photos & details ex Lyn McGeady, Karen Moren, Brian Worthington, Sea Spray Magazine & Ken Ricketts. edited by AH
Altair was launched on 30th November 1961 by the floating crane at Auckland, having been one of the later boats built at 1A Summer St Ponsonby by Mac McGeady, (Supreme Craft), as production ceased in 1965. She was built for Stan Horner.
Altair is 43′ x 12′ 6″ beam, is single skin with 1 & ¼” kauri planking, mahogany coamings, laminated marine plywood cabin tops, supported by laminated mahogany beams & kauri decks. She was powered by twin 6 cyl., 100hp, 590E, naturally aspirated, Ford diesels, fitted with Paragon 2 to 1 gear box & reduction gears. The engines were marinised & supplied by John W Andrew Ltd when launched & installed by Tracey Nelson. Cruising speed was originally 9½ knots at 1800 RPM over the measured mile.
She is one of the comparatively small number of bridgedeckers designed & built by McGeady & is probably one of the best examples of this concept he ever created. The interior is all mahogany & the layout was done by Stan Horner for their family needs. The majority of the interior was carpeted. One interesting feature is that she has “round” portholes in the flare of the bow, a rare departure from the McGeady “trademark” of the “oblong” concept as used an almost all of his boats post WWII.
Below are photos of the log she was created from, not many boats can trace their provenance this far back.
02-02-22 Input From Bryce Strong
Upon reading the Feb. 2022 Boating NZ article on Altair, put pen to paper to in his eyes ‘balance the article’ – read Bryce’s words below.
“I believe I am qualified to comment as I had a very close relationship with a previous owner of Altair, and my brother Grant and myself served on board for the 5 years that she acted as a Coastguard cutter during their ownership. Additionally I owned two boats (Apache and Matira) at separate times, and they were moored at Clevedon alongside Altair at this owners property.Altair has certainly had more than four owners.
As per the article, she was built for Stan Horner, and while I do not know all subsequent owners, she was at one stage owned by an airline pilot in the Picton/Nelson area, (he had bought Altair in Auckland and moved her down there) and it was from him that Murray and Judy Inglis purchased Altair. They were the owners of M & J Inglis Transport in Auckland, a mid-sized carrier transporting foodstuffs throughout New Zealand. I am not sure of the exact dates, but it was likely around 1986, and they owned Altair until approx. 2007, so their ownership spanned a period of about 21 years. Murray and Judy sold Altair to the son of a friend around 2007, and for some time she was moored at Westhaven. Later I heard that she had been on-sold to a cabinetmaker? She has probably had 7-8 owners.
Of all the owners after Stan Horner, Murray and Judy probably carried out the most maintenance and improvements to Altair. When they bought she had twin Ford 6 cylinder engines that were getting tired, and after 2-3 years ownership Murray had them removed and replaced with the new Cummins engines and new gearboxes. And in later years he engaged a great boatbuilder, Wayne Avery, to construct the covered-in flybridge. Their home was alongside the Clevedon River, and Wayne and Murray mocked up full-sized panels in the silhouette shape of the flybridge, fixed them to the old flybridge, and then stood back on the adjoining main road to review and modify the shape until they were happy with the result. I believe that while it altered the previous long and low shape of Altair, it proved to be a great safe and dry place from which to helm her!
Wayne Avery also carried out the replacement of a major section of the foredeck at a later stage. Murray also had the teak handrails and SS stanchions installed.
I first met them in Islington Bay in 1987, and we became friends and boated together a lot over the ensuing years. In the time when private boats were used as rescue vessels, they decide to offer Altair to Coastguard, and the four of us served about every 3- 4 weeks for five years. Murray was a very good skipper, handling Altair expertly. Murray and Judy loved Altair very much, and used her very regularly. They were Members of the Akarana Cruising Club, and hosted some of a group of Americans who visited New Zealand. They took a couple on Altair for a cruise of the Hauraki Gulf. Later their hospitality was reciprocated in Seattle.
I am glad that the photo book of the tree and her construction have followed Altair, as it is indeed great provenance. However I doubt if Altair is indeed 50 foot LOA. I understood that she was 42-43 feet at launch, and later 4 foot was added to the stern, to make the present stern cockpit. Perhaps a measure will show the actuality.
Jack Taylor must of been quite old and forgetful when he made his comments on Altair, as I remember him inspecting Altair on the hard at Murrays home, so he certainly knew her, and he also socialised with Murray and Judy at their home on several occasions. He was a good surveyor and a nice chap.
It is great to see that Altair continues to be lucky – in the hands of owners who have the enthusiasm and the means to maintain and improve her, as these lovely classic wooden boats need and deserve.”