W1 / Caroma – Goes The Full Circle


photo & details ex Ken Ricketts, edited by Alan H

If you enter W1 in the waitematawoodys search panel you will see Ken Ricketts has been a long admirer of this unique vessel. Now via a chance posting on ww Ken has reconnected again after 28 years.

Ken was invited to inspect W1 by her present owner, who has W1 in the driveway of his home, given she is 70ft overall that in itself is impressive.

Ken reports that her current owner has had her for approx. 8 years having bought her off her Waiheke owner in a very run down state with her 2 x 671 GM Detroit’s belching lots of black smoke & with a view to carrying out a total interior & combings rebuild,which is now almost completed.

W1 has had several rebirths & its pleasing to hear that Ken reports in her latest there will be no flying bridge 🙂

It appears that with her very flowing new layout, complete with traditional varnished teak combings, she will very much look the part on the harbour & with her heritage will certainly be one of the most unique of all our classic boats. Refer the previous ww post for full details on her specs & history. The current refurbishment specifications include – 230 volt power, a full hot & cold commercial type air-conditioning system ducted right through the boat, water maker, clothes dryer, all the other latest & best of everything you would expect on a vessel of her size. Currently the restoration crew includes up to 3 artisan boatbuilders, along with the owner himself, part time, who are crafting her superstructure & fit out as if she is the royal yacht.

The 2 x 671 GMs have become 1 x GM Detroit 8V92TI with a power output of 650 hp. This the owner anticipates will give a very good turn of speed — with a 32 inch propeller, through a 2 to 1 gearbox.

She was only capable of about 13  knots flat out when she came out of the water. She now sports bow & stern thrusters & a new underwater exhaust system with fairly comparatively small, above water side outlets for idling, to avoid backpressure.

The owner has personally just finished making 2 identical state of the art beautifully varnished teak game fishing chairs which will be mounted side by side for gamefishing when needed. He has never embarked on a job of this type before, but Ken reports that there is not a game fishing chair manufacturer in the world, that could have do a more perfect job.

We look forward to seeing her in the water & ww will hopefully be there to record this magnificent (class of one) 70 year old vessel begin the next phase of her life.

Lastly, Ken has a favorite hobby-horse & thats the changing of a vessels name by subsequent owners – Ken is of the belief the name at launch time should remain for the life of the vessel. Well Ken was very happy to learn that W1 will grace her stern again.

A UK sister ship? – Dave Giddens was recently in the UK & spotted the boat below in St Ives, Cornwall.

W1 CHAPTER #3  18-12-2014
photos & details e Ken Ricketts, edited by Alan H

The photos below show the latest update in the life of W1 – her current owner, Francis Uren, has just completed an extensive ‘rebuild’ of the 70′ W1 (previously known as CORROMA, from the early 1950s) launch. The extent of the rebuild even includes air-conditioning………………..

Ken has been instrumental in securing her original WWII RNZAF identification No. i.e. #W1.

Next step is sea trials & we look forward to a report on the performance of her single 8V-92TI 650 HP GM Detroit diesel.

Sea Trials photo ex Ken Ricketts

At Bayswater 04/01/2015

W1 @ BW 04:01:15

At ‘speed’ 10/01/2015 (low res photo ex Ken R)

W1 AT SPEED - 9.1.15 -4

31-05-2015 – Update ex Ken Ricketts

W1 has just been hauled out at Gulf Harbour hard stand for her first bum clean & for the fitting of here correct prop  — a 32 x 33 LH Bri Ski. – The first one that was made, it was discovered just before she went in the water for the first time, when her refit wad completed, went the wrong way, so she has had  temporary smaller one since launching, until the correct one could be fitted this week.
Post re-launching, with the new prop, at 22 knots her wake was less than 12 inches & absolutely flat out the stern, as can be seen in the photo below. Impressive for a vessel designed & launched in the late 1930s.

