St. Clair

St Clair
photos & details from owner John Newton

The 34′ sedan St Clair was built for Lionel Barney by Brin Wilson in 1956 and is kauri carvel construction. ww readers may recall that it was used as a ferry for St Clair lodge at Vivian Bay on Kawau Island . Piers Barney who runs Norma Jean charters has recollections of collecting passengers from Sandspit when he was 10 years old, Piers had to stand on a soap box to see out of the wheel house.

She was surveyed for 39 passengers to Kawau limits and amazingly carried up to 20  x 44 gallon drums of diesel for generators and bags of wheat and meal for all the chooks and muscovy ducks at the lodge, so a really solid little launch.

Piers father Lionel used to enjoy racing it in fun races against other boats off Kawau Island Yacht Club where she did very well reportedly getting up to 13 knts with a 100hp Ford engine. She hasn’t seen that sort of speed since, perhaps because of the new heavier sedan cabin.

St Clair was bought by John and Helen Hager and refitted to a comfortable sedan in 2006 by Robertsons Boats. Current owners John & Natasha Newton bought her in 2011.

2 thoughts on “St. Clair

  1. The refurbishment was carried out a year or two earlier than stated as George was still working for Conrad and we lived close by.
    We have fond memories of John, Helen, St Claire being in Robertsons yard. John himself had stripped the old cabin in preparation for the new, seeing the good in the cabin beams he had given them to George for the extension to Fiona Ellen’s cabin.
    Martin Robertson and Ian Reid stood the new cabin up, boat builder John Porter ( ex Voss ) I recall also worked on her.
    I recall being in the shop when discussions were had, with John and the boatbuilders, in the design stages for the cabin-side profile and window shaping. A plywood pattern was stood on the hull and some pretty in depth discussion and opinions put forward as to just how many windows were to be placed along the side.
    John was a wonderful man, and slotted right in with the guys in the smoko room, some times Helen would join them. Saint Claire is a tribute and a blessed little boat.


  2. Must say this is a real “Cinderella” transformation, & one for a change, where the new is much better than the original, having been a very plain work boat, she has been beautifully transformed in to a lovely classically styled cruiser.

    I’ve known St Clair since new, — (She towed a fuel barge on a suspended tow from the Sandspit wharf one day, c. Christmas 1969 & with the strong current, the barge dragged across the bow of our GAY DAWN, which was anchored downstream from the wharf, doing substantial damage to the stem), — a real naughty for someone with Lionel B’s, knowledge & experience. however ST CLAIR looks absolutely beautiful now, & is a great credit to all associated with her. — KEN RICKETTS


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