Kiakoa & Alberta 1923 Summer Cruise

2016-06-30 19.25.42

Alberta & Kiakoa – Stone Store, Kerikeri Basin 1923



Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 7.09.29 AM

Kiakoa & Alberta – Kerikeri Basin 1923


Janet Watkin (nee Pickmere) the daughter of AH Pickmere*, son of AR Pickmere, was sorting through her Dad’s diaries & boxes of old glass plates & uncovered the collection above. They show the two launches Kiakore & Alberta on their 1923 northern waters summer cruise, Janet commented to me that these two boats were typical of the cruising fleets of the day but by today’s standards, small!.

*AH Pickmere is of course the author of the famous Atlas of North Auckland Waters
I’ll let Janet & their father tell the story -enjoy 🙂


Crews: Kiakoa – AR Pickmere & family; Alberta –Palmer Family.

Introduction by Janet Watkin

KIAKOA: a double ended launch built in 1906 by Bailey & Lowe for AR Pickmere of Whangarei.

 Length 32 feet, 8ft Beam, Moulded Depth 3ft 6 in., Draught 2 ft. (From original plans now owned by JW. AR Pickmere bought the Winsome in 1924 and for a short time the family cruised in both launches. In 1926 Kiakoa was sold and no more is known of her. Winsome is still in the family and now owned by ARP’s grandson, DH Pickmere. The Pickmere boat sheds were on their property and the last ones up the river. J.W.

ALBERTA was built as a flushdecker by H.N. Burgess at Judges Bay in December 1913 and fitted with a 6/8 hp Automatic engine for which Burgess was the Auckland agent. A. Parsons of Ponsonby was her first owner. In 1914 she was repowered with a Model M Scripps from Lanes. From 1918 she was in Whangarei owned by the Palmer family. Maurice Reynolds bought her in 1959 and rebuilt her, then sold her in 1961. (From H.Kidd, Waitemata Woody.) Alberta lived in a boatshed on the banks of the Hatea River below the Palmers’ house at the end of Pentland Road and was still owned by the Palmer family until bought by the Maurice Reynolds. On the Winsome we cruised with Alberta in the 1950s when still owned by the Palmer Family & then when by Maurice Reynolds. Many of the boat sheds at the “bottom of the owners’ gardens” on the banks of the Hatea River were removed when the Eastern Bypass was built. When the new bridge at the Town Basin was built with less clearance, the few that remained gave way. J.W.

These Notes are from the Diary of AH Pickmere, ARP’s son, and the photos are from the original glass plates taken on that cruise by Mrs ARP. Kiakoa lived in a boat shed at the bottom of the Pickmere garden. The spelling of some places vary but are as written. Mr Palmer was a photographer and Eastwood Palmer, his son, became a Jeweller. J.W.



20     Carried gear, provisions, benzine, bedding etc down to launch. Tidied up. … to Town Wharf where we got water. Left Home 11.45. Palmers – Alberta – were gone when we passed their place. (Got poles for canopy) Anchored for night at Onerahi.

21     Left 6.a.m. for Urquharts Bay where we found Palmers on Alberta, Jean II & Ranoni. We went for a walk ashore and started stowing gear and tidying up. Went over to Calliope Island. North Easterly blowing. Dad caught some schnapper – finished tidying up. Alberta tied up to Urquhart’s Wharf. Went round to Taurikura to see the Footes….Went to top of hill with Mr Gurr & Robin & Geoff who were going shooting……Back to Urquharts Wharf.. The wind continued strong so we decided not to go north tonight. Anchored for night on edge of Calliope Bank. I got up about midnight in a gale to take down the canopy we had rigged about midday.

22     Tidied Engine room ….. then we all went over to Robinson’s Beach to have look at the sea. Wind slowly dropping: decided to go on that night for Tutukaka – returned to the boats. Frenchman 4.45 p.m., Bream Head 5.20, Tutu’ Hd 7.40 p.m. (Jean II & Ranoni left earlier in the day for Barrier.) Everybody sick except Mr Palmer, his baby and me. Lovely trip up – got to Tutu’ about dusk and anchored near Opaia for the night. Towed dinghy. Big NE swell.

23     Left 6.10 a.m. for Whangaruru – inside Elizabeth Reef and Wide Berths – Beautiful trip. Carried dinghy on deck – nobody sick. Had a good swim in Post Office Bay & wash in fresh water. Lunch – Left 12 noon for Cape Brett. I slept on & off between Whangaruru & Whangamumu. Felt all right till we got round the Cape. Slow trip in with kelp round propeller. I was sick when we got into a horrible side roll off Deep Water Cove – wind NE. Carried dinghy on cabin top. Hove to inside a little Bay facing SW, Oruapukapuka Is. Went ashore and had a good walk around. Fished all round the bay but no luck. Bacon & Eggs for tea.

