Carrying The Torch For Century In New Zealand


Fellow Woody Boater and contributor Philip Andrew is once again making headlines in New Zealand, this time with his beautiful 1967 Century Arabian. However this time, the story is about Philip, not from Philip – which was published in Wellington, New Zealand’s daily newspaper, the Dominion Post on January 1st.

You see it’s now offically summer in New Zealand, which at it’s height, is from December thru February. Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city and the forecast for this weekend is sunny with temperatures in the mid 70’s.

Unfortunately we can’t publish a link to the story about Philip and his Century, as we need to have a paid subscription to view the digital version of the newspaper. (Becoming more common these days I suppose) But, after getting to know our friend Philip over the years, we do know how the story goes and it’s a good one worth sharing… Here’s how the recent newspaper version of the story started, in Philip’s own words.

Texx – The (enclosed) pictures where taken by Dominion Post photographer Ross Giblin back in the depths of last winter. I had taken the Arabian (named “Miss Tahoe”) out for a test run having just put new electrics in her.

I was just pulling her out of the water and Ross comes running and puffing up to me and says “Mate – I have been chasing you around the edges of the harbour as I wanted to get a picture but I wasn’t able to attract your attention… Would you mind slipping her back in the water and letting me take a few shots. Its a slow news day and I need to get something.”

So I did, and then a reporter called me just before Christmas and said the newspaper was doing a series called “Me and My Boat” to run over the summer holiday and they wanted to do a story on the Arabian. – Philip

Philip, a long time wooden boat enthusiast and Century boat fan, said that from the first time he saw “Miss Tahoe” he just had to have her. After doing his research, Philip decided to travel to Lake Tahoe, California where he found the 1967 Century Arabian of his dreams at Sierra Boat Company.

In 2008, on his 50th birthday, with help from Herb Hall at Sierra Boat Company, Philip bought the boat and shipped her back to New Zealand in a shipping container. The 19′ Arabian is powered by a big 285HP/390CID Interceptor V-8 which still brings a smile to Philip’s face every time he brings her to life.

Up unitl 2008, the boat spent her entire life on Lake Tahoe, so it didn’t take Philip long to decide that her new name “Miss Tahoe” was a natural.

Here’s where it gets even more interesting… Later that same year, Philip returned to Lake Tahoe with his four children to attend the annual boat show and while there, he shared photos of his new Arabian with some classic boaters at the show. Well, one thing led to another (as they often do with these old boats) and Philip was introduced to Steve Lapkin – well known professional boat photographer in the Lake Tahoe area. Over the years, Steve has kindly shared his amazing photography with us here at Woody Boater. (You can check out Steve’s work at H20Mark by Clicking Here)

When he first viewed Philip’s photos, Steve mentioned to Philip that he had a Century just like “Miss Tahoe” when he was a boy, which was named “Ruthie L” after his mother. As Philip and Steve were going through more of Philip’s photos, they noticed one shot of the boat during restoration, which had a faint outline of her original name “Ruthie L”… Steve became emotional and said “Philip – You now own the Lapkin Family boat!” This sparked an immediate and warm friendship between Steve, Philip and his family as they spent time together during their trip to Lake Tahoe – a great friendship which began with an old wooden boat, a friendship that remains to this day.

Shortly after their trip to California, when Philip returned home to New Zealand, he received a parcel from Steve. Inside was a note from Steve saying “This is a key that I found in my Dad’s stuff – I think it’s the key to “Ruthie L”… See if it works and we’ll know for sure you have her.”

So Philip took the key, put it into the ignition of “Miss Tahoe” and she started up first time! Philip hopes that some day his friend Steve Lapkin will come to visit him in New Zealand and reunite himself with the classic Century Arabian from his childhood. – Texx

We should mention that one of Philip’s other Century boats (other than his Palomino) is this freshly restored 1958 Century Resorter “Principessa” which we featured almost a year ago in his 2-day report from the New Zealand Boat Show.

Principessa – Photo by Alan Doak

During the boat show in 2012, Philip discovered a few issues with the V-8 Interceptor, and with the help of the fine folks from Antique Boat Center in Cincinatti, the Y-block V-8 is now 100% and looks great. Philip noted – “Jeremy Bragg was awesome, he helped me find some new replacement cylinder heads, had them rebuilt in America and then shipped them out to me in New Zealand. The are now fitted, the engine has had a freshen up and is back in “Principessa”. She looks mighty!”