05-09-2016 Input from John Bullivant

“Hi guys, what a great find this site is, great job!. I have been wondering where W1 had got to! I am another who has had a lifelong interest in her and other wartime Navy and Airforce boats.I thought this might be of interest to others interested in this vessel.  I spent a few weeks in the Marine Section during my time in the RNZAF around 1973 just as they were about to de-commission the seaplane tenders and close the Marine Section
When I was about 15 yrs old a friend of mine and I sneaked on board W1 while she was on her private slipway on the Tamaki River, (tucked around the corner behind the owners house complete with large winch and railway dollies) She had not been modified at that stage (1968/9) and was still in original airforce colours with names still on the lockers in the forward crew room. The wheelhouse was varnished and the hull was white. The wheelhouse door (rear stbd of ) was varnished and louvred as was the radio shack door immediately to its left. To the right of the instrument panel and large chrome wheel was a companionway leading down to the mess room ? (the stair treads had cast aluminium oval ”British Power Boat” grips attached ) Forward through the bulkhead was a 4 berth bunk room, ahead of this a head and then a large chain locker.
Up on deck and into the radio shack you went down through a hatch via a ladder attached to the forward engine room bulkhead. At the time she was fitted with 2 Greys marine diesels which were under grey painted canvas covers port and stbd with not much else in there. We assumed they had been put in by the Airforce as an economy measure as they looked to be only around 150 – 200hp size and did not look recent. aft of the engine room was another 4 berth bunk room and another head behind that with from memory a washing area. I think there was a hatch from there to the after deck.
The owner appeared later to be experimenting with cabin styles and the first I saw (she was then moored below the new Panmure bridge early 70s) was a long flat ”ferry like” structure extending from the wheelhouse with windows along the sides which did not last long as it appeared to be too heavy and made the boat squat in the stern. Eventually she ended up as ‘Corroma’  (did not appear to have this name when we first saw her) I saw her on the hard in Tauranga many years later then later still in Bayswater marina (I think it must have been just before she was scalped as she still looked in quite good nick) I think the owner on Waiheke used her for diving charters. I did not see her for a long time after that but thanks to this site I know why. What a fantastic job Mr Uren has done, congratulations to him on keeping a classic hull flying. Not only was she one of a kind in NZ she was apparently the only one ever  delivered to the southern hemisphere . There is only one other 64ft HSL still running (HSL 102) and that is in the UK, where it was saved from houseboat status and totally rebuilt to admiralty plans by a chap who owned an engineering business. It is powered by 3x 500hp Cummings diesels with a top speed of 42 knots (now sold to British Maritime museum). He has also restored a 40ft seaplane tender and a 70ft MGB (powered by 3x Mann diesels for around 40 knots)
H1 was according to a Marine section news letter, powered by 3x 500hp Napier Lion marine engines for a speed of 38 knots. She was 64ft and built by the British Powerboat Company Of Hythe UK . Hope this was of some interest and that I have remembered things reasonably accurately, (it’s been a long time but having been lucky enough to have seen her in original condition at a young age has stuck with me all my life) I am also at present building a 36″ scale model of W1 for radio control.
If anyone is looking for info on these HSLs etc I may be able to help if you are having trouble finding anything”.

17 thoughts on “W1 / Caroma – Goes The Full Circle

  1. Pingback: Woody Cruising In The Bay of Islands #3 | waitematawoodys.com #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  2. Pingback: Caroma / W1 | waitematawoodys.com #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  3. Thank you so much for your wonderful input in to the fascinating craft John,
    I have just been given masses of data & some more pics of her by the Airforce Museum, which I would love to pass onto you.
    Can you please email me at kenpat@ihugco.nz — Am also sending it to Alan for addition to the story — KEN R


  4. The amazingly tiny wake referred to above, is evident if one studies the wake format in detail, as it spreads out as it falls away, behind the stern of the boat. — KEN R


  5. Yes, I think I spoke to him during my development of her history — Francis the present owner has spent over 5 years rebuilding her, & I know she had a huge amount done & I believe she is now perfect in very way — KEN R


  6. Dad – Keith Bellingham had it from about 98 to early 2000, we gathered a lot of info on properly restoring her, which unfortunately did not happen.


  7. The pics I took the other day she was doing 19 knots but she is till not up to full speed because she has to have a new bigger -prop — the present temporary one is 2 inches under size.
    When was she in your family, & for how long Shane? — KEN RICKETTS


  8. Looks good in photos, gone is some of the top hamper. interested to know if any work was done on the sides eg refastened, glassed, splined etc, also will be interesting to see how it goes with the single, best we could get with old gms was 17kts lightship.



  9. Was in contact with the owner on Wednesday & she is almost finished — herewith an excerpt from his last email to me — I quote; “Hi Ken, no firm launch date yet. Just finishing caulking the cockpit deck – labour intensive as doing it by myself! Still a few odd jobs then antifouling and we’re done.
    I’ll give you a shout when it’s ready to hug the water”
    So that’s where she’s at — KENRICKETTS.


  10. As I turned left out of my hovel in St Mary’s Bay and strolled up to Jervois Rd this morning I saw this magnificent vessel. Wow. I wonder how I possibly missed it on the nth strolls previous??? She looks good to go. Why not afloat???


  11. I am delighted to say that W1, today has been granted the very special call sign “ZMWI” by Radio Spectrum Management, the goverment department, that controls, & has to approve, all radio call signs. — (It vests this in Coastguard on its behalf, to look after the big cumbersome mixed letter number pleasure craft call signs) — for the rest of her life in recognition of her provinance & her special place in our maritime history — KEN RICKETTS


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