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.

            Floataboat bait boat 10

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.

Floataboat bait boat 1  Floataboat bait boat 3

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.

Floataboat bait boat 13 wooden livewell Gdansk Museum Poland  Floataboat bait boat 14 wooden livewell Gdansk Museum Poland

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.

Floataboat bait boat 4  Floataboat bait boat 6

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.

Floataboat bait boat 8  Floataboat bait boat 9

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.

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