Castor Bay
New Zealand

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Boating Christmas’s

2002 and 2017 two different boating holidays






MARORO was my John Welsford 17 foot clinker yawl built in my garage in Forrest Hill. It might see strange but she was launched on a little lake just south of Rotorua and did not taste salt water for a few months.


I had not known Joan very long but we organised some care for the three dogs and set out on an adventure from Milford up and around the Kawau Island area. Our friends Andy and Sue had a cottage on Motuora Island and we were to meet up with them. Happy memories.
See the story in the Boating index.






A couple of boats after came Maroro, a 5o year old plus Chas Bailey Junior 27 foot launch.
A great family boat and tricked out for SAR and operating as a Coastguard Auxillary she was awarded the 2007 Coastguard Rescue Vessel of the Year.


We did not go too far in 2017 as I was coming up for a new knee. Never the less Joan, Lucy the dog and I had a great time.


You can check that out in the Boating Index.






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Minnie Moltok Upgrade

 minnie moltok republished

 After nearly two decades on this site as a set of postings the decision has been made to upgrade the story.
It deserved better placement as it tended to have the links broken as I played with the site.


For example the story is shown on the Mirror Association in the UK but the post type links have been down for some time.


You are much missed Tony





A Boating Adventure from Denmark


An Introduction from Tony

Dave Robertson’s encouragement to his readers to send reports of their voyages was heard at a time when Minnie Moltok was to be fitted out and sailed in order to try out various solutions and satisfy the father that she was fit to carry her owner and the latter’s sister in whatever weather might turn up. Overwhelming gratitude felt at the honour of winning the book prize influenced the decision to send this report. (Perhaps one should also have considered buying a lottery-ticket.) The ideal voyage to “kill two flies with one smack” was a 100 kilometer as the (eel-) crow flies trip round the island, not non-stop, but over a weekend. As it happened it blew a gale that weekend, and the solution to that hadn’t been fitted yet, but the gale gave an opportunity to work at it on land. Using the jib as mainsail was tried, boomless and with boom, for extreme conditions. Jib-as-main, with boom, looked pretty good, but before the daughters would need that, they’d want to reef down as much as possible, which means lowering the gunter-gaff to the gooseneck, and reefing the jib to fit the reefed main. A block is fitted to the gaff-neck for the other extreme of weather, to hang another mainsail from, as a sort of genoa. Three sacks were filled with sand, 50 kg in all. Since it can begin to blow too much when one is an hour or two from any sensibly obtained supply of sand, our sand was carried aboard, even in a calm.
Tony Bennett

In March 2008 a man who was a constant supporter and referee of my website work, Tony Bennett, passed away suddenly.
Tony was a Briton a scientist and archaologist married to a Dane with a family of two daughters. A very intelligent and articulate man in every respect.

My first contact with Tony was when I was just starting the Woodenboat website was the learning curve was full on and grew on a daily basis.
I go back to that story now and then and continue to be amazed with the detail and excellence of the construction of the story. Tony and I corresponded regularly over the years and it can be said he dragged me out of my Antipodean isolation into a greater understanding of Europe and wider world.
I will forever be humbled by the effort Tony put in to helping me get things sorted. If a page did not work or my grammar and spelling (or logic) was worse than normal I could expect a note from the headmaster.
It’s hard to explain how somebody from the other side of the world you never met other than by words on a screen could become such a good friend. But it happened.

Arohanui Tony, may your final journey across the bar be a peaceful one.

Crossing the Bar
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.


Navy Blue Ink

In the Navy, In the Navy there was ink, in the Navy

Until recently my only recollection of fountain pen ink was when I was posted to Navy Office in Wellington. I was a Leading Radioman and working for the Chief of Naval Staff.

On my second or third day I was happily writing away with my Shaeffer Imperial V inked with green ink. Suddenly all hell let loose. From the commotion I gathered that the only person allowed to use green ink was the Admiral. When you saw green in you went to DefconOne. Ok, I will change to red ink…..NOOOOOO only the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff is allowed to use red ink. As I have said elsewhere I changed to brown ink which has some connotations but none of them are going to upset the Admiral.

Naver though much more about that until I was having a converstation with Kim in her lovely store in Devonport. Kim told me she sold a lot of pens to the young navy officers and she knew the green ink thing well.

It rested there until a conversation with my old friend former Warrant Officer Gordon Cattermole. Gordon was my right hand man in Coastguard and together on Maroro we stunned the fleet by being awarded the Coastguard Rescue Vessel of the year.

When we were on training exercises and we were the bad guys (the ones they had to find for practice) we drove them nuts. As the Chief Controller said when those two get to thinking anything can happen.

Anyway, Scribbles and I had lots of fun, ragging each other about our trades and singing every navy ditty we knew as we steam through the night.

As Gordon tells it all personal documents were annoted in ink, I checked mine and sure enough every entry and signature is in black or blue black.

One of the tricks of the trade apparently was if you made a cock up on this very important cloth document you used another pen filled with bleach and went over your error.

Gordon also had a green ink story. Apparently the Commodore Auckland filed his expense report and signed it in green ink. Gordon being as sharp as a tack rejected it. On being fronted up to Commodore Tempero [later Rear Admiral who passed away while Chief of Naval Staff]  Gordon was told the Commodore could sign in whatever colour he wanted. No sir, it is a financial document and the only persons allowed to use green ink on those was the Auditor.

On remarking to Gordon about the young officers buying fountain pens and it being some sort of ritual he explained just what that was.

Young officer are of course being trained to be gentlemen and inking with a fountain pen is part of that. Each of the Midshipmen is required to keep a daily journal and that journal must be written with a fountain pen. The journals are apparently inspected each month with the ships books,

Gordon has not had a great run of health of late. He has a mind like a steel trap and his stories are legend. I have suggested he get a bunch of B5 notebooks and a fountain pen and starts writing down his memories.

And yes every personal Naval document I have in my possession has been written up in ink. Gordon says it had to be Blue or Black but it looks like blue black was acceptable.

And another memory, on the 19th January 1961 in the crew recreational space of HMNZS Philomel I was gathered a skinny sallow youth with perhaps 30 others the same. An officer or Senior Rating politely attracted out attention and fondly advised us of the great honour which was about to befall us. We wer asked to say some words about loyalty and our nation and then take the ink pen in front of us and write our signature the bottom of a page full of words. We were then to put the time and date. Of course the time was in military time which was explained to us. This being done we were to take our signed forms up to the front and go back to our chairs.

Then the shit hit the fan and the shouting started gone were the smils and benevolent Chief Petty Officers and Petty Officers….. YOU ARE IN THE NAVY NOW YOU HORRIBLE LITTLE BOYS….. TURN RIGHT DOUBLE MARCH LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT and so on for 18 years….

No known cure

What are fountain pen collectors called…..

Fountain Pen Folk

These are brilliant, witty folks with good taste and an appreciation for finer things. They are contemplative and yet ready with a quick riposte when needed.

While the mandorla of the Venn Diagram is quite large they come in two basic varieties.

