Summer does exist!

By John Welsford
From New Zealand where its summer now

Funny thing summer, it’s a localised phenomena, one which appears in half the world while the other half is suffering from runny noses, muddy tracks through the house and rain down the backs of their necks. When summer aint, its sometimes hard to really believe that such a thing exists, and that given patience and time, it will return.

But it does, every year, and while the rain and snow is doing its thing in one place the warm weather is busy making life comfortable and happy for those in other places.

Its summer where I am right now, boating is great, the weather is warm and the breezes gentle, the water blue with just the occasional white crest and the beaches are that intense golden colour that can only come when you are seven years old and granddad is sitting under a shady tree while you hunt for shells in the rockpools.

We have a very healthy classic boat fraternity here, and each year many of them congregate in the Mahurangi Estuary off the ARC Regional Park at O’Sullivans Bay for the annual Mahurangi Regatta.

There are tug o wars and sandcastle competitions for the kids, picnics on the lawns and hotly contested races for the small craft. I donated a trophy for the Master of the Mahurangi rowing race ( for fixed seat rowing boats over a distance of no less than 2000m ) and there is a very busy small boat schedule sailed and rowed from the beach. Out beyond the several hundred moored boats are the big, and not so big boats, racing several times around a course from Slipper Island off the mouth of the Estuary to a mark in the Channel always close to shore and a spectacular sight. Where else can you see a 1940s two man clinker dinghy dicing with a 30 ton Baltic Trader for room at the mark!

I had gone along mostly to be social, many of my friends and clients go there each year and its great to catch up, to play in their boats and to see how they perform, its good to sit and watch as the multihullers play with their Proas, the rowers compare notes about hulls and oars in between sweating and puffing around the course, the spectators lounge in the comfort of their cockpits or on the grassy banks of the beach and the kids have a great time with those special friends that they only see once a year.

There were at my very rough count over 300 boats moored in the bay when I came over the hill on the way in, mostly classics and traditional craft. Almost all wood, some like the vintage A class racer Waione, long graceful gaff cutters still very very fast and with an air of flat caps and white collars, others like the coasting ketch Ripple are working boats of the type that once plied New Zealands North East coast carrying freight and passengers. Small boats like David Perillos Navigator and a John Leather designed Oyster 17 all the way from England and a Baltic Trader, one of the few remaining of that once numerous fleet of working ships that fetched and carried around Skandinavia and the northern European countries now in pleasant retirement in much warmer New Zealand waters.

There were small and modest craft sailed by families, a couple of fair sized square riggers with crews of enthusiasts aboard, steamers and small motorships of classic mein, I can recognise a Gardners gentle but powerful pulse and watched with wonder as a 25 ton workboat accelerated away without a change in the exhaust note of the big diesel.

This was a near perfect day, the wind just perfect for a full breeze, hardly any chop and just enough white caps to highlight the deep blue of the sea. Warm, velvety and wonderfully good for the soul.

Friend Marcus Raimon from SMI (Specialist Marine Interiors, they put the insides in superyachts in Whangarei about an hour north of Mahurangi) brought the firms fast power dory and offered to do duty as a photo boat.

I had six rolls of 35mm with me so we shot off the lot!
Here are a selection of photos to help dispel the gloom of those long cold nights and wet sunless days, I don’t have much information on some of them so am just selecting nice photos of lovely craft doing what they do best on a warm and gentle sea.

It was a great day. John Welsford


click images below
to enlarge

my friend the late Ralph Sewell designed and
built 'Breeze'

65 ft. on deck, 'Breeze' has been as far as Tahiti

not a trace of
fiberglass in sight


a classic cruiser in there footing it with the racers

seriously comfortable!

a class racer 'Ranger', queen of the fleet

'Sorcerer', built to Laurent Giles Dyarchy design

a close sister ship to John Guzzwells Trekka

all the way from Seattle and enjoying the weather

a lovely schooner on
a close reach

the classic Logan built 'Thelma' passing the coastal ketch 'Ripple'

an 18 ft. V class
Mullett boat

a nice little double
ended gaffer

an International Dragon out for fun rather
than racing

another home builder's completed project

Herreshoff 'Golden Ball'
leeboard ketch

another shot of the Herreshoff Golden Ball showing the windward leeboard

Bluejacket -
from the bow

Brian Owen's fabulous Maggie, another home built boat

another shot of Maggie
- just wonderful -

Bruce Kirby designed this Norwalk Island Sharpie

Dave Perillo in Navigator 'Jaunty'

'Demelza' - John Welsford designed her, Paul Cooper built her

Matthew Barrie built this Joel White design