The Best Little Hartley in the World

The boat came into my life as an, ‘I almost bought an old boat but it was too expensive’. My sigh of relief was heard for miles. I have nothing against boats but I am married to a man who thinks it’s perfectly normal to go to a car auction and bring home a car – to join the five others parked up the drive. A boat, however, was branching out and at that time, I was more intent on sawing the metophorical tree trunk in half. It took almost a year for the boat to reappear in my life. Apparently the man had revised his estimate and it was now within what was deemed an acceptable price. We made the journey down to Wanaka and came home with a scruffy 1969 plywood homebuilt. I fell in love with the shape of her hull and the stories of how this could be replaced and that would have to go. The boat became such a project that cars – yes cars were sold to make space. In no time she had a new transom and a highly varnished deck. There were decisions to be made about which lines to paint, whether to renew this or that and with each decision she began to look better than I imagine she had ever looked. Most of the work was done when we took her for a trial at Lake Hood. The trailer was backed down the ramp and water seeped into the hull at such a rate we pulled her straight back out. The next time, it wasn’t as bad and we could see where it was coming in. We took our lives in our hands and took her for a little spin. She didn’t sink but I nearly dropped into the widening gap between the boat and the jetty when I couldn’t work out which of the two to abandon when the boat drifted away. The final trip down to the lake, she passed the test. So, glued up and tarted up, we headed north last weekend to the Classic Boat Rally at Lake Rotoiti. ‘Is she a Hartley?’ was the most common question and though that was what the previous owner had thought, we were not sure enough to put it on the specs. A series of knowledgeable boat boffins changed our mind. We now had a Hartley run about. And run she did. In the final event she was nose down in a passing bow wave when we were dumped on by another wave from a jet boat. I learned something that day. If you can see it coming, don’t duck. All that does is open a funnel from the back of your neck to your underwear while the rest of you gets it in the front. I was wearing a cap, two jackets, a cardigan, a top, underwear, cotton trousers and shoes and socks and there was not one item of clothing that wasn’t soaked. But it a fitting way to end a great weekend. Two drenched old farts out on a lake surrounded by some of the most beautiful classic boats in NZ, laughing our heads off in our Hartley runabout that’s still waiting for a name.

One thought on “The Best Little Hartley in the World

  1. A woman with such a way with words should surely have no trouble naming the boat with just one or possibly two? 🤣


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