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



colour photo ex Dean Wright
b/w photo ex Andrew Pollard (opening day of the 1948 Whangarei Deep Sea Anglers Club)
details ex Harold Kidd

Ranoni hails from the Far North so I personally know little about her but Harold Kidd told me she was built by Charlie Gouk at Beaumont Street in the winter of 1911 for the Rushbrook brothers. In 1948 she was owned by O. Mann.

Anyone able to spread some more light on her?

Harold Kidd Update

RANONI was built by Charlie Gouk in August 1911 for the Rushbrook brothers of Onehunga for use on the Waitemata and cruising our east coast.There have been erroneous reports that she was built by Harvey & Lang who were next door to Gouk in Beaumont St. Her first engine was a 20hp Herald. She was 35’x35’x8’6″x2’6″.
The Rushbrooks cruised with her very extensively, up North and to the Bay of Plenty. She became well known in Whangarei and was eventually bought by J. Main of Whangarei in early April 1920. He replaced her engine with a 25-30hp Buffalo in 1924.
In 1941 was taken into NAPS with the number Z38. Her owner was then Alex Matthews and skipper Vere Harrison. She spent most of 1942-4 stationed at Great Barrier.
Postwar she remained in Whangarei. In 1948 she was owned by O. Mann and her callsign was ZLAY 7.

PS During NAPS service she seems to have had a Ford V8.

15/11/2014 – Update on RANONI ex Ken Ricketts

Ranoni was  bought Aug/Sept 2014 by Graham Rigden of Opua, subsequent to her being damaged on her moorings at Opua by another vessel which had dragged or broken its moorings.

She was substantially damaged at the rear end side & stern areas & was taking water. She was regarded as a write off (insurance company?)

Graham a boatbuilder, who works at Opua & you can see in the photos Ken took she is already well on the road to recovery.
She is powered by a 4 cyl Ford Sabre Diesel.

Graham has provided a substantial dossier on her history (click blue link below to read)




WW has been contacted by Ron Trotter the owner of Valencia built by Baileys. Ron thinks she was built some time in the 1940’s (unlikely, more like 1920’s AH). He was told that it was built for a guy that did the Kawau Island mail run back then but cant get much info about this. The boat is currently moored at Whangamata.

Ron is looking for any info on this boat and or photos of how it was in early days. Reply here in the comments section. Ron’s details are also below.

Ron Trotter  – ph 078893374 / 0274316405 / 0274850950wk

Harold Kidd  Update

Well, she looks very much like the VALENCIA at Whangarei in an earlier post which a search here under “Valencia” brings up. She was in Whangarei from at least 1927. I think she could have had a name change just before that to the name of the wildly popular paso doble song of the time, “Valencia”.

Maybe however she was new in 1927. It’s possible. I know nothing about a Kawau connection which could be more myth.

Bailey & Lowe is more likely than “Bailey” = Chas. Bailey Jr.

Update #2 

It is also possible that she is the VALENCIA built in Tauranga for?/by? L. Oliver in 1926 which he delivered to a Whitianga purchaser in March 1939. There were lots of VALENCIAs after that bloody song came out on 78 after the film came out in March 1926.

Valencia, Aumoe & Ranoni 1948


Valencia, Aumoe & Ranoni 1943

Valencia, Aumoe & Ranoni 1948

I really like this image sent to me by Andrew Pollard the current guardian of Aumoe. Its such a great photo & if you look closely you will notice that the crews are a really mixed bag of men, young boys & women, I doubt you would get that in the 2013 event.  The photo is of the opening day of the 1948 Whangarei Deep Sea Anglers Club. I wonder what the catch was like.
A understand that at the time of the photo Aumoe was owned by the Wilkinson family of Whangarei.

Harold Kidd Update 

VALENCIA was then owned by E S Ralls. I’m not sure who built her and where. There were several Valencias around the coast as it was the name of a very popular song of the time. It would be good to get feedback on her (I suspect a c1928 name change). RANONI is easier, she was built by Charlie Gouk at Beaumont Street in the winter of 1911 for the Rushbrook brothers. In 1948 she was owned by O. Mann. The lovely AUMOE of course was built by Tom Le Huquet for F M P Brookfield of Brookfield Engineering in February 1913 and initially fitted with an Advance 30hp 4 stroke sleeve valve engine built by Brookfield Engineering which was still in use when replaced by A J Wilkinson of Whangarei when he bought her in the late 30s.