Haven 12.5 Project in Franklin

We are busy planning the next Australian Wooden Boat Festival, and we hit the ground running after the Christmas break.  There’s a lot of work to do, as the featured nation this time around is the USA and they have reacted to our invitation like long-lost friends. We’ve already got an brilliant line-up of wooden boat stars ready to present at the festival.

One of them is Sean Koomen, chief instructor at the North West School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Townsend, Washington.  Sean will bring a team of graduate students out to build a Haven 12.5, a classic American design originally by Herreshoff, modified by Joel White.  Joel’s son, Steve White, will be on the team.  They will build the boat at the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin, with the same sort of time-frame as the Dutch boat building project on 2017.  This project will generate a huge amount of interest in North America.

Chief instructor Sean Koomen at the NWSWBB

Sean is eager to get his hands on the Hydrowood reclaimed-timber celery top pine. Dutch boat builder Bert van Baar gave it a rave review after building the smart BM16 at the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin.  ‘Smooth, cuts like butter, fine finish’, he said.

Hydrowood has agreed to be involved again in 2019, which has everyone smiling.  Anne Holst, manager of the Wooden Boat Centre has generously offered to provide space and access to tools.  ‘There will be opportunities for locals to get involved in the build’ she reports.  The town of Franklin is the perfect location for international guests to get a taste of real Tasmanian hospitality and our fascination with wooden boats. The vessel is expected to be on site for the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival and will be auctioned to support this free, public event on Hobart’s beautiful waterfront.

 

Maori Lass Gets Some Attention

Maori Lass

Our long-serving Dock Master, Ross Barnett, is a man who knows a thing or two about wooden boats. He’d restored enough of them, God knows, and there probably isn’t a piner’s punt in Tasmania he’s not on first-name terms with. So when he decided that his beloved Maori Lass needed a polish up for her 70th birthday (this is not the beloved Mrs. B, you understand, but a 30’ compact offshore cruiser built in Hobart in 1948), he should have known what he was in for. Roscoe did know enough to enlist the services of master shipwright Terry Lean to ‘replace a few ribs under and astern of the engine and give it a lick of paint around the topsides. Six weeks, eight at the most.’

Captain Crusty gets to work

We know, dear reader, we know. You have already laid your head to one side and adopted a knowing look. Stand by, they’re going to lift Maori Lass out of the water and put her into the Gardners Bay shed once occupied by the fabled Wilson Brothers, creators of Varg and many other superb Tasmanian boats. Terry Lean will be in charge, assisted by Captain Crusty (aka Ross Barnett) in the part-time project to complete the tune-up.

Terry has the runs on the board, having worked on the restoration of the Kathleen Gillett (now in pride of place at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney) and the Jock Muir boat Lahara. Trained at Halvorsen and Gowland, he was shipwright and charge hand for Halvorsen Boats at Bobbin Head, then for Beashel’s in Pittwater before moving to Tasmania and taking up the position of principal tutor and boat builder at the Wooden Boat Centre on the shores of the Franklin River. Terry, who is also a qualified marine surveyor, continues to practice his traditional trade, with many notable boats to his credit.

Remind me, Terry, where does this bit go?

Maori Lass was designed by HE Cox and built by fellow New Zealander Ron Andrewartha with the help of his two sons, Tom and Bob. The two Kiwi gentlemen took Mrs Trewartha’s advice and christened the boat with an appropriate name. Built from Tasmanian blue gum keel and ribs with celery top pine planking, she was designed for true ocean sailing. The boat has proved herself well up to that task, having spent considerable time in Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, Darwin and around the world via Singapore, the Suez Canal, Panama Canal and across the Pacific.

Mrs. B. has just told Terry and Ross they can go home now, it’s 6:00pm.

We caught up with Ross here in the AWBF office recently to see how things were going:

AWBF:   So, Roscoe, having started the re-fit back in September, how is that 6 week project coming along?

RB:    Have you seen the state of those ribs? It’s like a jungle in there! Christmas. We should be done by Christmas. Well, soon after Christmas, anyway.

AWBF:   That’s OK, Roscoe, but the next festival is just 13 months away. Do you reckon you’ll be clear by then? We need our Dock Master back, after all.

RB:        Leave it with me. (walks away with a limp where his wallet used to be)

Seacrest – It Started with a Log

If you own a wooden boat (or if you used to own a boat and you’re all better now), this little story might ring a bell:

Once upon a time there was a log.  It was a very nice log of celery top pine and along with a slightly smaller log, it was donated by the clever people at Hydrowood, who are reclaiming valuable boat-building timber from the Tasmanian highland lakes.  Here at the AWBF, someone said ‘Hey, free wood! Those logs would make a great boat, wouldn’t they?’  So the log was milled by local wooden boat enthusiast Dave Golding and the lovely clean timber was brought to the Wooden Boat Centre at Franklin.

But of course if the timber was ever to be anything more than a stack of wood, we would need a team of boat builders to knock it into shape. We were lucky to find a team of six student shipwrights and their instructor who were willing to come out all the way out from Holland to build our boat.  Well, they needed somewhere to stay and somewhere to build the boat, so the kind people in the town of Franklin helped to find them places to live and the Wooden Boat Centre gave them a workshop to build the boat in.

Sure, the air fares and the accommodation and the tools and the extra materials and the transport all cost a few dollars, but hey, it was free wood and volunteer labour, right?

And then one day, it was done! We had a beautiful Dutch-design sailboat called a BM16m2 and it was christened ‘Seacrest’.  We hired a truck and a crane (oh, we had to build a cradle for it to sit in)  and then we shipped it up to the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival, where it was a big hit and everyone admired it.

 

In fact one man, a retired rock lobster fisherman from Victoria named Gerhard Wilmink, liked it so much that he pointed it out to his partner, Cherie.  ‘Look, that’s a lovely boat and it’s up for auction today and I bet it will go for a good price and wouldn’t the grandchildren love it?’ (If you have ever watched a patient partner listen to the ravings of a wooden boat lover, you can imagine the eye-rolling and the resigned expression).  Gerhard bid carefully in a lively auction and soon the boat was his!

But, of course it would need a final coat or two of varnish, so it was back to the Wooden Boat Centre for a little more loving, while Gerhard sorted out a  a very sturdy twin-axle trailer to transport the boat back to Apollo Bay in Victoria (and yes, the fares on the Spirit of Tasmania can make your eyes water).  Soon, it was ready to go.  But as it happened, the boat and the trailer were a little too much for Gerhard’s car, so he had to go out and buy a new truck to tow it.

Which is the story of how a couple of free logs turned into Seacrest, a Cinderella of a sailboat, ready for the warmer weather and some excited grand-kids to go sailing.

Of course, we are teasing a little.  The project that built the Seacrest was a wonderful example of international cooperation and the community of wooden boats. Gerhard Wilmink is a highly respected skipper and a repeat visitor to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  His previous boat, the 50′ rock lobster boat Johanna Cherie, was built by renowned shipwright Gary Stewart at Port Fairy, Victoria.  The Johanna Cherie is still in the industry, operating out of Currie on King Island.  Gerhard and Cherie have become welcome friends in the community at Franklin, Tasmania.  Many thanks to photographers Rob Oates, Daryl Peebles and Barbara Murphy for their contributions.