During the 2011 Auckland International Boat Show, there will be more than 20 immaculately restored, classic yachts and launches within the Viaduct Harbour area.
Thanks to the inherent longevity of New Zealand’s native kauri timber and several family dynasties of skilled boatbuilders, New Zealand has a large collection of classic yachts dating back to around the turn of last century.
By the 1950s, many of these were neglected, destined to rot out their days in paddocks; others were well-used but unlikely to get the care they needed in the face of expensive restorations.
Major drives by the NZ Classic Yacht Association under patron John Street, the Tino Rawa Trust and the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum has, over 15 years, seen many successful restorations supported by funding and a growing pool of experience.
Restoring a classic yacht requires a blend of detective work – sometimes involving long hours poring over glass plate negatives to see a yacht’s original deck or interior configuration; plenty of problem-solving, and disassembling and then reassembling a three-dimensional jigsaw, since often the yacht is stripped back to ribs and stringers only.
Through these restorations, a generation of veteran boatbuilders has passed on their knowledge to the younger ones coming through, since it is crucial to maintain these skills to keep the classic boats in good condition.
On the overseas market, many of these yachts would be worth considerably more money than they are in New Zealand, but they are protected as pieces of New Zealand heritage, and it is illegal to take them out of New Zealand, except on a temporary basis for a regatta, for example.
The CYA has a dedicated racing and cruising programme to ensure the boats are used regularly, an important part of their maintenance. The boats are often on the harbour, bringing joy to their owners but everyone else on the water or shoreline.
The Classic Yacht Association of NZ will display up to 10 classic yachts and launches at the Auckland International Boat Show.
On display at the boat show will be Rainbow, designed by Arch Logan in 1898; she has a length of 56ft with 8ft 8in beam.
Ngatira, at 40ft long with a 9ft beam, was launched in 1904 by the Logans’ fiercest boatbuilding competitor, Chas Bailey Jr.
The newest restoration is Corona, 43ft long with a 12ft beam, which completed restoration at the New Zealand Traditional Boatbuilding School. She was built by Charles Collings who specialised in mullet boats. Other boats on display may include the recently, beautifully restored Rawhiti, Rawene and Moana.
The power vessels will include Trinidad, 52ft long with a beam of 13ft, designed by Bob Salthouse in 1965 and built by his brother John Salthouse at Greenhithe. She is powered by a 6LX Gardner which gives her a cruising speed of 10/11 knots.
The Tino Rawa Trust will exhibit several gleaming beauties in front of Waitemata Plaza in the Viaduct Harbour, as part of Auckland City’s Heritage Week.
Classics on display will include one of the world’s oldest gaff-rigged sailing boat, Jessie Logan, built by Robert Logan Senior to compete in the Auckland Anniversary Regatta on 29 January 1880. Named after one of Robert’s daughters, Jessie Logan was a radical and extremely fast 28ft 6in centreboarder built in kauri.
The Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum at the western end of Quay Street has several boats which regularly sail on the harbour: the ketch-rigged deck scow, Ted Ashby; the square-rigged brigantine Breeze; and the tiny steam tug, SS Puke which was built by E Thompson and Son at Aratapu, towards the end of the 19th century.
Classic Yacht Association, www.cya.org.nz