Venture – Sailing Sunday

Bucklands Beach – c.1968

VENTURE – Sailing Sunday photos & detail ex Don Ross ex Merv Stockley. With lots of input from Harold Kidd The history of Venture (E38) goes something like this – she started life as a carvel lifeboat built on the Northern Wairoa by Barbour then was converted to a keel yacht by Bob Shakespear. Alan Coates (later a Magistrate) owned her about 1931 and sold her to Dick Bakewell in 1936. Harold imagines Dick sold her on when he bought JEANETTE from Ted Le Huquet in 1948. Don Ross purchased her from Dick Bakewell about 1939-40 (dates a bit out, but you get that), Don thinks she was built of island kauri and thought she had been built in the islands and sailed to NZ, this contradicts Harold’s records but Don’s version is only ‘dock chat’. She was only 18ft and a carvel double-ender. Don later swapped Venture’ for the launch Ngaroma from Snow Harris who Don believes was a well known yachtie in Mullety circles from Auckland. At the time Snow lived at Hansen’s Island (after Charlie Hansen had passed on) and wanted a yacht instead of a launch. Don lived for most of his younger years in Auckland and sailed all round the Gulf. One of his favourite trips was to sail up to Hansen’s Island for the weekend. He has a number of letters from Charlie Hansen. In 1949 Don,his wife and daughter Lyn headed off to Whitianga in Ngaroma where he used her for game fishing until 1962. Merv Stockley believes they saw Venture up on Bucklands Beach in Auckland around 1968 and took the above photos. Some of her original keel had been removed then. Merv has commented that of all Don’s boats Venture was closest to his heart as he & his late wife, Joan,  did a lot of sailing in Venture & he would love to know if she is still around. Harold Kidd Input Merv is undoubtedly right that Don bought her from Dick Bakewell c1939. My date of 1948 was the most recent limit date, logically. The first mention of her I can find (amongst a scrum of other VENTUREs) is in 1933 when she took part in an Otahuhu Sailing Club race to Bucklands Beach, so she was obviously up the Tamaki at that time. Dick Bakewell told me she was built by Barbour as a lifeboat for ARATAPU which he built in 1878, a sister-ship to HUIA. ARATAPU was sold overseas in 1932, so that kind of works. Did I say Alan Coates owned her in 1931? All I know about his ownership is that he sold her to Dick Bakewell in 1936. Alan was a keen yachtsman in his earlier days and was associated with the Richmond, Otahuhu and Manukau clubs.Lovely bloke. It’s possible that he bought her when ARATAPU was sold, and had Bob Shakespear convert her to a deadwood keeler, but that’s conjecture. She was registered as E38 when it became necessary to wear sail numbers during WW2. Update from Russell Ward – 12-05-2015 1987 photo below of Venture moored at Okahu Bay, off the slipway over towards Pooh Pt. Russell had just launched SL Gypsy and admired Venture’s style. In typical Mr Ward style he warns us to not get sidetracked by the elegant steamer centre frame 🙂

30 thoughts on “Venture – Sailing Sunday

  1. C’mon and get her! Any pix Murray?
    HDK, I checked in my ring binder containing all the issues of Traditional Boats -The Journal of the Traditional Small Craft Society, around the time SL Gypsy was launched 19 June 1988. No obvious adverts mentioning a boat of Venture’s specs in the issues round that time BUT in issue 49 from Oct 1988 we see
    DOUBLE-ENDED SURFBOAT. 20ft 6 in x 7ft 6 in. Carvel planked, external ballast, varnished mast and boom. Complete with sails, rigging and self-steering. Cruised Tonga 87. $2250 neg.
    Now that is interesting: You wouldn’t sail one of those to Tonga and I seem to have little bells ringing in the frontal lobes about the Tongan conection. I know that Pete McCurdy told me that Venture’s owner had made contact and placed the advert. He gave me his contact number. Pete and I had discussed her as we steamed past in Gypsy earlier and hence he rang me because of my interest.
    The guy did want to sell, worked for Ilford (or Agfa) said she was not a good sailer and the price was around $2K. I did see him and went aboard with him. But she was not for me. Not a family sailer.

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  2. Re Venture an extremely similar boat on the hard at Norsand yard Whangarei currently

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  3. Harold is exactly right re builder launch date and engines, I was the fourth owner however she was only 17 ‘ 6″ long back then! Last seen on a trailer in Matakana, a great little ship for fishing, Rangi and back for 80cents in the 90’s . Very very similar to an early Phil Bolger design, and before anyone asks no nothing like a Roy Parris design.

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  4. Wow. An old pic and a roll call started already! Well done, Murray. I better scan the other pix, all of which have this lovely little steamer in the centre. We can have a bit of fun…..

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  5. wow in that typical Okahu Bay shot you got left to right Wakatoa, Grey Lady and my old Little Jo right behind the steamer.

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  6. I agree, Harold. The prevailing feeling in Trad Small Craft was spirited optimism. Yuh gotta acc-ent-uate the positive and all that. There were learned bits in there -some fine articles.
    I modelled SL Gypsy on the lines of the Adams Island skiff that were published in Trad Small Craft. Plans for hulls suitable for steam were very rare way back then. Dave Jackson made some mods and Gypsy was the result.
    I think it was an important publication in that it coordinated a group of like minded enthusiasts, many of whom we still see at Whangateau and other gatherings.
    That can’t be all wrong.

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  7. Ok, I understand what you are saying Harold. What I like about Pete is he had a talent, creating the journal, and he used it to inspire a community of traditional small craft owners to come together. Any awareness brought to the beauty and use of those crafts was a good thing. Perhaps some nz heritage boats were preserved over that time of his writeings and forming of the loose club, though in a much smaller way than that of what yourself and Robin and a couple of others have achieved.

