Morning woodys, big post today – I owe you a goody – been a little distracted by the A-Cup (how good were we?).
Oke Bay was originally named Diana S & based on the British Registry* Certificates (number 191827, see below) she 32′ long & was built in 1945 by Roy Steadman. *Her registry was transferred to the NZ Register of Ships in Sept 1993. Ken Ricketts sent this all to me & commented that he thought she was very Dick Lang looking.
She was built for a Bay of Islands land agent, Henry Slyfield, who swapped her for another boat in January 1955 with John Lawford, who changed her name in February 1956 from Diana S to Oke Bay, Slyfield owned property in that bay, & used her for transport to & from the bay. John Lawford mostly kept her on a swing mooring in Okahu Bay. He and Henry Slyfield were members of the Royal Akarana Yacht Club. The boat used to travel to the Bay of Islands every Summer holidays.
She is recorded as having a 6 cyl 95hp Kermath petrol engine in place from 1950, given her 1945 build date, one wonders what the original engine was, her present owner advised she had blinded off keel cooling pipe outlets, which hints towards a car or truck engine, which was common after WWII. The Kermath was replaced with a 1965 model 4 cyl Ford diesel in 1965-66, which still powers her today.
Records show in May 1980 she was sold to a Waipu farmer, Arthur Terry. Colin & Annie Mewburn have owned her since May 2004, having bought her off Arthur Terry, who was in hi 80’s at the time. The Mewburn’s motored her down to Whangaparaoa from One Tree Point Whangarei, where Terry had kept her. Terry told Colin M the Ford had 1000 hours on it when he got her in 1980. Home these days is the Wade River. (photos ex Colin Mewburn, Rod Steadman & Ken Ricketts)
She is one of 4 almost identical boats, Castaway, (original name Islander) & Alofa, both of which are attributed to Dick Lang. Ken commented that Lady Noeleen looks like another Dick Lang build, while there is now proof that she is a Dick Lang, interestingly, her present owner holds a view that Lady Noeleen may be the Alofa.
Harold Kidd Input
There are several issues here
1. She was registered as a British Ship in 1955 when she was (allegedly) 10 years old. The Register contains information as given to the Registrar on the application form with no scrutiny of accuracy. There are countless cases where vessels have been registered with incorrect details, often to give the vessel a pedigree it doesn’t have e.g. “Logan Bros” or “Chas. Bailey” as builder.
2. She was registered by Henry Durban Slyfield with RNZYS as DIANA without the S in 1953. The RBS must have contained another DIANA so Slyfield added the “S” to enable registration 2 years later.
3. I think the Diana in the name was his daughter.
4. I can find no trace of her as DIANA or DIANA S or owned by Slyfield before 1953 when she had call-sign ZLCG3. Is it possible that she was built under yet another name?
5. Roy Steadman worked, of course, for Shipbuilders in Poore St during WW2. He would have worked alongside Dick Lang at United Shipbuilders, the consortium formed to build vessels for the US Forces. It is entirely likely that he took employment with Dick at his existing yard in St. Mary’s Bay in 1945 and worked on this launch there, to a design by Dick.
6. I wonder about “1945”. That seems quite a bit too early as there was an acute shortage of good boatbuilding timber after the war as huge amounts had been used in the wartime constructions and large holding stocks destroyed in the January 1945 fire at the mill of Boxes Ltd in Beaumont St which spread to Shipbuilders’ yard in Poore St. Then again, even if Slyfield (or another first owner) sourced kauri privately from Northland, it is unlikely that more than a start would have been made in 1945.
7. ALOFA (W.R. de Luen) and LADY NOELENE (sic) (V. Smith) co-existed in 1953 with different owners so are not the same boat.
Castaway at the Mahurangi regatta 2011 – designed & built by Dick Lang in 1947 at his premises adjacent to Shipbuilders Ltd in Westhaven just behind where the Dry Stack boat storage is today. Originally built for himself, she was one a number of similar launches built during this period. Dick Lang used her for his own personnel craft for a number of years, travelling many times between Auckland and Coromandel, before selling her to Mr Wayne Mason, the then Managing Director of Sunline Homes Ltd. Wayne Mason sold her to Mr Wayne Aston in 1973, at which this time her name was changed to Castaway from Islander after the racial overtones it implied. Wayne Aston also changed the engine to the 6 cylinder 100HP Fordson. Following her sale to Tom Simpson in 1985, this was the start of a very major refit for her, and saw a complete rebuild of the interior and combined with a much more practical interior layout, which included another engine change. With the original style of the coach house being retained to ensure that the classic looks remained. As a result she was restored into a Classic Bridge Deck Launch, and a credit to her designer and builder. She was briefly in the hands of Mr Mike Cunningham from 1994 until 1999, which saw some minor changes to the interior. 1999 saw the installation of a deep freeze, oven and the completion of the hot water system, a much-improved noise dampening of the dry exhaust system and improved fuel filtration. Castaway fly’s the Past Commodore’s pennant of the Devonport Yacht Club.