The 1929 Lanes built, 40’ launch – Valerie, has appeared on WW a few time (link below – use the WW Search Box for more) but now thanks to a tme listing we get to see the results of the recent work done to her, including a heart transplant.The Yanmar 112hp is a perfect match for her and I imagine she has a good turn of speed.
Yesterday I was mooching around the Toi Tu Toi Ora exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery (well worth a visit) and spotted the clinker below. The wife wasn’t impressed “can’t go anywhere without a wooden boat popping up. You knew this was here didn’t you” 🙂
Mooching around The Slipway Milford yesterday I spotted a familiar looking shape, closer inspection revealed Wanda II was hauled out as part of her ‘rolling’ restoration. Previous WW stories tell us she was built in 1948 by the Lane Motor Boat Co. for Fred Porter. She measures 38’6’ and is powered by twin BMC Commodore 55hp diesel engines.
Her current custodian / owner has virtually gutted the interior and is refurbishing her to better match the demands of classic woody family cruising. Whilst the latest fittings and systems are being utilized, her owner has a very sympathetic eye to detail so I’m confident she will look fantastic.Milford wooden boat builder Geoff Bagnall was onboard while I was there replacing / sistering some ribs. I think that is what he was doing 😉
Great to see her at Milford, hopefully providing motivation to Cam Malcolm, head honcho at the Slipway, to accelerate the work on his – Connie V, one of 3 sister ships – Wanda II, Connie V and Doreen. Connie V is currently directly in front of Wanda II inside the shed.
In the top photo, the woody alongside Wanda II is – Uhuru Jack, getting some TLC. She would have to be one of the oldest residents of Milford Creek Marina.
Over the last few days I have had cause to be in the vicinity of several boat yards
THE SLIPWAY MILFORD
Jason Prew has his 1925 Dick Lang built speedster – My Girl out and is in the process of re-powering her with a ’newer / better’ version of the 100hp Volvo that powers her. Given an engine box hasn’t been ticked off the To-Do List, this ones being pimped and blinged a little.
The new engine wasn’t the primary reason I called in, I had to see Jason’s just added, Riviera styled set up for his Robert Brook built classic dinghy. I’m told it all comes apart and tucks away out of sight for photo oppo’s. Thats a relief 😉
Also at the yard are Eileen Patricia , Peter and Jenni Mence’s 1933 Arnold Couldrey designed and built launch. Out for even more enhancements and a coat of paint.
Meanwhile Connie V the 1949, Lane Motor Boat Co. built launch waits her turn.
Jason Delamore who purchased the launch Mahanui off Angus Rogers, is a clever chap and very handy with the tools. Jason has just recycyled an old oak table into a very smart table that alternates between the saloon and cockpit, thanks to a ‘Langun’ base / mounting system (ex UK).
The flip hinges give both a small drinks table and larger table for dinner.
Jason commented that he was pretty happy with the result and breathed new life into some gorgeous timber that will last another 80-100 years on top of its current 80+ years.
Today’s photos come to us from Scott Taylor and are from the same batch that Scott sent in earlier in the week. You may recall that Scott is the son of the late Mac Taylor, the Westhaven based boat broker.
Scott told us that the photos was probably taken by himself over fifty years ago while he was tagging along with his Dad at Westhaven.
In the 2nd photo, closet to the camera, we have a very new looking, modern, mystery launch, which I suspect used up a lot of sheets of plywood in her construction. Alongside her is what I assume is Connie V, the 1949 Lane Motor Boat Co. built launch. These days tucked away at The Slipway Milford, previously on WW
In the above 1963 photo we see the launch Valerie towing an ex Whangarei Harbour Board shed to Port Whangarei, at the time river transport was judged to be the best option.
Input from Robin Elliott and Harold Kidd (previous WW story) – Valerie was designed and built by the Lane Motor Boat Co. in 1929. She is 35’ in length with a 9’ beam. For many years she was owned by the Reynolds family, close friends of the Pickmeres, who owned her up until the late 1960’s. Apart from a short period in Auckland during the 1960’s she has spent almost all her life in Whangarei and the far North. It is believed Valerie was sometimes used by H. Pickmere when he was charting the far north.
