The annual WBA weekend away was in Paynesville this year. It was a weekend packed with activity both on and off the water. There were 17 WBA members who participated, with six boats owned by members hitting the water.

First to arrive on Tuesday were Gary and Anne Hardy with their Core Sound 17 and Blue Heeler “Ozzie”. Ozzie preferred to stay in the comfort of a pet friendly house at Eagle Bay. Jim and Penny arrived on Wednesday with their Drascombe Lugger and settled in at Allawah. So did David and Margaret O’Dempsey with their Welsford designed Rifleman runabout, setting up camp at Allawah in the comfort of their tent. 

A group of six boats and nine travellers set off from Tocumwal to travel downstream to Echuca and Torrumbarry. The trip was planned to coincide with the Cape Horn winery trip up from Echuca, and we were going to meet the fleet of paddle steamers coming up from Echuca at Cape Horn.  

Murray1Intrepid voyagers at Tocumwal

Murray3Penguin loaded for travel 

Sailfish1  Many of us who grew up, or at least got older, around Port Phillip in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, will have been familiar with the Australian Sailfish. Large fleets sailed at a number of clubs here in Victoria and were a regular sight at regattas around the State. From Victoria the class spread to Queensland, PNG and New South Wales but then numbers dwindled in the 1980’s and by the late ‘80’s they were gone.

However, their small size and shallow draft meant that many of them survived, down the side of the holiday house, up in the rafters of the garage, and some even spent time as tabletops in antique stores (true)! I still remember walking into a store in Sorrento and looking up to see an Australian Sailfish hull resting on the beams.

What a night you stay-at-home lot missed out on!

We arrived to find tables strewn with maps and measuring apparatus (rulers and divider type things), and were sat down to an informative session on tide level calculation, interpretation of buoy light meanings, true and magnetic bearings, distance scales, latitude and longitude ….. etc. etc.. 

It was at about this time that some crew members started to display the first signs of nervousness.

 Cobdogla map

A few WBA members made it to the Cobdogla ‘Cobby Capers’ event.

For those that don’t know, Cobdogla is a small village on the Murray River in South Australia close to Berri. It was setup as a major pumping station supporting agriculture irrigation. It is the home of an unusual but very high capacity pump, the Humphrey pump.  For me, I had visited Cobdogla before, during my long trip through the Murray River in 2014 / 2015.

Hanh and I started our road trip to Cobdogla on the Tuesday before the weekend event, stopping overnight at Inglewood and Murrayville.
Our early arrival saw us see the other boats arrive and launch. We also launched Mars and made ready for the weekend.

UPDATE: Russell Hurren is the recipient of the inaugural Alan Chinn Award

The Alan Chinn Award was inaugurated in 2019  "To reward and show appreciation to a club member for their efforts in building or restoring a wooden boat, including model boats".

was informed by John Welsford (New Zealand designer) when I had successfully finished my first boat – “Many people think of building a boat.    Many purchase plans.   For every 7 plan sets I sell, 1 boat is commenced.  Of those starters, only 1 in 6 eventually finish.   Congratulations!  You are one of that select few!”

Well, the 4 finalists selected to be considered for the inaugural “Alan Chinn Award” have all been successful in finishing their projects, and are now enjoying the fruits of their labours.  Who will win the award?    The judges have made their evaluations, and the results will be announced at the Annual General Meeting on 28 July 2019, but maybe you can pick a winner?   It is interesting that the 4 contenders each have a different mode of construction, with clinker (lapstrake), strip plank, carvel, and skin-on-frame construction, all being represented.

There has been a high standard set indeed, but of course the real reward is in the completion of a project and getting the looked-forward-to use of the end result of our efforts.

The story of each boat can be found in Members' Stories – and they are all beauties. [David O'Dempsey]

This was our second Goolwa visit, and once again we stayed at the Hindmarsh Island caravan park. Sure it’s a few kilometres from the action, but is very close to a “non pressure” launching beach, and is quiet and rustic - I don’t mean it has bush showers and long drop toilets – just quiet. We stayed 3 nights there before heading off to Nelson on the way home, and just took it easy.

Yes, we walked across the bridge, looked at the boats and displays, bought souvenirs, chatted to our fellow members, and had a relaxing time.

Did I say fellow members? What a list! There was a much greater turnout at Goolwa than we expect at an event at home! Maybe we should only arrange outings to places at least 800 kilometres from Melbourne! Now, I didn’t get to speak to everybody, but I believe that apart from Margaret and myself, we had Jim Stockton, Penny Braybrook, Chris Kelly, Andrew Cohen, Andrew and Hahn Campbell, David and Brenda Ayers, Alex Pigdon and family, Roderick Smith and friend Steve, David Stott .. and maybe more that I have forgotten (brain getting older!).

Some Goolwa background.

My Tennessee (Jessie II) was built by Duck Flat, Mt Barker, SA; the first owner had it on display at Goolwa (as Janoralee). I have felt morally obliged to exhibit in every rally since I bought the boat: 2005-19, with only 2017 missed (I was overseas). I have had troubles with moorings in Goolwa wind, and one year the grand parade organisation failed.  Hence I went without a boat once, and displayed on the trailer once.

In 2011, a friend crossed the lake solo in a similar Tennessee (Moonshine). In 2013, I crossed in Jessie II with a Goolwa friend as deckie, part of a fleet of about eight vessels accompanying paddlesteamer Marion. It was an uneventful crossing, and a great achievement.  Hence, I won't repeat it in my boat (a possible anticlimax), although I have skirted the lake when in a rally circumnavigating Hindmarsh Island. This year was the best of my seven: organisation has been improved, and pier repairs have been undertaken.  The weather was kind for Saturday and Sunday.

Stage one was a River Murray Boat Owners Association rally in February. 
I trailed across from Mildura (my summer base this year), then launched early.  On Thurs.21.2.19, I went up Currency Creek to the head of navigation. On Fri.22.2.19, I went up Finniss River to the head of navigation. About eight boats assembled at the pumpout jetty (a floating concrete one,offering shelter).

190222F P1160429 FinnissRiver JessieII RSmith ss

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