Lady Sandra



Built by the Lane Motor Company for Len Peckham in 1947, powered with 2 x 6 cyl Scripps petrol engines. One of the glamour boats in her day but misfortune followed her around – she once picked up a tow line from a boat being towed, off Devonport wharf & got the tow rope around both propellers & pulled the propeller struts out of the hull & sank, just as they got her to the nearby beach. Later on in life  she went to Fiji where she was wrecked in a storm in the 1980’s. In the photos above the photo of the boys & man on the wharf, – the man is Alan Horsefall who owned Mansion House at that time.

The photos of her tied to the right hand side of the Mansion  House wharf have the Nancibel & Korora inside her. The bridgedecker, we can see a little of the dodger of in one photo, is most likely Royal Falcon. Also the boat in the Alan Horsefall photo is almost certainly Valsan.
Today’s photos are from Ken Jones & were emailed to me along with comments by Ken Ricketts. You can read more of Ken’s recollection of Lady Sandra here

I’m loving the A.M.Y.C. life buoy in the bottom photo 🙂







The above photos of Nancibel are from the Auckland Museum, Tudor Collins collection, emailed to me by Ken Rickett’s. They show Nancibel leaving Mansion House Bay, Kawau Island c.1940’s. Back then she was in use as a passenger ferry to & from Kawau Island. Harold Kidd advised that Nancibel was built by Bailey & Lowe in 1920 for Dodd & Gibbons of Thames. L. Rolfe of Matakana owned her 1935 and sold her to F. Herring. Gubbs Motors owned her 1941 to 1951 at least, painted red and green. Geoff Brebner also commented on ww that in the later 1950’s, (pre harbour bridge opening), Nancibel was on passenger run from Auckland city to Upper Harbour.

Ken Rickett’s is on record in a previous ww story saying that she was powered with a 4 cyl 4-53 GM Detroit & painted bottle green.

The photos show a group of very well attired people enjoying a fun day out. If we fast forward to 1972 Nancibel had a new life as a dive charter boat working out of Tauranga. Unfortunately on a charter trip to Mayor Island with 30 passengers (skin divers) aboard Nancibel hit a submerged rock & very quickly sank in 45′ of water, everyone aboard was saved. A second boat was dispatched by the insurance assessors to dive on the wreck to survey & photograph it, sadly one of the divers, Henry Laison, died of the bends after surfacing from a deep dive. You can view below an article & photos that appeared in Dive Magazine Vol 11 No3, of 1972. Details & the article were sent in by Don Macleod.

Given that Tauranga divers went out and salvaged the Gardner engine from the Nancibel the week after she sank, I’m assuming she remained in Davey Jones Locker – can any woodys confirm this ?

Nancibel _ DIVE Magazine

Harold Kidd Input

She was issued with number 223 in February 1940 and would have carried it throughout the war for reporting to the defence boom at Auckland. During this period she was run as the Kawau-Sandspit ferry by Gubbs Motors.
I think it’s Sir Cyril Newall too. I understand he was sent to the colonies to get him out of any sort of RAF command after the Battle of Britain.
I remember when my father attended an Anzac Day Parade of old diggers at Taumarunui in 1942 where Newall spoke. I asked him what the GG said. “Just ‘haw haw haw haw haw'” Dad replied, imitating the upper class accent and lack of content. Mind you we were expecting the Japs at any moment and weren’t expecting any help from that quarter.

A Brief history of the Kawau ferry transport 1946 -1990

A Brief history of the Kawau ferry transport 1946 -1990

photos & details ex Ken Ricketts


Purpose built in the early 1950’s by Roy Lidgard, in his boatbuilding shed in Smelting House Bay Kawau Island, for Alan Horsfall owner of the Mansion House, in Mansion House Bay, Kawau, for the carriage of passengers & freight, to & from the Mansion House, to the Sandspit at Warkworth, which was the embarkation point, for the vast majority of the guests, & virtually all freight, food, & most importantly, for boaties, grog, during Mansion House’s time as a hotel /guest house, which was up until about September 1967, at which time it was bought by the Government of the day & turned in to a historic place, under the Historic Places Trust.

A few lucky commuters travelled in style, by amphibious aircraft from the 1950’s onwards, — a Grumman Widgeon, piloted by a the famous, Freddie Ladd,  a delightful, colourful, extroverted, & very learned, & tremendously skilled, pilot,  see pic on the beach of Mansion House Bay, c.1954, (this photo along with the one of Mairie was scanned by Ken from 8 mm movie footage shot from his families launch, Juliana, c.1953-55, thence the poor quality). Ladd usually had Christmas dinner on Juliana, & later Gay Dawn, an entertained the Ricketts family with his seemingly endless supply, of real life anecdotes.

Mairie was approx 42 feet long & powered by a 4 cyl Kelvin diesel & served the Island & Mansion House for many years. In her later years such was the demand for her services that Lidgards built (1952) another boat for Mr. Horsfall, called Kawau Isle, slightly bigger & powered by a 6LW Gardner diesel, which in later years, took over most of the passenger load & left Mairie to do the donkey work, with the freight side of the logistics. The 6LW I understand, has fairly recently been replaced by a newer 6LX Gardner in Kawau Isle.


Kawau Isle is a traditional kauri timber motor vessel built in 1952 by Roy Lidgard at Smelt House Bay, Bon Accord Harbour. She is 45 feet in length, powered with a 6LW Gardner diesel engine and cruises at 7.5 knots.

For around 30 years the Kawau Isle operated a ferry service between Sandspit and Kawau Island. More recently she worked from Half Moon Bay as a charter boat and then Whangarei as a school ferry. She currently plys her trade ferrying day trippers to & from the Riverhead Hotel, on the upper reaches of the Waitemata Harbour.

In the bow on photo with the ‘Riverhead Ferry’ logo, the men on the bow are all past and preasent skippers of Kawau Isle. This photo was taken at Kawau Island, Bon Accord Harbour November 2012 during a cruise to celebrate the 60th anniversary to the launching of the ferry.

Note : Mairie & Kawau Isle replaced the ‘Nancibel’ – (may have been Nancibelle), which was powered with a 4 cyl 4-53 GM Detroit & ‘Kororo’ which was powered with a P6 or 6-354 6 cyl Perkins. Both of these boats were painted bottle green & given there appearance probably built in the later part, of the early 1900s. You can see the Maritana stern on, behind Kawau Isle in the 1962 pic at Mansion House Bay wharf. The back end of Kororo can be seen in the photo of a young Ken Ricketts sculling the dinghy.

A question ex Don Macleod

Refer below article / photos that appeared in DIVE Magazine Vol 11 No3, of 1972.

Is this the same launch, Nancibel, that serviced Kawau Island. (click photo to enlarge)

Nancibel _ DIVE Magazine

Update from Don 02/12:

The divers got into real trouble that weekend at the 20 fathom reef, Mayor Island, 3 cases of the bends, one of which died (Henry Liason).

There was another boat that hit a Mayor Island rock that weekend. It was the Edward G which flooded its engine room at the time

that Henry Liason was surfacing from a very deep dive.

Tauranga divers went out and salvaged the Gardner engine from the Nancibel the week after she sank.