour Bridge for the inaugural Alan Wright Day 41 years ago.

His first sale set Wrighty on a steady course that culminated in nearly 100 different yacht designs spanning 30 years. His design philosophy in the boom years broke away from the establishment when he concentrated on what he called “fat boats”.

Other designers such as Stewart, Spencer and Des Townson were already successful. But it seems Townson at least was sceptical about Alan’s early, beamy, high-freeboard efforts. He told prospects that they would not sail well to windward, among other things. But Wrighty didn’t bite back.

“Des Townson was a stickler for tradition,” said Wrighty. “He made beautiful boats but he never lifted the sheer, which meant less headroom and less beam. I wanted a boat you could stand up in... with more room for the galley so the women who were getting into cruising with the family would feel more at home.”

Ironically, his first aft-beamy keeler was aptly named RiteOff. It was intended to be a big version of the Tasman 20 trailer yacht that had gained a reputation for beating many bigger boats of the day.

Richmond Yacht Club's Alan Wright Day was held annually for 20 years, as the Roy Molpass-crafted honours board attests.>/center>

But Wrighty was not happy with his plans. When he was asked to go over them with Bill McCook, the builder, he was apprehensive, saying: “It has too much beam (almost 13ft/4m). It will crank all over the ocean.” But the owner, after much arguing, persuaded Wright to leave the design as it was drawn.

Wright had the jitters at first – the misgivings of a pioneer of revolutionary concepts. “As it is, it’ll be a real handful on the wind. People will write off this creation before she hits the water,” he added. This remark determined the name of a beamy yacht that bore the signature of many subsequent Wright designs. RiteOff’s performance to windward was actually her strength, the vessel out-pointing and out-sailing most yachts in a stiff breeze – she was unbeatable in 25 knots. The owner raced her successfully for 37 years.

RiteOff was the starting gun for many future cruiser/racer yachts, luring hundreds of middle-aged sailors, and many old salts, all wanting easy handling, roomy, seaworthy, viceless craft they could successfully cruise and club (or class association) race.

The Wright 10.

THE BOOM YEARS

The late 1960s through to the mid-1980s was the hey-day for custom-built one-offs, trailer yachts and FRP (fibreglass) production keelers. There was an astonishing demand for Wright designs, along with those of his competitors.

Back then you could buy a house with three or four times an average annual income. Similarly, ordering a custom-built 30-footer or finishing an FRP hull and decks in your backyard would set you back less than a thousand dollars per foot. That’s why so many more men on modest incomes could afford their own yachts.

During those halcyon years it was not unusual to see 25-30 one-design yachts on yacht club start lines – Variants, Trackers, Lotus 9.2s, Lotus 10.6s, Wright 10s and Marauders. Other notable designers were also thriving: Laurie Davidson with his 28 and 36, Jim Young’s 88 and 11 and Bruce Farr with his fast 10.20, 9.2 and Farr 38, plus the lively Noelex 22, 25 and 30. There was Mull’s Chico 30 nibbling at the heels of the Lotus 9.2 and the Farr 10.20, also competing with the highly innovative Wright 10.

Then along came Greg Elliot with very quick boats like Transformer. Ron Holland (who was initially trained in boat building by Wright) also became a designer, later finding fame designing big yachts overseas.

There was plenty of design variety in those times, plenty of competition, plus a budding export industry for FRP production boats to Australia and the USA.

A Wright Marauder 8.4.

MULDOON’S BOAT TAX

In 1979 an envious Robert (‘Piggy’) Muldoon, while wandering around Westhaven looking at ‘gin palaces’ before his next gin, saw a nice fat source of revenue floating before his eyes, so he slapped a 20% tax on all new boats. It put the anchor on domestic boat sales and wrecked a fast-growing export market. (Wrighty’s own 40ft Carino, worth $100,000, suddenly cost $120,000, for example). The tax beached many boats under construction, caused many cancelled orders, and generally threw the entire industry into a whirlpool. John Street, well-respected in the marine industry, blasted the ridiculous nature of the tax, arguing that New Zealand’s new export industry would generate far more tax revenue in the long run. Muldoon must have been well aware of this, since he was a previous Minister for Tourism.

Because of the mischief of the mandate, many expert builders were forced into repair and refit work. The tax was reduced to 10% years later, but irreparable damage had been done to New Zealand’s boatbuilding industry.

The Wright 10.6, big brother to the 9.2, was a popular model.

PUSH-BUTTON IMPORTS

The writing was on the wall. Our boatbuilding was reduced to a few one-offs while factory-finished Beneteaus, Jeanneaus, Bavarias, Moodys, Hanses, Elans, Dufours and many other brands, including a plethora of power boats, heralded a new era of oversea imports.

But the legacy of the Wright fleet prevails. Drop the pick anywhere in the Gulf and you will see a Marauder, or a Lotus 10.6, or a 9.2, or a 1280 – or even a Tracker or two. Such seakindly, ‘seeworthy’ boats will be around for a while yet – you can purchase one for its 1980 price, largely because a gradual shift to power boats has lowered the resale value of these elderly yachts.

Alan Wright could sail almost before he could walk. He has over 80 years of boatbuilding and designing behind him, starting with the first family cruising yacht he built for himself, a trimaran, and spanning over 100 others of his own design. Not bad, really. BNZ

The Lotus 9.2, probably the most successful 30-footer ever.

The Tracker, with around 200 built, is still sought after.

