The Biography of Pearl Diver

Launch day Nov 1965 – Westhaven
Birkdale c.1968

The Biography Of Pearl Diver  

The build of the 30’ launch – Pearl Diver was started in 1960 by Ken Rickett’s friend Lloyd Burnand. She was built in an old corrugated iron shed, at his parent’s home, in Ngapipi Rd Orakei.  Lloyd bought the boat as a kit set off Shipbuilders, who supplied a good number of kit sets, all between about 28′ to 34′, during the years 1960-66. Over nearly 6 years Lloyd assembled / built the boat. At the time he was in his early 20’s (photo above of Lloyd outside the shed). Being somewhat of a perfectionist Lloyd put only the best of everything into the  build and the launch was his pride & joy between 1965 to1982. 

She was built of 3 skins of kauri, on opposite diagonals, held together by ‘Epiglue’, a very strong adhesive, this combined with through fastened copper nails, made her like a proverbial brick outhouse.   The coamings were fibre-glassed over marine ply, with a very distinctive, futuristic for the day, window styling, which was partly created by Lloyd purchasing and having professionally cut up, a windscreen from a 1950’s Chev Impala car, and using the 90 degree rounded corner sections of the windscreen glass of this, for her front screen corners. The rest of the boat was finished with a product called ‘International Poly 707’. 

Original power came from a 6 cyl. 100 h.p. intermittent and 86 h.p. continuous rating Ford diesel, which drove through a 2 to 1  Borg Warner gearbox & reduction gear, to a 20 x 22 Henley propeller. This engine was replaced c.1994 with a 180 h.p. inter-cooled artificially aspirated Ford diesel, which she still has today. 

Lloyd was a keen aqualung diver from way back in the very early days of the sport i.e. the mid1950’s. He even fitted a portable 3000 p.s.i. petrol driven, aqualung compressor on Pearl Diver. The boat was named after his passion for diving and his wife named Pearl – a habit of many ’smart’ boat owners back in those days 🙂 The launch was kept at several locations during Lloyd’s tenure  – Westhaven, Bayswater and the Tamaki River, but her best home was at the bottom of Llyod and Pearl’s waters edge home in Birkdale. There she would sit on a wooden cradle for winter maintenance. Note: click on photos to enlarge

Ownership Timeline

• Lloyd owned her until c.1982, when she passed to Pearl & her second husband Steve Lomax, kept on a swing mooring at the Sandspit, Warkworth. • Sold in c.1987/8, to a Mr C Bradshaw. For how long unknown – anyone able to confirm timings.  • Late 1980’s or early 1990’s appeared for sale with a Titirangi phone number – price $50k  • Mid 1999 she appeared for sale again with a Northland phone number. Price $75k, (new 180HP engine fitted). The ad photo shows a fly bridge added. The owner was Graham Eastgate of Tutukaka. • Eastgate sold her to Doug and Raewyn Marsh in July 1999 and they relocated the boat to McLeods Bay, Whangarei Heads. • July 2004 the Marshs sold the launch to Barry and Julie Spencer. The Spencers relocated the launch to Doves Bay, Kerikeri in August 2004. • Present owner, Reb Aplin, inherited Pearl Diver off the estate of Barry Spencer, Barry was in his 70’s, when they bought her and for a number of his later years Reb mostly cared for her, on his behalf, as age prevented Barry from doing much of her maintenance. When Barry passed away, late last year (2021), at age 89, he bequeathed Pearl Diver to Reb, who took the boat over a couple of months ago, and  is going through her, and bringing her right up to the minute, in every respect. Hopefully considering removing the block of penthouse. She is still moored at Doves Bay, Kerikeri. 

Special thanks to – Ken Ricketts for pulling the bones of this story together and the following people for their time, knowledge and sharing of photos – Pearl Burnand-Lomax, Warren Burnand ( Lloyd’s son), Val Schmidt (nee Burnand, Lloyd’s sister) and present owner Reb Aplin.  Story edited a lot by Alan H