Classic Launches – Lady Karita, Menai, Valsan + Others – 1947 – NZ Diary #8 Movie
Following on from yesterday story on the launch – Lady Karita, Robert Phillips sent in a link to a 1947 movie tagged – ‘NZ Diary #8’ from the NZ National Film Unit. Its a great look back at post war life in Auckland. The movie is only 5 1/2min long so watch it all but if you’re time poor – go to 1.43min in and to 2.07min where it shows Lady Karita motoring on the Auckland Harbour in 1947 with someone wake boarding (or Aqua-Plane as they called it back then ) behind her. Carrying on further and we see more wake boarding at Kawau Island with Menai and others in the background. Later in the video, more wake boarding, this time behind the launch – Valsan.
Wonderful to see all the launches and yachts, most of which are still around 75 years later and looking as good or better than in 1947.
Woodys Classics Weekend Cruise To Clevedon – Call for RVSP’s The dates for the next Woody Weekend Cruise to the Clevedon Cruising Club are Saturday 21st > Sunday 22nd May 2022.As always due to wharf and river size numbers are restricted – so Woodys if you are interested in doing this event RSVP to address below ASAP to avoid disappointment. Send – Your name > Boat name > and if you know approx. numbers on board. Well behaved dogs are welcome.
Recently I was contacted by Pat Menzies the youngest son of Clive Menzies who bought the launch Menai from Arnold Baldwin. In a previous WW story Harold Kidd refers to Clive as ‘C.B. Menzies’, link to that story below. After reading the numerous WW stories on Menai, Pat decided to share a little more information that he hopes may be of interest to us. It is a good yarn so I’ll hand over to Pat and let him tell the story. https://waitematawoodys.com/2013/09/02/menai-valsan-her-owners/
“First, a little background about Arnold Baldwin “Baldie” to his friends (unsurprisingly). He is referred to as “involerd in the paper and printing industry”. But he was a bit more significant than that. Born in Canada, he emigrated to New Zealand some time pre-war and founded Universal Business Directories Ltd. By the 1950s and continuing through most of the next half-century UBD’s metropolitan provincial editions were the first place to look for detailed information about businesses of all and any sorts and the advertising revenue they engendered had made Baldie quite a rich man. Very rich by the standards of the day. I presume he must have been in the RNZ Volunteer Reseve pre-war and was appointed skipper of the Menai during the war years when it was commandeered the Navy and put to Coastal Patrol duties. (I believe that virtually every harbour which had a fleet of launches had some commandeered by the Navy for this purpose, but the Menai is the only one I know about. After the war I understand Mr Reynolds, the original owner did not want it back and Arnold was able to buy it. By the late 40s he was looking for a bigger boat and bought the Valsan, selling the Menai to my father.
Dad and Arnold were at the time (and for a number of years thereafter) flag officers of the Auckland Motor Yacht Club and were able to organise the various transfers to suit their calendars and cash flow. Dad sold the “Taufale” a 28 footer launch which he had bought in 1944 (I think. May have been 1945.) I was only about 5 at the time so my memory of such details is non-existent.
Dad owned the Menai through to some time in the early 1960s when he sold it to a then well-known local architect – surname Dalton. I did know his first name but have long since forgotten it. He, after quite a short period on-sold it to Alan (I think) Martin who was at the time CEO of TVNZ Auckland and did a lot of work on the boat. It then went through a number of owners before Peter Smith bought it and turned it into the film star beauty she is now.
The reference to Horry Whimp as an owner is quite mysterious. He was, as stated, the manager of the UBD printing works, had worked for Arnold for many years and had the perk of being boat husband, first for the Menai and later for the Valsan. It could very well be that Horry had the use of the Menai over the 48-49 season while Dad and Arnold were trading their paths to each owning only one boat – and that Ken Ricketts (who is/was a couple of years older than me) simply assumed he owned it.