ONE MAN AND HIS BOATS: Chuck Auger

A few weeks ago I spotted a tiny, battered trophy of a gaff cutter yacht in a box of miscellaneous items on a local auction site. Its sails were crudely attached. I won the auction and saw the inscription was “M.C.C. won by Sea Gnome R.H. Auger 1929”.

 I took the sterling silver model to a jeweller in Wellsford, near where I live. He reattached the sails and rigging correctly and gave it back to me beautifully polished. So what was the backstory to this little treasure?

Richard Henry ‘Chuck’ Auger was a force to reckon with as a centreboard yachtsman in Auckland for over 30 years from 1920, particularly on the Manukau where he dominated the racing silverware.

Born in 1898, Chuck Auger grew up living in Scarborough Terrace in Parnell, where his father was a bootmaker. He was early involved in yachting which was inevitable in the suburb of Parnell with its coastline from Mechanics Bay in the West to Hobson Bay in the east. Chuck started racing as a 13-year-old on the 26ft mullet boat Arawa then owned by W. J. Mann of Devonport. She had been built by S. Mills in 1903 and raced with North Shore Yacht Club.

Atalanta

There were other influences in Chuck’s career. First was the guru of 14-footer ‘flatties’, George Honour, who lived nearby in Lee Street. When he shifted to Auckland from Wellington during World War 1, George imported the Wellington concept of fast, cheaply-constructed, square-bilge centreboarders. Originally inspired by the American Rudder magazine’s Sea Wren, Sea Mew and similar hard-chine designs, the Highet brothers and their followers at Te Aro Sailing Club had heavily refined the type and were having excellent racing with them.

Just after World War 1 the flatties became a craze amongst Auckland’s youngsters where there were three vigorous 14-foot centreboard classes. As well as these square-bilge ‘flatties’ (later Y Class) the glamour class was the 14ft One Design Class (later X Class) of clinker round-bilge craft, sponsored by the popular Governor-General Lord Jellicoe and the ‘Handicap Class’ (later T Class) of round-bilge 14-footers, more or less unrestricted except as to waterline length.

Another second influence was Len Heard, whose confectionary business in his landmark building in Parnell was a major employer in the area. Chuck trained with Heards as a confectioner. Len Heard Jr, who came to run the factory, was an influential launch owner, yachtsman and, like George Honour, was a leading light in the Akarana Yacht Club (formerly the North Shore Yacht Club) in Mechanics Bay.

Shirlene

The first yacht Chuck owned was the round-bilge 14-footer Arawa (sail number 249, then T14) which he bought from R.G. Hutton and raced weekly during the season with all the centreboard clubs. In the 1921 Auckland Anniversary Regatta Chuck came first on line with Arawa on nine minutes handicap. He came third in the 1922 Regatta but first on line and handicap again in 1923.

Chuck married Alma Hazleman in 1922 and shifted to 5 Alba Road Epsom. Yacht racing became secondary. By 1927 Chuck had moved to 5 Quadrant Road Onehunga, close to the Manukau waterfront, and he had two sons. It was only a matter of time before he got back into yacht racing. In August 1927 he bought the crack square-bilge Y Class Sea Gnome (Y2) built in 1921 by George Honour for himself, the last and fastest of the 14-footers he built. She had won 10 firsts in 17 starts and the Akarana Champion flag in her first season. Eventually she was matched by Trot Willetts’ Cupid then, from early 1926, by the Arch Logan-designed Alert.

There were two yacht clubs on the Manukau based at Onehunga. The elder was the Manukau Yacht and Motor Boat Club (MYC) which had been founded in August 1891 as the Manukau Yacht and Open Boat Sailing Club, second in seniority in Auckland only to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. It catered for a wide range of yachting and launching events and had well-constructed clubrooms right on the harbour, which were gutted by fire in 1925.

The Manukau Cruising Club trophy awarded to Chuck's Sea Gnome in 1929.

The Manukau Cruising Club (MCC) was set up in February 1923 as a response to the senior club holding no yacht races in the aftermath of the war and set out to promote centreboard racing. By 1926 the two clubs were co-operating fully on fixtures and working well together. The Manukau had become an attractive scene for small craft.

Chuck belonged to both clubs and was an official in both over the years, together with his brother Percy (known as ‘Tewk’). Cupid was also sold to the Manukau, but it was Sea Gnome that immediately dominated the under 18ft centreboard classes. It was the MCC which awarded my trophy to Chuck in 1929 for winning its under 18ft Championship with Sea Gnome which also won the championship with the MYC. In fact, Chuck and Sea Gnome won both clubs’ under 18ft Championships every year until he decided to sell her in 1936 to G. Lloyd and move up to 18-footers by buying Atalanta, the glamour Waitemata 18.

Billy Rogers of Curran Street had built the round-bilge, bermudan-rigged Atalanta II (V57) for Bourne Wilson of Argyle Street in October 1934. In her first season on the Waitemata she was scratch boat and the best performer, originally sailed by Doug Rogers and brothers Bob and Fred Rogers, but they left to crew Billy Rogers’ crack 14-footer Vamp in 1935. When Chuck bought her in the winter of 1936 she easily became the Manukau Champion.

Marie Dawn lines

Moving ahead again, Chuck had Arnold ‘Bill’ Couldrey of Northcote design and build him a new 18-footer, Marie Dawn, said to be an improvement on Couldrey’s crack 18-footer Jeanette. Jeanette (V90) had been built by in late 1938 for 18-year-old Jim Faire of Herne Bay as an out-and-out racer with an eye to the ‘World’ 18-footer Championships against the Australian 18s for the J.J. Giltinan Trophy, coming up in February 1939. After a dispute-ridden series, the New Zealand 18 Manu won the title, with Jeanette second. Chuck was busy sailing 14-footers at this time (see Sidebar) but the glamour of the Aussie contest attracted him greatly.

