Our 15 June club night guest speaker was Dugga Beazley, legendary fisherman, sailor and raconteur.
He regaled us with stories about his life on his iconic double-ended netboats on Port Phillip. With over 60 years fishing experience and the holder of the last commercial netting licence in Victoria, Dugga shared plenty of tales to share with us in his inimitable style. Dugga is also an enthusiastic boat restorer and repairer.
Tuesday, when four boats agreed to go sailing, the forecast cool with only light winds. The morning was gloomy with heavy cloud and if I hadn't already agreed to go I wouldn't have bothered.
We were setting off from the Warmies. It's a long way from our place and the only viable route is a great circle via the Western Ring Road, which can clog up with traffic. Well, it was surprisingly easy, and by the time we reached the Warmies the sun was shining.
We launched our boats at the deserted ramp and motored across the shipping channel, put up the sails and sat there. It was so calm that the city buildings were reflected in the glassy waters of the bay.
Eventually we motored on to St Kilda, landed on the beach and walked out on the jetty where we found some recently built pontoons for short stay mooring. Very tempting for those of us who have small, open boats. During the afternoon a southerly breeze came up and we sailed back to the Warmies.
Even the road trip home was easy.
The total distance travelled on water today was about 4km, and yet it was a great day, As a famous author once wrote "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." (Wind in the willows by Kenneth Grahame).
Perhaps paddling is less appealing than sailing, perhaps there are not as many canoes or kayaks as we thought tucked away in members' sheds, perhaps bats just aren't that interesting to most people. Who knows? Whatever the reason, at 10 am on Wednesday I was the only craft of any description at Yarra Bend boat ramp. Peter Batchelor stopped by to say hello, and helped me launch. Peter pointed out that fibreglass kayaks can be hired from the boat house a few hundred metres up river for future river trips for members without canoes or kayaks.
I paddled down to Dights Falls, where a walking club group were gathered to watch me be swept to destruction over the Falls. They all had cameras at the ready, but I disappointed them, and headed back up river to visit the Grey Headed Flying Fox Colony. The Flying Foxes do seem to be a quarrelsome bunch, and every second tree seemed to have a group staging a noisy domestic. But who are we humans to judge?
Just like bike riding, there seemed to be a headwind most of the way both ways, but it was a pleasant way to spend the morning. It is a beautiful stretch of the river.
If Wednesday 9th had been a sailing day on the Bay, I think we would have cancelled given the gusty South Easterly wind. Melbourne's weather is too unpredictable to be confident of good weather on any particular date, and in my experience the golden rule for pleasant, safe Bay sailing is "pick the weather". My suggestion for the next midweek sailing day is that we nominate a launch spot for the second week of April. People who would like to attend register interest. We monitor Willy Weather, and on Sunday night pick the day with the best forecast, communicate that to those interested via email and sms, and hopefully most who want to can get along on the nominated day.
March has again been a good boating month with the Geelong Wooden Boat Festival, fronted by Bob Morgan and an impromptu visit by some of our members sailing from St Helens to moor at the festival and view the participants.
A mid week canoe trip on the Yarra by Gary was a quiet day but enjoyable with the scenery being decorated by the fruit bats.
Norm Boreham was the guest speaker for the Club night and he presented the up to date news on Alma Doepell verbally and visually with views of the ship in restoration. The raising of the masts and rigging is next. A new ships wheel has been made by Graham Signorini and is a thing of beauty.
Our Rye sail day was reported as a good day and is written about separately.
You will have received the email notification of our “swap / sell meet “ to be held on Wednesday evening 13 April at the Victorian Wooden Boat Centre commencing 5.30 pm with a sausage sizzle overlooking Victoria Harbor. You may even come away with a project of a nearly completed boat.
Don’t forget that on Sunday 24 April we will be expeditioning from the Warmies to Herring Island for a picnic lunch and back again. Departing 10.00am so I look forward to seeing you there.
