The East Gippsland Wooden Boat Association was recently treated to a presentation by the builder and owner of the Caravel Notorious, Mr Graeme Wylie. The event was held on the evening of 12 July at the Men’s Shed in Paynesville and was preceded by a BYO dinner with tea and coffee provided by the Men’s Shed.

As the guest speaker, Graeme enthralled the audience with his boat building history together with some associated successes and surprises. Graeme was accompanied by his wife Felicite and he acknowledged her support during the construction of Notorious.

Graeme included an account of successfully building a Hartley, transporting it to Darwin and following a successful launch and sea trials discovered that the intended journey to Indonesia would require substantially more fuel to be carried. Further preparation was required for the journey and when they finally departed they had in excess of 600 litres of fuel. Unfortunately however, after resting the night in the Arafura Sea they suffered an engine failure. Graeme and his crew found they were unable to restart the engine as sea water had entered the exhaust during the night. They were finally rescued after three days by an Indonesian fishing boat.


Many years later whilst recovering from an illness, Graeme decided to build a Caravel. He explained his motivation, the planning, the research and ultimate decision to build a Caravel. He described how the local council decided to remove the species of pine and was glad to deliver the 300 tons of unwanted trees required for the construction of Notorious to his property.

Although Graeme’s single handed building of the Notorious resulted in the loss of his thumb whilst manufacturing one of the thousands of trunnels used for fixings, he remains philosophical about the personal costs and physical strain, believing that he has recreated a little known but interesting piece of history.

Graeme’s presentation was both interesting and amusing and included the screening of a CD of the construction methods and the respective phases of the project. As Graeme had researched this project thoroughly he was able to speak intelligently about the design and building of Caravels and to answer the many technical questions regarding the vessel and its construction. An excellent evening was reported by all and the EGWBA expressed gratitude for Graeme’s time with a small gift for Graeme and flowers for Felicite.

Notorious is currently on display in Paynesville and will set sail in January for the upcoming 2013 Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart.