What’s Happening With The Percy Vos Shed?
MANAIA – Launch Day
The above photos of Manaia were sent to me by Paul Drake – I’ll let Paul tell the story behind them.
“The first four I took on launching day. I was 15 and in the midst of School Certificate. No exam that day, so off I went on my bike from home in Balmoral, camera in my bag.
In the second pic, Capt. Warwick Dunsford can be seen in charge on the foredeck (white boiler suit and black beret).
In the third pic, Percy Vos himself is clearly recognizable just by the fore foot.
The last two photos I have had since the 1960’s & most likely come from the camera of TW Collins. Great photos, especially the one from the port quarter, and show MANAIA at work.
MANAIA is certainly very original, but note that the stem now has an unattractive (to me) hook near the top. Much better straight in my view. Also note unusual chine aft. Double ender but hard chine aft. That’s why she can do 15 knots if required!
MANAIA was about the last of the large wooden pilot vessels built for New Zealand ports. About the same time as AKARANA and 10 years after TIAKINA (Wellington – and also a Collings design). TIAKINA of course built in England and steamed out via Suez Canal.”
You can see photos of Manaia today, looking very smart & read extensive details on her past here https://waitematawoodys.com/2018/01/26/manaia/
Volvo Round-the-World Yacht Race -Auckland Start
Photos Below In The Order They Passed North Head
And a couple of Woodys amongst the sea of plastic boats
THREE TAUPO BOATS
Post a visit by Paul Drake & his brothers to the 2017 Classic Yacht & Launch Exhibition & a side trip to the Auckland Maritime Museum, Paul sent me the above photos & the story below – which I have re-produced unedited as its perfect as is. Read & enjoy J
In the mid 1920’s, two gents and their families fell in love with Taupo. Both of them commissioned boats from Auckland builders. Hawke Bay’s Guy Rochfort had TUI (16 feet and clinker) built by Percy Vos. TUI was on display at the recent Classic Clinker Exhibition at the Viaduct in Auckland. Auckland’s Robert Laidlaw had the 17 foot speedboat SEAHORSE built by an unspecified builder. After a weather related fright on the lake in 1929, Robert approached Collings and Bell, and the 28 foot PIRI PONO (faithful friend) was the result. Honduras mahogany and bright finished, no expense was spared. PIRI PONO is on display at the Maritime Museum in Auckland. With her 150 HP straight eight Niagara, she weighed just over a ton and could do about 30 knots. Housed in her boatshed at Two Mile Bay, alongside Laidlaw’s house ‘Monte Vista’, access to the water was via a slipway. A private jetty and offshore mooring completed the picture.
PIRI PONO was the fastest boat on the lake. But by 1935, she had a rival in the form of local man Stan Gillies’s LUYVON, locally designed and built by Jack Taylor and measuring 22 feet. She was light (about half the weight of PIRI PONO) and powered with a Dodge, driving through an outboard drive. Informal drag races indicated that the boats were very similar in speed. A more formal test was required. Regatta Day 1936 (probably) was the day. PIRI PONO had her bottom waxed, new spark plugs fitted, all surplus gear removed, and half her fuel pumped out. The day dawned fine and calm, to PIRI PONO’s disadvantage. LUYVON and PIRI PONO lined up for the 20 lap race. LUYVON had the edge because she cornered faster – PIRI PONO would catch her on the straights. Robert Laidlaw ordered his crew (son Lincoln) to the aft cockpit to get the bow up a bit. Stan Gillies was still ahead. Back came Lincoln, returning aft with the anchor. This was enough. PIRI PONO won and Robert retained his title as fastest man on the lake.
PIRI PONO was commandeered by the Air Force during WW2 and was the Commodore’s launch at Hobsonville. They replaced the Niagara with a Chrysler (Crown?) and built a cabin over the forward cockpits. Having won the war, the Air Force returned PIRI PONO to Taupo. She was re-engined with twin Gray’s which are in her to this day. There are conflicting stories as to how this came about. One source has it that she was returned by the Air Force without an engine. Another has it that Laidlaw was disappointed with the speed produced by the Chrysler. Yet another has it that the Air Force wrote off the Chrysler while trying to reverse PIRI PONO off her transporter and into the lake (overheating due to lack of cooling water).
Laidlaw was an enthusiast. He was the founder of Farmers Trading Company. He was a very active Christian, and his name lives on in Laidlaw College, formerly the Bible College of New Zealand, which trains people for Christian ministry. He also has a rock named after him, informally at least. During an early evening spin in PIRI PONO, with 23 POB (so it is said), PIRI PONO struck, at speed, the large flat rock in Mine Bay between the islets and the shore at the eastern end of the bay. The damage must have been enormous and she quickly sank in a few metres of water. Passengers, some of them not-so-young ladies in fur coats, were rescued by nearby launches. Jack Taylor’s PONUI and VICTORY salvaged PIRI PONO the next day and she was repaired in time for the following summer.
