buster-pickmereGot a wonderful email from Janet Watkins (Hereward Pickmere's daughter) with the info and pics below. Many thanks Janet, gold.


M.Y. Arethusa General Notes    By A.H.Pickmere. 13/8/41
Ample storage space for provisions for several months cruise. Main water tanks capacity 66 gallons. Small tank 18 gallons. Petrol Tank – Kelvin welded steel tank – 9 gallons sufficient for 16 hours running. In the tropics I usually carried 100 gallons in cases.

Holder of record for yacht: Auckland to Suva 1352 miles in 10 days 20 hours, September 1931,and once logged 100 miles (Vuna, Taveuni to Naselai) in 12 hours – 8 1⁄2 Knots, Dec 1934.
Very well ventilated and most suitable for tropical cruising, having ample sail area, good power, shallow draught, large locker space, and a very economical motor.
Steering: Wheel on aft bulkhead of cockpit. Positive. Propellor: Kelvin 20” diameter by 12” pitch. Bronze shaft.

Standard mullet boat rig – has proved very satisfactory on several ocean voyages. Jib headed sails afford a very comfortable rig in bad weather.
Planking is considered by some authorities to be rather light (One inch finished) but has given no cause for worry in the last ten years. Bottom timbering very strong and heavy. Double ribbed along turn of bilge for extra strength. This was done by me in 1931 before leaving for Fiji. No structural additions or any re-inforcements added since 1931 as this was unnecessary.

Speed under sail: Not fast, but capable of maintaining good average speed at sea in bad weather as in 1935 on trip from Fiji to Auckland: 3 days moderate winds, 4 days S.E. to S gale, 3 days flat calm, 2 days light N.E abd finally 2 days severe N.E gales – logged 1410 sea miles at average speed 4 1⁄2 knots. Sailing time 13 days 5 hours.
Being high wooded, beamy and therefore very buoyant, is dry and comfortable in heavy seas. Bow rather too bluff above water but run in is very fine. Does not drag, therefore little danger from following seas. The safest vessel I have ever handled in a following sea due to the fine run and good buoyant stern.
Hull has been well protected. Planking never attacked by teredo at any time. Some old teredo holes found in rudder post April 1941, but no live worm anywhere in the hull except false keels
which are easily replaced. Rudder post repaired and all necessary caulking and bottom repairs done by P.Vos Ltd, April 1941. Hull has never been copper sheathed,
Keel: Iron, supported by 8 one-inch galvanized bolts through iron, true keel, keelson and nutted above upper keelson which is hardwood 10” x 5 “











The Main Saloon looking forward:
Note the glass bookcase, the large oval dining table, the head room when seated on the bunk.
Access to the galley & forward cabin was on the port side.


Looking Aft and from the Crosstrees showing the spacious cockpit and double companionways. The engine was between the two stairways to the saloon
Note: the steering wheel amidships and the dinghy carried astern on supports.



Deck Games



Bow Detail



At Anchor


Nukulau Regatta - Fiji




“Buster & Pick” – Suva, November 1934 Mr & Mrs A.H. Pickmere


DW 120802 DHW2992 Edit

DW 120802 DHW2993 Edit


Copy from Certificate Of British Registry:
Official No. 152173    ARETHUSA    Registered Sept. 1931 at Auckland, N.Z.
(Previously regd, as “Marcia” 1924. Originally “Arethusa”)
Sail with auxiliary motor power.

