Congratulations to Chris McDonald, the recipient of the Broken Oar Award in 2018 for his interesting trailer and launching technique demonstrated on our weekend away at Echuca!

His achievement was hailed at the Christmas Party in verse composed by David O'Dempsey and Penny Braybrook, complete with a pictorial record of the event.

Sunday 26 Feb was the day of our club sailing day at Rye.

For me, I prepared Mars in the week before, running my engine and changing my trailer light board, trying to fix my trailer winch pawl and greasing my wheel bearings. After a couple of fine days on the lead up, Sunday's weather report was for heavy weather abating during the day.

[Note: this is Part 3 in the series on Oars and appeared in Shavings, Nov 2016]

Well, we’ve had historical, professional, and modern examples, advice from unidentified contributors on shafts, blades, leathers, weight, and rowlocks – now it’s time to look at some of our other members' oar making. There’s also a list of oar making references at the end of this article (for those who don’t want to design their own oars) to help you get underway in choosing what is right for you and your boat.

Another “Not so good” forecast for our sailing day – windy, rain, and warnings out for boating on the bay.

Never-the-less we had a very good turnout.  Was it because of the location in the more sheltered waters of Patterson lakes?   Curiosity to see the canals?   Or … did it just show how much Andrew’s culinary prowess is known and appreciated!        AND ...... the empty block next to number 2 was a very convenient parking and boat handling area.

It was not a day for big boats, and with the wind blowing directly down the river it was always going to be tough for any one who was launching at the boat ramp and making their way upstream -  ask Graham and David, who rowed their tinny to Andrew’s dock, arriving late, wet, cold, and tired!

Jim and Penny made it, too, but I suspect it was a little easier in the Drascombe Lugger with outboard power.

My Family made an appearance – Tim and Sharon, Kylie and Jonathon, Margaret and me – bringing 5 craft, and we ended up launching the 4 that could be easiest be popped into the water at Andrew’s floating jetty.

Patterson Lakes 2018 16

There were over 50 boats entered in the regatta this year, about a dozen more than last year. The increase in numbers shows the word is spreading about the great venue, hospitality and variety of historic boats to be seen at the Inverloch regatta. Perfect weather for all three days made it a magnificent weekend to be on the water.

The regatta opened with a cruise across the inlet to Point Smyth on Thursday (Australia Day). To see the whole fleet lined up along the beach over at the point was spectacular. Walking from boat to boat, recognizing the designs and looking at the details of the rigs and gear, I realized that this year we have a real representation of the sailing scene of 30 or 40 years ago.

                        Mouldie Moth Frolic

On Friday morning the boats were displayed on the beach for judging and as Chair of the judging panel I had a challenging task assessing the finer points of construction, restoration, rigs and fittings. I was joined on the panel by sailmaker Mark Rimington, professional boatbuilder Reuben Kent, SGYC race officer Lyn Leppin and Past SGYC Commodore Ian Jones. Their combined knowledge and experience helped us assess all aspects of the boats.

Last Sunday (5/12/16) Orlando and I went to a lecture hosted by the Australian institute of Archeology, given by Shelly Wachsman, professor of biblical archeology at Texas A&M university.

Shelly happened to be working for the Israeli department of antiquities in 1986 when the remains of an 8m wooden fishing boat were discovered on the shores of the sea of Galillee, the largest fresh water lake in Israel which is about 12km x 21km. He described the 11 night and day operation to extract the remains from the mud as rainwaters threatened to inundate the site once more, how police were employed to keep treasure hunters away and how heavy machinery was employed to keep the floodwaters back.

We had registered Penguin to go around to Narooma for Boats afloat festival, which is always a good trip and event. The slide on was packed and Penguin’s trailer all but hitched up to the car.

However, over the past month or two we have moved my parents into Aged Care with all the work that that entails, and we had to sell their house. The Estate Agent wanted to see us to list the house, the night we were supposed to already be gone. Then there was a huge amount of packing and clearing to be done before the first potential buyers came through over the weekend.

