Over the years of browsing the Float a Boat shop in Ringwood, I had been intrigued by the large model boat (as I thought) on the counter as a display item.
When I asked after plans for the boat, Adrian informed me that there were no plans – the boat is in fact an original full size craft that had been brought in by a customer for refurbishment to supplied specs – but never reclaimed.
So, what is it? You can see from the photos of its original state that it had a lid, a carry handle, and holes in the bottom! Adrian reports that it had been a live bait boat, used on the Murray River over one hundred years ago. The holes in the bottom provided the fresh water, and as there were no flotation tanks, I assume the wooden hull provided adequate buoyancy.
In my research, I found only two other examples of old live bait boats – wooden live wells which would be towed by a fishing boat.
Wikipedia reports that they are on display at the Exposition in Fisheries Museum in Hel - a branch of the National Maritime Museum in Gdansk, Poland.
As you can see, one is a “real” timber boat, and the other has gone for the galvanised iron cladding.
I don’t know the construction particulars of the Polish boats, but as you can see, our “Murray” boat is not just functional, it is beautifully conceived, and carefully and skillfully made – if it wasn’t only 3 feet long, it could almost be a classic waiting for us to go aboard.
To me, the vessel as it was originally brought to Float a Boat was already a striking object, with very attractive lines – but – the owner had other ideas about how it should end up, and so Adrian set out to meet his customer’s requirements.
I have to admire the skill and patience Adrian has exercised in his restoration and transformation of the little boat.
His creativity and eye for detail have produced the eye-catching end result we see today.
What a shame we can no longer see the original beauty alongside this new creation.
Adrian and Rhonda (Float a Boat Ringwood) are, of course, our guest speakers at the club meeting 17/5/2017 (Albert Park Yacht Club), so bring along your questions, and if you have models of your own, please bring them along too.