Collectors–who will search out a specific sort of pen maker and/or a specific model of pen and attempt to become both expert on and holder of as many examples of that particular pen.

Accumulators–folks who enjoy using pens and really aren’t into the single-minded pursuit of one kind. Some of us have several pens of the same model because we like them–the feel or the look or the way they write.

Generally, we just like pens and spend too much of our budget on the darn things… And they keep bringing the ones we have out in new colours.

As noted there is a great overlap…

There are collectors who have very eclectic collections of a style of pen….

An accumulator can also be a person who acquires pens with no apparent focus; i.e., someone who considers any and all pens to be “fair game.”

People new to pens are likely to be accumulators because they have not yet acquired sufficient knowledge to develop a focused interest; but there are also experienced people who remain accumulators because their interests are too eclectic to permit a perceptible focus.

If you have read this far it is too late, the spell has been cast. For the rest of your days anything to be put on paper will require careful selection of the pen, type of nib, colour of ink and your words will come from way deep inside you.

Welcome aboard.

Fountain pen that went to WWII



The day before Christmas 2017 I was searching through some old boxes for my old Osmaroid 56 and Shaeffer Imperial fountain pens. Those were until recently the only two fountain pens I had ever purchased. And having caught the fountain pen bug was keen to see if I still had them and did they work.

No luck with that but I came found what looked like a Conway Stewart. Well it had It had the striped brown finish I attributed to Conway. I had a recollection of a fountain pen being among the effects from my mother when she too crossed the bar. But at the time fountain pens were not part of my world. In search and rescue they have no place because every document might end up in court and they do not regard water damaged writing very well.

I got onto the net seeking more about the pen but could not find a similar Conway Stewart. There were no brand names I could read with the naked eye so it was out with the magnifying glass and to my amazement I found I had a Parker Vacumatic in my hand. This was made in Canada in the second quarter of 1938. It is a top of the line or Master in Laminated Burgundy/Red Pearl opaque first generation Vacumatic. It has a two tone nib .

It has a lockdown filler tab which Parker produced only until 1938. Originally the celluloid from which the pen is constructed was laid up in sheets with alternate layers of clear and textured. The pen body was then turned up from strips cut from the sheets. Because of this the pattern does not go right around and you have a darker area on each side of the cylinder. Later pens used celuloid which had been formed into rods and the pattern goes right around. It is beautiful. If you hold it up to the light you can see the ink level inside the pen. You fill the pen with a push down lever under an end cap. This creates a vacumn which draws ink into the pen. I tried to ink it up but after all this time it needs a new diaphram which I hope Pat at INKT in Whanganui can fix. I dipped the pen and it writes like a dream.

Above. The nib is a beautiful wide flexible stainless body with a gold lamnation. It writes like better than any pen I have ever experienced, and I do own 20 fountain pens.

The the brain started to work and it clicked. On the 3rd September 2939 this pen was my father’s 21st birthday present. It would not have been cheap but for the oldest son pretty appropriate. Probably came from Whitcombe and Tombs.

My Dad crossed the bar many years ago now but it is at Christmas when I think of him and miss him. Probably because I saw more of him at Christmas when we were staying at the family bach at Wattle Bay. He was a quiet sort of bloke and pretty resourceful. He never discussed his very eventful war and it was left to others to do that job.

1939 – War had been declared on Germany. Within days of Dad’s 21st birthday he was called up and off he went to war. More about that follows in a little bit.  I can track the journey this pen has made with my father and since he passed right up until the present day. I can also have access to letters he wrote to my mother with this pen during the war. Dad would have been 100 this year and the joy this brings me as a lover of fountain pens is huge. I enclose a short history of his war. This is being expanded and rewritten for a future publication date. After the war the pen followed him back to Cyclone Fence & Gate and no doubt signed many a document as the manager of that company.


I know that this pen went to war with Dad from letters home which the family still has

When you were a kid born during WWII you grew up in a world where most of the men around had been to war. Seldom was the war itself discussed they did however have a few laughs about the good times. I have learned more about my late father through this Comms Website and long talks with Jack Harker than I ever got first hand.

Last night when I was thinking about this I did some trawling and found information that filled in some gaps… and not always directly related to my prime search…. Always wondered why a Dutch kid at my primary school suddenly stopped coming and his family up tent and vanished. Father had been a collaborator and was ‘discovered’.

My father Harold Jasper Robertson AB D/1697 MID USN left school in 1937 and went to work in the family company Cyclone Fence & Gate as a wire worker. He joined the RNZNVR at Ngapona and was an active Zambuck [St johns Ambulance]. He is third from the right in the bottom row about to embark on the NZ Navy Training Vessel Wakakura. He loved to wear his had flat aback like that. In my day you got a thick ear for you troubles. On declaration of hostilities there was an Esso tanker John A Brown (JAB) berthed in Auckland.

A few days after the Declaration Dad shipped out on the JAB as a Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship [DEMS] Gunner. He used to joke they gave him a ship, a gun in a box and a user manual and told him to go and fight the war. That tends to indicate that the Poms had remembered the lessons of history and built the ship then only about a year old, to be ready for war. There is a corollorary to that after the war when a new wire netting machine arrived at Cyclone Fence & Gate from Germany. You guessed it, Dad had the job of putting it together from instructions he said were in ‘industrial German’.

 Above. After the war the John A Brown is shown arriving in Perth, Western Australia. I assume the gun mounting would have been for’d about where you can see the funnel of the tug.

The JAB had a distinguished war and was finally broken up in 1959 under a Panamanian flag of convenience. She carried petrol on the Atlantic run. She once took a bomb which went through the decks and out the bottom of the hull without exploding. Her charmed life continued until in 1940 she hit a mine and went off to dry dock for repairs.

Note I did find the JAB her travel history for the rest of her days.She did come back to Auckland several times after the war…. wonder if Dad knew, and if he did if he went to visit.

When the JAB was mined Dad was moved to Bomb Disposal in Portsmouth until the NZ Navy remembered him. He used to give another reason for doing what  your are told… apparently he was accompanying and officer on an inspection. The officer directed Dad to walk on the other side of him which he did. Shortly after a wall collapsed and killed the officer.

Like a lot of Kiwis fighting the war in Europe Dad found himself posted to the ill fated HMS Neptune.

As a Gun Layer it would have been a totally different Navy to the one he knew. Neptune already had a large NZ component in the crew and more were drafted on as the ship was heading back to NZ. Not for Dad, another pier head jump and he and another gunner who would remain a good friend for the rest of his life were drafted off Neptune at the mouth of the Thames. They were sent up to Leith to stand by HMS Moa. On the creation of the RNZN Moa of course became HMNZS Moa.

Note: A pier head jump is Navy slang for a last minute posting. They come out of the blue without warning and can be very disruptive in life. I had no fewer that six of them. When I was young and single they were part of the adventure. later married with a young family I became more and more resentful if them. Finally I told the Navy to shove it where the sun does not shine and resigned.

