Oke Bay


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OKE BAY LEAVING SANDSPIT

OKE BAY

Morning woodys, big post today – I owe you a goody – been a little distracted by the A-Cup (how good were we?).

Oke Bay was originally named Diana S & based on the British Registry* Certificates (number 191827, see below) she 32′ long & was built in 1945 by Roy Steadman. *Her registry was transferred to the NZ Register of Ships in Sept 1993. Ken Ricketts sent this all to me & commented that he thought she was very Dick Lang looking.

She was built for a Bay of Islands land agent, Henry Slyfield, who swapped her for another boat in January 1955 with John Lawford, who changed her name in February 1956 from Diana S to Oke Bay, Slyfield owned property in that bay, & used her for transport to & from the bay. John Lawford mostly kept her on a swing mooring in Okahu Bay. He and Henry Slyfield were members of the Royal Akarana Yacht Club. The boat used to travel to the Bay of Islands every Summer holidays.

She is recorded as having a 6 cyl 95hp Kermath petrol engine in place from 1950, given her 1945 build date, one wonders what the original engine was, her present owner advised she had blinded off keel cooling pipe outlets, which hints towards a car or truck engine, which was common after WWII. The Kermath was replaced with a 1965 model 4 cyl Ford diesel in 1965-66, which still powers her today.
Records show in May 1980 she was sold to a Waipu farmer, Arthur Terry. Colin & Annie Mewburn have owned her since May 2004, having bought her off Arthur Terry, who was in hi 80’s at the time. The Mewburn’s motored her down to Whangaparaoa from One Tree Point Whangarei, where Terry had kept her. Terry told Colin M the Ford had 1000 hours on it when he got her in 1980. Home these days is the Wade River. (photos ex Colin Mewburn, Rod Steadman & Ken Ricketts)

She is one of 4 almost identical boats, Castaway, (original name Islander) & Alofa, both of which are attributed to Dick Lang. Ken commented that Lady Noeleen looks like another Dick Lang build, while there is now proof that she is a Dick Lang, interestingly, her present owner holds a view that Lady Noeleen may be the Alofa.

Harold Kidd Input

There are several issues here
1. She was registered as a British Ship in 1955 when she was (allegedly) 10 years old. The Register contains information as given to the Registrar on the application form with no scrutiny of accuracy. There are countless cases where vessels have been registered with incorrect details, often to give the vessel a pedigree it doesn’t have e.g. “Logan Bros” or “Chas. Bailey” as builder.
2. She was registered by Henry Durban Slyfield with RNZYS as DIANA without the S in 1953. The RBS must have contained another DIANA so Slyfield added the “S” to enable registration 2 years later.
3. I think the Diana in the name was his daughter.
4. I can find no trace of her as DIANA or DIANA S or owned by Slyfield before 1953 when she had call-sign ZLCG3. Is it possible that she was built under yet another name?
5. Roy Steadman worked, of course, for Shipbuilders in Poore St during WW2. He would have worked alongside Dick Lang at United Shipbuilders, the consortium formed to build vessels for the US Forces. It is entirely likely that he took employment with Dick at his existing yard in St. Mary’s Bay in 1945 and worked on this launch there, to a design by Dick.
6. I wonder about “1945”. That seems quite a bit too early as there was an acute shortage of good boatbuilding timber after the war as huge amounts had been used in the wartime constructions and large holding stocks destroyed in the January 1945 fire at the mill of Boxes Ltd in Beaumont St which spread to Shipbuilders’ yard in Poore St. Then again, even if Slyfield (or another first owner) sourced kauri privately from Northland, it is unlikely that more than a start would have been made in 1945.
7. ALOFA (W.R. de Luen) and LADY NOELENE (sic) (V. Smith) co-existed in 1953 with different owners so are not the same boat.

My pennyworth

9 thoughts on “Oke Bay

  1. That sounds right; for example ALMA G was ZLRC21, ALMA G II ZLRC33, AVALON ZLRC2, AYR ZLRC7, HINEMOA ZLRC20, MISS BRETT ZLRC8, MISS HELEN ZLRC3, MISS IDA ZLRC4, MISS KNOXIE ZLRC5, MISS RUSSELL ZLRC6 etc etc etc, the conclusion being that those game/cream launches operated from a single land base radio, callsign ZLRC, at Russell.
    The only other ZLCG boat I can find apart from DIANA was JOSEPHINE with ZLCG2….real rivet-counting stuff!!!