Menai was powered by a flathead Ford V8 with a marine conversion by OSCA, rated at 100hp. Whether that was as a car motor or marine I don’t know. It had a 2 to 1 reduction box and we cruised at 1750rpm on the rev counter. Dad went through about three propellers and numerous re-pitchings and re-cuppings and finally achieved claimed figures of cruising speed of about 6.5 knots and petrol consumption of 1 3/4 gallons per hour. Pushing it up to 7 or 7.5 knots resulted in it squatting at the stern (“digging a big hole in the water” Dad used to say) and consumption soaring to about 4 gallons/hour.
Dad also fitted a Ford 8 auxiliary motor following a rather nasty experience when the motor stalled (a scale of rust in the fuel line, I believe) and left us powerless on a lee shore, either down the Bottom End or over on the Coromandel. I was about 11 or 12 and getting ready to drop the 45lb big pick when the motor fired up again. He also fitted another smaller motor to charge the batteries so we didn’t have to go cruising to have electricity. He also fitted a gas powered freezer box under the starboard seat in the bridgedeck. Larger boats such as the Valsan generally had such facilities but the Menai was well up-to-date for its age and size. One of the perks of being one of Arnold’s friends was that ownership of the Valsan came with one of the boatsheds on Ngapipi Rd – the third from Tamaki Drive. Arnold ran a tight timetable. He had the shed from about Easter to near to Queen’s Birthday and then Dad and several other of his friends each had about 2 weeks or so, during which we worked hard to complete the season’s maintenance. Dad would go to the shed each evening direct from work and I would pitch on at the weekends working from dawn to as late as we needed. I remember varnishing the coamings in half-light of a winter evening was a truly awful task. But better than doing it in the open at Vos Bros or any other shipyard. At least we didn’t have dust to contend with”.
In early 1961 Auckland hosted the British Medical Association conference, with attendees from all over the Commonwealth attending. Included in the conference was a ‘break’ day where the delegates and wives were taken on a picnic to Motuihe Island.
In the photo above we see the launches that were transporting everyone to the island, assembling off Westhaven. At the time it was one of the biggest organised gatherings of pleasure craft seen in New Zealand with over 66 laid on.The weather gods smiled on the day and Arnold Baldwin’s launch – Valsan was the convoy flagship.
There are a lot of woodys in the photo that still grace the Waitemata today. The photo and details come to us from the April 1961 Sea Spray magazine via Angus Rogers.
Recently on ww one of Valsan’s previous owners, Shirley Colthart reached out to her current owners Ian & Carol Nicholson & made a very generous offer to pass on a collection of blue blazers that had been custom made for Valsan’s crew (refer photo above)c1995/6. During the process Shirley mentioned that she had a collection of old photos from during their ownership, which appear above. Below I have reproduced Shirley’s note (edited) to me that accompanied the photos. The collection is a wonderful snapshot into a period of Valsan’s history. (As always click on any photos to enlarge) Enjoy.
“I have sorted through a few photos of when Valsan was in our care that may be of interest. When we sold to Hans Otto in 1998 we left a full history onboard including a home movie of her 1938 launch and letters between ourselves and the original owner’s daughter Valerie Harvey and it would be nice to know all was still intact for Ian when he took possession.
We added a dining table and elevated the seating area around the dining table so as to have a view out the windows as the original seating was very low, and due to our cooler climate in the south we also added the diesel burner.
We and our family loved Valsan and only sold to acquire a vessel with more accommodation once our daughters became older and wanted their friends to stay. We purchased her in December 1988 from Jobe Hollander in Auckland and my husband and friends, with a professional skipper onboard, cruised her down to the Marlborough Sounds, quite a mission as they had to carry two 44 gallon drums of additional fuel in the cockpit and along the way encountered a couple of big storms where she well and truly proved herself to be a very seaworthy vessel indeed.
Early 1993, my husband, with a crew, brought her down from the Marlborough Sounds to Lyttelton where she was used as the after-function venue at the Banks Peninsula Cruising Club for our elder daughter Anna’s 21st celebration”.
Below are copies of Valsan’s Certificate of British Registry and the NAPS booklet from a 1943 Smoke Concert. For reference also below is the first page naming the NAPS ships.