The story below without doubt is the best to appear on WW, author Pete Beech talks at one stage about writing a book – he needs to. Surely there is a funding channel available – what’s the literary equivalent of ‘NZ On Air’?
THE EVOLUTION OF PLEASURE CRAFT COMMUNICATION
Next time you pick up a mobile phone to chat to another boat or log a trip report via the Coastguard APP, spare a thought for the boats of days gone by that had only one option (other than flags) for communications at sea. As a child I was fascinated by all these strange random words Zulu Mike Bravo Lima etc – my father being an ex-army comms man, morse was his thing. On holidays, myself and brothers were ‘made’ to listen to ships at sea and try to record the message, the winner i.e. most accurate, would win a chocolate.
WW follower Ken Ricketts is of an age that he has seen and experienced the evolution of New Zealand maritime radio communications and recently he wrote a comprehensive chronicle on the subject, which you will find below. It is worth a read to either educate or refresh yourself on the huge advances that have been made in the field. The story is peppered with a few tales directly relating some of our woody fleet (scroll over photos to ID the woodys) so hopefully that will keep those of you with a short attention span – awake 🙂 Enjoy
Maritime radio-telephony in Auckland pleasure craft, had its first & humble beginnings in 1946, at which time, Ken’s father, Ralph Ricketts, entered the fray, with the second ever such installation, in Auckland, (the original first one was on the REHIA owned by Bill & Phyl Ryan at that time — who told RR about it) RR immediately bought, (as ultimately almost everyone did, once they knew about them ), an ex WW II war assets double side band, (DSB), ZC1 MK II R.T., for 20 pounds, & fitted it to the Rickett’s launch – JULIANA, after which RR had a visit from a Govt radio inspector, who took diagrams of aerial format & layout, made various notes on his file of the installation, checked RR’s ability to use the set, made a test call himself, to “ZLD Auckland Radio,” sited at Musik Point at that time, on the entrance to the Tamaki Estuary, & made sure RR had a “Restricted Radio Operators License,” which was required in those days, by all radiotelephone operators, on all pleasure craft, – now long since discontinued, & he allocated JULIANA the call sign of ZMYP.
Originally, there was only one call frequency, & that was 2012Kh, in 1946, used for all purposes, but not too long after that, 2012 was reallocated exclusively for harbour control use, to the Auckland Harbour Board, & pleasure boaties were allocated 2182, the international distress frequency for initial calling to government shore stations, & 2162 for ship to shore working, & 2456 & 2638 for ship to ship gossiping.
The 2162 working frequency, was later changed to a duplex frequency, with 2162 for listening to ZLD, & them receiving on 2207.
The frequency of 2045, was allocated around 1950, for use for transmission between privately owned shore stations & boats, such has Port Charles Radio, (the legendary Jim Smith owner/operator ), Gt. Barrier radio , Awaroa Radio etc.
These shore stations were used extensively, for many years, from around 1950, by many commercial fishing boats, working throughout the Gulf, many of whom, reported in daily their positions, usually around 6 pm. There were also many pleasure craft which used the service, & RR was one of them. He joined the Port Charles association for most of his boating life with legendary Jim Smith the owner/operator. RR or Ken would call Jim every evening at around 6pm & report in our position at that time.
You paid a small annual fee usually, to join their non profit associations, to cover their running costs & they kept records of your locations, times of calls, assisted in any way they could, with any problems you may have had, etc., & these associations usually operated, for several set times, of about 15 to 30 minutes, each day. Ken thinks some may still exist on the VHF channels, possibly there is one on Gt. Barrier Island.
Auckland Coastguard was also allocated the frequency of 2128, (from recall), for ship to Coastguard use.
By the early 1950s ZLD had introduced a radio telegram service to land based recipients who had a telephone number available, as the address & the telegrams would be sent by ZLD to any entity via that phone number ( & later delivered in hard copy via normal post to the address of the phone number), & if a reply was quested, or anticipated, they would telephone it through immediately, whilst the ship waited on standby, & ZLD would call back with the reply ASAP.
The cost, was fairly expensive for the era, & on a cost per word basis & the costs were charged to the landline phone number. This service stayed in place as far as Ken knows right through in to the VHF era.
Land based parties, could also send radio telegrams to boaties, with the address, via the P & T telegram phone number, which must include the call sign & was as follows; (as a example) Mr. Smith Vessel ZMYP JULIANA C/- ZLD AUCKLAND RADIO.
ZLD at the end of its 3 or 4 hourly daily weather forecasts & shipping information, would give a list of all telegraphic traffic held for all vessels including of course, & very importantly, their call signs, & most would listen to these broadcasts, as often as possible, & advise friends on other boats, if they were near at the time, that ZLD had a message for them.
By about 1983 this communication with the outside world was taken a step further, & ZLD introduced a VHF radio telephone service, which many mature old time boaties may recall, where a ship could call ZLD, on channels 22 & 23, in the Auckland region, give them a landline number, which they would dial & then patch your call to ZLD through, to enable you to talk direct, to the subscriber, which whilst it was a good service, it had its shortcomings & limitations, shall we say, as any boatie who by chance or otherwise, dialled into ch. 22 or 23 on his boat, would inevitably be privy to what were sometimes surprising, & very private conversations, also necessarily, only one party at a time in the conversation could speak, & the other had to listen, & one had to say “over,” at the end of each segment of conversation, to enable the other party to know when to respond,
Calls to boaties from landlines could also be booked with ZLD & ZLD would call them back, when they were able to make contact the vessel, the land based party wished to contact.
There was one other form of radio communication which evolved & inevitably found its way in to the boating world for a period in the 1970s/80s & that was Citizen Band (CB) radio transmitting communication equipment, for short distance communication, unrestricted in it use, & it could be used by any person, at any place for any lawful purpose, but it was restricted, to a very low aerial output power in all sets, which could be bought & licensed extremely cheaply, much more so, than proper marine purpose built equipment, & this medium became popular for a period, in the 1970/80s, with some boaties, mostly in the smaller cheaper craft range, where cost was a really important issue for some, but whilst it was cheap, it had many shortcomings, including its very short transmission range, & as there was no structured organisation of any type, either private or govt., monitoring it, one simply in event of distress, had to rely on someone within the range for your set, hearing your call, & helping as best they could, one way or another. So whist it was so very limited in its rescue value, nevertheless it was better than having no communication at all, if in need of help.
These sets had a good number of preset channels & operated on the HF 26.500 Mh band in NZ., which was a different frequency range to many other countries, including Australia, which used 27.500Mh), & call signs were allocated to owners on a regional basis, depending on where you lived.
Ken installed one on his 40′ launch TIARRI, when launched in 1979, in order to have maximum possibility of assisting boats, in times of distress or breakdown. TIARRI’S main call sign was ZM3199, which, along with the radio, Ken took from his first boat, FLYING SCUD, which was issued to F.S. in December 1953, when she was built & launched by Roy Lidgard, just after the advent of the letter number era – only 1100 numbers in to the new system.
There were the very odd exceptions, to the above early days policy, & call signs, mostly around the 1940s era, almost all of which, were for boats, where they were owned by the owners of private islands, in the Hauraki Gulf & Northland, & perhaps the Sounds, where they had a licensed, private, island based set, on their island, & a special boat call sign allocated to their boats, for keeping in touch with their home bases, usually where these boats were their sole means of access, to the outside world, & these sometimes, were of a number letter combination, with just one or two numbers usually, & had just one specific frequency, to operate with.
All transmitting in DSB & SSB sets was technically very accurately totally controlled, often by a plug in type internal “Chrystal Control unit,” or similar, for each frequency,& fitted to all sets for all transmitting frequencies.
There were later several lower end of the High Frequency, (HF) band, frequencies added in the 3, 4, & 6, Mh bands, mostly used by off shore boats, out at sea.
