Gay Dawn


The 34′ Lidgard designed bridge decker, built by Bill Waters 1953. Very similar to Monterey & like Monterey started out with varnished coaming, have to say I think they suit her (& Monterey) better than the paint.

12-01-2016 Photos below from during the build & launching period c1947>1953.

Note refer comments section for more details on her past

10 thoughts on “Gay Dawn

  1. Pingback: Gay Dawn + Woody Riverhead Tavern Cruise | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  2. Hi
    Can you tell me where the Gay Dawn is in NZ.
    My Father in Law is the son of Bill Waters (Bryan).
    I would like to track where she is as Bryan will be 93 this year & the family would like him to see her.
    Any info would be greatly appreciated.
    Kind regards
    Julie Waters (married to Bryan’s son Murray)

    Hi Julie -last year it was in Bayswater Marina, Auckland – but may have moved.I’m sure someone will be able to update you. Kind Regards Alan H


  3. My father sold GAY DAWN to Doug Walker MD of NZ Forest Products in November 1970. — KEN R


  4. GAY DAWN UPDATE. She was sold to a Mr Bill Mitchinsin of taraunga last Friday accordging to Gulf Marine Brokers, & they said they beleived he intended to restore her to her original beauty, with grained combings at least & perhaps other work — wonderful — Long may she live — KEN RICKETTS


  5. I wish the misinformation regarding the desgn of Gay dawn was removed, saying she was designed by Lidgards, as this is not true, — she was effectually designed by Bill Waters in association with Len Bell — although she used some of Awarua’s frames she is necessarily quite a different boat in in all respects, as she had to be redesigned, except at the tuck. In any case, Awarua was designed by Ted Cooper not Lidgards as far as I know


  6. The Royal Falcon is 38 ft just to be shore as well as wasOriginally had a converted Studebaker truck engine later replaced with a Kermath & the Studebaker was sold to Bill Waters, who put it in the Gay Dawn when he built her.


  7. The intent of this epistle, is to correct & put right various pieces of misinformation that I have read over recent years about this beautiful still very original, (as far as I know), classic launch.

    The “Gay Dawn”, is a 34 ft Kauri bridgedeck launch, which was built in Tawawera Tce St. Heliers Bay by the owner himself, the late Mr. Bill Waters, an Englishman, who had lived in NZ for the greater part of his life, who was a french polisher, who was assisted by his son Brian, a NZ born cabinetmaker.

    She was built over a period of several years, under the part time supervision of the late Len Bell, a retired boatbuilder, at the time of her construction.

    Mr. Waters borrowed the frames, off the late Mr. Ted Cooper, who had created them for the construction of his 37 foot “Awarua,” a really beautiful early sedan top launch, which he also built mostly himself, in R. Lidgards shed, in Auckland.– they were Mr. Coopers frames, not Lidgards.

    If one compares the tucks of “Gay Dawn” & “Awarua”, one can see they are almost identical, at that point, of the 2 hulls.

    Mr. Waters shortened “Gay Dawn” to 34 feet because he was determined to have full length planks in the bottom section of the hull, & his Kauri log would only allow a maximum of 34 ft., with this concept.

    The “Gay Dawn” was launched at Okahu Bay, in September 1953, when I was a teenager, & I was present at the launching, in fact I followed her along the road from St Heliers, to Okahu Bay, in my late father’s car, I had persuaded him to lend me for the occasion, (not an easy task).

    She was originally powered with an early 1930s 6 cyl. Studebaker marinised petrol truck engine, which had come out of the 36/38 foot bridgedecker, “Royal Falcon,” which had been re engined.

    Mr. Waters & his family were very close friends of my family, & he offered her to my late father, in September 1956, as his wife had never taken to boating, & hardly went on the boat.