Meanwhile, TUI led an uneventful life, and lived afloat in a Taupo Boat Harbour boatshed. LUYVON lived in a boatshed nearby, but was kept dry (and light) by being lifted clear of the water on a cradle once in the shed. LUYVON also survives, still owned by the Gillies family, and has been awaiting restoration for some 30 years now.
The book by Ian Hunter, ‘Robert Laidlaw – Man for our Time’ makes a very interesting read.
UPDATE 01-11-2017 Photo below showing TAMATI in the Lake Taupo Boat Harbour, with the fishing lodge (ex TONGARIRO) in the background, and the Collings and Bell PIRI PONO in the fore ground.
A Beautiful Clinker
Baden Pascoe sent the above two photos of the Rockfort skiff that Percy Vos built in 1926. Baden commented that it has the most attractive planking of any boat he has ever seen – big call 😉
These days it is owned by the Percy Vos Charitable Trust & resides at the, maybe one day it will be restored – Vos Shed.
The real reason for today’s post is to remind you all about this weekend’s Clinker Boat exhibition at the waterfront / viaduct – details below
The Vos clinker will be on show, so you can check out if Baden is right re the planking 🙂
Kaikoura in the B.O.I.
The above launch is pictured above anchored in the Bay of Islands, Dean Wright scanned the image from ‘old’ film but is unaware of the boats name.
Anyone able to ID her & provide some history on the vessel ?
Update: Vessel has been ID’ed as the 1952 built launch Kaikoura. Lots of chat in the WW Comments section & photos at the link below
03-09-2017 – Updated photos below ex owner of 25 years – Peter Jones, via Ken Ricketts. Peter bought her off the Bridgeford family & this would make him only her 3rd owner.
She still has her 2 x 510 cu. in. 165 h.p .V8 Perkins diesels.
QUEST – Sailing Sunday
Mid-week we were lucky to have a peep at some of Peter Midgley’s fathers photo collection, that show the launch Kenya & the Joe Slattery boat shed. I asked Peter if he could share with us anymore of Eric Midgley’s photos & today we have the yacht Quest, built at the Vos yard for a Mr Wood of Devonport.
The top photo shows the launching on 10 December 1936, Peter commented that this photo of the exact moment a lady christens Quest has always fascinated him as a great moment frozen in time. Eric is third from the left with his arms folded. The man in uniform far left appears to be a St Johns person, did they have then at launchings in case of accidents? The man next to him with pen & paper in hand is perhaps a reporter for the “Star” or “Herald”. Then a lady in a heavy overcoat & umbrella, looks like a wet day in December.
Then the man far right also with umbrella “Photo Bombing” the photo.
Unfortunately the lady doing the honours, is blocking our view of the man holding the sledge hammer, Peter has an identical one in his dad’s toolbox.
Then the real character of this photo, the lady with a piece of paper in her hand having just read some words, with an expression of surprise as liquid sprays back towards her. Perhaps she is the wife of the owner – Mr Woods?
You have to love the way two planks of wood balancing on two saw horses is sufficient for the lady to stand on, no health & safety in those days!
The bottom photo of Quest moored presumably after launching.
As a footnote in the Percy Vos book, ‘Launching Dreams’, it states Eric Midgley worked at the Vos yard from 1937 to 1938 & only worked on the ‘Korea’ but Peter thinks he was there in 1936 working on the Quest. He went on to work at the Devonport Dockyard throughout the war & built the sailing dinghy ‘Kiwi’ in 1947, the NZ Navys gift to Princess Elizabeth & Prince Phillip for their wedding. Link here
It would be great if any woodys could identify people in this photo.
Input from Harold Kidd
QUEST was a design by Dr. Harrison Butler (he of the metacentric shelf) built by Percy Vos (with one S) in December 1936 for L.M. (Milton) Wood of Devonport. His brother Lincoln had the Butler-designed 22 footer MEMORY built by Fred Mann in 1930. She’s very English in her lines (and all the better for that).
As to the people my guess is, from left, A St John’s “Zambuck” who used to be present at Rugby matches (and possibly launchings if they were yachties, as many were), W.A. (Wilkie) Wilkinson of the Auckland Star, Vos employee, the matriarch Mrs Sarah Wood, Milton and his wife/fiancee not sure when they married), Lincoln being silly. There was a multitude of Wood brothers and sisters, so the latter could any one of the other brothers.