It all got too hard and we could not justify running off for a boating weekend 700 km’s away through all that. So we shelved the trip and got stuck into the house spending a couple of full days with the help of family and friends and got it to an acceptable state for open days.

Meanwhile our son Andrew was crewing on the Paddle Steamer Alexander Arbuthnot, from Echuca downstream to Koondrook/Barham, for the opening of their new wharf on the following Monday. He said why don’t you come to Koondrook? It is not too far. As we were already packed, our calendars were cleared and we could do no more on the house in the short term, we decided to go to Koondrook. Koondrook is located on the Murray river about an hour’s drive west of Echuca, near Cohuna and Kerang.

A small contingent of four boats made the rip up the Werribee river. Jim and Penny in Talisman, Andrew Campbell in Mars, Peter and Kirsty Batchelor in their new diving platform, the rubber ducky, and myself in Curlew.

There was much evidence that the high rivers of the last few months have also effected the lower reaches of the Werribee river, with fresh erosion showing about 300mm higher than the current level. In any case the river must have been higher than on other visits as I could go two more bends further up beyond the cliffs to the golf club, before running out of water depth.

For those of you that have not cruised this river the K road cliffs are spectacular with many bird nests in the nooks and crannies. Penny and Jim had the binoculars out to watch for the varied bird life.

We finished the cruise upstream just on 12 noon, and had a message that Chris Kelly and Andrew Cohen had arrived at the jetty in their yacht after a voyage from Williamstown, also there were David and Margaret O’Dempsey, and Graham Signorini in his canoe Nabari. So we turned around and headed back to the jetty for lunch together.

For those that don’t know Nabari, it is a peddle powered craft using the recumbent position like one of Graham’s bikes, driving through all wooden gears to a wooden propeller.

What a great night at Seaworks! Marg and I arrived just after 1700 hours to find our Promotions Officer Andrew Cohen already hard at work. “Need a hand Andrew?” – “nope, it’s all under control”.

We hadn’t been to Seaworks previously so we wandered around, checked out the pictures and memorabilia in the Pirate’s Tavern, met up with the flow of arrivals carrying salads and desserts, and chattered on. Andrew looked as if he had nearly finished organising the setting up of the area and laying out the silver and gold cutlery (plastic knives, forks and spoons) so it seemed a good time to ask again if he required help – I gathered from the glance he gave me that things were ok..

With nothing to do and the numbers swelling, we all wandered down the dock to view the tied up shipping – the Sea Shepherd in its camouflage grey and black, Tenacious, Ocean Warrior with its water cannon and looking to me a bit like a submarine with a modified conning tower, and of course Chris and Andrew’s 20 foot Golant Gaffer lost amongst the monster sized ships at dock around it.

I apologise to all those who have kindly sent in photos and oar construction references – another anonymous contributor has insisted on equal exposure, and for undisclosed personal reasons I have chosen to publish his letter in an unedited format. (ed.)

“Although coming from the anonymous lineage and bearing the same ”anonymous” title, I must point out that I am not related (as far as I know) in any way to your previous anonymous contributor.   I do however have some experience in oar use and construction and would appreciate the opportunity to share my journey with oars which the keen reader will note draws some conclusions which vary from my unrelated pre-contributor Anon 1.  

I was  late entrant to the rowing for liesure scene, and having a lot to learn I consulted with my friend Angus Marsland, who over the past ten years or so has contributed to my designs - and disagreed with lots of them.  That’s what friends are for!

I started off my oarsome life by as many do purchasing a set of good old Okky oars made, I think from hoop pine(?).   Functional, traditional, heavy, not unnatractive, and available.    They worked ok, but I had a lot of trouble keeping the blades vertical as I stroked through the water.

