Another of those very special parts of our history & heritage & part of the group that could perhaps include vessels such as LINDA, LADY GAY, WIRIHANA, RAIONA, etc., She was built for the Court family of John Courts Ltd major department store owners in Queen St Auck, in the late 1920 or early 1930s. was 46 ft long, & was sadly lost at sea, off the West Coast post 2000, by the owners of the day, who abandoned her at sea during a circumnavigation attempt around NZ, which she had previously completed once before, in her earlier days,. They left, in inappropriate conditions, struck high seas off the West Coast of the North Island, were taken off by a merchant vessel in the area, & they abandoned her with the engine running, & left her to founder ( she was seen a few days later by another merchant vessel still with the engine idling) — very sad ending for a very beautiful lady.

When built she had 2 Redwing Petrol engines which were replaced about 1947 with a single Graymarine 6-71 diesel, a 2 cycle diesel engine, — virtually a GM Detroit, marinised by Graymarine, which she had until her demise.

During the mid 40s she had her original dodger replaced with the beautiful stainless steel dodger which she has in the pic, which must have cost a fortune, but suited her very well. I only ever saw her once with her original dodger & have known her since 1946. I took the pic in Matiatia in 1949 She belonged to Jim Luke of the Claude Neon Lights Ltd family, of Glendowie whom I knew, in the later 40s & 50s.

Story & photo supplied by Ken Ricketts

NOTE: In a later posting of waitmatawoodys I will expand on the ill fated circumnavigation story. alan h

12 thoughts on “Ruamano

  1. Pingback: Ruamano RIP | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  2. A great shame. A truly stunning vessel. I recall reading about his story, once she was reported to still be afloat, people ventured out to look for her but she had gone….. no one expected her to still be afloat after several days, or it could have even been weeks?


  3. Pingback: Ruamano | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  4. As a personal friend of Jim Luke, and a subsequent owner of Palladium after Jim died, I can also relate how furious Jim was on the loss of Ruamano, as she had been such a huge part of his life and so needlessly lost. There is a fabulous book written of her circumnavigation, the first since James Cook for anyone interested. I also am proud to sit with Gordon as the only other keepsake of her we believe is the anchor from the circumnavigation, now in our care. We also have a lovely painting of this anchor painted by my wife in pride of place in the office.


  5. I also have fond memories of the Ruamano, having sailed on her a number of times as a young boy with my grandfather as skipper.
    Around the 60’s the Ruamano was owned by my grandfather Bob (William) Moore of Tauranga.


  6. Gordon,

    I knew your father well as a young man & so sorry he has passed away — he had many cups of tea on my parents boats JULIANA & later GAY DAWN, when both Jimss & Dad’s boats were hauled out for winter maintenance at Okahu bay.I met your grandfather Gordon through oyur dad & he gave a specil a discout to the RAYC for it’s new builidng in 1953


  7. Ruamano was a huge part of my life from mid 1960’s to 1990’s when my father Jim Luke sold her after some 30 years of owning her, and bought Palladium (46 Kennedy). A lifetime of work was spent restoring Ruamano to beautiful condition and many sea miles in less than ideal conditions. She was a beautiful boat, fantastic sea keeping capabilities, a vessel you always felt safe on board. For her to be lost the way she was is a disgrace and as anyone knows who owns a boat like this, you are only a guardian of her and have a responsibility to preserve and maintain her for future generations. I cannot describe the disappointment felt by my father after she was lost so needlessly by those responsible, although he rarely spoke publically about it. I am pleased to say that I have the only remnant of her in the main cabin of my own boat (shiny white plastic). This is one of the original Kauri, hand carved “R” s that adorned both sides of her forward bow. My father had replaced them with bronze castings of same, which were on her when lost. I found this last original “R” in a storage chest after my fathers passing. It will remain with me for the rest of my boating years. RIP both Dad and Ruamano.
    Gordon Luke


  8. I agree with the delightful addition to my story by Russell.

    There was no mechanical or seaworthyness problem with Ruamano, — the crew just could not personally handle, what God was dishing out in the way of weaher, so just abandoned her with the engine idling.
    She was sen a few days later by another merchant vessel & the engine was still idling, according to reports of the day



  9. RUAMANO was built by Collings & Bell and launched on 3 December 1925. She had twin Red Wing Big Chief Specials. Her first owner was Alfred Henry Court, son of John Court and brother of George. Her first circumnavigation was over Christmas 1925-6. The second attempt was not a good idea with time pressures on the crew which caused a cascade of errors.


  10. Regarding loss of Ruamano, I came across the following article in the NZ Herald dated 6 January 2001.

    The story does not seem to indicate anything had actually failed on the boat by the time she was abandoned. But the sea conditions at the time sound atrocious. They must have been worried by the prospect of being pooped or something giving way at night with no prospect of early rescue. The New Laurel was sighted at 3.00am so it was probably near daybreak by the time they abandoned.


  11. Rua was the cause of some rot setting in in the Ward family. We had been staunch sailers until just before one Christmas, Andrew Johns (then owner) invited us out for the day. Flat calm, no sailing and no family keen. Finally Caroline (Ward minor) volunteered. We set off with the GM growling and a wake that spread out to the sides of the harbour; eventually dropping the hook in Calypso Bay after 40 minutes.
    I conjectured that, if we were in “Gloaming”, we would still be slatting round off Devonport with a mutiny on hand in the flat calm. I would be steadfastly refusing to fire up the iron staysl, and we would be rocked round for the day by the likes of Ruamano roaring past. The crew would be grumpy.
    You see, I used to preach that we sailers enjoyed the sail and what on earth did the fizzboaters do when they arrived hours ahead of us.
    I’ll tell you what we did that day. We swam, taked laughed ate drank and no yachts drifted in that day!
    So I bought the good ship Movarie and we bacame fizzboaters.
    Andrew became a farmer in Blenheim -even smarter!


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