From the Drawing Board  

by John Welsford - Hamilton, New Zealand

3 of a Kind
Navigators out sailing, from Owen Sinclair, Dave Johnstone and a very envious John Welsford.

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Owen Sinclair, Ken Davies and Dave Johnstone went sailing. Nothing remarkable about that, but they went sailing many miles from their homes, in three different boats of the same design. Each one has a Navigator sailing dinghy of my design, each boat with a similar yawl rig, and each boat with subtle differences from the other.

They had a great time. Lake Mahinapua is a wonderful place on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. The water is dark with tannin from the surrounding Beech forest, the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps hover above the dark forest not far inland, and the deep blue green of the Tasman Sea is only a few hundred yards away in the other direction.

click to enlarge

Dave Johnstones very recently launched Navigator “Korora”, towed over the Alps to meet up with two more of her kind, sailing really nicely and keeping up with her older sisters. This boat was professionally built and finished off by her owner, she’s a real picture.

Photo by Owen Sinclair

(click images to enlarge)

It’s a wonderful place for sailing, no power boats allowed, and large enough to provide plenty of space for this type of boat.

I had emails and pics from both Dave and Owen, I was really envious but so enjoyed their joint story that I asked if I could share it.

Some exerpts from Dave and Owens emails:

From: Johnstone Jones Design

Hi John,

We're just home from a fantastic four-day camping/sailing weekend at Lake Mahinapua. There were three of your Navigators there, Owen Sinclair's "Tusk", Ken Davies' "Rosa Parks" and my "Korora".

Towing the boat over Arthur's Pass (the pass over the mountains on the way from Christchurch to Hokitika on the other coast of the South Island, JW) in our average family saloon was a rather hair-raising experience with steep engine-racing climbs and brake-smoking downhill runs, but we made it none the worse for the "extreme" motoring. That new viaduct is an eerie place for sure. Concrete inner-city motorway pillars look out-of-place and precarious and spindly against giant shingle fans. I got the feeling that those great mountains will just give a shrug one day and the whole lot will be engulfed in an ocean of scree. Still you have to admire the engineering. I do like the huge storm-water drains that divert mountain waterfalls OVER the state highway!

click to enlargeKen Davies built his Navigator “Rosa Parks “ in his living room at home, a comfortable workshop but I bet that hes’ glad of the space now shes finished.
Here she is in the foreground, Owen Sinclairs Tusk ( yellow stripe) and Daves Korora ( blue bow ) while the skippers are all busy rigging up. Three boats, six masts, nine sails!

Photo by Dave Johnstone

We had a HUGE time and yes, we are just delighted with the boat and it's very hard to get the ear-to-ear grin off my face. Though not our prime objective, there were some races organised so we took part.

It was fun, and it was gratifying to realise that brand new Korora isn't an absolute dog performance-wise, un-tweaked as she is We were very lucky with winds. For once we seemed to be in the right place at the right time when the lifts came. The 10mm metal centreboard, which was a bit of a gamble, seems to work well now that we have stopped it vibrating by inserting a rubber wedge (door stop) aft of the handle thus tilting the angle forward a degree or so. The stainless steel horse sounds like a guillotine chopping someone's head off when we go about, but that aside, does the job. I am going to put more ratio on the tack down- haul as it takes just a bit much to pull the yard vertical AND create luff tension as it is. I will add a block up top too to make hoisting the main halyard easier for Glenda.

The Monday was glorious. Most folk went home and we had the place pretty much to ourselves. We explored the far shores of the lake and found a little beach (very little) where we tied up and went for a swim. Later in the day two young lads (twins in fact) took me out as a passenger in my own boat. They were expert sailors and it was very interesting to hear their thoughts. They said she was "a bit like a Hartley 16' to sail, but ideal for me! Very stable, but not entirely lacking excitement"! Would you believe they sailed me up and down one of the creeks feeding into the lake - no motor. Very clever.

Dave Johnstone
Navigator Korora

click to enlargeKorora, waiting for the first breath of wind on Sunday morning, The little boat harbour was glassy calm until the sea breeze from the Tasman sea only a few hundred yards away began to make its presence felt.

Photo by Dave Johnstone

And from Owen.

Hi John,

Attached some more photos from the weekend. The other Navigator is Ken Davies' ; named Rosa Parks, after the African-American lady who refused to give up her seat to a white on a bus.

Dave had let me know that Ken would be there as well and the attraction of having 3 Navigators on a lovely wee lake was too much to resist. Ken built his in the lounge of his flat and has made a nice job. He was lucky with timber for his spars, coming across some "aircraft quality" spruce that someone hadn't needed. He has done the best job of the bow end of the garboard that I have seen. Korora looks a real gold-plater with the varnished and rounded mahogany rubbing strips and an arch of mahogany across the top of the transom.

We had the 3 boats sailing in formation on a close reach at one point; great to be part of and a great sight (we were told) from the clubrooms, which are tucked into the trees perhaps 10 vertical metres above the lake. I am hopeful of photos from other people.

I am not sure if you know Lake Mahinapua; it is just south of Hokitika, and by a remarkable local consensus it is reserved for sailboats, while Lake Kaniere is reserved for powerboats. Which makes being there even more of a pleasure. It is about 5 hours drive from Nelson towing a boat, allowing for coffee and petrol stops.

Owen Sinclair’.
Navigator “ Tusk”

click to enlargeWhite sails really stand out against the dark green of the primeval Beech rainforest that surrounds Lake Mahinapua, home for many rare and protected bird species this forest is typical of the forests that covered much of ancient Gondwanaland prior to its breaking up into the present continental masses. Here is Ken Davies Navigator “Rosa Parks” slipping silently along the shore giving her skipper and crew an unparralelled look at the flora and fauna unique to this area.

Photo by Owen Sinclair

Well done guys, I have sailed on Mahinapua many years ago, and if it's as good today as it was then that would have been a memorable weekend. Thanks for keeping me posted and thanks for the photos, they will cheer those in the northern hemisphere up no end.

Google Earth, 42 deg 47 41’.68 South 170deg 55’01.47 East Check it out.

Navigator sailing dinghy.



Designs by John Welsford: