2011 to 2013

Despite the unfavourable weather forecast, a number of intrepid souls turned out for the sailing day at Werribee South. Under heavy skies, Chris Kelly’s punt, David Stott’s Penguin, Tom McAdam’s Skerry Rosalie and Jim & Penny’s Drascombe Lugger launched at the nearly deserted ramp and headed up the Werribee River against the gently ebbing tide.

WBA members were welcomed by Craig Bramich, Seaworks Director, who gave us a very informative and up to date overview of life at Seaworks during the Tall Ships event. Well over 30,000 attended the festival over 10 days. The trials and tribulations of so many people from all walks of life congregating in Williamstown was equally inspiring and exciting for many first timers and old salts alike!

Peter Doyle, Secretary of Anglesea Recreation and Sports Club, writes to advise that they are refurbishing four racing rowing boats (two fours and two pairs) that were built for them by Jas Edwards & Sons at North Princess Bridge in 1911.

The tourism promoters like to call the Gippsland Lakes “Victoria’s Riviera”. It could be a triumph of optimism over reality on their part, but there are attractions that drew us back to Paynesville this year after last year’s successful trip. The weather could be counted as one of those attractions as long as you are prepared to experience a Mediterranean climate on about one day in three.

Tom McAdam’s new boat Rosalie was launched at Mordialloc creek on 21st September 2013.

After naming, blessing, and some toasting, she was rowed down the creek and out onto Port Philip Bay and performed beautifully. 

The job description for a ship’s cook in the eighteenth century, so we are told, was to “boil up the salt beef and hand out the weevily biscuits”. Scurvy was the inevitable result. You would have to say things have changed if you were at our September club night. The variety of vitamin packed seagoing dishes on offer would transform a sailor of old into a model of good health.

The Tall Ships fleet left Melbourne on Saturday 14 September, but gathered at the bottom end of the Bay to catch Sunday morning's high tide through Port Phillip Heads.

WBA member Roderick Smith was a keen specator on Sunday morning...

Our August 2013 Club Night featured Craig Bramich, Director of Seaworks, who gave an informative talk on the current status of the organisation.

Gusty conditions were experienced by the members who attended the August sailing day at Albert Park Lake. Geoff Carroll launched Bluebelle, Penny Braybrook and Jim Stockton sailed in Talisman, and Rob Ripley could be seen messing about in Green Bean. Club boats Begonia, Lyndsay Symons and the Stringybark canoe were all launched and several members who had arrived without boats took the opportunity to get out on the water in the club boats. We welcomed new member Tom McAdam to his first club sailing day, and he was able to sail or paddle all three boats. From the way he was paddling Stringybark it was obvious to all that he has spent quite a bit of time in kayaks or canoes in the past.

In the middle of July Jenny and I took Penguin to the Junction Rally at Wentworth NSW.  Wentworth is at the junction of the Murray and Darling rivers. The Junction rally is held only every three years and is for stationary engines, vintage cars, paddle steamers and small boats of all types. The Steam Boat association make this event their annual gathering as it is relatively central for most states including those coming from WA, and they had a good range of steam boats in action.

The past year has seen a good range of club activities. Sailing days have see both the club boats and member’s boats on the water. The committee undertook a project to sound out members on their views for club and club night activities. These were ably compiled by our secretary, Leigh McNolty, and the committee undertook to follow several of these suggestions which gave rise to recent club nights with visiting speakers and also the shanty night. In the calendar there were the annual events that were well supported by the membership.

Early birds to the weekend had to face strong winds that raised white caps even in the canals of Paynesville. Little wonder no boats were launched until the quiet of Friday morning. For those present on Friday there was some tootling around the canals, bearings to gather, ferries to dodge in McMillan Strait and a pleasant drop in from the water on David and Jan Gibson at their Raymond Island property. Winds were gradually abating by nightfall and, as the main contingent arrived, good weather was forecast for the weekend. Friday dinner was at the Paynesville pub, a good night in good company. The highlight of Saturday was a visit to the 15th century replica caravel, Notorious.

On the 9th September 2012, it was 100 years since the keel was laid for the PS Melbourne and a major celebration was held at Mildura to celebrate. Jenny and I with Penguin, Rob and Pat Ripley with Green Bean and Norm and Jen Boreham in my other boat Curlew all made the trip to Mildura.

It was the biggest gathering of paddles Steamers seen for many decades. The Adelaide made the 880 km trip from Echuca, taking 12 days to cover the distance. It has been 60 years since the Adelaide has left Echuca, and was a major undertaking for a boat that is 146 years old. In Echuca she does tours locally and never has to work hard. For this trip she steamed all day every day to make the distance in time. Lift up bridges had to be negotiated, many of which had not been lifted in years, as well as the locks. The river is still very high and in some places almost in minor flood, so at some bridges clearance was touch and go.

PS Curlip II was built in Orbost, and is based at Marlo (river mouth) to cruise on Snowy River and Brodribb River. The commissioning, in November 2008, was a major WBA event, with a large fleet gathering for the weekend.

The first survey 'slipping' (2010) was achieved by craning out of the water: expensive. With recent high water, the mouth has been scoured, and the 2012 slipping was at Paynesville. This made PS Curlip II the first Australian paddlesteamer to venture into open sea under steam since PS Weeroona was commandeered for WWII service.

River people like to rally; in the 1980s there were regular gatherings at Mildura for Signal Point races, with boats from both ends of the river meeting in the middle.

A 2001 'Source to Sea' event (to mark the centenary of Australian federation) was to be tinnies from Khancoban, then a fleet from Echuca to Goolwa.  Low water resulted in the tinnies being on trailers, and the fleet commencing at Mildura.

A 2003 'Randell Cadell' event (to mark the 150th anniversary of the first commercial navigation on the Murray-Darling system) did succeed in reaching Echuca from Goolwa.

This year Begonia took part in the re-enactment of the landing (177 years ago) for the founding of the village that became Melbourne.

Andrew and I collected Begonia at the APYC at 7.15 am on the 28/8 and towed her to Williamstown where she was launched at Seaworks. She was then taken in tow by our 'gaffer" for the trip up the river to South wharf and handed over to The Enterprize crew as their landing craft.

The East Gippsland Wooden Boat Association was recently treated to a presentation by the builder and owner of the Caravel Notorious, Mr Graeme Wylie. The event was held on the evening of 12 July at the Men’s Shed in Paynesville and was preceded by a BYO dinner with tea and coffee provided by the Men’s Shed.

As the guest speaker, Graeme enthralled the audience with his boat building history together with some associated successes and surprises. Graeme was accompanied by his wife Felicite and he acknowledged her support during the construction of Notorious.

Members of EGWBA enjoyed a pleasant meal at the Imperial Hotel in Bairnsdale at the social get-together on the June Club Night.

With a dire forecast for sailing day, an impromptu decision was taken at the club night that a warm lunch would be all the go on the sailing day. There is nothing like a prawn from the barbie and a hot sausage to keep winter chills at bay. One of the highlights of sailing day was the warm lunch put together by Andrew Cohen and Geoff Carroll. Geoff was seen in the kitchen sizzling sausages on his little galley stove from Kibbee rather than venturing out to the APYC barbeque in the cold wind. Andrew provided some warm finger food of marine origin. Another highlight was the rigging of the Port Philip 12 as members tried to evaluate what was still needed in the way of equipment for the rigging. While this was being thought through, Rob Ripley and Frank Raisin were exploring the possibilities of sculling from the stern of Lyndsay Symons.

Twelve brave members attended the June club night. The weather was freezing but there was a warmth of interest for the various plans and books shared.

My affection for working boats and in particular Tug Boats, I suppose, can be explained by the fact that both my Grandfather and my great Grandfather were Tugboat Captains in Williamstown. As a boy and until I married and went overseas to live, I took every opportunity to be with Grandpa on the Tug. They were all steam power then and the enduring and indelible interest remained.

Now as a Grandfather myself I decided that I would build a Tugboat so that I could regain the experience and perhaps give my grandson the same happiness.

The annual AGM was held on the17th May in Paynesville at the home of Barry and Jenny North. A sumptuous casserole meal was hosted by Jenny and was enjoyed by all prior to the commencement of the meeting.

The most common aboriginal origin of the name is said to be ‘Mirring-gnai-birr-nong’ - ‘I can hear a ringtail possum’. This gives a lead to the area and the life style; the name is also given to the Yams that used to grow along the river.

