El Alamein / Ranui


Photos ex owner Sarah Looner & details ex Ken Ricketts, edited by Alan H

Ranui (originally named El Alamein) is 32’ with a 10’ 6” beam & was built in Auckland by Mac McGeady (Supreme Craft) & launched on the 29th January 1945, for the use of returned servicemen from World War II, who were convalescing at Rotorua Convalescent Hospital. She was built for & by donated the Patriotic Fund, of the Joint Council of the Red Cross & St John, with a shallow draft for her day & designed specifically for use on Lake Rotoiti & was capable of seating up to 40 people. The handing over ceremony was apparently a very formal occasion, according to newspaper writings of the day, with dignitaries of the era, of the ilk of the late Sir Earnest Davis, in attendance.

She was originally built as an open boat, with a smallish cabin, as per the photo & with a bunk room forward.

For the first 4 years of her life Ranui was captained by a William Pollock, & was apparently a familiar sight on the lake, carrying up to 40 convalescing soldiers, many in wheelchairs, on lake excursions, as part of their rehabilitation, to help ease them back in to civilian life.

As the numbers of ex service patients had dropped off by 1949, Ranui was sold in August 1949, to a Ron Martin & the proceeds of the sale, were returned to the Patriotic Fund. He had her trucked to Lake Taupo on the 24th August 1949. Ken feels that it was probably Ron Martin who changed her name from El Alamein to RANUI. He also had a full cabin top fitted to her, 2 years after purchase, by a long time local resident Noel East & was also the first person to have her surveyed.

The next owner, was from Hawkes bay, who used her privately, before on selling her to one of Taupo’s most well known commercial boat operators, Jim Storey. He had her surveyed again & used her for many years commercially, taking fisher people & tour parties sightseeing or fishing on Lake Taupo.

In 1980 Graham Twiss purchased her & he continued what Jim Storey had started for another 34 years.

These days she is maritime surveyed for 23 passengers & has recently been refurbished & revived by the present owners Jamie & Sarah Looner & is looking rather smart.

 NOTE: She is recorded as having a 15 hp engine when built, & Ken would like to make a deviation to the story to explain what he believes is the situation & details of the “15hp” engine. Up to the mid/later 1940s, many British made engines, had their horsepower rated on the English, “RAC” rating basis, which is quite different from the now almost universal, “SAE” rating basis of today, worldwide. For example we had the 1937 Austin 7’s & 1946 Morris Eight cars rated on the RAC system, & by the late 1940s we had the Austin A40’s being 40 hp on the SAE rating, (about 12 to 14 hp on the RAC rating). Ken believes the El Alamein/Ranui originally had a British made engine, RAC rated, as she would have hardly moved with an SAE rated “15hp engine.” The 15hp RAC engine, would have been around 40 to 60 hp on the present day rating system. A Ford diesel presently powers her.

Now a totally random question 🙂 Pam at the Whangatea Traditional Boat yard picked the below up on trademe – unusual font, anyone able to say which Ranui this was off, if a boat – could have been from the west Auckland Ranui area. photo

Photo below taken by Ken Ricketts in Feb. 2013 @ Lake Taupo


details & photos ex Hylton Edmonds, Karen Moren & B Worthington

Albacora was built by Mac McGeady in 1954 for Pat Edmonds (Hylton’s father). She was to be a big game fishing boat in the Bay of Islands. She was 36′ & when launched powered by twin 90hp Graymarine engines.
The photo above is from a postcard (image a ‘little’ enhanced) of when she went up to Fiji in 1969 to start another successful game fishing career, operating out of the Fijian Hotel on Yanuca Island near to Sigatoka on the Coral Coast. While in Fiji, kiwi boat builder Ben Hipkins raised her cabin top to increase headroom.

Hylton has a rather nice collection of classic woodys –  with Zane Grey & Lady Eileen both in varying stages of restoration at his Russell, Bay of Islands yard/shed.

