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.

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)