In late 2006/early 2007, I was attracted by Rogue’s lines and size, which – beyond their pure aesthetic – seemed a useful discipline against me having ideas above my station, such as venturing beyond the Wellington Heads, or indeed even going out in robust seas. Then I learned of Rogue’s history, and – being without a current project – thought Rogue’s restoration might be an adventure, as well as a contribution to cultural heritage. I had in mind a slow, off-season, rolling restoration – sail a bit, upgrade a bit, sail a bit more, upgrade something else.
Bruce Askew – Wellington marine architecture’s éminence grise, and familiar with Rogue (then renamed Muritai) since his school days – offered to oversee the process: first, he said, to reduce Rogue’s marked tenderness, by replacing the underweight cast-iron external ballast that substituted for the original lead sacrificed for the war effort. And I thought a better engine was also in order, the old Yanmar barely getting Rogue out of her berth against wind or tide. Bruce nominated Matt Price as the only local boatbuilder worthy of the task.
In late 2007, Bruce designed and Matt built the form for the new ballast, which Bruce said would contribute 29% more stability; we sourced lead and sent it up to Mike Rees for casting; I obtained a new small Lombardini; Rogue came out of the water in Petone, and was transported back to Matt’s shed by the airport (fitting literally by millimetres), and the ballast and old engine removed, and new engine dropped in. Then Bruce wondered about the placement of the keelbolts, because he thought the next round of restoration should be to remove the late-added keelson and replace and increase the floors. That led to a discussion about the location of a mast-step, which would depend on whether Rogue was to return to gaff. Which meant closer consideration of deck beam placement. And, if that was to occur, then would we also re-establish the flush deck? By the time Bruce had finished with me, I found myself inadvertently committed to a single long-term restoration.
So Matt’s had Rogue as a permanent tenant in his workshop since late 2007, on which he fits in restoration work around his other customers’ demands. Bruce drops by most weeks, contributing – beyond careful drawings, and as valuable advice – beautifully turned fore and aft Samson posts and pin rails. And a perfect 1:15 scale model, the hull of which Bruce had used in his bath to determine the correct ballasting and waterline, before deciding to rig the model as well. Rogue’s largely original hull has had all previous DIY additions removed, maststep and floors replaced, new internal kauri benches, sole and companionway/engine cover fitted, and new counter (including flush lazarette hatches), new deck, new cockpit (in a nod to the advancement of humanity, dimensioned to accommodate larger, less agile sailors) all built.
Matt’s artisan eye for detail means that the work done is of fine furniture joinery quality, with discreet scribing lifting horizontal edges, and chamfered fluting reducing the profile of vertical ones. Gorgeous butterfly and booby hatches, and violin-scrolled coamings, have been created and affixed (the first including etched glazing to remind of Rogue‘s original pohutukawa floors, which had turned more or less to dust after 120+ years, and have been replaced with a greater number of laminated mahogany floors (pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) is a protected species: the idea of looking for windfall in the right dimension was not seriously in consideration); a finer, more scientifically proportioned rudder is to come. Patterns for various hardware have been made, and cast. Then back in the water to take up, freeing space in the workshop for Matt to build the spars.
Meanwhile, taking advantage of favourable exchange rates, a baulk of Heathcoat’s Clipper Canvas was sourced direct from the UK factory. Without original plans or even much in the way of illuminating contemporary photographs, John Bertenshaw recommended I emulate the Pardeys’ Little Thelma’s sailplan (Charles Bailey Jr, 1895). Without then having the first idea who the Pardeys were, but thinking it unlikely that any unannounced visit to Kawau would coincide with an ‘all sails up’ photo opportunity, I called them to ask for their advice. Their generosity and helpfulness was exceptional, literally opening up their home and boat for my inspection. That relationship led ultimately to Thelma’s relocation to Wellington, now in Matt Price’s hands, and occupying Rogue’s berth while Rogue is in the shop. Thelma is setting an unnerving threshold for entry to the Wellington scene, having won back-to-back Evans Bay YC cruising division winter series on handicap.