This cumbersome, & red tape process, of registration, continued for a good number of years, right through the initial era of “ Double side Band “ transmission, & in to the upgrading of that era, to “single side band” (SSB) transmission, circa 1970s
After single side band transmissions became compulsory, around the 1970s this required the purchase of a new set, & the only double side band frequency which was still legally usable, was the international distress frequency of 2182 Kh, & this could only be used for calls to govt shore stations (ZLD for Auck) or ZLW for Wellington, as examples), for emergencies only, & craft which did not wish to outlay for a new SSB set, or alternatively still keep a 2182 set after they bought a VHF set after they were introduced, could modify & keep their old set, & were then reallocated a compulsory special “ZMX” based call sign, starting at ZMX2001.
These days ZLD has left Musik Point, & the government’s ZLD & ZLW (& ZLB in the South Island,) which all later came under the umbrella of Telecom, being the replacement that took over from the old P & T., which in turn, has now become a totally new entity, as “Maritime Radio,” & under the umbrella through various subsidiaries, to “Maritime NZ.,” being another different Govt Dept, with the transfer becoming effective from midnight, & starting on the 1st October 1993 & the operators of which, are now all based in the Old Radio NZ Avalon building, in Avalon, Lower Hutt, Wellington, with transmission facilities, in Wellington & Taupo, plus a network of repeaters, scattered around the country monitoring the whole country, which is now all controlled from this one location.
In the later 1970s early 80s Very High Frequency, (VHF) maritime radio was introduced, which gave many benefits, with all its ongoing ever increasing refinements, & installation of shore based repeaters, on high ground, throughout the country, which has now ultimately totally replaced the old Medium Frequency DSB & SSB sets, with many advantages to all users, for all local NZ & inshore boating, along with the discontinuation of licensing of individual operators, & inspections by govt inspectors, of all boats so fitted, with RT equipment.
Also, Radio Spectrum Management, the govt department which these days controls allocates & administers all radio & TV transmissions, call signs & frequencies, has vested in NZ Coastguard, the authority to issue calls signs on its behalf, of a mixed letter number type, such as, (possible examples only), ZMQ 2947, ZMW4526, ZMR 2937, & so on, as a result of the huge demand for these, these days, & the time consuming process it used to be, for R.S.M.
Originally in 1946, this was all under the umbrella of the Post & Telegraph Department to later become Telecom, & remained so for many years, until 1987, when it all started to change & we have ended up, for a good number of years now, with RSM, as the entity in control.
The pleasure craft call sign evolution, & changes to it, are as follows;
As above, all craft up until c1953, were all 4 letters alone.
As they were beginning to run out of call signs, around 1953, the Govt. wrote to all pleasure craft owners, requesting they approve the replacement of their existing all letter call signs with a letter number combination, starting originally, with the first reissued call sign of ZM2001.
It is important to note that the Govt., could not insist on this by law, & only request it, & if the owners did not consent to the allocation of a new call sign, the original then remained with the boat, & there are a few of boats that still have their original all letter call signs even today.
Neither Ken’s father nor the owner/builder of GAY DAWN, Bill Waters, who RR bought the boat off in 1956, surrendered their original all letter call signs, for their respective boats, — (see image above of GAY DAWN taken c1965, showing clearly, a typical DSB aerial set up as used for many of the DSB, SSB, medium frequency sets of that era), — RR sold JULIANA in 1956 with ZMYP, (which was somewhere along the way, later either abandoned, or replaced, with letter number combo call sign), & now, as referred to below, is reinstated to her for life. RR bought in 1956 & sold in 1970, GAY DAWN, with ZMIV in place, which however, also later along the way, was replaced by persons unknown, with a letter number combo, at least once, note: ZMIV has now been reallocated to the Rickett’s family and used on the vessel ROSEANNE, which is owned by Ken’s daughter.
Such was the ever increasing size of the “snowball,” of pleasure craft sets, that it was not all that long, before the original issue of the ZM2001 to ZM9999 were all allocated, & we then saw the issue of ZMA2001 to ZMA9999, followed by the final issue to the SSB era, which was ZMY2001 to ZMY9999.
It is important to note, that all call sign issues right from ZM 4 letter, ZM+, ZMA, ZMY, & ZMX, & all Coastguard issued call signs are approved & provide for use of all VHF sets.
All letter only call signs, which are all just 4 letters alone, must still be issued by R.S.M. direct, & are mostly reserved for all Govt vessels,(eg., all the Police DEODAR launches were & still are, all allocated ZMIH, during their term of service to the Police), also some very large off shore fishing vessels, & some NZ based pleasure boats, that cruise off shore, or are capable of cruising offshore have these call signs allocated as well.
Other pleasure craft, that have some classic, historical, or other special significance, are also issued these, at the discretion of RSM.
Ken has enjoyed a close & good relationship with RSM, for many years, & there are some interesting background stories relating to the issue of some of these special allocations of all letter call signs, which Ken has been associated with, & some of these are as follows. There are a tiny number of pleasure craft that were built prior to about 1953, where the owners did not approve replacing their original call sign, which the dept. would have requested, but could not insist upon in c1953.
Two examples of this are as follows;
One with its original 1946 issued call sign is RAKANOA, which still has her original call sign ZMTF as issued when new, & the other, is Owen Foster’s WAIRANGI, also with her original call sign of ZMTM.
A fairly recent approval exception, is the issue of ZMPY, to Peter Loughlin’s Colin Wild built LADY MARGARET, which was first issued to her, in 1941, by the Navy, & is recorded as such on her British Ship registration, (see below), & as a classic craft, with this history of her call sign, Ken assisted Peter, to secure this for her for life, when he bought her.
Likewise Francis Uren’s “W1”, was issued with ZMWI in 2014, which is another detective story. W1 was originally brought to NZ by the Royal New Zealand Air force in 1941, as their extremely fast, & prize patrol craft, & given in the circumstances, the logical Air force number of “W1”, which has now been reinstated to her, as her name, by present owner Francis, after a long period of being known as CARROMA.
As she is now W1 again, Ken approached RSM, gave them her history, & they in turn, approached their counterparts in the military, to see if they could uncover her original WWII call sign, but unfortunately all those records have been lost, so as an alternative, RSM offered Francis the call sign ZMWI. – They could not offer ZMW1 as international radio spectrum law, prohibits that type of call sign, worldwide, so she now has ZMWI for life, free of charge.
El Capitan is another interesting story, as she now has ZMEC. It goes like this; She was built c1961, by a farmer, in a shed on his farm, to a Chris Craft design, in Ohakea, & he carted her around on a big trailer, & used her at Taupo, & the Sounds, until 1976, after which time, she sat in a shed on his farm, never to move again, until bought by Tony Mitchell, of Lake Rotoiti, off his estate, post 2000. When Tony bought her, she had a Coden 2+ Mh multi channel, medium frequency, marine RT, which would have been fitted almost certainly, when she was new, which has now been replaced with a VHF, but for which, there had never been a marine call sign issued, as the original owner, was also a radio ham, with a “ZL#### ham radio licence & call sign, which automatically allowed him to use this call sign for his boat. Ken provided on Tony’s behalf, all relevant info to RSM, & requested, & they approved, ZMEC (El Capitan), which she also has for life.
Ralph Rickett’s JULIANA, now renamed MARJORIE ROSA, now also of Lake Rotoiti, has been reallocated for her life, her original call sign ZMYP, as issued to RR in 1946. Ken told RSM of her history, as the second ever pleasure craft in Auck., to have marine RT, in 1946, & they have approved the reissue to her of her original ZMYP, to Fraser Wilson, her present owner, for her life.
Story told by Ken Ricketts, edited by Alan H.
Clarionet – Sailing Sunday
Today’s woody is the Chappelle designed schooner- Clarionet, seen here early one morning in Whangamumu, Northland getting ready to get underway.
WoodenBoat Magazine Interview #4
This week we see WB editor Matt Murphy interview Sean Koomen. Sean is the chief instructor for the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock, Washington. While studying cello performance at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, Sean launched his own small boat shop. Subsequently, he worked on the restorations of several historically significant vessels, including the 138′ steam yacht Cangarda and the 1929 schooner Viviveka. Sean later led the restoration of the 90′ fantail yacht Wanda, and has worked as a shipwright for the San Francisco Maritime Museum and for Brooklin Boatyard in Maine. Sean also talks about his recent extended stay in Tasmania, and the school’s current exploration of online hands-on education initiatives in the age of social distancing.
