COMET III – Photos supplied by Greg Philpott
XHARISMA – Photos ex Pat McIIvride & Jeremy Brown
COMET III > XHARISMA
Bay of Islands resident Greg Philpott has a passion and its tracking down and recording the fate of what he has tagged ‘Boats of the Bay’ (of Islands). Greg contacted me recently re the vessel named Comet III (later changed to Xharisma), he had hit a brick wall and was trying to contact the last known owner – one Morton Brown. Now via the WW site I was able to make contact with Morton’s son Jeremy Brown and the flood gates opened. So today we share with you Greg and Jeremy’s stories / photos. It’s a cracker read, I’ll let Greg tell it 🙂
So woodys the challenge is can anyone enlighten us on what became of Xharisma (Comet III) post 1986.
Comet lll was designed by A J Collings of the famed boat-building business, Collings & Bell and may have been one of Collings last designs as he died on 8th November 1967.
The boat was built for Lionel Bulcraig’s Bay of Islands operation, Hi Speed Comet Cruises. That business was already operating Comet ll (ex Queenstown’s Meteor ll) also an A J Collings design. Construction of Comet lll was undertaken by John Guzzwell at Deeming’s Boatyard at Opua. Guzzwell was a world renowned sailor and boat builder. His reputation was established when he built his own boat, Trekka, and during the late 1950’s completed a circumnavigation of the world in her, then the smallest boat to ever do so.
The original design and intention was to engine the boat with lightweight twin V8 Chrysler marine petrol engines; heavier diesel engines would have added to the displacement thus severely limiting the “fast” aspect of the boat. The Marine Department’s regulations specifically excluded petrol engines in commercial launches which could carry more than 12 passengers. This resulted in a stand-off for a number of years. As a result of the inactivity it is understood that Comet lll sat at Bulcraig’s car yard in Kawakawa.
A valuation undertaken by Ted Leeds in March 1971 stated; ”Comet lll is 44ft. overall and was constructed in 1967, but has never been used. It has not been fitted with engines or seating accommodation. There is some equipment on hand for it including rudders and hydraulic steering gear etc. It is very strongly built to Marine Department survey standards with a hull of two-skin glued kauri planking on multiple stringers and closely spaced frames further reinforced with strongbacks. The entire hull, deck and cabin have been sheathed with Dynel.”
Comet lll was 44ft long, 14ft wide with a full flare, 10 degree deep V and planning chine; a hull similar to a torpedo boat.
Purchased by Stephen A. Bell around 1973 /1974, she was moved to the premises of A & G Price at Beaumont Street in Auckland for the purpose of refit and installation of engines. The concept was “to fit the boat out for passenger service in extended river limits”. It was intended to “fit twin 8V71 GM Diesels driving through Walter Vee boxes; such a set up anticipating a speed approaching 25 knots in favourable conditions normally loaded”.
A Ministry Of Transport ship survey preliminary inspection in 1974 “revealed hull in good order and well constructed. Some considerable deterioration of super structure (coamings and canopy) evident although extent not apparent due to linings”. By March 1975, A & G Price stated that “the owner no longer wished to proceed with the project”.
On 5th March 1980, Comet lll was purchased by Morton Brown, a roading supplies and contractor of Green Lane. At the time the boat was sitting in a yard at Glenfield; it was in a fairly sorry state, cabin top wise, but the hull was in exceptional condition.
Brown had Comet lll transported across the Auckland harbour bridge to a yard in Onehunga, where he employed a Dutch boat builder (John) to bring the boat up to pleasure boat standard. The boat was moved twice from Onehunga, firstly to Penrose and then to Mt Wellington, where it was finished before going into the water at McMullen and Wing’s yard, on the Tamaki River. The cabin top was completely rebuilt and a flying bridge added. The design of the remodelling was not considered great but never the less it had plenty of room and was very comfortable.
The engine was a UD/Nissan 2 Stroke V8 9.5L (this engine being a direct copy of the Detroit 8v71). The engine was positioned mid ships, which was not ideal as it took up a huge amount of room. The stern was quite broad in design which would have been better suited for the engine position, with a vee drive.
The boat, now renamed Xharisma was finally re-launched in February 1986. Unfortunately Brown suffered a major heart attack and consequently sold the boat about a year or so later.
The new owner modified the cabin extensively and installed a smaller engine. The new owner and current location Comet lll / Xharisma are unknown.