LA RETA (Sayandra – ML410)
details & photos ex Bob McDougall , Russell Ward & Ken Ricketts + the ‘Workboat Study Group’
La Reta started life & was launched in December 1942 as “ML 410,” for the Royal New Zealand Navy, & built by P Vos Ltd., at their slipway, at Auckland Harbour’s Western Reclamation.
Miss Fay Vos, the builders daughter, christened her, whilst Lt. Gordon Crisp, the first C.O., looked on proudly.
She was commissioned on January 25th 1943 & immediately sailed for the Wellington region, where she spent much of her wartime service.
After WWII, she was sold to a person by the name of Jarvis, who sold her to the Cook Islands Producer Board.
She was by then named, La Reta.
She left for Rarotonga on 19th May 1949 & stayed there for 2 years, after which she returned to Auckland & undertook excursion work (fishing trips) from 1950 to 1965 & in 1963 was renamed Sayandra.
Russell Ward recalls she then had a flat / boxy top & vertical oblong screens to the open bridge but the Fairmile wheelhouse. He remembers some brave soul ‘tarting’ up a Fairmile in the early ’60s and running three day gulf excursions. Had male and female heads at the aft end of the deck house, this might account for the big water tank above in the above picture. Russell particularly remembers the toilet arrangements because he tried to talk them into giving him a holiday job as deckhand & had a good look over. He also commented that in the photo she has a RDF and a loudspeaker on the foredeck which would suggest commercial use.
The most recent photo above was most likely was taken in or around the mid 1960s.
Power was originally 2 x 530HP Hall Scott V12 petrol engines replaced by 2 x 6-71 175 hp GM Detroit diesels after WWII.
To view / read an great Evening Post article on the building of the Fairmailes click the blue link below. (ex Harold Kidd)
10-11-2015 I recently received this great story from Vern Lake, one of the former crew – its a cool read. Enjoy. Alan H
I have been following and reading your very interesting articles., among others in my search for information and possible pics of where the Fairmile LA RETA is and what happened to her. La Reta (Q410) was used as a day fishing excursion vessel operating from the Princes Wharf launch steps on Quay St Auckland, under the command of Captain XXXXXXXXX (deleted by AH), retired ex Royal Naval Captain. ( I was always led to believe that Captain XXXXXXXX owned the LA RETA ) also operating from the same launch steps as a day fishing excursion vessel was the 60ft? Florence Kennedy owned and operated by Len Sowerby, also there was a much smaller vessel Shannondoah also operating as a day fishing excursion vessel, owned and operated by Abe or Alby? my memory of his correct name is a bit hazy.
I worked and lived aboard the LA RETA for a few years during the 1950s/early60s, the Engineers’ name was Bill Daveny, I was the deckhand/ Coxwain, also doubling as Second Engineer on almost a daily basis on the homeward voyage as the Engineer had to berth the boat due to the Captain being drunk! ( I had to go to the side door of the Captains’ favourite Hotel every morning with a sugar bag to collect two bottles of square Gin and a dozen tall bottles of beer, the Captain had many habitual drinking mates who went out every day, they stayed in the wheelhouse drinking all day) I went below to operate the throttles and manual gearbox levers as per the ships telegraph signals from the Bridge. Captain XXXXXXXX misjudged the timing to signal the engine room on one occasion and the ship ended up with the bow under the wharf, luckily no one was injured!
My Dad first took me out fishing on the LA RETA when I was 10 in 1951/52. I was a frequent passenger after that, the Engineer was a friend of my Dad so he took me under his wing and taught me well, I was the youngest on the Auckland waterfront to obtain my proficiency certificate of Radio Telephone Operator in 1959, LA RETA still had the wartime radio, compass and searchlight which was mounted on the Bridge, the Auxilliary engine was a Petters, mounted on the Starboard side of the engine room. We could comfortably carry 120 people with ample room for all to fish, there were regulars who went out 5 days per week, selling their fish on the pub black market!
I came to Australia for a holiday in mid 1962, liked it here so stayed, the Engineer was sent to Queensland early 1963 with explicit instructions to get me to go back to Auckland to crew on LA RETA as she was or had undergone alterations to become a luxury cruise vessel, I declined the offer, choosing instead to Skipper a 40ft Prawn Trawler on Moreton Bay Q’ld. The last I heard she had gone to the Islands then up to Canada. I have tried searching for her on the internet for 10 years, I made enquiries to the Canadian Marine Officials but with no luck, early this year I got an email from a Lady in Auckland she said LA RETA was renamed Sayandra and was wrecked in the Islands and subsequently blown up as she could not be salvaged. Late last night I was again looking at your site and came across the above article that you posted early this year.
I would be grateful if you could email me any further info/pictures etc of the LA RETA/SAYANDRA. All my photos were lost during one of our big Queensland floods, La Reta was a big part of my younger life, ( I am now 75 ) I actually shed a few tears when I learned that she is now in Davey Jones’ locker…. VERY SAD ENDING to a fine ship!!!!!
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