Caroma / W1



Caroma / W1

Recently I was contacted by Peter Grant who had just discovered the story of W1 on waitematawoodys and remembered he was involved in a pre-purchase inspection of her in November 2000 for a client. The client did not purchase the vessel as it was deemed not suitable, but Peter dug out the old report which included the photos of her above, as she was then lying alongside the Panmure River.


Below is a photo of the 70′ vessel as she is today, post a wonderful restoration to return her to a style that while not matching her early day war time look, certainly turns a few heads on the Waitemata when she zips past at 22 knots. WW links to the restoration below:
Screen Shot 2019-09-03 at 8.54.04 AM

W1 / Caroma – Goes The Full Circle


photo & details ex Ken Ricketts, edited by Alan H

If you enter W1 in the waitematawoodys search panel you will see Ken Ricketts has been a long admirer of this unique vessel. Now via a chance posting on ww Ken has reconnected again after 28 years.

Ken was invited to inspect W1 by her present owner, who has W1 in the driveway of his home, given she is 70ft overall that in itself is impressive.

Ken reports that her current owner has had her for approx. 8 years having bought her off her Waiheke owner in a very run down state with her 2 x 671 GM Detroit’s belching lots of black smoke & with a view to carrying out a total interior & combings rebuild,which is now almost completed.

W1 has had several rebirths & its pleasing to hear that Ken reports in her latest there will be no flying bridge 🙂

It appears that with her very flowing new layout, complete with traditional varnished teak combings, she will very much look the part on the harbour & with her heritage will certainly be one of the most unique of all our classic boats. Refer the previous ww post for full details on her specs & history. The current refurbishment specifications include – 230 volt power, a full hot & cold commercial type air-conditioning system ducted right through the boat, water maker, clothes dryer, all the other latest & best of everything you would expect on a vessel of her size. Currently the restoration crew includes up to 3 artisan boatbuilders, along with the owner himself, part time, who are crafting her superstructure & fit out as if she is the royal yacht.

The 2 x 671 GMs have become 1 x GM Detroit 8V92TI with a power output of 650 hp. This the owner anticipates will give a very good turn of speed — with a 32 inch propeller, through a 2 to 1 gearbox.

She was only capable of about 13  knots flat out when she came out of the water. She now sports bow & stern thrusters & a new underwater exhaust system with fairly comparatively small, above water side outlets for idling, to avoid backpressure.

The owner has personally just finished making 2 identical state of the art beautifully varnished teak game fishing chairs which will be mounted side by side for gamefishing when needed. He has never embarked on a job of this type before, but Ken reports that there is not a game fishing chair manufacturer in the world, that could have do a more perfect job.

We look forward to seeing her in the water & ww will hopefully be there to record this magnificent (class of one) 70 year old vessel begin the next phase of her life.

Lastly, Ken has a favorite hobby-horse & thats the changing of a vessels name by subsequent owners – Ken is of the belief the name at launch time should remain for the life of the vessel. Well Ken was very happy to learn that W1 will grace her stern again.

A UK sister ship? – Dave Giddens was recently in the UK & spotted the boat below in St Ives, Cornwall.

W1 CHAPTER #3  18-12-2014
photos & details e Ken Ricketts, edited by Alan H

The photos below show the latest update in the life of W1 – her current owner, Francis Uren, has just completed an extensive ‘rebuild’ of the 70′ W1 (previously known as CORROMA, from the early 1950s) launch. The extent of the rebuild even includes air-conditioning………………..

Ken has been instrumental in securing her original WWII RNZAF identification No. i.e. #W1.

Next step is sea trials & we look forward to a report on the performance of her single 8V-92TI 650 HP GM Detroit diesel.

Sea Trials photo ex Ken Ricketts

At Bayswater 04/01/2015

W1 @ BW 04:01:15

At ‘speed’ 10/01/2015 (low res photo ex Ken R)

W1 AT SPEED - 9.1.15 -4

31-05-2015 – Update ex Ken Ricketts

W1 has just been hauled out at Gulf Harbour hard stand for her first bum clean & for the fitting of here correct prop  — a 32 x 33 LH Bri Ski. – The first one that was made, it was discovered just before she went in the water for the first time, when her refit wad completed, went the wrong way, so she has had  temporary smaller one since launching, until the correct one could be fitted this week.
Post re-launching, with the new prop, at 22 knots her wake was less than 12 inches & absolutely flat out the stern, as can be seen in the photo below. Impressive for a vessel designed & launched in the late 1930s.

