details & photo ex Christoph Hoessly
I was recently connected by Christoph to draw my attention to the existence of two launches named Marguerite’s & to clear up any confusion around the launch owned by his granddad Ken McLeod.
Marguerite was built by Des Donovan for Ken McLeod in Auckland in 1948. Ken owned McLeod’s bookshop in Rotorua which he started in the 1930’s and which still exists to this day, currently owned by the son of the guy Ken sold it to (so in all these years it has had only three owners). Ken was also the President of Hamilton’s St Andrews golf club. In his 20’s (1920’s) he was a book salesman for Gordon & Gotch in Northland, visiting Northland customers for days at a time on horse-back as the roads in Northland were frequently impassable by car in those days. Marguerite was named after his wife … Marguerite McLeod (known as Rita). She was 42 feet long and all planks were full length Kauri, no joins. She was originally equipped with twin Mercury gasoline car engines but Ken later fitted twin Fordsons. Her interior was Island mahogany and she slept six. He kept her at Tauranga and his favourite cruising ground was Great Barrier Island but he took her up to the Waitemata and into the Hauraki Gulf on occasions. Ken sold the boat to someone near Wellington in the early to mid 60’s who later on-sold it to a chap who stripped all the brass, engines and anything of value from her and sank her north of Rangitoto (I believe). The insurers found the wreck missing it’s internals and the culprit prosecuted. To say Ken was heart-broken when he heard the news is an understatement. So that is the story of that Marguerite. The above photo of her is from around 1955, at extreme right is Christoph’s grandmother, Marguerite McLeod (behind the chap in black). Christoph has promised to send in the NZ Herald article on the story of the sinking and the fraud discovery. Its at their bach in the Bay of Islands so next trip he will dig it out & send it. Should be an interesting read 🙂
I spoke with Harold Kidd yesterday & HDK was unaware of the existence of the two Marguerite’s & was delighted that via ww we had uncovered another classic. Harold mentioned that Ken McLeod’s launch was a patrol craft for the arrival of the Gothic in Auckland for the Royal Tour on 23/12/1953 and McLeod was also a member of the Squadron.
Input from Ken Ricketts on Margueritte’s launch day
Margueritte was built in Westhaven in one of the cream painted green roofed sheds, that used to be where the motorway approaches are now.
She was a very beamy boat for her time, around 14 ft 6 to 15 feet at least, with a huge volume, bridgedeck & being built in to the tuck (like REHIA as an example), with no cockpit, she was “all boat” inside, with her 2 x Ford V8s under the floor, at the tuck, with Vee drives.
Her first attempt at being launched was horrific.
One Saturday in early 1948, when Ken was 12 & on his parents launch Juliana, waiting for the tide after cleaning the bottom, up against one of the pile cleaning sets that used to be there.
When suddenly Ken & his parents heard a huge crashing noise, from the other side of the bay. They rushed on deck to have a look & then rowed over, to see what had happened & saw this huge launch, which was being lowered on a trolley, from one of the cream painted sheds on railway type rails, to the water, which was 6 feet below it, at its position on the rails at that time, with the tide well out, & it had fallen sideways off the trolley & down about 4 to 6 ft sideways, on its side to the water below, & she was lying on her side just touching the water with the side of her hull.
She was retrieved & repaired & Ken saw her in Mansion House Bay, the following Christmas.