Marie Dawn (V3) was almost complete when war broke out in September 1939. Chuck did the finishing work and had her in the water by November. With such a skipper and such a pedigree there was no doubt that Chuck would win all the races he entered – 14 prizes in 15 starts. He clearly had in mind a scoop in defending the Giltinan Trophy against the Aussies in 1940, but Hitler put paid to that. Probably because Chuck decided that Jeanette was as good a boat, he bought her and sold Marie Dawn to George Lepper of Northcote in 1943. Jeanette carried on winning the MYC Championship Cup for Chuck in 1947 and 1948.

From here on the Augers’ boat ownership becomes blurred as Chuck’s eldest son Richard Henry Auger Jr crewed with him and probably shared ownership. The final two yachts in this category were Shirlene (T76), a Jack Brooke-designed 14-footer owned between 1943 and 1946, followed by Escapade (S10), the crack 16-footer built by Trot Willetts in 1939, winning the MYC Championship Cup in 1951.

Arawa

Chuck was a legend on the Manukau. Trevor Canute, the current MYC Commodore, says that one of the older members tells the tale of how Chuck would arrive at the annual prizegiving, collect his many trophies, put them in a sugar sack then heave it over his shoulder to catch the tram home. BNZ

CHUCK’S SANDERS CUP INTERLUDE

The glamour 14ft class in New Zealand was the One Design or Jellicoe Class which was contested between provinces for the Sanders Cup annually since 1921. It was responsible for an outburst of fervour for centreboard racing throughout the length of New Zealand in which Auckland was frequently the also-ran.

The provincial yacht associations held selection trials every year to select a competitor for the event, held in rotation around the country in January. For 1936 the Auckland trials resulted in a win for Aileen, built by Percy Vos in December 1932 for Ray Clare. She was skippered by Trot Willetts in the 1936 Sanders Cup race at Auckland, but the contest went to Avenger of Canterbury, sailed by Elliot Sinclair. In 1937 Aileen was beaten in the Auckland trials by Endeavour built by Billy Rogers for Warwick Parkes and sailed by Doug Rogers at the contest in Lyttelton. Lavina of Wellington won.

Centreboard racing on the Manukau 1935. Cupid in the foreground.

In late 1937 Owen Cronin of Onehunga bought Aileen and put her in the Auckland trials for the 1938 contest against Parkes’ Endeavour and the veteran Iron Duke sailed by C. Dunsford. Cronin appointed Chuck Auger as skipper. Aileen won the trials in a fine display of sailing from Chuck. For the contest at Dunedin, however, the Manukau team decided on a heavy crew to counter expected strong winds. As a result, Aileen made a poor showing against the southern boats, especially Kitty from Wellington sailed by Nigel Blair, which won convincingly.

For the 1939 Auckland trials, Cronin entered Aileen again, this time skippered by W. J. Potter, while Chuck Auger skippered the ex-Wellington representative Clyde, built by Ted Bailey in 1928 and now owned by Claude Pickering of Onehunga. In his crew Chuck had his son R.H. Auger Jr as for’ard hand. The competition was the new boat Marjorie, built by J. Ewen for Warwick Parkes, Aileen and Endeavour plus the ex-Otago and Paremata Kia Ora, sailed by W.T. Matthews. Marjorie was selected but, again, the southern boats prevailed with a win to Huia of Canterbury. It was not until the Centenary 1940 contest held at Wellington that Auckland turned the tide with a win for Billy Rogers’ Caress.

Sea Gnome
Escapade

A JOURNEY UP THE TE HOIERE PELORUS RIVER DELTA - CRYSTAL-CLEAR PELORUS

Lesley and I sneak up the Pelorus River delta in our wee rubber dinghy powered by a purringly-quiet Honda four-stroke 4hp outboard.

This is much to the dismay – and hilarity – of the locals, who mostly belong to the Te Hoiere Seagull Fleet, and who organise races up and back on the same route.

The rules of their event: any boat will do – the more eccentric the better (including a pirate ship made from re-purposed mussel buoys) – but it must be pushed by a British Seagull outboard motor. The races, held every two months and preceded by a ‘skite-yer-boat’ parade down the main street of Havelock, are hotly (and noisily) contested. Although not officially part of the rules, the Te Hoiere Seagull Fleet race boats also all sport bright, home-made flags. And, mostly, ingenious steering and refuelling systems.

One ambition amongst the racers is to be busted by the Havelock port captain for exceeding eight knots in the channel. Hasn’t happened yet.

Lindstol loading at Blackball
Canvastown miners - Havelock Museum

We chose the quieter option. Which was rewarding all the same. The Pelorus River, above the tidal influence, is renowned for crystal-clear water, and fish aplenty. Which we got, muchly. And other surprises.

But first, we got lost. Graham Smith, the doyen of the Seagull Fleet (he has – get this – more than 150 Seagull outboards in his shed) gave us a map of the racecourse. The Pelorus River spreads into a delta even before it reaches the tide, offering a loop up and down. To get to the route used for upstream entails either going down the main marina entry channel a wee ways at high or incoming tide, or else cutting left across Kaikumera Bay and what could be mudflats, to find the entry to the river through banks of sedge grasses. But we got a bit confused. And besides, Lesley had pictures to take of wildlife (including a huge swimming spider), and the unique Kiwi vernacular architecture of maimais.

