“In the 1970s we were operating our sail yourself charter yachts out of Picton and along with our dive business of “Picton Underwater Centre” we were getting more and more divers chartering. Although wooden boats are very forgiving compared with glass and gelcoat, weight belts and dive tanks in the confines of the deck of motor sailer’s was hard on the paintwork, so we decided to build a boat for dive charters, mooring work and salvage.
I drew “Deepstar” as a purpose built dive boat with accommodation for ten divers plus her skipper. the underwater lines are from a Roger Carey plan with some minor changes. For her layout I chose to build a raised forecastle as I did for “Hinewai” were we found the extra headroom and space very desirable for the sleeping quarters. Aft of the wheelhouse that also doubled as the skippers bunk room, I planned the deck house and furniture to be comfortable for ten divers for mealtimes and relaxing. The wood range proved very popular after a days diving on cool evenings.
Her aft deck has the space for divers to kit up and the hold below is the storage for dive gear. We carried aboard twenty dive tanks and ten weight belts that were part of the ships equipment. To fill the tanks was an onboard Bauer air compressor run by a 4107 Perkins engine, her main engine was a 5L3 Gardner with the original Gardner hydraulic gear change. Divers like hot showers, so her water tanks are of generous capacity. Built into the deck house with an on deck door is the toilet – shower room fitted with regular household models, and as boat owners will understand, this combination proved very suitable for non boat people and was trouble free.
In 1978 I submitting her plans to the Marine department survey office for scrutiny and approval, I had drawn the plans showing the bulwarks rounded on the aft quarters, as we did on the the Carey boats, and terminated at the transom to give access aboard. This caused a problem at the office, passengers were meant to be kept aboard within the confines of the rail’s and not swimming about overboard. I had to submit a lengthy submission explaining the purpose for the vessel and the importance of getting potentially tired divers on to the dive platform and back aboard. The message got through and I think I could just about have cut the transom out if it meant getting divers back aboard were the department thought they belonged.
After lofting and making the moulds, shaping the stem, stern post and horn timber we laid her keel in our yard at Waikawa bay. Fitted stem, stem knee, keelson, stern post and horn timber, and set up the moulds. Next it was cutting the rebates to take the foot of the frames at nine inch (230mm) centres, steaming and fitting ribbands in preparation for fitting the frames (ribs). Her frames are two laminations of Spotted Gum, it steams well and is strong and durable. For her planking I used Kahikatea below the waterline and Macrocarpa ( South Island Kauri ) above the waterline to finish at 1 3/8 inch ( 38mm ) the planking is fastened with bronze screws.
Floor timbers, stringers and gunwhale are Australian Karri as are quarter knees and breast hook, all copper fastened. The deck is two laminations of marine ply covered in heavy glass cloth, wheelhouse and deck house joinery are Fijian Kauri as are the hatch coamings.
Dimensions : 43’6” (13.2m ) x 13’ (3.9m ) x 5’ (1.52m ) The registered length, fwd side of Rudder post to fwd side of the stem is 39’.6” ( 12.1m ) displacement 28 tons.
After eighteen months of build time we were ready to launch but like most building projects there was still a list of things to do. My two son’s Wayne and Neville were familiar with work at boatyards and slipways and proved to be good boys at anti-fouling, my wife Bev made the appropriate “Deepstar” Picton cake in the shape of a life-bouy a tradition at our launchings, ready for the launching festivities.
On the 2nd of November the trailer was manoeuvred into place and “Deepstar” was ready for the short road trip to the beach on the western side of Waikawa bay for launching at the top of the tide at 0900hrs on the 3rd of November 1979″.
Hi Grant and Jean, John replies:we sold Deepstar to a Southland owner and I believe she again changed owners and the last I saw of her was in Tauranga. But living in th eBOI one has to have a boatso we built two 38′ yachts “Whisper” and Time” We still have “Whisper” here in the Bay.
Deepstar has been in Tauranga working as a charter fishing boat for many years.
Great story John is your boat here in the Bay of Islands?
That’s how proper wooden boats are built and powered!