HMNZS Neptune was sunk in the Med in an Italian minefield. 30 of the ships company got off but only one survived in the open boat. He was picked up by the Italians. On the 75th Anniversary of that sinking earlier in the year I wrote a summary of events based on Jack Harkers book. It did not get any promotion by the RNZN who have an aversion to Jack’s somewhat loose interpretation of official data to write his books. Never the less nobody else even got close to what Jack wrote. I will post that again on this website shortly

After working up out of Leith in Scotland Moa set out for Auckland. This may be at variance with other Moa recollections on this site but this is how I remember things…….. Her first port of call was Halifax and from there she worked her way south to the Panama Canal.

I do know that they went to New York and to the World Fair because I have seen photographs taken there. Recently I found a plate from Bermuda in my mother’s effects which indicates Moa went there as well.

After transiting the Panama Canal Moa then had to steam up to Canada. Some problem with getting the code books and routing plans from the USN I think. The journey home from there is obscure.

On arrival home Dad found time to get married and in his groomsman was Acting Leading Signalman Campbell Buchanan US Navy Cross later killed on HMNZS Kiwi in the action with the Japanese submarine l-1 near Guadalcanal Jan 1943.

In that action Dad was the gun layer on Moa’s 4” inch. For his conduct that day he received the MID USN signed by Admiral Bull Halsey. The gun from the Japanese submarine  l-1 came to NZ on Otago in 1968 and seeing it at Kauri Point sent shivers up my spine. If the Japanese gun crew had been better at their job I most certainly would never have happened. (yeah I know)

Later Moa and Tui intercepted a group of heavily armed Japanese landing craft which were know to be running at night resupplying Japanese forces on the ground. In the gun action that followed Moa’s gun shield took a hit which ignited the cordite bags on deck. Dad and three others suffered extensive burns and had to be evacuated ashore strapped on deck on a US PT Boat. The USN considered it too dangerous to carry wounded below decks on the PT Boats.

Luck was once again with Dad because he was alive and back in NZ under treatment when Moa was sunk in Tulagi Harbour. She was alongside a USN dsestroyer at the fuel wharf and took a bomb down the funnel during an air raid. There was quite a to do about this because the authorities had failed to pass on indications that there was an incoming air raid. All of his kit including the silver cigarette case he received for his 21st went down with the ship.

Recuperating from his wounds Dad was drafted to Waiouru W/T as a driver, specifically as Eggy Biggs driver. He used to tell how the local traffic cop was encouraged (you know that rum we use to great effect) to fail Eggy his drivers licence so the boys would have use of his car at nights. Stu Sinclair the local farmer at the RNZN camp near the receivers was a radio operator in WWII. I spoke to him often when I was there and he remembers that story.

I was born in Auckland on the 5th Feb while Dad was serving at Waiouru WT. He visited me a couple of times while I was serving at Irirangi and thought the only change was it was a bit easier to get into the Wrennery.

Having fought a reasonable war you might have thought they would leave him there….. No, he was drafted to HMNZS Gambia. Gambia was actually quite busy, one day I will get on the net about that. On the day Japan surrendered Dad was at his action station as gun layer in the main director when a Japanese aircraft appeared. He had the aircraft in the cross-hairs but then the Japanese aircraft was shot down by an American fighter plane. I am not sure if Gambia actually opened up. At that stage of the war their sense of survival would be pretty well tuned. The US aircraft would have known to keep out of the way of their shells.

For Gambia the final act really was the signing of the surrender in Tokyo Bay (at action stations). They must have been on shore because Dad told the story of a Japanese typewriter which one of his mates libereated. Connect the dots… a Japanese typewriter would be used for typing…….. At the end of the war the Navy got rid of Hostilities Only sailors really quickly. I did not think to check if he continued with the RNZNVR and now I cannot find his papers. I would imagine most of them would have had a guts full by then


For Dad it was back to Cyclone Fence & Gate in Khyber Pass where he eventually took over from my Grandfather as manager. He was with that company for the whole working life. I am working on the Cyclone story for another time. It must be said that this was important work. The world needed food and farmers needed fencing and buildings. Cyclone was the leader in the chain mesh and which I call pig mesh, the square mesh, production of fencing wire and fencing staples. Quickly erected and economical hay barns and farm buildings were needed. Strong light trailers were needed. My grandfather and then my father managed that production. Many of the haybarn and trailer designs came from my fathers fertile brain and I wonder how many were first sketched out with the Parker Vacumatic.

It was also back to his beloved bach at Wattle Bay on the Manukau dealing to the snapper which he did until he passed away.

Dad said little about his war, just the odd remark from time to time.  Many of his old Moa and Gambia mates used to come to our bach to go fishing, have a few beers and lots of singing with Dad on the piano accordion. No short range gunnery, just funny stories.

I once asked him why he remained an AB. His reply was that he liked the job and promotion often meant a draft and a place on the list of those killed in action. His only advice when I joined “never buck a draft”. I grit my teeth when I think of some of my crash drafts but I kept to his advice. Just an aside on that, once again I had been posted at short notice to the other end of the earth arriving in Navy Office as a Leading Radioman. My Petty Officer rank promotion came a few months later with a job change from the Signal Office into the Navy Directorate. Seven months after that the combined service system came into force. The job I was doing was zone for an officer. For the first time in the history of the Navy and just seven months as a Petty Officer I was promoted to Chief Petty Officer.

Not too long after that I had to go to Auckland for a post exercise debrief. I managed to sneak Lisa onto the plane {DC3 top part of your body red hot, legs and feet frozen solid]. I had arranged for Mum and Dad to pick Lisa up at the airport. When I entered the terminal building in the uniform of a CPO my Dad had tears in his eyes.

And a closing note was the launch of the ‘new’ Moa. When I found out about the launching I contacted the Commodores Office. Chief Yeoman Buck Rogers was running the guest list and pulled a few strings. Dad was invited as guest of honour that day and the photo of him on the wheel in the Herald was his pride and joy. Afterwards Mum and Dad were invited to lunch on HMNZS Waikato by the Captain. That man turned out to be David Niven Woods who had been my skipper on HMNZS Mako. Dad had a wonderful day that day and I am pleased we made it happen.

It is good to remember that for many the war story had many chapters. I imagine Dad would have felt just a little bit safer on Gambia compared to Moa, Bomb Disposal in Portsmouth and Neptune.

Dad continued to work at Cyclone until the day he retired. The company changed hands many times over the years and that is a story to be told another day.  What is important here is that the Parker fountain pen was with Dad throughout all of those years……..


