Viveen – Update

VIVEEN – Update

I first bumped into the 1924 Colin Wild launch – Viveen, back in 2014 at one of the first Classic Launch & Yacht Exhibitions at Auckland’s viaduct harbour. Back then she had recently moved to a new home, in Thames, where she still resides to this day. Prior to this she was berthed at Milford Marina from a number of years.

Back in 2018 her owners gave her a birthday and under took an extensive refit. Angus Rogers snapped the above photos of her over the holiday period moored at Waiheke Island, looking very smart with her new paint job. Being a Colin Wild launch, her past has been well documented on WW – a couple of stories are linked below

Cruising Race To Kawau


(photo ex Nathan Herbert ex Paperpast)

Back in the ‘good-old-days’ there are some very fast motor launches out there & in the last few years several of them have either been restored or are currently in restoration. CYA launch owner Nathan Herbert is one of the owners of a potential zoom zoomer (Lucinda) & has a plan to re-create the above race in a year or two. So gentleman start saving your pennies – it will turn into a drag race 🙂 I’m pretty sure I know who the winner will be, but strange things can happen at sea 😉

In the March 1933 race, pictured above, My Girl now owned by Jason Prew, was the winner. Thats her (white hull) in the middle of the fleet, post start. The skipper on the yacht (B4) must be bricking himself thinking what the _ _ _ _  am I doing in the middle of this 🙂

Todays fleet could include My Girl, Viveen, the Lady Margaret’s, Tasman, Romance II, Falcon, Lucinda, Aumoe, Wirihana & Lady Gay. What old girls that could get up off their backside & dance have I left off?

As you read this I’ll be on-route to the Lake Rotoiti Classic & Wooden Boat Parade, so fingers crossed for good weather.

VIVEEN – An ex owners story

VIVEEN – An Ex Owners Tale

Below is a post from Murray Willis, a previous owner of the launch Viveen, for some strange reason it would not appear in the comments section, while that’s strange it’s also a bonus as its too good a tale to be buried in there. To help support Murray’s tale I have posted a mid 1930’s photo of Aumoe (l) & Viveen (r) + some modern day hauled out photos to support the coments on her hull design.

Read & enjoy. AH

I owned Viveen for about 10 years from March 1984 until about mid 1994. During those 10 years I became very familiar with her shape. Viewed from behind one would have believed she was round bilged as illustrated in the early photo of Viveen going up the Milford creek.

She was in fact a hard chined, deep V planning hull “rum-runner”, apparently a John Hacker design of circa 1920. She certainly was not round bilged although she did look as if she was. 
I purchased “Viv” from Peter Haywood who was the slip master at the Milford Marina (and in his spare time a milkman on the North Shore). He had purchased her from a gentleman from Bayswater, whose name escapes me. He lived in a Bayswater house that was built on the exact spot where Col Wild’s boat yard had been located and where Viveen had been built.

This previous owner had found Viveen in a rundown condition in Coromandel and had taken her back to her place of original building in Bayswater and had restored her. Being a very clever man but being short on funds he made everything himself and doubled up on most engine components such as two cooling water pumps, two generators, two starter motors, two engine cooling systems etc. He made his own heat exchanger for the “D’ series Ford she had, which by the way was installed lying on its side.

I kept Viveen on her berth at the Milford marina and in fact she was in Milford for many years until we took her to Whangaparapara around 1989. I did quite a bit of work on her apart from the usual painting and anti-fouling. Most significant was the recovering of all decks and cabin tops with glass and ply done by John Gladden around 1988.

With reference to her bridge deck height extension, I was told by Andy Donovan himself that he extended the height of the bridge deck around 1934/5 and that he had procured the teak from old WW1 machine gun carry cases and ammunition boxes but I have not been able to verify this fact. We still have on our lounge wall two enlarged prints of Viveen in 1938 off the Devonport wharf, and the very modernistic photo of her in Mansion House in 1924 when she had just won the St Mary’s Bay to Kawau anniversary day launch race. By the way, the late George Mason identified the ship in the background of that photo as being the Northern Steam Ship Company vessel “ Clansman”.

Viveen was/is a great little launch and was quick. On one occasion after painting, new antifoul and a new carefully modified and balanced prop done by Henley’s on the shore we took her back to the Barrier in a stiff south westerly, following seas and lightly laden. About an hour out she was starting to surf so we pushed the throttle forward and much to our surprise she came up onto the plane and stayed. It took exactly 2 hours 30 minutes from Shearer rock to Whangaparapara at an average speed of about 20 knots. We both have very fond memories of “Viv”.