“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.”
See the details and get the membership here and enjoy full membership privileges for 8 weeks. That means you’ll have access to over 1,000 videos and articles full of inspiration and know-how.
The 44’ launch Tradition slips comfortably into the woody ’Spirit of Tradition’ (excuse the pun) category – designed by Bo Birdsail and built by Geoff Bagnall, she was launched in 1990 for Rhys & Dick Boyd. Today’s WW story is a first for WW in that the format is an interview by Keith Busch (a former owner) with Rhys and Dick. Make yourself a cup of something and find a comfortable chair – its a cracker read and really showcases what a talented boat builder Geoff Bagnall is. Special thanks to Keith for pulling this story together – simply brilliant. Full specs and ownership summary on the vessel at the end.
Keith : What do ‘Tradition’ and the Auckland pilot boat – Akarana, (designed by A. J. Collings & built by W. G. Lowe in 1960) have in common?*
Dick : I went into the fishing industry in the seventies. By 1985 I had a quota of my own and a purpose built long-liner – Kerama. Then the new owners of the company I worked for (Polar Seafood Co.) wanted me to come ashore and be fleet manager for all their trawlers.
Rhys : Anyway, one day he had just unloaded a catch and we were on our way home to our place near the Tamaki Bridge and he told me just how much he’d got per kilo for the fish he’d landed, and it was astronomical! Then he slipped in that he wanted to build a launch.
Keith : So what year was this?
Dick : I would say it was 1985.
Rhys: So I said, ‘We’re not building a launch!’, and he said, ‘But I’ve got everything for it’, and I said, ‘I don’t care, we’re going to buy another fishing boat, with prices like that we’re going to be loaded!’ So next day I go to work and on the way home I thought, ‘Oh that was a bit mean’. So he comes home that night and I said, ‘We need to have a talk’, and he said, ‘I’m going first. I’m building a launch!’, and I said, ‘I was just going to say that!’ So that was the beginning, it was like, ‘Oh I can’t do that to him, he wants it too much’. So we didn’t get rich, but we did get Tradition.
Keith : So where did you start, did you go for a builder or a designer first?
Dick : Well the designer was Bo Birdsall. I went to see John Lidgard first and I asked him to draw me a boat, but after a few sketches I wasn’t getting what I wanted. Then somebody, oh Roy Rimmer, said to me try Birdsall. So we met with Bo and he drew it up. We were real happy with his hull, it was great. But I still had a few questions about his topsides. Anyway, when we got Geoff onboard we thought we could start from Bo’s drawings and go from there, so that was the beginning of it. Bo was a real nice guy and extremely clever. He was good to work with.
Keith : So you were happy with the hull, how’d you end up with that beautiful topside?
Dick : Well what happened was, Bo drew it up and he didn’t include the sedan roof on the fore deck, so it was just the main cabin sitting on the deck. But when Geoff was building the boat the radius that had to go into the forward area to give head room, well it just didn’t work. Anyway Geoff came up with the idea to put a sedan roof on the forward deck and just that small addition balanced out the main cabin nicely. It’s one of those things with a good builder, he just put up some false frames, then let us have a look at it and it worked. He’s got a great eye for those things you know, always looking as he goes.
Rhys : We didn’t get a drawing of it and say, ‘Yes that all works’. All of us looked at her as we went.
Dick : Of course Geoff would have put a little more sheer on it, because that’s just Geoff, but I liked Bo’s idea of the hull. It’s very hard during a build, a lot of the time you don’t know what you’re going to end up with. We had ladders all over the show. You’d be climbing up and down and looking along the boat and trying to imagine what it was going to look like in the water. Later we were down the side of Waiheke and this guy passes and yells out ‘Geez someone made a great job of that!’, so I think it in the end she works.
Keith : So going back a bit, how did you get Geoff Bagnall as your boat builder?
Dick : Well okay, first we started talking with Brin Wilson’s boys Richard and Bob Wilson, because Bo’s wife was related to the Wilson’s. Bo said ‘it would be good if you got the Wilson’s to build it. I’d had nothing to do with them so I got a price from them and I though ‘Well we’ve struck a bit of a wall here!’. So I talked to Bo and he said ‘Okay, then try young Bagnall’. So I contacted him and he was interested at a price we could manage and we went from there.
Keith : ‘Young’ Bagnall! He’s just retired! How old was Geoff at this time?
Dick : Just around forty or something about that, because he had built – Nazareth and the yacht. He’d already built several boats, oh and he’d built the one that hit the bricks going over to Barrier (Onetunga?), oh and Katoa. He would have built about 8 or 9 boats by then and he designed some as well, I think he designed Katoa. His boats are a little hard edged to my eye. More ‘solid’ compared to Bo’s lines I think.
Keith : So where was she built then. Was Geoff off on his own?
Dick : When he did Tradition he built it in the old Harbour Board timber mill. The Harbour Board had just been privatised and they weren’t using their mill building at Westhaven, so Jack Fagan organised for us to use an area in the mill shed. That was real handy because all the woodworking equipment was in there so we could use it to deal with the timbers. All her timber work was done there in that mill building, except we sent the kauri out to a joker who did timber dressing in Rosedale Road and he did the whole lot. So it went out in flitches and it came back in nice dressed planks ready to go on the boat. The planks for the hull are inch and three-quarter by inch and a quarter heart kauri.
Keith : So where did the wood come from?
Dick : It came from Noel Mitchell who was the foreman at the Ports of Auckland slipway. When Akarana*, which was Auckland’s biggest pilot boat in those days, was being built, Noel had decided that a pilot boat could get smashed up real easy, so he bought enough kauri and teak for extensive repairs and put that aside to repair Akarana if she got crunched. There was talk of them selling this timber for houses but Noel said ‘No, it’s for boat building so we’re selling it for that. So that’s where we got the timber. We got all her heart kauri and the teak there.
Keith : So where exactly was the Harbour Board timber mill located?
Dick : Well, to the best of my memory, it was just past where ‘Sailors Corner’ is nowadays. On the left hand side of the road, well that was all Harbour Board land. Its where McMullen and Wing’s haul-out is now. The Harbour Board had three or four slipways there and they used to do all the work for us on the trawlers. They were close by so the company could keep the trawler crews employed by doing all the cleaning and paint-work and chip rust off the boats instead of spending all their time in the pub. So I knew Noel and it worked out pretty well.
Keith : So you got hold of Geoff and he was keen to take it on?
Dick : Oh yes. He had this old mate called Bert who used to sweep the floor and mix the glue and make the tea. Of course Bert has passed away now but he was a hell of a nice old guy and he worked on her as well.
Keith : Who else was involved in the build?
Dick : The wiring was Peter Galley, the painting was Mark Binney, plumbing was Alan Kemp, who was a Harbour Board guy. There was a lot of input from the slipway workers off and on and in their own time. Of course, I supplied them with fish non-stop so it was give and take, a bit of barter. The engineering was, oh well we did most of that stuff ourselves.
Keith : And the Ford engine was from Lees?
Dick : No, the engine was from Don Bernand, Don is Mr Ford, he’s brilliant. I think we bought the engine in Tradition from Newlove in Whangarei and Don did the marinisation. He served his time with the Lane Motorboat Co. on the Tamaki River and when Lees got out of Ford he bought everything off them, all the patterns, moulds, that sort of stuff and set himself up at home. Don bought the new engine for me. It has a Newage Coventry 2:1 gearbox and the ‘get-home’ kit in it. At the time it was hard to find the gearbox we wanted but Don eventually found it and we fitted it. I can’t think who did the hydraulics, but it was all fitted by us.
Keith : So you gathered all her bits and pieces together. When did the build start?
Dick : It took me 6 years to put everything together before I got to the point where I could say, okay I’ve got enough to go and do it. During that time I had all the timber stored at home. At my son’s 21st we had the filches on sawhorses under the marquee so all the guests were sitting around on the kauri filches. They hung around for years reminding me to keep collecting stuff. The brass portholes in the cabin doors come from an old fish ‘n chip shop in Howick, while the ship’s bell is from the ill-fated ferro fishing vessel the – Trident.