This explanation sets the scene for our expedition up the river, which was third time lucky. After the rains on Friday and Saturday most were saying, “ah well, maybe next year”. Well, we were all caught out. Sunday morning dawned calm and just the day we wanted, with a little wind and not too chilly, so everyone started to appear - There was the OOD, followed by the president, and everyone else followed. A call from Leigh and Jo Hayley from Ballarat was just what we wanted. They are new members and rang to say they were on their way. Then it was 9.45am and all were ready.

Roderick Smith reports on the Diamond Jubilee Pageant at Echuca.

At the last minute we decided to go up to Lake Macquarie for this festival over Easter. Jenny had work commitments and could only fly up on Thursday after work, so I drove up on Wednesday with Penguin in tow, and met her at Newcastle airport.

On Friday morning we launched at Rathmines at the Catalina flying boat ramp, and with our friends Dave and Jenny Myers, we had a pleasant putt around to Toronto. Weather was calm and warm and we enjoyed morning tea on board along on the way. Plenty of boats were moored on the foreshore, including fellow travellers, Malcolm Mckay from Narooma with his launch Carmel J, and Jim and Pauline Fowles from Handorf in South Australia, in their Hartley designated Seas the Day.

Although the weather forecast had not been particularly brilliant the gods smiled on us and the sun shone for us. Our visitors from the Lake Illawarra Model Boat Club and friends brought a good selection of their models although the wind strength meant that only a few of the models were able to take to the water. In the full size category there was the relaunching and naming of the Linda J, Andrew Cohen’s work in progress early in the proceedings. The bubbly was duly poured over the bows of Linda J and with much ceremony she was launched to float proudly by the lake’s edge. Andrew had some interesting floatation devices aboard. It was found that there were a couple of places the boat needed to take up and when the floor boards floated Andrew knew it was time to start bailing! Nevertheless he has a done a fine job of restoration keeping the authentic touches to show that his boat has a working history.

The April Club night opened with apologies for a change of format as our Librarian, Allan Chinn, had found he was not as mobile as he had hoped in order to be able to set up the books as originally planned. Nevertheless in good WBA style, we changed tack and were treated to a video of the turning of Andrew Yen’s 25 footer on the previous Sunday.

East Gippsland members met for a pleasant sail and evening entertainment at the Nicholson River pub, on the weekend of 17 and 18 March. Some stayed overnight and moored in the river.

Rob Ripley had done a great job of keeping everyone informed about arrangements and so a goodly flotilla arrived for the Saturday. Boats were launched and sailed across Lake Wendouree to the display area. The organisers had supplied posters identifying each of the boats. The weather was fortunately fine and provided good sailing with winds that challenged the sailors from time to time. Your president had two attempts at getting to Ballarat. Well on the way in the morning, the transmission went on the car and so it was a tow back to Glen Waverley and a new start which finally saw Bluebelle sailing in to the show mid afternoon. Saturday night was a great social affair at the Black Hill Hotel, a highly recommended venue for a good meal.

Peter Doyle, the Hon Sec of the Anglesea Recreation and Sports Club reports that the club has now become a member of the WBA. The ARSC is a club in name only, formed by some lads from Anglesea and Airey’s Inlet in 1911 around a regatta. Two of their four 1912-built rowing “shells” were at the Geelong WBF on the Labour Day weekend. It was a fantastic success. They were flat-out talking to people about our boats and our new Years Day regatta. Stuart did an outstanding job of arranging and managing the Festival.

Under Brian Flewell-Smith’s supervision and guidance we set up the WBA Marquee at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club early Saturday morning amidst hundreds of Classic Yachts, modern and many well loved wooden boats and a few plastic hangers-on and many wooden boat groupies.

For the weekend of 13, 14 January a number of boats met at Holland’s Landing for a very pleasant weekend. The weather was kind with no rain and a sea breeze to limit the heat. Bernard and John O’Kelly sailed there in Nelly. With the pleasant weather Bernard demonstrated how to enter the water while doing the splits between “ittle Nellie and the jetty. A new boat and crew to join the WBA was the tug Ticketyboo crewed by Garry and Margaret Stewart. The other two boats present were Doug & Marion Gullickson in Jabiru and Colin McArthur in Ibis. There was some pleasant fishing.

Does it really exist? No-one has sighted Andrew Cohen and Chris Kelly’s gaffer yet. We were told that it was berthed at Blairgowrie but the conditions were such that we couldn’t sail down to see it. At present all is hearsay!

The demise of Green PeaWhen the man of the house stated that he was going to cut Green Pea in half, what could I do but shrug the shoulders and walk inside without comment.