24     Dad, Ma, Mr Palmer & I went for a walk right to the summit of the island – kids played in the sand. Had a swim then lunch. Left about 3.0 p.m. for Russell – caught small kingfish on the way. Wind northerly, Anchored near wharf, phoned home, Had a walk ashore – church and round block,

25     Went over to Oneroa Beach in morning – H.rain – wind shifted. Got letter and papers. Left for Opua during a NW squall – pretty thick. Went up the hill at Opua – Got fresh milk at Morris’s on top of hill – nice view. Anchored for night at bay at Opua.

26     Ashore early for milk, water and groceries. I fished off wharf and got some little snapper. Palmers had their washing on deck. Left about 1.0 for Waitangi – went up to the falls where mother got some photos. Left Waitangi about 3.45 p.m. – anchored at Paihia, walked ashore, had a look at old printing house ruins & the township. Met the Halls & Mrs May, Went into old church and had a look around. Back to Russell & anchored inside Hananui for night.

27     Up Flagstaff Hill at 6.0 a.m. called at church coming back, alongside wharf after breakfast, Got provisions – kerosene, soft drinks, bread etc, Eastwood Palmer & I had a swim & a sunbath & got very sunburnt. Blow & a friend came aboard to see the boat and engine. In afternoon got water at Watering Bay – others had swim, Mrs P did some more washing, Strong gust of wind overhills – NW – anchored for night at Matauhi Bay. Dr Hope came and told us we were too close to the beach – shifted out a bit. Palmers gave us some music on the gramophone.

28     Got milk in morning, Left Matauhi at 10.00 a.m. Passed Russell at 10.15, went up to Kerikeri – slight NE roll. Picked our way up with the aid of the Chart & Blows directions. Tied up to olden wooden pier in front of old stone building. Had a look around & a swim in the basin and in the pool above the bridge – had a good wash. Anchored launches together in pool just below bridge. Left for falls – missed our direction and got to the small falls 40ft (Fairy Falls) instead of the large 90ft (Kerikeri falls). Mrs P had a bad fall and hurt her back so she had difficulty in walking back – disgusting & annoying trip!. Returned to boats – walked up and saw old church – had another good swim. Left KK about 6.0 p.m Got down to a little sheltered bay at entrance to Kerikeri River. Anchored for night.

29     Beautiful Day. Palmers left early to get back to Russell & Dr. They got Mrs P ashore on to a bed in S.A nursing home. We left later – Dolly P with us. Went down to Marsden Cross – The Doris followed us with a party from the Gables – landed and had a look around. Went up towards Te Puna into a little land locked Bay – lunch – up past Te Puna – passed Doris coming down. Chased Kahawai N of Moturoa on way back to Russell – no luck. Lot of kelp – got some on prop. Anchored in Watering Bay & got water. Went over to wharf then anchored off P.O.

30     Left Russell 6.0 a.m. during fog for Opua – just missed train, went back to Russell – had another walk round Russell. Blow came over in his launch & asked me to tea. Discussed falls. – we went to the wrong ones. Went to Opua at 3.30 for case of fruit. Phoned home. Eastwood & Dolly with us. Towed Dr J.M.Hope in his dinghy to Nobbie’s Island to his launch. Dad went aboard with him and over to his place in Matauhi Bay – went throu’ his workshop etc. We went on to Russell. Tea at Gables – soup – Roast beef & baked spuds – apple pie – coffee. F.M. & I walked round promenade – over to Matauhi – round rocks and back to Russell Beach. Had Ice creams on wharf from Taylor’s Confec. Supper – Lemonade – watermelon, cake, Shortbread etc. F.M. showed me a lot of curios – embryo whale etc and old books. Katie got fish for tea from tourist’s catch left on wharf steps. Mrs P. better. Mr P & Eastwood were on board during evening. Dad caught 6 good schnapper at 11.0 p.m. they were biting freely.

31     Cloudy. We shifted to just east of Mill Island to escape odours from rubbish fire on beach. Palmers got water. Back to Russell wharf in afternoon – got stores. Left about 4.30 p.m. for Oruapukapuka. Breeze NE – freshening considerably. Storm came on – Heavy Gale.

