The Evolution of Pleasure Craft Communication

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THE EVOLUTION OF PLEASURE CRAFT COMMUNICATION

Next time you pick up a mobile phone to chat to another boat or log a trip report via the Coastguard APP, spare a thought for the boats of days gone by that had only one option (other than flags) for communications at sea. As a child I was fascinated by all these strange random words Zulu Mike Bravo Lima etc – my father being an ex-army comms man, morse was his thing. On holidays, myself and brothers were ‘made’ to listen to ships at sea and try to record the message, the winner i.e. most accurate, would win a chocolate.

WW follower Ken Ricketts is of an age that he has seen and experienced the evolution of New Zealand maritime radio communications and recently he wrote a comprehensive chronicle on the subject, which you will find below. It is worth a read to either educate or refresh yourself on the huge advances that have been made in the field. The story is peppered with a few tales directly relating some of our woody fleet (scroll over photos to ID the woodys) so hopefully that will keep those of you with a short attention span –  awake 🙂 Enjoy

Maritime radio-telephony in Auckland pleasure craft, had its first & humble beginnings in 1946, at which time, Ken’s father, Ralph Ricketts, entered the fray, with the second ever such installation, in Auckland, (the original first one was on the REHIA owned by Bill & Phyl Ryan at that time — who told RR about it) RR immediately bought, (as ultimately almost everyone did, once they knew about them ), an ex WW II war assets double side band, (DSB),  ZC1 MK II R.T., for  20 pounds, & fitted it to the Rickett’s launch – JULIANA, after which RR had a visit from a Govt radio inspector, who took diagrams of aerial format & layout, made various notes on his file of the installation, checked RR’s ability to use the set, made a test call himself, to “ZLD Auckland Radio,” sited  at Musik Point at that time, on the entrance to the Tamaki Estuary, & made sure RR had a “Restricted Radio Operators License,” which was required in those days, by all radiotelephone operators, on all pleasure craft, – now long since discontinued, & he allocated JULIANA the call sign of ZMYP.

REHIA 1948

JULIANA & AOMA c1953

Originally, there was only one call frequency, & that was 2012Kh, in 1946, used for all purposes, but not too long after that, 2012  was reallocated exclusively for harbour control use, to the Auckland Harbour Board, & pleasure boaties were allocated 2182, the international distress frequency for initial calling to government shore stations, & 2162 for ship to shore working, & 2456 & 2638 for ship to ship gossiping. 

The 2162 working frequency, was later changed to a duplex frequency, with 2162 for listening to ZLD, & them receiving on 2207. 

The frequency of 2045, was allocated around 1950, for use for transmission between privately owned shore stations & boats, such has Port Charles Radio, (the legendary Jim Smith owner/operator ), Gt. Barrier radio , Awaroa Radio etc. 

These shore stations were used extensively, for many years, from around 1950, by many commercial fishing boats, working throughout the Gulf, many of whom, reported in daily their positions, usually around 6 pm. There were also many pleasure craft which used the service, & RR was one of them. He joined the Port Charles association for most of his boating life with legendary Jim Smith the owner/operator. RR or Ken would call Jim every evening at around 6pm & report in our position at that time. 

You paid a small annual fee usually, to join their non profit associations, to cover their running costs & they kept records of your locations, times of calls, assisted in any way they could, with any problems you may have had, etc., & these associations usually operated, for several set times, of about 15 to 30 minutes, each day. Ken thinks some may still exist on the VHF channels, possibly there is one on Gt. Barrier Island.  

Auckland Coastguard was also allocated the frequency of 2128, (from recall), for ship to Coastguard use. 

By the early 1950s ZLD had introduced a radio telegram service to land based recipients who had a telephone number available, as the address & the telegrams would be sent by ZLD to any entity via that phone number ( & later delivered in hard copy via normal post to the address of the phone number), & if a reply was quested, or anticipated, they would telephone it through immediately, whilst the ship waited on standby, & ZLD would call back with the reply ASAP. 

The cost, was fairly expensive for the era, & on a cost per word basis & the costs were charged to the landline phone number. This service stayed in place as far as Ken knows right through in to the VHF era.

Land based parties, could also send radio telegrams to boaties, with the address, via the P & T telegram phone number, which must include the call sign & was as follows; (as a example) Mr. Smith Vessel ZMYP JULIANA C/- ZLD AUCKLAND RADIO. 

ZLD at the end of its 3 or 4 hourly daily weather forecasts & shipping information, would give a list of all telegraphic traffic held for all vessels including of course, & very importantly, their call signs, & most would listen to these broadcasts, as often as possible, & advise friends on other boats, if they were near at the time, that  ZLD had a message for them.

By about 1983 this communication with the outside world was taken a step further, &  ZLD introduced a VHF radio telephone service, which many mature old time boaties may recall, where a ship could call ZLD, on channels 22 & 23, in the  Auckland region, give them a landline number, which they would dial & then patch your call to ZLD through, to enable you to talk direct, to the subscriber, which whilst it was a good service, it had its shortcomings & limitations, shall we say, as any boatie who by chance or otherwise, dialled into ch. 22 or 23 on his boat, would inevitably be privy to what were sometimes surprising, & very private conversations, also necessarily, only one party at a time in the conversation could speak, & the other had to listen, & one had to say “over,” at the end of each segment of conversation, to enable the other party to know when to respond, 

Calls to boaties from landlines could also be booked with ZLD & ZLD would call them back, when they were able to make contact the vessel, the land based party wished to contact.

