What Price Provenance – 100 Year Old Game Fishing Wooden Launch
The legendary sport game fishing launch Alma G has just popped up on tme (thanks Ian McDonald) , without doubt one of the world’s best known and successful game boats. Presented in better than new condition, with a 270hp Hyundai engine that sees the 36’ hull topping out at 20 knots.
Built in 1922 by Collings and Bell, there is a big birthday coming up and she has already had the face lift in anticipation.
So woodys, I guess at a reserve of $275k your not just buying a classic woody boat but a 100 year old business / brand (she is still in survey). Photo below c.1950’s, shows Alma G on the left in the photo + link below to previous WW story / details https://waitematawoodys.com/2014/11/05/alma-g-alma-g-ii/
Harold Kidd Input – ALMA G was launched in October/November 1922 and took part in the Russell Regatta in December 1922 (see Auckland Star 28/12/1922)
ROSEMARY – Leon Warne The above photo of the launch Rosemary popped up on Lew Redwood’s fb – the caption read ’the Rosemary, Feb 1950 at the wharf, Otehei Bay, Bay of Islands. Seen here ‘bearing the pennants of a striped marlin and black marlin’.
A little research via the WW comments section, un-covered input from Harold Kidd and Ray Morey that matches the above launch – in summary, that she was designed / built by Leon Warne in 1920 at St Mary’s Bay, Auckland and was approx. 36’ in length. Rosemary was prominent in game fishing in the B.O.I. . All that seems to match today’s launch, so we now have a photo of Leon Warne’s Rosemary in the 1950’s. Photo below of her in the 1920’s running alongside Ozone, built by Collings & Bell in 1912.
“I am writing this as the owner of Tamaroa from early 1994 to the middle of 2010. She was in a sad state when I bought her and it was only the quality of the original hull construction which warranted her restoration.
Tamaroa was built by Collings and Bell Ltd for A.E. Fisher of Whangarei. at a date which I have not been able to confirm. At the time of sale I was told that she was the last boat made by Collings and Bell. “They sent her down the slip and closed their doors after her”. When I tried to confirm this story I found that there were quite a number of ‘last boats built by Collings and Bell’ And whatever Tamaroa might be, she was not that. I have been told she was built in 1953 but my enquiries suggested she may have been built in the late 1940s. She certainly was built at a time when Kauri was short and all the larger timbers in the cabin sole above the engines and the cabin sole planking in the stern cabin were Southland Beech. So too were many of the finishing timbers.
In the time I owned her I measured her up and made extensive CAD drawings to aid with her reconstruction. These show her as being 12.8 meters (42′) between perpendiculars and 3.3 meters (11′-10″) beam. By the time one took into account the strongman for the anchor and the boarding platform at the stern she was in modern NZMIA parlance 13.77 meters (45′) over all. Further, substantial strakes had been added to increase the width of the decks and these brought her overall beam up to a little over 4 metres (13′-1″).
When she was built she was fitted with what was reported to be a large Austin diesel engine. Irrespective of what the exact date of build might be, as far as I can tell, Austin were not at that period making diesel engines suitable for a boat of that size but they were using Perkins P6 engines. Also Perkins were supplying engine exchange kits to enable the fitting of the P6 engine to Austin trucks. The Perkins P6 was commonly used in larger boats at that time and it is most likely that this is what was actually used. Alternatively it could have been the almost contemporaneous and slightly more powerful S6.
At some stage Tamaroa was sold to a Mr Jeeves. Mr Jeeves was allergic to diesel fumes and had the original engine removed and two Scripps engines (marine conversion of the old flat head Ford V8) installed. This entailed fitting new shaft, tubes and logs to the hull. The engines were fitted with identical Borg Warner gear boxes with the results that both shafts turned in the same direction.
Tamaroa then passed through various hands until an Allan Brown bought her from a truck sales man whose name he can no longer recall. Allan Browne did not like the petrol engines and he started to convert Tamaroa back to the original diesel by replacing the port engine with a Nissan SD33 diesel engine. The Nissans come in a variety of configurations and this one was configured for industrial use in a forklift truck. For a time he ran Tamaroa with one engine diesel and the other petrol but not long before he sold it to me in 1998 he installed a second industrial SD33 identical to the first except that it had a slightly different flywheel housing.
When I bought her the interior was in a rather sad stripped-out and crudely rehashed state. However I had her surveyed by Jack Taylor and he gave a good report on the condition of her hull. The strength of the construction of the hull impressed him and was such that he took a lot of convincing that it was not a prewar boat. The cabin was a different matter: he kept repeating that they had left it to the apprentices. When I later got to replacing the glass in the cabin I found that the port side bore only a passing resemblance to the starboard with various nominally equal dimensions varying by several inches from one side of the cabin to another.