By which time the tide had turned, so we came back another day. At least we knew where to go this time.

Havelock Slipway
SS Manaora and a steam barge on Kaikumera Bay, 1890s - Havelock Museum

This Up the Creek adventure specialises in intriguing history. One of the first diversions on the way up is an inlet on the north side where a timber mill once was. Then, back to the main part of the channel, where birds of many species announce our passing. Two blokes working with a digger in a paddock do the South Island sideways nod to acknowledge us. But it’s clear our outboard is not up to muster. We putter past quietly, a bit embarrassed.

Then under a high bridge, which carries the road to Kaiuma Bay Road and the north-west side of Pelorus Sound.

And up on the right, an old homestead and boat yard, where some quite big boats have been built.

By now we’re out of the tidal water, and the famously crystal-clear water of the Pelorus River is buoying us up. It’s a special sensation, this being supported by something almost invisible. We can see the rocks and roots clearly on the bottom, many metres down.

Graham’s map of the racecourse guides us to the epitome of this. In a side channel, a tunnel of green entirely covered by a canopy of willows, and – if this is possible – even clearer water below.

Pleasure boat in Pelorus Channel
Fine house beside the estuary

Not much further above this is where the single stream of Te Hoiere, the Pelorus River, splits into the two main channels of its delta. There’s quite a wide turning circle here in a calm basin fringed with beaches. Looking upstream, past a riffle of small rapids, we can see the river continuing in a curve to the right. I would have liked to follow this further another mile or so to the confluence with the Wakamarina River at Canvastown, and a tie-up spot just below the Pelorus Tavern and its Trout Bar. But it’s a bridge too far. By way of compensation, a giant trout leaps out of the water just in front of our dinghy.

The other appeal of Canvastown is the collection of murals in the Canvastown Hall, by the under-appreciated Kiwi legend, folk-art painter Ōriwa Haddon. At the end of a rich and full life as kapa haka performer, chemist, soldier and broadcaster, Haddon, his wife and eleven kids(!) got to go wandering about as an itinerant artist, paying his way by leaving paintings in lieu of paying accommodation bills. Upstairs in the corridors and rooms of the Havelock Pub is also another gallery of his work.

We set off downstream down the right-hand arm, back towards the river mouth and Havelock. Giant kahikatea, matai, rimu and tōtara logs lie waterlogged on the bottom of the river. Whether they are remnants of natural attrition, or lost stock from historic logging operations, we cannot tell. A tramway was built in the 1880s to transport logs down to the mills. But before that, they were floated down the river. Either way, they must be still a valuable resource. This valley has a rich history of extensive logging and timber-milling operations, and for a short time mining too, which hit payable gold at Wakamarina in 1863. But by 1865, the miners had moved on to other gold rushes. Canvastown never had the chance to become more permanent.

Old photos of Brownlee Mill in the Havelock Pub
Te Hoiere Pelorus River route drawing

To the left is rich, level, river-loam farmland in the island created by the arms of the river. To the right is Graham’s riverside spread, his garden another folk-art gallery of his sculptures fashioned from re-purposed mussel-buoys.

The river here is wide, deep and sleepy. We find secret places, where old boats lie in quiet moorings in small inlets, tied up to the trees. State Highway 6, the road from Havelock to Nelson, follows the river here, hugging its south side bank.

After a broad sweep to the right, there’s a reed-fringed inlet, where the huge and bustling Blackball Sawmill was established in the 1870s. It was the noisy, beating heart of a busy little town, with houses clambering up the steep hillsides. There are still rusty old corrugated-iron buildings there. And the hulk of the ship Pelorus. Also, the sheds for a boat-building operation on the edge of the water. Even still existing, a dovecote on top of the shed, where carrier pigeons were kept by the mill company – their river traffic comms system. And again, now, some quiet moorings.

The Blackball Mill was one of three owned by Brownlee & Co in these parts. Its empire also included 45km of tramline, four locos, and a fleet of four coastal trading ships: Clematis, Falcon, Ronga and Eunice. They had a setback in 1904 when a flood carried away all the main bridges over the Wakamarina, Pelorus and Rai Rivers. “It took all hands nearly a year to effect repairs, with all shipping stopped,” says the Havelock Museum’s page on Brownlee Milling.

River mooring among the sedges and trees
The Pelorus jetty - large enough for sizeable vessels.

But by 1915, the native timber was gone. Brownlee & Co shut up shop and moved to the West Coast.

Linden Armstrong, a Havelock historian, has the pithy summation: “Once the wood was gone, so was the town.”

Blackball got its name from a country store that preceded the mill on that site, which flew a flag with a black ball on it. In a nod to the symmetry of history, the current owner of the property, Pamela Hayter, raises black-faced sheep there now.

The logging ships had to come up to Blackball because they couldn’t extend the logging tramline downstream beyond a steep bluff called Cape Horn. We rounded it safely.

The 1906 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand summed up this history. “While the diggings were in full swing, and the timber industry was busy at the same time, trade flourished at the port: yet though the mines gave way, and sawmilling fell off, the town experienced no violent depression, owing to the steady growth of the farming industry, which is now its chief support.”

Smoko beside the river

Add to that farming in the water. Mussels. Like so many New Zealand small towns, Havelock needs something big, so it proclaims itself ‘the mussel capital of the world.’ And indeed, the mussel barges own the channel to the harbour, the mussel factories hum day and night puffing out random white smoke signals, heavy mussel trucks wheelspin and churn up the smooth new tarmac just laid in the main drag. And the entire town is littered with larger-than-life fibreglass mussels, which eyeball you with cartoon eyes from rooftops and the marina mole, and at knee-height from the curb. It’s all a bit weird – but in the nicest possible way.