  • Built in Auckland, N.Z.     Launched 1917.   (Built at Sulphur Beach, Northcote)
  • Built by R.B. Brown, Northcote.
  • Rig    Cutter
  • Stern    Elliptical (American tuck)
  • Build    Carvel (Single skin – 1 inch planking - 18 strakes & V piece at stern) Kauri, Copper & Brass fastened
  • Hull Length    33 feet 6 inches Over all.
  • Beam    11ft 7 inches.
  • L.W.L.    31.4  feet.
  • Draft    4 feet 6 inches
  • Engine:    One 4 cycle “Kelvin Sleeve” Mfd. In Glasgow 1923 - Berguis.
  • 2 cylinder     15 h.p.    Speed 6 knots.
  • Gross tonnage       11.17
  • Regd. Tonnage    5.20
  • Registered at Lloyd’s, London.
  • Additional Specifications & Equipment from notes - 1931:
  • Ballast     Iron Keel cast at Thames –
  • Two tons of iron – 10 ft 8 ½  in. by 8 in. thick & 14 ½ depth.
  • Inside ballast – 1 ½ Tons lead.
  • Rudder post – Iron bark 3 in. thick; Stern post 3 in thick.
  • Mast – Height above deck – 33 ft 8 in.
  • Bow sprit – 9 ft 2 in. – 13 ft 9 in overall.
  • Boom – Overall  36 ft.     Gaff – overall 23 ft 6 in.
  • Sail Areas – square feet:  (Refer small black note book.) Overall – 1000 sq. ft.
  • Mainsail    663    Staysail    109    
  • Jib    120    Small staysail     70        
  • Big Jib    196     Spinnaker ??
  • Storm trysail    297    Close-reefed storm trysail   144
  • New Trysail    483    
  • Seven Berths – full cushions & backs in saloon.
  • 3 Oak Mirrors & Oak paneling.
  • 3 anchors, 40 fathoms of chain, 10 fathoms chain & warp on working anchor,

Originally had carved on the tuck:
“Built to commemorate “H.M.S. Arethusa” at Heliogoland 1916”
(I understand the brother of the builder was killed in action on H.M.S. Arethusa at Heliogoland. “Arethusa” was a flotilla – see account in Taffrail’s book “Endless Story.”)


  •     Sold 27 June 1923 to James Howard Goodman of England.
  •     Jacob (Attorney) of Jacob, Billington & Stevenson, Solicitors.
  •     Price: Cash £317 & Freehold section £200.
  •     Sold by Goodman to Featherstone about November 1929 for £214 cash.
  •     Purchased 1931 by A.H.P. from Mr Roy Lidgard.
  •     Sold by A.H.P. May 1943

Various owners until owned by Mr. W.D. Winstanley of New Plymouth. Seen still rigged as a yacht on the hard at New Plymouth in August 1955.

In December 1955 Arethusa still owned by Winstanley encountered huge seas and gale force winds and was wrecked on Farewell Spit while on a passage from New Plymouth to Nelson & the Marlborough Sounds and recorded as a “total loss”

Arethusa was purchased from Lloyds by Mr. I.B. McNabb of Collingwood for £250 after grounding on Farewell Spit. McNabb salvaged the new diesel engine and sold it for £500! The hull was little damaged and was put on a sledge and towed by tractors across the Spit to Golden Bay then floated to Collingwood where she was refitted and used as a home for McNabb in conjunction with his fishing activities.

  • 14 March 1960 she was again seen as a pleasure yacht with a new Ford diesel engine around Nelson & the Sounds.
  • 30 April 1971 she was reported as rigged as a motor sailor at Takaka and renamed “Val Marie” moored at Waitapu at the mouth of the Takaka River. 
  • In the 1980 – 1990’s she was back earning her keep as a fishing boat out of Collingwood and Nelson and looking very much the working vessel

Refer to press reports and photographs May to September 1931. Several good photo’s were published in Star, Herald and other papers about May – June 1931.
Press Reports: Star 18/9/31; Weekly News (Few days later); Star, Herald and Advocate about 17th & 18th September, 1931.
There was a report of the voyage north published in the Star early in Oct. 1931. Return voyage published 17th & 18th November, 1935 in Star, Herald and others. Also 19/11/35(Herald) and 22/11/35 (Advocate).

Many of these press reports are not very accurate!!  

Remarks on Hull design & Construction by A.H.P.:
Buoyancy gained by high free board and broad beam most useful at sea. Overhang of the A Class keeler are useless and detrimental in open sea.

Consider Arethusa’s tuck and underwater body aft to be the most seaworthy type yet designed. Bow not too high, but may be better in head sea if lengthened a few feet, and rather finer above water. Bluff bow is a disadvantage in short head sea, although not wet, but is distinct advantage off wind owing to its buoyancy. Fine run is far more important than fine entry.

Arethusa is a dead wood hull, keel being 20 inches deep amidships (below Garboards). I consider this unpopular construction to be much superior to the moulded down bottom as it is much stronger, affords good protection to hull proper when grounding, does not leak, permits greater depth of outside ballast without excessive draft.
Moulded bottom means deep inaccessible well inside, where leaks are most likely to occur and most difficult to find or stop.

