WHY SHOULD YOU JOIN THE NZ CLASSIC YACHT ASSOCIATION………..
WHY SHOULD YOU JOIN THE NZ CLASSIC YACHT ASSOCIATION………..
The Story of Marguerite
“The motor launch Marguerite (named after the owner’s wife) was built in the Ponsonby boatyard of builder Des Donovan in 1948. She was commissioned by my father Ken McLeod of Rotorua and was 42 feet long and built of solid Kauri without a single join.
Usually, the boat was moored at Tauranga but from time to time Ken sailed it up the coast to Auckland. It was on one of these trips, I believe it was in 1949 that he decided to take it to Motuhue Island because I had a friend who was a young naval officer stationed at the base there and it was decided to take him out for the day.
On board were Ken’s wife, myself and an old friend of Ken’s, Mick Fahey, his wife Zelda and daughter Robin. On the way Ken decided to investigate a minor problem in an engine so he gave the helm to Mick with instructions to head for a certain headland. Within about 10 minutes there was a terrible thud. Mick had misinterpreted Ken’s instructions and the boat had hit a rock.
It started taking on water and Ken hunted in vain for what was obviously a hole in the hull. It eventually transpired that it was under a locker in the bow and almost impossible to reach. Meanwhile the situation required removing all but the two men from the boat to the island and seeking help as fast as possible.
All the others were put in the dinghy and I rowed them ashore. The rocks all over the beach were hard to navigate in bare feet but eventually I reached the naval station where I found the captain hoeing his vegetable garden! He was immediately galvanised into action to try at least to tow the boat to safety.
Meanwhile Ken had managed to reverse the boat off the rock on which it was stuck and had almost beached it nearby. The captain rallied his young naval trainees who completed the beaching task with a couple of lifeboats.
Next day, the Marguerite was repaired sufficiently by Des Donovan to be towed to his boat yard and eventually repaired both inside and out. The tide had gone through the hull overnight and a good deal of the interior had to be replaced.
Mercifully, the insurance company paid for the entire cost of the repairs.
The McLeod family subsequently had many wonderful holidays on the Marguerite not withstanding Rita’s low tolerance of rough seas!
Eventually after Ken retired he felt that he could no longer manage the boat safely on his own (the real Marguerite got terribly sea sick and did her best to be enthusiastic about boating) so it was sold to someone who assured Ken that he would take good care of it.
Within a year or so this owner had on sold it to another person, now unknown. Their motive for buying it is still a mystery but within a short time the Marguerite was reported sunk at the back of Rangitoto Island.
The insurance company “smelled a rat” and did a thorough investigation which revealed that the boat had been deliberately scuttled in order to claim the insurance. Anything of any value such as the compass and other nautical gear of any value was gone.
I do not know whether the hull was ever returned to Auckland but the whole dreadful history was heart breaking for Ken.”
details & photo ex Christoph Hoessly
I was recently connected by Christoph to draw my attention to the existence of two launches named Marguerite’s & to clear up any confusion around the launch owned by his granddad Ken McLeod.
Marguerite was built by Des Donovan for Ken McLeod in Auckland in 1948. Ken owned McLeod’s bookshop in Rotorua which he started in the 1930’s and which still exists to this day, currently owned by the son of the guy Ken sold it to (so in all these years it has had only three owners). Ken was also the President of Hamilton’s St Andrews golf club. In his 20’s (1920’s) he was a book salesman for Gordon & Gotch in Northland, visiting Northland customers for days at a time on horse-back as the roads in Northland were frequently impassable by car in those days. Marguerite was named after his wife … Marguerite McLeod (known as Rita). She was 42 feet long and all planks were full length Kauri, no joins. She was originally equipped with twin Mercury gasoline car engines but Ken later fitted twin Fordsons. Her interior was Island mahogany and she slept six. He kept her at Tauranga and his favourite cruising ground was Great Barrier Island but he took her up to the Waitemata and into the Hauraki Gulf on occasions. Ken sold the boat to someone near Wellington in the early to mid 60’s who later on-sold it to a chap who stripped all the brass, engines and anything of value from her and sank her north of Rangitoto (I believe). The insurers found the wreck missing it’s internals and the culprit prosecuted. To say Ken was heart-broken when he heard the news is an understatement. So that is the story of that Marguerite. The above photo of her is from around 1955, at extreme right is Christoph’s grandmother, Marguerite McLeod (behind the chap in black). Christoph has promised to send in the NZ Herald article on the story of the sinking and the fraud discovery. Its at their bach in the Bay of Islands so next trip he will dig it out & send it. Should be an interesting read 🙂
I spoke with Harold Kidd yesterday & HDK was unaware of the existence of the two Marguerite’s & was delighted that via ww we had uncovered another classic. Harold mentioned that Ken McLeod’s launch was a patrol craft for the arrival of the Gothic in Auckland for the Royal Tour on 23/12/1953 and McLeod was also a member of the Squadron.
Input from Ken Ricketts on Margueritte’s launch day
Margueritte was built in Westhaven in one of the cream painted green roofed sheds, that used to be where the motorway approaches are now.
She was a very beamy boat for her time, around 14 ft 6 to 15 feet at least, with a huge volume, bridgedeck & being built in to the tuck (like REHIA as an example), with no cockpit, she was “all boat” inside, with her 2 x Ford V8s under the floor, at the tuck, with Vee drives.
Her first attempt at being launched was horrific.
One Saturday in early 1948, when Ken was 12 & on his parents launch Juliana, waiting for the tide after cleaning the bottom, up against one of the pile cleaning sets that used to be there.
When suddenly Ken & his parents heard a huge crashing noise, from the other side of the bay. They rushed on deck to have a look & then rowed over, to see what had happened & saw this huge launch, which was being lowered on a trolley, from one of the cream painted sheds on railway type rails, to the water, which was 6 feet below it, at its position on the rails at that time, with the tide well out, & it had fallen sideways off the trolley & down about 4 to 6 ft sideways, on its side to the water below, & she was lying on her side just touching the water with the side of her hull.
She was retrieved & repaired & Ken saw her in Mansion House Bay, the following Christmas.