Lesley and I make our languid way back to Havelock central and Skyborne in the marina there. On our way we share unhurried yarns with a retired couple fishing, a bloke shoring up his seawall and the fullas having smoko at the mussel factory. The view from their picnic table is among the best in the world.

We’re left with lovely Up the Creek memories of the tidal delta of Te Hoiere, the crystal-clear waters of the Pelorus River, the historic sites along the waterways – and the abiding impression that, although it’s the mussel capital of the world, it almost seems against the law to be in a hurry in these parts. Except of course in the Seagull races. And all that’s a good thing. BNZ


A break in the weather

It’s been slow coming, but winter seems to have finally arrived. In the South Island, ski fields opened after heavy snowfalls, and in the North Island we’ve had weeks of wet, stormy weather.

For a boating magazine, prolonged bouts of bad weather pose challenges when it comes to featuring new vessels. Boatbuilders, importers and owners want to present their craft in the best possible light, so it’s not surprising they show little enthusiasm for on-water boat reviews when it’s blowing a gale and/or bucketing down with rain. Safety has to be considered as well.

And from the magazine’s perspective, it’s very difficult to present a story in a visually appealing way when the boat and everything surrounding it is grey. Wind and rain make photography (and drone flying) virtually impossible, so Boating NZ relies on decent weather to bring on-water reviews of new boats to our readers. A bit of sunshine goes a long way!

July’s edition has been more challenging than most in this respect. Relentless wind and rain caused the cancellation or postponement of several planned features, and as the issue’s print deadline approached, I was beginning to wonder if we’d have enough new boats to fill the magazine.

Thankfully – and as usually happens – it worked out fine in the end. Our Australian correspondent Kevin Green supplied a comprehensive review of Riviera’s new flagship vessel, the 78 MY, which debuted last month at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show; John Macfarlane dodged rain squalls to sail the Given 14.5m sailing cat Katoa from Marsden Cove to Tutukaka; and at the 11th hour I managed to avoid thunderstorms to review Dreadnort Boats’ interesting V5500 CC trailer boat.

There’s plenty more winter to come, of course, but hopefully subsequent weather systems will move through a bit more quickly and provide a few more fine breaks between fronts!

With the shortest day already behind us and spring on the horizon, the thoughts of many will be turning towards the traditional start of the summer boating season. For Auckland sailors, that’s Labour Weekend, kicked off by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club’s (NZMYC) Coastal Classic Yacht Race.

This year the PIC Coastal Classic, starting in the vicinity of Devonport Wharf on the morning of Friday 21 October 2022, will celebrate the 40th and Russell.

With last year’s race cancelled due to Covid 19, it has been two years since the fleet sailed into the Bay of Islands, so the organisers “are beyond excited to get this race underway,” says NZMYC Commodore Greer Houston. After the Covid-induced break, a large fleet is expected to race this year.

To mark this 40-year milestone, organisers are offering entrants the chance to win two return airfares to Barcelona – the home of the 2024 America’s Cup. Entries are now being accepted online – www.coastalclassic.co.nz – and race organisers are encouraging participants to get prepared for the Labour Weekend ritual.

Looking forward to the race – and to spring – already!


Sanctuary Cove 2022

Travelling freely to an overseas boat show for the first time in a few years was an opportunity many New Zealanders took. The number of Kiwi voices at the show and full flights there and back were a significant indication of just how many! Story by Andrew Howard.

The location of the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show (SCIBS), halfway between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, provides a superb venue. The show runs over four days, and to do it justice, requires at least two days to see it all and also enjoy meaningful conversations with vendors and fellow boaties.

The range of boats on display at this show is always extensive, with something for everyone. The 33rd Sanctuary Cove Boat Show was loaded with everything from luxury motorboats and yachts, to trailer boats, PWCs, engines and supercars, watersports gear, gadgets and chandlery – even fishing lessons. It was also great to see a couple of high-profile New Zealand trailer boat manufacturers with large displays.

This year’s four-day show proved to be the classic ‘game of two halves,’ in that two of the days were bright and sunny but the other two were wet. Very wet! Fortunately, the show is very well-organised, with plenty of car parking and easy public transport options. Despite the challenges of keeping boats clean and dry inside when it was raining, the vendors were incredibly accommodating, helping show visitors to stay dry and look over the boats regardless of the rain.

Visitor numbers didn’t flag either, despite the weather, and there was an energy and buzz in the crowd that we haven’t seen in New Zealand for a couple of years.

Eyachts Managing Director Peter Hrones: “Despite some unfortunate weather, it was great to see so many still come to see our line-up of Axopar, BRABUS Marine and Pardo Yachts. Since bringing in the first European day boat in 2007, it is astounding to see how much this sector has grown. When Eyachts first brought Axopar to Australia in 2015, I thought this would be a niche brand, but now we are seeing so many people at the show who recognise and love these boats. Eyachts are now on track to have sold 250 Axopars by the end of 2022.”

Traditionally this is a show of world premieres, Australasian launches, and innovation. This edition of SCIBS certainly had all of those in spades.

The new Jeanneau 60 yacht was stunning, as were the three new Riviera models that premiered at the show: the 465 SUV Platinum Edition, 4600 SY and the company’s flagship 78 MY. The expanded display from Maritimo was its largest-ever at this show, and with three new models – M60 Flybridge, M600 Offshore Flybridge, and S600 Offshore Sedan – there was a feast of options to explore.