Arethusa’s sailing on the wind is impaired by having to drag a 20” x 15” propeller in large aperture. The aperture is more detrimental than propeller drag as it interferes with the slip-stream past the rudder.

Draught: Arethusa’s draught is 4’ 6”.This was found to be quite enough. Yacht on long commission in the tropics (or anywhere else for that matter)  where patent slips are not available except in Suva – at a price – it is convenient to beach occasionally for inspection or painting. As rise and fall of tide is rarely more that 4’ 6” (In places being only 3 feet or less, in others about 6 feet) it is obvious that shallow draft (i.e. Less than 6 ft and preferably less than 5 ft) is desirable.

Painting: I slipped Arethusa in Suva once a year – usually end of March, for one coat of paint on topsides and two coats of copper. I usually beached her about September or October for another coat of copper, and that is all the protection she ever had against teredo. I never had the slightest trouble with teredo except in her hardwood false keel. After a year a new hardwood keel was riddled and was replaced with a kauri keel which appears to be worm proof.

Iron ballast: Two tons on keel. I prefer iron keel to lead as it is so much stronger and more rigid and does not get chewed off on the coral. My Keel ballast is cast iron 11 feet long, 15 inches deep and 8 inches wide and is set amidships immediately below the true keel, the spaces fore and aft being filled with solid kauri, rising well up to the forefoot  and slightly aft of the rudder post. The iron is protected by a mixture of red & white lead and zinc and then copper painted. I have no use for copper sheathing on a yacht.

Planking: Planking is light (only 1 inch) but timbers below floor very heavy and strong, being 12” x 3 “ kauri floors, spaced 22 “ apart (centres) with 6” x 4” pohutukawa frames full width between. False keelson 10” x 5” hardwood is laid over the tops of the frames and checked through the floors and the ballast bolts come through the iron keel, keel, keelson &c., and are nutted on top of the upper keelson, effectively clamping all the main structural members into a strong and rigid unit.
All floors securely screwed down, giving additional strength equivalent to a deck.

Inside Ballast: at present about half a ton and motor half a ton. Water ballast tanks 8 cwt. (Rarely used.)
Before leaving on the first ocean trip I dumped over a ton of inside ballast and found that this was exceeded in weight by water, fuel, stores and spare gear. Since then I have not bothered to replace it. Sails better deep laden - inside ballast not necessary.


Ocean cruising is very different from longshore racing and I am convinced that many make the mistake of providing excessive draft and too much ballast low down – equivalent to loading a full shipment of iron rails (for instance) in the bottom of a square rigger. As you know, big ships carry a large portion of the heavy cargo high up and not in the bottom as many would imagine.



Equipped with:

  • Compasses: Steering compass (6” card in oil), Standard Compass (4 ½ ” card in oil), Two Azimuth Compasses (Not really necessary) and a luminous boat compass (spare).
  • Yacht Log: Taffrail Pattern – found to be very accurate at any speed above 3 knots, and fairly good at slower speeds.
  • Sextant: Ordinary Mariner’s pattern.
  • Chronometer: Two-day ship’s chronometer found to change its rate slightly in the tropics, but very accurate over long periods.
  • Radio Receiver: Invaluable for time signals.
  • Transmitter carried but am inclined to think that this would not be of much help in emergency. If wrecked, dismasted or otherwise disabled it is probable that one could not rig a suitable aerial or that batteries would be damaged.
  • Navigation Methods: latitude very simple and no comment necessary. I have used various methods for longitude but prefer altitude of sun about 0800, calculation by means of “Martelli’s” Tables. Method is to observe sun’s altitude about 0800 of later, also mer.alt. about noon (apparent time) then calculate back from noon latitude to approximate latitude at morning sight (knowing course and distance run)  then calculate longitude at time of morning sight and work forward by plain sailing method to Lat. & Long. at noon for the midday position. In good condition I have found the astronomical fix to agree within 1 mile with the D.R. fix. The most important thing in taking altitudes with an ordinary sextant is to see that you do not mistake the top of a near wave for the horizon.

