The Reading

South Sea Vagabonds by J W Wray

Read by: Alex Greig

At the height of the depression era Johnny Wray gets fired and sets out to build a large yacht from recycled materials and a budget of eight pounds. He has to beg, borrow and steal the materials he requires and learns the necessary boat building techniques through a process of trial and error.

After overcoming many challenges he finally gets his boat into the water and begins a series of voyages around the Hauraki Gulf. Later he and his bold crew venture out into the Pacific Ocean and cruise to the islands of Polynesia and beyond. 

JW Wray was born in 1910 in Auckland and trained as a draftsman, he lost his job in the depression and all but penniless built the Ngataki on which he sailed on many Pacific voyages. He later lived with his Tongan born wife Loti on Waiheke Island where he made his living as a fisherman but essentially holding true to his dream of a beach-combers life until his death in 1986.

The story is quite funny at times and includes adventurous encounters with storms and sea creatures. Also gives a taste of life in Polynesia during the 1930s.

The all-time classic of true adventure at sea, coupled with a large dose of depression era ‘Kiwi’ No. 8 wire ingenuity.

Alex Greig is a Wellington based actor.

Not all audio is available due to copyright restrictions.

South Sea Vagabonds Pt 1

Johnny loses his job and decides to build a boat.

South Sea Vagabonds Pt 2

Johnny has to beg, borrow and steal to augment his minimal budget.

South Sea Vagabonds Pt 3

It is one thing to build a large yacht on your front lawn and quite another getting it into the water.

South Sea Vagabonds Pt 4

Heartened by having built a seaworthy vessel Johnny and friends begin to look further afield.

South Sea Vagabonds Pt 5

A major storm puts Ngataki and crew to the test.

South Sea Vagabonds Pt 6

Johnny and crew enjoy their taste of Island life.

South Sea Vagabonds Pt 7

Johnny tries to make some money transporting oranges back from the Islands.

South Sea Vagabonds Pt 8

Another passage to Sunday Island and then on to Tahiti.

South Sea Vagabonds Pt 9

Ever willing to lend a hand Johnny turns his hand to dentistry.

South Sea Vagabonds Pt 10

It's not all plain sailing for Ngataki.