Air Force Orions to retire

The horizon can hoodwink observers peering through the slightly convex portholes set into the side of a P3K Orion. At first it appears horizontal then switches to a vertical line as the big plane pivots around a wing tip in a gut-wrenching turn.

Watching the broad wings carve through the air it’s easy to wonder how many 52-year old rivets are holding it together and what sort of shape they’re in. From 2023 the throaty roar of the turbo-prop engines will be replaced by the whoosh of jet units when four, new P8-A Boeing Poseidon’s take over the watch.

(Royal New Zealand Navy Photo by Petty Officer Chris Weissenborn).

The first hint of the impending aerobatics crackled over the head-phones as the captain worked through the checklist for an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise east of Auckland.

“Oh – and could someone give the passenger a sick bag please?” he added.

I had just munched my way through a big plate of steaming curry. “I hope you’re not prone to seasickness?” a crew member asked as he collected my empty plate a few minutes earlier. “Even if you’ve never been seasick – these things will do it to you.”

The 11-person crew went about its work while the plane pirouetted across the sky. Two pilots, one either side of the cockpit, operated the 36m-long aircraft with a flight engineer seated between them, monitoring its systems. The next seat aft is taken by a radio operator, head-phoned to a bank of radios that include HF (single sideband), marine VHF and other links to air traffic control and shoreside search coordinators.

(Royal New Zealand Navy Photo by Petty Officer Chris Weissenborn).

Next aft, in the small dinette area, I sat watching the porthole view change from sea to sky and back again, bracing against a bulkhead while I struggled to keep my curry down. Finally the big aircraft flattened off and I swallowed great gulps of air as I regained gastric composure.
“Well done,” a rating patted my shoulder, while some of the four “sensor operators” – hunched over radar screens arrayed on the port side of the darkened fuselage – smiled and waved. Among them were two navigators, using inertial navigations system (INS) and GPS to provide the data that keeps the plane on course or aiming at a target.

Pre-flight checks can take up to an hour before the 58-tonne aircraft lifts off her Whenuapai runway and heads at 750kph (405 knots) for the search area. “We get all the information about the target vessel from the National Rescue Coordination Centre (NRCC),” Flight Lieutenant Donaldton explained. “Vessel name, number of people aboard, size, type, colour and rig.”

(Royal New Zealand Navy Photo by Petty Officer Chris Weissenborn).

The Orion crews also take photographs of vessels they see in the course of their regular patrols and keep them in an archive to give them an idea what they’re looking for.

“Why do yachties paint their boats white?” he queried. “They should get the chance to do our job and see how hard it is to see a white boat in rough seas.”

On search and rescue missions the Orion crew is supplemented by up to four observers to help out with the eye work. They are exchanged at 30-minute intervals to prevent eye strain.

After several minutes of aerobatic ballet – or perhaps because the passenger hadn’t used the sick bag – the Orion’s engine tone relaxed and settled into cruise mode. Minimum speed is about 259kph (140 knots) but most search and rescue work is carried out at 370kph (200 knots).
The plane’s maximum range is 7,100km (3,850nm) but, once it arrives at the search area, endurance can be extended to 15 hours by closing down two of the four 4,600bhp Allison T6 engines. An onboard gas turbine generator provides power for the plane’s systems and compressed air for engine starting.

A safety margin of about five percent is kept in her 34,000-litre wing fuel tanks. The navigators also keep a running track of landing options at one of the country’s 16 approved airports.

Although human eyes are a big component in search and rescue work, radar systems (retrofitted in the early 1980s) are also used. The system works on four, eight, 16, 32, 64 and 150nm range scales but it’s effectiveness depends on the plane’s altitude.

(Royal New Zealand Navy Photo by Petty Officer Chris Weissenborn).

“One time we did two day’s flying looking for a missing yacht,” radar observer Sergeant John Fitch recalled. “We didn’t see a thing – not a skerrick. As we were flying home we picked up a faint contact on the radar about 50 miles out. We got all buoyed up – whooping and slapping each other on the back, thinking we’d found it. But it was just a power pole – floating vertically in the water, with about one metre above the surface. We were gutted.”

Yachts stand a much better chance of being found if they use a radar reflector,” he added. “We easily pick up a fibreglass yacht with a metal mast at 15nm. A yacht still carrying a mast is three times easier to pick up than a dismasted one because an aluminium mast gives a much better radar signal. A wooden boat with wooden mast is hardest to pick up.”

The Infrared Detection System (IRDS) can detect a yacht from three to four miles – or a person in the water – by focussing on body heat. Part of the plane’s operational brief is surveillance flights over Antarctica where the IRDS can locate individual penguins by their body heat.

RNZAF 5 Squadron’s Orion brief is wide-ranging. The planes have flown disaster relief missions to cyclone- or tsunami-battered Pacific Islands and sharp-eyed crew members have picked up lost local fishermen, drifting miles from home in small wooden or fibreglass boats. I once met a big, smiling Samoan man named ‘Orion’ who presumably was born about nine months after his father’s rescue.

In 2017, 5 Squadron spent 116 flying hours on nine search and rescue missions and the latest available statistics, from January – June last year, show 127 flying hours taken to carry out seven missions.

But the acme of their search and rescue work was June, 1994, when a fleet of Tonga-bound yachts was hammered by heavy weather. In one of the largest maritime rescue missions ever, the Orion crews flew hundreds of hours in often challenging conditions. Many sailors were saved due to their efforts, but three lives and seven yachts were lost.

The operational altitude range for the Orions is listed as between sea level and 9,150m but crew don lifejackets as soon as they start operating below 305m. “We only have 15 seconds if we’re forced to ditch at that altitude,” Donaldton said. Salt water is washed off the fuselage after extended low-level search and rescue operations.

The RNZAF bought Orion 4201 and four others (4202 – 4205) new in 1966 and another one from the Royal Australian Air Force in 1985. They received a partial electronics upgrade in the 1980s and new wings, stabilisers and engine nacelles during Operation Kestrel in 1997. Further electronic updates were planned for Operation Irius a few years later.

(Royal New Zealand Navy Photo by Petty Officer Chris Weissenborn).

But like a shovel which has had a dozen handles but is still the same shovel, the operational life of the Orions ends in 2025 and the distinctive roar of their huge engines will be gone from our skies.

The four Boeing P8-A Poseidon patrol aircraft that will replace them, come at a price of $2.3billion – including training systems, infrastructure and commissioning costs.

Whenuapai-based Number 5 Squadron has operated the ageing Orions over the millions of square kilometres of ocean that make up our EEZ – fourth largest in the world and the largest search and rescue territory. The squadron is relocating to Ohakea near Bulls where the new planes will have more runway to take off on and space to handle their heavy-duty weaponry.

(U.S Navy photo by Personnel Specialist 1st Class Anthony Petry/Released)

The Poseidon is no newbie when it comes to surveillance work and it is already operated by the Indian Air Force, RAAF, RAF, USAF, the Royal Norwegian Air Force and Canada.

When they take to our skies in 2023, any seafarers who’ve triggered a Mayday call may not recognise the fuselage but the black kiwi centred in red, white and blue rondels will remain the same.

Lockheed P3K Orion
Wing span 30m
Length 36m
Weight 57.8 tonnes
Payload 9,000kg
Speed 750 km/h
Ceiling 9,150m
Range 7,100km
Crew 11

 Boeing P-8A Poseidon
Wing span 37.64m
Length 39.47m
Weight 62 tonnes
Payload 26,400kg
Speed 902 km/h
Ceiling 12,496m
Range 22,200km (with four hours on station)
Crew 9

T H E C A T C H: Fishing the sweetwater

For a variety of reasons fishing freshwater has kind of fallen off my radar.
I’m no longer really up for the one-day missions of the past, getting up in the early hours of the morning to drive south for several hours, fish all day and then drive back to Auckland in the dark. It’s also harder to find mates keen for this kind of caper, because they’re all at similar stages in their own lives.
The truth is, I can seldom spare a whole weekend to go fishing, and living in Auckland, a weekend is really what’s required to access and enjoy good trout fishing. Unfortunately, my wife is not especially charmed by Turangi, and since neither she nor my daughter much like fishing, a weekend on the river has limited family appeal. Suggesting a couple of days in Rotorua has a better chance of success, but fishing has to fit around ‘family’ activities. Consequently, I hardly go freshwater fishing anymore.

But a day on the Parana River during a recent family holiday to Argentina has really rekindled my interest in fishing the sweetwater. I thoroughly enjoyed the freshwater environment, the smell of the river, the wildlife and of course the fishing, though it was very different from home.
The target species wasn’t trout, or even carp, which I sometimes catch in New Zealand, but golden dorado, a spectacular looking, hard-pulling sportfish that inhabits many of the larger rivers of South America. I caught one, a small specimen, but hooked two much larger examples that leaped about spectacularly before eventually throwing the hooks.
Dorado have very hard jaws and a mouth full of teeth, so setting the hooks securely is difficult: a landed-to-hooked ratio of one in three dorado is apparently par for the course.
In addition to dorado, we caught powerful surubi catfish and scrappy piranha on baits of live catfish, as well as wolf fish on surface lures from among floating mats of vegetation. It was exotic, interesting and exciting fishing.
Ironically, our guide Alejandro, who also guides clients on the wonderful trout fisheries of Patagonia, was full of questions about trout fishing in New Zealand. From the stories of international anglers he had guided, he knew all about the rainbows of the Tongariro River and the South Island’s worldclass brown trout fishing. He was dead-keen to sample New Zealand fishing for himself.
Talking with Alejandro made me realise how much I’d missed the lakes and rivers of home. New Zealand’s trout fishing is rightly world-famous, but it is often undervalued by New Zealanders. Despite the best efforts of Fish and Game, including the introduction of affordable fishing licenses for families, weekend licenses and free licenses for kids under 10 years old, license sales to Kiwis continue to decline. That’s a shame, because high-quality trout fishing is relatively cheap and easy to access in this country, which is one of the reasons it draws so many tourist fishers from overseas.

