The Waiheke Working Sail Charitable Trust, which owns the Kate, a 19th-century trading cutter that has been lovingly restored over the past decade by Waiheke locals, is seeking further funding to pay for a new engine and propellor to complete the revival.

The Kate, one of three such vessels surviving in the country, has had many incarnations since 1898, being put to service towing Kauri logs, as a sailing yacht, a fishing vessel- and even a stint on the Island as a houseboat.

She was also a frequent winner in her class in the Dargaville regatta races in the early twentieth century.

Since 2013, a local team of marine architects, apprentices, and experienced yachties have taken on the project to restore the historical yacht utilising her as a youth training sailboat- equipping youngsters with maritime and life skills. The interior and exterior have been completely rebuilt and fitted with rigging.

Trust member Mike Delamore embarked on a solo circumnavigation of New Zealand in 2020 aboard his 10-metre sloop Cavatina raising funds and awareness of the restoration project.

Waiheke Working Sail Charitable Trust (WWSC) founder Bernard Rhodes said the group was grateful to have recently received partial funding for safety equipment via a local board grant. “We were able to purchase six buoyancy vests for capsizing drills, inflatable lifejackets, a torch and charts”. To date, Bernard said “selected youngsters with sailing experience” have accessed the program, but participants are limited due to safety constraints.

The training ship aims to give every child on Waiheke the opportunity to embark on a voyage of self-discovery, challenging them to achieve their full potential and fostering courage, endurance, cooperation, empathy, leadership, and ocean awareness. On-board, there is room for six trainees, a Master and Mate.

To achieve Maritime New Zealand certification to carry commercial passengers- an engine and propeller are needed. The engine, a new Beta 30 hp, has arrived after supply-chain delays, but the Trust is still around $9,000 short of being able to purchase in full and fit to the Kate. Coupled with the propeller and other ancillary items, the total cost is around $23,000.

Bernard said that until the essential components are acquired, “no one (commercial passengers) can pay to go on the yacht”, hamstringing the Trust’s ambition to offer leisure cruising. During lockdown, the volunteers “have been busying themselves with maintenance, including painting and varnishing” the grand old dame.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has evaporated many of the usual funding channels, and Bernard said reliable sources “like the ‘Masons and Rocky Bay Cruising Club cant happen with Covid around”, so the Trust is inviting individuals to invest in the future of the Island’s youth.

Funding raising efforts are via WWSC’s give-a-little page, which can be accessed via their website; http://www.waihekeworkingsails.org