As summer rolls into Tasmania, we are all enjoying the bright sunshine and warm weather and of course we’re reminded that when the warm weather returns again in a year, we’ll be celebrating the 2019 MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival. A little more than twelve months from now, that is, and there’s much to be done between now and then.
Our featured nation in 2019 will be the United States and we’re already putting together an exciting program that includes some of the best-known names in the wooden boat world, including Jon Wilson (founder of the iconic WoodenBoat Magazine), Carol Hasse (legendary sail-maker from Port Townsend, Washington), Steve White (Brooklin Boat Yard, Maine) and Sean Koomen (chief instructor at the North West School of Wooden Boat Building). We’ll be shipping out some classic North American examples of boat design and welcoming a contingent of deeply experienced and committed people to celebrate our shared heritage in wooden boats. We’ll announce more names as they are confirmed over the next few months.
The Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) continues its support for the International Wooden Boat Symposium in 2019, with noted speakers from Tasmania and interstate, as well as our international guests. There are exciting plans to cooperate with the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin to run a boat-building project similar to the enormously popular Dutch project that saw a beautiful 21’ sailboat created out of unique Tasmanian timber. The design of the new project is rumoured to be a Herreshoff Haven 12.5, once described by Brooklin Boat Yard’s founder Joel White as ‘probably the best small boat ever designed’. Anne Holst at the Wooden Boat Centre tells us that limited places may be available to join this building team – details to come.
The classic Tasmanian steam launch Preana is often skippered by Sam Yousofi, who is on the Hobart waterfront often enough to ask ‘Where Have All the Ferries Gone?’ Boat Manager Cathy Hawkins continues her story of high adventure in the Arctic with ‘Iqualuktuuttiaq to Nuuk, Greenland – A Bloody Long Way!’. (Any reader who can accurately pronounce the first place name receives a small prize from AWBF this month.) Mal Riley, master of the Lady Nelson weighs in with a good suggestion for the next festival and there’s more news from around the traps, including a respectful farewell to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival’s first Honorary Life Member – Meade Gougeon.
The Aussie invasion at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival is very well documented in the Chairman’s Message this month. We experienced a genuine welcome, old-fashioned hospitality and a great weekend of lively chat and boat stories. The visit was the result of a lot of planning and a commitment to get the ball rolling for a good show, when our North American friends allow us to return the favour as special guests in 2019.
But August and September saw other developments, too. AWBF Inc. has once more invited been by the Mawson’s Huts Foundation to manage and deliver the Australian Antarctic Festival. This event will take place in August 2018, with the two Antarctic research vessels Aurora Australis and Investigator open to the public and for school tours at Princes Wharf, Hobart. We are already busy working on a bigger and better program, following the success of the inaugural Antarctic Festival in 2016.
We were very sorry to hear from long-time festival supporter, outstanding volunteers organiser and well-known food and beverage manager Kelvin Aldred has decided to hang up his clipboard after more than 16 years’ service to the AWBF. Kel and his wonderful wife Sandra have been indulging their love of travel and they are just having too much fun to fit it all in. We will all miss you, Kel, especially your leadership of the fabulous ‘A-Team’ who took on so many festival jobs with enthusiasm, good humour and endless patience.
AWBF has thrown its hat into the ring again for the Tasmanian Tourism Awards, submitting an entry in the Major Events category. With Hobart emerging as the boutique events capital of Australia, there’s some tough competition out there, but we’re hopeful of recording a few runs on the board. Finalist in these prestigious awards will be announced on Thursday 12 October, so stayed tuned for more news.
As always, we welcome stories from our membership and readers. Submissions should be in an unformatted word document or email and good pictures help bring your story alive. Send them as JPEG attachments by email. Please note, you must have the permission of the person who took the photo before we can publish it. Deadline is the first week of each calendar month.
It’s pretty chilly here in Hobart now, with a dusting of snow on the mountain most days. It reminds us that this is the time for repairs and maintenance and preparation for the coming season. It’s not exactly tropical here in the AWBF office in the Salamanca Arts Centre, but there’s plenty of work to do, preparing grant applications and sponsorship proposals and writing endless reports to ensure that we have the financial resources to produce another great festival in 2019. The Tasmanian Government has made a welcome commitment to support three festivals (2017, 2019 and 2021), but that amounts to just around half what we need to produce the event. The rest comes from corporate sponsorship, exhibitors and organisations like the Australian National Maritime Museum. Each of these contributors must be looked after to ensure that they receive a satisfactory return on investment and continue to support the Australian Wooden Boat Festival into the future. This will be the subject of a short presentation at the next AWBF Member’s Meeting on Monday 7 August 2017.
That meeting will be the final one for our long-serving Treasurer Peter Benson, who has donated 13 years of professional financial guidance and stewardship. Peter has guided the festival through some rough patches over the years and his qualifications as a senior chartered accountant have been invaluable. I know that when I joined the organisation in 2011, it didn’t take long to work out that nothing got past Peter’s eagle eye in the day-to-day accounts or the monthly financial reports. ‘Purser Pete’, as he’s affectionately known, could spot a fuzzy figure in a balance sheet faster that a hungry seagull spots a sardine in the water. I learned that my budget forecasts would be checked and adjusted and checked again to see that we weren’t spending money we didn’t have. I came to have huge respect for Peter’s acumen and head for business. I’m pleased to say that we developed a great partnership and I’m indebted to him for teaching me things about tax law and corporate governance that I never suspected I didn’t know. I will miss Pete’s bombshell visits to the office and the sound advice he’s given me over the last six years. Peter is off to enjoy his love of adventure travel and sailing and he’s earned every minute of his retirement.
We’ll also be taking advantage of our ‘off year’ to accept a warm invitation from our friends at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival in September. Chairman Steve Knight and myself will travel to Seattle to attend the festival, with a two-part job to do. First, we’ll be scouting for boats, boat owners and influencers who can help us promote the participation of the United States as our guest nation in 2019. Our two nations have far more in common than that which separates us, and the culture of wooden boats is strong there. Many American enthusiasts have been to the Hobart festival and have returned home singing its praises. Now it’s time for us to go there and spread the word even further. The second part of the job is scouting for new inspiration and ideas. The Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival has a great reputation for authenticity and hands-on wooden boat activities. We’re looking for good ideas that we can bring back to the AWBF to enrich that part of our program. We’ll be joined in Port Townsend by AWBF members travelling independently, including Cathy Hawkins, Joy Phillips and Mike Ponsonby. It’s an Aussie invasion, but they did invite us!
– Paul Cullen, General Manager AWBF, Inc.