Of course, freshwater fishing is more popular with Kiwis in some parts of New Zealand than in others. In the North Island, the central region encompassing Taupo and its environs, the Rotorua Lakes, and the many rivers and lakes of the surrounding ranges attract large numbers of trout fishers.
In the South Island, the MacKenzie Country has become a mecca for anglers, mostly from Christchurch, but also other parts of New Zealand, Australia and further afield. Keen fishers often set up for days beside the hydro canals hoping to catch gigantic rainbow and brown trout that have grown fat on fish pellets that fall through the salmon farm cages that are a feature of the canals. Escaped salmon, some also very large, are another drawcard.
This is a unique fishery where catching a 10kg trout barely raises an eyebrow.

Although ‘wilderness’ fly fishing in pristine wild rivers of New Zealand’s back country is internationally famous, most Kiwis fish for trout in lakes.
Anglers can use a variety of methods to fish for lake-dwelling trout, either from the shore or out of a boat. Freshwater fishing is more closely regulated than sea fishing, with size and bag limits, closed seasons and restrictions on the tackle and techniques. A thorough knowledge of the fishing regulations is advisable.
But fishing for trout is not otherwise difficult.
Fly-fishing is perhaps the most challenging method, but it’s hugely satisfying to master. Spin-fishing is relatively easy, though it takes practice and the ability to read the water to consistently catch fish.
Trolling – towing lures behind a slowly moving boat – is the simplest and most popular method. It’s practised all over New Zealand, especially in the major lakes of both main islands. Trolling can be a relaxed, social affair that’s great for families, as I keep trying to convince my wife, and many South Island lakes hold salmon in addition to trout, which adds another dimension to the fishing.
Harling – trolling a spoon or fly behind the boat on a monofilament line, a sinking fly line, Deepwater Express, LED (lead-impregnated Dacron) line or a line incorporating a sinking tip section – is a popular method at change of light. It is usually only effective when trout are patrolling in shallow water or feeding within a few metres of the surface.
When trout and salmon are holding deeper in the water, perhaps underneath the thermocline, trolling lures at depth using fast-sinking metal or metal-cored lines works better.
Deep trolling in lakes is still mostly done using reels spooled with lead-cored Dacron (leadcore) line, or more rarely copper or Monel (single-strand stainless steel) wire lines. Trolling with leadcore lines effectively presents lures down to 15m deep (10 colours/100m of leadcore line). Wire lines fish even deeper.
Where it’s permitted, the use of downriggers has transformed trolling, allowing anglers to fish deep using much lighter, more sporting fishing tackle. Regulations around downriggers differ between Fish and Game regions and even between lakes in the same region, including the length of downrigger cable allowed. In Lake Taupo, 40m of cable is allowed, which takes lures to a maximum depth of around 30m.
Skilled trollers use local knowledge, bathymetric charts and electronic aids such as fish finders (including forward and sidescanning sonars) and GPS-plotters to locate fish.

Other options for boat fishers include fly fishing from a drifting or anchored boat using sinking or floating fly lines tipped with wet flies/lures, dry flies or nymphs, fishing lightly weighted soft plastics and jigging.
Shore fishers can spin-fish, fly-fish, or cast soft plastics, but like boat fishers, there may be restrictions on where and when they can fish and the tackle and techniques they can use.
Jigging is a relatively new fishing style. Lures/flies are lowered to a depth where fish are expected to swim, or better, are visible on the fish finder. The boat may be anchored or allowed to slowly drift over fish holding areas; electric trolling motors can be used to control the drift or hold the boat in place. The jigging rig – usually up to three smelt-type flies and a sinker – is very gently ‘jigged’ up and down. Low-stretch braided lines, light traces and long, sensitive rods are used for this style of fishing, which is a fun and highly effective way to catch trout especially in the warmer months. BNZ

Boating to a beat: IN THE GROOVE

Ask any Kiwi boatie to name the first brand of marine stereo that comes to mind, and the name most likely to come out is ‘Fusion’.
This market leadership is the result of nearly two decades of continuous growth since Fusion was founded in a shed by Kurt McNall in 1998. He was soon joined by brother Stuart and father Colin, and they worked hard in those formative years to develop a name for reliable and stylish innovation.
The investment in 2006 by Sir Peter Maire, better known as the founder of Navman, gave the company the capital it needed to expand its product range and enter into new markets.
What most Kiwis are probably not aware of, though, is that this domestic market dominance also extends beyond our shores. According to managing director Chris Baird, the company leads the market throughout Europe. In fact, 75 percent of boats manufactured in Europe will likely come with one of Fusion’s extensive range of marine stereos factory-installed.
The USA is an even more competitive market, with 17 or 18 brands of marine entertainment systems available. These include the massive Japanese brands like Sony, Kenwood and Clarion, and yet, even in this heated market Fusion is still the dominant brand. Baird says Fusion’s had steady growth in this region for the last decade, helped by its acquisition by electronics giant Garmin in 2014.

Fusion now focuses entirely on the premium marine audio market; it abandoned its car audio range last year, citing the fact that car audiophiles are in decline and that this had become a low-margin business where price is more important than good sound.
The unforgiving nature of the marine environment means that this is a sector where excellent quality and superb engineering are both essential and valued – cheap-and-nasty doesn’t survive.
Baird says all Fusion products remain designed and engineered in New Zealand, despite the company now being owned by a USA-based mega-corporation with three factories in Taiwan and other manufacturing in China.
An Aussie by birth, Baird says the can-do attitude of Kiwi engineers and innovators is what attracted him to the company.
Our approach of being able to do more with less and becoming world leaders in the field means he has no plans to leave our shores anytime soon.
He is also passionate about what he does, and says that is what he looks for in staff. As a result, many of the lead engineers have been with the company for a decade or more, just like Baird himself.
During the 2008 GFC, when many companies were forced to make large and painful cutbacks, Fusion retained all of its engineering staff. When the economy rallied they were ahead of the competition and have not looked back since.
He says the company still invests hugely in R&D, an extension of the early decision never to do any re-badging of other products or become a ‘me too’ company. This philosophy continues to pay dividends, with the company picking up the Innovation Award at this year’s Hutchwilco Boat Show.

This was for its revolutionary Apollo series of marine stereo, being the first ever marine audio device with a one-piece glass touch display. The Apollo also incorporates WiFi ‘PartyBus’, to enable the streaming of audio to other devices on the boat without requiring physical cabling between the components.
Another standout product highlighted at the show was Fusion’s all-in-one Panel Stereo, which takes care of the cabling issues normally associated with installing an audio head unit and separate speakers.
With a pair of matched speakers and a large surface bass radiator all built into the same slimline enclosure with the Class-D amplifier, the unit can be surface-mounted on to any suitable bulkhead or panel. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity enables streaming of your favourite music from your choice of device. And of course, it’s IP65-sealed against water and dust ingress.
Baird says Fusion’s market share in New Zealand has been on the back of fantastic support from the local marine industry. “Without it, we wouldn’t have had the base to build our business internationally.”
The acquisition by Garmin, he adds, provided financial stability with a rock-solid company of a size that is hard to conceive for a Kiwi start-up. Headquartered in Kansas City, the company employs more than 3,100 engineers and designers – nearly a quarter of its 11,500 staff and associates worldwide.
Garmin is active in the marine, aeronautical, fitness and smartwatch markets. Its products range to some fairly extreme environments – from 100m below the sea for the Descent GPS
Dive Computer, through to an altitude of 12,000m on the flight deck of an aircraft with its flight deck displays.

The aspect of Garmin’s engineering philosophy that most surprised and pleased Baird was the huge testing regime, and the resources that were made available to Fusion to support this.
A philosophy of extreme testing influences the designs and ultimately enables the company to build better products, not necessarily cheaper ones. Garmin also owns its manufacturing facilities, ensuring it has full control over the quality of the end-product.
Most of its products are manufactured in one of three factories in Taiwan, with the exception of the speakers which are made at the factory in China (as is 90 percent of the world’s production of speakers).
This history of engineering-led innovation has enabled Fusion to pull off its latest coup with SeaRay boats. Part of the massive American Brunswick corporation, SeaRay claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of pleasure boats.
When Fusion recently visited SeaRay in Knoxville, Tennessee to showcase its latest range, the team was unaware that the company was about to sign up a competitor for a new three-year supply deal for marine entertainment systems for all its boats.