There was one other form of radio communication which evolved & inevitably found its way in to the boating world for a period in the 1970s/80s & that was  Citizen Band (CB) radio transmitting communication equipment, for short distance communication, unrestricted in it use, & it could be used by any person, at any place for any lawful purpose, but it was restricted, to a very low aerial output power in all sets, which could be bought & licensed extremely cheaply, much more so, than proper marine  purpose built equipment, & this medium became popular for a period, in the  1970/80s, with some  boaties, mostly in the smaller cheaper craft range, where cost was a really important issue for some, but whilst it was cheap, it had many shortcomings, including its very short transmission range, & as there was no structured organisation of any type, either private or govt., monitoring it, one simply in event of distress, had to rely on someone within the range for your set, hearing your call, & helping as best they could, one way or another. So whist it was so very limited in its rescue value, nevertheless it was better than having no communication at all, if in need of help. 

These sets had a good number of preset channels  & operated on the HF 26.500 Mh band in NZ., which was a different frequency range to many other countries, including Australia, which used 27.500Mh), & call signs were allocated to owners on a regional basis, depending on where you lived.

Ken installed one on his 40′ launch TIARRI, when launched in 1979, in order to have maximum possibility of assisting boats, in times of distress or breakdown. TIARRI’S main call sign was ZM3199, which, along with the radio, Ken took from his first boat, FLYING SCUD, which was issued to F.S. in December 1953, when she was built & launched by Roy Lidgard, just after the advent of the letter number era – only 1100 numbers in to the new system.  

TIARRI

FLYING SCUD 1975

There were the very odd exceptions, to the above early days policy, & call signs, mostly around the 1940s era, almost all of which, were for boats, where they were owned by the owners of private islands, in the Hauraki Gulf & Northland, & perhaps the Sounds, where they had a licensed, private, island based set, on their island, & a special boat call sign allocated to their boats, for keeping in touch with their home bases, usually where these boats were their sole means of access, to the outside world, & these sometimes, were of a number letter combination, with just one or two numbers usually, & had just one specific frequency, to operate with.  

All transmitting in DSB & SSB sets was technically very accurately totally controlled, often by a plug in type internal “Chrystal Control unit,” or similar, for each frequency,& fitted to all sets for all transmitting frequencies. 

There were later several lower end of the High Frequency, (HF) band, frequencies added in the 3, 4, & 6, Mh bands, mostly used by off shore boats, out at sea. 

This cumbersome, & red tape process, of registration, continued for a good number of years, right through the initial era of “ Double side Band “ transmission, & in to the upgrading of that era, to “single side band” (SSB) transmission, circa 1970s

After single side band transmissions became compulsory, around the 1970s this required the purchase of a new set, & the only double side band frequency which was still legally usable, was the international distress frequency of 2182 Kh,  & this could only be used for calls to govt shore stations (ZLD for Auck)  or ZLW for Wellington, as examples),  for emergencies only, & craft which did not wish to outlay for a new SSB set, or alternatively still keep a 2182 set after they bought a VHF set after they were introduced, could modify & keep their old set, & were then reallocated a compulsory special “ZMX” based call sign, starting at ZMX2001.

These days ZLD has left Musik Point, & the government’s ZLD & ZLW (& ZLB in the South Island,) which all later came under the umbrella of Telecom, being the replacement that took over from the old P & T., which in turn, has now become a totally new entity, as “Maritime Radio,” & under the umbrella through various subsidiaries, to “Maritime NZ.,” being another different Govt Dept, with the  transfer becoming effective from midnight, & starting on the 1st October 1993 & the operators of which, are now all based in the Old Radio NZ Avalon building, in Avalon, Lower Hutt, Wellington, with transmission facilities, in Wellington & Taupo, plus a network of repeaters, scattered around the country monitoring the whole country, which is now all controlled from this one location.

In the later 1970s early 80s Very High Frequency, (VHF) maritime radio was introduced, which gave many benefits, with all its ongoing ever increasing refinements, & installation of shore based repeaters, on high ground, throughout the country, which  has now ultimately totally replaced the old Medium Frequency DSB & SSB sets, with many advantages to all users, for all local NZ & inshore boating, along with the discontinuation of licensing of individual operators, & inspections by govt inspectors, of all boats so fitted, with RT equipment. 

Also, Radio Spectrum Management, the govt department which these days controls allocates & administers all radio & TV transmissions, call signs & frequencies, has vested in NZ Coastguard, the authority to issue calls signs on its behalf, of a mixed letter number type, such as, (possible examples only), ZMQ 2947, ZMW4526, ZMR 2937, & so on, as a result of the huge demand for these, these days, & the time consuming process it used to be, for R.S.M.

