photos & details ex Sea Spray (c1958 & April 1965) & Ken Ricketts ex Brian Worthington

Voyageur was built for Jack Lewis, the M.D. of Lewis Motors Ltd., the North Shore Ford franchise holders back in the 50s (later to become Lyon Motors).

She was originally 40′ by 14′ 2″ beam & 3′ 4″ draft, with a high performance hard chine hull, designed & built By T.K. Atkinson at Browns Bay & launched in either late 1958 or early 1959.

When launched she had 2 x 86 HP 6 Cyl naturally aspirated Ford diesels for which Jack L., was North Shore agent, driving through 2 to 1 reduction Vee drives, with the engines under the cockpit/sundeck floor.

Ken was aboard Voyageur (see below) when she was only 3 weeks old, in Little Muddy Bay Waiheke & commented that her finish had “Rolls Royce” perfection, in every aspect, with all the very latest mod. cons., of that era. She was in her original format a  huge volume boat, & as it stated in Sea Spray, at the time, more like a flat than a boat, from a space perspective, with a 12′ by 13′ 6″ main cabin & the  cockpit being 11′ by 6′.  She was in many ways, ahead of her time. Absolutely everyone knew about her, even before she hit the water. Even today, she appears as a modern, high performance boat.

With her comparatively very small 172horse power, she cruised comfortably at 10 & ½ knots, at 2000 rpm, with a top speed of 12 ½ knots, through 23 x 21 props., at just 1 & ¼ gallons of fuel per hour each engine, cruising.

Jack L. decided c 1964 to extend her rear end by 8 feet, once again Atkinson was commissioned to do this. Ken recalls vividly the day in early 1965  that he & his lifelong friend Lloyd Burnand,  went to see Jack, to buy the 6 cyl Ford, for the boat Lloyd was building (Pearl Diver) & Jack insisted on taking them in his brand new red & cream Mk II Ford Zodiac, out to Browns Bay to see the work in progress on Voyageur. Ken recalls the work was being done to the very highest standards, in every respect. He told us, it was his intention to re-engine her, with 3 new larger engines, fitting a additional one in the middle. Can anyone confirm this happened?

Below is Kens story of how he came to board Voyageur post an oops moment

“About 40 or so of us boaties, were sitting in our boats about 6 pm, preparing dinner, on a lovely flat calm Saturday evening, in Little Muddy Bay, Waiheke Island, minding our own business, when suddenly without warning, 2 launches appeared from around the point on the eastern end of the bay, travelling side by side at high speed, less than 1 km off the point. – To say we were all amazed would have been an understatement.
One was Albie Lemmon, in his fairly knew lovely c40 foot sedan topper, powered by 2 x Kermath vee driven petrol engines (the name of which escapes me), which later was sadly destroyed by fire, & yes you’ve guessed it, the other was the brand new VOYAGEUR, which most of us had never seen before. About 500 to 600 metres past the bay, they slowed down, from what had obviously been a little probably impromptu race between them, – they knew each other well, & then VOYAGEUR came in to the far western end of the bay, at the slowest of slow idles, & anchored all by themselves, in complete isolation.
Notwithstanding the huge wash that had destroyed the peace of the bay for that inevitable minute or so, & probably upset a few pots on stoves as well, my fiancé & I, leapt in to our dinghy, fired up the trusty Seagull,  & zipped over to have a look at “God’s latest creation,” & as we circled her from a discrete distance of about 50 m., Jack beckoned us with enthusiasm, to come closer. When we reached the stern he could hardly wait to invite us aboard, which would have been partly because he was naturally very proud of his new toy, but more especially it seemed, it was to apologise profusely to us as individuals for what he had just done. – He said, as we had thought, that as they sped past, he had not given a seconds thought to their wash & inevitable result. He said he was deeply embarrassed, ashamed, & confused about what to do next. He asked me if I thought he should go to all the individual boats in the bay to apologise, but I said, as we all knew this was his first foray into the world of boating, & he had just made one of the mistakes, we all make, in our early learning days, ( & which many of us can continue to do occasionally, right through our boating lives), & I told him I felt that everyone would forgive him & by the next morning, it would all be forgotten, & indeed this proved to be the case. – I never heard it mentioned by anybody ever.”

14 thoughts on “Voyageur

  1. Pingback: Voyageur – A Very Big Woody | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  2. Idiot broker has her listed for sale as a Chris Craft. No problems listing my Landcruiser as a Patrol then I guess?


  3. Atkinson also built the launch Shalom. I believe it was intended for himself and it sat at the back of the shed and he would set a few of the team to work on it when the opportunity arose. World renowned designer Ron Holland served his apprenticeship under Atkinson as did Kerry Alexander.


  4. Wonderful. Thank you gentlemen. It is sssooo good to have the wonderful woodys brains trust, that exists, for times like this, when one knows, that, as in this case, Atkinson just had to have done some really good work, & I just hadn’t come across it personally, & of course am most impressed with his excellent pedigree. No wonder he did such a great job on VOYAGEUR — KEN R


  5. As for launches he built, besides VOYAGEUR (normally recorded as VOYAGER) for Darkie Lewis in 1957, he built BELLBIRD (1950), DORADO (1959), KARAMANA (about the 4th) for Cadman (1959), KERERU (1963), MANUNUI (1977), MANU-ITI (1964), MAHANUI (1977), RAWHETU (1958) and TYRO (1964)


  6. He also started the M class construction revival in the 70’s-80’s which carried on with Owen Reids great work.


  7. How much time have you got? Keith Atkinson was a very prolific builder, mainly of yachts, and one of the few that Des Townson permitted to build to his designs. I first came across him racing 12 footers with the old Pennant Class when he was espousing the English National 12 Class which were just drays compared to what we were building. Think Cherub!


  8. I was just thinking — have never heard of any of other the work of T K Atkinson before or after this masterful creation of futuristic thinking. can anyone fill in any gaps? — KEN R


  9. Fantastic guys — would you believe Harold I took a pic of one of the Stella Maris’s at lunchtime today so will email to to you & see if you can tell me which one it is — KEN R


  10. The same Voyageur now with flybridge on the end of A (or B) pier at Westhaven? Just inside Valhalla I think, I have been admiring her for a while thinking by crikey that looks like a hell of a good sea boat. She looks strong.


  11. Perhaps Albie Lemon’s boat was the first STELLA MARIS? She’s still around, however.


  12. A very different and bigger ship now, rescued in the mid eighties by Johnny Tabla with Brown and Miller boatbuilders doing the work she was largely rebuilt and strengthened at huge expense. John has remained loyal to his ship and kept up with her needs for many years now, there was a trip to the Mediterranean planned however I am not sure if that came off.


  13. I remember seeing her first at Motuihi in 1960 -pre lengthening. Very impressed. Have a lasting memory of her having glazed and panelled doors aft of the dodger which would have improved the liveability at times. Looks so much better with the extension. Used to moor off Devonport. Wonder where she is now.


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