Little Tasman

details from Russell Ward

Russell was the bearer of some great news last week – the Colin Wild built Little Tasman, has found a new owner. Over the last few years numerious woodys have sent me photos of Little Tasman hauled out at Point Wells. I’m told a while ago a 4sale sign appeared, now I wish I had know – there are a few woodys out there that would have snapped up a Colin Wild built launch with the provenance that LT has. Wild built her for Albert Spencer & she was called Tasman & was a trial for his next (larger) boat also called Tasman so #1 then became Little Tasman. In the sepia photo above she looks to have a good turn of speed – I don’t imagine Albert Spencer would not have been chugging around the harbour at 7 knots 🙂

I’ll let Russell time his tale about Little Tasman.

“My memories of her go back to the mid ‘60s when all was Radio Hauraki, psychedelia, Beach Boys, Strolling Bones and Beatles. Oh and sheilas. Boats were somewhere in there and Bon Accord harbour was the stage. Mansion House was still privately run and the authorities didn’t know about the “Snake Pit”. There were usually several mullet boats nosed into the beach and crews in varying stages of recovery/rehydration. You couldn’t get your anchor to hold reliably in the bay because of all the bottles on the bottom!

The Kawau Yacht Club was pretty moribund, although the AMYC were making preliminaries to taking it on (my old man was on the committee of AMYC) so we had great hopes.
Mrs Lidgard was in residence, Skip Lawler had the Fairmile Ngaroma alongside the wharf for a while, and the Comettis had a fantastic garden. My potted history of the Christmas holidays.

The Ward family (no relation) had Little Tasman at that time and it was party time. If I said that one of the mullet  boats that had rafted alongside one memorable noisy night, was pushing off at just before sunrise because “they didn’t want to get us mulletties a bad name”, you get the picture.

But enough of that (it was just to get the old salts of Cobweb Corner reminiscing about their misspent youths). I have always been keen on machinery and when Harold Kidd mentioned that Little Tasman had a Stearns, I wondered what sort of engine they made. No pictures in my books. It was pretty obvious that there must have been classy because they were going into classy boats. American of course. And Stearns Knight made sleeve valve engines for their cars, the assumption that there was a connection was there. But no, no relation.

I contacted an old colleague in the US to see what he could find. And Richard Durgee sent me a raft of pics and adverts (refer below). They are 1924 and 26 so just right timing. I am fascinated that they have an amazingly modern head. Prod rod of course and the combustion chamber apparently in the piston.  You remember –what the Chrysler invented in the ‘70s for the Chrysler Hemi! Nuthin’ new out there, son. ’S all been dun before apart from nukes. Most marine engines were side valve –slower flame propagation and plenty of low down torque”.

Remember click image to enlarge

14 thoughts on “Little Tasman

  1. Pingback: Little Tasman Out Of The Shed | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  2. Pingback: Little Tasman | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  3. Pingback: Little Tasman Gets Some Serious TLC | – the #1 classic wooden boat blog

  4. It’s been a while (in the ‘life of an acquisition’ terms), any updates and photos on where she has gone, what the plan/scope is?

    This is the interesting stuff that keeps these old boats relevant more so than recall of what engine she had in 1969 I reckon


  5. Owned by my father Roy Pippen around 1950 I have photos of the boat from then with the varnished coamings.


  6. PS That “amazingly modern head” was similar to that used by the ohv Nash 4’s from 1921 and the 6’s shortly afterwards, although they had much more generous port areas. Russell will probably recall the indecent amount of power I used to extract from my 1925 Special Six Nash roadster by the simple expedient of using modern 3 1/8″ invar-strutted aluminium pistons with a higher gudgeon height to raise the compression to 8 to 1? That provided 85bhp at the back wheels.


  7. The original engine was a “60hp medium duty” (I suppose an MHR) when she was launched in December 1925 but that was replaced in August 1926 with another Stearns, probably of 110hp. The important point about Stearns engines in NZ is that H.O. Wiles was their local agent and sold them on POWER and CLASS. He fitted one to his THISTLE (later LADY MARGARET I) and everyone wanted one.


  8. Remember her off Akarana jetty for a while in the late eighties, might be a long haul for the Kawau race N.


  9. What a great walk down memory lane Russell, I re-lived every word you wrote, as I read them tonight, you indeed were putting in to words what many thousands of us probably all shared, enjoyed with all our hearts, felt a little guilty about perhaps, sometimes, (& suffered a little the next day sometimes as well), in those fabulous days, that still seem like yesterday, to me at least, & obviously you as well.
    Thanks again for the really great little read. KEN RICKETTS


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