SOS

SOS

I sent waitematawoodys stalwart Ken Ricketts today a rather disturbing email with a link to a trademe listing. You may recall that several months ago I posted the story of one of the loves of Kens life, the MV Tiarri, the launch that Ken had built & later sold. Subsequently Tiarri dragged her anchor one new years eve & was washed ashore – the full story of Tiarri can be viewed by typing Tiarri into the search box on the top R.H. corner of this page. Ken has an SOS plea – read below. AH

Is there a boat restoration magician out there anywhere – looking for a big project?

The two photos above show Tiarri waiting to be launched on her launching day, brand new & as she I sighted her this afternoon on tradme, they tell the story of my most wonderful, beautiful pride & joy. There were tears this afternoon when I saw the trademe posting.

At 77, sadly, the time has passed, for me to be able to become involved & save Tiarri myself.

There must be someone who can love TIARRI as I have & will nurture her back to her former glory.

If I can help with any info or whatever, please email me direct at

kenpat@ihug.co.nz

 

The story of the creation & demise of the launch Tiarri

The story of the creation & demise of the launch Tiarri

photo & words by Ken Ricketts. Edited by Alan H

Apologies for the reproduction of the photos but they are over 30 years old & when taken were most likely back then, just quick snaps. Also please excuse the length of this post, but if you knew Ken you would be amazed how short it is – good editing :-) AH

The idea of the “conception” of Tiarri (pronounced Tie-are-i {as in ink}, came to me one Saturday in September 1974, with a chance invitation on to ‘Eros’ (later known as Lady Kiwi) whilst we were at North Harbour Ponui Island, for the weekend, in my 31’ 1953 R Lidgard launch Flying Scud.

My ex partner & I enjoyed a delightful afternoon with the original owners of Eros, Mr. & Mrs. Alf Broadhead, on their lovely 2 year old 40 ft Vindex, built for them by Orams of Whangarei, in fibreglassed kauri & powered by 2 x 165 hp Perkins V8 diesels. She was the first 40 ft Vindex ever built.

During the afternoon, the feel of Eros grew on me & right then I took the decision that one day in the not too distant future I would also have a 40 ft Vindex built. Thus the planning had begun.

During the next 2 years I acquired a set of plans from Jim Young, called tenders & eventually gave the job to a boat builder named Neeley from Howick. She was also to be built of fibreglassed tannelised kauri, with varnished sappelle mahogany combings & interior, with white formica cabin tops, above laminated mahogany beams, glued to 2 layers of pre-stressed & glued marine kauri plywood cabin tops.

I also believe, that almost all things, can be improved with knowledge, thought, planning & experience & I was of the view, that Jim Young’s Vindex design, was one of the ultimate designs of the day, however, he specified a beam of 13ft for a 40 ft boat, which was the spec that Eros was built to, whilst I was of the view, having had over 35 years of boating experience myself, at that time, along with my late father, Ralph Ricketts, who was the son of a pioneer boatbuilding family in Nelson, who had had a whole lifetime of experience before me, (about 65 years), that the beam should be 14 ft 6 inches, so that was her spec.

We increased the extra beam after the 4th frame, to retain the original lovely fine Vindex entry in to the water, which is what allowed the Vindexs to be so dainty & slice through the water so gracefully & comfortably, She never ever came down hard on a wave even at full speed. She also cruised 4 knots faster then Eros, with the same engines & same construction methods, so I like to think we must have done something right. Am not sure if Jim Young ever agreed with me, or even accepted that she was indeed a real Vindex, (professionals can sometimes have difficulty in accepting that occasionally amateurs can sometimes, tweak things, a little, to make them even a little better & since we achieved an extra 4 knots, in the same base boat & engines, I like to think we made a difference. The interior roominess was increased enormously, as well. We could have a sit down dinner for 16 & 4 couples dancing at the same time in the main cabin. She slept 10 very comfortably, to allow for the children that were in the family at that time & their friends, (they were all teenagers).

Building started in November 1976, in an unused hay shed on a Whitford farm, where Neeley built her, to the point of a rough unfinished hull. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for, when this all started. I found I had paid for nearly ¾’s of a boat & had less than 1/4 of it finished.

Unfortunately she had to be moved out of the hay shed, as the farmer only made it available to the builder for a set time & for about the next 7 months she sat out in the weather, covered only by an old tarpaulin & seemed to me to be slowly becoming firewood. Mean while the builder & I went through the ordeals of the justice system with the boat being eventually made available to me, thanks to justice being done.

The next problem, was what to do with her, where to take her & could she be saved, after her time in the elements.

I think God must have had his hand on me, as by chance, I had had some business dealings with members of a family, who had relatives, (a father & son), who were not only boating enthusiasts, but also unbelievably professional people at almost all of the important aspects of building boats, to the very highest of standards. The younger one, had already, a year or 2 earlier, built himself a very similar to Tiarri, 40 ft Vindex style boat, powered by 2 x Cummins V8 diesels & done a wonderful job. He also worked on many other boats on their family property at Whangateau, (by Leigh), where they still live. Their names are the late Rex Collings Snr. & Rex Collings Jnr., who still lives there.

These 2 very wonderful people, took me & my hulk under their wing, as it were, & allowed me to put her in a lean to, which had been built on to the side of their boat building shed, Rex Jnr. is a brilliant boat builder, refrigeration engineer, marine engineer, fitter & turner, electronics expert, welder, & a master of almost all trades associated with boats & boating. And like my precision engineer father, Ralph Ricketts, a perfectionist in all he did, who also had most of the skills of Rex C Jnr., & they did, & thoroughly enjoyed, it seemed to me, doing much work together, on all engineering aspects of Tiarri, in Rex’s beautifully equipped engineering workshop on his property.