05-09-2016 Input from John Bullivant

“Hi guys, what a great find this site is, great job!. I have been wondering where W1 had got to! I am another who has had a lifelong interest in her and other wartime Navy and Airforce boats.I thought this might be of interest to others interested in this vessel.  I spent a few weeks in the Marine Section during my time in the RNZAF around 1973 just as they were about to de-commission the seaplane tenders and close the Marine Section
When I was about 15 yrs old a friend of mine and I sneaked on board W1 while she was on her private slipway on the Tamaki River, (tucked around the corner behind the owners house complete with large winch and railway dollies) She had not been modified at that stage (1968/9) and was still in original airforce colours with names still on the lockers in the forward crew room. The wheelhouse was varnished and the hull was white. The wheelhouse door (rear stbd of ) was varnished and louvred as was the radio shack door immediately to its left. To the right of the instrument panel and large chrome wheel was a companionway leading down to the mess room ? (the stair treads had cast aluminium oval ”British Power Boat” grips attached ) Forward through the bulkhead was a 4 berth bunk room, ahead of this a head and then a large chain locker.
Up on deck and into the radio shack you went down through a hatch via a ladder attached to the forward engine room bulkhead. At the time she was fitted with 2 Greys marine diesels which were under grey painted canvas covers port and stbd with not much else in there. We assumed they had been put in by the Airforce as an economy measure as they looked to be only around 150 – 200hp size and did not look recent. aft of the engine room was another 4 berth bunk room and another head behind that with from memory a washing area. I think there was a hatch from there to the after deck.
The owner appeared later to be experimenting with cabin styles and the first I saw (she was then moored below the new Panmure bridge early 70s) was a long flat ”ferry like” structure extending from the wheelhouse with windows along the sides which did not last long as it appeared to be too heavy and made the boat squat in the stern. Eventually she ended up as ‘Corroma’  (did not appear to have this name when we first saw her) I saw her on the hard in Tauranga many years later then later still in Bayswater marina (I think it must have been just before she was scalped as she still looked in quite good nick) I think the owner on Waiheke used her for diving charters. I did not see her for a long time after that but thanks to this site I know why. What a fantastic job Mr Uren has done, congratulations to him on keeping a classic hull flying. Not only was she one of a kind in NZ she was apparently the only one ever  delivered to the southern hemisphere . There is only one other 64ft HSL still running (HSL 102) and that is in the UK, where it was saved from houseboat status and totally rebuilt to admiralty plans by a chap who owned an engineering business. It is powered by 3x 500hp Cummings diesels with a top speed of 42 knots (now sold to British Maritime museum). He has also restored a 40ft seaplane tender and a 70ft MGB (powered by 3x Mann diesels for around 40 knots)
H1 was according to a Marine section news letter, powered by 3x 500hp Napier Lion marine engines for a speed of 38 knots. She was 64ft and built by the British Powerboat Company Of Hythe UK . Hope this was of some interest and that I have remembered things reasonably accurately, (it’s been a long time but having been lucky enough to have seen her in original condition at a young age has stuck with me all my life) I am also at present building a 36″ scale model of W1 for radio control.
If anyone is looking for info on these HSLs etc I may be able to help if you are having trouble finding anything”.

THE STORY OF W1 – one of fastest boats ever on the Waitemata

The story below & photos above from Ken Rickets is the accumulation of over 65 years of one mans fascination with this vessel. It all started when Ken was 10 years old & saw her on her moorings, adjacent to the huge flying boat hanger & apron, at Hobsonville Air Force base. This one off experience moved Ken enough to see him for the next 65 years constantly making enquiries & researching the vessel. In 2001 Ken meet with a retired WWII air force officer, who was stationed on her during her wartime service, the officer gave Ken many of the photos above. Then more recently chats with Mr Allright Jnr. the second member of that family to own her, they had her in total for 40 years, & Mr Keith Bellingham who owned her from the mid 1990s to early 2000s provided enough additional insight for Ken to put together this wonderful story about a vessel that spearheaded our WWII air force coastal maritime defenses.

(Note: Harold Kidd accompanied Ken Ricketts when he met with the retired air force officer & may be able to add more details from that encounter)

Read below & enjoy. Alan H

THE STORY OF W1  – as told by Ken Ricketts

W1 was one of 2 identical boats ordered by the RNZAF during WWII for coastal defence duties & they were named W1 & W2.

W1 arrived circa 1939  from England, where she was designed & built to a Scott Payne design.

W2 never got here, the ship that was transporting her to NZ, was torpedoed & sunk, on the way out from the UK.

W1 was powered by 3 x W12 x 1000HP (3 banks of 4 cylinders) marinised Napier Lion aircraft engines, marinised by “Power Marine” in UK. — refer photo. The engines were configured with one either side & one in the centre facing forward, & driving through a Vee drive as there was not enough width to have the 3 engines side by side.

Such was the layout, power & performance of this boat, that it required an engineer to be seated in a padded chair in the engine room with massive ear muffs, whenever she went out,  with a fire extinguisher in his hand. He also also had to control all engine controls including throttles & reverse levers, which were huge long steel arms  standing vertical on the gear boxes of the engines.

