The Evolution of a Whale Chaser

Rorqual 1986

The Evolution of a Whale Chaser
The photo ex Paul Drake (others ex Chris Miller)

Yesterday was one of those days when ww turns up a gem. There are a few photos from the early days c.1960 of the Jack Morgan designed & built Perano whale chaser Rorqual & there are also lots of present days photos but to the best of my knowledge there were none of her in the ‘between years’.

Then whamo out of the blue Paul Drake sends me the above photo of Rorqual hauled out at Mana, just north of Wellington, in about 1986. This would be just before she was rebuilt /re-powered in 1988.
As Paul commented looking at her lying over on her chine, one could be forgiven for fearing for her future, but of course she survived.

Searching ‘Rorqual’ in the ww Search Box will show you a lot more detail, or if your tight on time, this link will taken to a great story on her past
Now the question for her owners Andrew & Alex Millers (sons of Chris Miller)  –  when is she booked into the time-machine for a trip back to 1986? 😉

Evolution Gallery Below

Rorqual and others

Rorqual 1

Rorqual 1986

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Rorqual the ex whalechaser for sale

The last of the Perano whalechasers launched in 1960. Completely rebuilt by Geoff Bagnall in 1988. Double diagonal kauri with Carvel to the waterline over the top. Sapele Mahogany topsides with glass covered ply decks and cabin roof.
GM 671 Detroit with Turbo.. Completely rebuilt by top GM specialist in 1988.
Cruises at 15 knots, top speed 20-22 knots. Uses about 26 ltres an hour cruising.
Click to view full listing

The Launching of Rorqual


The Launching of Rorqual

Below is a tale about the launching of the whale chaser Rorqual, told by Graham Scott who rubbed up against her in her early days & whose father worked on the engine. Read on & enjoy 🙂

The Rorqual was built at Morgans Boatyard, Picton (now long gone) and launched in 1960. Gil Perano’s daughter Vivien christened the Rorqual, which proved to be a disaster, like when they lit the engine up after launching, with all the bullshit that went with it, they couldn’t get any oil pressure. This was followed by a “delaunching”, much to the embarrassment suffered by the hob knobs in attendance. The Rorqual was the first chaser to be painted light green, all the others having been painted dark green, the same as the Union Steamship boats. It was a bloody stupid colour to use, as the darker paint would blister like crazy. I suggested to Gil heaps of times, that it would pay to lighten the colour but I doubt whether a low life boatyard worker would have influenced the eventual and obvious decision. Of more concern was the reason why (supposedly) the brand new 600HP Kermath Sea Raider petrol engine proved to be faulty. There were 2 Kermaths imported at the same time, 1 a second-hand one, the other new and unfortunately Peranos’ got the wrong one. There was a hellava stink about it at the time, but seemingly nothing could be done about it. Subsequently there were extensive attempts at fixing the problem by all the so-called experts, including Cuddens in Blenheim, all to of no avail. The engine ended up on blocks down at Whenenui, destined to become a boat mooring. They pulled a motor out of one of the older boats, so the Rorqual could operate, which it did so for 4 years, until 1964 when whaling ended.
In the meantime and when Dad had some spare time, he asked Gil if he could have a go at fixing the Kermath. Gil told him it was a waste of time, as all the experts had declared it wasn’t fixable. In no time at all, Dad started the engine (with no silencing it made a hellava noise) and much to Gil’s horror up the hill, Dad didn’t shut it down as he “officially” should have done. Evidently Gil drove down the hill like a maniac, ready to give Dad a real bollicking. Dad told me he just said nothing, instead pointing to the oil pressure guage, which
showed it as normal. The Kermath was put back into the Rorqual, replacing the “temporary” one that had been installed..

Dad had an incredible talent at fixing engines, but he never told me how he fixed the Kermath. I do know however that he was deeply hurt when he was rewarded with diddily squat. After whaling finished, Gil had the Roqual modified from virtually no superstructure to a cabin etc and the installation of a diesel engine. So far as I know, Gil used it until he died in 1981, aged 72. That’s a bit scary – that’s my present age!!!!

Seems the name derives from Norwegian for Blue Whale which as an uneducated idiot from Nelson College I never knew. In fact most of the chasers were named after breeds of whales, including the Cachalot, Orca, Rorqual, Narwhal and Balaena.

Graham Scott