VARLENE (Lady Sunshine)
photos & details ex Ken Ricketts
Varlene is approx. 36′ long, was originally called Lady Sunshine & built by Mac McGeady at his Summer St, Ponsonby premises. She was one of the comparatively few bridge-deckers he built. She was built for the Tucker Bros., who were food manufacturers (Sunshine jellies etc), hence the name of the boat.
She was bought by Com Hardley, of Hardleys the Newmarket Plumbing Merchants c.1946 & Ken thinks they may have changed the name to Varlene. They owned her for several years & spent quite a lot of time & money on her enhancing her individuality & styling.
The Hardley’s sold her to H T Morton of Cliff Ave., Belmont c.1949. Morton had previously owned the launch ‘Spindrift’. He was lawyer & private pilot & owned his own aircraft since the 1920s. Morton was also a property developer & Varlene Tce. in Mairangi Bay was named after the boat, Morton Ave Glenfield, after him & Dianna Drive, Glenfield, after one of his daughters, Dr Dianna Morton & Rosalind Ave, after his other daughter. The boat & family were real identities on Auckland’s North Shore.
Ken cruised on Varlene with Morton a number of times in the early to mid 1950s & cared for the boat for 6 months in 1952 whilst he was overseas.
He sold her in the 1950s & Ken lost track of her until Fred Hildich owned her for a shortish period after he sold the ‘Gulf Star’ in the 1980s.
Ken thinks there has perhaps been some minor changes to the bridgedeck in the photo above from original, as remembers her original bridgedeck was a little “squarer” on the corners, but this may perhaps just be due to some remedial or repair work, it is so minor. Also the aft cabin windows seemed to have 2 longer ones, rather than the 3 she had in the 1950s photo of her rear end.
She had a 4 cyl Ailsa Craig diesel when Ken knew her first, in 1946 (which was probably her original engine) & this was replaced some time later with a 6 cyl Ford which she had in the 1980s.
Got to like the kids dinghy race 🙂 AH