February 1923

1     Furious gale & rain all day. Tremendous swell outside – slight roll on the Bay. Very thick spray and foam blowing up the 100 foot cliffs. Lay at anchor all day – 2 anchors out. Could not see more than half a mile to windward from cliffs. Cleared up towards sunset – wind veering to west. On board nearly all day. Katie got mushrooms. Wind quietened down at night and rain ceased.

2     Wind SW and S, Fine, sunshine, strong breeze. Left Oruapukapuka Bay 9.55 a.m. – Twins 10.30, Cape 10.55, I was seasick off Bird Rock. Big northerly swell. Carried dinghy upside down across cockpit. Strange jobble at Cape – quite calm south of cape to Whangamumu (12 noon) where we tied up to the whaling station wharf and got ashore on the hauling up slipway – had a look through station – very interesting and hot. Several men there filling barrels with whale oil ready for shipment on coaster that afternoon. The old Maori workman there explained everything and gave us some whale-bone teeth from the humpbacks. Left Whangamumu 12.40 p.m. – quite an interesting trip down – I read a bit. Cape Home 2.30 p.m. Alberta left False Head, Whangamumu just as we were going in and went on to Whangaruru. Got kelp on the propeller again – Alberta also. Anchored by store for lunch. (By wharf, upper harbour) Alberta came over after. Got a lot of long pipi on (Motukauri) island sandspit. Went over to settlement. (Tuparehuia) Anchored launches and went ashore. Met old George Martin who took us to the water-melon patch where we bought 8 – 3/6. Walked over to Bland Bay, along beach and back to launches. Palmers went over and got some milk for baby. Went down to P.O. Bay where we anchored for the night – had a beautiful gramophone concert till 10.30. Boats lashed alongside one another – perfect night – full moon.

3    Fine day. Wind strong south. Swell almost down. Dad, Mother, Mr Palmer climber hill above Bay before breakfast – got mushrooms. Had a swim, got water in P.O. Bay – Breakfast. (Possibly Oakura?Left Henry Is 10.35 a.m., Mimiwhangata Hd 11.0, Deviated inside some little islets where I had some shots at shags. Eliza Reef 12.5 p.m., Tutukaka Hd 1.20p.m., Engine stopped – Tank empty! Ha –ha. Had a good lunch in Tutukaka and a rest. Carried dinghy in cockpit coming down. (Dad & I cut up a water melon off Eliza Reef) Had a walk over hill at Tutukaka. Caught a few fish (Trevally, Schnapper) Left at dark, 7.15 p.m. Wind had dropped but came up again strong SW. Good run into Heads. Saw several flying fish. One flew aboard Alberta and hit Mr Palmer on back. Carried dinghy in cockpit. Anchored for night in lee of MacGregor’s Island 10.30 p.m. Tutukaka to Frenchman: 3 hrs against wind and tide. Very low tide: Launches grounded and lay over at low tide (1.0 a.m.) in the usual anchorage. Used 10 tins of benzine whole trip. (40 Gallons – 4 gallon cans 2 cans in a wooden box.)

   Left at 6.0 a.m. for home. Alberta left earlier. Home at 8.0 a.m. (Boat shed) Carried up bedding, spare fuel, provisions & spare gear. Washed decks down with fresh water, dried out bilges and tried to locate some leaks – not forward of amidships, apparently under engine. Lowered bed for Fly Wheel tray so that dynamo belt would not strike it. After lunch I slept for 2 hours in the loft.

3 thoughts on “Kiakoa & Alberta 1923 Summer Cruise

  1. Pingback: Alberta – A Peek Down Below | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  2. Lovely story, many thanks.
    The Automatic engine , that dear old Alberta had, would have been a lovely shipmate (to me anyway – the modernists would prefer the high revs and high-frequency shakes). It would have been reliable enough considering the weather they went out in.
    According to American Marine Engines by Stan Grayson, a Launch model engine of her era would likely have been 5.5″ bore 7″ stroke, two or three separately-cast cylinders and open crank case with gravity oiling. 425 rpm will rock you to sleep nicely. The engineroom might have been a slippery place in a seaway depending on how much oil was applied. It would have been fitted with a reverse gearbox and would have weighed close on a ton. Automatic Machine Co ceased trading in 1943. .
    I fancy she had a Sabb when she first hit Lake Rotoiti but it suffered a crack in something unrepairable and was replaced. The owner will confirm. A lovely boat.


  3. That would be “Haruru falls” which were called Waitangi falls back in the day. Not sure what year the name changed. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s