Then came the event that put me on the path to achieving perfection.   Using a design received as part of the plans supplied by John Welsford for the construction of one of his dinghies, I made one oar based on his plans …. It never touched the water BUT. some of he advice he gave in what to look for in oars has stuck with me to this day -  something like (my summary),  most oars you buy are as useful as lumps of wood heavy, unwieldy, innefficient.   If you must, buy a pair,  shave the shafts down to a taper ending about 25mm x 30mm where they meet the blades, and plane/sand the blades down considerably no more than 6mm thick at the edges.

I did this with my beloved Okkys and noted some improvement in balance and appearance.


Despite the disturbing weather forecasts, the hardy WBAers who headed to Paynesville for the annual weekend away, managed to snatch some quality time on the water. Andrew Campbell (Mars) and Jim & Penny (Drascombe lugger) arrived on Thursday night and woke to a fine Friday, albeit with a northerly change due. We launched at Bairnsdale and, after a brief flurry of activity to quickly lower the lugger’s mast so as not to come to grief at the foot- and road bridges, motored leisurely down the Mitchell River. The river was high with all the recent rain water coming from upstream, picturesquely still.

Paynesville Oct 23 2016 1 Paynesville Oct 23 2016 2 Paynesville Oct 23 2016 3

The threatened front followed us downriver, an ominous shadow, past cliffs reminiscent of those at Werribee’s K Road, as we travelled between the silt jetties towards Lake King. As we crossed the lake and neared Paynesville a light wind sprang up and the front appeared to pass by. Leaving Penny with the boats, Jim and Andrew returned to Bairnsdale to pick up the cars and trailers. Suddenly there was an almighty whoosh – the wind had come in, the Strait was covered in whitecaps, boaties hurried into the pens and hunkered down. All according to the forecast, no? Nope, it was a south-westerly and way stronger than expected! The boats were retrieved without incident and we returned to Resthaven, where we were joined by Jenny & David Stott (Penguin), Leigh & Kerrin McNolty, David & Jan Gibson, and Brian & Robin Flewell-Smith (Rowdy, a very recent purchase).

Well here I am, finally getting to build my long awaited boat. I had to build a shed first and that took longer than I thought to get the prefab made and the building permit through council. Anyway that's all behind now and I have started. I chose a small B & B Yacht Design from the States - Their Spindrift 11, as pictured. I haven't built a boat before so I wanted something I could manage to build by myself, something I could sail for fun, row if I had to, or put an outboard on if I wanted.

Here I am starting to loft the hull from the plan onto the scarfed 1-1/2 sheets of 6mm gaboon marine ply. I scarfed the one and a half sheets together before I started to take photos of the build. I found a nifty jig to make for the circular saw on YouTube and it worked pretty well. Got a nice neat 70mm scarf.

The build started by joining the sides and bottom of the hull, stitching the keel line before unfolding the "wings" to produce the hull. Worked pretty well. It was good to have another pair of hands though.

Well, the presentation on “Could Ancient Romans Sail To Windward” measured up to the publicity, and was well received by the large group (members and non-members) in attendance.

It was a privilege to have Dr Chris with us and even non-sailors such as myself learned

not only about the design and function of ancient sails, but about sailing itself.

Peter Batchelor has put Dr Davey’s entire presentation on our website and it can be viewed by selecting “Articles…. Dr Christopher Davey”.


         Davey Presentation 2

  OARS old chinese   OARS Viking   lifeboat20oars20pile2

Oars! They’ve been around for a long time, as the pictured ancient Chinese and Viking oars show, and the stack of old oars alongside seems to indicate that the basic design hasn’t changed much over the centuries.

I’ve received pictures, presentations and thoughts from several members – and non members too; too many to put into one article, and so it appears that there will be more oar(some?) articles to come.

My own research indicates that the search for the perfect oar continues, however you may like to consider some of the historic designs before choosing an oar similar to everyone else’s! Those 4000 year old Chinese oars actually look pretty practical, and of course there are interesting oars from the Victorian period to be considered, as a search of the patents records shows –

The PS Adelaide was launched on 21st July 1866 and has just celebrated her 150th Birthday. PS Adelaide is the oldest wooden hull paddle steamer still operating in the world and has recently undergone a refurbishment for her birthday.

