The old boat shed

The old boat shed

When I visited the Looking Back, Moving Forward exhibition in October 2023, seeing this photograph brought back many memories.

The photo is from the 1950’s, the launch in the foreground was the “Betsy” belonging to my father, Gus Paterson and my uncle, Andy Wilson. The “Betsy” originally came from Stewart Island. It was one of the four or five commuter boats, from ship to shore, used by Norwegian whaling ships. The commuter boats were called “Snekka’s”.

The large shed in the photograph was obtained by some of the locals just after WW2 from the Taieri Air Base or the Kensington Barracks, Dunedin. It was trucked down and placed on piles put in place by locals (note the difference between main piles and those of the original structure). The small shed was added later as a sail and storage area. The scene depicts a Sunday which was usually race day with a “Dolphin” tied up and one waiting to be launched from the slip.

The photo brought back a very personal memory.  If you look carefully at the slipway on the right-hand side of the jetty, you will see a dark strip just to the left of the moored craft.  It is a missing plank.  When we were growing up, us locals were privileged to have the use of such facilities as the boating club dinghys, yachts and various home-built craft.

The ramp with the missing plank.

The missing plank was well known but for some reason, on the day I am thinking about, it completely slipped my mind. While hauling up our 10ft dinghy I stepped on nothing and found myself under the slip and, not being a swimmer, holding on for dear life to the painter with my head being forced under water with the wave movement. As luck would have it a local, Maurice Birtles, happened to see my antics from the veranda of the bottom shop. To his credit, and my most thankful life, he saved me from an early demise.

Back to the Boat Shed.  It stayed in that position until approximately 1957 when it was declared unsafe by the Otago Harbour Board and permits were obtained for the new — soon to become the former — Broad Bay Boating Club Rooms. The old structure was demolished and floated along to approximately where the new piles are being sunk, any good timber being used in the present structure.

By Ken Paterson

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