Sea Devil



Just when you think you know most of the restored classic launches out there, a ‘where-did-that-come-from’ slides into the bay.
Sea Devil dropped anchor alongside myself & Lady Margaret in Oneroa on Saturday. As Sgt. Shultz used to say in Hogans Heros – I know nothing about her but given she was flagging the RNZYS & Kawau Boating Club burgees someone out there must know her.

Her tram-top / doghouse configuration was a topic of conversation aboard Lady Margaret, there is a lot happening there but for a boat of her size it seems to work.

26-02-2016 update – photos below ex Harold Kidd during her ‘recent’ refit.



12 thoughts on “Sea Devil

  1. Pingback: Skipjack | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  2. That’s very helpful. The Hoey family were well-known in Whangarei so it won’t be that hard to track down her builder which may well have been one of the three Auckland bailey family boatbuilding firms at the time, Chas. Bailey Jr, Bailey & Lowe and Bailey & Tyer. Gaelic for “Sea Devil” is something like DIABHIL MARA (I’m not sure how that language is inflected, but it’s quite close to Latin). So I think the racehorse connection is correct.
    I’ll keep digging. Trouble is that, if she was built in 1918/9, the Auckland papers were full of the dreadful Spanish ‘Flu epidemic and didn’t give much space to fripperies like launches being built for Whangarei owners.


  3. Gidday Harold and Alan,

    Thank you for the information so far, my name is Brent Gribble and we have owned Sea Devil for 8 years – I had a little bit of emails with you when we took her over. Vern Tonks was the rebuilder of her in Oakura north of Whangarei, but he passed away before finishing her. He put a name inside her which was Sea Devil 1912 – Wilde Boat Builder, but this was wrong. Through some of my Whangarei contacts (boat builders) I tracked down the Grandson of the original owner Winston Hoey, who said that the boat was in his family from new for 48 years and his Grandfather James got it built by a Bailey boat builder in Auckland for him and his son Cecil circa 1918. She was originally called Dea De’il, Gaylic I was told for Sea Devil. They used her as a pleasure boat to get to the family batch at Retahi where their was a meet works?

    He had photos of her with the original cabin and second cabin. When it was sold out the Hoey family, she had a third cabin which went rotten and the boat was then kept on a front yard for 20 or so years until Vern took her, gutted her and rebuilt her, with the 4th current cabin.

    She is a great boat for the two of us, I have her listed for the last year on Trade Me with Photos if you search for Sea Devil, just in case someone is interested in taking her over, but we will keep her and care for her and use her the most we can until the next care taker.

    We nearly lost her when the Japanese earthquake cause the tidal surges into Tutakaka. She was en route to Whangaroa for the Classic Boats Fishing Competition, which was what Vern Tonks was building her to take to. We took her up twice for the competition. Here is the link to the new article.- If she did not have the side covers over the cockpit I think she may have sunk, because could see that the water had been about 20 cm above the cockpit combing.

    She is our first launch, and was pretty much the first launch I had been on as our family always had sailing yachts. We finished off the project from Vern with my father Peter and Boat Builder Steve Ekman to make some project with my dads retirement.

    Regards Brent and Sarinan Gribble


  4. I’ve sent Alan some images of SE DE’IL’s recent reconstruction from which you’ll see that the dee-front cabin top and the rest of her above-sheer structure are quite new.


  5. Some sort of metaphor for escape perhaps? But yes, not really that PC a thing to do back then I expect…
    Somewhat akin to renaming Lady Margaret as MV Kim Jong-un today, he also hasn’t killed any Kiwi’s, is liked by a few and considered a despot by most. The question is…would she be Kim Jong-un I or II ?

    Either way I wouldn’t feel very patriotic about it.


  6. I doubt it Peter. I did expect an enlightened individual to raise that point. Although von Luckner was reasonably well thought of in this country at the time as he hadn’t actually killed any Kiwis, he was still the recent enemy, however chivalrous, and there were many returned WW1 soldiers (like my father) who couldn’t stomach the boches. von Luckner traded on what regard there was here for him when he returned in the late 1930s on a thinly disguised Nazi spying mission.
    Anyway, the spelling of her name used to be SEA DE’IL which was the race-horse’s spelling.


  7. Could she have been named after the famous/infamous Count Felix Von Luckner aka the Sea Devil? He was kicking around these parts and escaping from our internment camp on Motuihe in 1917. I doubt it would have been seen as very patriotic at the time but maybe..?


  8. PS She was obviously named (renamed?) after the well-known race-horse SEA DE’IL which was a prominent hurdler from 1914 onwards.
    Several other boats were named after the horse as well, an Auckland square-bilge 14 footer Y Class yacht of 1921, a Johnson-powered outboard racer of 1928 and an Evans Bay Tauranga 7 footer of 1932,


  9. SEA DEVIL aka SEA DE’IL seems to have lived in Whangarei all her life until recently. She was on TradeMe last year as built by “Bailey” in 1912. My earliest entry for the boat under that name is in 1924 when she entered the Whangarei Regatta cruiser launch race owned by one “J Hosy” and next in 1925 when the Northern Advocate reported her at Manganese Point. I have correspondence somewhere which leads me to think she was homebuilt in Whangarei by Hosy/Hosey/Howse, but happy to be corrected.


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