On her maiden voyage, after she arrived, it was decided, I am told, that they would go for a run to Tiri, to “try her out,” but such was her petrol consumption that they ran out of fuel at Rangitoto Lighthouse.

While W1 was a “one off” for NZ & in her day, capable of very high speeds (I was told she could do over 50 knots), as evidenced by the photos — not bad for a 64 feet vessel. There were a total of 21 of these craft built & 3 of the early boats went to South Africa & were fitted with 2 Rolls Royce aircraft engines of bigger horsepower than the Napier Lions, but Hubert Scott-Payne had a disagreement with RR & they refused to supply any more engines for the boats, hence the change to Napier Lions.

A smaller 42 foot version was built later & there is one of these in a military museum in the South Island.

She is substantially made of spruce & mahogany & the bridge was more like the flight deck of an aircraft.

I saw her many times after WWII, on her moorings adjacent to the flying boat base & slipway, at Hobsonville airport, when cruising with my parents, Ralph & Wyn Ricketts on their first boat, JULIANA, (1946-49). — I never actually saw her going anywhere, (just wish I had), but obviously she did so, however I think she had almost no use, after the war, until they eventually sold her which I think was circa late 40s or early 50s.

She had a very impressive side exhaust system just above the waterline amidships,  with 2 groups of 3 exhaust outlets one side & 1 group of 3 outlets the other side. — Have not seen many boats around that have that layout.

After the war, she was eventually sold in 1955 by tender to Mr Norm Allright, who lived in Mt Wellington, on the banks of the Panmure River, not far upstream from my parents waters edge home, at No 1 Bridge St Panmure, they could see her from their lounge windows.

Mr Allright Snr., refurbished her to a degree, for pleasure use, when he bought her off the air force & called her “CAROMA”, he also replaced the 3 Napier Lions with a matched pair of counter rotating 671 GM Detroit diesels, she still went well, as you can see in the photos. Later Mr  Allright Jnr. did a splendid job totally & massively refurbishing her in the early 1960s, see photo.

She was sold in the mid 1990s to a Mr Keith Bellingham, who had intended to do a major refasten of her hull, along with other significant work, which was in serious need of attention, however, it proved not to be cost effective & he onsold her to a man in Tauranga, who in turn sold her later to a Waiheke owner, in the later 1990s & she was moored at Waiheke at that time.

She later still, sat on a marina at Bayswater, looking very neglected & painted purple, with her beautiful cabin top, as per the photo above, removed, & generally in a serious state of disrepair, apparently, & she was there until a couple of years or so ago.

I beleive she was taken to the Silverdale industrial area after that & has been moved now, to a private property, address at the moment unknown.

Any info on her current whereabouts would be appreciated.

Harold Kidd Update

Ken is substantially right on all points. However there was a W2, a 28 footer that had been built for the NZ Permanent Air Force for use at Hobsonville to service its DH Gipsy Moth and Fairey IIIF seaplanes. There’s a good book on the subject “The Golden Age of N Z Flying Boats” by Harrison, Lockstone & Anderson. The RNZAF’s W numbering really only started after W1 arrived in 1940.

One of her first tasks was get to the NIAGARA which struck a German mine off the Hen & Chickens on 19th June 1940. The Whangarei launches, Florence among them, were on the scene first but the skipper of W1 ordered them by radio to keep away, ostensibly because of the minefield but really because he wanted the glory of getting there first. The Whangarei boats had towed the ship’s lifeboats clear however by the time W1 arrived, leaving her with only 20 people to bring back to Auckland.

Norman Allright bought her in 1948. She is now called CARROMA.

Nobody ever claimed more than 38 knots for her or her type.

Update – 10/08/2014 from Ken Ricketts

In the original post on W1 Ken spoke of the engineer  that had to be seated in the engine room with ear muffs to supervise & control  the engines & of course to guard against a fire. In the photo below you will see the engineer’s chair in front of the centre engine (3x Napier Lion 1000 HP W12’s each being 3 banks of 4 cylinders).
& the 3 leavers with the black round knobs on each one surrounding the chair. Note the centre engine is sloping forward to drive in to the vee drive unit. The noise must have been unimaginable when they were flat out.

Gearbox photos below show an original vee drive gear box that were fitted to all centre engines with the Napier Lion W12 engines.
Also one photo shows the original engine installation concept of a WI – with the 3 Napier Lion 1000 HP W 12 (3 banks of 4 cylinders) configuration engines.

The photo of the interior of the large boat shed with several boats under construction was taken at Hyde Southampton, U.K. where the British Powerboat Company owned by Hubert Scott-Payne was sited & where all the W1 family of boats were built.
Photo also of Scott-Payne the 1930’s designer of the W1.