One of the best parts of any show is that the people behind any product or brand are usually present and available. In speaking with Tom Barry-Cotter, Maritimo’s Managing Director, we had a lengthy conversation about its new models and where the brand is heading globally, and in New Zealand. The new models capture heritage features like the walk-around deck and rear galley and include the more contemporary design elements that create more space and overall volume for customers.

Another highlight of the show was talking to the technical experts. The live ‘corrosion tank’ at the joint Propspeed and Marine Protection Systems stand was one such opportunity. The tank contained three different anodes, combined with a propeller coated in Propspeed. The purpose of the stand was to show two things: firstly, how effective Propspeed is in a natural world environment; and secondly, to show how it works with different anode types. The anodes on display included aluminium, zinc and Maddox. The latter is a proprietary alloy.

For most of us, anodes are not overly interesting – provided they work and we don’t need to change them too often… But this tank clearly showed the impact of the ‘anode drop’ onto the seafloor and on any sea-life ingesting these microparticles. The results were plain to see and, frankly, a bit frightening.


The Maddox product showed next to no anode drop, reduced fouling growth and lasted 50% longer than a traditional anode. These new anodes will not suit every vessel type, but with zinc anodes already banned in San Diego marinas, it won’t be long until we are encouraged, if not forced, to think differently about all matters below the waterline. It was a great innovation, and with Propspeed leading the charge in New Zealand, it was great to hear directly from them about how a New Zealand company is taking on the world and securing global naval contracts.

The range of personal flight boards is growing rapidly, with many more options on show than we have seen domestically. I am somewhat fascinated by these powered mini-craft, and I might have to get one soon!

What boat shows like these do exceptionally well is to feed our aspirations by providing the opportunity to get close to boats most of us will only ever dream of. Rick Rodwell, Ray White Marine’s CEO and founder, presented one such dream for everyone to see: the stunning Riva 88. This writer was fortunate enough to spend some time with Rick aboard this vessel, an enormous yet practical motor yacht.


The Riva 88 is a beautiful example of what is possible and seeing such a craft in person is just another reason to visit the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. If you have never been before, I highly recommend putting a visit to this boat show on your ‘to-do’ list.


Akaroa Yacht Club

The regional boating clubs around the country are hidden gems. Let’s start with A for Akaroa. Story by Alex Stone.

A gaff-rigged cutter of sublime beauty, its sails, its cordage, its hull, its entire being in fact, crafted from sterling silver. It’s the most impressive sailing trophy that’s held in New Zealand I reckon. Apart, perhaps, from the America’s Cup.


Only this one is here to stay. But right now, it’s behind glass, in a cabinet in the Akaroa Yacht Club. It’s for a race – not one for the faint-hearted – that’s somewhat in abeyance. Last competed in 2012, the Wellington-to-Akaroa yacht race, like many regional sailing events requiring some commitment, some time, some emotional investment, has been partly forgotten.

In the post-Covid world, where we New Zealanders may re-discover what really rings our bells – when we re-configure our stress and compromises – well then, I reckon the trophy for the Wellington-Akaroa yacht race will come out of its closet again. We owe it to ourselves not to overlook such authentic down-home challenges.

The Wellington-to-Akaroa race was first held in 1966. In fact, the Akaroa Yacht Club was established initially, purely, for the running of this single yacht race. No wonder it had such a fine trophy. Only, it didn’t have a clubhouse then. The building, originally a boat shed, was gifted to the club by larger-than-life local (and Christchurch) character Ces Stephens in the early 1980s.

But first, they had a race to run. Eleven yachts entered the inaugural Wellington-to-Akaroa Yacht Race. The winner was the Lyttelton gun boat of the time, Calypso, with an all-local crew.

There were stories aplenty from that race. The owner of Caprice, Wellington-based and the other main contender for line honours, suggested that Calypso had used the fuel that was on board.

“The only fuel we had,” was Calypso’s reply, “was beer.” In fact, Calypso’s motor seldom worked. In keeping with the flavour of the event, Spree’s crew of four were all farmers. (Incidentally, the district was then at the height of a boom in the export of cocksfoot grass seed – top quality.) Among them was Kit Grigg, who has farmed thereabouts all his life; and has become the club’s de-facto historian. We had fun poring over the pencil-on-paper calculations he still has in a notebook, outlining the handicaps and corrected times (long multiplication) for the yachts in those early races.


Still, it was a tight finish to that first race, with Calypso and Caprice crossing tacks as they beat up into Akaroa Harbour, and to a hero front-page picture in the Christchurch Press.

After the race, thoughts turned to a shore base. Ces declared from the deck of his boat Lady Barbara, “We need a clubhouse.” Local architect Colin Pilbrow was roped-in to square things up. He did a fine job – the clubhouse has ample storage space, the best hot showers, a killer pub, and full-width decks with a view to die for. For the alterations, Kit milled macrocarpa he had on his Hickory Bay farm. By 1985, the club had its flash clubhouse. In the early years of the big race, arriving crews were billeted in Akaroa family homes. The finishes of those races would find Kit – and most of the crews’ wives – sitting all night on the main town wharf.

Ah! A dock for the clubhouse. Let’s just say “some piles happened to fall off the back of a Council truck” (my informant must stay anonymous), and by the next sunset, were upright, in a not-so-straight line in the water extending out from the clubhouse deck.

