Vale Meade Gougeon

Farewell to our respected friend Meade Gougeon, who passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by his family, on Sunday, August 27, 2017.

“I’ve been involved in wooden boat festivals for quite a long time now, including about 15 years of running the skills demonstrations at the WoodenBoat Show in Mystic, Connecticut. I’ve been to Brest twice, and I’ve been attending the Port Townsend festival since 1979, plus numerous other shows and festivals here and there. In general, I would say the Hobart festival stacks up most favorably against the best of them. I saw American and European designers represented from the early 20th century right up to now, in staggering variety, with no one influence dominating. That is a great, great strength of the Hobart festival, and I believe the International Wooden Boat Symposium reinforces it.“ Meade Gougeon (USA) leading sailor and designer

In 2017, Meade became the first Honorary Life Member of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival Inc. as a mark of our respect and gratitude for his encouragement and support. In 2015, at the age of 76, Meade travelled all the way from his home in Bay City, Michigan to Hobart to attend the Festival. He was the keynote speaker at the International Wooden Boat Symposium that year and delighted everyone he met with his undiminished enthusiasm for wood as a high-tech building material and for the international world of wooden boat design.

Meade, with his brothers Joel and Jan, founded the company that pioneered the use of epoxy glues and laminate timber for building boats in 1969. Their radical composite structures brought elegant boat construction within the reach of thousands of owners who could not afford the traditional service of professional shipwrights. Meade was an avid and successful sailor, on the water and on the frozen surface of the North American lakes. He co-authored The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction, which has remained a standard reference book since it was first published in 1979. The West System is the well-known brand of the employee-owned company that continues to supply innovative products to the professional and amateur boat builder.

Paddle Steamer Curlip Needs Your Help

Gary Plumley is the President of the Gippsland Lakes Classic Boat Club and a regular attendee at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  Gary writes:

I am the Chairman of Paddle Steamer Curlip Inc, a not-for-profit community association based at Paynesville on the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria. Our members elected last year to assist the community of East Gippsland to rebuild and restore the Paddle Steamer Curlip.
After many months of protracted negotiations with government instrumentalities, including AMSA, we gained permission to make an epic open ocean voyage from the Snowy River estuary at Marlo and steamed Curlip along Bass Strait and into The Gippsland Lakes system at Lakes Entrance.
This voyage made P.S Curlip the first paddle steamer to make an open ocean voyage since P.S.Werroona during World War II.  Our website outlines her rich history as a replica of the original Curlip that opened up and pioneered supply to settlers in the river systems of East Gippsland during the 1800s. That vessel was built by Samuel Richardson and his sons near Orbost. Our Paddle Steamer Curlip was rebuilt at Orbost under the management and direction of Gil Richardson, a descendant of the Richardson family.
She was built to engender hope and goodwill for the people of remote East Gippsland, after the closure of their timber felling and milling industry.
Paddle Steamer Curlip is now on a waterfont hardstand at Paynesville. Once back in the water she will work the Rivers and Lakes systems of the Gippsland Lakes, between the heritage Port of Bairnsdale on the Mitchell River to Paynesville and beyond.
Our volunteers have raised and expended more than $70,000.00 in cash and kind since November 2016. We have begun the process of removing the Blue Gum Planks under her waterline and now need to raise another $85,000.00 to purchase replacement planking and to employ qualified shipwrights to manage and oversee the re-planking to meet our survey status and AMSA requirements. We have stated that when she returns to service with volunteer and paid skippers, that all proceeds from her operations will go to those in need in our local and extended communities.
We are about to begin a crowd funding campaign, via
Our social media on FaceBook is a critical component to ensure our message gets out to interested people, people who recognise the value of traditional wooden boats, the people who built them and their connection to our rich heritage.
Our members from East Gippsland are all regular visitors and boat owner attendees at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. We love our visits to Hobart and Tasmania. Friends of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival, if so inclined after viewing our pages, would be a fantastic referral and growth for our cause. Once we have increased our critical mass we will launch or crowd funding and other initiatives.
Many of our members are also instrumental in the running of the inaugural Paynesville Classic Boat Rally in March 2016, and your festival’s inspiration is giving great direction for the upcoming Paynesville Classic Boat Rally in March 2018.
Once again for those interested in volunteering, donating, or becoming a Friend of Curlip visit our store
Happy to help, Gary.  Good luck with your campaign.

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.