 SEE THE PEN N INK PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATIONINKSPIRATIONS FOR 2018 all of which will be meaningless except for fountain pen zelots.As far as fountain pens go I have reached the point where something is going to have to be pretty exceptional to pry the money out of my wallet. An example could be the Lamy 2018 Special Edition Safari. Certainly the 2018 special edition Al Star is off my radar. The pen is shocking pink and does not ring my bell at all.’
But there you go, from left field. If you read the Pen that went to war in a later posting you will know that I have my fathers 1938 or 39 Parker Vacumatic fountain pen to restore. I am sure Pat at INKT can wave his magic wand. I do know the spare parts are available and I do know that I will spare no expense to restore this pen to 100% operation. That means I now have 21 pens and will need another three to fill up the pen holder I will have to now purchase. That Veterans Affairs Disability Pension is being well spent.
Recent experience with the 1.1mm nib I purchased with the Yellow Safari is that I have been holding myself back with medium nibs. Bold and 1.1mm stubs do much more for the ink on paper and I feel better using them too. I will start a retro fit programme from INKT who is quite a bit cheaper than anywhere else. At least one 1.5mm stub will make its way north. As far as the Kaweco. Jinhao and TWSBI pens are concerned I am kind of stuck. Unless I buy another of them and that is unlikely. 
Can you have enough of them? Well I do want to fill a couple of gaps because I use them for drawing as well as writing. The new 580 was inked with Monteverde Napa Burgundy as it seems a better fit than the Lamy Al Star Purple. It writes nice and the two go well together. That means the Al Star needs an ink. Options are from Robert Oster with his Chocolate, dark pink, purple and exotic reds. Then there are the Private Reserve Plums, and purples. Need to do some serious research because they do not look the same on screen. Will need a bold nib for the pen as well.I had thought I needed a yellow or orange for the new Safari Yellow. Originally that was going to be the stub pen with Lamy Black. After an experiment with the L Herbin Ambre du Birmanie I thought it a fail and had consigned it to the back of the drawer. Just for the hell of it I inked the Yellow Safari and stub nib gave me a pretty satisfactory result. So the stub nib has gone to the Lamy Al Star Black with Lamy Black ink. The bold nib from the former is now on the Yellow Safari and I am happy. The conclusion….. lots of experiments to be done with ink and nibs. No new pens on the horizon.

Private Reserve Ink


I have seen numerous comments on these forums about inks to avoid for various reasons. Pat thinks they are generally ok and certainly worth a try if you dont leave your pen inked up too long and do not let them dry out. He has had a couple go bang and of course he replaces faulty product.

So here we go. Purchased a sample pack WINTER which is all blues.

The new TWSBI Diamond 580 Red Blue was the first pen inked up. It handled it fine and ink changes did not show any residuals from this seemingly problem ink.

First cab off the rank is LAKE PLACID MEH take it or leave it, on paper looks same as Lamy Blue

Then came DAPHNE BLUE yes I could get to like this ink

Still to come: MIDNIGHT BLUE that would have to be a blue black surely

Still to come Naples Blue: Not a lot different to Daphne but we shall see.

Christmas 2002

Christmas 2002 in a Navigator dinghy

It has been a long long time since I have ventured out into the wide wide world at Christmas. Everywhere you go there are people cluttering the joint up and more than a few drivers seem to have been given a death wish for Christmas that year. So I stick close to house and home and do my boating later. Mind you for most of my working life Christmas has just been another day on shift.

But now with no shifts to keep and a good little boat available all that can change, Wairua was good and ready for a long sail, My friend Jo was prepared to put her life in my hands with quite a substantial sail required both ways a trip to Kawau looked a good prospect.

* In the end due to some sick dogs this was more a New Year story…

Our friends were setting up camp on Motuora Island south of Kawau Island (see map) so we would have some company.  Andy has a 24ft ship’s lifeboat in which he loads up all the goods for a month long stay (with three sons that is a lot of goods). Sue takes the car up to Sullivans on the Mahurangi which is about 30 minutes steaming from Motuora. They can then go to town for more supplies or head for hospital which is good planning considering the number of mishaps three growing boys seem to have.

Along with a group of 4x4/boating friends they made a block booking on Motuora including the former worker’s hut with power kitchen and shower to be used as a group camp base. The scene was set.

You have not lived until you have sailed to Kawau and to do it in a 14 foot 9 boat would be an adventure given the fickle nature of the Hauraki Gulf. It is pretty traditional for Auckland boating folks to load up the launch or yacht and head for the joys of Kawau Bay.

They normally take plenty of food, children and the boat too of course. Some anchorages up there have so many boats in them at this time of your you really have to be into the crowd scene to get any fun.

I came across Andy and Cariad on his way to Motuora a week before Christmas.A

He had just spent four frantic weeks on the hard getting his ex lifeboat cleaned up for the journey.

Our adventure.

In the weeks prior to departure I had taken Wairua out in all sorts of weather and given it a serious gear test.  All seemed to be well andready for the adventure.

I would still be setting out with a full safety fit out, VHF radio, GPS, flares, bailers, fire extinguisher, two cellphones, lifejackets and all the trimmings. I know my Navigator is a well found boat too.

I keep watch with Coastguard and lodge a TR.  At the other end Andy had his trusty lifeboat would be keeping regular skeds on the cellphone

This is not an unusual journey and I can think of four people straight off who have done it., Chris in Windsong, Mike and Judy in Waiata, John Welsford in all sorts of boats, and Driagg.

I grabbed my trusty logbooks and records from my sea kayaking days. To a degree the carefully considered lists of essentials still worked but what was missing was the discipline to leave it behind if you can’t justify it. Unless you are going to lug your gear up an incline on your back packing when you go camping in a boat can qualify you for membership of a cargo cult.

Having performed the ritual cleansing of ‘33% of what is here gets left behind’ four times I seemed to have a manageable pile of gear selected which had to go into the boat.


The story about me discovering this yacht design and the building process is for another day.

You have  a lot of places to put things in a Navigator and they come with a compulsion to make sure they are full. There is storage on either side of the cockpit (I actually changed those to give me more leg room),  across the back of the cockpit. The way I built Wairua is different to the plan to make compartments either side of the centrecase. There is another in the front of ford cockpit and in the forepeak..

We had five days sailing and camping to do and we had to be self sufficient . When the boat floated off the trailer I was quite relieved that she was only about half a plank deeper in the water. Our original departure date was the 29th December but a sick dog put paid to that, and the 30th too.  [on reflection we would eventually make the decision to move from the Navigator to a bigger boat based on our need to take our dogs with us].

Gone was the prospect of a down hill ride to Motuora. The wind had now swung round to put it right on the nose. We were up at 5am to launch for a 7am departure. I figured I would have three hours sailing  before the tide changed at Tiri Passage and we would not have any wind against tide problems.

During the night the wind had come up and was around the 15-20 knots. There was quite a cross swell coming from the Northeaster at about 45 degrees to the wind when we pushed off for a look and see it was not at all certain we would carry on. But the extra weight in the boat made her feel really comfortable and there were plenty of options to head up an inlet for the night if the early going got too bad.

Whangaparaoa in the distance was our first obstacle on our sail up to Kawau Bay for Christmas.

The first board was a long one to the dip about the middle of the picture. As the crow flies (if we had crpws around here any that is) in a straight line its 15nm to Motuora but in a boat of course you have to sail around the Whangaparaoa Peninsula through a rough bit of water formed by Tiri Tiri Matangi Island which makes it about 28nm.  It is on record that some have tried the straight line version.This bit of the world is where you will you will watch the America’s Cup racing on TV.