     2136 p s adelaide at wharf1         Adelaide

PS Adelaide reaches back in time for us, with some notable events happening at the time being:

As intimated in the last Shavings edition, this AGM was my last as President, and I wish the new President Andrew Campbell a successful reign.

The WBA Annual General meeting was held at Albert Park on Sunday 24 July 2016 on a cold but clear day. The conditions obviously influenced the member’s choices, as there were plenty of warm clothes, lots of hot food, but no boats on the water.

The 36 intrepid members attending included two new members , Bob Morgan and Robert Tolano - welcome to you both and we hope to see more of you.

From time to time the WBA president receives a call from people wanting to sell or get rid of an old boat.

In my time as president this happened a few times and my Putt Putt Curlew is one such outcome.

About 12 months ago Chris Kelly received such a call from a fellow living at Somers, who wanted to get rid of two old boats, “free to a good home”. One was a mirror dinghy and the other described as a minihydro.

Given my interest in power boats, Chris thought I would like a new project. Not knowing what it was I asked for some pictures and David Gibson, who subsequently took on the mirror dinghy sent me a few pictures.

Apparently there are few wooden boats in regular use in and around Darwin. So said Chris Naden, owner and skipper of the former pearling lugger Streeter during our sunset cruise around the harbour. And he should know. Between the deleterious effects of damp and mould during the Wet, teredo worm and termites, keeping a wooden boat in good repair is a difficult – and expensive - exercise. Gaff-rigged, built in Broome in 1959, Streeter’s working life included time as a fishing boat and she has been beautifully restored for use in the tourist industry.

1Hanh and I ventured to the Morgan Living Festival in South Australia for the weekend 14 and 15 May. Although it was a long drive, it was a worthwhile weekend away. We towed Mars the distance which was a test for our new / old motor home.

P5221353Winter is upon us...  the last few weeks have been windy (very) wet and cold with some beautiful late autumn days thrown in for good measure. 

Our Maribyrnong trip went well with a handful of intrepid enthusiasts turning up for the voyage.  We met at the "Warmies"and launched our craft - Geoff Carrol with Kibby crewed by Jimmy Baillie, Mars with Andrew and Hahn Campbell, Graham Signorini as OOD with Nebari, and Chris Kelly with Takapunt crewed by David Mahony.

IMG 20160424 142214Our April sailing day saw the St Ayles Skiff Cariad return to Albert Park Lake once again, with members of the Melbourne Welsh Church. Several of our members were able to take advantage of the wonderful conditions and enjoyed putting her through her paces.

Not to be outdone, Begonia also carried a number of WBA members in the light conditions, with not a leak in sight.

IMG 1410Geoff Divko invited other WBA members over to Coburg and his fine furniture workshop for our April club night, and a good number of members took advantage of his kind offer.

He explained that when building in wooden wood, it is crucial to have sharp tools – it makes your life easier. We started with learning about orb stones on bench grinders – we all ‘fessed up to having blue/grey orbs, which he said are used for roughing up whereas black ones are good for taking junk off your chisels! What you really need is a white stone.

Peter Medlings (, one of the organisers from the Paynesville Classic Boat Rally forwarded the following to the WBA.

Here is some Drone footage from the Paynesville Classic Boat Rally weekend.The Boats and Paynesville just look Brilliant! See if you can find your boat! We have over  40 minutes of footage. YouTube only allowed 17 minutes. If you would like more let me know. This event was in a lot of minds one of the best events to happen in Paynesville  So please feel free to share and help make the next one in March 2018 even bigger! Please watch it all the way through - the second half is amazing!

On a return form a recent quick trip to Brisbane and back, I took the opportunity to call in on Russell and Margaret Hurren at Nagambie to check on the progress of their current project.

