Stella


STELLA
details & photos ex Judith Wallath

Stella was built by Lanes of Totara North in the mid 1950s.  Benjamin (Ben) Le Clerc, farmer of Otara, Helena Bay, bought her from Lanes.  Stella was 32 ft, built of kauri, with a petrol motor and set up as a game boat.  Later, while moored at Helena Bay, a petrol explosion occurred which blew out the forward hatch.  She sat on the beach for three months while having a 40 h,p, diesel motor installed.
Disaster struck again on the 21st April 1963 when Ben was returning from a fishing trip with eight men on board, and a catch of 13 hapuka.  The boat hit a rock off the Wide Berth (Limerick, Rimiriki) Islands.  A mayday signal was sent which was picked up at Russell and Port Charles.  In the meantime the boat broke up and the men clambered onto a rock.  The first to answer the mayday call were Jack Foote of Footes Bay and Mr J.D Prestney, manager of Mimiwhangata.  A runabout was sent out, which laboured to the mainland with 11 people on board.  Mr Prestney was off-loaded at Mimiwhangata.  He raced to his Landrover and flashed his headlights to attract the attention of the Kitty Vane which was approaching from Tutukaka.
Meanwhile the other ten proceeded towards Helena Bay where disaster struck again. The runabout struck a submerged reef and began to sink.  All had to abandon ship once again and cling to a small dinghy which was being towed.  It was 3 a.m. before they reached the mainland again.  21 year old Glenys Foote was the heroine of the event.  She rowed the dinghy that transferred the men from the rocks to the runabout, and then later rowed the 8 men to shore while Ben swam.

So woodys can anyone add to the history of Stella. Was she salvaged or slipped away to Davey Jones locker? There is some confusion as to her length some say 32′ others 38′, can anyone confirm?

Harold Kidd Input

STELLA apparently WAS a total loss when she went aground on the Limericks, Wide Berth Island, on 21/4/1963, that is according to Madge Malcolm’s book “Where it all began”, but the wreck doesn’t appear in “Shipwrecks of NZ”. She was then owned by B.C. Le Clerc of Helena Bay and was a 38ft bridgedecker. I think she was probably supplied by Lanes at Totara North but was undoubtedly built by Lanes at Auckland, despite the Sam Ford-type waist windows.

7 thoughts on “Stella

  1. There were a number I think, I’m sure Mark lane can enlighten us… My favourite was the big twin cockpit speedboat kept in a shed near the Totara North shop.

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  2. Well there you go! I’m delighted at being corrected. I guess my vision is very narrow and “Lanes” to me = “Lane Motor Boat Co” of Mechanics Bay and later the Tamaki River.

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  3. Harold, Brian Lane was building on his own account at Totara North through the 1950’s. He built the “Ngapuhi” W.H.B. standby pilot boat (built as “Waihau” for his own use) about 1955, power was twin early 4-71 GM’s, repowered with new 4-71N Detroit’s in 1966 when I was there, and still going strong. I think B.L. may have built “North Star” there for Joe Harris in the mid 1950’s

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  4. They did, ask Mark Lane. But yes this boat has a similar bow and porthole arrangement to a big Auckland Lane on Half Moon Bay

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  5. Lanes at Totara North didn’t build any launches after 1907 as far as I understand it. All their launch building activities were carried out in Auckland from then on. Even the Lanes’ Mill’s own 1914 launch MAPU was built in Auckland by Lanes at Kings Drive in Mechanics Bay. However, Lanes at Totara North took the orders and the launches were motored up to their Northland owners. For example JEANETTE was built in Auckland despite what the owners say. It’s easy to understand their confusion.

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  6. Hullo Harold, I am repeating this as I am unsure if my earlier reply reached you. re Stella. Peter, Ben Le Clerc’s son told me that her length was 32 ft but she looks more like Madge Malcolm’s 38ft in the photo. Unfortunately, Stella was a total loss and it was very hard for Ben to find pieces of her washed up on the beach at his farm. Anyone who has experienced the loss of their boat will understand. Peter said that he understood she was built by Lane’s at Totara North. Judith W

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  7. STELLA apparently WAS a total loss when she went aground on the Limericks, Wide Berth Island, on 21/4/1963, that is according to Madge Malcolm’s book “Where it all began”, but the wreck doesn’t appear in “Shipwrecks of NZ”. She was then owned by B.C. Le Clerc of Helena Bay and was a 38ft bridgedecker. I think she was probably supplied by Lanes at Totara North but was undoubtedly built by Lanes at Auckland, despite the Sam Ford-type waist windows.

    Like

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