Link to Lady Eileen https://waitematawoodys.com/2015/05/22/lady-eileen-3/

Update from Hylton Edmonds

Hi Alan,

Great to see Albacora back in the lime light, and taking yours and a few of your correspondents lead in the quest for accuracy, if I could just correct a few things as follows,
Albacora was 38′ 6″” x 11′ 6″ x 3’6″, mostly full length kauri of 1 1/2 ” thick.
Her cost as-built was 4,500.00 pounds, transported by Hammond and McIntyre from Summer Street, down Franklin Road to Quay Street. She was launched at 7.5 tons by Mrs. Eileen Bronson (a well known fisher-woman of the day) on 13 September 1954 at Admiralty Steps by the floating crane Mahua.
She had twin Petrol Morris Commodore’s of 50 HP each.
Unfortunately these were the only motors readily available for her first season of 1954 /55, and were replaced the next year by twin 4 cylinder Lees Marine Fordson Diesel’s of 75 HP each. The work was done at Deeming’s on Tapu Point (as all the work in NZ was done) including changing her from wet exhausts to dry. A great friendship between Dad and both Roly and Ted Lees ensued. These were later replaced in her last years in New Zealand with twin 6 cylinder Lees Marine Fordson’s of 115 HP each.
Albacora had a successful Game Fishing career and at the time of being sold to Marlin Investments in Fiji in 1968 she had 4 World and 7 New Zealand records to her name.
Albacora was only ever in Auckland twice, firstly when she was launched in 1954, and secondly when she came back down from Russell to go as deck cargo on the USSCo Tofua to Fiji in the May of 1968
In the mid 70’s she was sold to a Mr. Dick Evison who was setting up Turtle Island Resort. Details became sketchy after that until in 1980, family friend and well known yachtsman Dick McIlvride saw her in a derelict state up the Nadi River.
Acting on a tip off that Albacora was still “alive”, and a hoping to fulfill a life long dream of bringing her back home, – a trip to Fiji 5 years ago was made primarily to find out once and for all what happened to her. The late Dick Smith of Musket Cove was most hospitable to me, but confirmed the sad news, that Albacora had indeed been a wreck up the Nadi River, but then purchased by the owner of (adjacent) Plantation Village (a Mr. Reg Raffe) in the November of 1982. She was re-floated, towed over to Malololailai and hauled up onto the hard between the 2 resorts. A rebuild was intended sometime after the Christmas/Summer Holiday season. Tragically on March 1st 1983 Cyclone Oscar decimated not only most of that side of Fiji, but Albacora as well. She (as was most of the buildings on the island) pushed into a heap by bulldozer and burnt.
My Father always said, as all McGeady Boats were, – she was a strongly built boat, and a comfortable sea boat, and to me Albacora was a very good looking well proportioned classic sedan launch, that acquitted herself well in every respect, but as we all know, – wooden boats in the tropics…… a very harsh environment to say the least.


Story compiled by Alan Houghton from info ex Diane Hopson (daughter of original owner Les Ravenhall), photos ex Diane & Ken Ricketts
The building of Hukarere, which means ‘foam driven by sea’, involved two key people; Mac McGeady who built the hull & her owner Les Ravenhall, a builder who spent his summer holidays outfitting her. Ravenhall was assisted by his two brothers Ron & Wilf. His three daughters – Diane Hopson aged 11 at the time & her elder sister aged 13 & the ‘baby’ aged 3 were all involved as well. In the summer of 1948 New Zealand was in the middle of a Polio epidemic, so school was out for an extended period, giving the daughters a lot of free time to help out.
It’s said that McGeady based the hull on a Chris Craft design that Ravenhall saw in an American magazine in 1948 (refer clippings below).
Diane recalls the hull arriving & being placed on the front lawn, neighbors in those days must have been a lot more accommodating than they are today as Ravenhall worked night & day outfitting her. Diane recalls that the engine was already installed when the hull arrived. The work must have been undertaken at a cracking pace as the hull arrived in early December 1948 & she was launched at Okahu Bay on Anniversary weekend 1949. Diane says she leaked like a sieve & they had to work the bilge pump the whole way to Islington Bay on the maiden voyage. The building process & this first trip set the scene for a lifetime love of the sea & the boat for the entire family.
A few years after launching (c.1954/55) Ravenhall decided to rebuild the deck house & add a flying bridge. This gave Ravenhall direct door access to the engine room under the flying bridge rather than having to pull up the floorboards of the main cabin. At this time he replaced the original Lees Marine petrol engine with a Perkins diesel.
The Ravenhall family used to spend every weekend aboard, from Labour Weekend to Easter, and all summer holidays.  In the winter she was hauled up into the family boat shed in Ngapipi road  for maintenance. The boat shed had been in the Ravenhall family for years – originally owned by Diane’s grandfather – Chas W Ravenhall who owned the launches Silver Spray and Ismay.