According to Baird, the company put the immediate brakes on that deal, asking, “how can we allow our competitors to have an advantage over us for the next three years?” Instead, it signed a deal with Fusion that will see the products installed as standard-fit audio entertainment products across the entire range of SeaRay vessels, from sport boats to yachts.
Baird believes that the meeting was brought about in no small part thanks to New Zealand’s America’s Cup success. He says his sales and marketing team travels extensively, valuing the face-to-face meeting over any sort of electronic communication, and says many Kiwis may not fully appreciate the response when they introduce themselves as being from New Zealand.
“That’s a clever country,” or words to that effect, is the common sentiment, and companies are more often receptive than not.
Despite the negative points of view sometimes espoused locally about the America’s Cup being a rich man’s sport, Baird says it’s been impressed on the rest of the world that throwing money at something does not always buy the best.
The right attitude, good design and plain hard work are what have made New Zealand world-leaders in so many sectors, and he is excited about Auckland again showcasing to the world when we host the next America’s Cup up in 2021.
Conveniently, Fusion’s head-office is about 800m from the team bases on the Auckland Viaduct. BNZ

Extreme Sailing: POLE around the POLE

A self-described adventurist, Koper enjoys sailing in some of the planet’s most obscure (and extreme) places. Let’s see – his resumé includes extensive sailing in and around the Arctic Circle, transiting the Northwest Passage, two previous trips to Antarctica (one beyond the 78th parallel), sailing around Cape Horn (twice) – and now, a circumnavigation of the frozen continent.
I thought asking ‘why’ would be a good way to start the interview.
“I like challenges – and I love Antarctica.”

This circumnavigation – 72 days, non-stop under sail – has been ratified by Guinness World Records and the World Sailing Record Council as the ‘southernmost’ circumnavigation of the continent by a yacht. The boat remained just off the ice, sailing clockwise (west-to-east) between the 60th and 70th parallels for the entire voyage. The previous record (in a much wider band, between the 45th and 60th parallels), was 102 days.
To get around the ice-cap within the narrow ‘summer’ window available to sailors, the boat left Cape Town on 23rd December 2017. She arrived in Hobart, Tasmania, in April, nearly 16,000 miles later.
Koper’s choice of vessel for these adventures is a 22m Oyster 72 (he’s owned various other vessels before, including a smaller Oyster, Katharsis I). Built in GRP, Katharsis II is a heavy, robust yacht (50 tonnes) and, though she doesn’t have strengthened bows, her 225hp Perkins engine is perfectly adequate, he says, for pushing through the ice. Since her launching in 2009, she has carried Koper some 120,000 nautical miles.
Sailing around Antarctica sounds hellish – well, a coldish hell. Is it?
“Actually, the wind in the roaring forties and furious fifties is much worse. Around those latitudes the prevailing wind is westerly, and it’s rarely mild. But once you slip below 60 South the wind is much more variable – about 40 percent headwinds, about 30 percent following, and about 30 percent very little wind.

“In fact, we were becalmed on more than a few occasions, and because we wanted to do the circumnavigation under sail only, it became a little frustrating. But on the other hand, we also sheltered in the lee of icebergs when the weather turned nasty. So it’s very mixed.”
Katharsis II is equipped with sophisticated weather monitoring gear – does that help in plotting the route?
“To a limited degree. The weather radar and satellite imaging show an approaching low, but its position and, more importantly, its depth, aren’t particularly precise. And the weather forecasts – such as they are – aren’t really reliable. Besides, the weather changes very quickly down there.
“Judging the ice situation is a little more tricky. There is no ice forecast – only satellite maps. So while you’re seeing the ice field in real time, you have to make your own judgements about its movement and likely change in direction.
“Even though we remained between the 60th and 70th parallels – supposedly well clear of the ice, we still came into contact with it. Icebergs aren’t the problem – they’re easy to see and you can sail around them – or, indeed, shelter behind them.
“But the growler ice – just on the surface – is much more difficult to see and it’s very dangerous. On three occasions we were semi-trapped in it, but fortunately managed to sail free. Sailing through ice demands a gently-does-it strategy – you push your way through. Speed is not a good idea.”

The boat was also covered in ice from time-to-time.
“Even though her Dyneema sheets handle the cold better because they don’t absorb as much water, they still froze and it’s very difficult to work with solid lines. Some of the instruments were also affected – including the anemometer. So you don’t really have an accurate grasp of the wind’s strength. The dial might show 25 knots – but it’s actually blowing 40 knots.
“We weathered 18 storms during the trip. Fortunately, the Oyster is an excellent heavy-weather vessel. In 50-60 knots she is very happy with a fourth reef in the main – that’s about the size of a trysail – and a well-reefed staysail.”
Still, for all the hardship, says Koper, Antarctica is one of the most majestic parts of the planet – “it’s difficult to describe the silence, the grandeur, the clarity of the colours on a sunny day, the raw power of the elements. Sailing among the whales is a wonderful experience, and the birdlife is sublime.”
While the record-breaking circumnavigation was the prime focus, Koper also used the voyage to participate in two oceanographic projects. One was deploying three sophisticated buoys which will collect various types of data over the next few years; the other collecting water samples for monitoring the presence of micro-plastic particles.
“We were keen to do something to help with research into areas of the Southern Ocean which are rarely visited – if ever – by scientists. And the research was conducted under the auspices of the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oceanology. Among our crew members was one of the Academy’s professors, Piotr Kukliński.”

The buoys will drift around the continent for a number of years but will spend much of the time under water. They are programmed to sink to depths of 2,000m, collect data, and then resurface to transmit that data to satellites. Each will submerge and resurface some 100,000 times per annum.
“Specifically, the buoys will monitor sea temperatures at various depths, the speed and direction of ocean currents, salinity – that sort of thing. They will help to identify changes in climate and give scientists a better idea of how the continent might be affected over coming decades.”
Checking for the presence of micro-plastics, says Koper, was a little easier.
“Going through the convergence zone, the objective was to check for micro-plastic particles. We chose 10 locations staggered around the continent. We would slow the boat, deploy a specialist net and drag it for 30 minutes to collect the samples. These have been sent to land-based laboratories for analysis.”
Anyone who’s spent any time bluewater sailing will appreciate that when a crew lives together in confined spaces for an extended period, things can become – um, a little brittle. How does Katharsis II’s crew stay sane?
“We typically sail with nine – me and eight crew,” says Koper. “And I know many of your readers will think 100 days together sounds like an eternity. I guess it helps that the crew members are all Polish. And many of them are ‘core’ crew. They’ve been on most of the voyages. So we all know each other very well. Still, everyone welcomes the opportunity for a bit of shore freedom in places like Auckland.”

Katharsis II will spend the New Zealand winter in Auckland while Koper enjoys a sunny break in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. While here she will enjoy some much-needed TLC – including the fitting of a new boom, courtesy of Southern Spars.
The yacht has a carbon-fibre rig, and soon after completing the Antarctic circumnavigation, just when the crew were celebrating their accomplishment and thinking the worst was behind them, they ran into a series of storms on the way to Hobart. The boom snapped in a crashgybe, forcing the boat to limp the remaining 1,000 nautical miles to Hobart under foresails only – and perversely, in very light winds.
As yet Koper has no firm plans. Though he has previously circumnavigated New Zealand, he has never visited her sub-Antarctic islands – Auckland and Campbell – so that’s one possibility. “These islands are renowned for their birdlife – seeing it would be fantastic.”
But there is another drawcard – back on the other side of the planet, above the Arctic Circle – the north-east passage across the top of Russia.
Of course.
I don’t want to sound pedantic, but just how does the boat’s name fit into this lifestyle? My dictionary’s definition of ‘catharsis’ has zero reference to high-stress sailing in extreme conditions.
“It was my daughter’s suggestion – she thought it was a good name at a particular point in my life. For me, sailing is an invigorating experience and despite the conditions, it always brings an element of peace. It also provides a welcome ‘distance’ from my business – and that’s always relaxing. So the name is kind of appropriate – and even though the English word is spelt with a C, it derives from the Greek word, where it’s spelt with a K.”
But there is also a far more prosaic reason for the name.
“One of my previous yachts was called Kiwi – yes, a New Zealand boat. I bought her in Europe – many years ago – but the seller wanted to keep the name. I know it’s bad luck to change a boat’s name, but I didn’t have a choice. Katharsis was of a sort of compromise – at least the names begin with the same letter.”
A krazy Pole having another katharsis in Kiwiland. Sounds kinda kool.

Vintage View: HMS PRIZE, new beginnings

The Great War ripped the soul from the New Zealand public – but it also seeded a much-needed enthusiasm for the sport
of yachting. By Harold Kidd.

My generation took for granted the shell-shocked and maimed men in the shops and the streets, the damaged fathers, the uncles dead at Gallipoli and Passchendaele, the pain, the disenchantment and the bitterness. But there were positives arising from their shared comradeship under arms.
During the Great Depression that followed the war, their service experience and connections helped them to cope with the adversity and to look after one another. Again, they rose to weather the new World War in 1939 and the real threat of a Japanese invasion while our troops were in North Africa fighting Rommel’s Afrika Corps.
Indeed, there were some outstanding feats of courage by New Zealand servicemen during the Great War that inspired the country. In a recent article I told the story of yachtsman Cyril Bassett who won the Victoria Cross at Chunuk Bair on the Gallipoli Peninsula. This time it’s the turn of Lieutenant Commander W.E. Sanders who won the Victoria Cross in command of the Q Ship, HMS Prize.