Originally in 1946, this was all under the umbrella of the Post & Telegraph Department to later become Telecom, & remained so for many years, until 1987, when it all started to change & we have ended up, for a good number of years now, with RSM, as the entity in control.

The pleasure craft call sign evolution, & changes to it, are as follows;

As above, all craft up until c1953, were all 4 letters alone.

As they were beginning to run out of call signs, around 1953, the Govt. wrote to all pleasure craft owners, requesting they approve the replacement of their existing all letter call signs with a letter number combination, starting originally, with the first reissued call sign of ZM2001. 

It is important to note that the Govt., could not insist on this by law, & only request it, & if the owners did not consent to the allocation of a new call sign, the original then remained with the boat, & there are a few of boats that still have their original all letter call signs even today. 

Neither Ken’s father nor the owner/builder of GAY DAWN, Bill Waters, who RR bought the boat off in 1956, surrendered their original all letter call signs, for their respective boats, —  (see image above of GAY DAWN taken c1965, showing clearly, a typical DSB aerial set up as used for many of the DSB, SSB, medium frequency sets of that era), —  RR sold JULIANA in 1956 with ZMYP, (which was somewhere along the way, later either abandoned, or replaced, with letter number combo call sign), & now, as referred to below, is reinstated to her for life. RR bought in 1956 & sold in 1970, GAY DAWN, with ZMIV in place, which however, also later along the way, was replaced by persons unknown, with a letter number combo, at least once, note: ZMIV has now been reallocated to the Rickett’s family and used on the vessel ROSEANNE, which is owned by Ken’s daughter.

GAY DAWN C.1965

Such was the ever increasing size of the “snowball,” of pleasure craft sets, that it was not all that long, before the original issue of the ZM2001 to ZM9999 were all allocated, & we then saw the issue of  ZMA2001 to ZMA9999, followed by the final issue to the SSB era, which was ZMY2001 to ZMY9999. 

It is important to note, that all call sign issues right from ZM 4 letter, ZM+, ZMA, ZMY, & ZMX, & all Coastguard issued call signs are approved & provide for use of all VHF sets.    

All letter only call signs, which are all just 4 letters alone, must still be issued by R.S.M. direct, & are mostly reserved for all Govt vessels,(eg., all the Police DEODAR launches were & still are, all allocated ZMIH, during their term of service to the Police), also some very large off shore fishing vessels, & some NZ based pleasure boats, that cruise off shore, or are capable of cruising offshore have these call signs allocated as well. 

Other pleasure craft, that have some classic, historical, or other special significance, are also issued these, at the discretion of RSM.    

Ken has enjoyed a close & good relationship with RSM, for many years, & there are some interesting background stories relating to the issue of some of these special allocations of all letter call signs, which Ken has been associated with, & some of these are as follows. There are a tiny number of pleasure craft that were built prior to about 1953, where the owners did not approve replacing their original call sign, which the dept. would have requested, but could not insist upon in c1953. 

Two examples of this are as follows; 

One with its original 1946 issued call sign is RAKANOA, which still has her original call sign ZMTF as issued when new, & the other, is Owen Foster’s WAIRANGI, also with her original call sign of ZMTM.

RAKANOA c1948

WAIRANGI 2020

A fairly recent approval exception, is the issue of ZMPY, to Peter Loughlin’s Colin Wild built LADY MARGARET, which was first issued to her, in 1941, by the Navy, & is recorded as such on her British Ship registration, (see below), & as a classic craft, with this history of her call sign, Ken assisted Peter, to secure this for her for life, when he bought her.

LADY MARGARET

LADY MARGARET Registration certificate P1 (TOP) jpg

Likewise Francis Uren’s “W1”, was issued with ZMWI in 2014, which is another detective story. W1 was originally brought to NZ by the Royal New Zealand Air force in 1941, as their extremely fast, & prize patrol craft, & given in the circumstances, the logical Air force number of “W1”, which has now been reinstated to her, as her name, by present owner Francis, after a long period of being known as CARROMA.  

W1 c.1942

As she is now W1 again, Ken approached RSM, gave them her history, & they in turn, approached their counterparts in the military, to see if they could uncover her original WWII call sign, but unfortunately all those records have been lost, so as an alternative, RSM offered Francis the call sign ZMWI. – They could not offer ZMW1 as international radio spectrum law, prohibits that type of call sign, worldwide, so she now has ZMWI for life, free of charge.  

W1 2014 - 1

El Capitan is another interesting story, as she now has ZMEC. It goes like this; She was built c1961, by a farmer, in a shed on his farm, to a Chris Craft design, in Ohakea, & he carted her around on a big trailer, & used her at Taupo, & the Sounds, until 1976,  after which time, she sat in a shed on his farm, never to move again, until bought by Tony Mitchell, of Lake Rotoiti, off his estate, post 2000. When Tony bought her, she had a Coden 2+ Mh multi channel, medium frequency, marine RT,  which would have been fitted almost certainly, when she was new, which has now been replaced with a VHF, but for which, there had never been a marine call sign issued, as the original owner, was also a radio ham, with a “ZL#### ham radio licence & call sign, which automatically allowed him to use this call sign for his boat. Ken provided on Tony’s behalf, all relevant info to RSM, & requested, & they approved, ZMEC (El Capitan), which she also has for life.