Russell and Margaret took their 18’ half cabin boat Agnes on the Murray trip from Echuca to Goolwa last year, and at the completion of this journey, they decided they need a boat with accommodation, rather than camping on river banks.

View photos taken by various WBA members at the Geelong Wooden Boat Festival, March 2016

Roderick Smith's photos

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Mick Bentveltzen's photos

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Penny Braybrook's photos

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Bob Gaston's photos

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Norm Boreham's photos

View the embedded image gallery online at:

I saw this advertised in Shavings, and was hooked.

I have had Jessie II on lakes King, Victoria, Reeve and Tyers (Toorloo and Nowa Nowa arms), and have been on the La Trobe, Thomson, Mitchell, Nicholson and Tambo rivers, and up North Arm to Mississippi Creek. I first met WBA when at Marlo for the PS Curlip commissioning, but was without my boat there (it was in SA). This rally would give me the chance to cross Lake Wellington, and poke into the Avon and Perry rivers, then stay on the tackle the Snowy, Mallacoota and various south-coast NSW inlets.

Hanh and I ventured to the rally on the Friday before the weekend start. We didn’t bring Mars as I didn’t think it fitted the entry criteria and I had just bought a small second hand motorhome that I hadn’t used yet so I only wanted to worry about one thing at a time. I think as it turned out Mars would have met the criteria but I was happy to watch this out.

The day started overcast, but warm, with offshore and very shifty winds of approx 5 knots close to shore, and 10 – 15 knots out past the outer channel markers. Soon after lunch the sky cleared making pleasant sailing and boating conditions.

The Inverloch Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta has established itself as the place to be over the Australia Day weekend for owners of wooden racing dinghies of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Over the three years the event has been going, a core group of regular attenders have been at every regatta. I am one of them.

Where else can you see a collection of boats from the era that made Australian dinghy racing so wild and vibrant?

It was a time when plywood was a new wonder material, and building a boat in the back shed was the booming popular craze. Today’s crazes are about cooking or fitness or renovation, but back then you bought yourself a Mirror kit from Blockey the Boatbuilder, or you built something from Build a Boat magazine and you did the best you could with nails and glue and hand-me-down tools.

At our February Club Night WBA members were introduced by Reverend James Barr to a beautiful St Ayles skiff built as a community project by the Melbourne Welsh Church in the heart of the CBD. Launched in 2014, Cariad is one of a growing number of these elegant, Iain Oughtred-designed rowing craft which have rapidly gained in popularity around the world.

I was given a copy of this book at Christmas, and I have found it to be a fascinating read. As the title suggests, this book describes the Port Phillip coastline, and provides information on the geography, animals and plants that you are likely to encounter.

My father, Neil Smith, spent his early teenage years close the Murray at Swan Hill. His later teenage years were in an ancestral house in South Melbourne, built by his grandfather (or great grandfather), who had worked in port management. His uncle, who had inherited the house, also worked in port management.

Before training as a teacher, my father worked as a numbertaker and ticket seller at Princes Pier. His boats came after a few rural-school postings. The longest (and happiest) prewar stay was at Tooradin North (1936-41), boarding in Tooradin 'a pretty little fishing village', in Stella Maris boarding house. He alternated between weekends in South Melbourne (socialising), and having Melbourne friends come to Tooradin for picnics and to go boating.

Many of you will know that I underwent a total shoulder replacement last October, and although the new shoulder is fabulous in many ways, it has so far prevented me from most boating activities – especially rowing.

Imagine my surprise when I received a call from Jim Stockton the Monday before Australia Day, suggesting that he and Penny Braybrook take me rowing the next day!   Jim suggested that I provide the vessel and he provide the muscle – no rowing for the David, he said, the Jim will do it all!! All I had to do was extract and load the boats etc. and be ready (together with the Margaret) at 8:00am for an hour’s row!

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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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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