Last month’s story on the restoration of Simon Ventura’s bridgedecker Altair prompted long-time Boating NZ subscriber Bryce Strong to get in touch and share with readers his personal memories of the boat.

I read this article with great interest and would like to add further information to it – and amend some small errors.

I believe I am qualified to comment as I had a very close relationship with a previous owner of Altair, and my brother Grant and myself served on board for the five years that she acted as a Coastguard cutter during their ownership. Additionally, I owned two boats (Apache and Matira) at separate times, both moored at Clevedon alongside Altair at this owner’s property.

Altair has certainly had more than four owners.

As per the article, she was built for Stan Horner, and while I do not know all the subsequent owners, she was at one stage owned by an airline pilot in the Picton/Nelson area (he had bought Altair in Auckland and moved her down there) and it was from him that Murray and Judy Inglis purchased her.

Murray and Judy Inglis. The couple loved and cared for Altair, using her regularly.


Murray and Judy were the owners of M & J Inglis Transport in Auckland, a mid-sized carrier transporting foodstuffs throughout New Zealand. I am not sure of the exact dates, but it was likely around 1986 when they bought Altair and they owned her until around 2007, so a period of about 21 years. Murray and Judy sold Altair to the son of a friend around 2007, and for some time she was moored at Westhaven. Later I heard that she had been on-sold to a cabinetmaker?

She has probably had 7-8 owners.

Of all the owners after Stan Horner, Murray and Judy probably carried out the most maintenance and improvements to Altair. When they bought her she had twin Ford six-cylinder engines that were getting tired, and after two or three years’ ownership Murray had them removed and replaced with the new Cummins engines and new gearboxes. And in later years he engaged a great boatbuilder, Wayne Avery, to construct the covered-in flybridge.

Altair at anchor before the enclosed flybridge was fitted.

Their home was alongside the Clevedon River, and Wayne and Murray mocked up full-sized panels in the silhouette shape of the flybridge, fixed them to the old flybridge, and then stood back on the adjoining main road to review and modify the shape until they were happy with the result. I believe that, while it altered the previous long and low shape of Altair, it proved to be a great safe and dry place from which to helm her!

Wayne Avery also carried out the replacement of a major section of the foredeck at a later stage. Murray also had the teak handrails and stainless-steel stanchions installed.

I first met the Inglises in Islington Bay in 1987, and we became friends and boated together a lot over the ensuing years. In the time when private boats were used as rescue vessels, they decide to offer Altair to Coastguard, and the four of us served aboard her about once every three or four weeks for five years. Murray was a very good skipper, handling Altair expertly.


Altair, then owned by Murray and Judy Inglis, with the enclosed flybridge built by Wayne Avery.

Murray and Judy loved Altair very much and used her very regularly. They were members of the Akarana Cruising Club and hosted some of a group of Americans who visited New Zealand. They took a couple on Altair for a cruise of the Hauraki Gulf. Later their hospitality was reciprocated in Seattle.

I am glad that the photo book of the tree and her construction have followed Altair, as it is indeed great provenance. However, I doubt if Altair is indeed 50 feet LOA. I understood that she was 42-43 feet at launch, and later four feet was added to the stern, to make the present stern cockpit. Perhaps a measure will show the actuality.

Jack Taylor must have been quite old and forgetful when he made his comments on Altair, as I remember him inspecting her on the hard at Murray’s home, so he certainly knew her – and he also socialised with Murray and Judy at their home on several occasions. He was a good surveyor and a nice chap.

It is great to see that Altair continues to be lucky – in the hands of owners who have the enthusiasm and the means to maintain and improve her, as these lovely classic wooden boats need and deserve. BNZ

Apache, Bryce’s first launch.


Apache was my first large launch, built in 1938 in Onehunga, reputedly used by American officers during the war for R&R, powered by a six-cylinder Ford Trader diesel. I owned her from 1987 to 1999 and sold her to a chap in Thames, where she still lives, very well looked after and I believe still owned by the same chap.


After selling Apache I bought Matira, a 43.5-foot ‘raised foc’sle’ launch designed and built by Collings & Bell in 1956. Single-skin kauri planked, she was powered by two four- cylinder, naturally-aspirated, 1976 Ford D Series, 75hp engines via Velvet Drive 71C hydraulic gearboxes with ‘V’ drive boxes.

She was a very attractive boat with an interesting history as a charter boat, variously running cruises in harbours down as far away as Gisborne and later dive trips from Tutukaka. I carried out much work on her during my stewardship, but that’s a story for another day. I always found her to be an excellent sea boat, never being concerned regardless of the sea state.

Since selling her she has had at least three owners. The first was a boatbuilder, who did a lovely restoration of her interior; the next owner installed new engines and gearboxes, and I last saw her swinging on a mooring in Kawau.

Matira, a very attractive and seaworthy ex-charter boat Bryce owned for many years.