Sails    Material & Weight    Area Sq ft.    Remarks:

  • 1st Main    American Duck  12 Oz    685    General use except in heavy seas
  • 2nd Main    American Duck  12 Oz    480    Use in most sea going work. No Gaff.  Found best on lead with very large headsail.
  • 3rd Main    (storm sail) Heavy hemp    300    Reefs down to 150 Sq ft. Arethusa handles very well in seaway under this sail close-reefed & Large staysail.
  • 1st Staysail    American Duck  14 Oz    140    Leather bound on luff. The most useful sail carried, used with all suits. Rarely use either of a smaller staysails.
  • 2nd Staysail    American Duck  10 Oz    110    
  • 3rd Staysail    American Duck  10 Oz    70    Never used, except as water sail.
  • 1st Jib    American Duck  10 Oz    200    Very useful on lead or close hauled in moderate wind, but dangerous to handle in high wind and rather excessive strain on masthead when on wind in heavy sea.
  • 2nd Jib    American Duck  12 Oz    120    Ordinary working jib used on the wind


(No storm jib is carried. On wind at sea in fresh breeze working jib only or in worse conditions, large staysail. Advantage to keep sails in board in bad weather.)


  • Total Area - Ordinary working suit –     Fair weather     1025 Sq. Feet.
  • Total Area – With 2nd Jib -     On wind      945 Sq. feet.
  • Leading, deep sea (2nd main, 1st jib & 1st Staysail)      820 Sq. Feet.
  • Total Area – In worst sailing conditions I have ever known -
  • On the wind in severe gale, 3rd sail close reefed and 1st staysail full       290 Sq. Feet


I am of the opinion that I could handle Arethusa very satisfactorily under the latter rig in almost any condition of severe weather and sea.

It will be observed that the Arethusa appears to be grossly over canvassed compared with other sea going vessels but I consider that it is a great advantage to be able to carry sufficientsail to take advantage of the fair weather, especially in the tropics. Most sea going yachts appear to become helpless in light weather owing to the lack of sail and a great many vessels, both large and small, have been wrecked in the tropics in broad daylight in flat calm weather through not being able to stem a set.

Arethusa’s long boom – 31 feet, 10 feet outboard, seems to worry many people but I have not yet experienced the difficulties that are said to arise at sea, by reason of this excessive overhang.
Changing sails at sea is simplified with a steel wire outhaul rove through the end of the boom.


It is most important to have sufficient lift in the foot of the mainsail and it is necessary to top the boom slightly when running in a high sea.


Arethusa’s spars and rigging are considered by some to be far too light. Suffice it that she has weathered a good many storms and, as yet has lost no spars. I have carried away backstays, bow sprit shrouds, preventers and topmast shrouds but only through cracking on in heavy seas.


Dinghy: As you may have noticed, I always carry the dinghy across the tuck on short bumpkins. I was informed about 8 years ago that this was a dangerous  practice, that it was sure to get smashed up by a sea. I still prefer to carry it there, especially in a heavy following sea and have never had any worry. It is usually loaded with dunnage and spare gear at sea.


This would not be satisfactory in a vessel with a narrow or over hanging stern lacking the reserve buoyancy.



Arethusa had originally seven berths, four in main saloon, three in fo’castle. One foreward is now a sail locker and one starboard aft is a bosun’s locker – now five berths. Would be a simple matter to fit four berths forward and four in the saloon.
Fitted with galley and patent WC between fo’castle and saloon.


Given a choice of vessels I should choose a boat of Arethusa’s type, straight stem (a little finer perhaps – but not much), American tuck identical with Arethusa’s, cutter rig capable of large sail area, long bowsprit and boom, with provisions for jib headed sails besides the gaff rig, not more than 5 feet draft or less than 30 feet waterline, high freeboard and broad beam.


Open cockpit very safe for the watch on deck and has not yet shipped any dangerously heavy water. Permits of considerable protection from the weather for the crew and is very handy for breaking out and stowing sails and other gear without having to do it all on deck.


Light life-line even a foot above the sheer- rails, is useful.

I should much rather undertake an ocean voyage in Arethusa than any other of the small cruising yachts I have yet seen and prefer her rig to that of a ketch, yawl or the Bermuda.


A.H. Pickmere