|Abstract||By 2009, NANALOA, the former High Speed Launch 145, was resting at West Mersea, her hull stripped of all fittings, and barely floating at high tide. The following article was written by Pat Zierold in the 1990s and covers some of her history.
NANALOA was built in the last months of 1939, one of the first batch of boats known as "Whalebacks" from their distinctive humped superstructure. Of hard chine construction they were planked, double diagonally, in mahogany and teak on frames of laminated mahogany. The class was designed by Lt Cmdr Hubert Scott-Paine and built by the British Powerboat Company at Hythe, Southampton. At 63' L.O.A., they were the forerunners of the 72ft 6in M.T.B. and the American P.T. boats. The 63ft bodies were employed mainly as high speed launches for the Air Sea Rescue Service or for target
towing purposes and were powered with three Napier Sea Lion petrol engines of 650 h.p. each. Lightly armed with two 0.5 Browning machine guns, one 20 mm. Hispano Cannon, they relied on their speed, and they had a capability of 48 knots, to get out of trouble.
NANALOA, or '145' as she was then, was commissioned in January 1940 and attached to a Search & Rescue Flotilla based at Newhaven, Littlehampton, Ramsgate and Felixstowe, and for a short period was shipped to Gibraltar for operation "Torch". She was returned to England without, apparently seeing service in the Mediterranean.
The war time log recorded the rescue of a total of 486 airmen and others of various
nationalities and her service life ended in 1946 when she was decommissioned.
Stripped of her armaments, radios and engines
she was eventually consigned to the Small Crafts Disposal Board's Depot at Birdham,
where she lay with a mixed bag of M.T.Bs, landing craft, Fairmiles and other Air Sea
Rescue launches, until my father and I bought her in May 1947. We installed a pair of 100 h.p. Gray Marine Petrol engines (later converted to T.V.O.) bought from the American Navy Disposals Office and brought her around to Heybridge Basin, where we
started the process of conversion. Those of you who remember the shortages and
restrictions prevailing after the War will appreciate the dodges and minor illegalities
involved in the process of conversion.
The preliminary work, such as removing the entire superstructure (machine gun turrets did not
feature in our design concept), stripping out about 30% of the innards and moving fuel and
water tanks forward to reduce stern draft, was easy.
Finding material was another matter.
Good hardwood, seasoned or not, was virtually unobtainable, except under licence
for which we did not qualify, but eventually with the help of the Church Commissioners,
who sold us some pews out of a bombed church and certain dubious characters in the
"Surplus Goods" business, enough material was accumulated to start the conversion.
The wheelhouse and all the cabin tops above deck were pre-fabricated at home - a cleaned
out lounge makes a good workshop, and then transported to Heybridge for assembly on
board. This work enthralled the "Basin" locals who thronged both banks of the canal offering
advice and all sorts of comments until the novelty wore off - eventually all was done,
the accommodation for 10 was completed and the topsides burnt off and the black and grey
of service days changed into a civilian trim of bright work and glossy white.
Life as a pleasure craft started with a short trip down river to Osea Island where, over
two tides, she was scrubbed and antifouled and then, in Naval parlance, "being in all
respects ready" she started on her first cruise in August 1949. Her first outing, albeit a short
one, was to the Deben, the Alde and Lowestoft, curtailed as far as I was concerned
by the birth of our daughter. Thereafter, we week-ended on board until the end of
October, flying the white square of the "Baby Aboard" signal. Winter was spent modifying
and in other words plain honest mucking about, until Easter 1950. From then
on we used her whenever we could escape from the rat race, generally on weekends with
our first ambitious cruise to Dover, Calais, Ostend and home - all we could cram into our
rather short summer holiday.
After that, with gradually expanding holidays, she took us to most of the "wet" parts of the
Netherlands, usually starting off at Ostend, with trips down the French Coast and back
along the South Coast. An interesting cameo occurred in 1989 when we were lying against
the R.Y.C.O. pontoon in Ostend and my son in-law, flipping through the pages of their
Visitors' Book in the bar discovered that my Father had signed her in 30 years ago to the day.
By 1980 T.V.O. was no longer available, at least not on the Continent, so I replaced the
Grays with a pair of 150 h.p. Ford Diesels, which gave us a few more knots and an
increased range and we carried on with the usual programme.
Retirement and a move to West Mersea in 1982 saw her leaving Heybridge Basin in
favour of a mooring in the Quarters where she kept RIIS 1 company until 1992 when,
realising my limitations, I laid her up and put her on the market. She was sold in 1993 to a
gentleman from "Down Under' whose ambition is to completely refit her, from keel
to truck and, in the fullness of time, take her
home to Australia - an idea which has an appeal for my family because her name had
its origin in the Pacific and the thought of her eventually reaching those waters ends the story with a nostalgic touch.
Thank you to Pam West and John Zierold for giving us this article.
There is a lot of correspondence about the prospects of saving HSL145 on the British Military Powerboat Team forum www.bmpt.co.uk.
September 2010 John Zierold wrote on BMPT Forum:
I believe I know quite a bit about "145" as my Grandfather Jack Zierold bought her from the Disposals Ministry after WWII. He and my father Pat Zierold converted her to the motor yacht "Nanaloa" and she was regularly used by my family until the early 1990s when my father sold her to Mr Crump. I was involved with Nanaloa all my life until her sale, and in particular worked together with my father in the late 70's and 80's to completely refit her with new electrics and new diesel engines. So I have extensive knowledge of her post war yachting years - my knowledge of her service history is rather limited to the article written by my father [above]. It would be good to see the Old Girl saved for posterity.