By the time I bought her most of the original furniture had gone and been replaced by a mish-mash of all kinds of strange things. There was a large armchair in one corner of the wheelhouse which in fact was a refrigeration cabinet. And when it rained the cabin leaked like a sieve.
I started the long process of fitting her out. When I removed what was not wanted I was left with a large empty space with a flush dunny on one side. The engine changes over her life had caused the structural beams for the deck in the wheel house to be badly chopped around and I decided to replace the whole structure. This included the cabin sole in the wheelhouse. There was so little of the original left that I decided to refit the interior from scratch with a clean sheet of paper. It’s not original but it incorporate most mod cons and it works.
The aft cabin sole was planked and screwed down with immovable bronze screws. We had not been able to lift this for the survey. After I had bought her, all had to be laboriously cut out to give access to the hull. The completion of this work revealed a dreadful state of affairs. When the new shafts were installed for the twin screws. no sealant (tallow, pitch) had been run to fill the gap between the shaft tubes and the logs. The result was that over the years sea water had been seeping in past the stern bearing housing and evaporating through the timber of the adjacent planking and the shaft logs. The concentration of salt had given the timber the consistency of Weetbix and in places the sound planking was only 3mm thick. Nevertheless, as we had found at the time of survey, what remained was so hard that attacking it with large knife from the outside revealed no weakness. In the end more than 4 square meters of the bottom had to be replaced. This entailed new shaft logs, GRP tubes and shafts. Needless to say all this was sealed with copious quantities of epoxy resin.
The original central rudder had been retained when the two Scripps engines were fitted. At the same time two wing rudders were installed in the propellor streams in order to give better low speed steering. The rudder shafts and glands were in a sad state and the only reason they had not sunk Tamaroa at her moorings was that the glands were about 5cm above water. The general design and condition of all this was such that I decided to remove the original rudder and fit two new rudders to suit the new installation. Propellor calculations had suggested the original propellers were too small and spinning rather too fast for the Nissan engines. After much searching I decided to replace the original gear boxes with a pair of ZF which gave me a deeper reduction and allowed the use of larger propellers.
The evidence of the transom was that when Tamaroa had been first built the exhaust discharged through the transom on the port side. There was also evidence of a smaller exhaust along side the main exhaust suggesting she may have been fitted with a small auxiliary ‘popper’ engine of some kind. The original exhaust system was discarded when the two Scripps engines were installed. Instead each engine was equipped with its own ‘North Sea’ exhaust which discharged on both sides of the vessel at the water line. These employed large thin-walled bronze tubes fitted into the hull. I did not like these as they were old, had screw threads for securing nuts cut into them and most importantly, they had no seacocks.
I removed these and blocked one of the two holes on each side. Too the remaining hole I fitted a large bronze skin fitting with a gate valve for use as a sea cock. The two Nissans had been fitted with wet exhausts, the risers for which were just underneath the cabin sole which had become charred by radiated heat. Accordingly I had made for each engine a water cooled riser which discharged into a large rubber silencer.
The Scripps installation had required two additional outboard engine bearers which I thought were rather short. I had these extended to pick up the major framing bulkheads ahead and aft of the engines. The original water tanks were four, by now, battered 30 gallon hot water cylinders mounted in cradles underneath the wheelhouse. I found drinking warm, slightly green, tainted water to be unpalatable so I replaced these with stainless steel tanks to each side of the aft cabin. At the same time I had two aluminium 520 litre fuel tanks constructed which sat in the engine space on top of the forward end of the engine bearers.
Before Allan Brown had bought Tamaroa an attempt had been made to install an external steering and control station on top of the aft cabin. This used cable steering and holes were bored through whatever part of the vessel got in the way of the cable’s passage. Allan Brown had replaced this with hydraulic steering with a rather crude linkage at the rudders. A windscreen and dodger had also been fitted. I totally rebuilt all of this during the refit. I also installed dual Simrad navigation, radar and plotter control stations.
The refrigerated armchair was replaced with an electrically powered refrigerator and freezer. There was only one working alternator between the two engines and this was charging a very large lead-acid battery which tests showed was down to about 12% of its original storage capacity. With the increased electrical load had to totally rebuild the electrical system. I installed separate engine and house batteries charged by two alternators, one of which was of high capacity for the house battery, and installed two large solar panels on the roof of the cabin.
The galley was relocated from forward to the aft cabin. Two LPG cylinders were installed in a properly ventilated locker in the transom. A gas hot water heater was fitted to the aft cabin bulkhead and used to supply pressurised hot water to both the galley and toilet/shower area which now resides forward in the place where the galley had been.