From the outset of war in August 1914 German submarines presented a serious menace to British shipping. One of the methods the Royal Navy devised to destroy submarines was the use of armed decoy ships, known as “Q Ships”. These were innocent-looking vessels, flying neutral flags, often small sailing craft which were not worth a torpedo to a submarine. The Germans usually surfaced alongside such small fry and sank them by gunfire.
HMS Prize was one of these. She got that name from being the first prize vessel captured by a British cruiser a few hours after the declaration of war. She was the German topsail schooner Else.
The Admiralty took her over, fitted her with twin 50hp engines, two 12-pounder guns as main armament, one of which was concealed in a collapsible deckhouse and the other in the after hold, radio gear, and Lewis and Maxim machine guns. Sanders commanded her during her brief active service.
Sanders was a 34-year old Aucklander, a pupil of Takapuna Primary School. He had been at sea since he was 16, first as a cabin boy on the coaster Kapanui, then offshore in the merchant navy after he got his Master’s ticket.

In 1916 he went to England and was commissioned in the Royal Naval Reserve. His first taste of action was as second-incommand of the Q Ship HMS Heligoland, rigged as a brig, which had some hair-raising actions with German submarines from September 1916.
Prize was based at Milford Haven on the Welsh coast.
Sanders’ first offensive patrol was in the Atlantic, south of Ireland. On the evening of 30 April, 1917 he sighted the submarine U-93 approaching on the surface. The staged “panic party” manned the ship’s boat and pulled away. As soon as the submarine was in range, the White Ensign was hauled up and the 12-pounders were cleared.
They scored immediate hits on the submarine, blowing its captain and two others over the side, later rescued by Prize’s boat. Although Prize was heavily damaged in the action, and holed, she managed to return to base. For this action Sanders was awarded the Victoria Cross. The Q Ship programme was so secret that the Admiralty released no details of the action.
Three weeks later, after repairs, Sanders took Prize out on patrol again. On 12 June they encountered submarine UC-75 which approached the Q Ship with its gun in action. Holding her fire until the range closed, Prize opened up with its 12-pounders, but the submarine was able to submerge and escape, taking with it an accurate description of the Q Ship. Sanders was awarded a DSO for this action.
On 13 August 1917 Prize was out on patrol again, flying the Swedish flag, paired with the British submarine D6. This time it was UB-48 that closed on Prize; again the “panic party” took to the boat, again Prize returned fire with her machine guns and 12-pounders, again the submarine escaped, but lurked in the vicinity.
In the middle of the night of 14 August 1917, Prize showed a flash of light, maybe a matelot surreptitiously lighting a fag. UB-48 fired two torpedoes, the second a direct hit. Prize disintegrated in a terrific explosion. There were no survivors of her 27-man crew.
Paradoxically, the war affected New Zealand yachting in many positive ways. Many more youngsters were inducted into sailing to take the place of yachtsmen “at the Front”. After the war there was a vast increase in the numbers and types of small centre-boarders to meet their needs, while returning soldiers and sailors just wanted to go sailing.
After the armistice the pent-up desire to sail snowballed into a giant wave of enthusiasm that was out of step with the pre-1914 understanding that the future of the sport was in motorboats of one kind or another.
W.A. “Wilkie” Wilkinson was a pivotal figure in the sport. He had been the editor of the excellent New Zealand Yachtsman magazine which flourished from 1908 until 1918 and, post war, was “Speedwell”, the yachting correspondent of the Auckland Star. In 1916 he had promoted the New Zealand Yachtsman 14-footer design by Gladwyn Bailey as a onedesign class for competition.
Wilkinson was influenced by the Waitemata Dinghy Sailing Club’s wholesome restricted 14-footers which showed brief promise in Auckland between 1908 and 1910 but then migrated, mainly to Kawhia. In late 1916 Chas. Bailey Jr’s yard started building the first example, Desert Gold, named after a crack racehorse of the period, for Joe Patrick and Frank Cloke, engine drivers with N.Z. Railways.
She won the class for 14-footers in the North Shore Yacht Club, Auckland Anniversary and Ponsonby Cruising Club regattas in early 1917 but had little competition, being pushed by only Dixie of Jick Rogers, the sole remaining WDSC 14 left in Auckland. Desert Gold spent most of the following two years hauled out at Bailey’s yard without competition until Walter Bailey’s sons, Reg and Norman, built Betty in late 1918.

This was a difficult period. Many of our servicemen were overseas until well into 1919; the Spanish ‘Flu epidemic had caused huge civilian deaths at home in 1918 and 1919, and meetings and sports events were heavily curtailed to hinder the spread of the disease.
Bill Endean (see Vintage Perspectives, May 2018) was back from service with the RNVR in motor launches of the Dover
Patrol in early 1919. The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron had facilitated the recruitment of yachtsmen and launch owners to join the “wavy Navy” as experienced boat handlers.
Bill’s experience was comprehensive. He had been associated for years with the coastal cutters like Esk, Janet and Hauturu owned by his brother Jack and Capt. Edward Parris and had crewed on the 35ft launch Manu, built by Bailey & Lowe in 1913 and owned by his partner in law practice, J. A. Holloway.

In late 1920, after his thwarted attempt to buy the King of Tonga’s superyacht Onelua, Endean ordered a one-design 14-footer from Chas. Bailey. At the same time, Lord Jellicoe, the commander of the British Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland and a yachtsman, was appointed Governor-General and expressed considerable interest in the class.
Endean’s boat was under construction at Bailey’s yard but he graciously ceded the boat to Jellicoe who promptly set about racing the new 14-footer. He named it Iron Duke, after his flagship at Jutland. I suspect that Bill Endean would have called her Prize in honour of Sanders’ Prize.
Jellicoe was hugely popular with the New Zealand public. The silversmiths Walker & Hall donated a handsome trophy for competition in the class among New Zealand’s provinces. To add further potency it was called the Sanders Cup. The class simply took off and spread the yachting creed to every corner of New Zealand. The 14-footers soon became the X Class, providing great sport and great training for young Kiwi yachtsmen for another 50 years. 
NEXT TIME Bill Endean teams up with Charles Bailey to produce the keel yacht Prize, a worthy substitute for Onelua.
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Back in the arena

Auckland’s classic yacht racing scene is likely to get a bit more competitive with the return of Ariki – the speedster that dominated the action on the Hauraki Gulf a century ago. Story by Lawrence Schaffler.

Designed by Arch Logan (and built by Logan Brothers), Ariki was launched in 1904 for Charles Horton (of the Horton publishing family) as a combined racing/cruising yacht. Her name is Maori for ‘chief’ or ‘leader’ – and it proved a prescient christening.
For despite the ‘cruising-crossover’ brief, Ariki was quick – unbeatable for more than 30 years in fact, leading the racing fleet in imperious style. Her dominance came to an end with the appearance of the Lou Tercel-designed-and-built Ranger in 1938.

Relaunched in early April this year, Ariki owes her resurrection to Waiheke Island couple Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart. They found her in 2016 – for sale – in Auckland’s Bayswater Marina, and like so many restoration stories, it seems she was rescued in the nick of time.
“She’d been out of service for nearly a decade and was in a sorry state,” says Barnes. “Her hull was completely waterlogged and, while she wasn’t quite sinking, it was touch-and-go. Another 18 months – I reckon we’d have been involved in a salvage rather than a restoration project.”

What prompted the restoration decision?
“Stupidity was probably the start point,” says Barnes ruefully, “and I should have known that these projects always take longer and cost more than you think.
“Seriously, though, she is arguably one of the country’s most important yachts – and it would be criminal to let her decay and vanish. I think of it this way: Auckland is the city of sails – sailing and yachting evolved here. And the story of how yachting evolved can be told in two boats – Ariki and Ranger.
“In many ways their stories represent the evolution of New Zealand society. Ariki was a boat built by people from the top-end, wealthier part of town. Ranger was the boat built to beat Ariki – by people from the less affluent, working class part of town.
“For me, this is a story about yachting’s ‘coming of age’. Ranger overcoming Ariki demonstrated that yachting had become a sport every man could participate in – and today that ethos is an integral part of New Zealand’s DNA. Above all, I’m enormously relieved that we got to Ariki in time.”
The process is not new to Ariki – she’s been through it a few times. Prior to this latest project, in 1977 her then-owners (a syndicate comprising Warwick Jones, Rodger Duncan, and Peter Blundell) took her to a shed in Clevedon. After four years she emerged with a new deck, restored skylight, cabin top, cabin interior and coamings. And the engine was shifted forward to improve balance. The syndicate eventually broke up, with Jones becoming the sole owner. He died in 2012, leaving Ariki’s future unclear.

