Saturday, August 16, 2014

Voor Ben Mijn Nederlandse Vriend (5)

Ben. Johnny Wray made several trips into the big blue Pacific Ocean. On one of his trips he met a woman called Loti in French Polynesia, brought her back to New Zealand, married, and basically lived a very happy life, although he did take a break from the sea and served with the RNZAF (Royal New Zealand Air Force) as a navigator during the Second World War (until the airforce discovered he was colour blind).
Upon his return he built a second boat, a 43ft motor-sailer called the Waihape, settled on Waiheke Island and in 1986 died aboard his yacht. In his last years, after Loti died, Johnny became reclusive, apparently suffering from serious melanoma. He left his estate, and the royalties from his book, to the Red Cross.
Johnny Wray and his Polynesian wife Loti.
Loti and the ships dinghy full of sea shells, cockles?  (No doubt food for the crew)
Loti and Johnny during the war years - Johnny in his RNZAF uniform. Colour blind or not Johnny certainly proved his navigational ability on guiding the Ngataki all over the Pacific Ocean.
The old traditional way of designing and building a boat. This is a half model of Johnnys new motor sailer ketch 'Waihape'. When you are happy with how the model looks you cut it into a series of cross sections, take measurements, scale up the measurements and start building.
Another view of the half model of 'Waihape'. Her shallow draft would be good for poking into shallow water but would not provide enough lateral plane for her to sail well to windward, but her main motive power was her engine. The ketch rig would provide good balancing sails to stop her rolling in a seaway and provide emergency sailing power if the engine ever broke down - and no doubt when running before the wind she would have sailed reasonably well thus saving petrol and giving ones ears a rest from the sound of the motor.
This is the half model from which the Ngataki was built. The story of this model is related in Johnny Wrays book. There were a few kegs of beer consumed while whittling away at the model and discussing the merits of its evolving shape with his shipmates.                                                               
Half model of 'Waihape' on the left - 'Ngataki' on the right.
'Waihape' exiting her building shed.
All hands to help her float on the incoming tide.
Johnny Wray - The happy owner - Sailor and adventurer extraordinaire.

........ And so shipmates this concludes this series on the life and times of Johnny Wray, I hope you have enjoyed this little sojourn with me.

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