Rona W

photo & details ex Ross Dawson, owner of the Askew ketch ‘Delight’

Rona W is moored in the Rotopiro Creek, a km east of the Wairoa River mouth at Clevedon. She is currently owned by Mr A Hayward of Kawakawa Bay.
Rona W is 26′ LOA X 6′ Beam X 2′ Draught. The long term previous owner Mr Doug Luke, a well known identity in the Clevedon area who supplied the following information….
Built 1936 by Warmington of Dargaville, originally powered by a Beardmore aero engine. Her hull form is a narrow hardcine which planes reasonably easily. Doug understands she was built to race on the Kaipara. Doug aquired her in about 1969 in somewhat run down condition from Mr Johnny Dill of Clevedon. At that time she was powered by a Chrysler petrol engine, salt water cooled and in tired condition. Also her hull needed refastening. The single skin Kauri hull was fastened by galvanised nails into floors one inch thick and not clenched or riveted. Over a period of time thicker floors and copper fastening was carried out. Doug installed an Oliver 70 petrol tractor engine which was then keel cooled. This motor was replaced c.2005 with a Ford diesel which is capable of pushing Ron W readily onto the plane.
She has been a well known local icon moored at the Luke property at Whakatiri between Clevedon & Kawakawa Bay.
The cabin arrangements have obviously been considerably altered since the original configuration. (there is a photo of the Rona W during her Kaipara days at the Matakohe Museum) She has been a comfortable family cruiser, albeit as Doug once commented….”with her narrow beam, you need to part your hair in the middle in order to stay upright”

Update ex Ross Dawson 21/01/2015

“Doug Luke rang me today to say he had copies of pics of Rona W in earlier guise. The two without dinghy are from the Matakohe Museum and depict Rona W on the Kaipara. They are rather fuzzy pictures but show original configuration. The third was taken in the Wairoa River, Clevedon when in the ownership of Johnny Dill. You can see the doghouse now has four side lights with the cabin being slightly extended aft into what was cockpit. Doug rebuilt the Dill changes to give a much higher wheelhouse giving headroom but at cost to the asthetics I think.
The foredeck and main cabin were unchanged through the three alterations.” Ross D.

Update 11-08-2020 Rona W has been in the care of the Pollard family for several years – last week they called her out at The Slipway Milford for some TLC 😉

13 thoughts on “Rona W

  1. Johnny (uncle Jack ) was my uncle remember going out in the gulf fishing a few times in the 1950’s. i always turned a whiter shade of pale on these trips.


  2. Aero engine transplants are still being done, but mainly into cars (which was why I bought the Green). I’ve sent Alan a photo of Robert McNair’s Gypsy Major-engined Riley which now holds the record for the VCC Waitemata Branch Chelsea Hillclimb. Mind you, Robert is a brilliant engineer and you shouldn’t try this at home.


  3. We all like compliments & it doesn’t hurt to hand a few out — you should try it sometime with me


  4. Zach is right in putting her build back from 1936. She figured in racing at the Pahi Regatta as early as 1933 raced by Keith and Eric Warmington. There were quite a lot of war surplus aero engines available in the 1920s, not only the usual Yankee OX 5 Curtiss liquid-cooled V8s but also a variety of exciting British and European makes including Beardmore and Hispano-Suiza. I had a 100hp 4 cylinder ohc Green until I foolishly sold it many years ago. It came from a farm at Matakana where the speedboat it had powered died. The camshaft was detached and used as a prop for the barn door.
    The Warmington brothers changed her name to DISTURBER around 1941. If you Google DISTURBER you’ll find that it was the name of a very famous US racing boat of the pre-WW1 period. The name was also used by L.A. Curtis of Christchurch for his 21ft Restricted hydroplane of 1914 which was [powered by a 3 cylinder 2 stroke Erd. She challenged Chas Collings’ FLEETWING in a series of races on the Waitemata in April 1915 but lost. Gallipoli rather overshadowed the event.
    That Hoiland MERCEDES is a long story, but she never achieved what was claimed for her.


  5. …but did your comments, short as they were, mercifully, add anything to our knowledge of the boat?


  6. She was also called Disturber,(
    Built by Ned Warmington around 1928
    Her lines were meant to be taken off an American rum runner.
    Had a 1917 Buick 4 exposed pushrod overhead valve gear,oil can lubricated swinging a 12×12 which she would semi plane with.
    Regatta engine was a Beadmore 150hp 6 cylinder aeroplane engine swinging a 16×35.
    Apparently she was never ever opened right up as there was a fear she would go round and the engine would stay still!!!


  7. What a little “sweetie,” great record of her history in the circs. — (How’s that for a short one!!) — KEN RICKETTS


  8. Interesting: Part yer hair in the middle. Love it! As an aside, there was quite a lot of racing activity on the Kaipara that is worth chasing up. Chas Hoyland went to Clarks Beach after he left Hoyland (Hoiland) and Gillett who were the makers of the Zealandia engines in Auckland early 1900s. Chas apparently fronted up with a Mercedes engined racer at one of the regattas in 1915? and turned in a terrific speed. If you can believe the newspapers, it was up there with world wide efforts. Where did that engine come from and where is it now? (Not too long a spiel for you Alan?)


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