Then there it was in two pieces!

STEP 1: Find desirable boat.

We were very sorry to read Alan Chinn.s report of the death of Jim Whiting, and embarrassed that we had not known. Thank you Alan and it indicates how few of the East Gippsland Branch have been around. Jim was a respected and loyal member of our branch. Jim was a quiet member, but with interesting comments to make. During my time he attended almost every meeting. In fact at the last AGM the Helmsman gave Jim an award recognising him for continuous support and attendance at activities.

Jenny and I attended this event a couple of years ago and decided to go to Narooma again this year and to spend some time afterwards on this wonderful coast. Narooma is located 700 Kms from Melbourne between Bermagui and Batemans bay. It has a lovely waterway called Wogonga inlet and an excellent caravan park right on the water within walking distance of everything.

Several members arrived on Thursday afternoon at the Albury Wodonga Yacht Club, Andrew Cohen with Begonia, Chris Kelly with Will'o.. and David Gibson with his Swan Bay 12 . In the sunshine and humidity, they set up camp and launched boats etc. Thursday evening , it started to rain and continued for the next two days on and off.

VIDEO EVENING - Steam Boats on the Murray Darling.

Doug Gullickson showed an excellent video of the Silver Jubilee Rally of the Steamboat Association of Australia held on the weekend of 10th September last year at Wentworth. There was a total of 28 boats from NSW, Tas, Vic, SA, and Qld. These included a mixture of steam launches, paddle steamers and motor vessels.

With a very unusual stiff breeze blowing due south, and many Optimists/Lasers and others competing in the Northern end, a good handful of club members turned up, spending most of the time in the sunny shelter of the club room overlooking the thrills and spills on the water.

A good crowd of around twenty members attended the June club night. Rick Mitchell was introduced by president, Andrew Cohen. Rick opened his presentation with a little background on the manner in which he had acquired his skills as an outcome of some experimental archaeology. A suit of sails for the Duyfkin was one of his adventures which required some research that took him to the Vasa Museum in Sweden for information on 17th century sails.

In May the PP12 was transported to the workshop in Preston of ‟Build Wooden Boats". This was the first stage of the refurbishment where Phillipe and his team (Chris Ribecchi) were commissioned to complete the structural repairs ... replace the cockpit floor, stringers and rebond the bulkheads.

To cater for our Helmsman heading off to Lightning Ridge and as other members were also heading north, our AGM was held in May rather than June, resulting in two activities in May and none in June.

With our winter weather and some of our retirees heading north there has been no WBA action and little activity on the water for June.

the cradle"I'm pregnant! " proclaimed my wife Liz as she excitedly passed me the test stick with the two blue lines on it. It was at this time that my heart skipped a beat, as I am sure it does for all males when they hear these words.

For me it skipped with excitement that sparked an idea. Maybe I could build a cradle boat like the one I had seen at the Tasmanian Wooden Boat Show when I was there in 2009.

Bear with me – the following may not seem like it has much to do with wooden boats, however… Many of you will be familiar with the phrase “Computer cut kit” or “Laser cut kit”. This evokes images of accuracy, precision, complexity, speed, efficiency – at a price. It is a technology that has often fascinated me with its potential to create complex forms quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, such advanced technology came at a high price ($50K +), putting it out of reach of all but the commercial operators putting through the volume to pay for it, and perhaps the very well heeled enthusiast. I continued to toy with the idea, thinking “Surely there must be some clever fella out there who has managed to make this stuff cheaply?”. Through the magic of the electric-inter-web, I discovered that this hypothesis was true! What an amazing thing the electric-inter-web is – it seems there is no end to the amount of information available and the willingness of people to freely share their thoughts and ideas (where do they get the time!).

At Easter this year Jenny and I attended the above event at Toronto on beautiful Lake Macquarie, in New South Wales.

Penguin had been relaunched for the Yarra trip at the end of March and performed well. In the following weeks, painting, attention to a couple of leaks that got past me, and a few other bits and pieces were completed and she was ready to travel to Toronto. After the Yarra trip she had taken up a bit, and with some salt water in the hull for a week or so, she held water all the way to Toronto.

Considering that the weather forecast was for “scattered showers “ and that what we received at 7.00pm was a torrential downpour for about 40 minutes, we had a good turnout of members (23). At the end of the evening the Lake level had risen 10cm and the centre road car park area was 45cm deep!

