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For 40 years Don and Cleo McLeod were involved with boats in Taupo.  Don ran a house- moving business up to 1970 when he started commercial tourist fishing.
The McLeods’ first boat was a Condorcraft named Camaron I.  Their next boat was also called Camaron ... this time named II.  She made for way Camaron III, which they owned until 1977.  In 1978 they had Camaroni IV made for them by Plylite in Nelson.  Like Camaron II (a Vistacraft design) and Camaron III (a Vindex design), Camaroni IV is a deep V boat.  Don preferred a deep V because it handled the rough water well and enabled him to get speed.  She can go up to 50 knots thus can get to the Western Bays in 35 minutes and to the Horomatangi Reef in 12.
Camaroni is 20ft long with a beam of 8ft.  She was custom built for the McLeods from an Australian designed hull.  She is from a "reef runner" design.  Her hull is fibreglass, heavily timbered on the sides.  The frames are timber too as is the deck which is 1" thick.  Kauri is used for the hull, frame and deck while the cabin is made of laminate ply.
To meet Marine Department survey requirements she has been very heavily constructed with crash bulkheads and stainless steel flotation tanks in the floor.  She has a built-in head also built to survey specifications .
Camaroni was designed to take an engine up to 400hp. The McLeods used two engines, a 235hp oil-injected Johnson motor and a 9.9hp Johnson for trolling.  She has built-in gusher pumps, a hand pump, an electric pump, depth finders and other instruments.  Every wiring circuit has its own fuse.  She is licensed to carry five passengers.
Her name has unusual beginnings ... the McLeods always had Chevrolet cars in their earlier years and wanted to buy a Camaro, the sports version of the Chevrolet range.  Unfortunately Customs wouldn't clear the car.  At that time they were about to buy their first boat which was only a family one.  For interest’s sake they were looking in a dictionary and noticed the meaning of Camaron was "fresh-water shrimp".  After comments by overseas visitors and a check with a university they decided to use the Portugese version Camaroni which is the correct pronunciation.  The first boat was named Camaron I and it was continued through to III with each new boat until the last which was Camaroni IV.


Champion was originally called Iona.  She was built in Auckland by Bailey and Lowe for Mr J A McFarlane who ran her on the Napier lagoon.  After the earthquake in 1931 she was brought to Taupo.
He named her Iona after an island off the West Coast of Scotland where his family came from.  Another Iona now sits in the Taupo harbour, but this is a different boat.
Jack Taylor bought her in 1944 and changed her name to Champion.  He plied for hire for 10 years in her before selling her to Harold Worsnope.  He sold her to Arthur Briese in the late 1950s and she left Taupo then.
Champion was an all kauri flush deck boat before Jack bought her and put a cabin on.  She was 32ft long, had a beam of 8ft 6in and had a displacement of 3ft 3in.  Her wheelhouse was up front and she slept six with four in the main cabin and two up forward.  She had a stove and toilet in her. Her stern was low in the water which differentiated her from other boats in the harbour as did her green top and white sides.
Champion was run originally by a Parsons’ petrol marine engine.  Jack put in a Redwing engine and used this while he ran the boat.    She was moored in front of the Taylor's boatyard on the other side of the river, along with other well known boats of the time;  Nomad, Milady, Colonist, Venture and Victory.

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