Esperanza II

details ex ken Ricketts, edited by Alan H. photos ex B Worthington

The story of how Esperanza II, an American Chris Craft arrived in NZ started in about 1948 when the Fuller family of the Bay of Islands had an American couple, fly over here, to go game fishing on one of their charter boats.

They (probably Snooks Fuller) met the couple personally & instantly hit it off & became instant friends. As a result of this, the extremely wealthily Americans invited them back to America, to stay as their guests, at their waterfront mansion. They accepted & in due course fulfilled the invitation & were amazed at everything the saw. Their hosts had numerous cars, mostly Cadillacs & several boats, one of which was a fabulous virtually brand new 36 foot Chris Craft launch, which was tied up at the bottom of their garden.

They went out & about in the hosts cars & one day the hosts asked the Fullers if they liked the car they were in that day & of course they said they did & their hosts said words to the effect, “well you better take it home with you.” The Fullers naturally thought the hosts  were just joking & passed it over.

In the next day or two they went out in the Chris Craft & of course that was out of this world for them, the like of which they probably had never seen in NZ. Once again they were asked if they liked it & of course they said – they loved it, so once again, the hosts said to the effect, “well you better take it home with you.”

Very shortly after they returned home, they got official documents telling them that the car & the boat were on their way to NZ. The Fullers must have been blown away with the Americans generosity.

Esperanza II became the ultimate luxury game boat of her era in “The Bay,” with many dignitaries & prominent guests aboard. She was originally a fairly fast boat, powered by 2 very large Chris Craft V8 petrol engines, when she arrived, these were eventually replaced with Ford diesels.

From the photos above, taken over the years,  it appears that she is still alive & well & Ken understands she was in Whangamata fairly recently for a period & is possibly in Auckland these days.

The details of the above ‘story’ were told to Kens family in the 1950’s by friends of the Fullers. Can any one confirm & add more details from her past?

16 thoughts on “Esperanza II

  1. Pingback: Esperanza II | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  2. Esperanza II – Ray Morey would have known Esperanza’s history, Ray is extremely knowledgeable regarding boats of that era. He probably carried out maintenance on it when it arrived in the Bay of Islands. Ray is a relative of mine and is a genius with older engines, petrol or diesel. As a kid most of my Saturdays were spent fishing out of the Bay of Islands with my father and his fishing buddy, Vern Wallace. We would often see Esperanza II on her way going fishing, always a pretty boat with her varnished sides and blue hard top. Vern had a copy of an American ‘Dunphy’ runabout built by Burt Baxter in Paihia, the original was owned by an American living in Otehei Bay. It took a lot pf persuading to get the ‘Dunphy’ out of the Americans shed to measure it up. Another very pretty boat, totally varnished.
    Kind Regards
    Mike Beaver


  3. Hi everyone, it is very interesting to read the differing experiences of owners and those lucky enough to have, and still could go fishing/boating in a very fine vessel the likes of Esperanza11.
    I too spoke to Snooks re: the vessel I had recently purchased from Whangamata which was in a bit of a sorry state, she had 2x100hp “D” series Fords with the Lees conversion and looked unloved however, over the next 16 months and almost new topsides and hull members we turned her into a Princess complete with Flybridge and I still miss her to this day! the photo at left is Esperanza11 finished and on the sales Berth at Pine Harbour Marina.


  4. Hi there folks, When I worked on “Esperanza” I am sure she had one straight 8 chrysler royal and one 40hp ford(stbd side) Snooks bet me I couldn’t get the chrysler going, but I did. I am also sure Dr Petit brought her out because the previous year he had chartered one of the old Fuller boats and wanted a little more comfort, that’s how she entered the country. regards ray


  5. Yes … if woodies want a smile they should look up Maine Lobsterboat racing, in particular -you tube Galen Alleys ‘Foolish Pleasure” conventional build and shaft driven!


  6. Hi James,
    just imagine if today she came motoring past looking as gorgeous as that and what if I had kept my first car a 1970 HT Holden Kingswood Biege with all chromed bits.

    My first thoughts were to mention the American, Free Boats website.
    They generally have a lot of these for free and as you say very original still. I note a 1962 Chris Craft Constallation 36 in New York with Chryslers 318 and just used last season, for free.

    I thought it might be nice to see Esperanza II but I think I would only be disappointed by the kiwi modifications, which I think come about as a consequence of our climate and through not knowing any differently.
    Perhaps Katy’s and your Laughing Lady might start a revival here.


  7. It’s so interesting to see how much kiwis are happy to change the configuration of boats over the years to suit needs and how they are operated. Quite the opposite to the states where you will find the boats in generally worse condition but largely original. I know these old Chris craft express cruisers had a lot of chine & log issues but are fairly easy to re-bottom cold molded. I wonder what sort of condition she is in these days.

    Pam I know exactly what your thinking with the removable top…. Hot molded cedar with a minimum of spruce framing would have been likely.


  8. I like her original configuration.
    I also like the optional hard top. It pretty much seems to hover there. I would imagine it would be laminated, real timber or plywood and would have the minimum amount of framing on the under side but it also features a rolled edge. Easy to make in fibreglass / composite but this was built previous to fibreglass.
    She’s pretty cool.


  9. I had a chat with Snooks Fuller after reading this. He confirmed the story about the boat’s arrival from the US but not about the car. At the time Snooks was skipper of the Lady Doreen and Jack Hives, of Russell, was his first deckie. When the Esperanza II arrived Jack Hives became her first skipper.


  10. Ray Morey told me a version of the same story. The American was Dr. Paul Pettit who “gave” the Chris-Craft to Snooks Fuller. To be cynical, there was no way in Hell, short of being a primary producer with qualifying overseas funds, that anyone could buy and import the boat (let alone the car) from the US at that time.


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