EL CAPITAN 2012

Ralph Rickett’s JULIANA, now renamed MARJORIE ROSA, now also of Lake Rotoiti, has been reallocated for her life, her original call sign ZMYP, as issued to RR in 1946. Ken told RSM of her history, as the second ever pleasure craft in Auck., to have marine RT, in 1946, & they have approved the reissue to her of her original ZMYP, to Fraser Wilson, her present owner, for her life. 

Marjorie Rosa : Juliana 2019

Marjorie Rosa : Juliana 2018

Story told by Ken Ricketts, edited by Alan H.

Caroma / W1

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Caroma / W1
 

Recently I was contacted by Peter Grant who had just discovered the story of W1 on waitematawoodys and remembered he was involved in a pre-purchase inspection of her in November 2000 for a client. The client did not purchase the vessel as it was deemed not suitable, but Peter dug out the old report which included the photos of her above, as she was then lying alongside the Panmure River.

 

Below is a photo of the 70′ vessel as she is today, post a wonderful restoration to return her to a style that while not matching her early day war time look, certainly turns a few heads on the Waitemata when she zips past at 22 knots. WW links to the restoration below:
 
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A Woody Tour of the Tamaki River – 70 photos

A Woody Tour of the Tamaki River – 70 photos

Todays story so needed to be done, and woodys, John Bullivant is a legend for grabbing his camera and heading out on our behalf. I’ll let John tell his story 🙂

“Thought it was about time I got a few photos on the Tamaki River boats before they disappear, (and they are going fast by the look of some). There are only a fraction of the numbers of wooden boats that were moored there in the 1960s and 1970s and as I previously mentioned, living on the waterfront at Bucklands Beach for around 25yrs I had seen most of them go by (was like Queen St on Friday nights most summer weekends) I did 2 trips down from Orewa and took pics from Panmure Boat Club and up to and under the new Panmure Bridge, end of Gabadore Pl (off Carbine Rd), the old Panmure Marina, (going with many houses from Panmure to Pakuranga Town centre, to make way for new highway widening), along the Tamaki River walkway for about 4km (Rotary Walk,- starts at the old Panmure Marina and goes all the way to Gills Rd in Howick, for those who like walking), Half Moon Bay and Bucklands Beach.

I also went down to the 1960s site of the private ex RNZAF W1  haul-out ramp below the old Alright property (well covered in bush now and a near vertical climb down a 30ft bank), – lost a bit of blood but well worth it for me, as I last stood on that spot 50yrs ago when we sneaked on board W1 to have a look around while she was up there. Original ramp and haul-out dolly is still there (see pics) although time has taken its toll. I’m amazed, looking at the crude set-up today, how Mr Alright got a 64ft boat weighing many tons, sitting on rubber tyred dollies (which ran in grooved concrete) lined up and hauled out with a winch and by the looks of it, the large tree in line with the ramp, not to mention getting it back out again (I’m assuming he must have winched it back out somehow). Massive effort not only to build the ramp on mud, (all by hand, no concrete pumping trucks) but to be able to use it.

Hope these photos are of interest to people who may be able to identify some of the mystery boats (especially the light blue launch with the chrome ventilators and light, (looks ex RNZAF ?). The yacht hidden near the big boatshed is around 45ft looks very old and has been there for many years, as has poor old Imatra, a once grand yacht which is in a very sad state and in urgent need of care (must have been there 30 yrs odd now). I have included a few other launches and yachts to show the sad state of many good looking (and once expensive) boats on the river crying out for attention, but I guess many people have other priorities and sadly their dreams are just floating slowly into oblivion. It’s pretty hard to get rid of a rusty rotten hulk, so there they will stay till it’s “business time” (flight of the Conchords) for the 20 ton digger.

I may have some of the boats names wrong as I was using a telephoto lens for most of the pics and with enhancing colour, contrast etc was as near as I could get. I’m sure someone will correct any if wrong.”

NOTE: With the photos that John has named, I have tagged the photos with those names. Scroll over the photos to view the names 😉
I could have used the individual images on WW over an extended period, but they need to be together in one spot. Enjoy 🙂

W1 & W1 Junior Meet Up

W1 c.1942

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W1 & W1 Junior Meet Up

The restoration of the Hubert Scott-Paine designed ex RNZAF, WWII, craft W1 has been well documented on WW, as has been the building of a junior version by master model maker John Bullivant, enter W1 in the WW search box to read > view their stories.

Earlier this year Ken Ricketts played match-maker & intro’ed Francis Uren, the owner  of W1 & John B. The venue was Bayswater Marina where Francis keeps W1. Details & photos ex Ken.

The story started 49 years ago, when John B, had by chance an opportunity to have a look aboard W1. John & a mate, were out & about on the Tamaki River, exploring & they came across W1 & the boys decided to have a good look inside her. John B was fascinated with what he saw & W1 made such a lasting impression that 44 years later, when he started to build a model of W1, he could recall every detail. The build took 5 years, but as can see in the photos, the attention to detail & build quality is amazing.

