Unique vessel leaves Waiuku

Last week the unique British lifeboat Diana White which has been on the hard on Colombo Road Waiuku for some years was taken by road transporter to a new home.

The vessel owned by John Fairburn, was transported to a farm at Mangatangi as a temporary home until John can relocate the vessel back to Tauranga.
While John still has intentions of restoring this historic vessel, he says that if anybody has a genuine interest of taking the vessel under their wing and doing the restoration he would be pleased to pass it on.
The Diana White, a Rother class all weather shore-based lifeboat, was built in 1973 and was based at Sennen Cove near Lands End, Cornwall, England.
She was bought as a Sumner rescue boat in 1992 and used there until 2000. The vessel was then sold to a private owner in Tauranga from whom John bought the boat.
During its time in Tauranga the Diana White was just moored and the large anodes on the hull wrought havoc on the bronze and steel construction of the vessel and much corrosion and electrolysis occurred.

When John acquired the Diana White while he lived in Tauranga, he worked with a marine engineer who identified that if the vessel had been stored in a shed like it was originally designed to do in England and not in water as in Tauranga, the corrosion would not have occurred.

When John operated the vessel in Tauranga he used it to take short trips for a donation. He had an association with Tauranga Foodbank, and any proceeds were given to them. John also undertook trips for underprivileged children.

In her original years, the Diana White saved the crew from an Icelandic cargo ship when the conditions were too violent for air force helicopters to fly. She was also out in torrid conditions during the 1979 Fastnet race when incidents claimed the lives of 15 yachtsmen.

One other notable voyage was when she went to attempt the rescue of another lifeboat which got into trouble while rescuing crew from a ship that was smashing against the rocks near Sennen Cove. In waves exceeding 20 metres in height, the lifeboat was struck by a huge wave and slammed it into the rocks near the sinking ship and all lives were lost before the Diana White could rescue anyone from either vessel.


The Diana White loaded on a road transporter ready for her move from Waiuku.


In her English days, the Diana White braves big seas to affect a rescue.