Friday, February 6, 2015


RIPPLE was launched in 1971 on the Okura River north of Auckland. She was to be a private yacht and part-time home for Ralph Sewell, his wife Alison and their three children, Peter, Janet and Robyn. Ralph was a professional boat builder with a huge interest in traditional crafts. Apart from boatbuilding Ralph built organs, steam engines, windmills and anything else which took his fancy. A true Renaissance man. Among the many craft he built is the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum’s brigantine BREEZE.

Ripple's dimensions are:      Length on deck .....  39ft.        (11.29m)
                                          Breadth             .....  12ft.6ins. (3.81m)
                                          Draft                 .....    2ft.        (0.6m)
With the main hull built with single planked redwood, copper fastened, Ripple is virtually a replica of a 19th Century shoal draft trading ketch. Her accommodation is forward and aft, the midship spaces either side of the centre-board case were where the holds were located. The port side is still a hold, now with access through to the forecastle, while the starboard hold is the engineroom. She has comfortable berths for four adults and a child.

Ripple was special to Ralph, and he and his wife placed all his care and craftsmanship into her building while retaining a solid traditional working boat construction. He described her as “a little ship”; and indeed she is with decks you can walk around secured by comfortable bulwarks. And she only draws two feet!

Shoal draft boats were Ralph’s particular interest, and Ripple was his masterpiece. He died Christmas Eve 1999.


Ben said...

Nice ship, for shallow waters

Alden Smith said...

Yes, you are correct. It is good that these old boats, a part of NZs sailing history are still being sailed rather than in Museums (although one day that might happen). If it does I hope she is keep in sailing condition and sailed as are other old boats owned by the Auckland Maritime Museum (The Breeze being a good example).