Rhys : We’ll he’d been collecting things for a long time. He had some things ready to go. He’d probably told me he’d bought stuff for a boat but I hadn’t listened or realised it was enough to build a complete boat.
Dick : The photo above is the laying out of the frames internally. You’ve got them all standing up there. That’s Geoff in his younger days. Geez he looks different there doesn’t he!
Keith : So the date on that photo is July 26th 1989, is that about the date she was started?
Dick : Would’ve been pretty close to it. Maybe a month before perhaps.
Rhys : Lucky the cameras had the dates on them in those days.
Keith : So tell us about all the effort of the construction.
Dick : Well we could lay 8 planks per day. So all the frames were stood up and we had the steam box ready for the planks there at the mill.
Keith : So you were coming down each day and helping Geoff?
Dick : I used to come in at night after work and do all the plugging. So Bert, cuppa tea maker and floor sweeper, he used to help Geoff during the day. They used to put the timber in the steamer and the following morning they’d come in and put those 8 planks up and then put another 8 in the steam box. So it was pretty slow going. I’d come in after work and do the plugs. But they were always in front of me because you couldn’t work on the planks that they had just put up that day because you’re driving the plugs in, so I was always a bit behind them plugging and sanding.
Rhys : Don’t forget you had to make all those plugs yourself too.
Keith : So how many were there? Did you count?
Rhys : He wouldn’t be brave enough to count, that would have been tear-jerking.
Dick : No, it was slow work. But the reason I plugged it was that sometimes you wake-up in the morning and you’re able to see every bit of bog that’s gone into a boat and you shouldn’t be able to see that with proper plugging.
Dick : Roy Rimmer used to pop in to make sure we were doing everything right. There was a lot of interest in the boat, because it was very handy to everybody in the harbour area.
Rhys : A lot of people would pop in after work and see how we were getting on.
Keith : So why did you choose to build her in wood?
Dick : Well you’re right, wooden boats were not being built at the beginning of the 90’s and a lot of people said ‘What are you bloody well building a launch that big in wood for?’ But, you know, it was what we both wanted. If I go back to the days of the old ‘Golden Kiwi’ tickets, my nom-de-plume was always 44’x14’, that’s because I was determined I was going to build a wooden launch that was 44’ long with a beam of 14’. Ha ha, I never won the Golden Kiwi did I! But even way back then I was thinking of her, I suppose it was my dream. And I’d always said I’d love a boat with proper teak coamings, teak decks and a hull of kauri.
Rhys : With a wife to varnish and look after it!
Dick : Yeah, I was lucky I had one of those!
Keith : What were some of the comments you got when you were building her.
Dick : Well it was the materials of the build that attracted people. It’s a kauri strip planked boat, but the availability of kauri was getting very tight, even in those days. You just couldn’t go out and buy it. If you did happen to find some stacked up somewhere, it was really expensive. But because we knew the blokes at the Harbour Board and had feed them a lot of fish over the years, we got lucky with the source of the kauri we used. They gave it to us at a reasonable cost and there was also teak there that was meant to repair the old pilot boats, but they were being retired and the new ones were steel. Colin Clare might know how old the wood itself was. I can’t honestly say, but it was already old when we bought it. I think it was milled on Great Barrier. Anyway, they were happy to see it go to build a boat and not end up in a kitchen cupboard.
When I took Geoff in to have a look at the timber, there were stacks and stacks of 3’’x 2’’ kauri, but the sap wood was all full of borer. So we set those bits aside and all the stuff we bought were filches of heart kauri. The teak there was all 3’’, so Geoff split them and I think the cabin is inch and three-eights. Anyway, there’s a lot of teak in her topsides and a hell of a lot of kauri in the hull! What else? Well, there’s some totara in the keel, that came from the Salvation Army place down at Rotoroa Island. The guy who ran the ‘Kahino’ was a mate of Geoff’s and he provided that for us. Most of the keel and the engine bearers are Australian brushbox which is quite a hard, heavy, red coloured wood, but you have to watch it because it will get worm, that’s why it’s glassed over.
Keith : So how long was the build time.
Dick : Well what did we say, from mid1989 and it was launched at the end of 1990.
Keith : So all your mates and friends came and gave you a hand at some stage?
Rhys : Only Mary Smith came to help, the others came to drink! But Jack Fagan did some work on it, he was good.
Dick : It’s amazing how hard helpers are to find. The minute you mention sandpaper, they’re off, outta here! But Jack was one of the supporters of the whole project, he helped make things happen sometimes when we hit a wall.
Rhys : By the time we had the launching we were so exhausted from months and months of work we didn’t want her! We launched it and then everybody got so full of wine and drink that the next morning we had a shocking hang-over. We dragged ourselves out of bed and went round for breakfast at Westhaven and I said to Tich, ‘Do you want the boat’ and he said ‘Na’. Of course we didn’t really mean that, but oh it had just been such a big job and she wasn’t finished by a long shot. We didn’t have a stove or a fridge. We didn’t have squabs. We had a toilet and a shower, that was it! To top it all off we’d run out of money!
Dick : We had to follow Chris and Mary Smith around, because they had a launch called ‘Hukarere’ and they had a nice cooker onboard, so we used to follow them.
Rhys : They also had a fridge so we kept our cold stuff in there.
Dick : Paul Nolan had a big Salthouse 53’ ‘Blitzen’ and he had a whole lot of squabs because he was replacing his so I said ‘don’t throw them out, we’ll be round to pick them up’.
Rhys : So we slept on those squabs and wherever Chris and Mary were, we were there. We couldn’t even make a cup of coffee! So they spent their time trying to lose us and we spent our time trying to find them. ‘Would you two like to come over?’ they would say, and we’d already be in the dingy heading towards them. And then after a while it was like, ‘gosh, can we even afford to finish her?’.
Dick : Anyway, over a few years we slowly pieced the rest of her together.
Rhys : Yes, there was still a lot to do. All the sanding inside is mine, every single inch!! You know I was a kindergarten teacher, so every school holidays, for two weeks in May and three weeks in August, and most weekends, we were on the boat doing something. I’d row out, hop on the boat outside our place in the Tamaki River and I’d get going on something. Lots of sanding, lots of varnishing.
Keith : So where did you take her on the first trips.
Dick : Well I liked the bottom end of Waiheke and over at Coromandel, Te Kuma.
Rhys : And we never managed to get to the Bay of Islands because we were working too much.
Dick : Also Waiheke. Oneroa was always popular because the Smiths were there. They still tell us when Tradition is in the bay. We have our spies! And she’s a notable boat anywhere you go, people respond to her and row over to have a yarn. Yeah, Geoff did a great job on her. One of his best.
Owners of M.V. Tradition since Dick and Rhys Boyd
1990-1996 > Dick and Rhys Boyd – Moored in Tamaki River
1996-? > Dave ? [clue – owned a pub in Mangere?]
19?? – 1998 > ?? Two guys bought it from Dave via a broker [information from Rod Middleton (Sailors Corner) They wished to take her south by truck to Mana Marina but after talking with Geoff they sailed her down the coast.
1998-2006 > Sold to Peter and Jenny Standish from Wellington and berthed at Mana. Cruised in the Marlborough Sounds.
2006-2007 > Sold to a Picton local. Moved to Waikawa Marina, Picton
2007-2011 > Sold back to Peter and Jenny Standish. Berthed in Waikawa Marina. Had a major refit at Frankins Boat Yard, Waikawa in 2009.
• Varnish stripped inside and two pot urethane used.
• New navigation electronics, TVs, sound system, stove, leather upholstery, carpets, covers and bow thrusters added.
• Bunks in forward V-berth removed, double bed built in.
