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By Greg Flemming - Port Stephens, NSW - Australia


The 9th Australian Wooden Boat Festival, Hobart, Tasmania, February 2011 - A barrel of fun!

The 9th biannual Australian Wooden Boat Festival was held from the 11th to the 13th of February 2011 to coincide with the 173rd Royal Hobart Regatta. There were reports that it was "bigger and better than ever", but my perception was that this year's Festival was quite a bit more manageable than the last one in February 2009. Smaller perhaps, but better for it, as during the last Festival you could be forgiven for being a little overwhelmed by the sheer size of that display. This year was a different story, with good weather and no tragic bushfires in the nearby state of Victoria as had happened in 2009. On arrival from Sydney on the Friday evening we were greeted by gentle rain, but hoped that Saturday would dawn fine and sunny. In the morning a look out of the hotel room window presented a pleasant day with lots of early activity across Davey Road at the Festival.

This was the scene from the Hotel.

So over to the Festival we went and started walking around the displays, wharves and piers to discover lots a small craft gems and larger boats of all descriptions, including sail training ships, steam launches and a whole array of other types of craft lining the piers. Iain Oughtred, the well known Scottish based designer of small craft was there this year and, perhaps as a consequence, there were quite a few of his designs present in the plywood to delight the large number of visitors. There was an Oughtred Puffin superbly built by Cameron Smith, of Hobart and he reported that Iain Oughtred shook his hand on the fine job that he'd done with "Miss Mouse".

Oughtred Puffin, Miss Mouse, built by Cameron Smith of Hobart.

Another Oughtred boat that looked particularly nice was a modified Elf design built in mahogany and Huon Pine. The Huon Pine looked particularly impressive.

Oughtred Elf

Not far from the Oughtred boats the The Wooden Boat Guild of Tasmania had a display with the almost completed restoration/rebuild of the gaff topsail cutter Terra Linna. This restoration has taken many years but is finally nearing completion. The Wooden Boat Guild of Tasmania was founded by the same group of people who created the first Australian Wooden Boat Festival in 1991.

Terra Linna

Terra Linna

Terra Linna

Just beyond the Oughtred Boat display and out on the Kings Pier Marina were a group of Norwalk Island Sharpies with an 18 footer, a couple of 23 footers (including Charlie Fisher, which was actually sailed over from Melbourne and back in 2007), and a couple of 26 footers. These boats were coming and going throughout the Festival and got quite a lot of sailing time up.

Norwalk Islands Sharpie 18 footer

NIS 26 Kelpie

A NIS 23

Just near this area on Kings Pier, we saw the grand old vice-regal launch Egeria which we had missed seeing last time. The Egeria was the Governor's official Launch until the Marine Board handed her over to the Lindisfarne Motor Boat Club for a peppercorn sum on the proviso that they preserve her and make her available for Vice-regal service when required.

Egeria on the right, steam launch Perama on the left

Egeria deck, built for the Governor of Tasmania, 1943

Just next to the Egeria at Kings Pier was the 1896 steam yacht Preana, beautifully restored and resplendent with Shiny brass and polished mahogany. Not too far away from Preana was another steam launch called the S. L. Huon, which, as the name may indicate, had lots of Huon Pine in the build and this boat too looked very impressive in a bygone sort of way, but actually dates from only in 2007.

Steam Launch Huon

The vintage outboard lovers had a bit of a show too with some very vintage looking machines present such as a British Anzani and a Waterwitch.

Vintage outboards

Denman Marine from just south of Hobart at Kettering were present at the Festival as usual, and they displayed several boats, including the Bay Raider 20 with water ballast (300kgs of water). The interesting feature of the water ballast with this boat is that it uses venturi dinghy bailers to empty the ballast - a great idea as long as you are moving! There are two bailers - one facing forward and one aft. Mr Denman advised that this system works very well. Denman Marine have a link to a Youtube video on their web site which shows the Bay Raider 20 in some capsize tests on the Derwent and the stability of this boat with the tanks full is indeed impressive.

This is a Bay Raider 20 designed by Swallow Boats in the UK. This boat was built by Denman Marine of Kettering, Tasmania. 300kgs of water ballast.

A peak inside the ballast tank of the Bay Raider 20 showing one of two venturi bailers used to flood and drain the tank.


After seeing all of the display a bit of fatigue was setting in, so it was off to the hotel room for a cup of tea and good sit down, watching all of the activity on the estuary from the hotel room window. In this picture taken from the room we see a Norwalk Islands Sharpie 26 sailing along in front of the docks, the Young Endeavour sail training ship at Macquarie No 1 wharf and a trawler drifting just off the pier awaiting the opening of the lifting walkway bridge, so that it can enter Victoria Dock.

This view from the 16th floor of the Grand Chancellor Hotel shows a 26ft Norwalk Islands Sharpie sailing along in front of Victoria Dock. The sail training ship Young Endeavour can be seen alongside Macquarie Pier and a fishing trawler is drifting off the dock awaiting the opening of the foot bridge so that it can enter the dock. Derwent Estuary spreads out beyond.

Entertainment groups wandering about the Festival did not seem as prevalent at this year's festival, but there was one group, called the Verandahcoots rowing themselves around in The Sally singing away and accompanying themselves on a piano, an accordion and what looked like a zither.

One of the entertainment groups at the Festival this year with a novel way of getting around. The Verandahcoots.

Another view of the Verandahcoots weaving around the piers to entertain the Festival crowds.

As a real fan of Phil Bolger's designs, it was disappointing that there were so few of his boats at the Festival, apart from the Micro Trawler sitting in Constitution Dock as it had done in 2009. Mentioning this on the Wooden Boat Forum, a few contributors said that there was another Bolger design present - a cat boat. Turns out that not only had we walked right past it any number of times, but actually caught it in a couple of photographs. Have not seen it confirmed anywhere, but it looks as though it was the Harbinger built by Bruce Tyson in Port Sorell, Northern Tasmania. Now if it was a Bolger Box boat it would have stood out!

A Bolger boat, the Micro Trawler of Graeme Lynch called Valaeme. This boat had been at the last Festival in 2009.

Here is a picture of another Oughtred designed boat but with the Bolger Harbinger 15 ft catboat behind. Didn't even see the Harbinger even though I caught it in a couple of pictures. I Think this is the boat built by Bruce Tyson in Port Sorell, Northern Tasmania. Bruce has built a number of Bolger boats including a Bunny R Lobster boat and a beautifully built Romp called Beluga.

Hobart is quite an historic city, by Australian standards, having been founded in 1804. QE2 unveiled a monument to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the settlement of Hobart on her visit to Hobart in 1954. The monument is right near Victoria Dock, so lots of Festival visitors were able to read the information about the early settlement and the history of the immediate vicinity.

The memorial unveiled by the Queen in 1954 commemorating the 150th anniversary of the settlement of Hobart.
Some of the oldest buildings in the historic dock area of Hobart are adjacent to the 150th Memorial of the settlement of Hobart in 1804.

The 173rd Royal Hobart Regatta (12th - 14th February) is a public holiday festival in Tasmania and as the Australian Wooden Boat Festival is integrated with the Regatta celebrations what better way to conclude the Festival this year than with a Sail-past as part of both festivals and concluding one of the best ever Australian Wooden Boat Festivals. May there be many more!

Well, this will pass as a sail-past!

See the previous Festival article.

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