VIVEEN – An Ex Owners Tale
Below is a post from Murray Willis, a previous owner of the launch Viveen, for some strange reason it would not appear in the comments section, while that’s strange it’s also a bonus as its too good a tale to be buried in there. To help support Murray’s tale I have posted a mid 1930’s photo of Aumoe (l) & Viveen (r) + some modern day hauled out photos to support the coments on her hull design.
Read & enjoy. AH
I owned Viveen for about 10 years from March 1984 until about mid 1994. During those 10 years I became very familiar with her shape. Viewed from behind one would have believed she was round bilged as illustrated in the early photo of Viveen going up the Milford creek.
She was in fact a hard chined, deep V planning hull “rum-runner”, apparently a John Hacker design of circa 1920. She certainly was not round bilged although she did look as if she was. I purchased “Viv” from Peter Haywood who was the slip master at the Milford Marina (and in his spare time a milkman on the North Shore). He had purchased her from a gentleman from Bayswater, whose name escapes me. He lived in a Bayswater house that was built on the exact spot where Col Wild’s boat yard had been located and where Viveen had been built.
This previous owner had found Viveen in a rundown condition in Coromandel and had taken her back to her place of original building in Bayswater and had restored her. Being a very clever man but being short on funds he made everything himself and doubled up on most engine components such as two cooling water pumps, two generators, two starter motors, two engine cooling systems etc. He made his own heat exchanger for the “D’ series Ford she had, which by the way was installed lying on its side.
I kept Viveen on her berth at the Milford marina and in fact she was in Milford for many years until we took her to Whangaparapara around 1989. I did quite a bit of work on her apart from the usual painting and anti-fouling. Most significant was the recovering of all decks and cabin tops with glass and ply done by John Gladden around 1988.
With reference to her bridge deck height extension, I was told by Andy Donovan himself that he extended the height of the bridge deck around 1934/5 and that he had procured the teak from old WW1 machine gun carry cases and ammunition boxes but I have not been able to verify this fact. We still have on our lounge wall two enlarged prints of Viveen in 1938 off the Devonport wharf, and the very modernistic photo of her in Mansion House in 1924 when she had just won the St Mary’s Bay to Kawau anniversary day launch race. By the way, the late George Mason identified the ship in the background of that photo as being the Northern Steam Ship Company vessel “ Clansman”.
Viveen was/is a great little launch and was quick. On one occasion after painting, new antifoul and a new carefully modified and balanced prop done by Henley’s on the shore we took her back to the Barrier in a stiff south westerly, following seas and lightly laden. About an hour out she was starting to surf so we pushed the throttle forward and much to our surprise she came up onto the plane and stayed. It took exactly 2 hours 30 minutes from Shearer rock to Whangaparapara at an average speed of about 20 knots. We both have very fond memories of “Viv”.
Sadly, around 1995 we were forced to sell her and she was bought by a gentleman from Tauranga. I will never forget that day sitting on the wharf at Whangaparapara with tears running down my face as she headed out of the harbour and out of our lives.
Marguerite now sits on her mooring here in Whangaparapara, another old classic lady!
Jan and Murray Willis, 9 Harpoon Hill, Great Barrier Island
Harold Kidd Update
She was designed and built by Colin Wild. No doubt he was influenced by designs by men like Hacker or Hand appearing in Rudder or Motor Boating magazines but, like Charles Collings and Major Lane, he was more than capable of producing an international state-of-the-art planing hull. Percy Vos did the bridgedeck extension for Percy Mason in 1933. I can’t figure out how Andy Donovan could have become involved in that process, unless there was some leg-pulling going on.
As to planing, that’s not at all surprising. Mason had a 25 Winton in her which would have pushed her along well. By 1959 she had an 85hp Scripps Ford V8 when Mudgway then Jackson then Haysom owned her. I used to pull LOLOMA out alongside her at Milford when Peter Haywood owned her and she was quick.
ROMANCE II is a Bailey & Lowe round bilge 35 footer of slightly earlier build and planes quite happily with her 150hp Hino on her very flat aft sections, if rather bow up. Walter Bailey designed her for 17 knots with a big 100hp Sterling with lots of torque. I’ve seen 20 knots on the GPS but couldn’t keep that up to Barrier without some overheating issues.
I think that there is a general impression these days that our early launches were plodders, but many of them, like VIVEEN and ROMANCE II were built to go like hell, and did.