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
sailing dinghy of my design, each boat with a similar
yawl rig, and each boat with subtle differences from
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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
Photo by Dave Johnstone
And from Owen.
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
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.
Navigator “ Tusk”
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
Google Earth, 42 deg 47 41’.68 South 170deg
55’01.47 East Check it out.
Navigator sailing dinghy.