But repairs began soon after she was first launched. Propped up on the Devonport beach for basic maintenance in 1917, she fell over in a violent storm. Chas Bailey – Logan Brothers’ arch rival in boatbuilding – was contracted to repair her starboard side.
“So the standard joke with Ariki,” says Barnes, “is that she’s half-Logan-half-Bailey. When we stripped off her paint, Bailey’s repairs were clearly visible.”
This recent restoration – lasting just over a year – took place in a large tent at Auckland’s Okahu Bay. It was led by Waiheke boatbuilder Robin Kenyon – orchestrating a team of hand-picked artisans and craftsmen.
“I wanted to use someone who would restore her in a sympathetic fashion,” says Barnes. “And my brief was to keep her as authentic as possible, but not to turn her into a museum piece. I wanted a fullyfunctioning racing yacht – she will not be used for cruising.”
Inevitably, there were bits of rot and decay that were excised and repaired. The dried-out hull required new caulking. Components of the rudder shaft assembly – corroded by electrolysis – were replaced. The mast was in a bad shape and enjoyed a major repair – though the gaff and boom (all original) were in perfect condition.
Barnes purchased period fittings from Europe – bronze cleats and blocks. Every bit of running rigging is new and North Sails has produced a new wardrobe. The sails are Dacron, but treated to make them look ‘authentic’ and true to the period.
The most remarkable part of the restoration process, says Barnes, has been the response from the public.

“Simply outstanding. People came forward with all sorts of things – someone contacted me and said, you know, I think I have Ariki’s spinnaker pole – and gave it to us. We needed kauri for part of the repairs, and someone donated a decent supply of it. Another person gave us the vessel’s former gin container. Extraordinary.
“And in some way that groundswell of support is so encouraging. Because this boat is for the community. I think one never ‘owns’ this boat – we are simply guardians caring for her and will eventually hand her over to another generation of sailors.”
Ariki is now moored at Auckland’s Maritime Museum – lying next to Waitangi, another famous Logan Brothers yacht. “We paid to have her jetty built at the Museum,” says Barnes, “because we felt it was important for the public to be able to view her.”

Barnes is now in the process of establishing a regular crew to sail Ariki. He doesn’t know how many he will need to sail her comfortably. “We’re going to find out, but I would guess 8-10. These old gaff-cutters are quite a handful – there’s a lot of sail.”
Ariki leading Ranger around the bottom mark – two gladiators slugging it out again nearly a century on. What a neat idea. BNZ

REFLECTIONS: Peter Jacobs, one of the best

Peter Jacobs’ been selling and servicing Volvo Penta marine engines for over 40 years and his ability to correctly match engines to boats when repowering is legendary. Here’s the story of a man who’s one of this country’s best at what he does. Story by John Macfarlane.

Engineering has long been in the Jacobs family blood; his grandfather Fredrick and his father Bill both worked as engineers for the Auckland Hospital Board.
Interestingly, Fredrick designed (and Bill built) the first iron lung in New Zealand. Jacobs’ older brother Ronnie also became an engineer, serving his four-year apprenticeship at sea as an engineering cadet on the New Zealand Shipping Company ship, the Otaio.
Jacobs did his engineering apprenticeship on land with Mason Bros, a marine engineering company then based in Packenham St, Westhaven. Completing it in 1969, he followed his brother to sea and joined another NZ Shipping Company ship, the Hurunui, as a junior engineer.

While the Hurunui was powered by a Doxford diesel engine of some 12,000hp, on his first voyage Jacobs’ role was to oversee the refrigeration units, critical for shipping frozen lamb carcases and apples to the UK, especially through the tropics. Jacobs served three years aboard the Hurunui voyaging between New Zealand and England.
In 1972 he left ships and, after marrying his wife Raewyn (nee Wilson), the couple worked in Australia for a year. During that year they saved enough money to pay for half a house in Titirangi – how times have changed.
Back in Auckland, Jacobs worked for Allelly Bros, ship repairers, followed by a stint with Irvine Engineering. Then in one of those seemingly small things that in hindsight change one’s life, Jacobs saw a small advertisement in the Auckland Herald for a Volvo diesel mechanic at Scandinavian Motors.
This was in 1976 – and Jacobs has been with Volvo Penta ever since.
The service manager was Derek Clough, who in May 1978 decided to start his own business and asked Jacobs to join him. The pair founded Ovlov Services Ltd and set up in Barrys Point Rd on the North Shore. Jacobs funded his share of the $10,000 start-up costs by taking out a $5,000 “home improvement” loan.
Initially Ovlov Services just did servicing and repairs, with Clough looking after cars and Jacobs the marine engines. One of his first jobs was servicing the twin Volvos in Doug Meyers’ Mason Clipper. “The best customer we could have had when starting up a business.”

Clough and Jacobs had a lucky break three months later when Moller Marine closed its workshop and appointed Ovlov as a Volvo Penta dealer, which gave them the opportunity to expand into new Volvo engine sales and become an agent for Mariner outboards.
Being the only Volvo Penta dealer in Auckland, Ovlov went from strength to strength. The popularity of the Volvo Penta Duoprop engines in 1983 gave the company a healthy boost in sales.
By mid-1987 the business was going so well Ovlov took over the lease of the car dealer at the front of its existing premises, which had just had a $100,000 renovation.
Two months later in October 1987, the sharemaket crash torpedoed all sales of marine engines. Trapped into a six-year lease, Clough and Jacobs obtained a car dealer’s licence and began selling new Volvo and Diahatsu cars, as well as secondhand cars. It was car sales that paid the rent for the remainder of their lease.
The moment the lease was up in 1993, Clough and Jacobs split the business into two, Clough taking over the car sales while Jacobs took over the marine side.
Jacobs took the opportunity to shift Ovlov Marine back across the bridge to the Westhaven area, where it’s been ever since. Ovlov moved to Gaunt St in 1995, then in 2004, to its current location in the Orams Marine Village in Beaumont St, only 200m from where Allelly Bros once operated. Ovlov opened another branch in Pine Harbour Marina in 2010.

Another big change Jacobs made was bringing in Lachlan Trembath as an equal partner in 2004. “That’s the most important move I’ve ever made in business. He’s [Trembath] been a tremendous partner and a great asset for the company. We’ve also lucky to have so many talented and loyal staff.”
Besides servicing, a big part of the Ovlov’s business is repowering older boats. Jacobs isn’t always a fan of rebuilding an engine, as it can be more expensive than buying new. But he’s the first to admit repowering is an expensive exercise that will over-capitalise many older boats.
Due to all the variables, repowering is far more complex than most boaties appreciate and correct professional advice is critical. While computers can do this mathematically, with all the variables involved there’s no substitute for experience. Few can match Jacobs’ 40+ years of knowledge and the database of every repower he’s been involved with.
The late Len Gilbert often said, the golden rule of repowering is to start at the propeller and work forward, a mantra Jacobs also applies to every repower.
It all starts with establishing the best propeller diameter and pitch for a particular hull, which is factored against the desired level of performance. The chosen propeller will in turn help determine the gearbox ratio and engine horsepower.

Sadly, when repowering many boaties start with the engine and make their decisions backwards; Jacobs has seen numerous unhappy outcomes using this approach.
For example, some planing launch owners seeking to save a few dollars install a smaller engine than what’s required. This can result in not having enough power to get the launch comfortably and easily up onto the plane.
Conversely, owners when repowering yachts can fit too much horsepower, which leads to all manner of negative issues including propeller cavitation and a shortened engine life.
“There’s nothing wrong with plenty of horsepower but you have to make sure you can use it,” says Jacobs. “The biggest problem we have is getting the [gearbox] ratios right. These days engines rev higher so we often need to replace the gearbox with a lower ratio to get the shaft revs right. Most troubles are traced to owners not getting the proper advice or not following it when they do.”
Regarding unhappy outcomes, it’s human nature that some customers seek to lay blame on everyone else, even when they’re at fault. Jacobs has no problem fronting up when it’s clear he needs to. But when the issue has been the result of the customer not carrying out proper maintenance – or ignoring professional advice and who then expects to be fully compensated, he stands firm.
“It’s the nature of business, when you stand up for yourself you don’t make friends,” he says. “If we’re wrong, we’ll fix it, but if we believe we aren’t then we’ll stand up for ourselves.”

Let’s leave engines and move to a personally painful chapter in Jacobs’ life. Pain is a natural part of being human, as REM puts it, “Everybody hurts sometimes.” Jacobs has faced pain regularly since the age of 13 when his mother died of Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
“She was sick for four or five years before that, so I had to watch it (MND) drain the life out of her. That was hard.”
As Jacobs came to learn the hard way, MND is an inherited disease that can be traced back on his mother’s side of the family to 1840. Besides his mother, MND would claim the lives of sisters Pamala and Susie, brother Ronnie, aunts Jean and Ada, plus another six relatives. For over 50 years Jacobs lived with the knowledge he too could suffer the same fate at any stage.
Such a high incidence of MND within one family gave the Australian researchers at Sydney University the opportunity to study MND in depth, which they’ve been doing since 1980s. This and other research eventually in 2011 led to the identification of the specific gene that caused MND in the Jacobs family. This in turn allowed Jacobs to be tested to see if he carried the specific gene.
“I went in to get the test results and the genealogist couldn’t wait to tell me: ‘We have good news today.’” Listening to Jacobs tell of the story of how MHD has affected his family was a humbling experience and a powerful reminder why we need to treasure life and make the most of every day. Having lived with the threat of MND for over 50 years, Jacobs has learned that lesson well.
MND hasn’t defined his life, nor held him back as it could so easily have done. Rather, it’s given him an appreciation of life that he transmits to those around him. Listening to the happy banter from his staff as he and Trembath posed for photos inside their Westhaven showroom proved that.