Canadian writer Farley Mowat proposed that people came from what are now the northern British islands to the Canadian arctic in skin covered double-ended boats. They did this by island hopping via Greenland and Iceland over several generations more than 1,000 years ago. When they arrived they built a structure with dry stone walls and put their boat on top to act as the roof. The idea was popularised in his book The Farfarers.
In 2006 a group of enthusiasts built a boat-roofed structure in the writer’s home town of Port Hope, Ontario, Canada.
[Photo of the structure at Port Hope, Ontario, Canada by Wendy Craigen]
A plaque beside the door of the model reads…
“Eight hundred years before Columbus sailed to the New World, seafaring walrus hunters from Great Britain’s Northern Isles are believed to have landed in northeastern Canada, even before the Vikings arrived.
Venturing far from their homes, the adventurers sailed double-ended open boats sheathed in walrus hides. As winter swept a hostile, treeless land, they flipped their light, translucent vessels onto dry stone foundations and used them as snug, boat-roofed houses.”
As always with an idea like this, the first question is, “What is the evidence?”
Mowat’s idea was inspired by an interpretation of archaeological excavations of the remains of stone walls in the Canadian arctic that he argues follow the shape of the inverted gunwale of a double-ended boat. Of course, the wood and walrus skins of the proposed boat would have rotted away so there is no evidence for this.
The hypothetical boats were similar to the leather boat that Tim Severin used in his book The Brendan voyage. As Severin based his boat on historical records, then the idea of long sea voyages in skin boats is reasonable.
Is such a long voyage over generations feasible? Prehistoric people did amazing things with what seems to us to be limited tools, so yes, it is possible.
How much effort is required to build such a structure? In 2006, members of dry stone walling associations built the scaled down model of the proposed structure in Port Hope. They used 30 tonnes of stone in the walls to build the walls over three days and made a 7.6 metre boat to go on top. So it is feasible that a group of people could build a structure in a short time.
How common are boat-roofed structures? There is a similar replica in the Shetlands which appears to be part of a caravan park.
There is also a record from Historic Environment Scotland of a shed built in 1940 and roofed with a lifeboat from a steamer sunk by a submarine in 1939. The record notes that boat-roofed sheds were once common but are now rare.
In 1916, Shackleton’s party reached Elephant Island in two small boats after their ship was crushed by ice near Antarctica. “Our home on Elephant Island was built of two upturned boats laid side by side. Twenty-two of us lived like semi-frozen sardines within its cramped, dark interior.”
Boat designer Phil Bolger described two women who sheltered under their upturned rowing boat during a thunderstorm, so the idea of a boat-roofed shelter has parallels today in North America. By the way, they rowed 32km that day which gives you an idea of a reasonable distance that can be covered in sheltered water in a day.
So we can conclude that using a boat to roof a structure is feasible and a relatively well known option.
How strong is the archaeological evidence? Stuart C. Brown of the Department of Anthropology, Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada, wrote that there is no evidence of a European presence in the archaeological data for the site at Ungava Bay, the site of the excavation which started the idea of prehistoric British seafarers building a boat-roofed building. He concludes by saying "Can I recommend The Farfarers? Most certainly! I have always enjoyed Farley Mowat's writing and his abiding fascination with Canada and its past. To this tale he brings the full powers of his imagination but, while it is entertaining as fiction, it is far from convincing as fact."
An article by Richard Ellis in The New York Times is blunt…
“Mowat relies here on the work of a kindred spirit, a maverick Canadian archaeologist named Thomas Lee. On the shore of Ungava Bay, Lee found evidence of what he believed might be ‘the earliest European settlement in North America' but no other archaeologists supported his findings and he had trouble obtaining funding for future projects.”
So we have different views of the crucial evidence, the tourist version and the version based on data. I think t was the boat designer Thomas Colvin who wrote, “Just because something is possibly possible does not mean that it is necessarily necessary.” I’d give the story on the plaque one chance in 1,000 of being correct. I certainly won’t be asking anyone to set out for Canada from Britain in a skin boat.
Bolger, Phil 1994 Boats with an open mind International Marine / Ragged Mountain Press. Page 44.
Hurley, Frank 1948 Shackleton’s Argonauts Angus and Robertson. No page number, among the photos at the back of the book.
