Vintage vessel Arahi joins Wairua on the Whanganui awa

Photo / Bevan Conley

A Whanganui teenager has taken his passion for vintage boats to the next level - he's bought one of his own to the Whanganui River.

After working alongside Sam Mordey aboard Motor Vessel Wairua for the past 12 months, 19-year-old Jack Burrows bought Arahi from Auckland.

The vessel, which was built in the early 1940s and can reach a maximum speed of about eight and a half knots, was transported from Auckland via truck in October and came "exactly as is".

"The only thing I've done is build an outrigger so she can sit up at the town wharf," Burrows said.

"The previous owner restored her and painted everything all through lockdown in his garage."

Burrows said Arahi had started life as part of the Auckland Harbour Board, transporting workers to wharf construction sites.

"She was originally surveyed to carry 14 men and she'd carry them up and down the rivers and around Auckland harbour. After she retired from that she spent some time in the Bay of Islands, and she's been in private ownership since about 1974.

"Now she's here in Whanganui. I took her up to Upokongaro the other day and she handles beautifully. She's very happy here."

Burrows said he began working aboard Motor Vessel Wairua as a deckhand on Labour Weekend last year, and was currently training to be a skipper.

"Vintage boats was almost a spur of the moment thing for me. I was always interested in the navy, and my family was all navy on my mother's side. I grew up wanting to do that too, but when I applied it didn't go too well, unfortunately.

"After that, I came to work on Wairua and just fell in love with vintage boats. Something about them really sparked my interest, and when I saw Arahi was for sale it immediately clicked.

"In six months or so I should be able to do the day-to-day skippering of Wairua, and then I'll have Arahi in my free time. I'm going to be constantly surrounded by boats, which is great."

MV Wairua skipper Sam Mordey said that Arahi was an "excellent first boat".

"She's big and solid, and she can handle the swell going out to sea," Mordey said.

"It helps that Wairua has a Gardner 6 cylinder engine and Arahi has a Gardner 4 cylinder engine, so that means a lot of the parts are interchangeable.

"The guy who owned her previously said he'd had boats that had kept him alive and happy, and he'd had boats that had tried to kill him. Luckily, this one falls into the first category."

While Arahi had yet to be surveyed to take paying customers onboard, Burrows said he wasn't ruling that out in the future.

"Because everything is old it's a constant work in progress to keep her going and keep her up to the standard she is at the moment.

"I plan on taking her out to sea and down to Nelson and Picton when there are a few nice days. A lot of people call me mad when they hear that I've bought a boat from the 1940s, but they're going to call me even more mad if I start purchasing more of them."

Mike Tweed
Whanganui Chronicle 19/11/20

(*) Last Reviewed: November 19, 2020

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