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The Dudley Docker II

19ft x 7ft beam

Double ended Clinker Work Boat

One of our Club members has owned Dudley Docker for a number of years following his purchase of her from yet another members widow. Based in Nelson, she was used around the Nelson Bays and with her high topsides and robust construction, she handled the open seas with some aplomb. However, being a large craft, she proved a handful for her owner and as he looked forward to retirement, he considered what to do with The Dudley.

After very careful thought and discussion, he gifted The Dudley Docker to The Picton Clinker Club with the view that she would be cared for and cherished rather than just being sold to a novice who would not have the ability or knowledge to fully appreciate her status or provenance.

After some research, we have determined The Dudley Docker II was built by Stark Brothers of Lyttelton Harbour in 1964 for the Lyttelton Harbour Board as a workboat to haul lighters and punts around servicing ships as they unloaded cargo in the harbour. We have even found that the boatbuilder was Johnnie James, who served his apprenticeship a year before well known Havelock boatbuilder Lionel Jeffcoate. Lionel easily recognised the workmanship and style of Johnnie.  The writer can even recall her rafted alongside a long fat punt crowded with native ordinary seamen labourers painting the hull of perhaps a Shaw Saville or Cunard liner or maybe a cargo ship from the Orient as they lay alongside for a week or so. However, with the advent of container shipping, the vessels generally only stayed for a few hours unloading perhaps a few hundred container boxes and was gone the next day. As a result she soon became redundant and was sold to a private unknown owner, believed to be in the North Island. 

At some stage she arrived back in the South Island for recreational use, however she had somehow grown an unsightly house over her cockpit. The new Nelson owner, Noel Johnson quickly solved that monstrosity with a chainsaw and so she remains an open cockpit workboat. However, from the original single cylinder Yanmar engine she had been fitted with a 10 hp P66 Stuart Turner 2 stroke which caused some considerable angst & heartburn to Noel Johnson. Upon obtaining her, Dick Tout promptly had Nelson Engineering fit a 2nd hand twin Cylinder 28 hp Volvo with fitted gearbox, and as such, so she remains.

When she was received after being gifted, she had sat in a hot iron shed for several years and opened up the garboard planks and various other sensitive spots. However, a good few days work with the Club working bee saw the minor modifications done and as the Royal Navy exhorts…  ‘Being in all respects ready for sea!’ she awaits her first club run.

This planned trip is from Havelock out to Kenepuru Sound, a distance of approx. 15 km each way, but as a club trip, she will be accompanied by a fleet of several other club boats.

Hopefully The Dudley Docker II will enjoy her retirement in the sheltered waters of the Marlborough Sounds for many years to come.

P.S. We would appreciate any information about The Dudley Docker II from anyone who may recognise or know of her more recent history.

Roy Jones