Zircon made her debut on WW back in November 2015, when she had been purchased by Kevin Peet. At the time Kevin knew very little about Zircon’s provenance, over the next 4 years with the help of several WW readers, mostly past owners, we have ‘unpeeled’ her past. You can read / view this at the WW link below, make sure you read the comments sections – lots of chat there. https://waitematawoodys.com/2015/11/04/zircon/
In a nut seal – she is 34’ in length, built by Phil Lange in 1964, carvel hull and is still powered by her original 130hp, Perkins 645 diesel engine.
Fast forward to last week (Jan. 2020) and I was contacted by Matt Fearnley whose 84 year old father, Don Fearnley, bought Zircon in the mid/late 1960’s and owner her until 1979. Matt lives in Perth and mentioned that he was catching up with his father and would send in some details and photos from the Zircon’s past – I have reproduced Matt’s note to me below, enjoy the read 🙂
“Well I spent the afternoon reminiscing with Dad about the old boat – it almost brought a tear to his eye. Great stories that I’ve heard a million times before but never get tired of.
Anyway here’s what dad told me that may be of interest :
Dad bought the boat in 1965 from a bloke called Chamberlain from Chamberlains Island? (Probably Ponui from what I’ve read on your site). The boat was called ‘Bette’ after Chamberlain’s wife and had been used to pull the barge mentioned on your site, and also cart sheep to the island. According to Dad the boat had little use and was like new. He paid 4000 pound – and Mum didn’t know until a stranger knocked on her door to say Dad could have the boat! Those were the days. I’d be gelded if I tried that….
Dad renamed the boat Zircon for a simple reason – He was in the coast guard at the time and had a jet-boat he had built at night-school called ‘Zip’ (because it was fast! – photo below of Zip on the trailer behind the EH wagon). Dad had the only boat that started with ‘Z’ in the coast guard, and he liked that hence the new boat had to start with a ‘Z’ too. Hence the birth of Zircon.
One of the photos shows ‘Bette’ at anchor on the Wade River just prior to purchase.
The boat was used for many search and rescues including one near Gt Barrier Island during a bad storm and some damage was sustained to the hull. The story goes that Dad and his mates secured Zircon to some trees at high tide and when the tide went out they were able to effect some running repairs – not bad considering it’s a 12 1/2 ton boat.
Dad had some mods done in Auckland (Milford) before we moved to the BOI where the boat became part of the family, used every weekend for family and the local dive club. More mods done around ’74- ’75 on Arthur Smith’s slip opposite Opua. Dad added the fore-deck and the faux flybridge (no steering or controls) plus some other general maintenance.
Mum and Dad bought a bach at Whangaruru in 1977 and after that the boat sat at the mooring in Opua to be used by seagulls only. It was a very sad day when it sold but we were glad to know it was being re-modeled at Ashby’s boatyard to be loved by a new family.
Thanks for the site Alan. You’ve put a smile on Dads face and he loved looking at the new photos, and to know the new owners have kept the only ‘Z’ in the coast guard.
Hope the above answers some questions the new owners may have.”
The photo below of Te Kouma, is a cracker – lots of woodys there, have asked Matt to check to see if a higher res version of the photo exists.
If Kevin Peet still owns Zircon – sends us some photos 😉