Over the last week I have had numerous woodys asking if I had seen the YouTube video on one of the UK’s stunning new motor boats – the Spirit P70. My answer was yes I had, so today I thought I had better share it with you. Built by Spirit Yachts to a very simple owner brief – it must be able to cover (non-stop) 1000nm at an average speed of 18 knots, she tops out at 23.5 knots. And budget? – somewhere between 4 and 5 million pounds. That woodys gets you are very swanky vessel, every single item is bespoke – check it out.
Menai is one of those launches that no matter what angle you approach her from, she looks stunning. She’s a superb example of her type from a boat builder, Sam Ford, at the peak of their craft, restored by an owner with an exacting attitude to authenticity and originality. Menai was built in 1937 from full length since skin kauri, overall length is 38’, with a beam of 10’, drawing 3’.
She underwent a refit in 1983 and then got very lucky when she was purchased in 2007 by the late Peter Smith, who undertook an extensive restoration that returned her to her former glory of one of Auckland’s smartest classic wooden launches. She looks bigger than 38’ and whilst a bridge-decker, her configuration makes her a very relaxing vessel. The wheelhouse even has a wine cellar 🙂 Powered by a very economical 60hp Lees Marine Ford.
Now if this is starting to sound like a advertisement – that is because it is. Due to unforeseen family circumstances, her owner reluctantly has decided that the time has come to pass Menai on to her next custodian. Menai would be the most / best documented classic launch I have been on, makes wonderful reading. It sounds corny – but she will not be on the market for long – woodys like Menai only pop up ‘once in a blue moon’ 😉 Initial expressions of interest to email@example.com
The selection of woody photos above was sent in by Bryce Strong, details and links to previous WW stories below. I hate Digital dates on photos but it is a very simple way to record when the photo was taken – two are dated 2013, interesting to see how the vessels have faired in the last 13 years.
The top photo of the steamboat – Duke of Marlborough, is a newbie to me. I’m looking forward to Russell Ward chipping in with her history 😉
Antares – built in the 1950’s by Supreme Craft. At the time the above photo was taken she was owned by Bryce’s brother-in-law, Ron Phillips
I have been contacted by Richard Winthrop looking for information on a boat builder named Sutton Malcolm & Co. Ltd of Mt Roskill, Auckland. Many years ago Richard had a Mason Clipper that had the sticker below on it.
Woody Baden Pascoe recently sent in the above photos of Marlin seen here in the top photo at Whitianga c.1968 after being re-powered with a Caterpillar 320.
At this time she was owned by Alf Clow (photos are courtesy of the Clow family). Alf bought Marlin off Rolly Smith who used her for game fishing. It is believed that prior to Rolly Smith she was owned by the Thames Harbour Board (who went bust).
The thinking is Marlin was build by Sam Ford, but there is know knowledge as to the launching date.
The second photo shows the new Cat 320 being lowered into Marlin, seems a rather large donk for the size of the boat. Thence the last photo of her flying along with Clow family on board.
The dinghy on the stern is from the hands of Howard Pascoe 🙂
Any woodys able to shed more light on the history of Marlin?
Input from Barbara Cooke – Rolly Smith was my uncle. He purchased Marlin during the early years of WW11 for the purpose of deep sea fishing but due to government fuel restrictions this wasn’t permitted. He and his young family farmed at Fletchers Bay, top of Coromandel. After the war they returned to Whitianga where Rolly operated Marlin for chartering and game fishing. In later years his son Bruce skippered Tuatea, another game fishing vessel in Whitianga.
Input from Ross Dawson – Papers Past, Thames Star 11.3.1926 tells us…”the Harbour Board’s new launch Marlin, was brought down from Auckland on Tuesday by the Dredgemaster,..Mr Roche” and in the same newspaper 31 March 1926 says…”…the launch passed government inspection on 10.3.1926….fit to ply with 8 passengers within extended river limits when not towing and with suitable canvas over the cockpit, or with 16 passengers within river limits proper….length 31.75 feet, breadth 8.25 feet, depth 2.87 feet, horsepower 30-35, crew 2. Registered as “Marlin” …” So, no builder but it shouldn’t be too hard to find a reference to the launching about Jan – Feb 1926, in the Auckland newspapers.
Input from Harold Kidd – Can’t say I was confident about my last posting. Did some more digging and found that the Thames Harbour Board commissioned this launch from Sam Ford as a towboat, largely used for their dredge. She was unnamed but was completed in early 1926. Her dimensions were 31’6″ loa, 8’3″ beam and 2’6″ draft and 2.87tons displ. Things can’t have worked out as she was up for tender in August 1928 (again unnamed). The Secretary of the Harbour Board was later charged with embezzling a large sum from the Board and it folded shortly afterwards.
So the memories of all concerned were absolutely spot on!
Now we have to sort out what her name was before it was changed to MARLIN. Lovely boat! How nice it’s Sam Ford.
I’m just in the process of preparing a series of Boating NZ articles on him. This boat just shows the breadth of his skills at much the same time as WHAKAARI and before his Art Deco cruisers.
