Tinker Production in New Zealand

from an e-mail sent by Eric West

It may interest your members to know that Tinkers were also produced in New Zealand, from about 1985 to 1990, by a company called Barlow Marine, of which I was Production Manager.

We built them initially from kits sent out by Henshaw Inflatables and subsequently from scratch, in Hypalon which Henshaws supplied.  All of the wooden components were locally sourced.

We built Tramps, Travellers and Star-Travellers and while I don't recall the exact number we made, if it were 300 all together I would not be surprised.

We built a large number of these as rescue/liferaft boats for overseas cruising yachts including one for James Hatfield's "British Heart 2" Solo Round the World yacht, to replace a British one that he was rescued from, after abandoning the original British Heart in the Southern Ocean and spending several days in his Tramp.

We developed our rescue boats well beyond the original Henshaw version, incorporating a lot of hi-viz panels reinforcing and other upgrades, but sadly were never able to get them accepted by NZ Yachting Federation, for use on NZ registered boats.

We also serviced a Tramp which saved a life, after the small yacht "Anonymous Bay" was run down by a freighter off Moorea, near Tahiti.  I remember the owner was an elderly British ex teacher named Margaret, (can't recall her surname) and she was a feature of the Auckland waterfront for many years thereafter, puttering round the harbour in her Tramp and riding an old bicycle.  She was delightfully eccentric in a very "British" way.

The Tinkers were very popular as tenders and we held several successful open days at various beaches, where the public could sail and buy them.

We also built a couple of other Henshaw products, The 18 ft Blagg Bosun RIB and it's smaller cousin the 10 ft Bosun's Mate.

I was interested to see a very smart looking Bosun's Mate for sale in the UK recently, I know that a mould was retained in England after we bought a mould, so perhaps they are still in production.  They deserve to be, as they were as good a small RIB as I have ever been in.

We built a version with 4 seats, two each facing forward and aft, and this was a sensation with anything up to about 35 hp on the transom.  We clocked our one at 30 knots plus on 25 hp.  We built about 20 of them

The Bosun was an unusual "cathedral hull" design with two sponsons either side of a slim central hull.  It went like a scalded cat on 90 hp, would come on the plane in about twice its own length and pull about 2 G in turns, it was like a waterborne GP car.  I have never ridden a jet-ski which could turn as tightly.

We built about 6 or 7 Bosuns, mostly as dive boats.

Sadly, I do not know what happened to the moulds for these boats, they were sold to another boat builder when we went out of production, but no further boats were ever built from them.

Eric West