El Alamein / 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

18 thoughts on “El Alamein / Ranui

  1. Pingback: El Alamein > Ranui On Lake Taupo | waitematawoodys.com #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  2. I have two photos of myself and my parents on the lake holding huge yummy healthy trout ready for bringing home to eat and smoke…. We lived in Fletcher Street Taupo & my father Percy William Arnold owned “Arnolds Cabinet Supplies” he also built the new upper cabins as seen in my photos and this was done shortly after purchase by my Grandfather Noel Clifton East. The photos I have also have the launch named as El Elamein after the WW2 battle….
    Following our move to Tauranga from Taupo we returned to holiday each year at the control gate council park and without fail would take a trip out on the lake with Pop East & the family and without fail always caught rainbow trout….such a treat to eat !!! I had also thought that Noel East initiated the name change to Ranui later in his ownership which was shared with his second son Kevan East who had always been a keen launch man but was previously a deer culler and possum trapper and exporter of furs to the USA. Pop East retired and moved to Tauranga leaving the Ranui in the ownership of son Kevan. In our many return trips over the years we always went to see the marina and check on Ranui and the last time the owner who was onboard that day said he was selling. Next thing we see Ranui has been refloated at the Hokianga Harbour and she is looking like a jewel of the sea…. Amazing to see her still doing charter work and such a nice full story from taking care of returned servicemen & women to now bringing pleasure to so many more in a place that deserves such a beautiful old vessel. Wishing the new owners the very best and I will be up to see her from Auckland/Orkland in the future !!! Kind regards Terry Arnold Grandson of Noel Clifton East


  3. Pingback: Ranui Rejoins The Work Force | waitematawoodys.com #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  4. I love this!!! And I wonder if her name was derived from Egypt being WW2. I wonder too if Dimitri is a relation, being an Edmonds myself. great work guys!!!


  5. Ranui has a new home. She is now resides on the beautiful Hokianga harbour, Her new owners, Siobhan Hall and Dimitri Edmonds have kept her in survey, where Ranui will extend the Coast to Coast cycle trail that currently ends in Horeke. Ranui will ferry a cyclists and their cycles on a comfortable and scenic trip across the harbour to either Kohukohu or Rawene, both historic settlements in the far north.


  6. The Hastings Man was my grandfather Thomas Morris . He owned El Alamein then bought Medway. Medway has been shipped North


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

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

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

  10. 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. 😃


  11. 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


  12. 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?


  13. 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


  14. 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.


  15. 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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