Working Waterfront Boatbuilders Shed – 50 photos
As I’ve send many times before, if your want a stunning day weather wise, schedule a Classic Yacht Association event – the hit rate must be 9/10.
Over 100 CYA members & friends made the trip north to Lees Boatbuilders at Sandspit – our host for the day, Greg Lees, turned on a brilliant woody event – we had everything – woody projects underway, the best collection of 1/2 models I seen outside of the RNZYS walls, a photo montage recording the history of the yard & the vessels built over the years.
Center stage was Jenny & Angus Rogers – Mahanui, in the shed for a new deck, alongside her was a very original Chris Craft that was getting a restoration.
The varnish guru Dale has already applied 23 coats, with 6 more to come. Compared to our old girls, these American woodys are very lightly built, amazing that so many have survived.
Outside we had Anna & Nic Davidson’s – Juanita, on one slip & Barbara & David Cooke’s woody flagship – Trinidad, alongside the wharf. In midstream was Yvonne, waiting her turn in the shed.
On the hard was a selection of small craft built by either Greg, his father Tim or other local craftsman. Not woodys but certainly classic were Greg’s two English built, aluminium Albatross runabouts – the very rare 4 seater is next on Greg’s to-do list. Included are a few photos of other woodys in or out of the water.
Greg gave an articulate talk on his families boatbuilding history & how they came to be situated on the Sandspit foreshore. At the end he announced the official launch of the 2018 Rudder Cup launch race to be run on Friday 14th December to Sail Rock & back. See flyer below, I encourage all woody owners to consider participating. At this stage we (I’m on the race committee, along with Jason Prew, Nathan Herbert, Baden Pascoe & Barbara & David Cooke) are calling for expressions of interest in racing – entry to the race is by invitation, as per the original race format in 1908.
Big ups to Greg & family + staff for turning on the day, including BBQ. Special thanks also to the CYA committee members that pulled it all together.
Lastly a little something below for the petrol heads – Greg had on display his Jesser BSA 500cc twin, hill climb racer. Built in 1962 by Les Jesser, she is a 2 time Australian class champion.
SEABEE > QUALITY AFLOAT
I have been contacted by Grant Rendell concerning the launch Seabee, that his grandfather Redge Renall owned many years ago & kept her moored at Te Atatu (as per above photo).
Post WW2, Redge had a farm in Waimauku, West Auckland & later retired to Henderson & was a past Commodore at the Te Atatu boating club.
In conversations with his father, Grant has discovered that Seabee was a Chris Craft imported into New Zealand in the 1940’s. Grant’s grandfather bought Seabee off Brian Eastman c.1946 / 1947.
At the time it was powered by two flathead Mercury V8’s. Redge installed a Red Wing 6 cyl. engine a few years later. This followed an incent where Redge lit his pipe while collecting scallops on the Manukau Harbour, the lighter flame blew a hole in the side of Seabee, they got her going with mattresses etc. plugging the hole up and beached her. Post this Redge also extended it from 26’ to 32’6” and later installed two Perkins PM6’s. One engine faced forward & one backwards to run the left hand pitch 22” prop. Rumour has it he never smoked again!
Grant’s uncle Tony Subritzky bought her in the 1990’s & renamed her Quality Afloat, he sold her to someone named Smith, who was using Seabee around Kawau Island area when one of the rubber couplings let go & the driveshaft put a hole in the bottom & nearly sank Seabee. This is the last that Grant heard of Seabee.
So woodys – do we know what became of Seabee, is she still around & if so where?
Update – Have just been sent the press clippings below, from Grants parents, that confirm the explosion incident:
From The Waiuku News (and Franklin County Gazette) dated Tuesday, October 1949 –reads as follows – EXPLOSION ON LAUNCH – Petrol Fumes ignite – Occupants Lucky Escape – The occupants of Mr Renall’s, Waiuku launch had a miraculous escape on Saturday when petrol fumes inside the cabin exploded. The cabin top was lifted clean off, a crack opened round the hull about waterline, while the force of the explosion expanded the hull. The boat caught fire but the flames were extinguished before the outbreak got out of control. Accompanying Mr Renall were his wife and some members of the family. Some of them were inside the cabin at the time and it would appear that it was only an act of Providence that they were able to stand the force of such a violent explosion and escape with their lives. As it was, they were burnt about the legs and suffered from shock. A well appointed, 28 foot launch with 2 cabins and cockpit, Mr Renall had just completed refitting the vessel and preparing it for the summer. Saturday’s trip was the first of the season. Mr Renall had intended to go scalloping and the boat was run into shallow water on the banks between Awhitu and Grahams Beach. Going high and dry the launch canted over, and it is thought that while lying on its side, perhaps some petrol may have leaked out to cause the fumes. Later, on entering the cabin Mr Renall struck a match to light his pipe when the explosion occurred. The cabin was blown off and those on board jumped over the side. The flames were attacked with a a fire extinguisher and sea water. Fishermen in the vicinity also went to their assistance, one party being attracted by the big puff of black smoke issued from the boat. The launch was roughly caulked with kapok where it had cracked around the hull, and taken into tow by Mr F. Smith, but Mr Renall got the engine running to proceed home under its own power.
