The launch Eldon was built in 1971 by Tauranga Boat Builders, so slips into the spirit of tradition woody category. The original owner was Eldon Jepson – thence the name.
Her specs are 48’ long and built with single skin kauri. It is believed that during construction, Tauranga boat builder Ted Gilpin, was often on hand, to assist in various ways, adding, the ”Gilpin touch,” which is very evident in her design & styling. When launched she was powered with twin Perkins 6-354 6 cyl. 130hp diesels.
Jepson sold her to an unknown person, not too long after she was built, who in turn, sold her to John Mayson, around the mid 1980’s. During John Mayson’s stewardship, of around 20+years, she was kept at Pine Harbour and used extensively for game fishing, from Tutukaka, up to North Cape, as well as general cruising, around the Hauraki Gulf.
She changed hands again (06-05-2008), to Dean Pollock, who continued to keep her at Pine Harbour and later sold her (22-07-2010) to her present owner, Peter Flood. She was transported by road to the Kaipara Harbour, where she was initially moored at Pahi, but they had a major bird mess problem there, so she was moved to Tinopai, where she presently lives.
In 2015 Peter Flood replaced the original 6-354 Perkins,130 hp with 2 x 6-354T, artificially aspirated 6 cyl. 1978 model Perkins, rated at 185 hp each. These had come out of 2 Commer fire engines, which had only done around 50,000Km., & having been in fire engines, had naturally been fastidiously maintained. Being a farmer and very handy, Peter marinized them himself. The engines were matched to the original Borg Warner gearboxes and heat exchangers off the original engines. He left the new engines with uncooled exhaust manifolds, which whilst they get warm, have created, no problems, in any way, as her engine room, under the bridge-deck floor, is apparently very well ventilated. The engines are mated up with a truck type silencer on each exhaust, with wet stainless steel exhausts for the last 4 feet, before they reached the hull skin fittings, so they are almost completely silent.
Peter Flood commented to Ken Ricketts that Eldon is an important part of his family and she is used all the time. In the last photo above of Peter at her helm, on the Kaipara Harbour that Eldon appears to be in excellent condition.
Thanks to Ken Ricketts for pulling the core of this story together and special thanks to the following gents for sharing details and photos – Harold Kidd, Brian Worthington, John Mayson, Dean Pollock and Peter Flood.