At an age where many have retired, Jacobs shows little signs of slowing down because he still loves what he does.
But spending more time with his family is important and, with Trembath solidly in place as a director, retirement is now more than a possibility.
I came away from my interview with Jacobs not only in awe of the depth of his engineering knowledge but with a whole new appreciation of how precious life is.
Thanks Peter for a wonderful afternoon. BNZ

Restoring Laughing Lady

Built in 1949 by the legendary Lüders Marine Corporation in Connecticut, Laughing Lady was recently relaunched at Omaha after years of neglect and a glorious restoration by the Whangateau Boat Yard.

Her gleaming brightwork is offset by period fittings and fixtures – and though she boasts a few modern accessories such as a chartplotter, these are discreetly-mounted, hidden and out of sight until needed. So she looks pretty much as she did when first launched.

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Perhaps the most intriguing part of her restoration is the research that went into the project. Her owners – brothers James and Michael Dreyer, together with George Emtage and Pam Cundy at the boatyard – had very little to work with by way of original plans or photos. Finding this information took sleuth work, quite a bit of intuition, and a lot of luck.
I’ll get to the restoration in a minute, but first some background.

A 33-foot sports fishing boat, Laughing Lady was built for a Mrs Winthrop Bailey – a wealthy American socialite who hob-nobbed with British royalty. The boat was associated with the glamour set from the get-go – and it’s easy to sense that her name was eminently appropriate.

She was built for speed – her double-planked cedar and mahogany hull, wrapped around oak framing, was powered by twin, straight-eight 150hp Packard engines giving her a speed of nearly 30 knots.

Mrs Bailey sold the boat to a New York stockbroker, Robert David Lion Gardiner. He owned Gardiner's Island, at the eastern tip of Long Island, and he used Laughing Lady to commute from his home to Greenport, on Long Island. From there it was a quick rail trip into midtown Manhattan. He also used her to ferry guests between his island and the upmarket Hamptons – where the Who’s Who of Long Island kept their holiday mansions.

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When Gardiner died in 2004 the boat was sold to a distant relative in California. But the road trip across the US was catastrophic and she arrived with a broken back and one of her engines hanging off the transom.

It fell to a San Diego boatyard – Traditional Boat Works – to tackle the forlorn and fallen lady’s mammoth rebuild. All progressed well for a few years, but the 2008 GFC put the brakes on the project. The boatyard eventually acquired the boat in lieu of unpaid bills. And there she lay, gathering dust, for many years, until she was spotted by James Dreyer – an avid Kiwi classic boat enthusiast.

In his day job James is chief officer of a 92m private yacht in the Mediterranean, and when not in skippering mode he spends time in the San Diego, working on restoring a small, one-design Rhodes cutter.

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Laughing Lady was lying – abandoned – next to my boat. And every time I took a tea-break from my project, I’d find myself staring at the old launch and her beautiful lines. I knew the boatyard owner – Doug Jones – really well and when he suddenly announced he was shifting to Seattle, he suggested I buy Laughing Lady: ‘I know you love her. Do the right thing.’
“So we came to an arrangement. I acquired her and decided to ship her to New Zealand to complete her restoration. And that’s how she ended up at the Whangateau Boat Yard.”

James was committed to returning Laughing Lady to her original condition, but with nothing to work from, his vision ran into obstacles immediately.

“A huge fire in the Lüders yard in the early 60s destroyed the plans of all its boats. In desperation I visited the nearby Mystic Seaport Museum, but all it had was a small Lüders folder with half a dozen sheets – and zilch about Laughing Lady.”
Pam, in the meantime, was doing her own bit of sleuthing – extrapolating clues for the probable layout of the boat’s (missing) interior, working from fastener holes in the frames, little bits of handrail and a few surviving fittings.

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James’ investigations took him to Gardiner’s Island, where he was introduced to an elderly mechanic at the local marina. He unearthed a photo of Laughing Lady’s mangled props – Gardiner had run her aground. But the image also provided valuable details about the design of her rub rail.

James also knew that in the early 60s the New York Times (NYT) had run an article – The Greatest Picnic the World has ever Seen. It covered a high-society picnic on Gardiner’s Island – catered for by President John Kennedy’s personal chef, Charles De Gaulle’s personal chef, as well as chefs from the top Michelin star restaurants in Paris and New York. The writer was the NYT’s food critic.

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Chefs and guests had all been ferried to the island on Laughing Lady, and James wondered what had happened to the press photos. Weirdly, Fate dealt him a friendly hand.

“I’d booked an AirBnB on the island, and it transpired that the owner had lived in the area all her life. She knew a lot about the Gardiner family and used to travel in Laughing Lady as a child. Incredibly, her father had been the NYT food critic – and she produced a photo album with a magnificent selection of 8x10-inch glossy images.”

The images provided detailed information about Laughing Lady – and most remarkably, they showed that Pam’s interpretation and extrapolation had been spot on!

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A final piece in the puzzle came – of all places – from Norway. “I received a random email, out of the blue, from a chap who said he had plans for Laughing Lady. I said that’s impossible – the plans had gone up in flames. Well, he said, I bought a folder of Lüders concept drawings on eBay 10 years ago – and it contained many plans, including those for Laughing Lady. And he sent them to me.”
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If uncovering the details of Laughing Lady’s original design was tough, finding the mahogany to complete the restoration proved equally challenging. Honduras mahogany is a CITES-protected timber and unobtainable. Much of Laughing Lady’s structural rebuild has used sapele mahogany, but James’ trawl through TradeMe also produced some useful – if unorthodox – pickings for the brightwork.

“We found a large beam of mahogany which we used for the cockpit. But I must sheepishly confess I also bought a few old dining room suites. The sellers weren’t always impressed when I mentioned I’d be cutting them up!”

Laughing Lady was originally powered by a pair of 150hp, 356 cubic-inch, straight-eight Packard petrol engines. Gardiner swapped these in the late 80s for a pair of 165hp, six-cylinder, turbo-charged Volvo diesels – weighing half as much.

They’d only clocked up 150 hours before the boat’s unfortunate trip to San Diego. Still, James opted to have the Volvos completely overhauled, and says the team of specialists who helped to get the engines running were fantastic.
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“Hadlee and Lachlan at Auckland’s Ovlov Marine were absolute legends. They helped with sourcing hard-to-find parts – both secondhand and new – and offered advice freely. Pakuranga Radiators and Vermont Radiators both have huge experience with Volvo cooling systems.
“Torbay’s Diesel Injector Services has got to be the friendliest injector and fuel pump specialist in Auckland – and Steve Murch, at Motorsport Engineering – is a turbo guru. When it came to cranking the engines over for the first time in years, a specialist Volvo mechanic from Matakana Marine was hovering nearby for my peace of mind should something go wrong. Incredibly, both engines fired up after a short crank and ran beautifully. They power the boat to about 28 knots.”
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Laughing Lady, says James, will be used as a family day boat, and perhaps for some fishing. The original bronze games chairs have survived and, after re-chroming and re-upholstering, are a dominant cockpit feature. She’s alluring, sleek, mysterious – and if you listen carefully, over the purr of the Volvos you might just hear the lady laughing again.


There are men who are interested in the history of speedboat racing and there are men who make the history. Like Fabio Buzzi. Story by Bruno Cianci. Photos by Carlo Borlenghi and Bruno Cianci.

Buzzi’s name appears on 10 offshore world speedboat championship titles, as well as 45 world titles established in vessels designed by him. And then there are more than 50 other speed and endurance records.
He set his latest record in March this year aboard a ‘three-point’ hull on Italy’s Lake Como – at the age of 75 – the world speed record for a diesel-powered motorboat: 277.515km/h (149.84 knots). While it cannot be certified, he has probably also established a record as the world’s oldest marine speedster!

The success comes after almost two years of development, to get this ‘three-point’ hull prepared for the attempt. But the genesis of the streamlined, carbon-built vessel began much further back in time. With a collaboration between FB Design, the studio founded by Buzzi in 1971, and FTP Industrial, the supplier of industrial engines that Buzzi modifies. In collaboration with FTP staff, Buzzi transforms basic engines into extraordinarily powerful beasts.
The engine used in this most recent record, for example, is a FTP Cursor 16 (16-litre straight six), more commonly used in combine harvesters. In its basic version it generates 764hp. The one in the boat develops some 1800hp – 235 percent over the original plant.