When Francis Uren, saw W1 Junior for the first time he was blown away,  the intricate detail in build, propulsion & equipment, which is even complete, with the sound of 2 diesel engines being started, when John fired her up, & with water flowing out the exhaust pipes each side, when the engines, (2 special marine tiny electric motors, see photo below), are running.

The meet up resulted in two very happy woodys, who both had huge mutual respect for the each others work.

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John Bullivant – The Big / Small Boat Builder

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John Bullivant – The Big / Small Boat Builder

John Bullivant owns an impressive collection of boats, even more impressive is he built / restored them himself – how you may ask? – they are radio controlled models of real boats, taken off detailed plans.

The black & white double image above shows John’s model of MTB49 & the real thing, illustrates the amount of detail John achieves.
John took over the bridge-decker he has named ‘Tamure’ as an unfinished project from the previous owner, as seen in the images & installed the present motor & associated equipment. We see the restored Tamure above.

John’s major build has been the W1 project, which we have seen on ww before as work-in-progess. https://waitematawoodys.com/2016/11/05/w1-junior/
W1 is now complete & will feature on ww next week. (photos above ex John B & Ken Ricketts)

John also owns 2 real yachts in the 12′>16′ range,  which he has also rebuilt/restored featured here https://waitematawoodys.com/2017/02/26/small-woodys-sailing-sunday/

W1 Junior

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W1 JUNIOR

If you are a regular follower of the ww stories you will know that there are a several ‘woody nutters’ out there that have a thing for the ex WWII RNZAF coastal cruiser – W1.
John Bullivant is one of them. John has been building a model of W1 & its very close to completion. The photos above show some of the build process.
John reports that he has purchased some cowl vents from the UK, (made them all rotatable)  fitted new water cooled motors, made rudders, masts, windows, rubbing strips and fitted LED lighting (courtesy of cheap solar garden lights). He has also made a decal pattern for the bow insignia to print out (see bow photo above). John has even bought a miniature water pump so he can have water running from the water outlets when the boat is stopped. This will sit where the centre engine usually sits. He is currently looking for an engine sound module. Thanks to Ken Ricketts for fowarding John’s email to ww.
Details on the ‘real deal’ here https://waitematawoodys.com/2013/09/11/the-story-of-w1-one-of-fastest-boats-ever-on-the-waitemata/

REAL BOATS

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The Classic Yacht Association is holding one of its launch cruises to the Riverhead Hotel on Sunday – we are expecting approx. 20 classics to make the trip. so it should be a cracker of a day. If the sun shines, there will be lots of photos on Monday 🙂

Update below & photos from John Bullivant on his progress  (emailed in by Ken Ricketts)
“I have also re-done the lighting using LEDs from Xmas string lights which are smaller and can be made to fit better. Getting there slowly but it’s almost like building a full sized boat as you can spend hours making the smallest things. The lighting alone took about 3 days, as it’s hard to hide any sort of bulb in a small model and get it shining in a reasonably scale manner, eg trying to get the nav lights shining in the correct arc takes a lot of fiddling and painting but they look the part when they are on so that’s good enough for me. I’m not being too fanatical about the detail as long as it looks ok on the water.
I have a theory about the location of the real W1 in the photo of her with the survivors on board and where she was headed which I am working on with the help of Google Earth and some info I read on the rescue effort. This was regarding the position the survivors were picked up from. I am trying to find the info again but it was in an obscure site (to do with recovering the gold I think) which gave the co-ordinates of the ship and the lifeboats positions before rescue and the crews communications. Just a bit of a fun challenge to see if I can pinpoint the exact spot.”

A Lap of Waiheke


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A Lap of Waiheke

Over Labour weekend we did a lap of Waiheke Island in Raindance – bumped into a few classic’s, some will appear on ww in the next few days.
As we approached Oneroa mid afternoon on Saturday the weather was doing exactly as predicated  & the southerly was starting to pick up, coming around the point & it was blowing dogs off chains. Headed over to Little Oneroa & it was almost a mill pond, dropped the pick between James Mobberley (Moon Engines)  & Dan Ranell’s stunning N. Herreshoff designed yacht – Jonquil, pictured above with George Ranell ‘on watch’. Potentially it could have been a disaster i.e. 3 kids under 5 between the 2 boats – but good parenting saved the day. A few late afternoon coldies on Jame’s launch ‘Cartel’ was the perfect lead in to dinner – a wood fired pizza on the beach from the resident pizza caravan. Saturday was a cracker of a day on all fronts. Nice weather, people & boats.

For the first time (that I can remember) we had a peaceful night in Little Oneroa & woke to a stunning day (Sunday), one out of the bag. A quick breakfast ashore at ‘Wai’ & a few provisions from the ‘new’  store on the roundabout, called ‘The Island Grocer’ – its where the old general store (fruit & veg focus was) used to be. Less hairy armpits on display these days & a great hole in the wall coffee operation. Perfect spot to people watch.