Principessa at Lake Rotoiti, NZ 2012 – Photo by Alan Doak

Thanks Philip for sharing your story of “Miss Tahoe” with us here at Woody Boater and congratulations on getting the engine issues resolved in “Principessa” I know it was driving you crazy… Now get out there, make some noise with those big V-8’s and enjoy those classic Century boats while summer is still there. – Texx

Also thanks to Ross Giblin – “Miss Tahoe” 2012 Photos by Ross Giblin copyright Dominion Post, Fairfax.

25 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Great story. I love the original key coming back to Miss Tahoe. I have always wished that I could know more of the history of my boats, but I have never been able to make that link.

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I used to think that when Century’s sank they just ended up on the bottom of the lake. It now appears that they just keep sinking until they end up all the way on the bottom of the world!

    Nice collection Phillip, have fun with them. I gotta go shovel some more snow.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      m-fine, I just assumed a man of your means in your geographical area had a big honkin’ snow blower with lights and a stick shift…

      Surely you were able to make the math work on that deal. – Just Sayin’

  3. Michael
    Michael says:

    Thanks for a great story. You’re right Texx, the photos do look fantastic! What beautiful boats Philip, hope you are enjoying Summer! Cheers from the west island…

  4. matt
    matt says:

    WOW! What a fantastic story! Thanks Philip and Texx for saving us from a toilet seat story today. Dang. This is what it’s all about!

  5. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    Beautiful boat with a nice connection to it’s past. Philip is a great guy who is totally smitten with wooden boats. I had the pleasure of eating breakfast with him the morning after Boat-Buzz-Unplugged at the Mariner’s Museum. Enjoy your summer Philip, you are doing it in grand style!

  6. Rick
    Rick says:

    Great story and beautiful boats, thanks for sharing. Do engines rotate in the opposite direction down under? Or do you just flip the counter-rotating props on a twin? This is very confusing.

  7. Chad
    Chad says:

    Awesome boat, awesome country, awesome guy.

    I would gladly trade 3 of my not-so-awesome American friends for 1 Philip Andrew.

  8. Alex
    Alex says:

    Philip, beautiful looking boats, very nicely photographed. I can practically hear the growl of your V8s.

    Hey Matt and Texx, isn’t it time we have a user-submitted A/V section on WB? You know, a section where those of us tired of listening to our snowblowers can tune in to see and hear boats of other WB’ers. I’m thinking of Loren’s GoPro vids as I write this…

  9. tommyholmes
    tommyholmes says:

    Oh La La, a fine Century Day it is!
    Philip, thanks for Riding a Thoroughbred, you da best down under.
    The Arabian looks great. Robert Rioux designed this model for Century. It began production in early 1966 and ended in 1968 making about 100. The boat lived on in a glass version.
    Rioux’s introduction of an integrated teak swim platform, padded lounger deck, big cubed V-Drive, social cockpit seating, black trim rails, black face gauges and hard angular windshield are innovative and supreme design details.
    One of the most coveted Century models to collect today.
    I am attaching a drawing Bob did of the boat a few years ago.

  10. tommyholmes
    tommyholmes says:

    and for those so inclined. A picture of Miss Manistee Connie Furgerson Riding a Thoroughbred in the 1967 catalog photo shoot on Portage Lake, Onekama, Michigan USA.

    • Philip Andrew
      Philip Andrew says:

      Randy – thats a good question. I think I would surely have nearly enough boats to make a small club.
      A couple of years ago I was washing down the Resorter out in the quiet small street were we live and a guy I hadn’t met before stopped and introduced himself saying he was new to the neighborhood and that he had a boat just like mine.
      I have to say I thought he was mistaken and he probably had something that looked like a woody boat but the chances of it being a Resorter were slim. But sure enough the next day I saw him towing it into his driveway and it is in fact a Resorter. A 1960 I think.

      • Paul R
        Paul R says:

        I would love to get some details on the closed cooling system installed on your 185HP Interceptor. Very clean installation! I have the exact boat/engine combination in use on the Potomac River in Maryland.

        • Paul R
          Paul R says:

          Oops! I noticed your valve cover decal say 150 HP so I guess your engine is a 256 rather than a 292 like mine? Same Y-Block family is any case!

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