Family Boat Restored To Former Glory (ex Nelson Weekly – Dec 17 , 2014)
A launch that was built in Wellington in 1929 and has been in the same family for four, going on five, generations, has just been re-launched in Nelson after its latest refit. Judith Glue’s grandfather, Roy Harvey, and his brother-in-law, Sam Weine, started building the 35 foot kauri launch on a steep section behind Sam’s house in Kilbirnie in 1927. Veca was launched in 1929 and remained in Roy’s family for 58 of the next 85 years with Judith and her husband Pete, of Richmond, completing the latest refit in Nelson earlier this month. Pete says Veca, which was named after Roy and Sam’s wives, Vera and Caroline, has a fascinating history with her framing being constructed out of an “old man rata tree” Roy and Sam cut down in Akatarawa Forest, near Wellington. They also had to build a ramp over the top of Sam’s house to get Veca out of the section and down a steep road to Evans Bay where she was launched. “They had to use two old Wellington coal trucks to get her down the road,” Pete says. “It was so steep they put anchors into the road to stop the trucks and boat taking off down the hill.”
Sadly, Roy had to sell Veca in 1941 because fuel prices had skyrocketed during World War II. However, Judith’s father, Bruce Harvey, brought her back in 1968 when he saw her “tied to a mooring a forlorn state in Evans Bay” and she has stayed in the family ever since. “Roy spent most of his retirement restoring Veca for Bruce and then we acquired her as an inheritance. We pulled her out of the water again in 1985 and transported her to Bill Gibbons’ old shingle plant in Lower Queen St for her second refit. “We took out every screw in the hull and refastened and recaulked her, and fibreglassed the topside, and then we relaunched her on Christmas Eve in 1987. I remember that because the Ministry of Transport wouldn’t give us a permit to take an oversized load through town, but we went anyway. “It was a bit of a nightmare because the transporter got a flat tyre in the middle of Stoke. There was traffic everywhere and I said to the guys, ‘bugger the tyre, keep driving’.”
The latest refit involved reconstructing the wheelhouse and Pete says he was a little concerned about the boat being out of the water for about five weeks. Although Veca took on some water when she was relaunched, the wooden hull soon closed up and became watertight. Pete says she’s now “ready for the next generation to take care of her”. Pete says Veca gets plenty of use with their children and grandchildren always joining them for their annual Christmas boating holiday to the Marlborough Sounds. “It gets a bit crowded with everyone aboard and the cabin’s a bit low, especially when you have sons who are six foot five and six foot four,” he joked. “But she’s a lovely boat to sail and she’s very economical to run – we spend more money on our rum than we do on our diesel.”
Input from Harold Kidd – VECA was launched in November 1929, built by Weine and Peter Harvey under the supervision of Arthur Sang who designed her. Bob Gibbons bought her after Harvey’s death in 1937 and ran her during WW2 in NAPS. He sold her in 1962.