details & photos ex Hylton Edmonds, Karen Moren & B Worthington
Albacora was built by Mac McGeady in 1954 for Pat Edmonds (Hylton’s father). She was to be a big game fishing boat in the Bay of Islands. She was 36′ & when launched powered by twin 90hp Graymarine engines.
The photo above is from a postcard (image a ‘little’ enhanced) of when she went up to Fiji in 1969 to start another successful game fishing career, operating out of the Fijian Hotel on Yanuca Island near to Sigatoka on the Coral Coast. While in Fiji, kiwi boat builder Ben Hipkins raised her cabin top to increase headroom.
Hylton has a rather nice collection of classic woodys – with Zane Grey & Lady Eileen both in varying stages of restoration at his Russell, Bay of Islands yard/shed.
Link to Lady Eileen https://waitematawoodys.com/2015/05/22/lady-eileen-3/
Update from Hylton Edmonds
Great to see Albacora back in the lime light, and taking yours and a few of your correspondents lead in the quest for accuracy, if I could just correct a few things as follows,
Albacora was 38′ 6″” x 11′ 6″ x 3’6″, mostly full length kauri of 1 1/2 ” thick.
Her cost as-built was 4,500.00 pounds, transported by Hammond and McIntyre from Summer Street, down Franklin Road to Quay Street. She was launched at 7.5 tons by Mrs. Eileen Bronson (a well known fisher-woman of the day) on 13 September 1954 at Admiralty Steps by the floating crane Mahua.
She had twin Petrol Morris Commodore’s of 50 HP each.
Unfortunately these were the only motors readily available for her first season of 1954 /55, and were replaced the next year by twin 4 cylinder Lees Marine Fordson Diesel’s of 75 HP each. The work was done at Deeming’s on Tapu Point (as all the work in NZ was done) including changing her from wet exhausts to dry. A great friendship between Dad and both Roly and Ted Lees ensued. These were later replaced in her last years in New Zealand with twin 6 cylinder Lees Marine Fordson’s of 115 HP each.
Albacora had a successful Game Fishing career and at the time of being sold to Marlin Investments in Fiji in 1968 she had 4 World and 7 New Zealand records to her name.
Albacora was only ever in Auckland twice, firstly when she was launched in 1954, and secondly when she came back down from Russell to go as deck cargo on the USSCo Tofua to Fiji in the May of 1968
In the mid 70’s she was sold to a Mr. Dick Evison who was setting up Turtle Island Resort. Details became sketchy after that until in 1980, family friend and well known yachtsman Dick McIlvride saw her in a derelict state up the Nadi River.
Acting on a tip off that Albacora was still “alive”, and a hoping to fulfill a life long dream of bringing her back home, – a trip to Fiji 5 years ago was made primarily to find out once and for all what happened to her. The late Dick Smith of Musket Cove was most hospitable to me, but confirmed the sad news, that Albacora had indeed been a wreck up the Nadi River, but then purchased by the owner of (adjacent) Plantation Village (a Mr. Reg Raffe) in the November of 1982. She was re-floated, towed over to Malololailai and hauled up onto the hard between the 2 resorts. A rebuild was intended sometime after the Christmas/Summer Holiday season. Tragically on March 1st 1983 Cyclone Oscar decimated not only most of that side of Fiji, but Albacora as well. She (as was most of the buildings on the island) pushed into a heap by bulldozer and burnt.
My Father always said, as all McGeady Boats were, – she was a strongly built boat, and a comfortable sea boat, and to me Albacora was a very good looking well proportioned classic sedan launch, that acquitted herself well in every respect, but as we all know, – wooden boats in the tropics…… a very harsh environment to say the least.