Mitch’s interest in boats started as a small child, something handed down from his father Howard. From playing with model yachts & learning to row a dinghy at an early age, things developed into learning to sail & generally playing about in boats. After finishing school at Mt. Albert Grammar, & not knowing where to go from there he moved into the fishing industry. After some 2 years, & his parents not wanting him to be a fisherman for the rest of his life, he became an apprentice diesel mechanic. After he gained his qualification he decided once again to become involved with boats & worked with Howard. After several years he decided to move away from Whitianga & work elsewhere in the marine industry as both a mechanic & a woodworker. During this time away he managed a 200tonne slipway, involved in all aspects of slipping both commercial and pleasure vessels, commercial boat maintenance, including mechanical work, wooden boat repairs, fleet maintenance, steel boat repairs, sandblasting and painting.
In 1988 Mitch moved back to Whitianga & went into partnership with his father repairing boats & general boat maintenance, as well as building dories & a 30 foot Chico yacht. In 1995 the Whitianga Marina hardstand opened & the majority of work was then undertaken there rather than the workshop at 1 Dundas St. With the evolution of the NZ fishing industry & the reduction in the number of fishing vessels, the emphasis has moved from servicing the fishing industry to the pleasure boat & charter industry. With the advent of production GRP vessels, the maintenance tasks have changed over the years from wooden repairs to boat painting & general boat maintenance and cleaning & polishing.
Mitch is qualified with Trade Cert Diesel Mechanic, Trade Cert & Advanced Trade Cert Boatbuilding, Exterior Marine Painting Level 4 and Yachting NZ yacht inspector.
Mitch’s interests are flying his PA-18 Piper Cub aeroplane (he has held a fixed wing Commercial Pilots License since 1982), tramping, fishing, a longtime NZ Deerstalkers member, NZDA range officer & above all hunting Sika deer in the Kaimanawa & Kaweka ranges, a very special part of NZ.
Over the years he has built up a collection of maritime books including many on yacht design, traditional boat building and repairs. He has had a lifetime interest in yacht design, wooden boat building and its methods. He considers he has a good knowledge of the subject of wooden boatbuilding and repairs, a subject where the skills and knowledge are rapidly being lost with the passing of the older generation of boat builders.
Recently he has rekindled his love of yacht racing by being involved as crew on a local boat, a Thompson 8 sports boat, which could be described as one of a newer generation of yachts of a modern design, composite constuction and carbon/kevlar sails. He owns a Farr 1020 “Flying Fish” which, when he gets time, he will get going again.