The Story Of Lady Doreen and Lola & Snooks Fuller
Dean Wright recently popped around to visit long time friends Lola & Snooks Fuller. Dean recorded the ‘chat’ on his phone & later typed it up & asked Snooks to review it to ensure Dean got everything right. While there Dean also photographed part of the Fuller’s photo collection, luckily for us woodys Dean is a pro photographer so the photos of photos are rather good.
Below is some of the history of the legendary game fishing launch. Lady Doreen & owners Lola & Snooks Fuller. I have reproduced the story & photos as submitted by Dean – Enjoy 🙂
LOA 42’ – Beam 14’ – Draft 3’ 6” – Launched 19th December 1951
Builders: Wally and Bert Deeming, Snooks and Norman Fuller at Deemings Yard, Okiato, Bay of Islands. Designed by Snooks Fuller, then aged 18. Named for Snook’s mum Doreen Fuller
Full length kauri planking 6” x 1”, pohutukawa frames. 2 kauri logs sourced from a farmers property at Twin Bridges and milled at Rangiahua Sawmills.
2 Scripts V8 petrol motors were bought originally to power the boat they were reconditioned ex war surplus. However, Andy Donovan sold the Fullers 2 new Osco V8 Petrol motors at a good price and these were fitted in place of the Scripts. After just a month of service, one of the Osco’s put a con rod through the side of the block and was replaced by one of the Scripts. Luckily it was a fairly simple changeover fitting straight into the same mounting, being similar motors. 2 years later, when Fordson Major brought a diesel tractor out, one of the V8 petrol motors was replaced with a 4 cylinder Pike. “We mostly only used one motor anyhow, very seldom did we run on two, we had one diesel and one petrol for years” After quite a few years the other V8 petrol was replaced by a 6 cylinder Ford diesel.
Snooks original idea was to have a big open cockpit and a day boat. His Dad Norman counseled him against it, asking what if the game fishing packs up, what are you going to do with the boat? He felt Snooks needed a boat you could get a party on and go away and cruise maybe do a bit of snapper fishing, a bit of king fishing and that’s how the Lady Doreen developed.
If Zane Grey put the Bay of Islands on the map as a game fishing mecca then Snooks and the Doreen became NZ’s best known game fishing charter boat during the 1950’s through the 70’s breaking many world records and enjoying an international reputation. A hint of what they were to achieve happened on the first two days of their very first charter. Day one they landed a black marlin of 516lb for American angler Dick Aldsworth, day two another black of 366lb’s For Dick’s wife Alice. Black marlin are a reasonably uncommon catch, the Bay Of Island Swordfish Club catch records show just 20 caught that season. So for a 19-year-old Snooks to catch two for his anglers in his first two days running the boat was quite an achievement. In the 50’s 130lb breaking strain line was the order of the day for charter boats fishing for marlin. American Angler Harold Hopkins chartered Snooks and the Doreen for the month of March each year for six years, intent on light tackle fishing. In 1954 they boated a 331lb Striped marlin on 6 thread 20lb breaking strain to set a world record that would stand for 14 years. Lines in those days were made of linen and for their strength to be retained they had to be kept wet unlike modern lines.
Snooks and his wife Lola along with his parent’s Norman and Doreen visited Harold at his home in the States in 1958. “Hopkins took Snooks to his private jetty where he showed the young kiwi his pride and joy; a vessel called ‘Esperanza II’. Hopkins asked Snooks what he thought of it. “Beautiful” was his response. In an incredible act of generosity Hopkins stunned Snooks when he said, “She’s yours. Take her home” Arrangements were made and the boat was shipped back to NZ where she joined the Bay of Islands charter fleet from the 1959 season”
These pictures tell more of the story:
Snook’s mum Doreen for whom the boat was named and dad Norman.
One of the two original kauri logs the Doreen was built from prior to milling at Rangiahua Sawmills.
Milling the kauri
Snooks and wife Lola with the half model Snook’s built as an 18 year old that the Doreen’s frames and lines were taken from.
Launch Day 19th December 1951 Wally & Bert Deemings Boat Shed at Okiato.
The Lady Doreen’s first two marlin.
First two days charter fishing – two black marlin landed for the 19 year old Snooks (kneeling left) and his anglers and deckhand Ez Smith.
16th March 1954 – World Record 331lb Striped Marlin on 6 thread (20lb) breaking strain line for angler Harold Hopkins. Snooks far left, deckhand John Hives kneeling. This was unusually light gear, 130lb breaking strain line was the norm in the 50’s.
An early shot of the Lady Doreen trolling near ‘The Sisters’ before her distinctive four-outrigger setup was fitted.
Four outriggers and four game chairs allowed four anglers to fish one trolled bait each, all day.
Trolling in front of the hole in the rock, Piercy Island.
Eric Kay, Charley Fuller, Roly Rogers & Owen
About to weigh some fish at Paihia wharf. Live baits that needed to keep alive for the next day were placed in the circular container on the port side and put over the side overnight. Nice big catch flags in those days!
Four game chairs two on the top deck, two in the cockpit
Esperanza II, a Chris Craft, gifted to Snooks by American fisherman Harold Hopkins. Hopkins fished with Snooks and the Lady Doreen for a month every year for six years.
Harold Hopkins NZ Story
Snooks bought the Luck Strike, a 24’ Mason Clipper and shipped her to Cairns where him and his fishing mates set a world record for a black marlin of 1124lb’s on 50lb line caught by Eddie Seay.
Input from Brian Worthington – photo below shows LD as of today. Brian reports, she is in beautiful order and a credit to its owner 🙂