Saturday, April 30, 2016

______________________ SOUTHERN SOJOURN (5) ______________________

In the main street of Invercargill NZ is E. Hayes and Sons Ltd which is a hardware, homeware and giftware shop. It is also a museum of sorts. 

E Hayes and Sons Ltd contains among its staple retail fare a generous display of not only memorabilia from the film 'THE WORLDS FASTEST INDIAN' but a number of old cars and motorcycles spanning the 20th century. 
Burt Munroe's original Indian motorcycle (above) is kept within a glass case (hence the reflection in the photo).

A streamlined replica of the outer shell that the motorbike is placed into for its record breaking runs on the Salt Flats in the USA.

This old Chevrolet was used by the actor Anthony Hopkins (who played the motorcyclist Bert Munro) to tow the worlds fastest Indian motorbike to the Bonneville Salt Flats.

A rather nice early Indian motorbike.

This is an Ariel 'Square Four' which I remember from the old Christchurch days. They were used by the local Traffic 'Cops'. There was a distinctive black radio box with an aerial mounted on top behind the seat. I can remember being stopped a couple of times on my Triumph Tiger 200 to discuss exemplars of motorcycle riding.
I think this is an early Model T Ford, but I am willing to be corrected.

A beautiful 1950s Ford Thunderbird - I'll have two please.

One of the stores early delivery vans.
E Hayes is now a 'Hammer Hardware' franchise. If you are passing through Invercargill the shop and museum is well worth a visit.

Friday, April 29, 2016

______________________ MARINER'S DINGHY (3) _______________________

It has taken me a couple of days to sand Mariner's dinghy back to the original white gel coat finish. All my fingers have lost a layer of skin from clutching the sandpaper firmly in a sanding block (I should learn to wear gloves) and are a bit sensitive. My shoulders ache and I now have the daunting task of turning the dinghy upright and dealing to its cavernous inside. Only after completing the inside of the dinghy will I be ready to start the real work of repair. But shipmates I'm not complaining, because, a labour of love is, well, a labour of love. I can't begin to explain what a joy it is to be doing something as interesting and totally absorbing as sanding  LOL. (Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear).

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

______________________ MARINER'S DINGHY (2) _______________________

You know the old saying, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step", you know the drill - stop procrastinating and just make a start, nah you don't need another beer and an hours strategic thinking time, just pick up the bloody sand paper and get on with it.

So I got on with it. It has been quite pleasant work except for having to sand the last owners botched up paint job. The person who I bought the dinghy off a few years ago painted over the gel coat with a single pack paint to make it look good for a quick sale on TradeMe the online site where I purchased it. This has flaked off in big sheets on the inside of the dinghy and has turned a chalky yellow on the outside. So I am sanding it back to the original gel coat with wet and dry sandpaper. I will repaint with two pack undercoat and top coat.

So there are a number of jobs on the go at the moment.

- Sand, repair and paint Mariner's dinghy.

- Sand the recently fiberglassed trailing edge of the Starlings centerboard that took a bit of a beating over summer so as to be ready for the first of the Winter series of races this weekend.

- Wash and clean the outside of Mariner as she is looking decidedly shabby and make a start on the long awaited great engine repair  ( I really will need a couple of beers and some hours of strategic motor repair time for this job).

But Shipmates I'm not complaining - there's never a dull moment here at Smiths' outdoor Boatyard.

Monday, April 25, 2016

______________________ SOUTHERN SOJOURN (4) ______________________

Traveling south from Queenstown to Kingston - Lumsden - Te Anau - Milford Sound - back to Te Anau - South through Manapouri - Tuatapere - Riverton - Nightcaps - Drummond - Gore - Invercargill - Bluff - then North East to the Caitlins (Coastal area between Bluff and Balclutha) - then North to Balcutha - Dunedin - Palmerston - Ranfurly -  Naseby - St Bathans - Alexandra - Clyde - Cromwell - Arrowtown - Ending in Queenstown.
Traveling south to Riverton the road lead out on the coast. To the left is Fouveaux Strait. In the distance is the hinterland of Fiordland.
A somewhat hazy photo of Riverton from a lookout above the town.

The communal kitchen of our digs in Riverton. The Campsite is a converted school outdoor education centre. The commodious kitchen contained a wood fired cooking stove. It was a robust, honest place with a decor that was definitely circa 1950. By the look of the stack of firewood on the veranda the building retained its distinctive 1950s insulation properties as well.

The lounge / dining / living room was the old school hall now equipped with a large fireplace. It was richly furnished in nostalgia including Formica tables and chairs with shiny chromed legs exactly like the set I grew up with in Christchurch in the 1960s.

Various glass fronted display cases had riveting displays of old bottles and other paraphernalia.

I noted the very emancipated advice from a poster in the kitchen.
I thought that I had been dreaming but on investigation I found that the whinnying that I had heard all night actually came from this horse in the paddock across the road. This horse paced up and down in front of a small creek that stopped it from gaining higher ground where there were three of its companions. It intermittently stopped in front of the creek and vigourously nodded its head up and down but never took the risk and jumped. I watched and dreamed of saddling it up and with a short haired Border Collie dog, that I would name 'Footrot Flats' style, 'Dog' as a companion, riding off into the great back of beyond back country of New Zealand.

I liked Riverton a lot. It has an air of purpose and authenticity about it. It gets its own steady stream of tourists but not so many that this has changed the essential nature and look of the place - a loss that has been effected by the hordes of tourists in places such as Queenstown.