    My father eagerly bought her, as he had loved her from day one, & he then sold his original launch, the “Sam Ford,” 30 foot, 1930, bus topper, the “Juliana,” (recently renamed “Marjorie Rosa,” ) which he had owned for 10 years (1946 to 1956)

    A little over a year later, my father began preparations, to replace the Studebaker, with twin 6 cyl, “Leyland Cub” diesels.

    He owned “Gay Dawn” from September 1956 until November 1970, when he retired from boating, as a result of advancing years.

    The new engines were fitted, on my father’s front lawn, at 11 Ambury Ave Epsom, over the period mid 1958 until Christmas 1959.

    In 1962, he replaced the top section of the bridgedeck, as originally, as you can see in early photos, it was set back about 3 inches from the lower combings, & it was not possible to fit a door, so he replaced it, with a new top, that went right out to the cabin sides, & so she then had a door, which was very desirable.This was also done by Len Bell, alongside my parents waters edge home, on the Tamaki River, & I have photos of it happening.

    Her original radio call sign was “ZMIV” when launched, (now re issued to our family’s present boat “Roseanne”)

    I have many still photos, & colour movies, of this period of “Gay Dawn’s” life, from 1956 to 1970, & her re-engining, & anyone who may be interested is very welcome to contact me, & I will arrange for them to view them.

    She had the Leylands removed, & replaced by a later owner, with a single 6 cyl. Ford Diesel, (heaven knows why), which she still has today, as far as I know.

    Fortuously, certainly at least, up until very recently, she has never been “fiddled with,” & is still very original, I was on board her 4 or 5 years ago, when she was living at the Sandspit, where she was moored for a good number of years.

    If anyone has any knowledge of her present whereabouts, or any contact details for the present owner, I would love to catch up with her recent history. – I know she had been living on a marina for a time, in Tauranga, until a few months ago, when she was sold.

    I have seen various writings, claiming she was built by Sam Ford, Shipbuilders & Roy Lidgard, all of which of course are totally incorrect.

    Attached are a few glimpses of her early life, from 1957 at North Harbour Ponui, when she was absolutely original, arriving at 11 Ambury Ave to have her engine change, & the befores & afters of this somewhat massive exercise at that time, all done by my late father, Ralph Ricketts, who was a perfectionist, brilliant, precision engineer. Other pics are of her at Opua at speed in colour, with her twin Leylands, & at Lidgards wharf at Smelting House Bay, in the Warkworth River & at Okahu Bay with her highly polished new props & one of my parents enjoying a typical morning “cuppa” about 1964.

    One final thing, I have colour movie footage of Mr Bill Waters, taken Christmas 1955 when he still owned her, (now on DVD).

    A truly beautiful classic launch in every sense of the word,& I hope she remains as original, & is properly loved, for a great many years to come,
    as she is at the present time.

    Ken Ricketts

    12-01-2016 Update

    photos & details ex Matt & Bryan Waters via Ken Ricketts. edited by Alan H

    As a result of discussions between Ken Ricketts & Matt Waters, the great grandson of the original owner, Bill Waters & Matt’s grandfather, Bryan Waters, Ken advises that Gay Dawn was built on an empty section, on the corner of St. Heliers Bay Rd & Parkside St Heliers Bay, which was owned by Ernie Burns, another boatie at that time. This was just around the road from Bill Waters’ house in Tawawera Tce. In several of the photos below, the building visible in some photos is actually a builders shed.
    Ken was told that Len Bell (a boatbuilder) had quite a worthwhile input into her as he lived in Parkside St. & used to spend many of his weekends for several years working with the owners family on the boat. He was working for Roy Lidgard during the week at that time as well, but this was private work, done in his own time. Gay Dawn had no input or connection to the Lidgard yard.
    It would appear that work started about 1947-48 & she was launched in the early 1950’s.

    She was built massively strong with the entire stem being natural Pohutukawa from the shape of the tree & a large number of specially handmade “dumps,” (many more than is usual), as well as large numbers of 14 or 16 gauge screws, fastening the bow & tuck to the planks.
    New photos added to the main post


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