Hukarere was invited to take part as a patrol boat, when the Gothic came into Auckland Harbour, for the Royal visit.  Diane recalls being anchored out in the Rangitoto Channel for about 8 hours in a rough sea, a day she & the family did not forget.  For many years Hukarere was designated the NZ Herald press boat for the Auckland Regatta (refer photos with ‘Press’ burgee flying).  In this role she was often involved in rescuing the little racing yachts when the wind was just too much for them.

As a result of changing family circumstances the descision was made to sell the boat in 1960 & buy a beach house. Hukarere had a new owner at Waiheke Island where she was moored for a number of years.

As always interested in what became of her post 1960 & where she is today.

 Design Inspiration

30-06-2015. An update from Ian Rawnsley (great son-in-law of Chas Ravenhall)

Last week, my wife (youngest daughter of Les Ravenhall) and I went down to the boat sheds on Ngapipi Road to check which shed used to house Hukarere and, thanks to Glenn Burnnand, we were able to establish, as believed, that it was shed 15.

The last time that we saw Hukarere was in March 2000 when, by sheer chance, on a visit to Waiheke Island, we saw her in Matiatia Bay and was owned by a bus driver.
I understand that it has been sold several times since then.

11-11-2015 Photos Added Below

The photos above show the arrival of Hukarere at the Ravenhall family home in Mission Bay. Seen are the 3 Ravenhall sisters (Diane, Barbara & Briar) & a mix of uncles and neighbours on hand to supervise & admire. Photos ex Ravenhall family via Ken Ricketts.

Lady Ellen

LADY ELLEN (Mystery Launch 25-06-2015)
photo ex Jason Prew

At the recent CYA visit to Chris McMullen’s workshop, Jason & crew arrived in the Tino Rawa Trust 1902 Logan Bros. day boat Otira (below).

On route Jason photographed some of the wooden boats moored on the Tamaki River – an amazing number of craft.
Can anyone ID todays launch & provide details on her?

Update from Shane Billingham – She is Lady Ellen , is on dads wharf, unfortunately in bit of a sad state.  Was owned by my grandad (Harry Collard) for years (from 60’s? would need to check with mum).  Now owned by Ian collard since early 1990ish, unfortunately deteriorating.

Otira- 1902 Logan Bros

Otira- 1902 Logan Bros

21-11-2016 Ken Ricketts has been digging into Lady Ellen’s past in regard to the boats original name & existence of an axillary engine. See below.

Input from Ian Richards (grandson of the second owner) edited by Alan H

“Lady Ellen was renamed after my grandmother, it was granddad who had named it after his wife Ellen who was JR’s mother. I do not know the original name of the boat but will see if I can find anything out.”

Input from Cameron Collard (son of present owner – Ian Collard) edited by Alan H

“My Grandfather Harry Collard brought Lady Ellen in c.1962.  I think  (his original log books are still on the boat so all the details are there) from Mr Richards. I was told Mr Richards renamed the boat after his wife Ellen. Also told it was taken to Fiji by one of the previous owners – has second log for an axillary engine and mountings for forward tanks however both had been removed by 1962. In the 70’s the fore deck was re-canvassed and then a few years later the cabin top was glassed both done by Lanes. In 1985 the 96Hp 6 cylinder Lees Ford was replaced with a 135HP Lees Marine Ford.
After my grandfather passed my father purchased the boat in 1990. My father has been overseas for the last 5 years, hence the present condition.”

Update – 26-04-2017 ex Ken Ricketts



photo & details from Tom Morris

The photo above of the Mac McGeady designed/built launch Aquila was taken from the wharf at Whitianga in the late 1950’s & shows in the background the launch Cara Mia, at that time Cara Mia was owned by Don Ross who later became harbour master at Whitianga and an officer of the Mercury Bay Big Game Fishing Club. The photo appeared in the ‘Auckland Weekly News’ at the time.

I think Aquila, powered by twin 100hp engines, was originally built as Mac’s own vessel & later sold to a Mr Chub Sibun.

Can anyone confirm / added to the details on Aquila & Ngaroma?

Photos of Aquila below in Coralie Bay, Great Mercury Islands (ex Karen Moren ex Lyn McGeady ex Ben Hipkins)


photos & details The Plowman Family & Ken Ricketts & Karen Moren

Australis was built by “Mac” McGeady  (Supreme Craft)  in 1955  at 1A Summer St Ponsonby for Auckland businessman Jack Plowman. She is 42′ long & was originally powered by 2 x 6 cyl. 100hp Austin ‘Skipper 100′ petrol engines, which were replaced with 2 x 6 cyl Ford Diesels about 2 years later by Seagars.