New Diesel Power Boat World Speed Record: 277.5 Km/h
Driver Fabio Buzzi - FB Design
Engine FPT Industrial Cursor 16

The 35-year collaboration between FB Design and FTP (Fiat Powertrain Technologies) has led to numerous marine engine innovations: steel pistons, variable geometry turbo-charging systems, a sophisticated aluminium extruded exhaust manifold and a cooling system that features a single-direct circuit, with a water intake step-change solution inside the boat’s titanium rudder.
A speed record, both for land vehicles and for boats, is established over one kilometre or one nautical mile. It is mandatory to complete at least two passages in both directions within a maximum time of one hour. If multiple attempts have been made, the two best attempts can be chosen. The final speed is obtained by calculating the average of these attempts.
The record is only stands if the previous one has been bettered. The previous Diesel Powerboat World Speed Record (252 km/h) was set back in 1992 by Buzzi and certified by the Guinness World Records.
No such luck. Despite his 75 years, Buzzi is unlikely to give up new record attempts – he says it’s too difficult to renounce the adrenaline of speed after a life lived fast and intensely. Research is what drives the challenges. A qualified mechanical engineer, Buzzi is a lover of technology and innovation, efficiency and reliability is in his genes.
He is the CEO of FB Design (based in Annone Brianza, near Milan) but a visit to his office clearly reflects his hands-on involvement with the firm. Even at weekends you’re likely to find him seated in his office overlooking a showroom packed with winning hulls, accompanied by his beloved dogs and parrots. He’s always sketching on a piece of paper, developing new ideas.
Among the trophies that surround him is the Harmsworth Trophy – a bit like a sculpture in a museum hall. The firm’s core business has been the design and construction of racing hulls – and many became legendary. They include the Gran Argentina and the Cesa 1882-Red FP, which won the Cowes-Torquay-Cowes in 2008 and 2010 respectively, 23 and 25 years after they were first launched.

New Diesel Power Boat World Speed Record: 277.5 Km/h
Driver Fabio Buzzi - FB Design
Engine FPT Industrial Cursor 16

And there’s an additional stream to the company’s business. From the late 1990s FB Design has used the skills and competence acquired over years of speedboat competition to build and market boats of a totally different nature: hulls for coastal defense and patrolling inland waters.
Today, 45 military corporations worldwide have FB Design boats in commission, among them Italy, Sweden, Turkey, Albania, Gibraltar, Belarus, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakstan, Hong Kong and Latin America.
Buzzi’s designs are unsinkable and most are self-righting. Thanks to a Structural Foam patent (one of the many from FB Design), the boats are able to stay afloat even if they’re literally sawn in two. This is the benefit of having six or more closed, longitudinal cells filled with polyurethane.
Three categories of boats are built: semi-rigid hulls (RIBs), rigid hulls (between 17-80 feet LOA), and the revolutionary Stab line (available in three sizes: 38, 42, and 48-feet).
The Stab features lateral inflatable side elements aft which increase the stability of the boat without sacrificing the sleek, streamlined hull. Advantages include a superior weight/power ratio, performance and overall safety. The FB 42 Stab, for example, can reach 70 knots.
The Stab 38 SF is available in an unmanned and remotely controlled drone version. Creating this was based on Buzzi’s view that it is rare to find good pilots, even among the armed forces personnel. “A good drone is better than a vessel with a bad pilot.”
Ask Buzzi about FB Design’s future, and he says priority will always be given to research – “without it FB Design has no reason to exist.”
He recently unveiled a concept to be built when a strategic partner is identified: a displacement 24m catamaran. With a 9m beam and a surface area of 201m2, the very low wetted surfaces


equate to superior energy efficiency and an estimated range of four thousand nautical miles.
The vessel – fitted with 1600hp engines and equipped with a helipad – won’t be geared to breaking any records – except perhaps to challenge the title for the world’s oldest boat designer.
The first diesel powerboat speed record was set in 1939 by Gert Leurssen, a German manufacturer who reached a speed of 68km/h. In 1967 Don Aronow was the first to break the 100km/h barrier and, 10 years later, Tullio Abbate reached 140km/h, a record exceeded only two years later by Buzzi with 191km/h.
First to pass the 200km/h mark was the Milanese financier Carlo Bonomi in 1982 in Venice. He reached 213km/h, and in 1985 exceeded this with a new record of 218 /h. Buzzi regained the record in 1992 (252 km/h) and it stood until March this year.


Sailor Scribes: ROBIN LEE GRAHAM

There are books, and then there are dangerous books, writes Matt Vance. The dangerous ones are the ones that spark something in you that cannot be put out; they stick to your life and shape something of you.

At the age of 13, Robin’s father Lyle sold his home and business and took his family on a cruise through the Pacific on their 35-foot ketch. They returned to Honolulu, but Robin’s spirit remained in the South Seas and not on his schoolwork.
After attempting to run away to sea in a converted ship’s lifeboat caulked with chewing gum, Lyle agreed to buy Robin a Lapworth 24 and fit her out for an offshore voyage. “I figured if I didn’t help him to do it right, he’d do it on his own in a leaky boat,” said Lyle with a degree of parental wisdom unusual for the time.

At its heart, Robin’s voyage is still an amazing feat for one so young. He had the usual collection of gales, calms, dismastings and even met the love of his life, Patti Ratterree, in Fiji.
While modern teenage circumnavigators are obsessed with speed and breaking records, Robin sailed at a saner pace with the luxury of being able to stop along the way and experience the world he was sailing around.

Underneath all the nice photographs and the wonder of a boy exploring the world by yacht, there is a darker tale that is equally as epic as the superficial one. While the children’s book never mentions it, the adult versions of the story – Dove and the later Home is the Sailor – detail the account of a kid put under a lot of pressure by his father and his sponsors.

Not far into his journey across the Pacific, National Geographic magazine became interested in Robin’s journey. It carried the story of his voyage in Dove for three years, and it became one of the magazine’s most popular series of articles ever.
Robin and Dove had an all-American photogenic charm and his adventurous life, as portrayed in the magazine, struck a chord in a nation that was undergoing the ructions of the Vietnam war.
The popularity that resulted in his coverage by National Geographic was something that Robin was never quite comfortable with. The artificial poses and the scripting of his story by the magazine were something he came to resent.
Lyle kept reminding him that the sponsorship of the magazine was paying for a large chunk of his voyage, which only served to widen the growing rift between them.
After he completed his five-year solo circumnavigation Robin and Patti were offered all the trappings of urban life, a scholarship to Stanford University and a Ford Maverick.

For a kid who had dropped out of school and escaped to sea, Robin was woefully under-prepared for life back on land. He developed a deep depression, which overran him with all the attendant issues of alcohol and drug addiction.
To his immense credit Robin was able to climb out of these depths with the aid of Patti and their newfound Christian faith. They built a log cabin in Kalispell, Montana, surviving their first winter and a badly-acted movie about his adventures, which came out in 1974. They still live there to this day and have raised a young family and delight in their anonymity.
Robin was no author – all three of the books about his story and the aftermath were shadow written by American writer Derek Gill. Yet, as a trilogy they recall an epic tale of growing up, falling over and growing up again.

At 10 years old all I was interested in was the sailing, the simple purpose of a boy who wanted to see the world by boat. It is still the most dangerous book in my library.
I get it out once in a while and I handle it very carefully. I keep it there because it kindles my childhood dreams. I keep it there to fend off the worst that life on land can throw at me.

Rewiring your boat

Re-wiring your boat is not a trivial task, but if you’re experiencing battery problems, finding it hard to crank your engine or have devices that are not functioning correctly, it’s definitely worth considering. By Norman Holtzhausen.

Like many senior gentlemen with prostate problems, an older boat eventually begins to suffer from electrical woes, and it gets progressively worse. There comes a time when the best remedial treatment probably involves surgery. You can’t fit a new prostate, but you can give your boat a new wiring system.
Problems with the older boat’s electrical system have many causes, but a common issue is that it’s probably enjoyed numerous modifications and ‘upgrades’ over the years, not all to the same standard and some (probably) even downright dangerous.

When something stops working it can be hard to trace the configuration of the original wiring. It’s not unknown for repairs to involve simply cutting the original wire and running a new cable, leaving ‘orphan’ connections which may cause any number of problems down the line.
Adding new accessories into circuits can also overload the rating of the original cable. At best this may cause the accessory to not work properly, but at worst can cause a cable to overheat. This could result in damage or even a fire, potentially a catastrophic event on a boat built of flammable material and carrying combustible fuel.
Added to this is the corrosion problem of older cables, especially low-spec, untinned copper wires. DIYers with an electrical flair will be familiar with stripping a wire from an older accessory to find the copper core is completely black. It is very hard to get a good connection with this, and soldering black wire is impossible.
For many of these ‘mature’ boats, the sensible thing is to biff it all and start again. Pull out all the original wiring and run new, marine-grade cabling, properly rated for the total load it will carry. Design the most efficient wiring runs, perhaps re-position the switchboard – and isolate components properly.
First – decide who will do the job. A complete re-wiring of a boat is probably beyond the scope of most DIYers. Apart from the specialist knowledge required of circuits, materials and specifications, it is also a big job that at times will require multiple hands to ease wires through tight conduits.

