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Donald McInnis
1st September 1863 at Mangawhai
Registered No.
53ft "from the fore part of the stem under the bowsprit to the aft side of the head of the stern post" Certificate of survey 7th Oct 1863.
16.6ft "Main breadth to outside of plank", Certificate of survey 1863
6.8ft "depth in hold from Tonnage Deck to Ceiling of Midship", certificate of survey, 7th Oct 1863
31.14 tons "Tonnage under Tonnage Deck" certificate of survey, 7th Oct 1863.
Gaff schooner
Owner History
Sept 1863 - 1864
John Matheson and John Rattray
1864 - 1865
David Kirkwood

Project cost

The Classic Yacht Charitable Trust now has all of the authorities and access approvals required to salvage the Daring from Muriwai beach and move her to a location for preservation treatment before final public display. Cost estimates to date are upward of $500,000. We already have a considerable amount raised and have covered costs to date, however we still need to raise a further $220,000 to complete the project.

How to donate

Donate now by direct bank deposit to the trust bank account  030104 0419797 01 record Daring in 'particulars' and your name in 'reference'.

If you would like a tax receipt to assist an IRD tax credit for donations email your name and amount donated to mail@classicyachtcharitabletrust.org.nz

We now have a givealittle page set up also

Daring History

The Daring is a carvel planked schooner built in Mangawhai in 1863 by the young Scottish boat builder Donald McInnes. She was launched for owners John Matheson and John Rattray on 1st September 1863 and moved to Canterbury then the Kaipara Harbour where she operated as a trader along the West Coast ports of the middle North Island. The original owners sold the Daring to David Kirkwood in early 1864. On the 1st of June 1864 the Daring stranded on the south side of the bar at Waikato Heads. She was reported to be a total wreck, but insurance of 500 pound enabled subsequent repair and re-floating. On 21st February 1865 the Daring was aground again in a controlled beaching after being caught in a strong wind on a lee shore. The skipper considered this the better option rather than risking loss of boat and life on the Kaipara Bar. It was this controlled beaching under anchors that has allowed the boat to be preserved in original state and makes her the most complete vessel of the time with many build features that vanished soon after when the coastal vessels changed to the popular flat bottomed scows. Relaunching into a constant surf over following days proved fruitless and the uninsured Daring was abandoned, in tact on the beach, on 9th March 1865. Presumably cargo, masts, spars, sails and light equipment were removed and reused. The boat became buried under the sand dunes where it appears to have remained covered until becoming exposed by receding sand dunes in early May 2018. On first emerging the boat appeared to be fully intact, however over subsequent months most of the decking timber has been removed and some of the beams, including the registration beam, have been souvenired by local beach goers or washed away by the relentless waves at each high tide.

An article in the Lyttleton Times dated 23rd March 1865 provides a full and informative account of the grounding and attempts to refloat the Daring. (scroll down midway through article for the Daring story)

An earlier article in Daily Southern Cross, outlines early information about the rescue involving up to 30 men.

Watts in a name?

Interestingly Daring was not an uncommon boat name in the 19th century. There was another Daring built at Matakana in 1856. She was 55ft 7in. 35.31 ton built by W R McKay. This Daring shared a similar fate and was declared a total wreck at Wanganui Heads 4th April 1865 (Watts Shipping Register).

Another 35 ton Daring was purchased from Sydney early May 1863 by Messrs Phillpotts and Baillie of Picton and arrived in Wellington NZ on 27th May 1863. For those historians among us could this have been the Daring that was built in Matakana and may have been sold to Sydney?

Some of her journeys

After her launch in ist September 1863 the Daring sailed for Canterbury on the 7th October with 25000 feet of timber aboard. She  arrived (via Cabbage Bay) in Heathcote River, Lyttleton on 28th October with a cargo of 19000 feet of timber, 14 doors and 2 stoves. On the 28th October she was advertised for sale in Christchurch. She remained in Lyttleton until the 6th November when she made her way to Wellington without cargo. She appears to have plied between Wellington, Lyttleton and Timaru for several months before heading north again. On the 6th December 1863 both the 31 ton and the 35 ton Darings were recorded as being anchored in the river at Lyttleton. Her last record in the South Island appears to be her arrival in Lyttleton on 22nd December 1863.

On the 13th January 1864 The Daring was back in Auckland, after a 13 day run in ballast only, from Lyttleton under capt. McKenzie. Upon arrival in Auckland an advertisement for cargo for her planned voyage to Taranaki was placed in the Daily Southern Cross. She departed for Taranaki with a full cargo on 3rd Feb 1864. The manifest included: 10 boxes, 1 half and 1 qr. Tierce tobacco, G.T.Lethbridge; 3 boxes tobacco, Webster & Brothers; 40 cases wines and spirits, Webster & Brothers; 2 tierces brandy, 57th regimental mess, 7 cases arms and ammunitions. C Brown; 7 cases, order; 14 gnats sugar, 7 boxes tea, 4 half-chests tea, 10 casks stout, 3 casks pearl barley, 7 cases pickles, 3 casks currants, 3 cases kerosene oil, 3 cases sardines, 3 drums colza oil, 66 bags oats, 8 mats rice, 30 bags flour, 10 cases sherry wine, 10 cases port do., 20 cases candles, 3 cases apothecary ware, 30 bags maize, 11 cases liqueurs, 7 cases merchandize, 2 cases iron. Rattray & Matheson agents

Following her arrival in Taranaki she was based at Onehunga and largely plied the central north island ports of Taranaki (New Plymouth) Port Waikato and Onehunga (Manukau) until her demise in February 1865. 

