The Trust and The Kate

It has been nearly a year since the last blog post from WWS. But we have been quietly working away on the project.

The first news is that The Waiheke Working Sail Trust has been incorporated and we are progressing with getting charitable status for the project. The trustees are Bernard Rhodes, Mike Delamore, Philip Symonds and Andrew Watkins.

Readers will recall that the goals of the project are to build and operate one or more working sail craft for the purposes of Low Energy Transport, Sail training, and Boat-building and maintenance skills. We aim to preserve and develop traditional skills through purposeful work with a specific focus on educating a new generation of local people in maritime arts.

In order to do this we need a vessel and we have investigated several routes to obtaining a suitable one. These include designing and building one from scratch or buying an existing vessel to use or to restore. Over the last year we looked at several possibilities.

The Kate

One of New Zealand’s oldest boats, the ex – trading cutter “Kate” has lain on the beach in Putiki Bay for many years, in various stages of dis-repair and restoration. About 34 ft. long, built in 1884 by Thonpson Bros in Dargaville, of Kauri on grown Pohutukawa frames, she is one of only 3 of her type surviving. In the early 1900s she had an engine installed and was used for towing kauri logs on the Kaipara Harbour. Then she spent many years as a fishing boat before being converted to a yacht.

First view of The Kate, fallen over and leaking.
First view of The Kate, fallen over and leaking.

Her most recent owner, lived on her for about 10 years and has been slowly repairing her, with assistance more recently from Bernard, Tom and Joe. She has been much patched and botched up over the years, and requires an extensive re-build to make her fully seaworthy. A leak, falling over, a loose engine combined to wreck the interior and it looked like the end of the Kate.

Waiheke Working Sail decided to buy her and the plan is first to use her for boat building and repair training – with Tom and Joe working as apprentices on the project. Once re-rigged as original, she will make a good midsize sail training ship. With the present cabin and decks giving enough room for 6 trainees and 2 crew. Possibly without an engine, but with a RIB tender with outboard to push and tow in a calm, carried on stern davits at sea.

The Kate is now pulled out on the beach by the boat club at the causeway. A working bee cleaned out interior, engine and oil spills and now planning is underway to restore her to a working vessel.

Upright and with a new nameplate.
Upright and with a new nameplate.

We estimate we will need about $205,000 to restore her. Plus volunteers for time and skills, donations of materials and equipment.  This is a considerably smaller sum than either building new or taking on a larger existing vessel would cost.  Given that a primary part of the project is the development of boat building and restoration skills in young Waiheke people.  This meets the project’s goals well.