A group of dedicated boaties started the 40 South Boat Building and Cruising Club in 1976, a time when boat building in New Zealand and a lot of other countries was really booming. As well as all the commercial builders, there were backyard builders busy on projects all around the country, some with large boats under construction in the most unlikely places.
There was a lot of activity in Hawkes Bay and they had a ferrocement boat builders club going very successfully over there which I had joined. With the chandlery business I had started, I soon made contact with a number of builders in our Manawatu area, and a few of us decided why not form a club locally. We had no base or clubrooms. Just a president and secretary, who also looked after the finances. Not a big job with a $2 sub.
Everyone building a boat knew someone else with a similar project, often the person they got the inspiration from, to start their boat, so the membership increased and spread to Wanganui, Levin, Hunterville and further. Then others in the area who already had a boat also joined up.
Meetings were held most months and the venue was a members home or yard where they had a boat building project under way. The marine equipment manufacturers and importers in Auckland all had reps. travelling down here regularly, and they were always willing to talk to the Club and share knowledge and promote their products.
In the early days, some of us were optimistic enough to think we would be launching our boat in a couple of years, and we should get a mooring in the ‘Sounds’. So a few of us put in $10 each, acquired some heavy ground chain in a sly cash deal at Wellington port, then managed to get it on the Picton ferry luggage truck, freight free delivered to McManaways who then got it to the Marlborough Harbour Board depot. And in due course they placed our mooring in Shakespear Bay. Total cost about $150. Our first mooring.
The boat building activity slowly tapered off as boats were eventually launched, some projects completed in just a couple of years, but most taking many years longer than originally planned. Around this time we started having some meetings at the old Café de Paris hotel in Palmerston Nth. and a few other venues. Then with the opportunity to buy or establish more moorings with funds from the Lion Foundation and others, we got the Club registered as a incorporated society. Many of our members now have boats in Mana Marina and are also members of the Mana Cruising Club. And a good number of our members are now from the Mana area.
We have always endeavoured to stay pretty informal, but now with our moorings, we do have to get involved in resource consent and compliance issues, and of course manage our Club assets. May 40 South remain a friendly little social group of boaties, regardless of being builders, cruisers, fishers or just with nautical interests.
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