Category Archives: Hauraki Gulf Cruising

Cruising the Gulf

Many people started cruising the Hauraki Gulf in their homebuilt vessels after World War Two. The annual summer cruise became a feature of any families’ lives. Conditions on board were primitive. There was generally no standing headroom,the toilet consisted of a bucket and lighting was by a kerosene lantern. But the joy of cruising the islands more than made up for any lack of luxury.

Trimaran at Maraetai Beach
Small trimaran off Maraetai Beach getting ready to depart on the annual summer cruise during the mid 1970s. Note the lack of headroom and any toilet or galley facilities for the crew of 6 people.

The idea of building one’s own cruising boat had been popularised in the 1930s by adventurer Johnny Wray who, after losing his job in the depression, built his own boat out of scavenged materials. He used kauri logs washed up beaches for timber and fencing wire dipped in tar scraped off the road to staple the planks together. Wray sailed around the Gulf and across to the Pacific Islands. His boat Ngataki is still sailing in the Gulf, having being restored by the TIno Rawa Trust.

Boat designers Richard Hartley and Alan Wright produced boat building plans for the home builder with detailed instructions and full-sized patterns which could be cut out. Richard Hartley designed the hugely popular Hartley 16 foot trailer sailer which was promoted as being ‘For the man with limited means, who wants a boat for day-sailing and fishing with a guarantee of being home on time, this is the boat.’ 

Alan Wright Variant bilge keeled yacht at Waiheke
Alan Wright’s designs were very popular with the homebuilder including the Variant shown here beached at Waiheke Island. Wright offered plans for several variations of the boat including different keels and cabin tops which is why he called it the Variant.

Cruising is still a hugely popular activity on the Hauraki Gulf given the many sheltered bays and beautiful islands which can be visited.

Yachts anchored in West Bay Rakino Island
Cruising boats anchored off West Bay at Rakino Island.