The Cole Boats – Black Watch, Wanda II (Lady Norma), Colmana

Gordon Cole & His Boats

photos & info from Ken Rickets with input from Adrienne & Malcolm Cole. Edited by Alan H

During his boating era Gordon Cole was a very successful furniture retailer (Coles Furnishers, Otahuhu) & the Cole family were dedicated launchies of the very highest order, owning at least 3 boats – Black Watch & Wanda II (note: Cole changed both boats names to Lady Norma & to confuse matters more, when Cole sold Black Watch she became either Lady Ailsa or Lady Alisa. Wanda II / Lady Norma’s name was later changed back to Wanda by subsequent owners) & later a 3rd one, Colmana.

Black Watch

Black Watch was painted completely black when Cole purchased her off the estate of the late Rev. Jasper Calder c.1952-53. When purchased she was moored in the Tamaki River & in a very neglected, unused state. The Cole family had to do a lot of bilge pumping until they hauled her out of the water, which they did almost immediately, at the Lane Motor Boat Co. slip. The entire Cole family, Gordon, his late wife Norma & older children, Malcolm & Adrienne all worked very hard along with some of the Lane staff, for many months, to convert Black Watch into Lady Norma as she is in the photo. Lane’s fitted the flying bridge at the same time as the general overhaul & upgrade. Cole later replaced the original engines ( Ford petrol V8 & the Perkins Diesel) with two x 6 cyl. Ford diesels, which son Malcolm Cole recalls, were painted blue.

They owned her from c.1952-53 until c.1958-59.

Wanda II

Had two sets of engines & while Ken Ricketts is not sure when the two 4 cyl. BMCs were fitted, he recalls that while out on her one day over Christmas 1960, she definitely still had her original Scripps 6 cyl. 90hp petrol engines at that time & by the look of the vapor at the stern in the B/W photo of her under way, she had them when that photo was taken. Gordon Cole can be seen clearly with his head through the hatch, naturally very proudly, at the helm.


Was the last of their boats & built for them in Tauranga by Donald Brothers & launched in 1974.