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Sunday, September 16, 2012


On my hikoi to Oreti, along the beach between the dunes and the sea, I found the hull of a ship. It had been carved from a single piece of wood, had a keel and looked to me like something historical and important. I can't really tell much about it, other than it's well made and seems old. Martini, a fellow beach-walker, lugged it for hours, on my behalf, and now I have it, wrapped in a wet sack, back here in Riverton. Tomorrow, I'll have it looked at by the people at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery, in the hope that they can identify it. Here's a photograph of the soggy hull, taken when I found it. Maybe someone will know something of it.


Raymond A francis said...

That is seriously interesting, it is hard to judge the scale but it seems quite small
Do they use "kontiki" rafts down south to get their lines out? I would not have thought so but defintly a hmmmmmm

robertguyton said...

It's the size of a letterbox. Kontiki have been used down here...that's an interesting suggestion, Raymond. Also, there's a story about a model ship of this dimension, carved by a marooned/shipwrecked sealer during his time on one of the sub-Antarctic islands. Is it possible???

Raymond A Francis said...

Well I rather it was the sealer's model because it is a nice story
But that means you might need to carbon date the wood and I doubt if that is cheap

Shunda barunda said...


As an avid model boat builder, I think this is an incredible find.

I really do think there is a good chance it is very old, the shape of the hull strongly suggests this.

It was either carved long ago, or if more recently, by someone that had a good knowledge of historical boat design.

I really believe the "very old" option is a real possibility.

What an amazing find!

Shunda barunda said...

The other thing I would mention is that if the sealer was trapped on the Auckland Islands, he would more than likely have carved the boat out of a piece of southern rata.
Southern Rata (especially from down there) would last an very long time indeed, it is extremely hard and durable timber.

Does it seem heavy for it's size?

This is so cool!!

robertguyton said...

Hey, Shunda. Good observations from you. Yes, it's pretty dense wood and southern rata's a good guess. If it did come from the deeper south, there's not a lot else of that dimension that would do as a blank for carving something of this size. I've just been talking with the museum (yes! they can talk!) and they are as excited as you are, but as a conservative, I'll wait til I know more. There are 'drill holes' evident on the inner surface, so that might mean that it's more modern than I'd like to think it is. Nevertheless, it's very interesting. I'll take it into them tomorrow. They are presently preserving a waka that was found in the mud of the New River estuary, so the bathtub-full-of-preservative is ready and waiting, should mine prove valuable - the waka will just have to shove over a bit :-)
I'll take some more photos from different angles when I get back home, and post them for you to see the details. Maybe you'll notice things I haven't.