This is our home turf. Sailing here for us is calculated not so much by the wind direction but the wave action.

I had to decide between putting one long board up to Whangaparaoa and tacking up the smoother water in the lee of the land to the passage. Or the alternative a series of tacks out in rougher water and tide. I chose the former and giving the boat a bit of ease we were soon rocketing along on a fairly dry ride considering.  All those Christmas puddings and 10 pairs of socks Jo packed came in handy and the boat had a nice comfortable feel to it. We enjoyed that first board especially when the sun came out. It took just on two hours and the shortish tacks up the peninsular proved good value for sight seeing. But the bottom was falling out of the wind and just on rounding the corner into the passage the arse fell out of it completely.  After an hour tacking back and fro I put aside hope of getting to Motuora under sail alone and started Egbert the Evinrude and we were flying along.  Jo was having a wee nap by this time and I therefore have no witness to the next event.

About 50 metres ahead of the boat the water suddenly boiled and the body of a very large shark rolled itself over and back down. My first thoughts were killer whales but the realisation that the upper body was not black and the belly white and grey put that one out of the way. I have this lingering memory of this huge belly with an anus the size of a manhole cover. I have no idea why that stuck in my mind.

Seconds later there was a second appearance of the shark, a pause and then a huge sunfish lept bodily out of the water to fall with a giant splash on its side and disappear.I consider myself a reasonable observer of size and distance and my thought was that the shark was about the same length as my boat. As for the sunfish, curtains for certain I am told. Yum yum food to the sharks, especially Makos. Wow!!!!!!!!!!

Bronze whalers grow to four metres. This is the common large shark of our waters and the one responsible for many shark sightings about North Island beaches south to Cook Strait. Its usual colour is a dark metallic bronze above, becoming brighter on the sides. The long tail lobe, erect dorsal fin and long pectoral fin are easily seen features. Its teeth are small, flat, triangular blades. In Australia this shark has a reputation as a man- eater, but this is not the case in New Zealand. Comes into northern harbours to breed in the summer months and is often encountered by anglers at this time. A powerful fighter, these fish will sometimes jump clear of the water.

By now Egbert the useless Evinrude, just out of having a check up at the shop, decided it was time to have a holiday. Fortunately we now had a a breeze which, the according to Coastguard weather station on the Tiri was just it over our stern at an average of 3 knots.  Mmmmm I suppose but who cares about details.

Soon we were on a reach and the breeze was filling and we were making five and a bit knots. We were keeping up with the bigger boats which is always nice for the ego. Eventually we parted company, we for the southern end of Motuora and they to the cluttered anchorages of Kawau. We had a few cellphone calls to say they could see us coming and wouldn’t say we swept around the bottom of Motuora but we had enough breeze to give all of the campers what was apparently a very pretty sight. I closed my watch with Coast Guard with 28 nautical miles sailed. I had been on the helm for nearly 7 hours and was in dire need of a serious stretch. In no time we had set up our campsite and were stretching our legs with a walk up the hill to see the view. The weather was now perfect and it was going to stay that way for a while. I have to say this is the time to store away the memory of lugging all the gear from the boat to the campsite. We could obviously have gotten away with a hell of a lot less stuff.

Jo Jo doing her happy camper bit.

We cleaned the boat, and then met our fellow campers. There were about 80 people camped here. But there was plenty of room and for us this camp was only a base, we would be sailing during the day.

Our first meal of the trip which was not a big deal. From experience I prepare and freeze the first couple of days of main meals before I leave.This was New Years Eve and at sunset we moved over to the party gathering by the hut.

It was going to be a dry one for me, I like a tipple but never take any away on my boats on this sort of trip you never know when you might have to shift your boat. It was suggested I accept donations because Wairua was going to dry out just after dark and would be high and dry until just before dawn next day. I humbly accepted a tumber or two from my friends.

Left: Looking down on the camping ground at Motuora.

Lower left is the ranger’s house (soon to be demolished). Vista from left: Mullet Point, Motutara Island, Moturekareka Island, Motuketekete Island and in the background Kawau Island.

[Speaking to Andy since I put this back on the web he tells me the buildings are still there. 31 Oct 2016]

When a small hammerhead was landed by the fishermen the kids came in their droves. Good story to tell when the time comes to go back to school. Fish abound in this area and there was always fresh fish (some of it freshly smoked) on the table at meal times.

Note…I can remember from my days on the Ocean Star towing barges around here. On a calm sunny day you could see Hammerheads in their thousands basking near the surface.

Left Wairua sitting happily at anchor just off our campsite.

At the bottom of the tide I was able to walk out and stow the sails. Made for a really comfortable nights sleep knowing she was high and dry for most of the night. The timing of the tides was just about perfect for our comings and goings over our holiday.

The old worker’s dwelling on Motuora is often booked by yachties and kayakers. Five bucks per head per night with toilet, shower, stove and bunks it makes an ideal winter base camp. The group of campers (about 8 families) we went up to meet with had booked it for their headquarters.

I have fond memories of this place from the days when I worked out in the Maritime Park. It used to have the biggest frying pan I ever saw. You could fit a couple of dozen eggs in at one time, testiment to day when a man and his workmates put in a good day’s healthy hard work. Sadly following a policy I have never been able to comprehend both this dwelling and the ranger’s house WAS to be demolished by the Department of Conservation that year to return the island to its natural state. ‘HULLO’ what substance are you people on? This hut is part of our island heritage. [ITS STILL THERE]

Next morning dawned clear and bright with just a faint breeze. We had our day bags packed and quietly slipped away as soon as the boat floated. I had a feeling there would be some faces absent around the campsite today, especially a group adjacent to ours who might just be missing as well tomorrow . I had decided to take Jo over to Mahurangi and it was a pleasant although slow sail over. When you have worked at sea you don’t miss too much and as we approached the entrance I spied the familiar configuration of a Navigator Yawl a long way inside harbour.

SAIL HO! Starboard watch to the tops, standby to tack. I laid off a course to intercept the other vessel and from time to time yawed the boat to show them my sail configuration my colours. Sure enough the distant Navigator computed that we were a relative and the intercept was now a certainty. It was not too long before I was able to see enough of the other boat to decide that it was Chris Peard in Windsong. Windsong is the only other Navigator I have ever been in. Chris was kind enough to take me for a sail in his boat about 9 months after I started building Wairua. We have tried many times to have a sail together but apart from a few minutes in company on Lake Rotoiti for the Woodenboat event the arrangements never worked out.

Windsong with Chris on the helm, Annette on mainsheets, Byron on whale spottin and the girls Sarah and Helen working on their suntans on a calm bay of Mahurangi.We sailed around each other for a while and with the breeze dropping decided to head into what is called Big Bay for a spot of lunch. Egbert the Evinrude would not start so Windsong did tugboat duty for the last couple of hundred metres.

Nice beach and one I have wanted to go to for many years. It is very exposed and today the swell was making it difficult to anchor out. But in time we were all sorted out and lunch was being consumed.

