Todays story comes to us from John Gander via Dean Wright. John you may recall designed and built the two stunning double-ender 38’ kauri yachts Whisper and Time (sisters) that have appeared on WW. Today John shares with us the story of himself and Frank Derbyshire saving the 1935 Charles Bailey & Sons built fishing vessel – Joan from becoming firewood – I’ll let John tell us the story: (click on photos to enlarge)
“About November 1975 Frank Derbyshire and I arrived at Port Taranaki from Picton having successfully tendered for the fishing vessel ‘Joan’ and her equipment. ‘Joan’ was moored alongside the wharf when struck by the bulbous bow of the phosphate ship “Eastern Saga” as the ship was being manoeuvred in the harbour. Joan suffered extensive damage and was crushed about amidships.
Prior to our arrival the vessel had been lifted onto the breakwater wharf, her wheelhouse had been removed and her 6L3B Gardner engine was on beds in a wharf workshop having been stripped down, cleaned, reassembled and run.
“Joan” is a triple skin vessel of about 35 tonnes, and thanks to Harold Kidd it is confirmed that she was built by Charles Bailey and Sons and launched on 14th October 1935. We weren’t familiar with New Plymouth but soon learned that if you can see the mountain it is going to rain and if you couldn’t see the mountain it was raining, however we did experience some fine weather.
We were advised by a few sceptics to put a match to her, she will never go to sea again, however after a week or so into the repair and it was seen that we knew a bit about wooden boats some of those on local fishing boats and other workers about the wharf became very helpful when it came to advice on where best to procure some items we required during the repair. One person who was especially helpful to us was a retired fisherman Frank Roper. We learned that Frank was held in high regard by the local fishermen and was known to most on the wharf. He approached us saying in his retirement he needed something to do and could he help, and what a help he was.
After lifting the fuel and water tanks out it was Frank who chipped and wire brushed them, and applied a new cement wash to the inside of the water tanks and primed and painted the exterior, and while doing this he also stoked the fire for our steam box, this of course was when it wasn’t a problem to have a fire on the wharf at New Plymouth.
Prior to tendering for the vessel I had flown to New Plymouth for an inspection and made a note of the timber requirements to take to the job. For the inner skins we used Larch that was grown in the upper Awatere Valley Marlborough, and milled at Blenheim. Not such a common timber to use in New Zealand boatbuilding but we had the advice of Peter Jorgensen a Danish boatbuilder who knew Larch, we found it a good timber to work with and it steamed well.
After the initial inspection by the Marine Department wooden boat surveyor Bill Salter we set about clearing away the damaged section, this also entailed removing the freezer compartment and the cork insulation, and cutting scarfs in the stringers and gunwale well forward and aft.
The deck covering board was forced up during the impact but not damaged, we pulled this down into place, repaired the bulwarks, and from memory I think we replaced the outer planking with White Pine ( Kahikatea ) and Australian hardwood for the new belting, Metalex was a good wood preservative we used in those days, and red lead for priming paint.
We did have our share of rain but a bigger problem was salt spray during heavy westerly weather, this was before RCD’s were in vogue and electric tools were mostly metal, when the seas hit the breakwater and the fine salt spray wet the tools, it made one jump around a bit. But looking back on the job now we were lucky imagine asking a Port Company now if you could have a fire for the steam box on the wharf run a few power leads, and spread wheelhouse, tanks, and other ships gear about, and all this without a dozen orange cones and danger notices, yet we survived without mishaps.
With completion of repairs and a new Marine Department survey we left New Plymouth late afternoon bound for the Marlborough Sounds with Frank Roper aboard. Frank had fished the coast south to Cape Egmont and he regaled us with stories of fishing in the days of long lining before depth sounders, when after catching the fish they cleaned and gutted the catch on the way home.”
NEW INPUT FROM Chris Waide – We have owned Joan for 8 years now, has a 4/71 Jimmy, the hull is tight and sound, those guys must have done a great job of repairing her back then. Although the mishap on the West Coast was also on the port side, she was repaired at Guards Ship Yard with kahikatea but sat out in the rain for a few years and went rotten. She was then bought by Doug Valk, (a local boat builder) he put her in a paddock and completely rebuilt and converted to pleasure, refer photos below. The port side damage was repaired using Lawson cypress this time and Doug was helped by Andrew Candler who is a traditional shipwright, and is still a commercial vessel surveyor here in Nelson.Joan’s home these days is Motueka.
03-05-2022 Input from Dean Wright – photos below ex Auckland Museum collection