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.

 

Dutch BM16m2 Goes to Auction

Isn’t She Beautiful?

STOP PRESS

The lovely ‘sixteen metre square’ sailboat Seacrest sold at auction in under 15 minutes to a very happy new owner – retired Victorian fisherman Mr Gerhard Wilmink from Apollo Bay.

He takes home a hand-built, elegantly designed and beautifully finished small yacht, ready for the water and keen to sail.  It’s been the closely-followed program for the Dutch Project at the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  Crafted by a young team of boat builders under the direction of veteran boat builder Bert van Baar, the sleek keelboat is made from Tasmanian celery top pine donated by Hydrowood and was built at the Wooden Boat Centre at Franklin.

Dutch boat builders at Franklin with associate producer Karen Meirik and AWBF Chairman Steve Knight © Robert Oates | BALLANTYNE Photography

The boat went under the auctioneer’s hammer on Sunday, February 12 at 4:00 pm on the festival site at the Shipwright’s Village in Mawson Place.  The hotly contested auction, introduced with a few words of Dutch by local auctioneer Mr Hank Petrusma, drew a large crowd to Franklin Wharf where the BM16m2 has been admired by the tens of thousands of visitors attending the festival. All proceeds go to the not-for-profit AWBF, Inc. to keep our festival free!

The boat was built from celery top pine, reclaimed from the bottom of Lake Pieman by Tasmanian company Hydrowood and donated to the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival.

Ironically, Mr Wilmink emigrated from Holland at the age of 12, along with the many Dutch who did so after World War II.  Having Seacrest is like reclaiming a little piece of Holland and its culture for the Wilmink family. The visiting Dutch boat builders were also delighted with this outcome.  Mr Wilmink retired from fishing after 44 years in the industry and sold his boat, the Johanna Cherie, in February 2016. In another twist of irony, the Johanna Cherie was also constructed from celery top and Huon pine. She was built in 1983 in by renowned Port Fairy boat-builder, Garry Stewart.  Other examples of Garry Stewart-built boats were on display at the festival.

Johanna Cherie still operates as a fishing boat, and now is based on King Island.

 When asked his intentions for Seacrest , Mr Wilmink said he was looking forward to taking his grandchildren sailing at home in Apollo Bay.

Seaquest (foreground) races a Dutch tjotter at AWBF 2017. © Mithun Rajshekar | BALLANTYNE Photography

 

 

At the Far Side of the World

At the Far Side of the World

…there’s work afoot.  In the Royal Kingdom of the Netherlands, talk of the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival in faraway Tasmania has already hit the media.  Preparations for a major Dutch presence at the 2017 festival includes a team of young Dutch boat builders getting ready for a very big trip.  Owners of the classic tjotters (small sailing craft popular in Holland) are preparing to send them out here for the festival and a fascinating exhibition, to be presented at TMAG, will tell the story of the VOC (the Dutch East India Company) and the quite incredible feats of navigation and seamanship that brought Abel Tasman to our island in 1642. Tasmanian company Blundstone will be a major partner, organising a warm send-off in Amsterdam and the local Dutch community here in Tasmania are coming to the party to offer accommodation and hospitality.  One remarkable project is coming from the famous Batavia Yard (Bataviawerf) near Amsterdam.  It is a carving, suitable for a ship’s figurehead, of the Dutch carpenter Pieter Jacobs.  Jacobs was the man who swam ashore at Blackman Bay to plant the Dutch flag 375 years ago.  Master carvers at the Batavia Yard use cutting edge technology and traditional skills to create master works in wood

High tech scanning captures an actor's image
High tech scanning captures an actor’s image

 

The rough is assembled in laminated timber
The rough is assembled in laminated timber

 

A detailed mould allows the sculptor to capture the image exactly
A detailed mould allows the sculptor to capture the image exactly

 

The master woodcarver begins the finishing work
The master woodcarver begins the finishing work

The Batavia Yard was responsible for the stunning replica of the 17th century ship that reached Australia in 1629, only to be shipwrecked on the Western Australian coast.  The story of that shipwreck and the mutiny that followed is a violent and bloody chapter in Australia’s earliest European history.  You can read more about the ship yard that preserves traditional methods and skills here:  bataviawerf.nl/who-are-we.html

Meanwhile, Bert van Barr and his team of young shipwrights are eagerly looking forward to their pre-Christmas arrival, to get a start on their own project, the 6-metre sailboat to be constructed at the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin.  The Centre is generously donating workspace and tools for the team to do the build.  They are expected to complete and launch the boat at the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival in February, 2017.

IMG_2834
The Dutch team will be right at home at the Wooden Boat Centre

Instructor and shipwright Bert van Barr has started his own blog here:  tasmanian16m2.wordpress.com