Anchored just beyond the ground swell break at Big Bay. That’s Te Hapua Island (also known as the Saddle) off Mahurangi in the middleground and Whangaparaoa Peninsular way off in the background.

The breeze was now filling in and it was time to go sailing. Not much arranged except we both seemed to know it would be a test of each others boats to windward and we are bth competitive. In the light Wairua was moving very well and it came as a big shock when the breeze filled in and suddenly I was getting well and truly hosed down.

I was going slower and lower big time. When you try and make a boat go fast you tense up and generally do not get a good result. ‘Tell me to lighten up every so often” I said to Joan and commenced experimenting. Looking at his sail shape I soon realised that I had everything sheeted in too hard and flat.  A boat like this likes a bit of easeto get the power and before long I had the mainsail leech working and we were up and away. Windsong had left us for dog tucker by now and it was time to get serious.

Nice breeze out here although you never can tell that from a photograph. Windsong is a light boat compared to Wairua but Chris, Annette and three kids against Jo Jo and I was probably balanced the boats out.

Waiata was a gate prize at the Auckland Boat Show and had been professionally built. Waiata’s sails are now about four years old. Mine on the other hand are only one season old but when the breeze came up he had the legs on me until I got my sail trim properly sorted. Windsong moved on from Chris and Annettes ownership as things do when you have a growing family, something. Chris tells me he still misses that boat.

At that point I regained an edge in boatspeed again. Must be thinking my tongue is sticking out. Sailing with a another boat especialluy one similar to your own makes you work a little harder on your boat speed and pointing angles.

Sailing on your own you think you are going fine but it is often not the case. One of the reasons the Americas Cuppers know you cannot challenge with a one boat campaign. It has to be testing boat against boat. I am not going racing but I do want to get the best performance out of Wairua.

Huey where the hell are you going to send the wind from next? Out in Kawau Bay lay the black shape of the Spirit of New Zealand sail training ship at anchor. Coming down wind at me on port tack were two of her small lugsail rigged sailing gigs. I was cranking up to climb out of their way on starboard tack with not a lot of options left hoping their instructor was going to wake up soon. In their own good time they bore away giving me my water, Christmas being a time of forgiving I chopped them off my best naval salute. All of the little lifejacketed charges sat staring straight ahead like they were being transported to a labour camp and the officers were inspecting the ends of their elevated noses and not a finger moved in reply.

Times have changed. I did some time as the mate on the Spirit of Adventure, SONZ’s predecessor and back then the kids (and the instructors’s) relished the interface with other mariners. Enough of the future fund managers and tax inspectors, I now have a decent breeze and am easing sheets for the run around the end of the point towards home. I have a steady 7.7 knots on the GPS but the only problem is I want to slow down so I can talk to Chris who has been left behind a bit.

But sadly it was time for a parting of the ways, me back to Motouroa and Chris and family back to Mahurangi, the trailer and return to Auckland. I rounded Wairua up and sat on my mizzen until we could talk. Bloody enjoyed that mate! Chris offers me some cold beer but I decline his kind offer. Harden up and away we go spray flying. The wind has gone around and is blowing straight onshore. We are being watched as we tear headlong for the beach at Motuora. People love an accident don’t they? Bloody hard luck my friends, these Navigators have a jump jet mode. You sail straight at the beach, plate up, rudder downhaul off. You let go your jib sheets and mainsheets and haul the mizzen in tight. The boat gently comes up into the wind and backs up to the sand and you casually leap into ankle deep water and wander up to hold the forestay so your crew can exit the boat too.

Well you do if you have non skidded your decks, with a glossy paint job you can end up flat on your arse on the sand, but that is not the fault of the boat. In no time flat all the sails are stowed, we take our day bags and I have the compulsory swim to take the pick out for the overnight anchorage. Good feeling after a day on the water like that.

A good feed, some good laughs with friends, an hour or so counting satellites and shooting stars and a good nights sleep. More days of sunshine, swimming, too much food, sail and sleeping when you want until at last it is all over. Before Christmas I had exchanged emails with John and Carol on Coastal Rover but was unable to make contact with them on VHF.  John reported later that he had seen my sails on the other side of the bay at one stage but meeting up was not supposed to happen I guess. Another day.

We were fortunate that John W,  a bank manager had to go back to town for the tennis (his bank was the sponsor of the tennis) and graciously offered us the use of their tent for the night. That meant we could pack our boat at low tide and have a really easy departure in the morning. And it was going to be a great morning too with the prospect of a tail wind all the way home. Come dawn and don’t you know it, the wind has gone right round.  Some time around 8am we slid out of the bay with our many friends waving farewell.  We seem to have quite a bit more freeboard or we have left something behind. There is tons of space in the lockers too. No all is in order we have just consumed most of our food. What was crudely known in sea kayaking days as unpacking through your bum. Yesterday’s sail is going to have a long term benefit, I am now about 25% more efficient to windward in a breeze than before and on a long trip that time saved totals up.

It’s one long board to Whangaparoa followed by some short tacking up the shore line out of the tide to Wellington Rock where I can put in another decent board before easing sheets to run home. The tide is going out and the tidal stream is strong. There is another optiojn to put in a tack back out to sea and use the tide to get a good shot at the next board. I see a few keelers up ahead doing that but decide my original course of action is the best one for a small boat. There is still quite a chop and a small boat does not always have the boat speed to get far enough advanced for the next board out in the tidal stream. Sideways tends to always be sideways away from the destination for us.It did not take too much effort to get around the end of the peninuslar, Just four tacks.  A bunch of drunks in a Reactor which from the state of the boot topping does not get out much and was only here because it has been stolen is wandering around ignorant of the Rule of the Road. They avoided my steely glare and headed off I know not where.

Even though we are sadly homeward bound it’s turned out to be a beautiful day. Reclining back beam reaching and munching Moro bars as we slid downhill to home and our three dogs, two cats and a hot shower.We pass between Oracle and Alinghi with their two boats out tuning up for their LV Cup final to select the challenger for the Americas Cup.  Away out to sea Team New Zealand has their two boats doing the same thing as the defender. The noise of the running rigging and sheets on winches from these boats is just awesom

e and more than anything demonstrates that the boats are sailed by dedicated athletes.

Castor Bay our homeport is as usual in summer cluttered up with cars parked in the trailer spaces blocking access to the beach where I haul out. The council inspectors are too busy driving around looking for dog owners who have might have taken their dog’s onto the beach before 7pm instead of handing out $60 fines to beachgoers too lazy or self important to park in the proper carparking spaces allocated them.

We were home in about 5 and a half hours and it had been a lovely sail. I stowed all of the gear and bagged our valuables before putting the pick out. ReToo much clutter on the ramp to think of putting Wairua back on the trailer. She would be safe there until later in the evening when the crowds would be gone.

I could recover her in peace and pay proper homage to an excellent little boat and the end of our holiday. Wairua swung happily in the gentle breeze as we walked up the hill to greet the chums and put some hydro electric energy to good use.