Headed down the north side to the bottom end, very pleasant trip & a lot of people both fishing & catching fish. Mooched around a few bays & anchored in Man ‘o’ War Bay. The vineyard operation was a zoo with Island day trippers, so held off going ashore until late afternoon for a drink. Quiet night in the bay, except for 2 sets of very young children doing laps of the bay in dinghies with 2hp outboards – I do not lie when I say it went from 6pm to 10pm, if I had had a gun – I would have popped the tubes.

Slow start in the morning, had to wait for the tide, appears I had discovered a wee mud bank, never went a ground but I draw 2’3″ & the depth sounder was showing 0.700m (27.5″) 😦 So it was a leisurely breakfast 🙂 Th day was overcast & forecast to rain later on, so we headed home at lunch time. As we were leaving MoW, W1 was coming in – first time I had seen her ‘live’ on the water – way more narrow than I expected given her length, but still an impressive sight & a credit to the owner, who under took a lengthy restoration in his driveway in Herne Bay.
Saw Deodar (#1) in MoW looking very smart – photos tomorrow on ww.

A fantastic weekend, only takes a few days of good weather & one quickly forgets all the cursing & swearing over winter about bloody old wooden boats.

Below are a couple of photos from Rod Marler of the classic’s –  Arohanui, Trinidad, Lady Crossley & Nereides (looking none the worse for her oops at the Whangateau boat yard) at Kawau over the weekend. I hear the Kawau Boating Club was going off on Saturday night for the All Blacks v Aust rugby test.

Photo below of Wairangi at West Bay, Rakino Island on Sunday, taken by her owner & emailed in by Ken Ricketts.

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W1 / Caroma – Goes The Full Circle

W1 GOES FULL CIRCLE

photo & details ex Ken Ricketts, edited by Alan H

If you enter W1 in the waitematawoodys search panel you will see Ken Ricketts has been a long admirer of this unique vessel. Now via a chance posting on ww Ken has reconnected again after 28 years.

Ken was invited to inspect W1 by her present owner, who has W1 in the driveway of his home, given she is 70ft overall that in itself is impressive.

Ken reports that her current owner has had her for approx. 8 years having bought her off her Waiheke owner in a very run down state with her 2 x 671 GM Detroit’s belching lots of black smoke & with a view to carrying out a total interior & combings rebuild,which is now almost completed.

W1 has had several rebirths & its pleasing to hear that Ken reports in her latest there will be no flying bridge 🙂

It appears that with her very flowing new layout, complete with traditional varnished teak combings, she will very much look the part on the harbour & with her heritage will certainly be one of the most unique of all our classic boats. Refer the previous ww post for full details on her specs & history. The current refurbishment specifications include – 230 volt power, a full hot & cold commercial type air-conditioning system ducted right through the boat, water maker, clothes dryer, all the other latest & best of everything you would expect on a vessel of her size. Currently the restoration crew includes up to 3 artisan boatbuilders, along with the owner himself, part time, who are crafting her superstructure & fit out as if she is the royal yacht.

The 2 x 671 GMs have become 1 x GM Detroit 8V92TI with a power output of 650 hp. This the owner anticipates will give a very good turn of speed — with a 32 inch propeller, through a 2 to 1 gearbox.

She was only capable of about 13  knots flat out when she came out of the water. She now sports bow & stern thrusters & a new underwater exhaust system with fairly comparatively small, above water side outlets for idling, to avoid backpressure.

The owner has personally just finished making 2 identical state of the art beautifully varnished teak game fishing chairs which will be mounted side by side for gamefishing when needed. He has never embarked on a job of this type before, but Ken reports that there is not a game fishing chair manufacturer in the world, that could have do a more perfect job.

We look forward to seeing her in the water & ww will hopefully be there to record this magnificent (class of one) 70 year old vessel begin the next phase of her life.

Lastly, Ken has a favorite hobby-horse & thats the changing of a vessels name by subsequent owners – Ken is of the belief the name at launch time should remain for the life of the vessel. Well Ken was very happy to learn that W1 will grace her stern again.

A UK sister ship? – Dave Giddens was recently in the UK & spotted the boat below in St Ives, Cornwall.

W1 CHAPTER #3  18-12-2014
photos & details e Ken Ricketts, edited by Alan H

The photos below show the latest update in the life of W1 – her current owner, Francis Uren, has just completed an extensive ‘rebuild’ of the 70′ W1 (previously known as CORROMA, from the early 1950s) launch. The extent of the rebuild even includes air-conditioning………………..

Ken has been instrumental in securing her original WWII RNZAF identification No. i.e. #W1.

Next step is sea trials & we look forward to a report on the performance of her single 8V-92TI 650 HP GM Detroit diesel.

Sea Trials photo ex Ken Ricketts

At Bayswater 04/01/2015

W1 @ BW 04:01:15

At ‘speed’ 10/01/2015 (low res photo ex Ken R)

W1 AT SPEED - 9.1.15 -4

31-05-2015 – Update ex Ken Ricketts

W1 has just been hauled out at Gulf Harbour hard stand for her first bum clean & for the fitting of here correct prop  — a 32 x 33 LH Bri Ski. – The first one that was made, it was discovered just before she went in the water for the first time, when her refit wad completed, went the wrong way, so she has had  temporary smaller one since launching, until the correct one could be fitted this week.
Post re-launching, with the new prop, at 22 knots her wake was less than 12 inches & absolutely flat out the stern, as can be seen in the photo below. Impressive for a vessel designed & launched in the late 1930s.