The day we were there, the Sunday race boats were tied up, while post-race analyses raged on in the bar. Lesley and I were surprised to see the race starting from a line extending from that wharf, and finishing there. Which resulted in some tricky course-making and tacking in between the moored yachts. Like a number of clubs in Canterbury, Akaroa has quite a few Young 88s regularly racing. Meltdown, skippered by canny Gil Smith (we saw him finding puffs and lifts right up against the shore, and among the moorings) is usually the one to beat. Only, on that day Armalite a Ross 930 had beaten them across the line by half a length – literally!

The good folk of Akaroa Yacht Club miss those old days of the big race, and the occasional cruising boats that came down here too. Says commodore Patsy Little, “We used to enjoy offering them hospitality. The modern cruising boats are too well-equipped with showers and washing machines on board. We wish they’d pull in here instead and share a few yarns.” So, we did.

Akaroa Yacht Club stalwarts.

We found that the lovely little town of Akaroa had re-invented itself post-Covid – and post the controversial days of cruise ship visits, sometimes four a day. Most locals hated the ‘Disneyland madness’ they brought about. But cruising yachts? Always welcome.

As for the local economy, there are four companies doing tours of the bay, the two marine reserves, with the added bonus of (always) spotting the rare Hector’s dolphins. We were in the bay for a week and every day, all the dolphin tours boats went out – including the 100-year-old sailing ketch Fox II. Only this time, they were all filled with Kiwi visitors. All good.

The marine environment appears very healthy. We saw so many Hector’s dolphins, it’s hard to think of them as rare. Steve Dawson, a marine scientist who monitors research there, tells me there are about 15,000 alive – but all endemic to this coastline. Another feature is the prevalence of what the locals call whalebait, clouds of tiny-lobster-like krill that paint the water in moving blobs of red.

Akaroa Cruising Club changed its name to Akaroa Yacht Club in 2012, the year the Wellington-Akaroa Race was last sailed in its own right. The club retains a connection though, as a port-of-call in the triangular Wellington-Napier-Akaroa Race, which keeps going.

Says Kit, “While there are no plans to run the Wellington-Akaroa race currently, if enough interest is shown by Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club and others, it could well be re-activated.”

But I opine that it’s time that impressive silver trophy breaks from its shackles in the trophy cabinet of the Akaroa Yacht Cub. Those silver sails need to be contested for again. So, what do we all say –Akaroa Yacht Club – and the extraordinarily beautiful bay it finds itself in – is surely a place worth racing to?


Raising Divecat II: The big lift

Last month’s article featured Norman’s ultimately successful effort to locate Divecat, his 12m aluminium catamaran lost in 43m of water in the Firth of Thames, and his ingenious plan for lifting her. This issue, the salvage effort gets underway.

Of course, nothing ever happens quite to plan or on time, so on our lifting day it took far longer than anticipated to fit the long ropes and the first series of bags, just to get her rising off the bottom. Fighting current and exhaustion, we finally managed to get her floating but only about three metres off the sea bottom. We then drifted and dragged her just over a nautical mile towards the Coromandel before the tide began to ebb and she started snagging.

So, we put her down on the bottom again in 40m of water, releasing most of the surface lift bags and leaving the straps and submerged bags in place. While it was disappointing, I was also very happy – my lift bag design had proved itself up to the task and I now had a good idea of how many bags were required to get her up off the bottom. (Seven, as it turned out.)

It was a few weeks before wind and tide were again favourable, and this time we were much more efficient. The combination of the straps and bags already in place, and a crew with experience at preparing and passing the bags down to the divers, meant we got her floating quickly. Not long after that, we got her close enough to the surface for those on the tow boat to be able to see her outline. It was surreal to see an 8-tonne boat suspended in midwater, covered in marine growth and with her stainless-steel propellers glinting in the sunlight.

We made sure she was secure with plenty of redundant bags at the surface supporting her weight and attached a new tow rope. This time we got a full six hours of towing time, and I was relieved when she started dragging the bottom in 17m of water just outside Elephant Cove. We released most of the surface bags again and she settled back down on the bottom.


This marked the end of stage one – the longest and most dangerous part of the recovery was now over. At this point I could confidently start to plan what I would do once she was out the water again.

A couple of trips out to Elephant Cove were next on the cards, preparing Divecat for the final lift. Cyclone Cody hit in the middle of this, so my first trip out was to check that the submerged lift bags were still in place. In the process I discovered we had inadvertently set her down onto her starboard side, so organised another trip to deploy more bags to lift her stern, straighten her up, and then set her down upright again. We also did more work on clearing extraneous ropes and some more of that net from the outside of the hull.

It was now time for the final part of the plan. We needed to float her up to the surface and then get her as high out of the water as possible. The ideal would have been to get her to float at deck level, but I realised that was completely unrealistic. At a minimum, I needed about half of the wheelhouse cabin’s sides to be clear of the water, although the tidal range on the final lift day would determine the actual height needed.


Multiple water pumps were purchased and configured, safety boats were arranged, and a couple of friends called in to help with the lift. The tides were right and weather conditions near perfect when a small flotilla set out from Auckland in early April.

We started by again lifting her stern-first, then fitted additional straps tightly under the bow to level her hull. Further complications ensued, including those caused by the remnants of that bloody net that were still obstructing parts of the boat. By the time we got her floating level and just below the surface, we were out of time for the tide. Frustratingly, the only option was to pull her in to even shallower water and put her down yet again, this time horizontally and in just seven metres of water.


