In 2010 I had a decision to make – I’d built a couple of small dinghies to enjoy with my two sons but I wanted a trailer sailer to share with my whole family. Do I build it or do I buy a second hand fibreglass boat?

I looked at plenty of designs, from modern racers to plywood kit boats. I was keen to have a sailing trailer boat that was easy to rig, big enough for my family of 5, large cockpit and shallow draft. In the end I was influenced by the clever, even inspirational, designs of American Phil Bolger.

Before he died in May 2009 Phil had designed almost a thousand boats ranging from 8’ boxes, to ocean cruisers, power launches and a square rigged ship. I was drawn to a popular 20’ design called the Chebacco – but I was not convinced it was large enough.

A 25’ Chebacco design existed – but it was on paper only, the original customer for the design had never built it. The plans had been sitting in an archive for 18 years.

Time to be brave! Time to build a boat by a designer who was no longer alive to a design that had never been built, using a construction method I had never tried. On top of that the design was sufficiently unconventional to be interesting – a flat bottomed, glued clinker yawl.

Fast forward 4 ½ years.

It has been a tremendous journey, a lot of work, not a lot of money but learning all the way. The internet has been a constant source of instruction and information. I have spent a couple of hours most evenings sawing, sanding, gluing or pondering. The result speaks for itself – no, come to think about it, it doesn’t. I have a beautiful and functional yacht to show for my efforts, but I also have a hidden wealth of knowledge and experience. I’ve made new friends and can talk with authority about lots of boatbuilding skills, from spiling to sewing.

Here are some details – she is 25’8” long by 8’2” beam and draws 16” with the centre board up. She is rigged as a cat-yawl, the mainsail is a balanced lug and the small mizzen behind the rudder post is a leg-o-mutton. I estimate she is about ¾ of a ton or 750kg empty, which is very light, due to her glued clinker ply construction and no ballast. The sides have that classic clinker fishing boat look, but under the water she is actually a flat bottom boat, broad and stable. Phil Bolger claimed that it should plane with just a small outboard, we will see!

I intend to have her at the Wooden Boat Association AGM in July – come and have a look.

And why KHAOS theory? She is named after my supportive family Kieren, Horatio, Andrew, Orlando and Solveig! Hopefully we will all enjoy sailing her this summer.

Andrew Yenn.

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Membership is open to all wooden boat enthusiasts. Many members own boats, others do not, but all enjoy the chance to get together and "muck about with boats". Their boats include rowing boats, putt-putts, radio controlled models, pond yachts, canoes, kayaks, steam-powered boats, sailing dinghies, dayboats and ocean-going yachts.

The Wooden Boat Association is based in Melbourne, with regular sailing days scheduled on Albert Park Lake, as well as other venues around Melbourne, and at least one weekend each year elsewhere in the state.

Especially welcome is the first-time wooden boat builder or restorer, who can expect to receive ample advice and assistance in getting their dream onto the water.

Benefits of Wooden Boat Association Membership 

  • Become part of a friendly and sociable group of people with a common interest in wooden boats.
  • Receive Shavings, a monthly newsletter bringing timely news about events and activities in Victoria.
  • Regular meetings with a wide range of interesting speakers and activities. Our usual venue is the Albert Park Yacht Club, with visits to other venues from time to time.
  • Monthly sailing days, on Albert Park Lake and other locations close to Melbourne.
  • Use of the Association's own boats, two traditional sailing boats, Begonia and Lindsay Symons, our canoe Stringybark, and our extremely rare Port Philip 12.
  • Access to the Association's extensive library of boatbuilding and other nautical books.
  • Companionship with sister associations in other states

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