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  8. Venture is in one of the pix that was taken on the day of Gypsy’s launch. A blustery choppy day -I had not planned to launch Gypsy and just had her in steam to show the lads. I ran her down to the water on the trailer so I could mark the waterline and next thing I knew, we had been steaming around for three hours.
    Yep Venture (or maybe I should say “my recollection of her” in case HDK is right) was in one of the pix as I recall. It was not published in the mag.

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  9. Pam, I think Russell is mistaken. I entered all the info in all of the Traditional Boat mags into my database but didn’t enter that piece. However, in issue 40, there was a piece on Peter Mander’s X Class VENTURE.
    A lot of the material in those mags was wild-eyed “Hell, I wuz there” type anecdote and should be treated cum grano salis despite the fact that it was all new and wonderful at the time.

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  10. Merv, Glad Don got some return from his efforts! The publication Trad Small Craft stopped when Pete McCurdy took over as curator at the fledgling Maritime Museum Hobson Wharf. His duties cut into his time a lot. It was a shame because it was a good yeasty brew each month or so. He said he had enough copy for one last issue and we are still waiting and hoping 20 years on!
    He is involved with the steam ferry Toroa and you could get in touch with him through the society.
    I will keep digging for the picture of Gypsy’s first steam. Venture was in the background. Cheers!

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  11. Thanks Garth. I printed out Rahemo 2 to show Don. He never moved on to scuba gear himself. I have done a lot of diving including scuba and remember diving with others who had the original Cousteau double hose gear. I was mostly into snorkel diving and did a lot of spearfishing and cray diving from mid 60’s to mid 80’s. Don’t do any diving now.

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  12. Don was diving for bottles from around 1945 to 1950 approx. He retrieved them by the boatload took them home for a clean up and then traded them for the deposit. He also remembers being engaged by a launch owner who had capsized a large dinghy load of spirits along side the launch. While Don was retrieving this for him the owner of the indicated he was not happy with the price Don had suggested so a portion of the booty was left on the bottom for later recovery.
    `Venture’. In your earlier post you mentioned she was offered to you in 1987. Would love to see the picture you have and try to find out more about that owner and where she may be now. Would be great to be able to find `Venture’ for Don. I am interested too in the Traditional Small Craft publication you mention. Is it still around? Tried an internet search and came up with results from the US but not here.

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  13. The general word going round Bon Accord in the ’60s was that many of the bottles were quite abraded from their time on the bottom of Mansion House Bay and couldn’t simply be returned for the penny a bottle deposit. Would have been fun to see how deep the pile of glass was!

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  14. Don, see the “Rahemo #2 Post” for another cracking photo of early diving in NZ. Stoked to find someone else in WW who might actually be interested…

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  15. Diving was very much a minority sport in those days. Great to see snaps as good as those. Clearly Venture was a very useful sloop.

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  16. Just after World War 2 it was. A British frogman gave Don the suit and helmets etc and he made up his own hand pump which is seen in the photo of diving using the `Venture’ as mother ship. Don remembers the friend he is handing gear up to was Marsden Fountain but he cannot remember who was on the pump. (He’s 92 now.) The are some other photos from this era of Don diving. He mostly used to go to Kawau and places where boaties did a fair bit of drinking and collected the bottles for their scrap value. He also did some small salvage jobs.

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  17. Have you a year for the bottle searchers? That must be one of the best pioneering photos of early commercial diving in NZ. Surface supply by hand pump! Did they make a fortune?

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  18. Thanks for your input Harold. You must have great records and an all absorbing interest to collect and collate all the info you contribute.
    Really interesting that she was built as a lifeboat for Aratapu, sister ship to the `Huia’. Have recently read some info on the building and life of the `Huia’.

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  19. Merv is undoubtedly right that Don bought her from Dick Bakewell c1939. My date of 1948 was the most recent limit date, logically. The first mention of her I can find (amongst a scrum of other VENTUREs) is in 1933 when she took part in an Otahuhu Sailing Club race to Bucklands Beach, so she was obviously up the Tamaki at that time. Dick Bakewell told me she was built by Barbour as a lifeboat for ARATAPU which he built in 1878, a sister-ship to HUIA.
    ARATAPU was sold overseas in 1932, so that kind of works.
    Did I say Alan Coates owned her in 1931? All I know about his ownership is that he sold her to Dick Bakewell in 1936. Alan was a keen yachtsman in his earlier days and was associated with the Richmond, Otahuhu and Manukau clubs.Lovely bloke. It’s possible that he bought her when ARATAPU was sold, and had Bob Shakespear convert her to a deadwood keeler, but that’s conjecture.
    She was registered as E38 when it became necessary to wear sail numbers during WW2.

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  20. She was in Okahu Bay off the slipway over towards Pooh Pt. I had just launched SL Gypsy in 1987 and admired her style.
    She was later advertised in Trad Small Craft and I made contact with her owner who worked at Ilfords. She was without engine and he reckoned she didn’t point too well -I guess the keel was long gone.
    He offered her to me but much as I liked her, I declined. I have a pic of her and will dig it out.

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  21. Thanks for confirming the beach location. I knew it was one of Aucklands eastern beaches but having never resided in Auckland was unsure just where I took those old pictures. I should have said `an’ eastern beach which is what I meant.
    Thank you.

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  22. Don’t like to be the nit pick, but that’s Bucklands Beach. Almost looks to me like she may have come off a mooring there.

    Thanks James – I have amended it from Eastern to Bucklands Beach. AH

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