Launch day 29 August 1929 & Whangaroa 2013
I spotted her in December 2019 hauled out at the Opua marina getting a serious refit that included being re-powered with a Yanmar 115hp. Read / see more here
I spend a large chunk of my leisure time, pulling together the waitematawoodys stories that you all get to enjoy each day. One of the coolest parts is connecting people and boats, more often than not – it’s a grandchild looking for grandads old wooden classic or someone who used to crew on a boat and wants to contact with the long lost woodys they boated with. There have been some amazing link-ups, some taking years to surface, a common situation is someone sends in an old photo of a boat, it appears on WW, we generate some intel on the boat, then the story goes into hibernation for a while, sometimes years. Then someone does a google search on an old boats name and bang – up pops the WW story and we are away, they supply more details + photos and then that generates more – its called self populating. With over 5,500,000 views the WW site rates very well with google, also people tend to spend a lot of time on the site so that tells google the site is valued by people, so the boffins at google ‘assist’ the search functionality.
Anyway starting to get boring – yesterday was my day, my turn to be wowed by waitematawoodys. I received an email that stopped the clock. After 13 years of looking for more intel on my boat – Raindance, a gent named William Brown reached out to WW asking for assistance in tracking down a launch named Lady Gay that his father owned in the late 1960’s. Bill’s parents were Correen and James Brown and were lifetime boaties with a flotilla of craft over the years – James was also a former Commodore of the Onerahi Yacht Club and a member of the Whangarei Cruising Club.
One glance at Bill’s photos told me it was Raindance. Bill’s email is below
“It’s been fun during the lockdown to still have the consistency of your regular Waitemata Woodys posts. Thanks for that.
Back at the beginning of March, I won one of your Waitemata Woody T shirts on the Townson 28 quiz and I have been proudly wearing it around my neighbourhood during lockdown. I’ll send a picture in at some stage with perhaps a different story/email to today’s one.
Ok, so I was I digging into my old photos recently and uncovered a couple of pictures (sorry about the quality), of our family’s launch that we owned for about 5 or 6 years in the late 1960s. We knew her then as Lady Gay, but as a youngster I never knew much about her provenance. I am not actually sure my dad knew much of her design or year built either. We used her extensively in the Whangarei harbour for family holidays and fishing trips. The coloured picture has me on the stern, while anchored at Tamaterau and the black and white photo is outside the old quarry in the top of McLeods Bay. I did see her once on the hard at Orakei, so believe she was in Auckland in the 1980s at some stage. She was about 27′ long, narrow and rolled around a bit. Dad fitted stabilizing chocks to her, closed in the canvas in the cockpit and added a decent sized mast, so we could run a stabilizing sail on her. She had a big old Ruston diesel if I remember right, which was incredibly reliable and economical. Those big saloon windows were pretty recognizable, functional, but ugly!
I would be most interested to find out more of the history of this “Lady Gay” ( i realize there are other more famous Lady Gay’s around and not even sure if she was originally given this name or indeed kept it after our ownership. I wonder if she is still going strong today and if so where she is based? Some good family memories were had on her for sure!”
Post lock-down Bill will be visiting his mother (lives in Northland still) and hopefully will obtain more details and photos.
As a result of Bill’s email I have filled in some of the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle – but I would love to uncover details from her launch date (c.1928) to the early 1960’s. Hopefully the above photos and details on her owner might jog some memories.
Below I have reproduced what I had previously been able to piece together on the boats past – if I’ve got my wires crossed, please let me know:-)
Lady Gay > Lady Gai > Nona C > Raindance (as at June 2015)
When I purchased the boat in August 2007 she was named ‘Nona C’, after the then owners (Craig Colven, a Auckland Harbour Board pilot boat skipper) daughter. He told me the boat was previously called ‘Lady Gay’. I did not like the name Nona C so was in the process of reverting back to Lady Gay when I was advised of another launch called Lady Gay (owned by Graham Wilson of the Wilson & Horton publishing family), not wanting to confuse things & on the advice of several marine historians I decided to chose a new name & went with ‘RainDance’. Interestingly Graham Wilson was prepared to add II (2) to his launches name.
