Blitzen


BLITZEN
photos ex Ken Ricketts. details anonymous (not KR)

The above photos of Blitzen were taken while hauled out at Gulf Harbour recently. There is a lot of dockside ‘stories’ about Blitzen’s past & ww would love to find of more about this vessel.
Said to be a Salthouse design.
Many moon’s ago a new owner was heading away on a xmas cruise & an engine blow off Northhead so they aborted the trip & returned to the marina. Vessel hauled out & then spent the next 5+ years in a shed during which time she underwent the most amazing restoration, its said that her interior is like a piano. The craftsman working on her would send one day on one floorboard.

Fast forward to relaunch day & someone commented to the owner that with that new cabin superstructure that had been added she would trip over. So Blitzen was parked on a marina at Orakai & never left the marina. Dates are lazy, but the fact that she is now at Gulf Harbour provens the merchant of gloom was wrong.

So woodys – what do we know about Blitzen & is the above true?

Summary of info from the comments section

John Salthouse’s much used note book states that 53ft Blitzen was launched Dec ’73 and was Salthouse Bros 89th build. She was built right way up, two diagonals and a fore and aft, red lead and rivots, no glue for Rex & Ian Heavens, of Heavens Farms Maramarua.

Blitzen was owned for years by the Velas, and Brian McCurrah did the big refurb, on their property, situated where Westgate is now.. He was/is very good. A kauri boardroom table he did for Lion Nathan head office, is now in the Kauri museum, next to Robert Brookes sailing dinghy.
She spent much time in Westhaven, then Westpark.
Blitzen is presently owned by Ian Midgley who lives at the Hibiscus Coast

Photo below Whangaroa 1977, ex Nathan Herbert

42 thoughts on “Blitzen

  1. Hi Alan,

    I am the grandson of Pauls Nola who owned the boat for many years. He’d love to get in touch with you to tell you more about Blitzen.

    Can you please let me know how best for him to reach you.

    Cheers
    Nick

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  2. Hi
    Interested to read about Blitzen. I worked on her build from start to launch day.
    I have a few photos of her if anyone is interested.
    Geoff Armitage
    Ph or text 0272977225

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  3. Hi there – this is my dad’s boat and his pride and joy – i am sure he would be more than happy to provide any information and updates as the boat has had quite a bit of work done to it over the past decade. Mored up north.

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  4. Celeste was built by Shaltinin & Brice. 42 ft. steel hull powered by 2 fordson major tractor engines. Twin screw / twin rudder. She was very manoeuvrable. The anchor winch was a modified aircraft generator ( by Ted Clarke & Rex )

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  5. The engines were Leyland Beaver Truck engines marinised by Lees Marine in Takanini. They were overhauled after the Blitzen was sunk in Tutukaka ( around 1975 ) hitting a rock in the entrance. She was patched and towed to Auckland by Ted Clarke in the Lady Margaret. She was stripped out at the Panmure wharf (below the old bridge ) and towed to the Lanes Boatyard where the bow was rebuilt. The engines were lifted out and sent to Lees for overhaul. I’m Rex & Ian’s nephew, Peter Shanks. I spent time helping Rex with the boat.

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  6. Must say I do prefer the original as well, not that it matters. Great to see she is still being cared for.

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  7. Celeste was a steel hulled launch, built at Te Atatu in 1961 or 1962. by Someone? and Bryce or Brice. She was finished by a Norwegian ? fitter, who did all the woodwork. He hired a slip from Salthouse’s and that is where Ian and Rex met the Salthouse Bros.,, who subsequently built the Blitzen. in the early 70’s This is info from Ian’s only son, who was 12 or 13 when the Celeste was built.

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  8. Leyland Motors history as gleaned from Google;

    Leyland Motors’ companies in 1968

    These companies were owned by Leyland Motors at the time of the merger with British Motor Holdings
    • AEC
    • Albion Motors
    • Alford and Alder
    • Alvis
    • Auto Body Dies
    • Aveling-Barford
    • Barfords of Belton
    • Beans Industries
    • British Gear Grinding and Manufacturing Co
    • Butec
    • Charles H. Roe
    • Forward Radiator Co
    • Goodwin Barsby and Co
    • Grantham Electrical Engineering Co
    • Invicta Bridge and Engineering Co
    • Leyland Gas Turbines
    • Maudslay Motor Co
    • Newton and Bennett
    • Park Royal Vehicles
    • Power Jacks
    • Rover
    • Rover Gas Turbines
    • Scammell
    • Self-Changing Gears
    • Standard-Triumph International
    • Thornycroft
    • West Yorkshire Foundries

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  9. As a result of your comments Raewyn I have researched the Leyland history & discovered that by the time your fathers boat was built the company was in fact a conglomerate of a number of acquisitions & take overs & AEC & Thornycroft were par of the group along with the name of Leyland, however there is no doubt in my mind, that these engines were actually labelled Thornycroft AEC, notwithstanding the association of Leyland,
    Leyland acquired AEC in 1962 & ceased using the AEC name in 1977.
    Trust this will help a little with your concerns & any confusion .
    Do you by chance have any model details?– KEN R

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  10. Ian was my father and yes Celeste was also built by Salthouses, she was a 42 foot steel hull.

