Balaena – 110 Year Old Ex Whale Chaser

Balaena – 110 Year Old Ex Whale Chaser

Last Sundays Country Calendar programme on TV1 featured an amazing Marlborough family that have owned the 1912 built – Balaena for 62 years. These days Balaena has two lives – family cruiser and work boat servicing the families mussel farm. It is a great story going back to when they farmed Forsyth Island and then almost by default became mussel farmers. 

Enjoy the programme, amazing scenery and inspirational people – thanks to John Burland for sending in the video.

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Cachalot

CACHALOT

The name Cachalot has graced the stern of several whale chasers, this one if you believe the 4sale advertisement (back in 2021) was built c.1950’s by Jack Morgan. Sometime in the 1980’s her hull was refurbished (not my words) and then in 1998 the current cabin top was popped on. Being based down south, I suppose the design is best described as ‘fit for purpose’

Sadly several of these ex whale chasers with very efficient, speedy hulls, were ‘modified’ using the following items – a few sheets of plywood and a skill-saw.  Certainly no marine/naval designer was engaged. Then on the other hand we have wonderful examples like – Primadonna.

Cachalot is powered by a 210hp 8 cyl. Caterpillar 3160 engine that gives her a top speed of 12 knots. Probably quite down on her working days.

Input from Cameron Pollard – Just shows how looks can deceive you all.
This is Cachelot 2. Built by Morgan’s as a whale chaser.
Originally had a V12 gas gobbler.
1 of 3 Cachelots.
1 was destroyed.
She was cut down the middle by the Wells brother’s. A huge undertaking but they made her over 3ft wider and raised the bow for commercial use.
Nothing fazed the Wells.
Rex Sellers fished her commercially for some time with a set of gallows on bak deck.
Had a gm and then worked thru a couple of cats.
After commercial use she was pleasurised into her current form. Photos below

Primadonna

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PRIMADONNA

Primadonna is a 36′, 1905 whale chaser built by Lanes for a family with a farm in Tory Channel. Was used as a whale chaser until the end of the whaling era and then became a farm transportation boat for the same family who owned her till her current owner bought her.

She is built out of double diagonal kauri and powered with a 72hp Ford. Cruises at about 8 0r 9 knots at 1500 revs. She has accommodation for 2 and a small wheel house which you can steer from inside of the weather goes bad. Currently 4sale on trademe- thanks to Ian McDonald for the heads up.

Harold Kidd Input
There’s a bit of manufactured history here. Ernie Lane didn’t come to Picton until 1907 and doesn’t appear to have built PRIMA DONNA. Most authorities say she was built by Alf Baldick between 1910 and 1915 for himself and Derbyshire as a whalechaser to compete with the Peranos. She remained in the ownership of the Baldick family until at least 2001.
She’s been on WW before; see https://waitematawoodys.com/2017/02/27/welly-woodys/

PS the “second generation” of whalechasers used by the Baldicks were SUSSEX and PEERLESS, in competition with the Peranos’ CRESCENT, BALAENA and CACHALOT. Ernie Lane built SUSSEX and PEERLESS for the Baldicks in 1916. Lane built the Peranos’ CRESCENT and BALAENA but CACHALOT was built in 1916 to a design by Chas. Collings by Kensitt at Picton. She was the THIRD generation of whalechaser and had a 130/150 hp Van Blerck, typical Collings’ concave-convex hard chine planing hull.

Update 24-05-2020 photos below added ex trademe listing

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The Evolution of a Whale Chaser

Rorqual 1986

The Evolution of a Whale Chaser
The photo ex Paul Drake (others ex Chris Miller)

Yesterday was one of those days when ww turns up a gem. There are a few photos from the early days c.1960 of the Jack Morgan designed & built Perano whale chaser Rorqual & there are also lots of present days photos but to the best of my knowledge there were none of her in the ‘between years’.

Then whamo out of the blue Paul Drake sends me the above photo of Rorqual hauled out at Mana, just north of Wellington, in about 1986. This would be just before she was rebuilt /re-powered in 1988.
As Paul commented looking at her lying over on her chine, one could be forgiven for fearing for her future, but of course she survived.

Searching ‘Rorqual’ in the ww Search Box will show you a lot more detail, or if your tight on time, this link will taken to a great story on her past https://waitematawoodys.com/2013/03/21/the-launching-of-rorqual/
Now the question for her owners Andrew & Alex Millers (sons of Chris Miller)  –  when is she booked into the time-machine for a trip back to 1986? 😉

Evolution Gallery Below

Rorqual and others

Rorqual 1

Rorqual 1986

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