The planned South West Cruise to Werribee South on Saturday, 21 November, was cancelled due to strong wind warnings. So on Sunday 22nd November, for the second time Rufus pointed her bow sprit to the southwest on a course for the mouth of the Werribee River. This time there was no strong northerly to push us along like last year so the iron mainsail had to do the job with the wind on the bow all the way. After a pleasant couple of hours, we made landfall off the river mouth and motored in to be greeted by Chris Kelly, David Stott and others who had come over land. Shortly after Jill and I tied up and made Rufus fast, Jim and Penny and Peter and Will Batchelor arrived in their boats after an up river cruise.

Alan Chinn recently sent in a photo of an early WBA event. There are some who are long term stalwarts of the WBA and still active!

The only way to find out if modifications work is to take the boat out, so we did just that.

In almost total calm we motored from Paynesville across Lake King to the silt jetties that form the mouth of the Mitchell River. Turning north, we followed the channel markers towards the mouth of the Nicholson River with large numbers of pelicans, little black cormorants and pied cormorants along the eastern shoreline.

Paynesville Friday 23rd - Sunday 26th October.

People arrived early, others a bit later and some just popped in for a feed and a chat and were gone again, it was one of those weekends. Yes, it was back to Paynesville for a few days of messing about in boats. The weather was kind (sort of) and the mozzies were rampant around the BBQ time but everyone had a good time.

I had seen various wooden boats and steam launches at Goolwa rallies from 2005, and at Wentworth from 2007. My first meeting with the people was when WBA sent a fleet to Marlo to be part of the commissioning of replica PS Curlip, at the end of 2008. What a friendly and helpful group. I was there without Jessie II, but was offered a spare spot. I joined WBA, and have kept on meeting owners at further rallies. Jessie II hasn't appeared at many: often in SA when the Victorian division was rallying, once with a failed impellor (towed across Lake Nagambie), once with a failed trailer. I accompanied two Victorian members for part of their grand voyage from Echuca (departing Nov ember 2014) to Goolwa (arriving for the wooden boat festival).

What has been happening in Andrew’s Warrandyte boatshop recently? You can be sure that the launching of one boat (the Chebacco) also signals the start of another one.

Last year Orlando (my 9 year old yacht designer son) started a detailed design of his interpretation of an American Lake Scow. Assisted by me, he drew plans on a hull design computer package to test his theories on hydrodynamics – or at least to see if it would float.

On July 30, I attended the final meeting of the East Gippsland WBA Group. We gathered in the Bairnsdale Club for dinner and the meeting.

There were many present who would be familiar to WBA members here in Melbourne and it was good to renew friendships. The reason for the meeting was that time, age and changing circumstances for many of the EGWBA members has meant that there has been considerable difficulty in carrying on a regular programme of meetings and events. After careful consideration it was felt the time had come to call a final meeting to disband the group.

From an 8 foot Minnow class dinghy to a 32 foot Nepean Motor launch, and many Couta Boats in between, Tim Phillip’s Wooden Boat Shop builds, repairs and maintains these boats with consummate skills and a deep respect for their traditions.

Our visit to the Wooden Boat Shop on Sunday 23rd August was a revelation to many of us. Where we may think of wooden boat building as a small scale, backyard or cottage industry, Tim has brought together people and resources to create what he calls “a mini Herreschoff Manufacturing Works” here in Sorrento.

Four hours work scrubbing the decks was a small price to pay upon finding Slinky Malinky sitting quietly on her outer mooring having been neglected for over six months. What a mess. The motor started up on second crank and we pushed our weed-covered hull into the seawall landing where the flying fifteens are launched from Esperance Bay Yacht Club. Here we would reside for a few days while some repairs effected, reprovisioning completed and the standing rigging replaced. It was a no brainer. The rig was 14 years old and I did not want to concern myself with a possible rig failure in the Great Australian Bight so we just did it. And I am glad we did.

bonus questionOur first Amazing Raid was supposed to have taken place after last year’s Christmas lunch, but the weather was poor enough to decide to postpone it to a more favourable day. Our club day in May was chosen as the replacement, and fortunately the weather was exceptionally kind.

I arrived early, to place bonus coded clues at strategic points around the course, and to also hide a number of little rubber ducks in spots only accessible by boat, or in my case by kayak.

Late November saw the start of the Great Australian Inland Cruise down the mighty Murray River. It all began at Echuca with a suitable variety of craft varying from large and small paddle boats and more conventional boats.