Apart from up in the bows, all of the furniture is new. It was all designed to be held in place by screws so that it could be removed without any cutting and hacking. I had most of this work done by freelance boat builders.
The electrical side of the refit is a story on its own. There are literally kilometers of wiring throughout the hull and concealing this was a major task. I probably spent as much time on this as I did on everything else combined. Be warned, if you want mod cons in an old boat, there is a downside”.
Most of the photographs above of Tamaroa show her as she was when Eric sold her.
Today’s woody story features the above photo of the 1929 Collings & Bell built launch – Crusader. The photo comes to us from Bryce Strong, who uncovered it while undertaking a ‘lock-down’ cull of his father’s photo albums.
At a guess the photo could be from the late 1980’s.
Crusader has made numerous appearances on WW, being a well done launch having been owned by the Rev. Jasper Calder.
She started life as a very fast flush decker but very early on (between 1929 > 1935) she morphed into a bridge decker.
As testament to her speed, she won the NZ Power Boat Association – ‘My Girl Trophy’ for launches steered by ladies. I understand My Girl’s current owner Jason Prew is very keen to locate the trophy or any intel on its past.
In the WW link below you can view her transformation and read more about her past.
Full details on the weekend have been emailed to the attendees. Great numbers attending, over 20 boats.
BUT REMEMBER – today (Thursday) is the last day to order our freshly shucked 1/2 shell oysters from the Clevedon Oyster Company – see ordering flyer below. These will be delivered to the Clevedon Cruising Club.
SPECIAL THANK YOU TO DAVE GIDDENS – Dave has provided us with gift for the CCC , as a thank you for hosting us. The man is a legend 🙂
Last week I was contacted by Barry Robinson of Thames re his launch Zephyr which has made a few cameo appearances on WW. Barry has owned Zephyr for the last 30 years and she is currently stored in his shed, at the tail end of a restoration and should be relaunched soon.
Barry commented (in his words) that he was getting on new and probably it would be good for someone else to take her on.
The photos above give us a glimpse of the boats evolution during Barry’s ownership.
The first one shows her up the Waihou River and then at Whangamata in 1994. The ones on the slipway are dated 1999 and shows cabin Barry added.
The last three photos record a sad day up the Waihou River. Barry tied Zephyr to pole at full tide to go floundering. Out going tide, boat sat on under water old Pier poles. Two speared through the hull. With tides getting bigger Barry was able to fill cabin with 10 200 litre drums and got enough flotation to clear poles and drag her to shore with two 4 wheel drive vehicles. Pulled her onto the shore with a 17 tonne digger. Patched two pole holes and towed her to Puke bridge (Maritime Park Paeroa). Then put her on road trailer and with a tractor, towed her to the farm at Puriri.
Below are copies of an article on Zephyr written by Robert and Caroline Teixeira when she was owned by well known Bay of Islands commercial sports fisherman – Joe Miller (painting)
29-07-2020 Harold Kidd Input – The first 3 paragraphs of the text of “Legends in Our Lifetime” sound like a waterfront yarn. . “Collins and Bell” and the “site of the Bridgeway Tavern” don’t go together.but there”s a kernel of fact in there I guess. The”Negro Minister” intrigues me. I’ve heard it before and wonder if it’s a conflation of Rev, Jasper Calder, but will check out this interesting angle and see if it has legs (mixed metaphors, anyone?)
In the bundle of prints I received from Bryce Strong were the above photos of the 1925 Collings & Bell built launch – Ruamano. Sadly she was abandoned in 2000 off the West Coast of the North Island. I have not come across many colour photos of her, so published these to showcase what a fine ship she was.
Reading reports of the incident she might have been saved, it would appear that her crew were a little too hasty in climbing off her. You can read more about the incident in the first WW story link below.
Given the passage of time, maybe someone would like to tell us more about how she came to be abandoned.
As I understand it the crew were in fact business associates of the owner and skipper. Supposedly they had to be in certain places at certain times to fit their business schedules and this played a part in putting pressure on to go round the top and head south in a marginal weather break. Deteriorating conditions forced the boat to head south west – out to sea – and a vicious cross sea developed. The skipper was handing his boat well and the boat was handing the conditions well but nobody else was. I believe there was no one fit to relieve the skipper on the helm and he eventually became completely exhausted. In the mean time the demands to abandon the ship became increasingly insistent and so the call was put out. Ironically all the busy chaps then had to sail off to Korea on the logging ship that took them off. The abandoning of the boat was extremely hazardous and it was apparently a wonder that nobody was injured. The boat’s brand new engines were running perfectly and the only damage was caused by running alongside the freighter. I believe a fishing boat spotted her some time later but she was by then swamped and no attempt was made to salvage her.Its a sad story and I feel for her owner as he had done an outstanding job restoring her to absolutely tip top condition.