2011-2019 > Sold to Keith Busch & Wiesje Geldof of Wellington. 3 years berthed at Waikawa Marina. Vessel trucked north to Tauranga from Mana Marina 2013. 3 years berthed at Bridge Marina, Tauranga. Hutchinson’s Boat Yard, Tauranga work :
• Stripped outside varnish and replaced with 16 coats of ‘All-wood’ urethane
• New teak plank deck installed. Boot topping strip repainted in light green.
• Fly-bridge helm station repainted. Holding tank and generator added.
3 years berthed at Hobsonville Marina, Auckland
Accepted into Classic Yacht Association in 2016 as ‘modern classic’.
2020 > Sold to Chris and Rae Collins of the RNZYS
Specifications of M.V. Tradition
Type : Saloon Launch
Designer : Bowden ‘Bo’ Birdsall
Builder :Geoff Bagnall, built at Auckland Harbour Board mill building, Westhaven
Launched : November 1990
Commissioned : Dick and Rhys Boyd of Tamaki, Auckland
Dimensions : LOA 44 feet, beam 14’ 3”, draft 4’6”, displacement 11.5 t
Engine : 1990 Ford 145hp ‘Marko’, cruises at 9 kts, max speed 11kts
Gearbox : Newage Coventry 2:1 gearbox
Construction : Kauri planked hull (inch and three-quarter by one inch, glassed-over), strip-teak deck, teak topsides, white hull with light green boot-topping, polished wooden topsides, white fly-deck.
Mechanical : Side-Power bow thrusters, Pugaro diesel generator, anchor winch
Electrical : 12V and 240V systems, auto-helm, radar, Garmin gps chart plotter, TV, stereo system, VHF (x2), 3 x house batteries, 2x start batteries, inverter
Accommodation : 2 cabins, Master (double) and Guest (2 single)
Galley : 4 burner gas stove, microwave, gas hot water system, fridge, freezer
Tanks : Diesel – 1 x 650 litres; water 2x 350 litres (700 litres) both stainless steel. Black water holding tank 300 litres in welded plastic
NOTE: Boat builder Geoff Bagnall is not retired, just no longer has the shed in Milford Creek.
SS DUKE of MARLBOROUGH
I recently stumbled across the above photo of the steam ship – Duke of Marlborough and knowing nothing about her put a call into Russell Ward aka Mr Steam. The man is never embarrassed to speak so – take it away Russell, WW is all yours…..
“Once, 30+ years ago, I built up a steamboat called “Gypsy”. So pull up a chair, warm yourselves by the fire and I’ll tell you a story which isn’t about “Gypsy” at all, it’s about the “James Torrey” which became the “Duke of Marlborough”.
But, through “Gypsy”, I met one Lloyd Lewis of Lake Tarawera. He was an ardent enthusiast for steamy things (who wouldn’t be – living on Lake Tarawera.) Lloyd had made a steamer up out of a hull I had sold him a year or so previously and really had the steamboat bug badly. As the late Pete Culler (he wrote a lot about boats and he was a wise man) said “It’s awful, don’t go near it or you are hooked.” And you can’t argue with facts like that, folks. Suffice to say Lloyd got steam enginitis in a big way.
He had Wellington naval architect Bruce Askew design a hull for a 36’ steam vessel following the style of the early 1900 steam boats The steel hull was built in 1987 by Gordon Clark and Brian Starrock in New Plymouth and shipped to Rotorua for Lloyd to complete. He did a fine aesthetic job. She was launched as “James Torrey” and he used her to take fishing tours on the lake. The lads appreciated the warmth from the boiler at times.
Lloyd built the engine – an English design by A.A. Leake and a dashed good looker it is -a traditional open compound, driving a 28” by 42” propeller giving a service speed of 6 knots. A piston valve is fitted to the high pressure cylinder and a balanced slide valve on the low pressure one. It has cross-head driven twin feed pumps and air pump. Exhaust is through a feed-water heater to a keel condenser. There you feel a lot better for knowing that.
But to sum up, working on salt water, you have to condense the exhaust steam or you run out of feedwater real quick. Besides, condensing gives you a useful addition to the power through the vacuum created which, in essence, sucks the piston while the steam pushes.
The steam is provided by a Kingdon type boiler (1900’s Simpson Strickland design) built by Langley Engineering in the U.K and, since you didn’t really want to know, It is a vertical fire-tube type, 34 inches high by 30 inches diameter over lagging, has 3.4 square feet of grate area and has 84 square feet of heating surface. She burns coal and there is nothing better.
Lloyd had quite job actually getting Ed Langley to dispatch the finished boiler although it had been long since paid for. Ed had had his delivery problems over the years…. Legend has it that, in frustration (remember communication was all letters and phone calls that had to be booked well ahead in those prehistoric times); Lloyd flew over to the UK and turned up at the works just ahead of the receiver. Seeing the likelihood of his investment coming to nothing, he took matters into his own hands and loaded the boiler up himself. Lloyd just wasn’t the sort of man to argue with and got his boiler. It is a very handsome job.
Anyway after a number of years, Lloyd tired of his steamboat and Roger Frazer took her to Picton. He renamed her “Duke of Marlborough” and did a lot of restoration which is a credit to him. He has been taking passengers out of Picton for some time. I’m sure the passengers appreciate the boiler’s warmth even more that the Lake Tarawera types.”
I understand she may be for sale………
WoodenBoat Magazine Interview #3
This week WB editor Matt Murphy interviews Harold Burnham in a live discussion of how, for nearly three decades, he has been instrumental in revitalizing the shipbuilding and maritime culture of his region by designing, building, and rehabilitating traditional vessels for cultural tourism. Harold is an 11th-generation shipwright, and has, at various times, also been a sawyer, mariner, model maker, and sail maker.
TANGMERE FINDS HER WAY HOME
One of the many woodys that contacted WW for a copy of Chris McMullen’s docking tips was Mike Empson, owner of – Maureen II, a Matangi, built c1967-68 by Brin Wilson. Maureen II is 100% kauri, 36′ long and weighs approx. 9 tonnes.
As you know I’m a big fan of the website – Off Center Harbor, the site is probably best known for jaw dropping boat tours and in-depth how-to series, but the OCH lads also know how to slow down and soak up the scenery. Given the craziness of the last 5 weeks I have found myself trolling the OCH online library more than ever, looking to a cure to my boat less blues. I have some favourites that I would be embarrassed to say how many times I have viewed 🙂
Milford Cruising Club Yard
MY GIRL’S OLD HOME – MILFORD CREEK IN THE LATE 1940’s> EARLY 1950’s
As I touched on the other day in relation to my own woody – RainDance, its very special when out of the blue you are contacted by someone with details and photos on your boat. It was woody Jason Prew’s turn recently to get the call regarding his 1925, Dick Lang built launch – My Girl.
As I’m sure you are aware WW has rather extensively followed the restoration > launch > cruising log of My Girl so all the exposure has rattled a few memories – this time from Greg Bowman whose grandfather, Walter Brunton used to own My Girl at end of the 1940’s to 1960.
Walter Brunton lived in Castor Bay, Auckland and moved to Russell, in the Bay of Islands in 1950, after Greg’s mother, Elva, married his Dad Trevor Bowman. Like all good relationships in those days – they meet on the water.
When Walter moved north he turned My Girl into a fishing boat (now I know where that smell is from – just kidding Jason). Walter sold fish to the open market and to feed guests in his guesthouse in Russell, named – Arcade Lodge.
Back in those days My Girl had a Gray marine engine, and most years she won the New Year launch race out of Russell.
Greg sent Jason the collection of b/w photos above of My Girl and the Milford Creek, where she was kept in the late 1940’s. The top photo gives you an idea of the amount of dredging required to accommodate the marina that exists today.
It’s a bit cheeky (excuse the pun) but the photo below shows the on-board sanitation methods on My Girl, before inbuilt heads. I know the bucket and chuck it was around but the old rope did the trick – off course helped by the lack of duckboards back then 🙂
WW link below to show the journey My Girl has been on in terms of apperance and the extent of Jason’s restoration. And a photo of her post re-launch heading into Milford Creek or as some of the MCC woodys call it – Wairau Cove 😉
HDML MANGA > HAIMOANA
In the interests of saving you from getting a sore neck from shaking your head – this boat ended up with a beehive restoration i.e. was put on the bonfire.
