Amakura II – A Great Story

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AMAKURA II – A Great Story

I was recently contacted by Michael Shields who relied the story below about the 1936, Colin Wild launch – Amakura II to me – its a get read – enjoy 🙂

“I spent several years on Amakura II, my step father Jim Somner, of Waipu and Somners Transport owned Amakura II for many years in Whangarei and did extensive work on her over that time, , Originally she had an open rear cabin and a single W12 engine, that is a V8 with an extra bank of 4 cylinders in the middle of the V, these same engines were used in landing craft in the second world war, this was removed and changed to twin engines very early on but if you dive down and have a look you can see where the single large prop was and where the very large prop shaft came out of the keel.
When lengthened the rear area was closed in forming a rear cabin.

She sunk during WW2 when after a few too many medicinal rums were consumed and the bow got caught under the wharf as the tide came up, water came up though the head in the bow and she sunk. Being a popular boat and crew everyone pitched in and a huge crane, called “Tiny”, was brought in and Amakura II was lifted up and cleaned up in time, before the Navy, who had heard that one of their boats had sunk came to investigate. The Navy found no evidence of any damage or sinking and everything was in order, although it was noted the rum rations were missing, having been used to pay for the help to clean her up.

She had a large machine gun mounted on her bow during the war and a photo of her in her drab paint hung in the main cabin.

During Jim Somners ownership he modernized and much altered her. He replaced the engines with twin Ford diesels which he then removed the turbos from for improved economy and also installed the custom made large fridge and freezer unit, removed the head from the bow, rejigged the shower and made the the large flying bridge which has now had the roof shortened as it used to extend almost to the rear end of the back cabin. Being a trucker, Jim was very good at getting things ship shape and working well.

I spent many years on her as crew for Jim and have many story’s of that time like when she ran around, caused the delay of the firing of guns at Waitangi Day and parties a board.”

You can read more about her history & past owners here

Michael – please send in more tales & any photos you might have. Thanks Alan.
(colour photos ex Heather Rose – b/w photo ex Ken Rickets)

10 thoughts on “Amakura II – A Great Story

  1. Pingback: Amakura II Re-launched | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  2. Pingback: Amakura II In the Old Days | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  3. Where was Amakura based when she was with the Naval Auxiliary Patrol during WWII?


  4. The V12 was a sidevalver, designed for the fwd Cord which had to be happy with a V8. The V12 saw some use in top-end Auburn cars, American la France fire engines and marinised in speedboats and “express cruisers” like AMAKURA. Highly inefficient and crude by today’s standards, and very thirsty, but very torquey and smooth.
    Gee, I wish I had one!


  5. I was fortunate to share some of Jim Somner’s hospitality on board Amakura II in the late 70s. I was fortunate enough to drive the Vindex 32 Lady Luck II of his Rotorua mate Herbie James. We would drop of some crayfish or scallops and stay for an hour or two. Amakura II is a beautiful boat, setup for two couples, double bed aft and another forward, and right forward the large fridge and freezer unit which was impressive,One of the nicest old Woodies with the provenance to go with it,


  6. I have researched Lycoming engines on the web & can find no mention of a W12 engine ever being produced by them for any land or sea purpose


  7. When Mr Wedderspoon owned her, a Mr Shepherd ran her for him.
    In the early days of that stewardship, she belched copious quantities of black smoke out both side exhausts, there also seemed to be difficulty in starting them when cold, & Mr Shepherd told my dad, that diesel engines, (about which Mr Shepherd, on his own admission, knew almost nothing), were very complicated, (which is a joke, as we all know, as they are very simple in their basic form), & he told my dad, he couldn’t get anyone to fix the smoke problem, or who new about these engines, so they were replaced by Mr Wedderspoon, with petrol engines, & as has been said before in the previous post on her, probably Graymarine flat head 6 cyl. petrol engines,(although I had thought, they may have been Kermaths) .
    The Budas also belched much black smoke, giving her filthy sides, as shown in the image of her taken during WWII, when in navy use (supplied by Brian Worthington).
    We all know, the petrol engines were later again, replaced with Ford diesels. The petrol engines had an exhaust sound quite distinctly different form the Budas, & of course zero smoke after the change in the later 40s era — KEN R (edited by AH)


  8. OOPS the Budas were 110hp each a TOTAL of 220hp. They were put in at Colin Wild’s yard when he was lengthening her by 4 feet in the winter of 1937.
    She was called AMAKURA II probably because there was an earlier AMAKURA on the British Register at the time. In fact Court didn’t register her with RBS until 1938 for some reason so she spent her first couple of years as plain AMAKURA.
    AMOKURA was a famous local naval training ship, formerly HMS SPARROW.
    AMOKURA is a red-tailed tropical bird, highly prized by the Maori for its feathers.
    AMAKURA is hard to translate. KURA as an adjective, is RED while AMA is the cross-Polynesian word for an outrigger of a canoe….beats me.


  9. I’ve never had the privilege of being aboard this fabulous Colin Wild launch and am a mere rivet-counter/anorak. However there are copious records concerning her engines and the “W12” statement rocked me to my bootstraps.
    According to contemporary newspaper/magazine reports and official records, her engine installations were as follows.
    1. As built for Charles Court of Stanley Bay in 1936 she was fitted with a single 300hp Lycoming V12 petrol engine.
    2. The Lycoming had been replaced by twin 220 hp Buda diesels by the time Court sold her to C.L. Urquhart at the end of 1939. The conversion was clearly done at the time she was lengthened. The Budas were supplied either by Andy Donovan or my father. They were great engines, but then I would say that, wouldn’t I?
    3. The Budas stayed in her during her wartime service with the Navy and remained in her during various ownerships including L.R.H. Webber (1952-5).
    4. She was sold to N.T. & C.C.E. Mills of Te Puke around 1956 and kept at Tauranga. By then she had twin 85hp Graymarines.
    5. Around 1961 Mills replaced the Grays with twin 86hp Ford diesels.
    6. When Somner bought her she had the Fords.

    I’d have kept my mouth shut this Saturday morning if there had been no mention of a “W12”, a very special and rare configuration, never wasted on landing craft of any nation, let alone the US, who were quite happy with cheap and cheerful side-valve petrol Chryslers or two-stroke GM/Gray diesels.


  10. It’s interesting that when I took the 1948 photo she was known as the AMOKURA, on her nameplate– I wonder when the “II” was actually formally added to her signage. — KEN R


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