This small port has an interesting little fishing wharf.  We took a walk along the jetty among the crayfish pots and other fishing gear as one boat was unloading after being at sea for two weeks.

No doubt the builder had good and probably humourous reasons for naming this local yacht with the direct and expressive name 'Pig Iron'...... but the name is somewhat ironic (excuse the pun), because the yacht is built of sheet steel (either run of the mill steel or the more non - corrosive Corten steel) rather than iron which is something different again.

The local museum proudly told its history of both Maori and Pakeha discovery and settlement.

Southlands topiary is probably the best I have ever seen anywhere in the world and by far the most humourous!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

______________________ SOUTHERN SOJOURN (3) ______________________

Tuatapere lies on the scenic route from Lake Manapouri to Riverton. It is a small rural town of around five hundred people. You can read all about Tuatapere here :

While passing through we saw an interesting combination Shop / Museum / Tearooms / Dairy - (A dairy in NZ is a place where you can purchase many supermarket items including those staples loved by all over weight Kiwis: icecream, milkshakes and pies).

When we walked through the door we were greeted by the sound of that old crooner Jim Reeves coming from an old LP record spinning on an even older record player.
I could cope with Jim Reeves but I did wonder at the coat hanger dangling from the raised record player turntable lid that was festooned with key-less key rings.

On the pavement was obviously what the shop owner thought would be a great tourist draw card - Prams! A strategy that I guess worked as it made us curious and drew us in.

My father was production manager for Oxley Prams in Christchurch during the 1960s so I instantly recognised the style and the vintage. These prams were made by Vantage, a rival brand.

My dad would occasionally bring home pram wheels for us to use so we could make box carts (But that's an entirely different and future blog post).

Amongst the bric a brac and a very large old wood stove were a selection of home made jams. We bought a jar of strawberry and another of blackberry to spread on Northland toast.

While Christine negotiated the purchase of the Hokey Pokey ice creams I took a selfie. We congratulated ourselves on our restraint regarding the pies and milkshakes.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

______________________ SOUTHERN SOJOURN (2) ______________________

Close together on the scenic route between Manapouri and Riverton lie the Rakatu Wetlands and the  Redcliff Wetland Reserve. The Rakatu viewing shelter has two beautifully etched glass windows.

Wetlands are very important areas because they improve water quality, reduce the impact of flooding, support great concentrations of bird life and provide breeding areas for many fish species.

In Aotearoa New Zealand wetlands have a historical importance. Wetlands were a treasure trove for early Maori, providing flax for clothing, mats, kits and ropes, raupo for thatching and dried moss for bedding. The eels, fish and birds which lived there were a good food source and the feathers of birds like pukeko and bittern were used to adorn cloaks and other garments. Waterways were an important means of access by waka (canoe).

April, early Autumn in Southland means you wear a coat.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

______________________ SOUTHERN SOJOURN (1) ______________________

Three weeks ago we journeyed to the deep south of the South Island of New Zealand. This province of Southland is a rugged, gnarly, hunkering down kind of place. It has its own special time in the sun during high summer yet the winds from Antarctica are only briefly sleeping.

Hold a sharp, jagged, rainy, raw, primeval pounamu (greenstone) in your warm hand - that's the feeling of living close to this primordial land.

The titanic force unleashed at the bottom of a waterfall is an apt metaphor for the forces that created this majestic landscape of Fiordland.

Rich vegetation clings in impossible places on colossal walls of rock shrouded by mist and cascading waterfalls.

A road is like a scar in this pristine part of our land. I would love to ride through this area on a horse. It would give more time to commune with the stunning surroundings, to feel its rhythms, to hear the land breathe and to camp under the stars.

Sea, sky, mountains, rivers, clouds, mist, valleys of golden tussock waving in the wind. All of these primal elements are amplified in these southern lands. This creates a perspective, a space for contemplating ones place in the scheme of things. It's a place to return to again and again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Shipmates it's not often that I am at a loss for words. Indeed from time to time when either speaking or writing it would be instructive for me to observe the old adage that 'Sometimes Less Is More'. This beautiful work of art has 'More In Less' than I have seen in a long, long time. She is an absolute epiphany of simplicity.

She is the 18 foot canoe yawl 'Autumn Leaves' designed by John Harris from that well known boat design and kit company Chesapeake Light Craft. The inspiration for her design has its genesis in that long tradition of wonderful canoe yawls from the Humber Yawl Club in the UK where such creative spirits of small boat design and voyaging as Albert Strange and George Holmes et al sailed, designed and had their being.

 'Autumn Leaves' is featured in the Latest Wooden Boat magazine (April 2016) ..........

..... she floats in 8 inches of water for crying out loud! Has twin bilge boards! The hull can be completed in two weeks! She has oodles of room with only 5 foot beam!!!!

Well, shipmates you can change my name by deed poll to Mizzen Top if my old eyes aren't just misting up and the old tickers not skipping the odd beat everytime I lay my eyes on this quirky little paragon of canoe yawlishness .........

You can read more about Canoe Yawls here:

It is very rewarding to go to the 'Designs' list (Click on ' + Designs by Designer tab) on this site to view canoe yawl designs that have been created for over 100 years.


" I've always been afflicted with Canoe Yawl Madness.  To me, a "canoe yawl" isn't just a design type; it's a self-contained small boat cruising philosophy.  According to this philosophy, skilled boatmen (and women) move their little boats along the coastline in all weather, artfully playing wind and tide to make passages without the stink and clamor of an internal-combustion engine. To watch someone make their anchorage under sail and oar is as lovely and fulfilling as watching Yo-Yo Ma play the cello." - John Harris.