The photos above of the 36’ c.1952/53 possibly Sam Ford built – Lady Ellison were sent in by John Burland and show her at Nelson Marina.
The lady has made two appearances (July 2015 and May 2019) on WW, links below, from the photos above its obvious that she is now a well used, semi commercial vessel. Read the links and comments sections – lots of chat on her past.
Sometimes I’m bad ……. Looking for a photo in my rather large photo library last week, I stumbled across a group of photos I tool of Lady Karita almost a year ago while in Nelson. A quick check in the WW search box revealed that I had overlooked the photos, so apologies to owner Murray Shaw.
Hopefully today’s story will prompt Murray to send in an update, as I’m sure the restoration will have moved along considerably since early March 2019 🙂
The 43’ Lady Karita was built in1938 by Sam Ford and has made numerous appearances on WW, links below.
The photo below is an oldie but shows off the lady very well.
A friend of mine was working last week on an Auckland property and spotted the above woody on a neighbouring property. Being a friendly chap he introduced himself to the property owner, who god bless her is well into her 80’s and lives alone. The boat has been in the family since the 1970’s and she and her late husband used to cruise the gulf in her. She even went solo after he passed away 🙂
What we know is that the owner is fairly certain the launch is a Sam Ford, 24’ in length but the husband added a few feet to the stern.
Prior to being hauled out she was kept on a swing mooring in the Beachhaven Wharf area. She may have been named Avalon.
Note the ‘eyebrow’ over both sets of forward facing windows – its an often over looked feature that really adds a salty look to the right vessel.
I’m interested in ID’ing the launch and also agreeing on the design / builder – I’ll be shot down in flames, but to my eye, she has a hint of Couldrey to her. Nathan H………….. help me 🙂
Now the interesting thing is, to the right buyer, she could possibly be acquired. Price tba but you wouldn’t need to see the bank manager for a loan 😉
I have kept names and boat location out of the story – the last thing the owner wants is a stampede of people knocking on her door.
Input from Cameron Pollard – She is a Sam Ford and named Avalon. 1954 launch day photo below.
Todays photo, ex the Navy Museum, is captioned ‘ Outer Patrol Launches Whangarei c.1943’. We have an interesting mix of vessels tied up.
The two on the right should be easy to ID – being Q Class patrol vessels i.e. motor launches built in the 1930s and used by the NZ Navy during WW2. John Clarke has supplied ex this site, a listing – Amakura Q04, Lady Gay Q00, Lady Margaret Q08, Lady Shirley Q11 later Q12, Maristella Q02, Movarie Q05 , Rawea Q06, Shenandoah Q03, Te Rauparaha Q07, Wirihana Q01. All navy inner and outer patrol vessels. John commented that if the WW list is correct, the vessels moored at the head of the line in the photo would be Maristella (Q02) and Lady Shirley (Q12). Maristella was a 40 footer, built by Sam Ford in December 1936 for Mr R.W. Wills of Epsom and fitted with a 50hp Ailsa Craig diesel. During WW2 RNZN patrol service she was fitted with a Gray for spares rationalization purposes. Lady Shirley was a 36 footer, built for Mr C Sinel of Auckland by C Bailey & Son in 1938. Both are still afloat and well-loved launches, search their names in the WW search panel for more photos / info.
Are we able to ID the launches astern of the Q Class boats?
I was contacted last week by Whangarei boatbuilder, Mike Hughes with a heads up that the little Harrison Butler ‘Omicron’ (below) was back in Mike’s workshop for a little regular maintenance.
She is a rather pretty looking yacht – but she should be given she was built by Percy Voss in 1945.
Yesterday I was sent the above photo of the c.1952 launch – Lady Ellison by Murray (Mudge) White.
Murray commented that in 1953 he owned the classic yacht ‘ Scout’ and wishing to learn coastal and celestial navigation he went to classes held by Captain Warrick Dunsford at the RAYC and he asked Murray if he would help deliver the Lady Ellison to Wellington.
The skipper and old coastal skipper and an engineer and the boy (Murray) those job was mainly using a drum pump to pump petrol from the two 44 gallon drums in the aft cockpit to the main tank. Murray thinks the engine was a Scripps V8 conversion. After a 4 hour stop in Gisborne to refuel and have the radio checked (AZCI) they made Wellington in calm conditions in 77 hours. The previous owner was Bert Hammer but Murray doesn’t know who brought her.
Harold Kidd has previously commented on WW that the hull was built by Sam Ford c.1952-3 for Albert Ritchie Hammer of 22 Dommett Ave Epsom. Hammer worked on her for 6 months at Sam’s yard and she was launched at Okahu Bay. HDK also said that the treatment of the coamings and Sam Ford trademark windows were a bit clumsy compared with Sam’s usual treatment of them, but probably a combination of the current owner raising the center cabin by 9″ & Hammer’s handy work rather than Sam.
Her specs are LOA 36’, beam 11’4” and draught 2’9”. Currently powered by a Ford 120hp diesel. Home these days is Motueka, where her owner, Steve Simms, lives aboard.
Colour photo below ex Mark Jarvis – 2015
You can see and read more on Lady Ellison at the long below – remember to read the comments section, lots of chat there.