The wooden boat associations were well represented with Queensland members Graeme Lynch (Bolger Tennessee Moonshine) and later John and Katherine Webb (Yellow trailer sailer), Victorian members Russ and Marg Hurren (Lapstrake fishing boat Agnes), Andrew Campbell and Hanh Nguyen (Berkeley Minitug Mars) and the occasional visitor Roderick Smith (Bolger Tennessee Jessie 11) and various South Australian members.

Andrew Campbell gave a most informative presentation at the WBA club night on Wednesday 20 May 2015. His talk was recorded, and synchronised with the photos that Andrew graciously supplied. You can listen to his talk and see his photos here.

Our Club Night on 24th June was devoted to learning a little of the art of navigation at sea.

After a few quips about our ability to find our way to the venue, finding our way to the door, losing our bearings etc we began the serious business of avoiding being lost at sea. The club members who came along were thrown into three hypothetical situations where some knowledge, teamwork and common sense would help solve a navigational conundrum.

Jenny and I again headed north for Easter to Toronto for our third boat festival this year. The weather this time was wet with the Saturday washed out completely with about 4 inches of rain in 24 hours. Penguin was in the water during all this but thank goodness for the sun awning and the bimini cover that kept much of the rain out in conjunction with the bilge pump.

Late November saw the start of the Great Australian Inland Cruise down the mighty Murray River. It all began at Echuca with a suitable variety of craft varying from large and small paddle boats and more conventional boats.

The wooden boat associations were well represented with Queensland members Graeme Lynch (Bolger Tennessee Moonshine) and later John and Katherine Webb (Yellow trailer sailer), Victorian members Russ and Marg Hurren (Lapstrake fishing boat Agnes), myself and wife Hanh Nguyen (Berkeley Minitug Mars) and the occasional visitor Roderick Smith (Bolger Tennessee Jessie11) and various South Australian members.

Sue and I headed for Anglesea on Saturday afternoon with Will,o... in tow. The weather was unkind and along the Geelong freeway the boat on the trailer had it's own bow wave!

It was a cold stormy and possibly gloomy night when 20 or so brave adventurers rugged up in multiple weatherproof coverings and travelled to the great white concrete city named Docklands and clamoured aboard the replica of John Pascoe Fawkner's Schooner Enterprize - the ship that sailed from Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in 1835 with the first permanent white settlers that started what has become the City of Melbourne.

Wouldn’t they be surprised now!

What a perfect day to sail across Corio Bay to the safe haven of St Helens on the edge of Geelong. St Helens an ideal launching place for small boats and the base for the Geelong Coast Guard, even enough water for my 40 ft Adams drawing 4’ 6”.

St Helens has good facilities with floating pontoons, good boat ramp, toilets and plenty of car parking. Only a one hour drive from Melbourne and 10 minute sail to the RGYC.

Following very soon after Hobart, Goolwa was on again this year, and I attended.

A feature of this years event was the arrival of the “Great Inland Cruise” boats, which had travelled downstream on the Murray river from Echuca to Goolwa.  Among the participants were WBA Vic members Andrew and Han Campbell in the tugboat Mars and Russell and Margaret Hurren from Nagambie in Agnes. All these members did the full trip, all 1,700 kms. Roderick Smith in Jessie joined the fleet and completed part of the route, although Roderick has travelled extensively along the river from Lake Hume to Goolwa over the years.

Quite a few WBA members attended the festival in Hobart this year, and Chris decided to ask some of them to describe it in their own words. Jim Stockton’s response was a simple “overwhelming”, but David O’Dempsey and David Gibson were a bit more fulsome in their descriptions.

“Hobart 2014, well it’s been 4 years since we last visited the show and the weather is superb. Arrived Thursday and went for a quick visit down to the Wooden Boat Centre at Franklin and tagged onto the end of guided tour of the boat school. It’s always an interesting place with wooden boats of all sizes lined up for a bit of tlc.

After a cloudy start, the skies cleared to provide brilliant weather for the WBA’s annual sailing day at Rye. OOD Chris Mcdonald was there bright and early to greet sailors, rigging Thoura while he waited for his crew, son Lachie.

Jim and Penny launched Talisman and sailed on a lumpy sea towards South Channel pile, where around 20 seals were sleeping off their Saturday night, oblivious to the cormorants and gannets on the roof. 

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Join the WBA

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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