Brian Fulton (MV Silens) sent in the photos below of Ruamano that were given to him by John Griffiths. John’s father owned her for approx. 18 years (dates unknown). They used her to get from Jack & Jill Bay to their house at Hauai Bay, on the Rawhiti Peninsula in the Bay of Islands. In the days before roads we put in.
Today’s woody popped up on Lew Redwood’s fb, the photo is tagged Waitangi River, Bay of Islands and dated 07-01-1924. Those with 20/20 vision will note her bow displays the name Marie, but Harold Kidd has advised that when launched by Collings & Bell in 1919 she was named Marne.
She made a brief appearance on WW back in August 2013. Link below
Harold Kidd Input – She was built by Collings &Bell in 1919 as MARNE (although God knows why anyone who had been there would name a boat after that French battleground) for J Goodwill. No details of first engine but probably a Doman. That was replaced with a 4 cylinder (Doman?) when J Parker bought her in 1921. In Parker’s ownership she became MARIE and was fitted with a 40hp Fay & Bowen in 1923. The name MARNE stuck however through later owners. She was pretty well set-up and was valued at 675 pounds, a colossal amount at the time. Alex Stewart bought her in the 1930s and called her MARGARET S. see
1985 Chas Bailey Gaffer – Ida – Invitation To View
Our greatest champion of classic wooden boating – John Street, has asked that I pass on an open invitation to all woody lovers to attend the official ‘christening’ of Ida, the 1895 Chas Bailey designed gaffer. The occasion will held at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron on Sunday 19th July between 4 and 6pm.
The location provides a perfect platform to get up close to Ida and view the outstanding restoration by Wayne Olsen and the team at Horizon Yachts.
Ida is the latest addition to the majestic fleet of classic wooden craft under the guardianship of The Classic Yacht Charitable Trust.
When I woke up yesterday, the first major decision was – “may I driving to Lake Rotoiti for the annual Classic & Wooden Boat Parade?” Almost didn’t, and I’m so glad I did – its such a cool event – brilliant location – cool boats – and the nicest people. Tomorrows WW story will be mammoth , so many boats to show you.
But today I thought I would share with you the two extremes of woody boating I enjoyed today.
At the end of the Parade I hitched a ride across the lake to the picnic venue aboard Gillian & Grant Cossey’s 1911, Collings & Bell built, 22’ launch – Elva. Grant does the shore based commentary for the parade, greatly appreciated by those that gather lakeside to view the parade. Grant also did the same gig for this years Mahurangi Regatta launch parade.
On my return trip from the picnic I was offered a ‘ride’ on Florence & Rod Prosser’s just rebuilt and launched speed boat – powered by a very souped up 1960’s small block Chev 327ci V8. Earlier in the day I went for a blast that saw us doing 45mph with the engine only at 1/2 throttle – the acceleration is startling, one minute your idling allow, next thing you are pinned to the seat. Sorry taking photos was impossible.
A couple of videos below (turn your sound up), to give you an idea of the sound and speed – no windscreen !
WOODYS CRUISING THE BAY OF ISLANDS – SUMMER 2019/20 – Part 1
Just got home yesterday from 10 days mooching around Waiheke and while clearing the in-box I spotted an email from Dean Wright, now Dean is a Bay of Islands based professional photographer with a passion for wooden boats. He even owns one – the 1917, Arethusa.
Now any email from Dean normally contains some stunning photos and yesterdays one was a cracker – too good to run all as one, so I will split them in two.
Today we have featured pleasure launches – the first being one of the smartest classic wooden launches in our fleet – Linda. She has appeared on WW many times so if you want o know more just enter Linda in the WW search box.
I love the photo above because its the personification of our classic wooden boating movement.
Below I have included a photo of the 2018/19 built ‘spirit of tradition’ launch – Grace, and with her beautiful lines, she could only ever be a Salthouse 🙂
I have captioned the Woodys that I have been able to ID. To read more on the boats featured, use the WW search box 😉
WHY SHOULD YOU JOIN THE NZ CLASSIC YACHT ASSOCIATION………..
…….the answer is simple – so you can attend the best classic woody boating party of the year.
The CYA Patio Bay BBQ / Xmas Party is the jewel in the crown on the CYA calendar and its happening next weekend – November 30th > Dec 1st. at the bottom end of Waiheke Island. Check out the montage below from previous years.
More details here https://classicyacht.org.nz. The bun fight ashore kicks off around 4pm, but woodys – get to the bay early to secure a good anchoring spot in close 😉 then watch the stick and rag boys finish their race.
I could be in a festive mood – so there might be some WW merchandise up for grabs.