The BOM suggested light northerlies for the morning. On the ramp, conditions seemed a little more boisterous. Small trees in leaf were beginning to sway; crested wavelets were forming on the inland waters of the Warmies channel. But undaunted, our fleet of six boats set off. Four WBA boats: Chris K’s splendid new Garvey “Teal” with Paul as crew, Andrew in “Mars” with Bob as crew, Ken in “Alma J” with Mary and Robert as crew, Gary in “Kirsty Ann” with Penny and Jim as crew. Two other boats joined us, Chris S in his lovely Stornoway 18 “Ysolde” and Ian in his classic Cal 14 “Westy”. BTW, as you can see from the photo above, we had the ramp to ourselves. Try doing that on a Sunday!
When “Kirsty Ann” got underway, we blasted down the Warmies channel at up to 4 knots under mizzen alone, and popped out into Hobsons Bay just in time for a rain squall. We got wet, those of us who had neglected to bring rain coats rather more so.
In the best WBA herding cats tradition, the fleet scattered far and wide. A boat which might or might not have been Chris and Paul in “Teal” could be made out on the horizon, in a blur of speed and a cloud of spray. The rest of us worked over along the coast towards St Kilda Pier,with the splendid buildings along the foreshore making a great backdrop.
Heading back the wind came and went,at one stage getting up to round 15 knots at the nearby Fawkner Beacon, which made for some fine sailing. Of course, heading back across the Shipping Channel, there were two freighters and a tug to add some interest to our navigation.
Greg Blunt had very kindly offered to let us moor at the Blunt Boatyard jetty for lunch. A more Wooden Boaty venue is hard to imagine. Many important topics were addressed during a pleasant lunch break, ranging from the relative virtues and vices of inboard and outboard engines, the Collision Regulations with respect to working craft and small dinghies in ports, the appalling neglect and poor management of the jetty infrastructure in Williamstown, and many other weighty nautical matters.
After lunch, we carefully extracted ourselves, taking care not to scrape any of the beautiful craft moored along the jetty. There were, incidentally, three WBA boats with electric outboards, and they all performed admirably. Andrew told us to follow him through the moored boats, so he could point out a moored Red Jacket trailer sailer, similar to the one he is restoring. We discovered in the process of this exercise that “Mars” is extremely manoeuvrable in the tight confines of the mooring field, “Kirsty Ann” not so much, but we managed not to hit anything.
The fleet returned safely to the blissfully quiet ramp, and all boats were retrieved without any issues. We were all on the road home before 3 pm. Overall the day was a good proof of concept for midweek sailing. It is definitely good in terms of ramp access. We were relatively lucky with the weather. The day before was uncomfortably hot, the day after, uncomfortably windy. We will need to think how best to manage the uncertainties of Bay weather.
I hope some more WBA members can swing a day off and join us for the next midweek sailing day.
A video of the day from the deck of “Kirsty Ann” is at https://youtu.be/dR1NHkXEJHE
We have had a month of boating, starting with a mid week sail on Wednesday 9th OOD’d by Gary Hardy. We met at the Warmies and cruised Hobsons Bay to Princes Pier and St. Kilda then back to Blunts for lunch, Thank you to Greg for allowing a raft up of boats at his pier.
Our club night was held at the Castlemaine after a convivial meal at the Steam Packet Hotel in Williamstown. Andrew Campbell took us on a tour of the corvette's boats, particularly the Montague Whaler, a 27’ open boat which was similar to the boat on the sister ship Armidale. That whaler played a very large part in the saving of lives after the Armidale was sunk by aircraft off New Guinea during WW2 . This was the same action that eventually saw Able Seaman Teddy Sheehan posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Thank you Andrew for a very interesting and informative evening.
A working bee was held on the 23 February to clean and rig the boats for sailing in the sail past on the 26 February for APYC’s 150th celebration. A very great thanks to all who gave their time to help with this task.