Yet another cyclone threatened, and with autumn’s unsettled weather now approaching, it looked like a long delay was on the cards. Luckily the cyclone’s path shifted offshore and – miraculously – the first two days of the Easter weekend looked like being perfect. With most of my previous crew away for the long weekend and a few of the lift bag straps needing repair, it was a hectic week trying to pull everything together.

In the end, I had three other divers volunteer to come along for an overnight adventure and we headed to Elephant Cove one last time. No flotilla this time – just one boat. However, we did have an audience, with eight other boaties choosing the bay as their overnight anchorage. Little did they know their sleep would be disturbed!

As it turned out, the tide times were even better for us than they had been the previous week. The tidal range had also increased to 2.1m, and high tide was at 6:30pm so we had the whole day to get her to the surface.

In fact, we needed every minute of that time, as well as the extra tidal range. After six hours of work and just an hour short of high tide, we had her roof sticking just above the water, but rather lower than I had hoped. I was worried we would not get her high enough. Luckily a frantic effort in the last hour, inflating several bags between the hulls and fitting bags right inside her cabin saw her roof rise about half a metre above the surface. Not nearly as high as I thought we needed, but it was as good as we could get.


We moved her to the shallows by means of a pulley and rope that we had earlier attached to a huge rock on shore. The dive boat motored outwards pulling that rope which resulted in Divecat moving inshore. Once she was touching the bottom we anchored and pulled everything tight. Now we had to wait, and it was some very tired divers who tucked into dinner.

Around 10:30pm a couple of us transferred ourselves and our pumping equipment onto Divecat, which now had the water level down to her gunwale. Still two hours until low tide and I needed the level to drop another half a metre – it was going to be close!

Eventually, just after midnight, it had dropped just far enough for us to start pumping the forward compartments. The rattle of high-volume petrol pumps reverberated around the cliffs of the cove and no doubt did not make us any friends with the other boaties trying to sleep.

The efficiency of these pumps is amazing, although the water pressure from the outlet was so high that it tended to shift the entire pump sideways. Once we had made a significant difference in the water level in the first compartment, we moved the petrol pump to the next one and dropped a high-volume 12-volt bilge pump into the first to take care of the remaining water. At the same time, I hammered rubber bungs into any original through-hull openings I could find. And so, we worked our way through all six compartments, progressively lowering the water level in each.


Once again it was touch and go and we probably only beat the rapidly incoming tide by about 10 minutes. Just after 1:30am we felt Divecat starting to float again, and by 2:00am I knew we had succeeded. Emotions started to set in, but there was still much to do, so I could not yet reflect on the enormity of what we had achieved. We rigged a bilge pump in every compartment to automatically take care of any further water ingress, and finally retired to the dive boat for a few hours’ sleep.

I was up well before dawn and back on board, checking that she was still floating (yes!) and then going through all the compartments looking for leaks. Nothing! She was not taking on any water, and although sitting pretty low in her starboard bow area, that was caused by the weight of accumulated silt and water-logged interior furnishings. It was good enough!

After several cups of coffee and a good breakfast, we spent a couple of hours preparing Divecat for the tow home. Luckily her anchor winch was still solid and well attached to the deck, so that was our tow rope anchoring point. We started the slow journey home with a 45m-long tow rope to tow her across water that was 43m deep (just in case!) and we kept two people on board in wetsuits and lifejackets, and in constant VHF radio contact with one another, in case of any issues.

Across the Firth of Thames, we held our speed at just four knots, but once in sheltered (and shallower) water around the bottom end of Waiheke Island we shortened the tow rope and managed to pick the speed up to six knots. At this point, I succumbed to waves of emotion as
I realised we were finally going to be successful. More than two years of effort, tens of thousands of dollars spent and more than 30 boat trips later, she was coming home! Much blood, sweat and tears had been shed in the intervening time, and more were shed that day.


Once I pulled myself together again, I called the marina to organise an emergency lift. Just after 5pm we pulled her alongside the wharf at Half Moon Bay Marina. Job done!

When they lifted her, we discovered she was carrying nearly four tonnes of sludge, silt, marine growth and absorbed water, which explained her low position in the bow. Over the ensuing days we removed four full skip bins of ruined joinery and furnishings, and eight large wheelie bins of pure sludge. Much more work still to do, but the underlying hull is in remarkably good condition. Now the saga of her rebuild begins.


Reverse docking

This time: a cheat for when you are struggling to come alongside a dock bow-first because it’s a tight space and the wind is blowing you away.

This technique works with any vessel with outdrives, outboards or twin engines.

1. Prepare fenders and mooring lines. Ensure you or your crew knows how to lasso a cleat (to be covered in another article) and is fully briefed

2. Get the wind at six o’clock to the vessel (directly astern)

3. Idle towards the desired cleat in reverse whilst keeping the wind as close to six o’clock as possible

4&5. Keep your speed under control by using neutral as often as possible. Better too slow than too fast, because if your leg or outboard contact the dock they are susceptible to damage

6&7. Have your crew lasso the cleat or pick up the dock line and secure it to the aft cleat closest to the dock. Use a minimum of three figure of eights, and a little slack in the line is required to pivot on


8. NEVER engage gear while your crew is working the cleat. Have them show you both their hands are clear before engaging forward gear.

9. The helm should be in the midships (straight) position or else turned slightly towards the dock. Repeatedly shift between forwards and neutral to control the vessel’s closing rate with the dock.


10. Once alongside, leave the engine in gear to hold the boat alongside the dock. Have your crew attach a bow line from the vessel if possible – the risks of stepping off a boat that’s in gear are numerous, so avoid it whenever you can.

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