Historic cutter's makeover sails ahead on Waiheke Island

Bernard Rhodes wants to make a difference to the lives of youngsters.
DIANA WORTHY/STUFF

Bernard Rhodes wants to make a difference to the lives of youngsters.

A typical Kiwi 'can-do' attitude is set to make a big difference for groups of New Zealand youngsters.

Waiheke Island sailor and boatbuilder Bernard Rhodes has been busy transforming a historic trading cutter, the Kate, for use as a small sail training ship.

He wants to create a facility like New Zealand's Spirit of Adventure tall mast sailing ship, offering young people the chance to learn sailing and life skills.

The Kate after some initial work.
DIANA WORTHY/STUFF

The Kate after some initial work.

The work is all taking place on Waiheke, 35 minutes ferry ride from Auckland.

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Built in 1898, the Kate is believed to be only one of three of her type remaining, and was brought to the island more than 20 years ago.

Bernard Rhodes and apprentices Tom and Joe Foster-Christie have been working hard.
DIANA WORTHY/STUFF

Bernard Rhodes and apprentices Tom and Joe Foster-Christie have been working hard.

A Royal Institution of Naval Architects member, Rhodes obtained the vessel and, with the help of local boys Tom and Joe Foster-Christie, did a re-fit over five months in 2010 to 2011.

He and other residents formed the Waiheke Working Sail Charitable Trust to raise funds and gather support for the Kate's restoration.

"The concept for Waiheke Working Sail arose from a concern among friends at Waiheke's total dependence on oil for the transport of food to the island," Rhodes said.

Royal Fortune, who have played at earlier fundraisers, will be appearing at the one on September 29.
DIANA WORTHY/STUFF

Royal Fortune, who have played at earlier fundraisers, will be appearing at the one on September 29.

"While sail transport of cargo would not be practicable in the present situation, it is important to preserve the skills needed for possible adaption to future scenarios.

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"This coupled with my passion for the value of sail training as a means of youth development led to a concept design for a sail training ship purpose-built for Waiheke Island, with shallow draft and adaptability for cargo carrying."

The new vessel is planned to be 22 meters long, a topsail schooner with the hull professionally built in steel, finished on Waiheke using locally grown timber.

Work by Rhodes and the Foster-Christie brothers, who are now his apprentices, has been ongoing since 2010 and progress has been good.

"We are two-thirds complete in terms of hours, and half-way there in money needed - $91,000 at full cost, less with discounts and donated materials," Rhodes said.

"All the deck openings are closed in and we need a major injection of funding to haul her out to fit the ballast keel, rudder and engine - hopefully in late November."

There have been regular fundraisers, with the next from 7.30pm on September 29 at Artworks Theatre, in Oneroa.

Rhodes will be giving a slide show of a 1990s trip to Japan with family on his self-built cruising catamaran Flying Carpet.

The presentation will include tales of their adventures at sea, including the horrors of a typhoon.

There will be live music by the Royal Fortune and a silent auction of nautical paintings in the foyer

Tickets are $25 online at www.artworkstheatre.org.nz or $30 at the door. Under 19 free.

Donations can be made to Waiheke Working Sail's bank account 38-9014-0889139-00.

 - Stuff

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