I was not aware that ‘Gay’ had been changed to the Irish spelling ‘Gai’ until when I was given a copy of the Dunsford Marine Surveyors Ltd pre-purchase survey commissioned in March 2003 by a Dr. Rex Ferris. Had I known about the Gai/Gay I would have retained the Lady Gai name. I obtained Rex Ferris’s address from the survey & did a Google search which resulted in an Auckland District Health Board employment link & I contacted Rex Ferris. Like myself he knew little about her past, there are still huge gaps e.g. the 1930’s > early 1980’s but below is some history I have gained.
I have also spoke in Jan 2010 to Blair Cole (boat builder) refer below.
Peter & Ann Gill, the motoring journalist, bought the boat in c.1987 & at the time had a waterfront property in the Upper Harbour (near Paremoremo wharf) with a mooring put down. He saw the boat advertised in ‘Boat Trader’, she was moored in the Tamaki Estuary & he purchased her for about $7,000. He can’t remember the name of the owner but was told the boat was built by Lane Motor Boats in 1928, there is however some discussion that she may have been built by ‘Collings & Bell’. She had a single cylinder Bukh diesel engine, which was started via a decompression lever & hand cranking. The owner told Peter that she had been based at Great Barrier Island as a ‘long-liner’ fishing boat for many years prior to him buying her. When she was moored off Peters house, she took on quite a bit of water, and it was necessary for him to go out as often as twice a week and operate the manual bilge pump. He hired a tradesman who specialized in old boats and he decided that it was the stern gland that was the problem. Peter her hauled out and they filled the stern gland with tallow. It was not a one hundred percent fix & she continued to take on water. Peter was never very comfortable with the boat & to use his words ‘we never went far in her’. She was not a pretty boat in those days with a cabin top that looked like it had been made from a ply-wood car case. (Photos below)
I have spoken to Peter several times & while he is very friendly & chatty about the boat he is very elusive about when & to whom he sold her. The reason for this is that either Peter or the next owner (?) let her sink on her mooring in the upper harbour & she remain submerged for several weeks. Given the swallow, sheltered tidal nature of the mooring this had no major negative effect on the boat.
The next chapter is amusing – the mast only of the boat was visible from the Salthouse Boat Builders yard at Greenhite & the tradesman there were running a sweep-stake as to how long she would remain submerged before the owner rescued her. During this period two of the Salthouse apprentices – Blair Cole & Kelly Archer (who both went on to become well respected boat builders in their own right) hatched a plan to buy the boat. They tracked down the owner & both approached him independently, Kelly advised it would cost $3,000 to re-float the boat. Blair then approached the owner & offered an as-is-where-is price of $2,000. The owner accepted Blair’s offer. The boat was hauled out at Salthouse’s yard, she later moved to Blair’s house where he undertook a major restoration (John Salthouse told me at a CYA function once that he had a ‘guiding’ hand in the process).
Between 1988>89 Blair spent in excess of 1800 hours on the restoration – the work involved replacing the ply wood box cabin top with a more sympathetic tram top & doghouse. The two bronze port holes were added to the front of the cabin, along with the bronze mushroom deck vents, new twin plastic fuel tanks, a reconditioned 58hp Ford engine, new shaft, new 2 blade prop, new hydraulic steering (since replaced), anchor winch (since replaced). Extensive new ribs & sister ribs where fitted & her seams were re-caulked. All windows where replaced & new bunks fitted. He also removed her alloy mast & built & fitted the current oregon pine mast. The duck-board was also added. The s/s rod holders on her stern (since removed) came off the old Salvation Army launch.
Blair & his wife cruised the Gulf extensively in the boat in the 1990’s. Blair is a little hazy on whom & when he sold the boat to but thinks it was to someone who lived in Kumeu & they only keep the boat for less than 2 years. They probably sold it Dr. Rex & Sharron Ferris.
