Reo Moana



Talking with Bay of Islands woody – Dean Wright recently, he mentioned that John Gander had sent him a story on the work boat Reo Moana. I’ll let John tell the story –

“I am prompted to write a few lines about Reo Moana after seeing her coming through the Albert Channel and arriving in the Bay of Islands, she looks so different with the extra top hamper that has been added. Her current owners have recorded that she was built by Roger Carey, this is not correct, see below.

I worked at the Carey yard and in 1963 we commenced work on a Roger Carey design of a 51’x15’8”x 7’ fishing boat for John Buchanan of Cascade River. She was carvel planked in karri and launched in 1964 named “Compass Rose” The moulds of this Roger Carey design were then taken across to another Picton boat builder Bob Swanson. Bob’s yard was directly opposite the Carey yard at the southern end of the harbour, it was formerly the site of Ernie Lane’s boatyard.

Bob was commissioned to build a boat to this Roger Carey design by Bill and Sylvia Kenny of Red Funnel Launches and an associate. She was built multi skin and was powered by a 6LX Gardner. There was talk that the boat was to do a Pacific cruise that was to include Tahiti but the cruise did not come to fruition. She was put into service with the Red funnel fleet, it was also at this time that the pine plantations in the Sounds were starting to be harvested and with a substantial tow post Reo Moana was regularly used to tow rafts of logs to Picton. Her spacious after deck also proved ideal for work in and around the Marlborough Sounds.

In the above photo she can be seen in the Red Funnel colours, I was involved with salvaging the fishing vessel Ascot that had sunk in Cloudy Bay and we used Reo Moana as the salvage vessel to tow Ascot into Port Underwood to pump her out and then continue the tow to Picton.

Seeing her now, photos below, I suppose she is handy for charters in and around Auckland, but with the windage from the considerable extra top hamper that she now carries, I think she would be more that a handful going alongside wharves in the Sounds in some of the extreme wind conditions that can be experienced at times.”

While on the topic of Red Funnel boats- I was sent the photo below of Ramona by Liam Daly. Liam commented that Ramona along with Reo Moana, Rawene, Rongo and Rio Rita made up the fleet of  Red Funnel Launches operating out of Picton . The “Rio Rita” was the prominent mail boat in Queen Charlotte Sound for many years, later when sold, re-named – Resolution.
The photo of Ramoana shows her in Resolution Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound
Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH


When Did U Last Have The Mooring Surveyed ?

Paid the insurance?
I’m told that the beautiful launch Rongo, was reduced to this after she went AWOl from her Algies Bay mooring in a piping gale.

Witnesses said it was amazing how quickly she was reduced to matchwood. Sad.
Wreck photos ex Russell Ward, click to enlarge.


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The above images of this rather grand & large launch have me stumped as to its identity, I’m sure its easy but today my mind is a blank. Photo says c.1930

30/05 – appears the collective brains trust agree on Rongo – thanks team 🙂

Harold Kidd Update

I’m certain it’s RONGO (II) when owned by W. Cecil Leys in 1930. She was built as GLADYS II by Bailey & Lowe in 1919 for Chas. Court of Stanley Bay and fitted with a 150hp Sterling Model FM 6 cylinder engine. Court sold her in 1930 to Leys who had her lengthened 10 feet and renamed her RONGO. Leys owned her until 1942 when she went into NAPS as Z20. Subsequent owners included R W Butcher (1942-44), Joe Moodabe (of the Civic Theatre) (1944-47), W J Henry (1947-49), W A (Wilkie) Wilkinson (1949) W A Kenny of Picton (1964) by which time she had a 1955 Gardner 5cylinder diesel. She came back north but went to pieces at Algies Bay in July 2007.

Update 2

1. Rongo went into NAPS with a Chrysler fitted around 1938, so they probably left that in throughout hostilities as ex-USN Chryslers (and GM/Graymarine 71 series) were standard issue, for parts rationalisation.
2. Walter Bailey designed her and Bailey & Lowe built her. I would have thought that she was manifestly Bailey & Lowe, not Lanes (although I do accept that all launches do default to Lanes in the case of doubt [and I won’t repeat my conceit that Garth built them all by himself at the risk of being flamed again by Alan]).
3. Mike Moodabe never owned her. It was his brother Joe, and then only briefly, from when she came out of NAPS in 1944 until 1947.

PS [sackcloth and ashes] a bit of misinformation I created myself…..I have now found the reference to Chas. Court selling GLADYS II to Sir W. Cecil Leys .. ….it was in October 1927, a lot earlier than I had thought. It was hard to pick out which of the references were to RONGO (I) and which to RONGO (II) (OMG here we go again!).
The 35ft RONGO (I) is very interesting. She was built as MOLLIE for Capt Somerville by T M Lane & Sons (really) in December 1911 equipped with an 18hp 4 cylinder Scripps. Capt. Somerville sold her to Percy Colebrook around late 1913. Colebrook sold her to Leys in August 1919 while he was having the second MOLLIE (later ALCESTIS/RAIONA) built by Joe Slattery. Leys had her extensively modified (cabintop raised, lengthened by 3ft etc) and renamed her RONGO. The work was done by Lanes who fitted a big 100hp Scripps in 1926 for which they were the agents.
When he bought GLADYS II and renamed her RONGO II in 1927 he sold RONGO I to J T Julian of Remuera. Julian retained the name RONGO and sold her to C W H Ronaldson in 1938. I lose track of her after 1940 but will work out what happened to her one day…undoubtedly a postwar re-name.
It’s all a bit convoluted……………
Update 3
Sorry to bang on about the RONGO tribe but I have found that it was Chas. Bailey who modified MOLLIE (I) for Cecil Leys in 1919 into RONGO (I). Lanes had their hands full with LUANA. At that time there were 5 big (45ft+) launches being built around the Waitemata; Collings & Bell with MARGUERITE (later LADY UNA), Joe Slattery with MOLLIE (II) (later ALCESTIS/RAIONA), Bailey & Lowe with ATATU and GLADYS II (later RONGO II) and Lanes with LUANA. The huge postwar demand was hard to satisfy but Chas. Bailey didn’t attract any orders for big launches for some reason.

Update from Baden Pascoe:

(refers to colour photo in slide show)

This is how she looked when I saw her. In my files I found she was a NAPS vessel, no Z20, 1/7/42 -27/12/43.

She had a 6L2 installed the same engine Joan had fitted. Conrad Robinson still has this engine at Warkworth. One good thing about NAPS, your boat came back with a very nice engine. At this time she belonged to R.W. Butcher of Auckland. The man in the white hat is dad, he could not get over the length of her and was concerned that she was hogging while they lifted her. He supervised the blocking of her keel once she was slipped. Very nice boat, shame she got wrecked. Very Lanes looking though!!