Monday, August 11, 2014

Voor Ben Mijn Nederlandse Vriend (1)

Ben. This is the Dutch translation of Johnny Wrays' book 'South Sea Vagabonds' which you read when you were 12 years old. It contains the extra two chapters that were only in the English First Edition and other language translations but not in subsequent editions. As you know your correspondence with Bruce Ansley caused the editors of the reprint some consternation, but despite this the 2014 edition of the book does not contain these two original chapters. It was probably too late for the publishers to do anything about altering the reprint when your eagle eye spied the discrepancy between your Dutch Language Edition and the Second English Edition that I gave to you when you were in New Zealand. This discrepancy is mentioned in Bruce Ansleys Introduction to the 2014 Edition. You are not only mentioned by name in the book introduction but I found out that you were mentioned by Bruce in his speech at the book / boat launching.
We were not able to attend the actual book launching or the physical launching of the Ngataki as that was an invitation only event, but we were able to see her floating merrily at the Halsey wharf at the Auckland Viaduct Yacht Basin - and I have to say she looked absolutely magnificent. The Trust that now owns the boat have had her beautifully restored.
She really did look a 'million dollars' as the saying goes. I doubt whether she has ever looked as good as this.
The cabin sides have been overlaid with beautiful golden heart kauri wood, which has been varnished. She is only 4 feet (metre and a bit) longer than my own yacht but that is where the similarity ends - Ngataki is a substantial yacht - big, bulky, 'beefy', heavy - a small ship in fact. I loved her wide side decks that you could walk around unimpeded on and her beefy no nonsense fittings, rigging etc. It is no surprise to me that she survived a capsize in a South Pacific hurricane. She is built like the proverbial old New Zealand 'brick shit house' (which, yes is a very crude term but has resonance in 'Kiwi Speak').
In this photo you can see the wide side decks and heavy no nonsense outboard rudder. She also has substantial bulwarks around the sides. Considering the fact that she doesn't have life rail stanchions and lines around the side decks these bulwarks  give the crew some foothold and sense of security.
This was a nice touch and for those who have read the book you will understand why. The basket of oranges is a reference to the boxes of oranges the crew of the Ngataki were able to pick in the orange groves on Raul Island in the Kermadec Islands north of New Zealand to supplement their stores of food. I have a photograph of myself taken in these very groves on Raul Island in 1970 when I did a Pacific voyage in the yacht 'Nessie 2' - a photograph that I will post at a later date.
In a tent next to the wharf where the Ngataki is now moored there were a large number of glass display cases which contained a lot of Johnny Wray / Ngataki memorabilia. I took lots of photos which I will post on my next blogpost about the Ngataki as well as telling you some amazing information about this great old ship and her people!!


Ben said...

This is exactly the edition I read over 50 years ago. The cover is printed in my memory. It was edited in the Dutch language in 1954. I lost the copy, probably bij borrowing it or lost it during relocations. Five years ago I had to buy a new second hand one, printed in 1991 that I read during my first voyage in NZ in 2009. Unfortunately neither of the two editions in Dutch contained pictures, that makes the English edition so special to me. The book served two interests of mine. I was a bit of a dreamer at that time (Still am now and than) and being technically interested I followed the construction of the Ngataki precisely. Sometimes the translator had difficulties with the conversion of inches to cm that puzzled me. Your copy brought the solution after 50 years.
As I commented before, remembering the odd name (at least for a Dutchman) Ngataki, gave me many fine contacts with people in NZ that I value very much.
The Ngataki is stunning beautiful restored. She is probably more beautiful than Johnny ever saw her. One question: is it correct that the original Gaff rig is replaced by a Bermuda rig?
For the next blogs: wow, being 19 years old and than on Raoul (Sunday) island.

Alden Smith said...

The Bermuda rig was put in by one of her subsequent owners (I have a personal connection to one of them which I will blog about later) and has been retained so far in the restoration - maybe as recognition to Ngatakis second life when she completed a circumnavigation of the world (will blog about that later) - yes I had forgotten that I have also been to Raoul Island - I will blog about that also at a later date when I can find the photos.