HMNZS Manga (Q1185) was one of 16 Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDML) to be delivered to the RNZN in 1943. She was commissioned on 6 April 1943 and joined the 124th. ML Flotilla at Auckland. She was used in anti-submarine patrols in the port approaches and the Hauraki Gulf northwards to Cape Brett. On 11 October 1945 she paid off in Auckland and was placed in reserve. In early 1946 she was converted for army use, fitted with a towing bitt and transferred ‘on loan’ to the Army. She was renamed Bombardier and used by the RNZ Artillery for target towing and general transport duties for over 10 years. In 1948 she was reclassified as a Seaward Defence Motor Launch (SDML) and renumbered P3567. In November 1959 she was transferred back to the RNZN. In 1960 she was commissioned as HMNZS Manga (call sign ZMBJ) and joined the fishery squadron where she served until 1967. After a refit she was assigned to Wellington RNZNVR until 1973, and then re-joined the fishery squadron briefly, returning to Wellington in 1974. In 1977 Manga was restricted to sheltered waters and returned to Auckland in 1977. During the period from 1977 to 1981 she was attached to HMNZS Ngapona. She was withdrawn from service and sold in 1982 to Takapuna Contractors Ltd., and was later sold again and transported to Helensville for rebuilding.
LADY GAY (Raindance)
I spend a large chunk of my leisure time, pulling together the waitematawoodys stories that you all get to enjoy each day. One of the coolest parts is connecting people and boats, more often than not – it’s a grandchild looking for grandads old wooden classic or someone who used to crew on a boat and wants to contact with the long lost woodys they boated with. There have been some amazing link-ups, some taking years to surface, a common situation is someone sends in an old photo of a boat, it appears on WW, we generate some intel on the boat, then the story goes into hibernation for a while, sometimes years. Then someone does a google search on an old boats name and bang – up pops the WW story and we are away, they supply more details + photos and then that generates more – its called self populating. With over 5,500,000 views the WW site rates very well with google, also people tend to spend a lot of time on the site so that tells google the site is valued by people, so the boffins at google ‘assist’ the search functionality.
Anyway starting to get boring – yesterday was my day, my turn to be wowed by waitematawoodys. I received an email that stopped the clock. After 13 years of looking for more intel on my boat – Raindance, a gent named William Brown reached out to WW asking for assistance in tracking down a launch named Lady Gay that his father owned in the late 1960’s. Bill’s parents were Correen and James Brown and were lifetime boaties with a flotilla of craft over the years – James was also a former Commodore of the Onerahi Yacht Club and a member of the Whangarei Cruising Club.
One glance at Bill’s photos told me it was Raindance. Bill’s email is below
“It’s been fun during the lockdown to still have the consistency of your regular Waitemata Woodys posts. Thanks for that.
Back at the beginning of March, I won one of your Waitemata Woody T shirts on the Townson 28 quiz and I have been proudly wearing it around my neighbourhood during lockdown. I’ll send a picture in at some stage with perhaps a different story/email to today’s one.
Ok, so I was I digging into my old photos recently and uncovered a couple of pictures (sorry about the quality), of our family’s launch that we owned for about 5 or 6 years in the late 1960s. We knew her then as Lady Gay, but as a youngster I never knew much about her provenance. I am not actually sure my dad knew much of her design or year built either. We used her extensively in the Whangarei harbour for family holidays and fishing trips. The coloured picture has me on the stern, while anchored at Tamaterau and the black and white photo is outside the old quarry in the top of McLeods Bay. I did see her once on the hard at Orakei, so believe she was in Auckland in the 1980s at some stage. She was about 27′ long, narrow and rolled around a bit. Dad fitted stabilizing chocks to her, closed in the canvas in the cockpit and added a decent sized mast, so we could run a stabilizing sail on her. She had a big old Ruston diesel if I remember right, which was incredibly reliable and economical. Those big saloon windows were pretty recognizable, functional, but ugly!
I would be most interested to find out more of the history of this “Lady Gay” ( i realize there are other more famous Lady Gay’s around and not even sure if she was originally given this name or indeed kept it after our ownership. I wonder if she is still going strong today and if so where she is based? Some good family memories were had on her for sure!”
Post lock-down Bill will be visiting his mother (lives in Northland still) and hopefully will obtain more details and photos.
As a result of Bill’s email I have filled in some of the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle – but I would love to uncover details from her launch date (c.1928) to the early 1960’s. Hopefully the above photos and details on her owner might jog some memories.
Below I have reproduced what I had previously been able to piece together on the boats past – if I’ve got my wires crossed, please let me know:-)
Lady Gay > Lady Gai > Nona C > Raindance (as at June 2015)
When I purchased the boat in August 2007 she was named ‘Nona C’, after the then owners (Craig Colven, a Auckland Harbour Board pilot boat skipper) daughter. He told me the boat was previously called ‘Lady Gay’. I did not like the name Nona C so was in the process of reverting back to Lady Gay when I was advised of another launch called Lady Gay (owned by Graham Wilson of the Wilson & Horton publishing family), not wanting to confuse things & on the advice of several marine historians I decided to chose a new name & went with ‘RainDance’. Interestingly Graham Wilson was prepared to add II (2) to his launches name.
I was not aware that ‘Gay’ had been changed to the Irish spelling ‘Gai’ until when I was given a copy of the Dunsford Marine Surveyors Ltd pre-purchase survey commissioned in March 2003 by a Dr. Rex Ferris. Had I known about the Gai/Gay I would have retained the Lady Gai name. I obtained Rex Ferris’s address from the survey & did a Google search which resulted in an Auckland District Health Board employment link & I contacted Rex Ferris. Like myself he knew little about her past, there are still huge gaps e.g. the 1930’s > early 1980’s but below is some history I have gained.
I have also spoke in Jan 2010 to Blair Cole (boat builder) refer below.
Peter & Ann Gill, the motoring journalist, bought the boat in c.1987 & at the time had a waterfront property in the Upper Harbour (near Paremoremo wharf) with a mooring put down. He saw the boat advertised in ‘Boat Trader’, she was moored in the Tamaki Estuary & he purchased her for about $7,000. He can’t remember the name of the owner but was told the boat was built by Lane Motor Boats in 1928, there is however some discussion that she may have been built by ‘Collings & Bell’. She had a single cylinder Bukh diesel engine, which was started via a decompression lever & hand cranking. The owner told Peter that she had been based at Great Barrier Island as a ‘long-liner’ fishing boat for many years prior to him buying her. When she was moored off Peters house, she took on quite a bit of water, and it was necessary for him to go out as often as twice a week and operate the manual bilge pump. He hired a tradesman who specialized in old boats and he decided that it was the stern gland that was the problem. Peter her hauled out and they filled the stern gland with tallow. It was not a one hundred percent fix & she continued to take on water. Peter was never very comfortable with the boat & to use his words ‘we never went far in her’. She was not a pretty boat in those days with a cabin top that looked like it had been made from a ply-wood car case. (Photos below)
I have spoken to Peter several times & while he is very friendly & chatty about the boat he is very elusive about when & to whom he sold her. The reason for this is that either Peter or the next owner (?) let her sink on her mooring in the upper harbour & she remain submerged for several weeks. Given the swallow, sheltered tidal nature of the mooring this had no major negative effect on the boat.
The next chapter is amusing – the mast only of the boat was visible from the Salthouse Boat Builders yard at Greenhite & the tradesman there were running a sweep-stake as to how long she would remain submerged before the owner rescued her. During this period two of the Salthouse apprentices – Blair Cole & Kelly Archer (who both went on to become well respected boat builders in their own right) hatched a plan to buy the boat. They tracked down the owner & both approached him independently, Kelly advised it would cost $3,000 to re-float the boat. Blair then approached the owner & offered an as-is-where-is price of $2,000. The owner accepted Blair’s offer. The boat was hauled out at Salthouse’s yard, she later moved to Blair’s house where he undertook a major restoration (John Salthouse told me at a CYA function once that he had a ‘guiding’ hand in the process).