Sadly, around 1995 we were forced to sell her and she was bought by a gentleman from Tauranga. I will never forget that day sitting on the wharf at Whangaparapara with tears running down my face as she headed out of the harbour and out of our lives.

Marguerite now sits on her mooring here in Whangaparapara, another old classic lady!

Jan and Murray Willis, 9 Harpoon Hill, Great Barrier Island

Harold Kidd Update

She was designed and built by Colin Wild. No doubt he was influenced by designs by men like Hacker or Hand appearing in Rudder or Motor Boating magazines but, like Charles Collings and Major Lane, he was more than capable of producing an international state-of-the-art planing hull. Percy Vos did the bridgedeck extension for Percy Mason in 1933. I can’t figure out how Andy Donovan could have become involved in that process, unless there was some leg-pulling going on.
As to planing, that’s not at all surprising. Mason had a 25 Winton in her which would have pushed her along well. By 1959 she had an 85hp Scripps Ford V8 when Mudgway then Jackson then Haysom owned her. I used to pull LOLOMA out alongside her at Milford when Peter Haywood owned her and she was quick.
ROMANCE II is a Bailey & Lowe round bilge 35 footer of slightly earlier build and planes quite happily with her 150hp Hino on her very flat aft sections, if rather bow up. Walter Bailey designed her for 17 knots with a big 100hp Sterling with lots of torque. I’ve seen 20 knots on the GPS but couldn’t keep that up to Barrier without some overheating issues.
I think that there is a general impression these days that our early launches were plodders, but many of them, like VIVEEN and ROMANCE II were built to go like hell, and did.

22-08-2019 Update – Ian McDonald sent in the below ‘log /diary’ photo which came out of a book called “Louie and his hard case buggers” ; a memoir by a legendary Tokoroa / Putaruru logger called Lance Duncan.  At one stage he owned a launch named – Viveen’.
The date he purchased her is at odds with one of the comments on the existing WW post, but those loggers drank a lot of Waikato so, that could be the reason. He also mentions that she had a small wing engine at some stage but I suspect that many of the details have been lost in various transcriptions of her history from owner to owner down the years.

Aumoe & Viveen


Thankful some of our classics have survived almost un touched. Two good examples are Aumoe (L) & Viveen (R). I have included recent photos to demonstrate their wonderful condition. The main photo is dated c.1930’s. Type Viveen in the search box to read more on her.



Viveen was one of Colin Wild’s early landmark motor launches, built in 1924 for W.G. Rapley of Devonport. She was thoroughly up-to-date for the time, a vee-bottom bridgedecker, very much in the latest American style, her hull design obviously influenced by the square-bilge planning hulls of men like John L. Hacker & William Hand.
Her original  power plant was a 35hp Kermath but that was upgraded to an even more high-powered Winton. Her owners raced her consistently until launch racing died out during the Depression when feeding such monsters with benzine became impracticable.
Until recently, Viveen has always been a waitemata woody, berthed in the Milford Marina for years, but not lives in Thames.
The photos show her many & varied styles over the years.  The oldest one was taken at Mansion House Kawau Island in 1924 & Viveen is the launch with the black hull on the right.  The other b&w photo was taken in 1938 off the Devonport wharf, after she was made into a flush deck. There is one of her berthed alongside  other Colin Wild launches (2nd on right) in the Viaduct  for the 2012 classic launch & yacht show & one of her today cruising the gulf.
Viveen is currently undergoing a ‘rolling restoration’ in the hands of Mechaela and Andrew Dobbs.
03-10-2018   Update from owners Andrew & Mechaela Dobbs.

We thought you might be interested in an update on Viveen, our 1924 Colin Wild bridgedeck, 7 years ago we bought this lovely lady with every intention of doing right by her, but time, money and circumstances didn’t allow it, so after a few major repairs, a new engine and a slop slap paint job Andrew took her to the Colin Wild exhibition at the viaduct and we used her pretty regularly on the coromandel after that but she started to look pretty sad and we made the decision, it’s happening now, so we’ve done it, she’s been out of the water about 6 weeks now and has had all her many layers of exterior paint stripped off, has had new fibreglass put on her top decks, repairs done to a few leaky parts and is now in the process of getting her hull splined, after that she will be getting a new paint job including a different colour scheme, and a slightly larger duck board but no changes to her classic look, we hope she will look a million bucks when we are done, we will update you with a finished photo whenever that may be as there’s still a fair bit to do.
Viveen 2019