About us

T.C.A. (CES) WATSON, Boat builder and Naval Architect. Founder T.C. Watson & Sons, Naval Architects.

He commenced his working career in the late 1920s at the yard of Charles Bailey & Sons qualifying as a shipwright.

Throughout the depression years of the1930s as work became short he commenced a second career at sea in the merchant marine, interspersed with boat building work ashore.

Initially starting as a deck hand in the small trading vessels: Moa, Zingara, Huia, Will Watch and Miena which worked the New Zealand home and Inter-Colonial trade.

Having a deep interest in navigation and all aspects of seamanship lead to rapid advancement “up through the hawse pipe” to deck officer with examinations being sat as sea time allowed.

At the out break of war in 1939 with men being drafted into the armed forces combined with the loss of large tonnages of merchant ships a critical shortage of seamen arose. He was given permanent leave from the armed forces to join the merchant fleet as an able seaman.

Service during war time included the vessel SS Maungonui, a passenger vessel converted to a hospital ship running to Suez to bring back sick and wounded soldiers from the North Africa Champaign.

Also classified voyages that included delivery of equipment required to build landing strips on remote Pacific Islands for Allied aircraft. The destination not known until the vessel had sailed and was outside the 12 mile limit where instructions from the Ministry of Defense, delivered by hand to the master at sailing, were opened.

War time service included the square rig sailing ship Pamir which he joined in 1941 for a voyage to San Francisco from Wellington. Having spent much time in sailing ships both coastal and “over the line”; the equator, this was his second large “deep water” sailing ship, the first being the ship Passat.

(Click here for slide show of Pamir)

The conclusion of the war gave time for study and completion of his deck officer ticket; First Mate Foreign Going, indorsed “Square Rig”, one of the last endorsements of this type allocated in the British Merchant Marine.

After coming ashore permanently he re-established the boat building business with his father, Wally Watson senior.

Always interested in design, he went on to study engineering and naval architecture eventually becoming an associate of the Royal Institute of Naval Architects.

As one of the pioneering designers of small vessels for construction in steel the design practice was lead into a prolific output of commercial vessels during the period 1950 to 1990. These included among many others:
Lady Kay, Esperance, Colleen, My Jay, Bona Dea, Triona, Edward G, Margaret M, Iris

Having a passion for sailing and sailing craft meant there was always a small sail boat of some description on the drawing board including:
Freda, Tahurangi, Wayward, Photina, Waiotira and Wager

Photina - four circumnavigations

Alongside the design practice T.C. Watson Sons maintained the wooden boat building shop originally commenced by Walter Watson senior in 1934. Vessels built include:

Kitty Vane, Luanda, Photina, Gypsy Girl, Freda and Three Bounty launch replicas

Also a number of unique projects including the design research and construction of a replica of HMAS Bounty for film company Warner Bros. along with three “Bounty`s launches, off which fame is due to the most successful small boat voyage of all time.

Having spent time at sea gave a different and fuller perspective on design and the construction of small vessels. Today we often receive comments, especially for our range of ocean going passage maker yachts that they are very “ship like”, comments that we are pleased to receive. The experience above is a major contributor to them being that way.

Last Updated (Monday, 21 February 2011 02:20)