Unfortunately this clipping was not dated – Another article in The Waiuku News – reads as follows LAUNCH SHIFTED – After months of work spent in lengthening and rebuilding, Mr R Renall’s well appointed launch was shifted from the site between Mr Renall’s Garage (Renall Motors) and the Town Board’s office on Thursday afternoon. The boat was taken by trailer to be launched at Westhaven. The loading operations attracted a good gallery of spectators. The vessel suffered extensive damage some months ago when an explosion occurred while on the Manukau. Mr Renall then brought it to Waiuku to be repaired. An extra six feet was added to the boat making it a total length of over 30 feet –
Back in early August I posted photos / details on the restoration / rebuild of the 1947 27’ Chris Craft Super Delux – Slainte at Craig Maine at Lake Rotoiti (link below).
Yesterday Alan Craig sent me photos from last Friday’s relaunch on the lake. Alan’s a man of few words e.g. “ It floats, all went well” J
Slainte is a stunning addition to the Lake Rotoiti woody fleet – well done Alan & the brave owner that commissioned the project.
Chris Craft in Canada
I have been sent the above photos from Kiwi woody Alan Sexton, who is working in Canada. Alan keeps an eye open for any interesting boats & commented that it seems wooden Chris Craft are the flavour of the month in Vancouver.
The two b/w photos are from a book on the Chris Craft factory, that Alan found in the marine section in the Vancouver Central.
SLAINTE – 1947 Chris Craft Restoration
I mentioned last Monday that while chatting to Alan Craig about the new restoration project for his yard – Craig Marine at Lake Rotoiti he just casually mentioned t “Speaking of projects, should probably show you the Chris Craft we just finished” – & then sends me a selection of photos of a simply stunning classic woody.
Slainte is a a 1947 27′ super delux enclosed Chris Craft. It was imported into NZ by the owner as a project that was walked away from in the states. The outside was 90% done but the inside was a shell. No motor, shaft or strut etc. A 5.7L v8 Crusader was imported too and Alan lifted the cockpit sole to suit.
Pretty much every single piece has been pulled apart fixed/painted/varnished and put back again. Some ‘ before’ photos below.
The idea has been to keep it looking original but turn key functionality!
WoW, what an additional to the Lake Rotoiti classic wooden boat fleet, can not wait to see her in person at next years Classic & Wooden Boat Parade weekend.
3/4’s a WOODY – WILD HORSES
Taupo woody’s Cathy & Shawn Vennell own a rather special zoom zoom woody, Judy H – a 19’6″ Chris Craft replica speed boat, which I have had the pleasure of skimming over the top of Lake Rotoiti in. For an 8 knot woody, doing 75kph+ is like space travel 🙂 You can check out Judy H here https://waitematawoodys.com/2014/02/10/the-two-extremes-of-classic-boating/
Last weekend the Vennell’s turned up at the Lake Rotoiti Classic & Wooden Boat weekend with a floating bach – a Mason Clipper named Wild Horses. Now this addition to the Vennell fleet was not a total surprize to me as we had chatted on & off last winter about the suitability of a MC for Shawn & the family.
Wild Horses has a plastic (f/glass) bum but there is enough wood else where to get the ww tick. Zoom zoom comes from a very grunty V8 (Shawn will chip in soon with details)
Already Wild Horses has made a lot of Vennell love & looks stunning – can not wait till next year to see what else they will (tastefully) do to her 🙂
A Woody Dilemma – Buy original & restore? Buy restored? Buy an import?
Given the current state of the 4sale market for our wooden classics, whether they are original or restored, at some stage woodys will start to consider importing a woody from the USA – why?
#1 reason – the price
#2 reason – the high standard of presentation
#3 reason – the volume of ‘stock’
#4 reason – readily available parts & specialty service outlets. Today’s woody was brought to my attention by Pauline Evill & is currently listed for sale on craigslist.com. She is a 28′ 1960 Chris Craft Constellation, made with mahogany planked batten seam construction on the topsides and double planked below the waterline. In excellent condition, having been restored in 2010, which included a new a single prop 307 engine. Her condition reflects the fact that she has always been kept in a covered slip. Asking price is NZD$25,000.