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  2. I have had a study much of my life, of call signs, & their development, up to what they have become, as at today.
    There were indeed a good number of boats, & vehicles, especially in the more northern parts of the country, where telephone communication was not available & the “ZL” call signs were available for them, & also could be used for farm vehicles, or contractors to communicate with their vehicles, needing longer distance radio communications, or in hilly country, with a call sign with the same make up as OKE BAY for their vehicles, or boats, but as far as I know they were satellite call signs where the main or primary base set was land based, with the call sign in this case of “ZLCG.” — It is almost certain that the prime base set that OKE BAY was attached to, at time of issue, was indeed “ZLCG”
    A friend of mine had a medium frequency truck set up in his office, for his electrical contracting business, (Burnand Electrical), in the mid later 1950s, which business covered the top half of the North Island, with a “ZL” call sign setup, the same as this one, & his son had a set on his boat. All vehicles & the boat had a single number, after the last of 4 letters.
    Auckland University was using this set up at least until comparatively recently, for some maritime uses.
    However I am in touch with Radio Spectrum Management fairly regularly so will check with them, & see if I can throw any more light on this historical part of our radio communication setup, to clarify the matter. — KEN R

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  3. As to KR’s comments on the ZL callsign, at least 50 launches from Whangarei to Awanui used ZL-prefix callsigns in 1953 (I stopped counting). Ex-Army ZC1 and 88 radios were as cheap as chips those days from Valintines. In the Army, even I could “net” a ZC1, whatever that did, while 88s were really terribly cool and high tech.
    As to engines, I think the Ford/Parsons went into DIANA(S)/OKE BAY much earlier than KR says, probably at the time Lawford bought her.

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  4. For the anoraks,
    1. The boat Lawford traded in on DIANA (S) was probably BLUE PETER which had a 110hp Mercury outboard.
    2. According to Squadron records DIANA’s 1953 engine was a “100hp Kermath” and the engine in her as OKE BAY in 1957 was a “60hp Parsons diesel” which remained in her until at least 1962.

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  5. Interesting call sign,

    All NZ Call signs starting with “ZL,” are & always were, to my knowledge, normally land based, or radio ham call signs. — Through the years there have been numerous land based stations, that had one or more marine satellite stations associated or attached to them, such as whaling ships, with a shore base, government ships, etc., so am wondering if she has a land based station, that she was a satellite from, perhaps at the B.O.I. She could be number 3 in a group of several marine installations, attached primarily, to one shore base station, perhaps, with a shore station maybe at Otehei bay, or wherever, or even on an owners isolated island farm property with no phone, back in those days. — KEN R

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  6. Great stuff Harold, all very logical & I absolutely agree, & I actually couldn’t see how they could attribute her to Steadman alone, when we all know, that all the boatbuilders of note, including Steadman, (& Lang) at that time, were all at Shipbuilders. — Cheers

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  7. There are several issues here
    1. She was registered as a British Ship in 1955 when she was (allegedly) 10 years old. The Register contains information as given to the Registrar on the application form with no scrutiny of accuracy. There are countless cases where vessels have been registered with incorrect details, often to give the vessel a pedigree it doesn’t have e.g. “Logan Bros” or “Chas. Bailey” as builder.
    2. She was registered by Henry Durban Slyfield with RNZYS as DIANA without the S in 1953. The RBS must have contained another DIANA so Slyfield added the “S” to enable registration 2 years later.
    3. I think the Diana in the name was his daughter.
    4. I can find no trace of her as DIANA or DIANA S or owned by Slyfield before 1953 when she had call-sign ZLCG3. Is it possible that she was built under yet another name?
    5. Roy Steadman worked, of course, for Shipbuilders in Poore St during WW2. He would have worked alongside Dick Lang at United Shipbuilders, the consortium formed to build vessels for the US Forces. It is entirely likely that he took employment with Dick at his existing yard in St. Mary’s Bay in 1945 and worked on this launch there, to a design by Dick.
    6. I wonder about “1945”. That seems quite a bit too early as there was an acute shortage of good boatbuilding timber after the war as huge amounts had been used in the wartime constructions and large holding stocks destroyed in the January 1945 fire at the mill of Boxes Ltd in Beaumont St which spread to Shipbuilders’ yard in Poore St. Then again, even if Slyfield (or another first owner) sourced kauri privately from Northland, it is unlikely that more than a start would have been made in 1945.
    7. ALOFA (W.R. de Luen) and LADY NOELENE (sic) (V. Smith) co-existed in 1953 with different owners so are not the same boat.

    My pennyworth

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