Between 1988>89 Blair spent in excess of 1800 hours on the restoration – the work involved replacing the ply wood box cabin top with a more sympathetic tram top & doghouse. The two bronze port holes were added to the front of the cabin, along with the bronze mushroom deck vents, new twin plastic fuel tanks, a reconditioned 58hp Ford engine, new shaft, new 2 blade prop, new hydraulic steering (since replaced), anchor winch (since replaced). Extensive new ribs & sister ribs where fitted & her seams were re-caulked. All windows where replaced & new bunks fitted. He also removed her alloy mast & built & fitted the current oregon pine mast. The duck-board was also added. The s/s rod holders on her stern (since removed) came off the old Salvation Army launch.
Blair & his wife cruised the Gulf extensively in the boat in the 1990’s. Blair is a little hazy on whom & when he sold the boat to but thinks it was to someone who lived in Kumeu & they only keep the boat for less than 2 years. They probably sold it Dr. Rex & Sharron Ferris.
In 2003 Rex Ferris purchased her post the Dunstan marine survey (photo below during survey) but it appears he did not address any of the ‘faults’ identified in the survey. Rex Ferris spoke to Blair Cole (Cole Marine Services) in June 2003 & Blair confirmed the restoration work he undertook. Blair also confirmed that she was named Lady Gai.
(Unknown ownership / date photos)
In 2005 the boat was for sale on the hard at Bayswater Marina, I looked at her but she would have been too much of a burden for me at the time. The boat was purchased by Craig Colven who undertook hull work (replaced some planking, caulking, ribs, floors & keel bolts, as identified in the 2003 survey) & installed a new 45hp 4-cylinder Daidong diesel motor & replacement of all major machinery, electrics and plumbing. Including a freezer, new 3-blade prop, shaft bearings, bilge pumps. Devonport craftsmen’s Robbie Robertson (deceased) & Charlie Webley undertook the work.
Craig, over a 2 year period commissioned this work but never completed her, his wife did not share his passion for the sea & I purchased her in August 2007 for what I considered a bargain given what Craig Colven had spent on her in time & money. (Photo below when I purchased her)
I then undertook over the next few years what is called a rolling restoration i.e. I used the boat each summer but hauled her out in winter & continued the project. I retained the services of then Milford based wooden boat builder Geoff Bagnall for the big stuff, there were several areas (stem, cockpit decks, doghouse windows) of rot that needed to be removed plus we made her more ‘comfortable’ in terms of helm seat, doghouse hatch layout etc. New auto anchor winch & bow launcher were installed along with forward hatch porthole to improve light in forward cabin. I rolled my sleeves up on the rest.
I’m thankful for the care bestowed on the boat over the years – everyone that has rubbed up to her has helped get her thru the last 92 years.
(Recent – AH ownership photos)
And one of the two Lady Gay’s 🙂
Woodys On Tour – Halls Boat Yard, New York
A few years ago, woodys Jim and Karin Lott were ‘parked up’ with the masts on deck in their kauri ketch – Victoria, on the Hudson River. More specifically in the middle of New York State in a city called Albany. The Lott’s waited there for three weeks for the Erie Canal to open. Jim commented that Albany definitely does not feature on anyone’s ‘place to go’ list. They were not alone as Wellington old salt Richard Watt and his wife Enid anchored alongside them in their launch (photo below of both boats), as well as dozens of other impatient US and Canadian sailors.
To while away the time they hired a car and headed to Lake George to look at woodies at Halls Boatyard, one of the many inland homes of wooden boats in New York. Jim commented that floating boat garages are common in North America and they spent several hours admiring a sea of varnished ash, cedar, spruce and mahogany. There was a slipway and boatyard all under cover inside the shed complex. The yard specialises in rebuilding and restoring classic motor-launches but a few yachts were getting the same TLC.
After the long wait, the canal stayed closed so they had to forgo the Great Lakes and continued up the Hudson. Eventually they locked into Lake Champlain and down the Richelieu River to the St Lawrence near Montreal in Canada.
SEA BEE Part 2
YOUR OWN COPY OF WOODENBOAT MAGAZINE
In response to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, and to help ease your time while practicing social distancing, the publishers of WoodenBoat have very generously decided to make the digital edition of WoodenBoat No. 274 (May/June 2020) free for all to read and enjoy. Please share this digital edition with all friends and family you think might enjoy, or need, a fun distraction. With the forecast for long overdue rain for most of NZ later today – this is perfect timing for a lazy afternoon on the couch 🙂 Enjoy
The Restoration Of Melodeon
Todays’ story on Manunui comes to us from the ‘desk’ of Paul Drake – as always, well written so I’ll pass over to Paul.
“Arriving at Taupo for our annual holiday one January in the late 1950’s, my brothers and I were intrigued to see a very unusual looking new commercial boat on the scene. Before we knew her name, we kids called her ‘The Ugly Boat’. She turned out to have a proper name – MANUNUI – after the saw milling town just out of Taumarunui. It was there that she was built by the manager of said sawmill, Basil Maude.
Basil’s hobby was building boats, but he rarely got more than about three-quarters of the way through before losing interest. MANUNUI was the exception. He wished to see how big a boat he could build out of plywood. He had the plywood made at his mill from selected timber. Her bottom had two sheets of ply each twenty feet long , six feet wide, and one and a quarter inches thick. She measured 36 feet by 12 feet.
She had to be chunky and strong because Basil had two Allison Kittyhawk 12-cylinder aeroplane engines which he wanted to fit. He designed and built the double gearbox himself. It measured eight feet by three feet by two feet deep. At the last minute the plan changed and the two gallons per minute Allisons were wisely ditched in favour of Ford V8s. But the gear box remained – larger than the two engines. This most fascinating gearbox was mounted forward of the engines with the propeller shafts running back under the engines. Chains were involved, and each propeller was operated independently of the other in the normal way. MANUNUI was the first diesel powered launch on the lake (so it is said) and also the first commercial plywood boat to operate on the lake.
In the good old days when fishermen would club together and charter a launch for five day expeditions to Taupo’s Western Bay, MANUNUI was a very successful and busy charter launch under her very capable skipper Ron Houghton.
The original canvas arrangement over the aft end was eventually replaced with the rather functional effort shown in the second photo. In about 1970 a whole new cabin appeared. Shortly afterwards MANUNUI was sold to New Plymouth. I wonder if she survives? Somehow I doubt it.
Much of this information is contained in ’Boats of Taupo’ by Charles Cox.
A few weeks ago I was tipped off by Adrian Pawson that one of his buddies – James Ledingham, had ‘acquired’ a very special Frostbite named Classico, one of things that makes her special is that she was built but never launched, so effectively is a new boat. Adrian is the owner of – Kiteroa, the ex Brooke family boat, which Adrian has restored and ’tweaked’ a little, thats her in the photos with the orange hull.
I was onto James quick smart to get more details. But before that I have to say how cool it is to see these ‘young’ sailors getting into the classic wooden dinghy sailing scene. The guys sail out of Taikata Sailing Club in West Auckland (Te Atatu), on a good Sunday there are upwards of 15 Frostbites racing. Both Adrian and James would be too modest to say this – but both work at the very pointy (high tech) end of world sailing, which makes their passion for these woodys even more special 🙂
Adrian also supplied for our review (see below) a copy of Doug Sharp’s secret copy of the ‘Frostbite Go Fast Tips’ by Kevin Lidgard.
I’ll let James tell the story –
“Recently I was fortunate enough to purchase ‘Classico’ a wooden frostbite dinghy.
What made this boat unique, aside from her immaculate timber detailing, was that she was brand new and had never been sailed. Something of a rarity in the frostbite class these days.
‘Classico’ is the result of a labour of love by her builder and previous owner David Strickett (Brother in law of Rex Maddren – a well-known Frostbite sailor and champion in his day). Looking for a wooden boat project and with a love of the clinker style, the Frostbite dinghy was a natural choice for David to get stuck into. Having picked up his wooden boat building skills at Carrington Tech under the guidance of Robert Brooke (son of Jack Brooke, who designed the original frostbite back in 1937) he was certainly well equipped to tackle such a build. Robert helped him source some temporary frames from Wakatere Boating Club and he got stuck in.