After arriving at Whangateau, the first undertaking was initially doing fairly extensive surface cracking repairs to the skins of the hull timber, which all had to be glued & repaired, a laborious slow painstaking process, to get the perfection of the hull surface they achieved, in repairing weather damage.

Then they embarked on to making & fitting her full keel (deadwood) of laminated beautiful totara, the very best timber, I have always believed, for deadwoods on launches, both keel & timber type were something I insisted on. I did not want to risk her sitting on her propellers if she went aground, also it naturally also helped to make her easy to steer. She was a joy to steer & control & increased in stability in  big seas.

Then next, came fitting of her engine beds, at which time, her engines arrived from my parents basement garage workshop, where they had been stored for a couple of years. They were lifted in with a Hiab crane.

At this point, the bulkheads were also fitted, along with & the forward & side decks, all the underwater gear, vee struts for the propeller shafts, rudders & rudder glands & stocks, steering system, propeller shafts, shaft logs,  & skin fittings (where the shafts leave the boat under water & intermediate shaft bearings to avoid any possibility of whipping & vibration). All precision engineered in 316grade stainless steel & fitted by the 2 fantastic artisans, Rex C., & my dad.

At this point, they were unable to take Tiarri any further, because of the height restriction of the shed roof, so we then had to wait 2 or 3 months until Barry Jones artisan boat builder of Matakana, our third member of her team of ‘boatbuilding surgeons’ could fit her in to his big, full height shed.

She was approximately 6 months in Barry J’s shed, where she had her combings & cabin tops built, furniture built in, flying bridge fitted, engine installation completed, wiring installed, exhaust system installed, 12 c. ft. deep freeze & Kelvinator household refrigerator, Coroma brand, domestic toilet & all those other things that go to make up a beautiful boat, right to the last things, like Sanderson linen squabs, mid green body carpet throughout, — she was themed in green e.g curtains, crockery, cutlery & so on..

In her early days in Barry J’s shed, we filled the gearboxes with red gearbox oil & accidentally spilled a tiny quantity into the bilge.

A few days later, Barry summoned me to Warkworth, to view an “important discovery.”

To my horror, as I looked at a point under the boat, indicated by Barry, I saw on the, at that stage, unpainted keel, a large red stain, gearbox oil. I could not believe what I was seeing. We discovered that the 1st builder had tried to short circuit the construction process & I presume cost & had only applied the glue that held her together to one skin of her 2 skin kauri hull. The glue must be applied to both skins of the hull, as, with a sandwich, one puts butter on both slices of bread, & there were large areas of delamination where the glue had not adhered to the other skin, thus making the boat a potential deathtrap.

I was destroyed at this point & once again thought this can’t be happening, after all we have already been through & I saw my boating world once again collapsing around me.

However none of us were experts to advise on a problem of this nature, so I instructed the person I believed to be the leading & one of the most experienced & knowledgeable boat surveyors in NZ, to do a full survey of Tiarri. Harry Pope spent many hours tapping, looking, taking sample plugs of the hull. His decision & report said that, if all the paint were removed from the hull (it was fully painted & a terrible long & dusty job to remove) to expose the existing bronze skin fastenings, holding the skins to the stringers which were used to hold the skins together, whilst the glue dried & then refastening the hull with 2” x No. 16 gauge silicon bronze screws, that would make the boat far stronger & give it much greater structural integrity, than any hull which was held together by just properly applied glue.

You can imagine how relieved & overjoyed I was to have this news.

The final blight on the building process was the introduction by Robert Muldoon, of his boat & caravan tax of 20% on the cost of all un-launched brand new vessels, as at the 17th of May 1979.

By this point along the journey Tiarri’s cost had risen by probably several hundred percent on original projections & budgeted funding.

Well to carry on, I was particularly upset, because Tiarri had reached the stage where the engine installation was totally finished, the hull & combings were complete outside, the steering system was completed, & she could have been put in the water, taken for a short run, & then taken out & completed, without tax, as she would have been used, if only I could have known the day before, what was going to happen.

I had a number of very amicable & constructive meetings, with the departmental officer in charge of boat taxing, a Mr. Ken Shirley, who was particularly sympathetic & as helpful as the law allowed & in the end we had to pay sales tax only on work done after the 17th May & not the whole project, which saved what could have been a very large sum of un-budgeted money, to find at that time.

Tiarri left on Matakana on 18th October 1979 to make the trip via State Highway 1, over the Harbour Bridge to Half Moon Bay, where she was launched 2 days later, after a blessing by the late Dean John Rymer, of The Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland.

And now, as you all know, Tiarri entered the world, to become a beautiful & loved, graceful lady & join the other beautiful ladies of the sea, that grace our shores, in our paradise we call the Hauraki Gulf. She remained part of our family, until I was forced to sell her, when life took me overseas to live a good number of years later.

Sadly, Tiarri’s final chapter was written, when she became she first shipwreck of the millennium at 3am on New Years morning 2000 when subsequent owners left Tiarri unattended, off Opape Beach, East Cape, for the night, whilst they went ashore to celebrate the arrival of the millennium. A northeast gale sprang up; she came ashore on Opape Beach & was severely damaged, but not wrecked. Tiarri was then unfortunately given to a ‘boat builder’ (unskilled) to rebuild, but (in my view) was destroyed by cutting the bottom out of her. This act was to be the sad end of Tiarri .

Obituary:

My late father had only one short trip in Tiarri & took the helm only once, on launching day, for a little run, just a short distance down the Tamaki River, past Bucklands Beach & back. – It was terrible weather that day, so we just stayed on the marina, at Half Moon Bay. Tragically, he passed away 3 weeks later.

I will never forget him, his love of the sea, & most of all his love for my mother, Tiarri, & me.