In 2003 Rex Ferris purchased her post the Dunstan marine survey (photo below during survey) but it appears he did not address any of the ‘faults’ identified in the survey. Rex Ferris spoke to Blair Cole (Cole Marine Services) in June 2003 & Blair confirmed the restoration work he undertook. Blair also confirmed that she was named Lady Gai.
(Unknown ownership / date photos)
In 2005 the boat was for sale on the hard at Bayswater Marina, I looked at her but she would have been too much of a burden for me at the time. The boat was purchased by Craig Colven who undertook hull work (replaced some planking, caulking, ribs, floors & keel bolts, as identified in the 2003 survey) & installed a new 45hp 4-cylinder Daidong diesel motor & replacement of all major machinery, electrics and plumbing. Including a freezer, new 3-blade prop, shaft bearings, bilge pumps. Devonport craftsmen’s Robbie Robertson (deceased) & Charlie Webley undertook the work.
Craig, over a 2 year period commissioned this work but never completed her, his wife did not share his passion for the sea & I purchased her in August 2007 for what I considered a bargain given what Craig Colven had spent on her in time & money. (Photo below when I purchased her)
I then undertook over the next few years what is called a rolling restoration i.e. I used the boat each summer but hauled her out in winter & continued the project. I retained the services of then Milford based wooden boat builder Geoff Bagnall for the big stuff, there were several areas (stem, cockpit decks, doghouse windows) of rot that needed to be removed plus we made her more ‘comfortable’ in terms of helm seat, doghouse hatch layout etc. New auto anchor winch & bow launcher were installed along with forward hatch porthole to improve light in forward cabin. I rolled my sleeves up on the rest.
I’m thankful for the care bestowed on the boat over the years – everyone that has rubbed up to her has helped get her thru the last 92 years.
(Recent – AH ownership photos)
And one of the two Lady Gay’s 🙂
Photos below ex Bill Brown from when his parents owned Lady Gay / Raindance in the late 1960’s > early 1970’s.
One is in Parua Bay at a little anchorage called Peach point,(dated 1971), where they regularly careened Lady Gay. The others are at Peach Cove, a beautiful little cove out towards Bream Head, and the last two are in the Nook, Parua Bay. And one stern on showing her then cockpit layout.
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 😉
During my recent trip up north, aboard Lady Crossley I visited the Opua Marina to attend the launch of Lady Ellen. While mooching around the hard-stand I spotted the 1929, Lane Motor Boat Co. built, 35’ launch Valerie. I last saw her in early 2018 in Whangaroa.
Valerie has had a change of ownership and is getting a ‘make-over’. When I spotted her at Opua , boatbuilder Ian Wood was hard at work getting her ready for a pre-xmas re-launch. The work would be best described as a ‘rollin restoration’. Included in the work to date is a re-power – out with the 65hp Ford and in with the 115hp Yanmar, check out her new prop – me thinks his old lady will be able to lift her skirt and dance 🙂
It makes me happy to be able to announce that Connie V the 1949, Lane Motor Boat Co. built launch has been purchased and is now in very woody ownership. She will be restored to better than as-launched, more details in the New Year, but we will follow this restoration in detail.
In todays photos / videos (ex Jason Prew) we see her being relaunched at Panmure after a lengthy period on the hard. Lots more of photos and history at the WW link below
Photos below ex Gavin Cook and Harold Kidd of Connie V looking a lot smarter.
Well That Was A Short Splash – Now out again in her new home (photos ex Nathan Herbert)
Classic Launch Race Announcement
If you are a woody launch owner and like to open the pipes up i.e. race against other woodys – Auckland’s Anniversary Day Regatta wants you and your launch.
In 2019 we saw the re-birth of classic launch racing to the regatta after an absence of some 100 years. 2020 is the 180th anniversary of the regatta. So woodys, if you are going to be back in Auckland on January 27th, after the world famous Mahurangi Regatta, click the link below to learn more about the regatta and the handicap launch race. Plus read how you could walk away with prize money including a $1,000 cash prize if you enter by 31 December, plus spot prizes including a Hawaiian holiday.