Ben Mendlowitz Calendar Features Tassie Boats

One of the world’s most respected maritime photographers, Ben Mendlowitz, has selected two Tasmanian boats to feature in his eagerly-anticipated Calendar of Wooden Boats for 2019.

This is an extraordinary result from a first-time visit for Ben to Tasmania for the 2017 MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  With a 20,000 copy print run, this famous calendar is a hot item on every wooden boat owner’s Christmas list in North America and hundred of mail-order copies find their way to Europe, Asia and Australasia.  It’s a remarkable honour to see not one, but two Australian vessels in the calendar and the boat owners can be justifiably proud to be chosen for this prestigious and beautifully produced photographic essay.

The boats are Ben Marris’s 1936 Huon Pine ketch Saona and Toby Greenlees 13-metre, 111 year-old ketch Mallana.  Both boats were popular features at the 2017 festival.  Saona is something of a cinematic star, having hosted the Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans television team for an SBS series in 2012. Mallana was a participant in the thrilling Working Ketch Race for the Wrest Point Cup.

Saona – photo courtesy Ben Marris
Mallana – photo (c) Ballantyne Photography

The Calendar of Wooden Boats is published by Noah Publications in Brooklyn, Maine, which also produces elegant books featuring Ben Mendlowitz’s photography.  The calendar will be available on Amazon and from the publisher, but we are hoping to convince a local Hobart bookshop to stock the calendar when it is published.  If you are a lover of fine wooden boat photography, an advance order for the 2019 calendar from your favourite bookshop might be a sound idea.

Ben Mendlowitz was a guest of the AWBF at the last festival, along with Off Centre Harbor film maker Steve Stone.  Both friends have been instrumental in helping to build awareness of the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival in the North American market.

Tassie Too Returns

Tassie Too, the 21 Foot Restricted class yacht which won the Forster Cup an unequalled ten times between 1927 and 1952, was successfully re-launched in early February 2018 thanks to the efforts of a team of passionate supporters of Tasmanian maritime history; several with deep connections to the vessel itself. Kenn Batt, Greg Muir, Bill Batt, Colin Grazules and Nicole Mays established the “Friends of Tassie Too” not-for-profit organisation in early 2017 to coordinate administrative, financial, insurance, scheduling and maintenance efforts associated with Tassie Too. Their hard work and determination resulted in the vessel making a triumphant return to the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania from Melbourne in September 2017, and an auspicious re-launch a few weeks ago. With support from the Tasmanian maritime industry, maritime history and sailing community, the “Friends of Tassie Too” organisation will ensure that Tassie Too is well cared for into the future, and well used.

Tassie Too was launched from the Battery Point slips near Hobart on 26 November 1927 having been built by Charlie Lucas and Chips Gronfors. The yacht was designed by W. P. “Skipper” Batt in conjunction with Alfred Blore and John Tarleton with principal measurements of 25ft overall x 7.5ft beam. Class requirements called for a vessel of 21ft on the waterline, 25ft overall with a maximum beam of 8ft. Tassie Too was commissioned by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania and paid for by subscription to allow a second Tasmanian boat to compete for the hotly contested Forster Cup; the national event for the 21ft Restricted Class. Skippered by several members of the Batt family, including Skipper Batt, his brother Harry, and later Harry’s son Neall, the vessel was a standout at the Forster Cup, winning the event ten times between 1928 and 1952.

Believed to be the only survivor of the three ‘Tassie‘-named boats which represented Tasmania and dominated the 21 Foot Restricted class for more than two decades, Tassie Too will be a popular and welcome participant in the 2019 Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Additional information about the vessel, its history, lists of crews, and how you can donate to the Friends of Tassie Too organisation can be found at


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.