SEABEE > QUALITY AFLOAT
I have been contacted by Grant Rendell concerning the launch Seabee, that his grandfather Redge Renall owned many years ago & kept her moored at Te Atatu (as per above photo).
Post WW2, Redge had a farm in Waimauku, West Auckland & later retired to Henderson & was a past Commodore at the Te Atatu boating club.
In conversations with his father, Grant has discovered that Seabee was a Chris Craft imported into New Zealand in the 1940’s. Grant’s grandfather bought Seabee off Brian Eastman c.1946 / 1947.
At the time it was powered by two flathead Mercury V8’s. Redge installed a Red Wing 6 cyl. engine a few years later. This followed an incent where Redge lit his pipe while collecting scallops on the Manukau Harbour, the lighter flame blew a hole in the side of Seabee, they got her going with mattresses etc. plugging the hole up and beached her. Post this Redge also extended it from 26’ to 32’6” and later installed two Perkins PM6’s. One engine faced forward & one backwards to run the left hand pitch 22” prop. Rumour has it he never smoked again!
Grant’s uncle Tony Subritzky bought her in the 1990’s & renamed her Quality Afloat, he sold her to someone named Smith, who was using Seabee around Kawau Island area when one of the rubber couplings let go & the driveshaft put a hole in the bottom & nearly sank Seabee. This is the last that Grant heard of Seabee.
So woodys – do we know what became of Seabee, is she still around & if so where?
Update – Have just been sent the press clippings below, from Grants parents, that confirm the explosion incident:
From The Waiuku News (and Franklin County Gazette) dated Tuesday, October 1949 –reads as follows – EXPLOSION ON LAUNCH – Petrol Fumes ignite – Occupants Lucky Escape – The occupants of Mr Renall’s, Waiuku launch had a miraculous escape on Saturday when petrol fumes inside the cabin exploded. The cabin top was lifted clean off, a crack opened round the hull about waterline, while the force of the explosion expanded the hull. The boat caught fire but the flames were extinguished before the outbreak got out of control. Accompanying Mr Renall were his wife and some members of the family. Some of them were inside the cabin at the time and it would appear that it was only an act of Providence that they were able to stand the force of such a violent explosion and escape with their lives. As it was, they were burnt about the legs and suffered from shock. A well appointed, 28 foot launch with 2 cabins and cockpit, Mr Renall had just completed refitting the vessel and preparing it for the summer. Saturday’s trip was the first of the season. Mr Renall had intended to go scalloping and the boat was run into shallow water on the banks between Awhitu and Grahams Beach. Going high and dry the launch canted over, and it is thought that while lying on its side, perhaps some petrol may have leaked out to cause the fumes. Later, on entering the cabin Mr Renall struck a match to light his pipe when the explosion occurred. The cabin was blown off and those on board jumped over the side. The flames were attacked with a a fire extinguisher and sea water. Fishermen in the vicinity also went to their assistance, one party being attracted by the big puff of black smoke issued from the boat. The launch was roughly caulked with kapok where it had cracked around the hull, and taken into tow by Mr F. Smith, but Mr Renall got the engine running to proceed home under its own power.
Unfortunately this clipping was not dated – Another article in The Waiuku News – reads as follows LAUNCH SHIFTED – After months of work spent in lengthening and rebuilding, Mr R Renall’s well appointed launch was shifted from the site between Mr Renall’s Garage (Renall Motors) and the Town Board’s office on Thursday afternoon. The boat was taken by trailer to be launched at Westhaven. The loading operations attracted a good gallery of spectators. The vessel suffered extensive damage some months ago when an explosion occurred while on the Manukau. Mr Renall then brought it to Waiuku to be repaired. An extra six feet was added to the boat making it a total length of over 30 feet –