ID TXA00300 / Pat Zierold

TitleNANALOA - HSL 145
AbstractBy 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.

AuthorPat Zierold
Publishedc1994
SourceMersea Museum / Pam West and John Zierold
IDTXA00300
Related Images:
 HSL 145 at speed in her working days. She later became the motor yacht NANALOA.
 Thank you to <a href=http://www.asrmcs-club.com target=_new>RAF Air Sea Rescue and Marine Craft Section Club</a> for letting us use this photograph.  SHP_NAN_358
ImageID:   SHP_NAN_358
Title: HSL 145 at speed in her working days. She later became the motor yacht NANALOA.
Thank you to RAF Air Sea Rescue and Marine Craft Section Club for letting us use this photograph.
Source:Mersea Museum / www.asrmcs-club.com
 HSL 145 on mooring during her working days. She later became the motor yacht NANALOA.
 Thank you to Terry Holtham and
 <a href=http://www.asrmcs-club.com target=_new>RAF Air Sea Rescue and Marine Craft Section Club</a> for letting us use this photograph.  SHP_NAN_359
ImageID:   SHP_NAN_359
Title: HSL 145 on mooring during her working days. She later became the motor yacht NANALOA.
Thank you to Terry Holtham and RAF Air Sea Rescue and Marine Craft Section Club for letting us use this photograph.
Source:Mersea Museum / www.asrmcs-club.com
 NANALOA (H.S.L. 145) on her journey from Birdham to the Blackwater  SHP_NAN_360
ImageID:   SHP_NAN_360
Title: NANALOA (H.S.L. 145) on her journey from Birdham to the Blackwater
Date:1947
Source:Mersea Museum / Pam West and John Zierold
 NANALOA and Pat Zierold on her journey from Birdham to the Blackwater  SHP_NAN_362
ImageID:   SHP_NAN_362
Title: NANALOA and Pat Zierold on her journey from Birdham to the Blackwater
Date:1947
Source:Mersea Museum / Pam West and John Zierold
 NANALOA  SHP_NAN_363
ImageID:   SHP_NAN_363
Title: NANALOA
Source:Mersea Museum / Pam West and John Zierold
 NANALOA on the Blackwater  SHP_NAN_364
ImageID:   SHP_NAN_364
Title: NANALOA on the Blackwater
Date:c1984
Source:Mersea Museum / Pam West and John Zierold
 NANALOA in the lock at Heybridge. She was kept at the Basin from 1947 to 1982.  SHP_NAN_366
ImageID:   SHP_NAN_366
Title: NANALOA in the lock at Heybridge. She was kept at the Basin from 1947 to 1982.
Date:c1960
Source:Mersea Museum / Pam West and John Zierold
 NANALOA in the 1980s undergoing 'routine maintenance' at West Mersea. After 1982 Pat Zierold kept her on a mooring in the Quarters.  SHP_NAN_368
ImageID:   SHP_NAN_368
Title: NANALOA in the 1980s undergoing 'routine maintenance' at West Mersea. After 1982 Pat Zierold kept her on a mooring in the Quarters.
Date:c1985
Source:Mersea Museum / Pam West and John Zierold
 An immaculate looking NANALOA on Clarke Carter slipway at Mersea.  SHP_NAN_369
ImageID:   SHP_NAN_369
Title: An immaculate looking NANALOA on Clarke Carter slipway at Mersea.
Source:Mersea Museum / Pam West and John Zierold
 NANALOA resting at West Mersea by Wyatt's slipway. She is an ex Air Sea Rescue launch from World War 2, 63ft Whale-back type, built 1940 by the British Power Boat Company. NANALOA has been at Mersea for several years and before that was at Heybridge. 
 There is an article on NANALOA in Tales of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation published by Chelmer Canal Trust in 2002. It includes a photograph of her underway in the 1960s.
 NANALOA was moored in the canal at Heybridge Basin and was owned by one family from 1947 to 1993. She was sold to a new owner in 1993, who in 2002, was rebuilding the vessel.  SHP_NAN_906
ImageID:   SHP_NAN_906
Title: NANALOA resting at West Mersea by Wyatt's slipway. She is an ex Air Sea Rescue launch from World War 2, 63ft Whale-back type, built 1940 by the British Power Boat Company. NANALOA has been at Mersea for several years and before that was at Heybridge.
There is an article on NANALOA in "Tales of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation" published by Chelmer Canal Trust in 2002. It includes a photograph of her underway in the 1960s.
NANALOA was moored in the canal at Heybridge Basin and was owned by one family from 1947 to 1993. She was sold to a new owner in 1993, who in 2002, was "rebuilding the vessel".
Date:1 June 2009
Source:Mersea Museum / Ian Clarke Collection
 NANALOA resting at West Mersea by Wyatt's slipway. She is an Air Sea Rescue launch from World War 2, 63ft Whale-back type, built 1940 by the British Power Boat Company. NANALOA has been at Mersea for several years.
 <b>From C. Stirling 30 May 2011:</b>
 What a very sad sight...probaby too late now. We in this country need stringing up for allowing this to happen. 
 <b>From Jamie Young 24 September 2012:</b>
 She is far to gone now, another type2 HSL gone, it makes me sad, how many more are just rotting away up estuaries on sand banks ? Spitfires of the seas , eh? , and these boats saved lives, not took them.  SHP_NAN_907
ImageID:   SHP_NAN_907
Title: NANALOA resting at West Mersea by Wyatt's slipway. She is an Air Sea Rescue launch from World War 2, 63ft Whale-back type, built 1940 by the British Power Boat Company. NANALOA has been at Mersea for several years.
From C. Stirling 30 May 2011:
What a very sad sight...probaby too late now. We in this country need stringing up for allowing this to happen.
From Jamie Young 24 September 2012:
She is far to gone now, another type2 HSL gone, it makes me sad, how many more are just rotting away up estuaries on sand banks ? Spitfires of the seas , eh? , and these boats saved lives, not took them.
Date:1 June 2009
Source:Mersea Museum / Ian Clarke Collection
 NANALOA resting at West Mersea, Lifeboat Shed in the background. She was originally HSL145, an Air Sea Rescue launch from World War 2, 63ft Whale-back type, built 1940 by the British Power Boat Company. NANALOA has been at Mersea for several years.  SHP_NAN_914
ImageID:   SHP_NAN_914
Title: NANALOA resting at West Mersea, Lifeboat Shed in the background. She was originally HSL145, an Air Sea Rescue launch from World War 2, 63ft Whale-back type, built 1940 by the British Power Boat Company. NANALOA has been at Mersea for several years.
Date:11 November 2020
Source:Mersea Museum / Tony Millatt
 The remains of NANALOA formerly HSL 145 at West Mersea by the lifeboat shed. Her old High Speed Launch number 145 is visible on her transom these days - a local historian who values her past cleans the number every year.  TM7_0973
ImageID:   TM7_0973
Title: The remains of NANALOA formerly HSL 145 at West Mersea by the lifeboat shed. Her old High Speed Launch number 145 is visible on her transom these days - a local historian who values her past cleans the number every year.
Date:21 August 2017
Source:Mersea Museum
 Hove Hill and the houseboats. NANALOA on the left.  TM93_012
ImageID:   TM93_012
Title: Hove Hill and the houseboats. NANALOA on the left.
Date:August 1993
Source:Mersea Museum / Tony Millatt