Great Row to Riverhead

Today we embarked on Wee Tawera’s first major adventure with a 4nm row to the upper reachs of the Waitamata harbour, joining in the Classic Yacht Association of New Zealands launch cruise to the historic riverhead hotel.


We had decided this was to be a fun day and with a dozen people keen to have a row or simply come along for the ride we had organized a small powerboat to join us and enable us to swap rowers to give everyone a turn.


This is the first time we have really had time to stretch out and settle into a decent rythum. I must say this boat is incredibly enjoyable to be around, from its stunning good looks to the way it slides through the water its hard not to be hooked immediately.


In a little over a hour rowing at an easy pace and stopping to swap crews to give everyone a go we arrived at the historic Riverhead hotel where we joined 20 classic launches and their crews for a most enjoyable lunch before embarking on the return journey.


Changeover of crew.


The upper reaches of the waitamata harbour make for ideal smooth water rowing.


The return trip was just as enjoyable and with a tail wind we fair flew along, again swapping crew around and having turns at rowing, steering and taking photos from the runabout.

All up a most enjoyable day and many favourable comments on our beautiful St Ayles skiff. Already the people that joined us today are hooked and I’m sure there is going to many more to come.

First St Ayles launched in New Zealand


Proud Owner Mike Mahoney and builder Mark Robinson launch Wee Tawera with a splash of single malt from the Isle of Arran.

On Wednesday 23rd October in rather appropriate Scottish weather Wee Tawera was launched at Hobsonville point, It’s a testament to the skills of Iain Oughtred that she is simply¬† beautiful from all every angle. The sweeping bow reminiscent of viking times and superbly crafted sheerline and proportions immediately warms the cockles of ones heart.


Built at the New Zealand traditional Boat Building School, Mark Robinson’s superb skills and attention to detail are clearly evident in this photo.


With experienced coastal rower Don Currie on stroke, builder Mark Robinson, owner Mike Mahoney and NZTBS chairman Steve Cranch at the bow we set forth for our first row. Considering that only Don has any real serious rowing experience we surprisingly quickly settled into an easy rhythm and found her an absolute joy to row. One can easily imagine it being quite easy to settle into a long journey and finding a comfortable pace that could be easily sustained.

As we rowed along in the drizzle the mind was free to wander and judging by the banter onboard everyone was busy planning their own coastal cruising journey, freely exploring rivers and harbours or a strip of coastline, discussions led to the coromandal coast and Great Barrier Island. These wonderful boats seem purpose made for a great Kiwi camping holiday.


NZTBS manager, Tanya Ankersmit skilfully guiding us at the helm.


Without doubt we were all left feeling very excited about our next journey the Classic Yacht Assn of New Zealand’s Riverhead Cruise. A classic launch cruise to the upper reaches of the Waitamata harbour. While everyone else will be in a motorboat we intend to row. No carbon credits required, however I’m sure we will need more than our fair share of refreshments on arrival.

Roll on summer

The St Ayles Skiff has landed in NZ


Like many great ideas, the St Ayles skiff project in NZ started life over a quiet beverage in the cockpit of a classic yacht .

Only a few months later and with boat one Wee Tawera finished and ready for action and boat number two ready to be turned over and fitted out we are well on the way to seeing a fleet of these beautiful rowing craft plying the coast, rivers and lakes.

Our original vision was to see school groups and corporates join together to form partnerships and race these boats for fun and recreation, team building etc. However along the way it has become obvious that this is only a small part of the opportunities that abound with such beautiful and seaworthy craft. Already we are thinking of adventure trips about the Hauraki gulf, river journeys to great destinations like the Riverhead hotel, Warkworth and many other opportunities.

The possible benefits from being involved in these great craft seem endless, the opportunity to build one with a group of friends, or perhaps if that seems too daunting get a hull and finish it off, maybe just the painting? right through to competing in the next world champs. With over 100 of these boats already built around the world this proves to be a huge global community of classic wooden boat enthusiasts.

Wee Tawera will be on display at the cloud on Queens Wharf over labour weekend. as part of the tall ships visit so if you are in Auckland drop in and say hi.