Mac McGeady once comment to Ken & his father that Australis was unique in the history of Supreme Craft, as she was the only boat he had built (at that time anyway), where his instructions were that she was to have the food in the cupboards & the liquor in the cocktail cabinet & be ready to go for a 3 week cruise to Great Barrier Island, an hour after she went in the water.

Jack P owned her until he replaced her with the John Salthouse built 60’ Biscayne (photo below) in 1969 at which time she was sold to a Mr Morry (or perhaps Maurice) Ralph, of John Courts Ltd.
Below is a press clipping of a ‘International Marine’ 4sale advertisement, NZ Heard May 1991, which gives an indication of her possible current configuration.
Just been advised by ww follower ‘SeaRover’ that this is not” Australis”. It is in fact “Maranoa” about to go back in the water after a hull repaint. It is up the Clevedon river on Murray Inglis ( who owned ALTAIR at that time) slip and that is me standing on the foredeck.

She appears to have disappeared off the radar – name change ? or what? Anyone able to help with info / photos?


01-05-2017 Update ex Alan Burdan

I’m Alan Burdan and have owned “Australis” since Feb 2001. I purchased her from Whangarei and the previous owner said he owned her for 11 years.
I have only just found and read your article on Australis and the history of Supreme Craft. I wish to thank you for filling in a lot of holes in my knowledge of the history of Australis.
Australis now is berthed in Seaview Marina, Wellington.
From my knowledge the repower to “2 x 6 cyl Ford Diesels” is incorrect and it was 2 x 4 cyl Ford Diesels.
The previous owner then did a repower to 2 x 6 cyl Ford Diesels in about 1990, claiming he put in the 6 cyl motors in as they ran smother.
Other changes he made was to extend the hull by 800mm by fitting a boarding platform and putting in a walk through transom.

Please see below photos of how she looks today


20130302_180742 Crop2

Memories of Supreme Craft

My Memories of Supreme Craft by Ben Hipkins
Story & photo sent to ww by Karen Moren/Lyn McGeady ex Ben Hipkins

(Disclaimer: Story as from memory)

This is a great read & compliments all the recent McGeady/Supreme posts on ww – read on & enjoy Ben’s story. Alan H

Mac McGeady – (A good Boatbuilder and Designer)

“I first met ‘Mac’ in 1955 at his boat factory in 1A Summer Street, Ponsonby. I was 16 years old and I now know he would have been 55.

‘Mac’ was a very intimidating looking man to me and I had a daunting job to convince him that I was the right boy for him to apprentice.

When I started work (at £2-16-0 a week!), the staff comprised of five men. Mac, Barney Glasgow, Peter Williams, Bluey Jacobsen, Graeme Kitchen and me.

Graeme Kitchen had been in the same class as me at Takapuna Grammar School and had started with Mac McGeady as an apprentice a couple of months before me. He had suggested that ‘Supreme Craft’ was a good yard to work in and to ask Mr. McGeady if I could work for him. It took some time to wear Mac down but eventually he took me on.

The first boat I saw in the boat yard was AQUARIUS, a game fisher for a Bay of Islands client. She was 38ft with twin gray marine engines and capable of 16 knots on trials.

The second boat was AUSTRALIS 42ft twin screw launch for Jack Plowman.

The third boat was ASTRA 30ft launch for Mr. Percy Ward.

The fourth boat was AMARYLLIS 40ft twin screw for Mr. H.T. Morton.

The fifth boat was a 38ft launch for Mr. Stan Suter. I can’t remember the name of this boat.

Graeme Kitchen had left by this time and did not complete his indentures. Bluey Jacobsen and Peter Williams had also left.

Mac had sold his twin screw launch AQUILA to Mr. Chub Sibun.

At this time 1959, Mr Norman Fairly came into our lives. He owned a 26ft plywood boat named REEL EM IN built by Don Norton and used to game fish from Tauranga and up to the Poor Knights area. He convinced Mac McGeady to skipper this boat to Mercury Islands and Mercury Bay area. Fairley and Bert Jones were car dealers and visited our boat factory quite often.

Mac had decided to build a boat for himself and designed a forty foot launch for this purpose.
At this time, only Barney Glasgow remained in the work force and myself. We took on a new apprentice, Gary Wheeler, a good keen boy.

