Reo Moana



Talking with Bay of Islands woody – Dean Wright recently, he mentioned that John Gander had sent him a story on the work boat Reo Moana. I’ll let John tell the story –

“I am prompted to write a few lines about Reo Moana after seeing her coming through the Albert Channel and arriving in the Bay of Islands, she looks so different with the extra top hamper that has been added. Her current owners have recorded that she was built by Roger Carey, this is not correct, see below.

I worked at the Carey yard and in 1963 we commenced work on a Roger Carey design of a 51’x15’8”x 7’ fishing boat for John Buchanan of Cascade River. She was carvel planked in karri and launched in 1964 named “Compass Rose” The moulds of this Roger Carey design were then taken across to another Picton boat builder Bob Swanson. Bob’s yard was directly opposite the Carey yard at the southern end of the harbour, it was formerly the site of Ernie Lane’s boatyard.

Bob was commissioned to build a boat to this Roger Carey design by Bill and Sylvia Kenny of Red Funnel Launches and an associate. She was built multi skin and was powered by a 6LX Gardner. There was talk that the boat was to do a Pacific cruise that was to include Tahiti but the cruise did not come to fruition. She was put into service with the Red funnel fleet, it was also at this time that the pine plantations in the Sounds were starting to be harvested and with a substantial tow post Reo Moana was regularly used to tow rafts of logs to Picton. Her spacious after deck also proved ideal for work in and around the Marlborough Sounds.

In the above photo she can be seen in the Red Funnel colours, I was involved with salvaging the fishing vessel Ascot that had sunk in Cloudy Bay and we used Reo Moana as the salvage vessel to tow Ascot into Port Underwood to pump her out and then continue the tow to Picton.

Seeing her now, photos below, I suppose she is handy for charters in and around Auckland, but with the windage from the considerable extra top hamper that she now carries, I think she would be more that a handful going alongside wharves in the Sounds in some of the extreme wind conditions that can be experienced at times.”

While on the topic of Red Funnel boats- I was sent the photo below of Ramona by Liam Daly. Liam commented that Ramona along with Reo Moana, Rawene, Rongo and Rio Rita made up the fleet of  Red Funnel Launches operating out of Picton . The “Rio Rita” was the prominent mail boat in Queen Charlotte Sound for many years, later when sold, re-named – Resolution.
The photo of Ramoana shows her in Resolution Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound
Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH


5 thoughts on “Reo Moana

  1. Reo Moana was largely skippered by Gary Kenny son of Sylvia and Bill in her Red funnel days. I remember Gary as a 16 year old skippering, actually the local termanolgy is still the much more mundane “driving” Reo Rita on the mail run. Red funnel also built jetties, and had a dumb barge for transporting sheep and building materials. Sylvia ran the Picton manual telephone exchange and provided an intelligent, but sometime disconcerting call divert service. When you asked for 325X the phone could be answered by 278S, Oh you do want? Of yes he is here! . This was the last manual exchange in the country, even the Chathams was automated earlier. When Red funnel was disbanded Gary formed Kenny Barging using Reo Moana as a tug for towing rafts of logs, and the barge, before getting the new self propelled barge.
    Gary was sadly killed in a motor vehicle accident in March this year. A massive loss to the rich Queen Charlotte Sound Maritime heritage.


  2. Spent countless days on both boats in the 70’s and ‘80’s. Down the sounds day after day. I am very fond of both these boats. There was also the Reowai, which Bill and I used at one point to tow Reomoana off a different beach in Tory Channel. We lived next door to Bill and Sylvia Kenny right though my childhood. Like an extended family. My daughter is named after Mrs Kenny.


  3. Shes extremely functional as she is.
    Upstairs has the ablutions department which is the best place for it considering shes still surveyed for 99 pob.
    Said ablutions hit the holding tanks at about 60mph from top story so never any blocked pipes during charters too 😄😄😄👍👍👍


  4. Thanks, Cam. I can hear her from here. Sad the L3 died they sounded better imho. I reckon she looked right pretty as built. Groan a bit since then. Thanks John for sharing that. Sad that form has to adapt to changed function.


  5. Pretty sure Reo as she is known at z pier westhaven was originally powered by an 8L3 gardner.
    It shat itself when an oil pipe broke.
    Was replaced by a 6lx that did her for years. She is fitted with a rebuilt 8lxb gardner in a cavernous engine room.
    Reo still has the steel saw tooth fitting on her forefoot for her log pushing days.
    Have been on her many times both sober and 80% non sober mainly to check the fridge door hinges are not too stiff of course.
    Her owners the Somers family and her skippers handle her very very well in the tight confines of z pier area and they also had her over on the Kaipara harbour doing charter work.
    Always very nice to hear her exhaust note while they are maneuvering down at z pier compared to some of the screaming banshee engines down that way that get stretched while berthing.


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