It could take weeks or even months if tackled on a part-time basis. And the job may require some specialist test equipment – if, for example, digital switching circuits are installed. So it’s a nobrainer to employ a specialist marine electrician for the project.
We spoke with Ian Douglas, Service Manager of Westhaven’s Marine Electrics, for some pointers – and his first piece of advice? Switch to digital technology.
Although the existing wiring can simply be replaced with a new backbone, digital switches can simplify the wiring, and certainly add some ‘smarts’ to how items are controlled.
Whereas a conventional system requires power cables running between every item and the central switchboard, a digital system has a single, powered backbone running around the boat. Every item draws its power from this common power source, while a much lighter (and in some cases, wireless) circuit runs to one or more digital switching units.
This enables touch screens and mobile devices to be used to control circuits. In addition, multiple combinations of circuits can be grouped into zones to be switched on or off together.
Mastervolt’s CZone and Raymarine’s EmpirBus are probably the two best-known digital switching systems, but there are various other options. Douglas says a digital switching solution should certainly be considered for larger vessels with more complex wiring.

Another area where technology has moved forward dramatically is the area of fuses and circuit breakers. In a well-designed system, every component will be independently fused, so any failure is quickly and safely isolated. Previously, this meant fuses (and spares), but modern circuit breakers are compact and cheap – and a much better option. New regulations also call for Residual Current Circuit Breakers, which respond both to shorts and overloads.
The other major rewiring consideration is incorporating LED lights. Although replacement LED bulbs for older fittings are available, the new lighting units are slimmer and brighter, with many more options for fitting. Marine units are often completely waterproof and use far less power than older incandescent bulbs. This means you can install more lights in more places, with a lighter load on the batteries.
Marine-grade wiring can be expensive, and boat owners on a budget may question why cheaper automotive cable can’t be used. The answer is corrosion. Even the highest-grade untinned copper wire will corrode over time, even within the insulation.
Another common problem on older boats, says Douglas, is the use of underrated cable – a 10-amp bilge pump running over two-amp cable. This can lead to failure at a critical moment when that pump is most needed, resulting a minor issue becoming a major one.

Using non-marine-grade cabling is false economy, and if the boat’s going into survey, approved cable types have to be used or it won’t pass inspection. This may be harder to install and more expensive, but it is safer in the long run and will last for decades.
When designing the new cable layout, there are a couple of basics to consider. A large inboard diesel engine may draw 300 amps or more when starting. This demands large-diameter (and expensive) cables. For this reason start batteries are typically located close to the engine to minimise cable length.
Anchor winches are also high current hogs – typically 50 to 100 amps – and ideally should also have the shortest possible cable run. Both these cables have critical connections, so good-quality crimped or soldered terminals are essential. Your marine electrician will be able to calculate the required cable specifications and connector sizes.
The house circuit, which provides power for all the accessories, needs a somewhat lighter cable. But it is still important to calculate its total possible load (if all devices are turned on simultaneously) and rate the cable accordingly.
Note that electric motors (fridge or water pumps) often generate a surge current the instant they are turned on, which may exceed the normal operating current. After calculating the total load, a generous reserve should be added to prevent problems.
For the best strategy, find a marine electrician in your area. Ask him to review your wiring and make recommendations.
Although minor changes to the 12V (or 24V) system can sometimes be tackled by a competent DIYer, mains power alterations must be left to the experts. New legislation being introduced this year mandates that all mains voltage installations require a compliance certificate, which can only be issued by a certified marine electrician. This applies not just to circuits connected to shore power but also onboard generator or inverter-driven circuits.

Australian and New Zealand three pin mains 230v power socket board and plug

Douglas says lots of larger vessels coming into New Zealand have 110-volt mains circuits. These require large step-down transformers to connect to shore power. Added to this, many older vessels have thermoplastic sheathed (TPS) mains wiring installed, which again is now illegal. “When we see this product in a boat,” says Douglas, “we only have two legal options: refuse to do any further work, or rewire and replace all that cable.”
Note that this regulation has applied to New Zealand houses for some years, as many buyers of older properties have discovered to their dismay.
Any boat bigger than a small runabout will probably carry multiple batteries, with one or more batteries dedicated to starting the engine, and a second unit to run the onboard electrics.
This installation prevents cell damage, as there are two types of lead-acid batteries: starting, and deepcycle. Starting batteries deliver a large current for a short period and cannot withstand repeated discharge. A deep-cycle battery provides sustained power over an extended period without being damaged.

For two different battery types to co-exist happily in the boat, a voltage sensing relay (VSR) is used. This ensures the starting battery is charged up first by the engine’s alternator, and only once it’s fully topped-up is the house battery charged. It also prevents the house circuit from draining power from the starting battery  – so the starting battery remains fully charged.
Added to this complexity is new battery technology, which requires higher charging voltages than in the past. Most engine alternators deliver a peak of around 14.2 volts, but modern AGM and calcium batteries may require 14.4 to 14.6 volts to charge properly.
Douglas recommends replacing the built-in regulator with an external regulator to get optimum charging and extend battery life. He says this will save money in the long term.

BoatSecure: messages from your boat

Even if you’ve never heard of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) – the hot buzz-phrase dancing like popcorn through the conversation of every self-respecting techie – you should know it can make a huge difference to the safety and security of your moored boat. Story by Lawrence Schaffler.

For the benefit of anyone not familiar with the IoT, the idea is that just about every device in the modern digital world will eventually have its own, unique identity on the World Wide Web, allowing them all to be interconnected and to communicate with one another. Of course, we’ve had connected devices for many years. Manufacturers and utilities have been using remote monitoring and control for decades and, more recently, ‘things’ are being interconnected via broadband.

And now, in the new, much-vaunted IoT era, everything becomes a piece of this connected world – your car, your fridge at home, the controller that adjusts your home lighting. And yes, even your boat, moored safely in its usual spot.

In New Zealand, IoT and boat safety/security have come together in the just-released BoatSecure – a mobile, cost-effective way to monitor your vessel – 24 hours a day, anywhere in the world.

It’s a collaboration between Matt Hector-Taylor, co-founder and director of local company IoT Ventures, and John McDermott, the owner of BoatSecure. “There are 600,000 water craft in New Zealand,” says Hector-Taylor, “including 10,000 in Auckland alone – moored in marinas and estuaries. That’s a lot of potentially worried boat owners, harbour masters and insurers.”

BoatSecure allows owners to check – via an app on their smartphones – on things like the boat’s bilge pump operation, battery levels (is there even enough juice to power the bilge pump?) and, of course, her location. Is she still on her mooring, where you left her last week? Has she come adrift, or perhaps been stolen? Any hiccup and an alert is immediately sent to your phone, helping to prevent any calamities.

A BoatSecure device is a small, sealed waterproof box (about the size of a margarine tub) that’s installed on board. It runs off the vessel’s battery (or from shore power for boats living in a marina) and is connected to components like the bilge pump. The box has multiple ports, so additional features such as contact breakers on hatches, for example, can be included in the monitoring system.

Unlike a mobile phone/tablet/iPad, the device doesn’t use a SIM card, but it does receive GPS signals. It communicates its messages to users via a ‘long-range radio’ frequency. Typical current draw is very low – 20mA or less – and a small, built-in, back-up battery will power the device for about a week if other electrical supplies fail. A small solar panel easily copes with the device’s electrical load.

To understand the functioning of the system, you need to understand the significance of the long-range radio signal. BoatSecure uses LoRaWAN (long-range-wide-area-network) – a global radio standard. Relatively new in New Zealand, it’s being rolled out by Spark – at a fairly rapid pace.

Most of New Zealand’s cellular (mobile phone) networks operate on frequencies in the 2, 3 or 4G spectrum – and they handle anything from text messages to phone calls to streaming video. These can be data-intensive – and if you’re wedded to your phone you’re probably paying handsomely for the service.

LoRaWAN is very different. It uses the 923MHz frequency which is in the ‘free’ spectrum, so operating costs are negligible. It’s ideal for carrying small, low-data (text) messages.

What’s more, signals using the frequency ‘travel’ easily. Messages can be sent over long distances and the frequency’s also better at maintaining ‘signal integrity’ – the messages are less likely to be corrupted or blocked by the maze of masts and rigging found in most marinas or anchorages.

Spark’s rolling out its LoRaWAN system to cater for a great variety of applications in the industrial and agricultural sectors – the recreational marine fraternity is just another application using the same technology. Towers carrying the LoRaWAN technology have already been established in many of the main centres – and Spark hopes to have 80 percent of the country’s population covered by 2020.

Conveniently for Auckland boat owners, one of Spark’s first LoRaWAN sites is mounted on the Sky Tower. This easily covers most of the city’s water areas and transmissions of over 20km across the Hauraki Gulf have been recorded.

So when the on-board sensors monitored by your boat’s BoatSecure device detect a problem, a message can now be transmitted over large distances via the LoRaWan network. The owner automatically – and immediately – receives an alert via the BoatSecure app on his smartphone.
McDermott says while the system is available to individual subscribers, BoatSecure is in discussion with several marinas around the country to explore ‘fleet’ applications, where boat electricians or marina operators can use a web dashboard to monitor and manage many boats simultaneously.

“We encourage boat owners to sign up to a fleet manager service with either their marina or local marine electrician. With the owner’s permission the boat status and alerts are shared so when any issues arise someone is on-hand to respond and check that the boat is OK or to address any problems.”

BoatSecure is a subscriber service. Depending on how a system is configured for a boat owner, says McDermott, a typical system will be less than $1,000 (excluding the installation costs), with an annual subscription of less than $200. He recommends a professional rather than a DIY installation to ensure system reliability.

BoatSecure will be launching overseas over the next few months.