05-09-2016 Input from John Bullivant

“Hi guys, what a great find this site is, great job!. I have been wondering where W1 had got to! I am another who has had a lifelong interest in her and other wartime Navy and Airforce boats.I thought this might be of interest to others interested in this vessel.  I spent a few weeks in the Marine Section during my time in the RNZAF around 1973 just as they were about to de-commission the seaplane tenders and close the Marine Section
When I was about 15 yrs old a friend of mine and I sneaked on board W1 while she was on her private slipway on the Tamaki River, (tucked around the corner behind the owners house complete with large winch and railway dollies) She had not been modified at that stage (1968/9) and was still in original airforce colours with names still on the lockers in the forward crew room. The wheelhouse was varnished and the hull was white. The wheelhouse door (rear stbd of ) was varnished and louvred as was the radio shack door immediately to its left. To the right of the instrument panel and large chrome wheel was a companionway leading down to the mess room ? (the stair treads had cast aluminium oval ”British Power Boat” grips attached ) Forward through the bulkhead was a 4 berth bunk room, ahead of this a head and then a large chain locker.
Up on deck and into the radio shack you went down through a hatch via a ladder attached to the forward engine room bulkhead. At the time she was fitted with 2 Greys marine diesels which were under grey painted canvas covers port and stbd with not much else in there. We assumed they had been put in by the Airforce as an economy measure as they looked to be only around 150 – 200hp size and did not look recent. aft of the engine room was another 4 berth bunk room and another head behind that with from memory a washing area. I think there was a hatch from there to the after deck.
The owner appeared later to be experimenting with cabin styles and the first I saw (she was then moored below the new Panmure bridge early 70s) was a long flat ”ferry like” structure extending from the wheelhouse with windows along the sides which did not last long as it appeared to be too heavy and made the boat squat in the stern. Eventually she ended up as ‘Corroma’  (did not appear to have this name when we first saw her) I saw her on the hard in Tauranga many years later then later still in Bayswater marina (I think it must have been just before she was scalped as she still looked in quite good nick) I think the owner on Waiheke used her for diving charters. I did not see her for a long time after that but thanks to this site I know why. What a fantastic job Mr Uren has done, congratulations to him on keeping a classic hull flying. Not only was she one of a kind in NZ she was apparently the only one ever  delivered to the southern hemisphere . There is only one other 64ft HSL still running (HSL 102) and that is in the UK, where it was saved from houseboat status and totally rebuilt to admiralty plans by a chap who owned an engineering business. It is powered by 3x 500hp Cummings diesels with a top speed of 42 knots (now sold to British Maritime museum). He has also restored a 40ft seaplane tender and a 70ft MGB (powered by 3x Mann diesels for around 40 knots)
H1 was according to a Marine section news letter, powered by 3x 500hp Napier Lion marine engines for a speed of 38 knots. She was 64ft and built by the British Powerboat Company Of Hythe UK . Hope this was of some interest and that I have remembered things reasonably accurately, (it’s been a long time but having been lucky enough to have seen her in original condition at a young age has stuck with me all my life) I am also at present building a 36″ scale model of W1 for radio control.
If anyone is looking for info on these HSLs etc I may be able to help if you are having trouble finding anything”.

THE STORY OF W1 – one of fastest boats ever on the Waitemata

The story below & photos above from Ken Rickets is the accumulation of over 65 years of one mans fascination with this vessel. It all started when Ken was 10 years old & saw her on her moorings, adjacent to the huge flying boat hanger & apron, at Hobsonville Air Force base. This one off experience moved Ken enough to see him for the next 65 years constantly making enquiries & researching the vessel. In 2001 Ken meet with a retired WWII air force officer, who was stationed on her during her wartime service, the officer gave Ken many of the photos above. Then more recently chats with Mr Allright Jnr. the second member of that family to own her, they had her in total for 40 years, & Mr Keith Bellingham who owned her from the mid 1990s to early 2000s provided enough additional insight for Ken to put together this wonderful story about a vessel that spearheaded our WWII air force coastal maritime defenses.

(Note: Harold Kidd accompanied Ken Ricketts when he met with the retired air force officer & may be able to add more details from that encounter)

Read below & enjoy. Alan H

THE STORY OF W1  – as told by Ken Ricketts

W1 was one of 2 identical boats ordered by the RNZAF during WWII for coastal defence duties & they were named W1 & W2.

W1 arrived circa 1939  from England, where she was designed & built to a Scott Payne design.

W2 never got here, the ship that was transporting her to NZ, was torpedoed & sunk, on the way out from the UK.

W1 was powered by 3 x W12 x 1000HP (3 banks of 4 cylinders) marinised Napier Lion aircraft engines, marinised by “Power Marine” in UK. — refer photo. The engines were configured with one either side & one in the centre facing forward, & driving through a Vee drive as there was not enough width to have the 3 engines side by side.

