by Alan Sefton
One of the oldest known boats built by Percy Vos, renowned wooden boat builder of days gone by, has been gifted to the city to become part of the heritage experience that is to being developed in the Wynyard Quarter by Waterfront Auckland.
The Vos 16ft skiff has will become part of the Wynard Quarter Heritage experience
The beautifully preserved 16ft 'utility skiff' was built by the iconic Hamer Street yard of P. Vos Ltd in 1925, for Napier surveyor Guy Rochfort.
It is similar to the Whitehall-type rowing boats, familiar on the Waitemata Harbour from about 1840 onwards. But Mr Rochfort wanted more of a utility craft for his personal use on Lake Taupo, one that could be rowed or sailed, or be driven by an outboard motor.
In competition with others, Percy Vos designed and built Mr Rochfort a dinghy to meet those requirements. It was delivered by boat and rail to Lake Taupo and has been in the Rochfort family ever since. Now it has been gifted to the Percy Vos Charitable Trust that has been established for the planned development of the Vos boatshed, at 38 Hamer Street, which has been identified as a heritage site and a key element in the Heritage Experience.
The name Vos was synonymous with good design and quality. P.Vos Ltd, established in 1922, turned out many outstanding wooden vessels, including all of Sanfords wooden fishing boats, twenty- two vessels for the Donald family who owned the Pacific Island trading entity A.B. Donald Ltd, and the A-class keeler Kahurangi for Lawrence Nathan, the founder of L.D Nathan & Co.
Interestingly, Guy Rochfort was the man who resurveyed Napier after the catastrophic 1932 earthquake. He was instrumental in designing many of the drainage canals so that land that was once sea bed could be used for farming and future development.
The Vos 16ft skiff in action on Lake Taupo