New Website for 2019

We are all used to using Internet websites these days, from doing your personal banking to comparing reviews on a new washing machine, booking a holiday or chasing down that elusive part for your boat.  Spare a thought for the clever people who build these websites – we’ve met a lot of them recently!  AWBF, Inc. is working on a completely new website to be released in time for the 2019 MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  We can’t wait for February 2019, of course, because soon we will be opening Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for Boats Afloat and Boats Ashore, as well as registering volunteers and exhibitors for the four-day festival.  Our website must be able to do a great many things: help boat owners to secure a berth, help people with their travel plans and accommodation, provide a preview of the festival program and welcome volunteers who would like to get involved.  The AWBF website has to look good, be easy to use and load up onto your screen quickly.  It also has to handle payments, answer questions and get you in contact with us when you need it.

photo: channel4.com
The Technical Crew

All of these things are like the proverbial swan on a lake.  In order to look good and work smoothly, there’s an awful lot of footwork going on under the surface.  We’re indebted to technical wizard Eftihios ‘Effy’ Zavros, web designer Sean Ravenwood, IT-savvy board member Chris Palmer and office manager Bronnie Hansson for toiling through hundreds of lines of code and pages of text to make sure the new website is fully functional in time for beta testing to be arranged by Peter Higgs.

We hope to be able to invite you to take the new website for a spin when we release our next newsletter in mid-April.  Watch this space!

New Management at Franklin Marine

Laurence Burgin, the long-time owner of Franklin Marine in the Huon Valley was known for his community mindedness, his enthusiasm and his expertise with everything maritime, from diesel engines to fishing lures. Laurence has moved on now, handing over the reins to South Australian Ian Kuhl, who has worked at Franklin Marine since 2016. Ian is no stranger to the sea himself.   He is a qualified Master 4 with thousands of sea miles in his logbook and long association with wooden boats. We popped in to ask Ian a few questions about his decision to make a home in the Huon Valley.

Where are you from originally, Ian?

I was born in South Australia and went to Immanuel College and Urrbrae Agricultural. Started my working life as a jackeroo and worked my way up to farm overseer. I put in eight years working farms in south east SA before I ran away to sea.

You got connected with the One and All, Adelaide’s tall ship?

That’s right. I was with the One and All for twenty years, all told. Started as a watch leader, then purser, Second Mate, First Mate and eventually Captain. Later on, I became the CEO and Operations Manager. I was also board member and president of what’s now known as Tall Ships Australia and New Zealand. It was AUSTA in my day.

Adelaide’s tall ship One and All

You did a lot of commercial sea time as well?

Yes, I was in the Whitsundays for three years with Barefoot Cruises. I was skipper for 18 months on the Oceanic Pearl, a 65’ gentleman’s cruiser, then on an early Incat 37m wave piercer and the square rigger Coral Trekker. I ended up on Hayman Island for three years, managing a fleet of seven cruising vessels and a staff of 20.

Coral Trekker cruising the Whitsundays

And then the decision to move to Tasmania permanently?

Yes, that happened in 2015. I found work at Whitworth’s for a short time, then rolled up at Franklin Marine and started working with Laurence in December 2016. When Laurence decided to step back, I bought the lease on the shop, the trading name and of course all the stock.

It’s a pretty busy operation, isn’t it?

It certainly is. It’s a one-stop-shop for boaties and anyone going fishing. We’ve got a huge array of boat fittings, marine products and fishing gear. I’m looking at that range and working out how we can streamline our operation and build relationships with the local shipwrights, sailing clubs and organisations.

Franklin as a town is moving forwards with development on the waterfront and I see this as a big positive for the town and for the Huon Valley. Franklin already has some wonderful attractions with the Wooden Boat Centre and the Yukon. These attractions can only be helped by the development and more people coming into Frankin and I look forward to seeing it develop over the years.

You still have an interest in youth sail training as well?

Yes, I’ve been involved in that for a long time, through One and All and AUSTA. I’m looking for opportunities to support these kind of programs into the future.

Well, good luck. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of you at the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival.

Aussie 18s in the News

There’s word around the slips about a possible Hobart showdown in 2019 between The Yanks (in the shape of the East Coast sandbaggers) and the Aussies (look to the classic Sydney 18-footers like Britannia, displayed at the Australian National Maritime Museum). Ian Smith’s exact replica of the 1919 craft Britannia put in an appearance at AWBF 2017. The extreme length of the jib and boom had many visitors scratching their heads – how could a little 18-foot boat carry that much sail and avoid going airborne? Well, they did, and they still do, as evidenced by the Sydney Flying Squadron sailing modern replicas.

Off Center Harbor, the fast-growing video website for sailors was suitably impressed when they saw Britannia and recently released a new video on these classic boats. CLICK HERE to see the video and another on Victorian couta boats. It will cost you nothing to see the video and ten more of their best, but be warned, the website is seriously addictive if you’re into wooden boats.

OffCenterHarbor.com is a membership website with 1,000+ professional videos/articles on wooden boats, including topics such as boat handling, repairs, maintenance, boat building, and getting aboard legendary boats. It’s worth checking out.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast of the USA, the classic 19th century fast sailboats called sandbaggers are again tearing through the water, descendants of the working oyster boats that once delivered fresh shellfish to the tables of the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts in their New York City mansions. Sandbaggers get their name from the practice of moving bags of sand ballast from one side of the boat to the other to keep them upright under a huge press of sail, racing their rival skippers to get to market first for the best prices.

Sandbaggers Racing in Long Island Sound by James Edward Buttersworth (1817-1894).            Image: Sailcraftblog.wordpress.com

In France, there’s also renewed interest in a similar style of over-powered high-speed sailing craft called a houaris Marseillais. Prestigious boating magazine Classic Boat covered the phenomenon in a recent article:

Radical New Sandbagger-Type Yachts in France

“To say Alcyon is extreme would be an understatement. She’s like a soup bowl carrying a pillowcase of rig. With her length overall of just 22ft 11in (7m) but boom and bowsprit extending out to 68ft 11in (21m), the cloud of canvas overhang is absolutely nuts – she looks like a boat that you’d really expect to see in black and white, when our yachting ancestors were zealously over-rigging yachts to win silver on sunny summer regatta days.”

It turns out that Ian Smith, with Britannia and a gang of his mates went to Annapolis, Maryland recently, took on the sandbaggers in their home waters and in a distant echo of the 1983 ‘Thunder from Down Under’ that won the America’s Cup, the cheeky 18-footers won the day. Now, there’s honour at stake and word is, a return match is on the cards. Likely champions? The famous sandbaggers Bull and Bear from the US National Sailing Hall of Fame might just wet their sails in the River Derwent. Stay tuned for more news.

Feature photo:  Bruce Kerridge, courtesy Sydney Flying Squadron