El Alamein / Ranui


EL ALAMEIN (now RANUI)

Photos ex owner Sarah Looner & details ex Ken Ricketts, edited by Alan H

Ranui (originally named El Alamein) is 32’ with a 10’ 6” beam & was built in Auckland by Mac McGeady (Supreme Craft) & launched on the 29th January 1945, for the use of returned servicemen from World War II, who were convalescing at Rotorua Convalescent Hospital. She was built for & by donated the Patriotic Fund, of the Joint Council of the Red Cross & St John, with a shallow draft for her day & designed specifically for use on Lake Rotoiti & was capable of seating up to 40 people. The handing over ceremony was apparently a very formal occasion, according to newspaper writings of the day, with dignitaries of the era, of the ilk of the late Sir Earnest Davis, in attendance.

She was originally built as an open boat, with a smallish cabin, as per the photo & with a bunk room forward.

For the first 4 years of her life Ranui was captained by a William Pollock, & was apparently a familiar sight on the lake, carrying up to 40 convalescing soldiers, many in wheelchairs, on lake excursions, as part of their rehabilitation, to help ease them back in to civilian life.

As the numbers of ex service patients had dropped off by 1949, Ranui was sold in August 1949, to a Ron Martin & the proceeds of the sale, were returned to the Patriotic Fund. He had her trucked to Lake Taupo on the 24th August 1949. Ken feels that it was probably Ron Martin who changed her name from El Alamein to RANUI. He also had a full cabin top fitted to her, 2 years after purchase, by a long time local resident Noel East & was also the first person to have her surveyed.

The next owner, was from Hawkes bay, who used her privately, before on selling her to one of Taupo’s most well known commercial boat operators, Jim Storey. He had her surveyed again & used her for many years commercially, taking fisher people & tour parties sightseeing or fishing on Lake Taupo.

In 1980 Graham Twiss purchased her & he continued what Jim Storey had started for another 34 years.

These days she is maritime surveyed for 23 passengers & has recently been refurbished & revived by the present owners Jamie & Sarah Looner & is looking rather smart.

 NOTE: She is recorded as having a 15 hp engine when built, & Ken would like to make a deviation to the story to explain what he believes is the situation & details of the “15hp” engine. Up to the mid/later 1940s, many British made engines, had their horsepower rated on the English, “RAC” rating basis, which is quite different from the now almost universal, “SAE” rating basis of today, worldwide. For example we had the 1937 Austin 7’s & 1946 Morris Eight cars rated on the RAC system, & by the late 1940s we had the Austin A40’s being 40 hp on the SAE rating, (about 12 to 14 hp on the RAC rating). Ken believes the El Alamein/Ranui originally had a British made engine, RAC rated, as she would have hardly moved with an SAE rated “15hp engine.” The 15hp RAC engine, would have been around 40 to 60 hp on the present day rating system. A Ford diesel presently powers her.

Now a totally random question 🙂 Pam at the Whangatea Traditional Boat yard picked the below up on trademe – unusual font, anyone able to say which Ranui this was off, if a boat – could have been from the west Auckland Ranui area. photo

Photo below taken by Ken Ricketts in Feb. 2013 @ Lake Taupo

11 thoughts on “El Alamein / Ranui

  1. Pingback: 1945 – 32′ Classic Kauri Launch | waitematawoodys.com #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  2. Pingback: El Alamein | waitematawoodys.com #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  3. Pingback: Services Convalescent Hospital & Its Boats | waitematawoodys.com #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  4. Hi Paul, thank you for replying. Not good about the fire but will be interesting if any of the family members do have any photos. 😃

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  5. Dear Karen. Thank you for your e-mail. Unfortunately if the family did have any photos of the “El Alamein” back then – they would have been lost in our Taupo holiday home fire about 10 years ago. However that said – there may very well be members of Noel East’s family who have photos. While I’ve not spoken with any of them for many years – I’ll try and “track” any remaining descendants down. Regards Paul

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  6. Hi Paul, do you or family happen to have any photos of those days you went out on El Alamein as a boy or any other photos of her?

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  7. May I extend on behalf of my family our sincere thanks to Jamie and Sarah Looner for their continued perseveration of this motor vessel that back in the 1950’s and early 60’s bought some much please to me as a small boy. Amongst the vessel’s former owners was my family’s cousin Noel East who would take us out on the lake for a weekend’s fishing expedition. Where after a day’s fishing he’d pull into one of those remote western bays for the night, a BBQ on the lake shore, a small drift wood fire going and the smell of freshly cooking trout. What wonder memories you have bought back as I read through the history of a motor launch I knew as the “El Alamein”. My understanding of its name (from memory) I recall my parents asking Noel why the launch was called the El Alamein. In his reply he said he’d named it after the famous North African battle, which seemed to have held some significance for him. Perhaps he may have been at that battle himself or had a relative who fought there. As an aside Noel East was almost 100 years of age when he died in Tauranga Hospital on the 6th Jan 1999. By strange coincidence, the name “Ranui” also has an association with my extended family in that they call their property on the Western Hills of the Hutt Valley “Ranui”.
    Go well and enjoy your sailing days – kind regards
    Paul London

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  8. Pam’s sign is in an art nouveau font which puts it around 1900. My guess is that it’s a house sign for a 1900-period villa.

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  9. EL ALAMEIN retained her name for a long time after arriving at Taupo. I think it was probably Jim Storey who changed her name to RANUI.

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