Two days to clean up the boat, before going back to work.

And just in time because the next day the weather turned really bad and we sadly missed out being there when most of the tents were blown down.  The strong winds caused boats to drag anchors and some exciting times were had in the middle of the night doing boat recoveries

Journeys end, the holiday is over, 108 nautical miles under our keel. Not a lot on paper but huge in my memories.


Cariad, a GRP ships lifeboat built by Viking Marine in Scandanavia. Built to survey she is as solid as you can get.

24ft with 8.25 ft beam drawing 3.5 feet Aircooled Petter BS 16.4 hp diesel. You are thankful for ear plugs. In fact you need really need to take two packets and put a whole packet in each ear

Andy discovered Cariad in Tauranga and with some mates steamed her up to Auckland over about 5 days.Economical on fuel but having to go to the dentist put the fillings back in cost a few dollars. Andy McGaw has had some great times with her very basic cuddy cabin and two simple bunks [like you were in jail]. Plenty good enough shelter for sleeping and cooking over many days of fishing in really bad weather Andy says. The boat has moved on and is up around the Mahurangi Harbour somewhere.  She is really solid and regardless of your rights under the Collision Regulations you should YIELD.

Yours aye DJR



There have been a few close shaves. Liked the look of the 580 AL Blue but something happened, perhaps it sold out before I got my order in.

I like this pen but not sure I want to start a collection of them, this should be a oncer.

Arrived by courier 18th December and inked up with L Herbin Bleu Asure first up. Its the most gutless ink I have and wanted to see how it handled that. Not too bad really but not good enough to stick around. Onto Private Reserve Lake Placidds……..

TWSBI Diamond 580 Fountain Pen RB – Red and Blue. Transparent barrel reveals the filling mechanism, a built-in piston-filler with a very smooth action. Chromed metal trim and pocket clip. Translucent red cap, and translucent blue piston knob, with the white sun emblem of Taiwan on the end of the cap in place of the usual TWSBI logo. Rubber o-ring on cap thread ensures an airtight seal to prevent ink drying out in the pen, whilst also ensuring that the cap is firmly attached to the pen when not in use.

Diamond-faceted barrel ensures pen will not roll away if left uncapped on a desk.Polished steel nib engraved with TWSBI logo and branding, available in a wide range of nib sizes: fine, medium, broad, extra-fine, and stub 1.1mm (stub nib costs slightly more).141mm long closed, 130mm long open, 176mm long posted. 12.9mm max barrel diameter, grip section tapers down to 9.5mm. Weighs 28g.

This is a lovely pen with good balance, size and heft. I could get to make this my favourite without any trouble at all.

In addition I stuck my neck out and purchased a sampler pack of Private Reserve ink. This ink was once the rising star of the fountain pen world but has fallen on hard times. The founder passed away without leaving much in the way of information about the compositon of the inks and there have been many problems. Included in those is the ink going slimy in your pen.

But Pat says there have been few problems in his experience so it is worth a try to get some decent colours. So far I have only inked up with one of them ‘Lake Placid Blue’ and it certainly is a dense ink.

Fude Nibs


In the consignment I received from Pat at INKT there was a bonus ‘Fude’ nib. This nib which looks to have been dropped on the floor is designed for the printing of Chinese characters. Apparently they are made in Germany but in our case are marketed by Jinhao. INKT Noted: Medium fude nib for Jinhao 159 and X750 pens. The fude nib has an upturned tip for use in Chinese calligraphy. May also fit other fountain pens which use a #6 nib. Note: while the nib says is is 18K plated, I doubt it is. The best source of an explanation is to search the word Fude in YouTube. I have a Jinhao 159 pen I had purchased last because to satisfy my curiosity about Chinese pens. Its not too bad but has dumped a couple of times on the paper. Monteverde ink cured that. The big white pen with its standard medium nib is going in my every day bag to be used for rough sketches in the wild.

Rather than interfere with the X750 which is writing great out of the box I decided the 159 would be the test bed. With the combination inked up I grabbed a piece of paper and did what I call draw out loud. I just threw lines on the paper without much thought for the way I was holding the pen. With the fude nib that is what it is all about, different strokes for different pen angles.   This is a great combination for roughing things out. I am looking forward to having some knowledge about how to use the nib,  a blank sheet of paper and this pen in front of a decent subject. As they say the best fun you can have with your pants on, well for five bucks anyway.

Whats with the whales

Whales on this website…….

Whales are beautiful creatures I have observed them all over the world and think they are one of the greatest creations of nature.

Whalley came to me in a colouring book that is part of an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Just like to kids colouring books of old you get a picture in the form of all the outlines and colour in the spaces. The electronic version is way more sophisticated and using electronic pencil to get different colours, shadings, swirls etc there is scope for some fabulous art. It goes way beyond a colouring book and it in the hands of an expert some stunning creations have been done. Electronic valium when you cannot sleep or are having a bad day.

I am not too bad with it and have a whole stack of YouTube teaching sessions to cover. It runs on the iPad so you can take it and find a quiet corner of the world and get stuck in.

MOBY I drew myself. It was the emblem for MY OWN BLOODY YACHT SQUADRON which was a bunch of boaties back in the 60’s and 70’s. One or two are still alive and so am I. I think my domain name is cool. But people always stick on the end and wonder why it will not work. I do not tell them it is a screening device.

Fitzgerald Taylor

The best little fountain pen shop on the planet…..

“Welcome to Fitzgerald Taylor’s online shop, we love all things stationery”

I had assumed that there was no longer a bricks n mortar  fountain pen shop in Auckland. Of course there is Whitcoulls and the big stationery barns but that is not the same thing. Then from Gurgle results I realised there was a fountain pen store only 30 minutes from here in Devonport. I lived there for 20 years. The traffic in and out of Devonport means there has to  be something special before you make the journey.o make the journey. Kim has her shop in the old Post Office building and having lived in Devonport for 15 years I remember the post office from well, when it was a Post Office. Now a beautifully restored building it has been the location of Kim’s shop for a long time.

There is an old letterpress machine I assumed was a prop.

Wrong! Kim produces exclusive stationery on this letterpress .

I could not help but be impressed with Kim’s knowledge of the fountain pen world and its ink. The room is full of shelves of every brand of brightly coloured journals & notebook and the impression….perfection.I also picked up that there was product here that was not on the store website. I fell in love with the first Kaweco Sport AL, the grey one, I had ever seen and of course it followed me home. There is a lot going on here. I would suggest if  you are looking for something a phone call to Kim and it is not on her website give her a call. Bit of a long haul to Devonport but it is nice area to go for an outing as well as have a pen shopping experience.

About this time that a birthday needed recognition. I had noticed Joan having covetous eyes on my pen collection so Kim built the perfect  gift. A purple Pilot Metropolitan, L Herbin Violette Pens’ee ink and a matching purple Leuchtturm1917 notebook, then came the gift wrapping only a artist can create. Joan was over the moon.