Tony Remington at Pakenham

Many of the WBA members were to be found on the water over Easter, or working on their boats.

The weather was kind, for the most part, and many of us took advantage of the last of the warm weather to remind ourselves of why we love messing about in boats.

It was a great placid and windless day for our first model boat day at Albert Park. There were our usual WBA models, and a few APYC models , but the highlight of the Model Boat display at the lake last month was the Lake Illawong Model Boat club contingent admirably steered by Rosie and Brian.

The weather was fine, the breeze was light, and the tide was high. What a great combination for the start of the Club’s annual boat trip up the Yarra. As an added bonus the launching facilities have been improved and it was much easier to tie the boats up. From my memory (short) it was the best turn-out of members yet. Eight boats arrived at the “Warmies” and three launched from Williamstown to meet us along the river.

Well she was back where it all began. Begonia was back on the water where she came out and did herself proud. She arrived on Friday, ferried up by Tim Gay. Thanks Tim. Rob and Pat Ripley, who camped out at the Welcome Stranger Park in Ballarat, arrived with Green Pea and Maple, the canoe.

Saturday saw a beautiful sun rise across Lake Wendouree, empty for the past 10 years, and now full and, in fact, overflowing. Quinton Wilkinson from Ballarat, a relatively new member, brought his 5 meter Put-Put (The Wastell) with a Blaxland Twin down and the art of rigging Begonia began. Neither of us having rigged her before, we welcomed Brian Canny, the commodore of the Ballarat Yacht Club, who lent his considerable yachting skills in assisting us. Thanks Brian.

A great time was had by those of us who went to the Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart with over 600 boats entered. Barry North on Peace Train with crew Doug Gullikson and Billy Errikson on board sailed down, taking 2 weeks to get there via the Islands.

clausen craft launchAt last the water is back at Goolwa! Two years ago there was no water and boats were high and dry. This time the barrage is open and the river is running free. Apparently the depth of the mouth of the Murray is about 60 feet. Something we were not used to at Goolwa was a current and that made the yacht racing very interesting in what was already a tight course. A couple of collisions resulted.

During the drought the council has taken the opportunity to rebuild the board walk and moorings. They now have floating finger wharves which made mooring much more convenient, although with about 250 boats registered, mooring space was still at a premium with many boats rafted up. This was a little interesting during the speed boat roar through, when a lot of fending off was done.

Looking out of the window on Sunday morning you could have been excused for thinking that boating and sailing was out of the question. It was pouring with rain. However, some intrepid WBA “boaties” packed up their boats, and headed for Rye. Well, I am glad we did, because on arrival at Rye the rain had stopped, the horizon had started to lighten up, and the breeze was light and steady (at least as steady as it ever is at Rye).

On behalf of the Victorian Wooden Boat Association I attended a promotion for the formation of the Lakeside Sailing Club. This was a morning event where I launched Lindsay Symons and proceeded to show the WBA flag and sail around the lake. I felt that this was an important venue, not only to assist another club’s formation but to generally promote 'on water' activities to the public.

AngleseaIt was New Years Day, and we were towing boats to Anglesea to support the Regatta event, arriving at 8.30am. This was the Centenary year for the regatta which is run by the Anglesea Recreation and Sports Club , formed in 1911 around a sporting challenge between the …. “crème de la crème of the residents of the township of Anglesea River do hereby challenge the like ( if there be any) of the village of Airey’s Inlet “…. extract from the original invitational challenge. The Regatta is a series of rowing races in the Club’s boats, Thames Skiffs built in 1909 in London for the Club, consisting of 2 pairs and 2 fours, very well maintained and used regularly, culminating in the Grand Challenge Cup.


East Gippsland Wooden Boat Association members had a great “putt-putt” weekend on April 16 and 17.

On Saturday a cruise up the Backwater was followed by a picnic lunch at the Port of Bairnsdale, and then a leisurely cruise up the Mitchell River in the afternoon. Fifteen people went to the Chinese restaurant in Bairnsdale for a lovely dinner, followed by an early night.

Approximately 30 people plus some visitors attended over the weekend with 13 boats on the water. We had 3 boats from interstate and the balance from metro and country Victoria. Torrential rain resulting in muddy and wet conditions on shore and muddy debris afloat did not seem to dampen the enthusiasm.

Member login