When this boat was planked and ready for superstructure and decks to be constructed, Mac and Mr. Fairley agreed for Fairley to purchase the boat and for it to be finished to Fairleys’ requirements. This boat was named CHALLENGER. At this time it was noted that neither Lila or I knew of this ‘deal’. Mac seemed confused about this whole episode.

McGeady had been a good boss and a fair person but now seemed to be confused and unable to work effectively.
The after work drink session would become an ordeal as Mac would not leave until all the alcohol was gone. The business was failing and many of the suppliers were concerned.

Another boat was built (by me and Gary). This boat was 38ft designed by me. She was called WAIMARU and owned by Mr. A.C Gray.

On the shakedown cruise of this boat, Mac acted very strangely, staying at the helm exclusively, not sharing the controls at all. At the conclusion of the trip, we entered the boat harbour of Okahu Bay in the dark when Mac opened the throttle to full speed. The speed limit in this harbour was 4 knots – no wash.
Fortunately we, crew removed Mac from the wheel and no damage was done. All on board were most concerned with Mac’s behaviour and all agreed he needed medical help.

We received an order from Mr. Wal Brebner for a 30ft launch which Gary Wheeler and I built.

Our accountant Athol Nigro laid down the law regarding SUPREME CRAFT. He stated that I must make Mac work, must stop him drinking and smoking or have him retire and buy SUPREME CRAFT myself. What choice!!! I couldn’t make him work, I couldn’t make him stop drinking and smoking. I could leave……….. so I did.

I worked for Alan Williams yard at Milford. This was a good change for me and I was well respected.

After a year or so it was 1961, I received an offer from Mac to return to SUPREME CRAFT and receive a 50% shareholding and ran the factory; this I accepted.

We received an order for a 43ft motor launch from Mr. Stan Horner. This was a twin screw bridge deck boat with a fly bridge. The name of this boat was ALTAIR and was launched in November 1961.

Mac’s condition deteriorated and he was very confused and at this time we received an order from Gordon Collie for a 48ft bridge deck motor launch.
Mac still had the ability to design the hull. This boat was too big to build in the factory in Summer Street, so we built the backbone and frames in the factory and built the boat in a shed supplied by Mr Collie on a poultry farm at Pakuranga.

Gary Wheeler and I built the hull up to deck level and Gordon and his cousin Ralph laid the decks and built the superstructure and furniture, a truly excellent job. The name of this boat was RANGIORA.

By this time, Mac could not drive and was incapable of getting about. Lila was his carer.

At the Accountants insistence, I bought the remaining shares and Mac retired. He and Lila went to Snells Beach to live.

Mac’s career with SUPREME CRAFT began in 1936 and ended in 1962. He was a skilled man and good designer.
There are many mysteries regarding his early years and his birth in Pilliga NSW, his time in Fiji, his time in the motor business and the formation of SUPREME CRAFT in 1936.

The future of SUPREME CRAFT is a story that needs to be told.

After RANGIORA was completed, Gary and I returned to the factory in Summer Street to begin work on a 36ft launch which had been ordered by Mr. Len Buckby of Fodenway Motors at Penrose. This boat was powered by a Foden engine.

As construction proceeded the owners were most interested in the progress and quality of materials being used. This boat was called WHITE CLOUD.
Mr Buckley and his accountant called on me and announced that he would like to become owner of SUPREME CRAFT with Fodenway Motors supplying engines and me building the boats.

I thought this would provide stability and security for the future and agreed to the proposal. Almost as soon as this was done, the factory building in Summer Street was sold and we had to move!. We rented a factory in Archers Road, off Wairau Road, Takapuna.

We built a 36ft motor launch for Mr. Stuart Dalton in this factory. This boat was called, SCEPTRE. We also built a 36ft sister ship for Mr. Fred Bales called VENTURE.

Our relationship with Fodenway Motors grew and as they were situated at Penrose, they were keen to relocate SUPREME CRAFT closer to their business of truck assembly so we were moved again and rented a shed at the Lane Motorboat site at Panmure.
There we built a 34ft Express Cruiser for Mr John Furley. This boat was called, NIKASIA. Fodenway Motors had orders for a 43ft passenger launch and a 36ft cruiser.

Decimal currency was coming to New Zealand and disaster struck with a financial downturn. Fodenway Motors two orders were lost and they decided to liquidate SUPREME CRAFT.

I then took up a position in a ship yard in Suva, Fiji and after this, moved to Australia where we still live”.