Max Carter & His Boats

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Max Carter & His Boats
details & photos from Chris McMullen, edited by Alan Houghton
(remember to click on photos to enlarge)

Max Carter was responsible for building a huge number of boats of all sizes in a relatively short time, refer lists below. Chris believes that Max producing his modified H-28 /29ft was the first serious attempt at building stock keel boats in New Zealand. Back then there were no fibre glass boats, no marinas and no travel-lifts in NZ. The industry was experimenting with epoxy resin & glass cloth.
Max was supported by Consolidated Chemicals (Epiglass), the Colmore William’s Bros & their ceo Trevor Geldard. The P-Class & other small boats listed below in big numbers were kit sets for amateur construction. These boats also used up what would have been waste wood in the yard. The idea was to introduce young people to sailing & ensure a future for the marine industry. It certainly worked, but Max never benefited from his effort.

When Chris was reviewing Max’s files he found  a copy of a 1989 New Zealand Power Boat Magazine, which he  had never seen it before. There is an article on Sandy Sands and Sea Craft.  It talks about how Sea Craft increased their productivity by using methods learned by Sandy Sands while working for Uffa Fox. Chris’s previous  observation about a possible Fox connection was right. Sandy Sands commented in the article “without people you have nothing”.  Max realized the value of his skilled staff and treated them as friends. He stayed in contact with many for almost fifty years. There was a list of his ex employees and their addresses amongst his files.
When you consider the age of these photos the presence of all the health and safety gear – fluro jackets, disposable overalls & hard hats really stands out. Chris commented that there was the odd accident but nothing really serious.

All Max’s boats were built from medium kauri treated and will last forever (well a very long time). He had huge stocks of timber. At the time most boat builders built hull’s & decks & the owners finished them in their back yard. Max did some hull’s but mainly catered for the few that could afford a finished product.
The shed photos above are more reminiscent of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, Bristol, Rhode Island. While Max was way ahead of his time, unfortunately, New Zealand’s economy and small population was such that his operation could not survive. Sadly but wisely he closed the doors, sold the plant and leased the buildings.

To read the eulogy Chris McMullen gave at Max Carter’s funeral, click the blue link below

Chris McMullen’s comments about the photos:

The photo with the 1/2 model is Max with Les Holt. Of significance in the photo is that the model was made by Chris. It was the Pipe Dream design featured in Francis Kinney’s book. The new version of ‘Skenes Elements of Yacht Design’.
The portrait photo of Max shows the MY Du Fresne in the back ground. The yacht on the hard stand is the Rainbow II. Max has written on the back of the photo. “Built in seven weeks after lofting.! “
Another photo shows the kit set boat production. No CNC machinery, just a good man (Lindsey Stone) on the spindle moulder shown in the left of the photo.
Another photo shows Max with his long time friend Laurie Davidson.
The Stewart 28 is the Hop Scotch.
Seems there are huge gaps. Photographers were always at the yard. Chris believes some photos were lost.
Orinda and White Mischief were both Max’s designs maybe 40 years apart.
The brand new Northerner struck Bollen’s Rock while racing through Tiri Channel. Her first race! Max was her skipper for the day. She was raised and repaired like new. Capt Warwick Dunsford, Owner Boyd Hargrave with the binoculars. (more photos & press clippings below)
The H-29 was an H-28 with the sheer raised. It was an attempt to build a small(ready to sail) keel yacht that people could afford. Tom Beaton, Bryan
Williams and Nick Panich in the photo.
The Du Fresne was built for Mr J M Butland and the first H-29 for his son Mr JR. Du Fresne was a Laurent Giles design. The Butland Family were a well known boating people Thetis, Titan, Sirdar, Dufresne DurVille, Inverness and the brigantine Fritha were commissioned by the family.
The Ta Aroa was a 60 foot Sparkman and Stephens design. A beautiful yacht built for Mr Doug Bremner. She had one of the first imported aluminium masts. A single spreader rig.
The Calypso shown being launched with a crane was built for Max’s own use.
The same design shown under construction is the Tamure. This was a Max Carter
design & the second NZ yacht to do a circum navigation of the world. She
was owned by the late Jerry Challet & Mac Nell. boatbuilder, Dave Baxter
was on the crew. From memory (marine engineer) Terry Burling was part owner
or crew.
All the big Carter boats were launched by the A.H.B floating crane. There were no travel-lifts. Note the ships in the background.

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The Sinking, Re-floating & Repair of Northener

Article below from the New Zealand Exporter magazine that tells the story about
the H-29 better.  In the photo of the three builders bending steamed ribs on a H-29 they are from the left – the
late Eric Wing, Chris McMullen and Peter Sowman.

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Check out the 1967 Prices

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09-08-2016 A Tribute To Max Carter – by Nigel Armitage
Below is a link (in blue) to a downloadable file of rather nice tribute to Max Carter by Nigel Armitage. Nigel worked with Max on the replica scow ‘Ted Ashby’ project that he and Max were very involved in together at the Hobson wharf, Maritime Museum. Its an insight into the amazing work Max did.

A tribute to Max Carter



Story & photos supplied by Russell Ward

Here is a very interesting little boat that has been out of circulation for a while. I have been looking after her since 2005 and she is a shadow of her former self, but in a stable state.

Polaris, a 25’ pilchard trawler was built for a local fisherman by the name of Pearce by H Pearn & Sons Looe Cornwall 1935. The main engine 2 cyl Kelvin with similar engine as port wing engine. Construction is larch and pitch pine on oak frames. As an economy, the planking was not caulked –just fitted well. Pearce employed crews for both his boats and Polaris fished out of Polperro Cornwall until 1947 when she moved to Penarth Wales –I have one of her life rings with homeport Penrath still visible painted on it. She suffered a bilge fire from wing engine exhaust which was dealt with by sinking the vessel.

She was taken over by a boat builder who converted her into a pleasure boat with a strange cabin. In 1950 she was bought by the coroner  Col Kenneth Treasure of Tenby Wales. We think the good Colonel had her rebuilt with a rather more aesthetic cabin and I have a copy of a post card of her in Brixham

1954 found her in the ownership of one Griff Board with a Lister diesel installed. Board took the ship to Brixham where, in 1956-7 she was spotted by Wally Sharples who had seen her when he went to Brixham to see the Mayflower replica. The vessel had an extensive overhaul.

1958 Sharples, his family and apprentice John Penney emigrated to Adelaide and Polaris was shipped as deck cargo on “Queensland Star” 1960  found Sharples and family with Penney in Auckland along with Polaris which was rigged with a gaff mainsail and moored at Bucklands beach. Sharples cruised extensively in the Hauraki Gulf, Bay of Islands and Whangaraoa. I can remember seeing her round the bottom end in the ‘60s looking as pretty as a picture.

In 1970 Sharples and his wife moved to Opua, Bay of Islands and Polaris was moored there. Sharples died onboard after a fishing trip and the boat passed to his apprentice Penney.  1993 Jack Barber and Faye Christian bought Polaris from Penney. They used her extensively but the years were catching up with the ship and she was brought ashore for extensive hull work. This was well under weigh with the hull timbers almost all replaced when Jack Barber died 30 September 2002.

The son of the first owner was in touch and emailed a picture of her in her original form. Some part of me says she should be finished off like that.

Not often a boat travels so many miles on other boats’ keels. Even more fun is the knowledge of a boat’s travels halfway round the world leaving a lot of people who fell in love with her.