Lady Karita – 1960’s Flashback

Motuhe – 1960
On the hard Okahu Bay 1961 – Gordon Newman (standing)
Bottom of Waiheke – 1963
Maraeti – 1963

LADY KARITA – 1960’s Flashback
Recently I was contacted by Robert Phillips in regard to the 1934 Sam Ford built 43′ classic launch – Lady Karita, Robert’s parents Jack and Zena Phillips owned Lady Karita for 14 year. They purchased her in 1957 in a very run-down state and during their ownership undertook numerous upgrade changes both internally and externally.
Robert commented that he thought the WW readers would like some historical photos to continue to build to the current photographic heritage of Lady Karita on Waitemata Woodys.Some of those changes and upgrades, all done personally by Robert’s father, were as follows:-

  1. Removal of the four forward bunks and installation of a slide out double bed and toilet and hand basin. Still there today.
  2. Installation of a fridge in the galley and a stainless bench
  3. Removal of the 105 hp petrol Gray marine engine and installation of a Leyland 75hp Diesel, ex truck engine, marinized and fitted with 2:1 Paragon gearbox plus Onan diesel generator. The exhaust for the diesel engine was unique in that is was routed up through the Bridge deck inside rear left window by the Safe, and across the top of the Bridge deck and up through the leading edge of a steel fabricated, galvanised and white painted mast on top of the Bridge deck, replacing the original wooden mast Since all replaced when upgrade later, by subsequent owner Jim Ratcliffe, who installed a 130hp 6 cylinder diesel Ford. The exhaust system and the Leyland diesel were extremely quiet and totally fume free at idle and when under way versus the transom exhaust of the original petrol engine. The power output was not high , but she still cruised happily at 8 knots and timed measured mile max of 10 knots. Various props, 3 blade and 4 blade, were experimented with, and I think the 4 blade was settled on. Average fuel consumption over 9 years for the Leyland was 1.75 gallons/hour versus 4.5 gallons per hour for the Gray marine petrol engine.
  4. Installation of a freezer in the rear right hand seat box in the Bridge deck. It was almost too effective. On the 31/2 hour run to Kawau from Westhaven the freezer would totally freeze beer and lemonade bottles sometimes blowing them apart.
  5. A unique galvanised steel bow (removed by later owners) seamlessly overlaid and attached to the original wooden bow stem to give a forward angle in side profile versus an almost rearward dreadnought look of the original bow stem. You can see it in some of the photos above.
  6. Installation of an ex-war assets auto pilot and Furuno depth finder. The auto pilot worked well but found it a little hard in a following sea to keep up.
  7. Attachment of the rear transom duck board/landing platform and removable step ladder for swimming from the platform that went down into the water.
  8. Removal of a rear auxiliary steering column and engine control in the left side of the cockpit shelf, used for game fishing in the 1950s.

Robert apologised for some of the photo’s lack of sharpness but some them are 60+ years old. He also asked that I commend all subsequent owners for the sympathetic and well thought out, further upgrades over time. She always was a lovely looking boat and looks even better now. Robert has undertaken to send in more photos soon, so fingers crossed 🙂

View previous WW story here

27-04-2022 NEW INPUT – from Mark McLauglin (as told by Mark)

“The attached Marlborough Express newspaper feature contains a few factual errors in it (i.e Harold Kidd confirmed years ago that Lady K had ID numbers during WWII, as did most launches at the time, but she was never commandeered in the NAPS as incorrectly stated here, and I have never seen any evidence of watertight torpedo-proof bulkheads in her either! I also doubt the teak decks (now sensibly replaced by new owner Murray Shaw) were original. Otherwise the article might be of some interest as it records a significant period in Lady K’s life for the 30 plus years since she left the Auckland/Northland region in the late 1980’s.

Sadly my father passed away last year but he was caretaker and skipper of Lady Karita in Havelock from 2001 until she was sold to current owner, Murray Shaw in 2016. The owner during this period was Dad’s cousin, Carroll Smith, who operated the Pelorus Lodge in Havelock. Guests at the exclusive lodge were treated to a complimentary picnic cruise on Lady Karita, usually to Chance Bay in the Pelorus Sound, but occasionally up the Kenepuru Sound as well. I crewed on her quite often with Dad and took some of the other photos of her featured elsewhere on WW during this time – she is certainly a spectacular classic vessel and a fine example of Sam Ford’s work. A number of prominent overseas guests cruised on Lady Karita during this period, including ex-pat Havelock old boy Sir William Pickering, who was a well-known figure in the space race with NASA in the 1960’s. Sir William enjoyed a great day out on Lady K during his final visit back to NZ.”

2 thoughts on “Lady Karita – 1960’s Flashback

  1. Great to see these old photos of Lady K and learn a bit more of her “missing history.” When my late father was looking after her in Havelock we often wondered how many engines she has had and what was original configuration, what had changed over the years etc. This information from Robert answers some of those questions. Thanks Robert!


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