The boat is built in kauri, the majority of which was sourced from a farmer in Mangamuka, just south of Kaitia. The exception was the single piece transom, which came from a kauri slab that David already had in his garage.
Many hands make light work and during the build David sought help with the planking and ribbing from Robin Dew, who had built several wooden Frostbites himself. Whangarei boat builder Nick Rodokal also lent a hand in constructing the gunwhale, having previously built David a Lotus 9.2 (Pursuit).
David kitted the boat out with modern aluminum spars, a Quantum Mylar sail, and the latest Harken deck gear. Adding a touch of performance to the classic kauri hull.
It was a bittersweet moment to launch ‘Classico’ down at Taikata Sailing Club on the first Sunday of March 2020, ahead of the regular afternoon sailing. She would have been equally at home in a museum (or the lounge!) and once wet and raced, unlikely to ever be quite be as immaculate again. However, they are such great boats to sail I was looking forward to getting out and seeing what she could do. She was appropriately blessed by another frostbite legend, Doug Sharp, and champagne was poured. A successful first sail ensued with minimal leaking.
While the quality of the boat couldn’t be faulted her performance was an unknown. However, she certainly seems to be fast (when the skipper sends her in the right direction) so far grabbing a 2nd in the first race of the Taikata Sailing Club winter series held earlier in March.
I plan to race her regularly down at Taikata Sailing Club, where the Frostbite fleet is thriving – with 12+ boats on the start line every fortnight. Wooden boat enthusiasts are welcome to come down to the club and have a yarn. There are a good number of well-kept and restored timber Frostbites amongst the fleet, and no shortage of stories!
The name ‘Classico’ stems from a holiday dinner in Tuscany where David and his wife were enjoying a bottle of traditional Chanti wine – Chianti ‘Classico’.”
“In the 1970s we were operating our sail yourself charter yachts out of Picton and along with our dive business of “Picton Underwater Centre” we were getting more and more divers chartering. Although wooden boats are very forgiving compared with glass and gelcoat, weight belts and dive tanks in the confines of the deck of motor sailer’s was hard on the paintwork, so we decided to build a boat for dive charters, mooring work and salvage.
I drew “Deepstar” as a purpose built dive boat with accommodation for ten divers plus her skipper. the underwater lines are from a Roger Carey plan with some minor changes. For her layout I chose to build a raised forecastle as I did for “Hinewai” were we found the extra headroom and space very desirable for the sleeping quarters. Aft of the wheelhouse that also doubled as the skippers bunk room, I planned the deck house and furniture to be comfortable for ten divers for mealtimes and relaxing. The wood range proved very popular after a days diving on cool evenings.
Her aft deck has the space for divers to kit up and the hold below is the storage for dive gear. We carried aboard twenty dive tanks and ten weight belts that were part of the ships equipment. To fill the tanks was an onboard Bauer air compressor run by a 4107 Perkins engine, her main engine was a 5L3 Gardner with the original Gardner hydraulic gear change. Divers like hot showers, so her water tanks are of generous capacity. Built into the deck house with an on deck door is the toilet – shower room fitted with regular household models, and as boat owners will understand, this combination proved very suitable for non boat people and was trouble free.
In 1978 I submitting her plans to the Marine department survey office for scrutiny and approval, I had drawn the plans showing the bulwarks rounded on the aft quarters, as we did on the the Carey boats, and terminated at the transom to give access aboard. This caused a problem at the office, passengers were meant to be kept aboard within the confines of the rail’s and not swimming about overboard. I had to submit a lengthy submission explaining the purpose for the vessel and the importance of getting potentially tired divers on to the dive platform and back aboard. The message got through and I think I could just about have cut the transom out if it meant getting divers back aboard were the department thought they belonged.
After lofting and making the moulds, shaping the stem, stern post and horn timber we laid her keel in our yard at Waikawa bay. Fitted stem, stem knee, keelson, stern post and horn timber, and set up the moulds. Next it was cutting the rebates to take the foot of the frames at nine inch (230mm) centres, steaming and fitting ribbands in preparation for fitting the frames (ribs). Her frames are two laminations of Spotted Gum, it steams well and is strong and durable. For her planking I used Kahikatea below the waterline and Macrocarpa ( South Island Kauri ) above the waterline to finish at 1 3/8 inch ( 38mm ) the planking is fastened with bronze screws.
Floor timbers, stringers and gunwhale are Australian Karri as are quarter knees and breast hook, all copper fastened. The deck is two laminations of marine ply covered in heavy glass cloth, wheelhouse and deck house joinery are Fijian Kauri as are the hatch coamings.
Dimensions : 43’6” (13.2m ) x 13’ (3.9m ) x 5’ (1.52m ) The registered length, fwd side of Rudder post to fwd side of the stem is 39’.6” ( 12.1m ) displacement 28 tons.
After eighteen months of build time we were ready to launch but like most building projects there was still a list of things to do. My two son’s Wayne and Neville were familiar with work at boatyards and slipways and proved to be good boys at anti-fouling, my wife Bev made the appropriate “Deepstar” Picton cake in the shape of a life-bouy a tradition at our launchings, ready for the launching festivities.
On the 2nd of November the trailer was manoeuvred into place and “Deepstar” was ready for the short road trip to the beach on the western side of Waikawa bay for launching at the top of the tide at 0900hrs on the 3rd of November 1979″.
Last month I was contacted by Andrew Hewitt from Ashburton who in December (2019) had jumped the ditch for a trip to Tasmania – I’ll let Andrew tell the story – “This last December, my partner and I made a trip to Tasmania. We built the trip around three key booked experiences, one of which was a bit of a ‘sail’ on the ketch ‘Yukon’ on the Huon River from Franklin. We spent some time in Franklin, visiting the Wooden Boat Centre, and exploring the woodies abundant in the harbour. As old houses and old boats go together, and one thing leads to another… we ended up being introduced to a fellow ‘woody’ enthusiast who’s involved in the Wooden Boat Centre, and invited into his vintage home – lovely and welcoming people. So over a couple of further days we’d finished exploring the greater Huon valley area, and south coast up to Hobart, we travelled across to the West Coast and spent some time there also.
What an amazing place to visit. So much to see. In pretty much every little bay we nosed into, there would be at least two or three classic woodies waiting to be photographed. My own interest aside, I did take quite a few with your website in mind, as I’m sure the readership would enjoy seeing them.
For starters, here’s a selection from what I found in STRAHAN (pronounced ‘strawn’) over on the Macquarie Harbour, West Coast. That green (almost a bridgedecker to look at; lovely counter too) one was quite an attractive boat. And ‘Mayfair’ , appears to be an old passenger launch (see interior pic for detail). I love the fact that these old girls are still all original (in their working clothes) and unmolested, probably by virtue that Strahan is away in the middle of no-where pretty much, and maybe it costs bugger all for the moorings so they’ve just been tied up and left to rest there….. For those restorers amongst us, if only we could get our hands on at least one and bring it home…. “
Update – received the photos below from Ross Mason who is just back from a cruise (big liner). One of the stops was Hobart where Ross came across the pretty woody, she is approx. 60’, hull is Spotted Gum, deck Aust Mahogany. zoom zoom 8 cylinder Gardner. Just back in the water after paint job. Cray pots are Teatree which the owner prefers and only one guy left in Aust who makes them. Works the southern and western coasts. Looked at a similar boat with the same engine done 55000 hours (proper marine engine).
RSVP to: email@example.com
Avalon – Sam Ford Launch
We have a special post for those unable to attend – click the link below to view the stunning 5 minute video Roger Mills filmed of last years regatta.
Tall Ship Peking Rounds Cape Horn – Movie
“She is still afloat and being restored……..
There is another of these in Sweden / Finland
And a read of Eric Newby book on sailing these with a complete set of photos.
The book has some very good photos under way and what they had to do – very readable – but on a winters night in front of the fire to make you appreciate what you have.”