Sea Wolf III and the 1951 Transtas­man race

In the Septem­ber is­sue of Vin­tage View I left Iris, Harry Pope and Bill Bri­er­ley’s about-to-be-ac­quired yacht, fallen on her side on the slip at Port Road, Whangarei.

Boating NZ - - Vintage View - with HAROLD KIDD

Her owner, Bill Deem­ing, had put her on the slip for the in­spec­tion and tommed her up. Harry was not yet the highly-skilled boat builder and marine sur­veyor he later be­came and, in his en­thu­si­asm for this grand keel yacht, had missed some la­tent de­fects hid­den un­der the yacht’s new paint.

Harry and Bill went to the Set­tlers’ Ho­tel for a cel­e­bra­tory li­ba­tion, paid Deem­ing a £10 de­posit, but re­turned to find her fallen hard on her side with strained seams show­ing and the tide com­ing in.

As the tide rose, the water went through the boat, engine as well, over the cabin top. When it fell again they got her up­right, smeared with sump oil, bailed her out, soaped her gap­ing seams, launched her and worked with buck­ets for two days to keep her afloat un­til they could find a place to haul her out.

Ge­org Dib­bern was in port with Te Ra­punga and came over with a big pot of soup for them. They could have walked away from the pur­chase but man­fully de­cided to pro­ceed. She be­came the new Sea Wolf, their pass­port to the wider oceans in the wake of Johnny Wray’s South Sea Vagabonds, the book that was speak­ing loud to young New Zealan­ders.

Bill and Harry started liv­ing aboard the yacht hauled out at Ken Low’s yard. She was quite com­fort­able with new squabs.

But they soon detected rot in the top of the di­ag­o­nals and the stem which had been cob­bled to­gether into a schooner bow af­ter her orig­i­nal shapely spoon bow had been chewed off when she came ashore in 1932.

But once the stem was re­moved it seemed a good idea to re­con­struct the di­ag­o­nal bow sec­tion into a spoon bow again and raise the sheer and deck nine inches, some­thing the pun­dits said was im­pos­si­ble with the tools and skills they had.

Harry sailed up to the Whangarei Heads to source po­hutukawa for a new stem in Trevor Lin­nell’s ex-auck­land crack 16-footer Namu. Once the bow was opened up, the yacht be­came un­in­hab­it­able as the win­ter wind blew straight through, so they moved into a tarred sack­ing tent next to the boat.

While they were re­build­ing the boat they took jobs with Whangarei Trans­port, driv­ing trucks, de­liv­er­ing coal, fire­wood and pi­anos, navvy­ing in the quarry, work­ing on phos­phate ships and sometimes get­ting work at Ken Low’s yard. At the same time Harry stud­ied nav­i­ga­tion in prepa­ra­tion for go­ing off­shore.

One day Harry took a day off work to burn off the in­side of the hull with a blow­torch. The flames went through the di­ag­o­nals and caught fire to their tent along­side. Harry was obliv­i­ous to this un­til he heard Low’s wife Miri scream­ing.

As he scram­bled out, a gal­lon tin of white spir­its perched on

...Harry reck­oned no spin­naker was ever han­dled so much as their’s was in those days.

ABOVE The crews of Na­iad and Sea Wolf III un­load­ing phos­phate at Whangarei. From left at front Trevor Hill, Harry Pope, Jack Moulden, Bill Bri­er­ley and Bryce Troupe.

LEFT Sea Wolf III on Ken Low’s slip, nearly ready to launch.

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