Max Carter & His Boats


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Max Carter & His Boats
details & photos from Chris McMullen, edited by Alan Houghton
(remember to click on photos to enlarge)

Max Carter was responsible for building a huge number of boats of all sizes in a relatively short time, refer lists below. Chris believes that Max producing his modified H-28 /29ft was the first serious attempt at building stock keel boats in New Zealand. Back then there were no fibre glass boats, no marinas and no travel-lifts in NZ. The industry was experimenting with epoxy resin & glass cloth.
Max was supported by Consolidated Chemicals (Epiglass), the Colmore William’s Bros & their ceo Trevor Geldard. The P-Class & other small boats listed below in big numbers were kit sets for amateur construction. These boats also used up what would have been waste wood in the yard. The idea was to introduce young people to sailing & ensure a future for the marine industry. It certainly worked, but Max never benefited from his effort.

When Chris was reviewing Max’s files he found  a copy of a 1989 New Zealand Power Boat Magazine, which he  had never seen it before. There is an article on Sandy Sands and Sea Craft.  It talks about how Sea Craft increased their productivity by using methods learned by Sandy Sands while working for Uffa Fox. Chris’s previous  observation about a possible Fox connection was right. Sandy Sands commented in the article “without people you have nothing”.  Max realized the value of his skilled staff and treated them as friends. He stayed in contact with many for almost fifty years. There was a list of his ex employees and their addresses amongst his files.
When you consider the age of these photos the presence of all the health and safety gear – fluro jackets, disposable overalls & hard hats really stands out. Chris commented that there was the odd accident but nothing really serious.

All Max’s boats were built from medium kauri treated and will last forever (well a very long time). He had huge stocks of timber. At the time most boat builders built hull’s & decks & the owners finished them in their back yard. Max did some hull’s but mainly catered for the few that could afford a finished product.
The shed photos above are more reminiscent of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, Bristol, Rhode Island. While Max was way ahead of his time, unfortunately, New Zealand’s economy and small population was such that his operation could not survive. Sadly but wisely he closed the doors, sold the plant and leased the buildings.

To read the eulogy Chris McMullen gave at Max Carter’s funeral, click the blue link below

https://waitematawoodys.com/2016/07/26/a-eulogy-to-max-carter-by-chris-mcmullen/

Chris McMullen’s comments about the photos:

The photo with the 1/2 model is Max with Les Holt. Of significance in the photo is that the model was made by Chris. It was the Pipe Dream design featured in Francis Kinney’s book. The new version of ‘Skenes Elements of Yacht Design’.
The portrait photo of Max shows the MY Du Fresne in the back ground. The yacht on the hard stand is the Rainbow II. Max has written on the back of the photo. “Built in seven weeks after lofting.! “
Another photo shows the kit set boat production. No CNC machinery, just a good man (Lindsey Stone) on the spindle moulder shown in the left of the photo.
Another photo shows Max with his long time friend Laurie Davidson.
The Stewart 28 is the Hop Scotch.
Seems there are huge gaps. Photographers were always at the yard. Chris believes some photos were lost.
Orinda and White Mischief were both Max’s designs maybe 40 years apart.
The brand new Northerner struck Bollen’s Rock while racing through Tiri Channel. Her first race! Max was her skipper for the day. She was raised and repaired like new. Capt Warwick Dunsford, Owner Boyd Hargrave with the binoculars. (more photos & press clippings below)
The H-29 was an H-28 with the sheer raised. It was an attempt to build a small(ready to sail) keel yacht that people could afford. Tom Beaton, Bryan
Williams and Nick Panich in the photo.
The Du Fresne was built for Mr J M Butland and the first H-29 for his son Mr JR. Du Fresne was a Laurent Giles design. The Butland Family were a well known boating people Thetis, Titan, Sirdar, Dufresne DurVille, Inverness and the brigantine Fritha were commissioned by the family.
The Ta Aroa was a 60 foot Sparkman and Stephens design. A beautiful yacht built for Mr Doug Bremner. She had one of the first imported aluminium masts. A single spreader rig.
The Calypso shown being launched with a crane was built for Max’s own use.
The same design shown under construction is the Tamure. This was a Max Carter
design & the second NZ yacht to do a circum navigation of the world. She
was owned by the late Jerry Challet & Mac Nell. boatbuilder, Dave Baxter
was on the crew. From memory (marine engineer) Terry Burling was part owner
or crew.
All the big Carter boats were launched by the A.H.B floating crane. There were no travel-lifts. Note the ships in the background.

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The Sinking, Re-floating & Repair of Northener

Article below from the New Zealand Exporter magazine that tells the story about
the H-29 better.  In the photo of the three builders bending steamed ribs on a H-29 they are from the left – the
late Eric Wing, Chris McMullen and Peter Sowman.

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Check out the 1967 Prices

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09-08-2016 A Tribute To Max Carter – by Nigel Armitage
Below is a link (in blue) to a downloadable file of rather nice tribute to Max Carter by Nigel Armitage. Nigel worked with Max on the replica scow ‘Ted Ashby’ project that he and Max were very involved in together at the Hobson wharf, Maritime Museum. Its an insight into the amazing work Max did.

A tribute to Max Carter

5 thoughts on “Max Carter & His Boats

  1. Great tribute to a man of real knowledge, Max was always ready to explore new ways of doing things if he could see an improvement to be had. Whether it was epoxy and composite boatbuilding or better engineering for the pleasure canal barges, if you could argue your case backed up with practicality he would look at it . I very much enjoyed working with him on diverse projects over the years.

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  2. Great tribute to a good guy. Max built one and a half boats for my father – Boyd Hargrave. Many stories about Max doing the best for his employees, and for his customers. Max sailed with us for several years after launching Northerner including Balokovic Cup. Many memories, even now. Don Hargrave

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  3. Interesting browsing the list, noting a couple of apparent omissions/corrections.
    Friends of our family had a 37′ keeler in the early 70’s named Coronet that was designed and built by Max around 1967.
    Odette is a Bob Stewart design, a Stewart 34/Patiki hull with a Camelot style cabin top, all designed by Bob

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