On the left, The blue and purple pens are OnLine but I do not know which ones, then OnLine Campus fountain pens….. then starting with the red pen…. OnLine Vision fountain pens. Last on the right are two L Herbin fountain pens.


Every Friday now I make a trip to Devonport. Have a coffee, walk the dog, recollect my Navy days and living and bringing up a family and all the associated history. Of course I call in to see Kim. That is not necessarily to buy anything but somehow I always remember I need like a nib or a journal or some ink. Kim has a range of Lamy pens the equal of anybody. Sure nice to have the ink in your hand with the cap off so you can see what you are buying. In the pen world that seems populated by good people Kim is right at the top of the list and I thoroughly recommend her business to you.

You might come across some of the beautiful product shots on Kims website and social media sites. Studio photography is another of her skills and I can tell you perfection is normal here.

Kaweco Pens Landed

Kaweco now landed….

Kaweco have been manufacturing pens and pencils in Germany since 1883.  In the 1930s Kaweco created the Sport line of chunky hexagonal pens which became an enduring classic.  The Kaweco brand is now in the hands of passionate pen people H & M Gutberlet and goes from strength to strength. The Sport range still forms the backbone of Kaweco’s product range today, and now extends from translucent plastic to solid aluminium versions; and from fountain pens to clutch pencils via ballpoint, rollerball and ink roller versions.  All Kaweco items are made with love and attention; we especially recommend the Liliput super-compact pens and the AL Special range.

Anyone who owns a Kaweco fountain pen will tell you…… they wish they had brought it earlier in life. This pocket pen sits comfortably in your pocket. In particular the aluminium ones are warm and smooth and comforting to the hand.

The will fit in a wallet without grief and in a small purse that comfortably takes your drivers licence your Kaweco is at home.

It all changes when you take the pen out and post it, suddenly you have a pen that is bg enough for most. I have five of them and they are in use all the time. If I was allowed only one fountain pen it would be one of these.

One thing is common worldwide, there are never enough to go around and when you see them  you should act. INKT and  Fitzgerald Taylor have received stock. You have been warned.


This was lucky

A rare find in NZ or perhaps anywhere……..


The Lamy Safari Petrol is the 2017 special edition Safari colour, a stunning dark green colour with matte black nib! Widely loved but just about unobtainable, bottles of this ink did not come to New Zealand. Well sorry, one must have because it was offered to me last week


The Lamy Safari is perhaps one of the most recognisable fountain pens, a fantastic everyday writer, smooth and with a well built plastic body. It features the familiar Lamy ergonomic triangular grip section colour matched to the body. The 2017 Lamy special colour Petrol pen found universal acclaim for its matte finish and classic dark blue green colour. Typically as with any special edition they are hard to find. And that is not just in New Zealand.

You can still get Lamy Petrol cartridges most places and if you want to match that to a pen Rene at Pen Classics has them:


Rothco Every Day Carry

Man bag aka Tactical Pouch.

Spent a bit of time on the net looking for a simple bag to carry my drawing tools when I was out and about,

Every Day Carry in the USA. My mission was a small bag that would not be a pain to carry but big enough to carry the pens and art materials I needed to do some sketching in the field. In the end I was lucky to get this little Rothco from the Pilots Shop in Napier…… Q How do you know there is a pilot in the room? A They will tell you. Typically a tight well organised on line store that did the job with no bull. I thought there were a lot of these about but I have just looked and there is not. Seem to have got the lasts one on the planet. Never mind plenty of alternatives. Try Gurgling Military Surplus NZ and you will find plenty of stuff. When the one I have wears out I will probably go for a bag that will take an A4 pad. Back to the bag…. it weighs next to nothing, it cost me $25 and some Amazon reviewers said it will not last long. Give me strength $25……. it seems fine to me. At left: handbag, well my hand by the bag to show how small it is. The bag is closed and the strap and clip wraps the whole bat up nice and tight.

The bag open: Undo the strap and a velcro flap and the bag opens out. There are a total of six pockets protected by zips and six pouches for cards


So what am I packing: leather pouch with some cash and drivers licence, leather pouch with cards and cash, leather pouch which contains four Kaweco Al Sport pens and a small Apica notebook plus 3 small and 2 large ink cartridges, An A7 Apica notebook, A Rhodia A7 web book dotted, two Kaweco ink cartridge sleeves, Finepix S8600 digital camera. Not shown 2 Blackwing pencils, rubber and small ruler. There is also a small zippered pouch in the main flap with a Tile and room for a torch, keys etc.

It is an amazing piece of kit. Do not even know it is there in the carry and certainly does not look out of place slung over my shoulder in the supermarket. Everything has proven easy to get at. I often just rough out a scene and then fire off a couple of pictures, perhaps using the zoom to get a better idea of the light.

Jinhao X750

A cheap Chinese surprizeJINHAO X750

This was an unplanned purchase but while I was browsing the web a few months ago I came upon these Chinese pens and noticed that the Jinhao X750 was getting good reviews. Go to the REVIEWS page for a list of trusted review websites.

I wanted a bigger but not expensive pen to go in my every day carry bag for quick sketches and perhaps taking notes.

The X750 was available in stainless steel with a medium nib from INKT for $20. It came with a converter so there was no other expense. Nice big #6 nib

As is the standard with Pat the pen arrived under 24 hours later and was inked up with Lamy Black. No cleaning or fussing, fill and fire.

A couple of flicks into the towel and the X750 was writing. I am blown away just how smooth it is and what a nice ink it puts down. Faultless and as good as the hundred dollar German pen!!!!!



The cap close up with its little tin hat, what a good little soldier you are. Why do we give pens names and speak to them like they are children?

They say that a Chinese pen will drop you a nice blob of ink sooner or later but it has not happened so far. It is going to be a great carry art pen.

Money well spent…….

Total Knee Replacement

A Total Knee Replacement

It is nine weels and four days since North Shore Hospital gave me a Total Knee Replacement on my left knee.

So many people have this done these days, some more than once, it is easy to think there is nothing to it but it is a major event in your life.

While it is true that from time to time the pain seems bad it is better than it was for years with just bone on bone in my knee.

If you are contemplating one of these do not delay. And if there is one lesson you need in advance be sure to exercise the new one at least once a day. Do not get stuck at a desk or sitting around feeling sorry for yourself. Your new knee needs all the work it can get.

Welcome Aboard


Living, boating, writing and stuff

I suddenly find myself building web pages again. Its quite exciting……..

The framework of this site was created as part of an exercise to help a friend understand how a website could be used for his business . Now he understands as was the deal he has taken his new knowledge off to have his own website built and left me to play with my toys.

It took a lot of effort to change my thinking to WordPress and the shell of what I had created still has some legs. So I have decided to publish information and news about things that interest me. There is a ton of information around here that used to live on other websites I run and I do miss not being on the web.

It is vanity publishing and things will happen when the juices flow. Don’t want to be a slave to it and it will take time to get both the website and my routine sorted.

If you find what is here is not to your liking you have the right to QUIT. If you do want to come back you are most welcome.

Yours aye
David Jasper Robertson
Castor Bay, New Zealand