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  11. Celeste was built in the early 6o’s for Ian and Rex Heaven near Henderson. They also did build the Blitzen,, It was built by Salthouse Bros on the North Shore.
    K. Heaven

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  12. Nicely corrected re Bailey / Bailey lowe. I need a slap for wrong parentage info.
    Should know better considering the good ship DOROTHY M built for the Munroe family by Chas Bailey is in our stable of pure breeds.

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  13. OOPS …mix up of Baileys……that trawler was MELODEON and was built by Chas. Bailey & Sons Ltd in 1935 for W C Mills & Sons of Devonport who had ROMANCE II built by Bailey & Lowe.

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  14. Ok, with Paul Gilbert’s memory oops cleared up & confirmed by Cameron Pollard, the ownership of Blitzen, looks something like this :-
    Rex & Ian Heavens > Paul Nola*> Ian Midgley

    *Paul Nola was mixed up in Polar Products. An Auckland based fishing company. They owned among others the Bailey and Lowe built Melodean trawler.

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  15. Don’t agree on this occasion Barb, I feel she is one of the very few boats that have accepted her new “wheelhouse,” in place of the flying bridge, & still makes her look as if it could be original.

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  16. The bridge area with the contrasting varnish and white coamings looks great, like a CC etc. This is 20 years after the Col Wild launches, you would hope for newer influences by then…

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  17. There’s no doubt she will be a beautiful ship and probably more functional but I prefer her original appearance. She’s lost that lovely classical (and as Murray comments) regal appeal.

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  18. edited by Alan H
    Ken Ricketts reports on a phone conversation with the present owner of Blitzen, Ian Midgley. Ian believes that she has had only 3 owners in her life, the first being the Heaven Brothers who had her built by Salthouses, the second being Paul Nola, who owned her for about 15 years & then sold her to Ian M in 1995. (can anyone confirm the Velas ownership, mentioned by Paul Gilbert?)
    Ian put her in a shed not too long after he bought her, at what is now Westgate, where she remained for 13 years during which time she had a massive refurbish restoration & upgrade.
    He told Ken she is 3 skins of Kauri, is now 57 feet long after an addition to the rear end of about 4′, & creation of a cockpit. She has also had the hull splined & fibreglassed.
    The present upper wheelhouse was designed jointly by Salthouses & Ian & added by Ian.

    She has also during Ian’s ownership had a total refit of the interior by Brian McCurrah. The attention to detail is said to be amazing e.g. 9 months spent preparing & spraying coat after coat to the interior finishes.
    Blitzen still has her 2 original Thornycroft AEC Marine Diesels which Ian has had totally rebuilt, the engines were downrated to 165HP each from new. She has also had a bow thruster fitted.
    Blitzen was returned to the water in 2008 & now calls Gulf Harbour home.

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  19. Had either AEC diesels or Leyland diesels fitted
    The Velas bought two 6lx Gardners for her but never got around to fitting them.

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  20. EEK, I missed that when I went through his list!
    Mind you I was really looking for yachts……….

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  21. Yes she looked very regal and imposing coming into a bay in the late 70’s early 80’s with the original cabin layout. Of course the average boat was smaller then….

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  22. Yes, correct. John Salthouse’s much used note book states that 53ft Blitzen was launched Dec ’73 and was Salthouse Bros 89th build.

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  23. Designed by Bob Salthouse and built by Salthouse Bros. at Greenhithe for Rex and Ian Heaven. Built right way up, two diagonals and a fore and aft, red lead and rivots, no glue. Launched as Blitzen early 70s. Think she may have started life with a pair of Listers

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  24. I think so too. Styling has the sheer of Turongo and co, single rudder of Kotanui (or did Turongo have this too?) and flying bridge and lower saloon/cabin styling similar to Wakanui and Lysander. Which to me may come from early Chris Crafts.

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  25. Footnote to me previous, — BLITZEN’S rudder & propellers are tucked underneath 2 or 3 feet & I think she has had a small piece added on to the back end — (like many other boats)

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  26. BLITZEN is presently owned by Ian Midgley who lives at the Hibiscus Coast, whom I have been talking to briefly, & will be having a more indepth discussion with tonight — so will update further, later in the day — KEN R

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  27. Blitzen was owned for years by the Velas, and Brian McCurrah did the big refurb, on their property, situated where Westgate is now.. He was/is very good. A kauri boardroom table he did for Lion Nathan head office, is now in the Kauri museum, next to Robert Brookes sailing dinghy.
    She spent much time in Westhaven, then Westpark..

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  28. I can’t help much except that
    1. As BLITZEN she’s not on the Salthouses’ list of builds
    2. The Heavens had CELESTE built in the late 60s, but not by Salthouses.

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  29. Good morning all, Blitzen was as you say, a salthouse build, for the then owner Rex Heavens and family, of Heavens Farms Maramarua. I built the fuel and water tanks and other work ( Morris Sheetmetal Works Ltd ) for Rex. I believe on a Christmas cruise she did encounter a couple of nasties whilst entering Tutukaka, but was soon repaired. Thinking back, she may have been built in the 70’s.

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