Such was the layout, power & performance of this boat, that it required an engineer to be seated in a padded chair in the engine room with massive ear muffs, whenever she went out,  with a fire extinguisher in his hand. He also also had to control all engine controls including throttles & reverse levers, which were huge long steel arms  standing vertical on the gear boxes of the engines.

On her maiden voyage, after she arrived, it was decided, I am told, that they would go for a run to Tiri, to “try her out,” but such was her petrol consumption that they ran out of fuel at Rangitoto Lighthouse.

While W1 was a “one off” for NZ & in her day, capable of very high speeds (I was told she could do over 50 knots), as evidenced by the photos — not bad for a 64 feet vessel. There were a total of 21 of these craft built & 3 of the early boats went to South Africa & were fitted with 2 Rolls Royce aircraft engines of bigger horsepower than the Napier Lions, but Hubert Scott-Payne had a disagreement with RR & they refused to supply any more engines for the boats, hence the change to Napier Lions.

A smaller 42 foot version was built later & there is one of these in a military museum in the South Island.

She is substantially made of spruce & mahogany & the bridge was more like the flight deck of an aircraft.

I saw her many times after WWII, on her moorings adjacent to the flying boat base & slipway, at Hobsonville airport, when cruising with my parents, Ralph & Wyn Ricketts on their first boat, JULIANA, (1946-49). — I never actually saw her going anywhere, (just wish I had), but obviously she did so, however I think she had almost no use, after the war, until they eventually sold her which I think was circa late 40s or early 50s.

She had a very impressive side exhaust system just above the waterline amidships,  with 2 groups of 3 exhaust outlets one side & 1 group of 3 outlets the other side. — Have not seen many boats around that have that layout.

After the war, she was eventually sold in 1955 by tender to Mr Norm Allright, who lived in Mt Wellington, on the banks of the Panmure River, not far upstream from my parents waters edge home, at No 1 Bridge St Panmure, they could see her from their lounge windows.

Mr Allright Snr., refurbished her to a degree, for pleasure use, when he bought her off the air force & called her “CAROMA”, he also replaced the 3 Napier Lions with a matched pair of counter rotating 671 GM Detroit diesels, she still went well, as you can see in the photos. Later Mr  Allright Jnr. did a splendid job totally & massively refurbishing her in the early 1960s, see photo.

She was sold in the mid 1990s to a Mr Keith Bellingham, who had intended to do a major refasten of her hull, along with other significant work, which was in serious need of attention, however, it proved not to be cost effective & he onsold her to a man in Tauranga, who in turn sold her later to a Waiheke owner, in the later 1990s & she was moored at Waiheke at that time.

She later still, sat on a marina at Bayswater, looking very neglected & painted purple, with her beautiful cabin top, as per the photo above, removed, & generally in a serious state of disrepair, apparently, & she was there until a couple of years or so ago.

I beleive she was taken to the Silverdale industrial area after that & has been moved now, to a private property, address at the moment unknown.

Any info on her current whereabouts would be appreciated.

Harold Kidd Update

Ken is substantially right on all points. However there was a W2, a 28 footer that had been built for the NZ Permanent Air Force for use at Hobsonville to service its DH Gipsy Moth and Fairey IIIF seaplanes. There’s a good book on the subject “The Golden Age of N Z Flying Boats” by Harrison, Lockstone & Anderson. The RNZAF’s W numbering really only started after W1 arrived in 1940.

One of her first tasks was get to the NIAGARA which struck a German mine off the Hen & Chickens on 19th June 1940. The Whangarei launches, Florence among them, were on the scene first but the skipper of W1 ordered them by radio to keep away, ostensibly because of the minefield but really because he wanted the glory of getting there first. The Whangarei boats had towed the ship’s lifeboats clear however by the time W1 arrived, leaving her with only 20 people to bring back to Auckland.

Norman Allright bought her in 1948. She is now called CARROMA.

Nobody ever claimed more than 38 knots for her or her type.

Update – 10/08/2014 from Ken Ricketts

In the original post on W1 Ken spoke of the engineer  that had to be seated in the engine room with ear muffs to supervise & control  the engines & of course to guard against a fire. In the photo below you will see the engineer’s chair in front of the centre engine (3x Napier Lion 1000 HP W12’s each being 3 banks of 4 cylinders).
& the 3 leavers with the black round knobs on each one surrounding the chair. Note the centre engine is sloping forward to drive in to the vee drive unit. The noise must have been unimaginable when they were flat out.

Gearbox photos below show an original vee drive gear box that were fitted to all centre engines with the Napier Lion W12 engines.
Also one photo shows the original engine installation concept of a WI – with the 3 Napier Lion 1000 HP W 12 (3 banks of 4 cylinders) configuration engines.

The photo of the interior of the large boat shed with several boats under construction was taken at Hyde Southampton, U.K. where the British Powerboat Company owned by Hubert Scott-Payne was sited & where all the W1 family of boats were built.
Photo also of Scott-Payne the 1930’s designer of the W1.