VIVEEN – An ex owners story

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.

22-08-2019 Update – Ian McDonald sent in the below ‘log /diary’ photo which came out of a book called “Louie and his hard case buggers” ; a memoir by a legendary Tokoroa / Putaruru logger called Lance Duncan.  At one stage he owned a launch named – Viveen’.
The date he purchased her is at odds with one of the comments on the existing WW post, but those loggers drank a lot of Waikato so, that could be the reason. He also mentions that she had a small wing engine at some stage but I suspect that many of the details have been lost in various transcriptions of her history from owner to owner down the years.
IMG_1499

13 thoughts on “VIVEEN – An ex owners story

  1. Thanks for all the new information on Viveen, she was anchored in Whangaparapara twice over easter and I actually kyacked past Marguarite and admired her greatly, Viveen is birthed in Thames most of the time when she is not out and about on the Coromandel and will definately be going back to the Barrier at some stage. Andrew and Mechaela Dobbs – Current Proud Owners of this lovely old lady.

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  2. Thanks Ken, you have jogged my memory! That’s her. I have received the mail and will reply – sorry have been bogged down in dreadful court guff, I also have an update for you on TIARII

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  3. It was Andy’s grandfather who was the Master Mariner, another Andrew Donovan, who died in 1918.

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  4. I have today just managed to find my old log book from Viveen from the period from 1984 until 1995.
    In the back of the log books are some scribbled notes which include the name of the owner prior to Peter Haywood.was a Mr. Bob Cates of 12 Stanly Point Road,
    Another story in my notes is about her being caught up in the sub-marine net in 1943 and was fired on from North Head. !!!!!!
    Murray W

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  5. Hi Garth, I think the Donovan boat you would be referring to would be WINSOME II probably

    BTW I emailed you re EROS (now LADY KIWI as you know), the other day & have had a look aboard myself a week or 2 back, & have arranged for you & your mother to have a look aboard as well — but have never had a reply please respond if you wish to pursue this visit — KEN R

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  6. I think his father was also Andrew. He was a master mariner of some note in the late 19th, very early 20th century. However yes that’s the one – I recall he had a small but perfectly formed launch, with plenty of brightwork and the helm aft. I remember being wowed as a kid by how much of that cockpit he occupied! My old man used to say of that launch – she’s the only boat I’ve ever been on where you can navigate, cook a meal and use the head all at the same time! (Do you know that launch’s name Harold?) As to yarns… well I may as well kick off with one: Andy supplied dad with a lot of equipment for our family boat EROS, including, in particular, all of the plumbing. At her launching in Whangarei in 1970, Andy felt dad gave him insufficient recognition for his contribution in his speech and made this known with a comment: “Every other bastard gets a plaque” – referring to the brass name plate on the bulkhead above the forward companionway, which made mention of Jim Young & Orams. After Broadhead Bros had finished the interior fit-out some time later, dad had the opportunity to correct his error and made a point of ensuring Andy came to the re-launch. In his speech he referred to his earlier error and his embarrassment and assured all assembled that it had been physically as well as now verbally rectified. After splashing, Andy was invited by dad on an inspection and asked to have a good look around the head. The fireworks I’m told were spectacular when Andy noticed his brass dedication plaque which read “S&!thouse by Donovan”.

    BTW Harold – I found that photo but it’s not as I recalled. It is of RMS Tahiti standing off Avarua with an unnamed schooner against the wharf in the foreground. I’m still trying to work out if the schooner is Tahitienne or not. My scanner is currently on the blink but as soon as its repaired I’ll send it to you anyway.

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  7. I have to agree with Harold. Andy was hugely larger than life and thus I took his comments about the alterations to Viveen’s bridge deck with a grain of salt, as I said I had never been able to verify what he told me but he did seem very familiar with the interior and did seem to know what he was talking about.
    The photos that Alan has posted really bring back some memories for me and it is nice to see the mahogany folding doors I made between the galley and the saloon are still there.I made them 30 years ago and just this month used the the last of that mahogany plank for similar work on the restoration of Marguerite.

    So many lovely old ladies and so little time!!!.

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  8. I guess so. There was only one (and he was hugely larger than life) although he was better known as a yacht and launch broker. He had agencies for many good overseas marine products, engines, plumbing etc. His brothers Des and Brian were good boatbuilders and designers. Andy Donovan yarns would fill this blog for weeks. My mother was related to the Donovans, although I’ve forgotten precisely how.

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  9. I am curious about the reference to Andy Donovan: Is this the Auckland waterfront’s well-known marine plumber?

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  10. 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.

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  11. Fine old ship and a lovely post: Thanks for that. Used to see her out and about in the ’60s Kawau, bottom end. Seemed to get into phase and all troop to the next bay and largely keep together dictated by the winds and weather.

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  12. What a great boat, 20 knots…. hell! I didn’t know that Hacker did cruiser design back then? I might have thought W. Hand but then her hull is quite different to a Hand. Nice. Her stern looks like a scaled down version of Linda which stands to reason. Sounds like you have another great boat in Marguerite. good stuff

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