Ranui was built in 1948 by Lidgard Bros. following a Chris Craft design. She measures 48′ & is made of kauri. The zoom zoom comes from twin 120hp Fords. She recently returned to Auckland & has just had some TLC at Gulf Harbour that included her coamings being re-varnished.
Check out the link below to a 29 page PDF file that show cases renovation a few years ago & also the history of Lidgards & the Chris Craft marque .
The photos below ex Ken Ricketts show the recent Gulf Harbour work.
24-02-2017 Update – Photos below ex Robin Elliott of Ranui berthed in Dove Cove Marina, early Jan 2017
I took the above photos of the Chris Craft launch Skipper CJ anchored in Man O War Bay over the 2015/16 xmas/ny period. Obviously an import but her owner has done the right thing & joined the CYA, in fact we had her with us on the last trip up the creek to the Riverhead Hotel.
There is a lot of boat there for I suspect not a lot of green backs.
Interested to learn more about here & how & when she arrived in NZ. Maybe one of the American ww followers can chip in with some info on the model of the boat.
And while we are having a USA day – if you are looking for some wooden boat reading over the weekend – the link below is to the Sept/Oct issue of the USA Classic Yacht on-line magazine. Now if you think the market for wooden boats in NZ is depressed check out the motorboat ‘Blue Mist’ listed for sale on page 89 (top right side). At US$145k it would appear a steal – but then again …………….
details ex ken Ricketts, edited by Alan H. photos ex B Worthington
The story of how Esperanza II, an American Chris Craft arrived in NZ started in about 1948 when the Fuller family of the Bay of Islands had an American couple, fly over here, to go game fishing on one of their charter boats.
They (probably Snooks Fuller) met the couple personally & instantly hit it off & became instant friends. As a result of this, the extremely wealthily Americans invited them back to America, to stay as their guests, at their waterfront mansion. They accepted & in due course fulfilled the invitation & were amazed at everything the saw. Their hosts had numerous cars, mostly Cadillacs & several boats, one of which was a fabulous virtually brand new 36 foot Chris Craft launch, which was tied up at the bottom of their garden.
They went out & about in the hosts cars & one day the hosts asked the Fullers if they liked the car they were in that day & of course they said they did & their hosts said words to the effect, “well you better take it home with you.” The Fullers naturally thought the hosts were just joking & passed it over.
In the next day or two they went out in the Chris Craft & of course that was out of this world for them, the like of which they probably had never seen in NZ. Once again they were asked if they liked it & of course they said – they loved it, so once again, the hosts said to the effect, “well you better take it home with you.”
Very shortly after they returned home, they got official documents telling them that the car & the boat were on their way to NZ. The Fullers must have been blown away with the Americans generosity.
Esperanza II became the ultimate luxury game boat of her era in “The Bay,” with many dignitaries & prominent guests aboard. She was originally a fairly fast boat, powered by 2 very large Chris Craft V8 petrol engines, when she arrived, these were eventually replaced with Ford diesels.
From the photos above, taken over the years, it appears that she is still alive & well & Ken understands she was in Whangamata fairly recently for a period & is possibly in Auckland these days.
The details of the above ‘story’ were told to Kens family in the 1950’s by friends of the Fullers. Can any one confirm & add more details from her past?
photo & details ex Ken Ricketts
Early post war photos of Rotui the 1938 Chris Craft owned by Alec & Linda Walker , seen here with dodger & grained combings. Ken was given the photos by Helen Coggan, the daughter of a previous owner (Joe Coggan) of Tiromoana. Photo most likely taken by Henry Allen whose daughter, Esme, was Helen’s mother (Joe Coggan’s wife). The link being the Coggan’s & the Allen’s were good friends with the Walkers – Ken tales are always intricate 🙂
I have included a later photo, with painted combings, which shows how the vanished combing in the older photow, were more suited to her Chris Craft design / style. Alan H
EL CAPITAN. This boat has a fascinating story. A genuine Chris Craft design & specs, built of 2 skins mahogany in 1960 on his farm, by the owner at Ohakea. Still has original 2 x 6cyl 90hp Chrysler Crown Petrol engines (still only done 750 hours since new). Was used on Taupo & at the Sounds from 1960 to 1974 & then put back in shed at Ohakea for maintenance & never moved until owner died & she was sold to Tony Mitchell a professional self employed boat builder at Lake Rotoiti 8 years ago who has restored her beautifully in his spare time. She was relaunched Dec. 2012 & had been in the water 3 minutes when this pic was taken — I was at the relaunching at Lake Rotoiti.
She had never had a call sign, as the original owner was radio ham & used his ham call sign for marine use. —
I was instrumental in Radio Spectrum Management allocating ZMEC to her for life.
photo & story by Ken Ricketts