There is record in the Taranaki Herald that the Daring from Picton and The Daring from Manukau were once again anchored together this time in Taranaki 19th August 1864. 



The cutter rigged schooner sail plan was common for coastal trading vessels of the time and allowed for a large number of small sails to be easily hoisted or lowered by a small crew to meet varying conditions and manouvering needs. The Daring was a beamy vessel at 16ft 6in which allowed for large cargo capacity providing good returns for the owner. The lute stern was also a common design of the era for breaking up following seas.


The quality of craftsmanship in the Daring is stunning. The lay and set of her 2 inch planking is as good as any superbly built wooden boat of the later years of wooden boat building. The inner edges of her covering boards are beautifully scribed the full length of her decks as well as her bulwark framing. The deck and interesting ly the upper planks were pitched. All joints in her timberwork were done very precisely with an array of techniques for various parts of the ship. Most of her planks are fastened with trenail or trunnel fastenings which is why she has held together so well. Some planking areas and decking are spiked onto the frames with iron dumps. the windlass has been beautifully crafted and was operated by hand with wooden spike handles. The hull was sheathed in Muntz metal to protect from the invasion of marine growth. Sawn planks and timbers have been adzed to shape to fit perfectly in position.

The recovery Process

A Community group, Daring Rescue", was formed in July 2018 with the ambitious view of salvaging the vessel from the beach and transporting her to storage where a preservation process could be followed prior to ultimately public display for the long term. Interest in the Daring has quickly grown throughout the wider community with interest ranging from the fact that this is likely the oldest virtually complete New Zealand built vessel, to the interest in the build techniques, builder skippers and owners histories.

The process to complete the preservation project has been complicated and due to the location of the vessel involves many parties. The initial challenge has been ensuring that the Daring remains as in tact as possible. Security firm Black Hawk Security has provided 24/7 security to protect the vessel from wave action (many ropes now hold the timbers together), souvenir hunters, driftwood logs and branches and recently a dead whale washing ashore. The Daring wreck lies within the New Zealand Defence Force Kaipara Air Weapons range which is out of bounds at all times. Despite this many people have travelled into the Defence Force zone illegally to view the vessel. The land in the area is owned by the local Iwi Ngati Whatua o Kaipara and part is cropped by Hancock Forest Management. The Daring Rescue group has obtained approval from the Iwi, Defence Force, and Forestry Company for access to the boat via forestry roads, dunes and beach.


Archaeological interest

The Daring is of significant archaelogical interest due to its importance in New Zeland boat building and coastal shipping history and it's in tact condition. The Daring was built 6 years prior to the Cutty Sark. Heritage New Zealand has a keen interest in and has been documenting the vessel through observation, photography, laser scanning and sampling to identify timbers used in the construction. Heritage NZ have supported Daring Rescue in working through the process of gaining approval to lift shift and preserve. This has involved developing an excavation and transport plan, obtaining professional conservator (HPFS Solutions) assessment and recommendations for treatment of the timbers and metals and appointing an archeologist to assist in uncovering the hull contents, monitoring the excavation process, recording and documenting observations.

On the 28th November 2018 the assigned archaeologist, Simon Best, and archaeologists from Heritage NZ together with volunteer archaeologists carried out a 'dig' on the interior of the hull (to explore and record the contents of the hull), along the starboard exterior (to explore the props used to support the boat) and the sand around the vessel (to record the anchor and chain condition and location). Two trenches were excavated aft of the private quarters. They contained in situ hessian-like sacks containing grass seed. Other objects that were uncovered include timber plank fragments, timber chips, corroded metal, window glass and slate. The excavation carried out on what was suspected to be an anchor, turned out to be chain only. Timber blocks previously noted on the starboard hull exterior were discovered to be bolted onto the hull and follow its curvature. They do not resemble suspected support structures to prop the boat up. However, they are interesting nonetheless. Perhaps they were part of a quick repair job?

The cost of preserving our boating history

Preserving our history does not come without major expense. Costs include the 24/7 security at the site, hire of heavy machinery and transport to carry out the excavation, archaeologist and conservator expenses, preservation treatment, temporary housing, and ultimately construction of and transport to a final resting place for public display. Unfortunately the Governement in New Zealand doesn't allow for preservation of vessels of this nature in the various heritage and conservation acts, however several key community members have come forward to assist with part of this cost and Daring Rescue have set up a give a little page to give the wider community an opportunity to contribute to ensuring this recovery is a success. 

Community members can assist with this project through direct donation to the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust or through the Daring Rescue give a little page. Details at top of page.

Media Interest

Media interest has been high with several articles published in the Herald, Stuff, Professional Skipper magazine and local newspapers.

Television New Zealand is working with Daring Recue and filming all steps of the recovery and researching history for a documentary to be aired next year. 

Some Background to boat builder Donald McInnes

Donald is a descendant of the migration to New Zealand from Nova Scotia.  Born about 1836 he arrived in NZ with his widowed mother Flora (nee Shaw) and his 5 siblings on the "Breadalbane" in1858. His father was John McInnes.

Apparently the family stayed in Auckland, but Donald remained at Mangawhai for some years building boats, including the "Daring". He had built the schooners  "Abeona" and the "Three Brothers" in conjunction with Capt D.H.McKenzie prior to that (1861 - 1862). He married Mary Haswell in 1867 - her family had arrived on another of the Nova Scotian migration ships (Gertrude) in 1856.


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