On the Saturday the boats were prepared and launched early and the PP12 was also rigged and displayed after Graham replaced the mast top. There were over 70 yachts on the water which were divided into class and sailed past the dignitaries for the salute to the Commodore and the Victorian Governor.
Albert Yacht Club, Albert Park Yacht Club, WBA, Sea Scouts and Classic Yacht Association were all involved which made for a colourful and interesting sail past ( although almost becalmed at times ) the wind did increase later in the day and there was a lot of activity on the water.
You will have received the latest email with a list of coming events including our next club night which will be held at APYC and is a presentation by Norm Boreham on the Alma Doepel, her history the restoration and the refloating 7.15 for 7.30 start, a light supper will be served.
Our annual sail day at Rye is scheduled for Sunday March 27, we currently do not have an OOD so if you are planning on attending a volunteer for the contact person would be appreciated. Please contact me if you are willing to accept this role for the day.
Over the past few years ( excluding covid times ) our planning for the Annual get away has been left a little late so this year your committee discussed various options allowing for sail / motor / row and have the boats in the water. Our decision is to go to Paynesville over the Melbourne Cup weekend which will be October 28 to 31 or earlier / longer if your schedule allows . Venue will be Allawah Caravan Park, 79 Slip Road, Paynesville 03 51567777. Get your booking in early for a fun weekend
See you on the water.
Welcome back to our new year of activities 2022.
To kick the year off we have had a sailing day at APYC on the 23 January which was well attended, with Graham, Leigh, Penny and Jim, Peter and Kirsty, Steve, David, Gary and Ozzie, and myself. Jim paddled his kayak, Peter and Kirsty sailed Pitthirrit, Gary and Ozzie sailed Derry, members of APYC also had boats on the water in sunny and mild wind conditions.
We took the opportunity to clean Begonia and the PP12 to get them ready for the APYC 150th celebrations on 26 February.
Lunch was held in the air conditioned comfort of the upper hall, when we had the chance to discuss our Christmas activities.
It is with pleasure that I have to announce that the position of WBA librarian has been accepted by Gary Hardy. Gary will take over from Penny who has been fulfilling the role admirably and leaves the library in excellent condition for which we all thank her. With Penny’s role as webmaster as well I felt that we need to allow others to develop proprietary interests in the club and Gary volunteered for the role. Thankyou Gary. (BTW .. this does not negate the “broken oar award” !)
We have dates to remember and events to be involved in ..
9 February. Wednesday mid week boating, meet at the Warmies at 10.00, contact Gary Hardy for information on 0402 254801.
16 February. WBA Club night at HMAS Castlemaine, Gem Pier Williamstown. Go aboard at 7.30pm with Andrew Campbell hosting. Let him know of your attendance on 0408847319. We may meet at a local hotel for a meal before hand but you will be further advised about this.
19-20 February. Inverloch Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta. This is a great event in the wooden boaties’ calendar. Contact Leigh McNolty for more information 0428 218 062
26 February. Join APYC’s 150th anniversary celebrations at Albert Park Lake WBA boats and members boats will form part of the sail past on Saturday. You must register in order to participate. at https://www.apyc.org.au/150th.html. To get ready for this event we will have a working bee on Wednesday 23 February at 10.00am to clean, rig, and prepare our club boats for launching early on Saturday 26 February. This is an historic event for both clubs and as the WBA has a 30 year association with the Albert Park Yacht Club. I encourage all members of the WBA to be there on the day either as active participants or enthusiastic spectators or promoting the clubs to the public.
Please register at the APYC website to display your boat or to enter for the sail past and then let me know of your intentions (0438519033).
Are you the next Alan Chinn award winner?
We have recently had some unused boat plans donated and would love to pass them on to WBA members interested in building any of these designs. If you’re interested please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Goat Island skiff, 15’ 6” by Michael Storer.
Oxford Shell rowing boat, 20’ 6” by Chesapeake Light Craft
Seagull rowing boat. 15’3” John Welsford.
Winter Wren gaff sloop, 22’ 7” by Sam Devlin.
Elf faering, 15’ by Iain Oughtred.
Cheers for now
Are we there yet??
Construction is complete. Well, as complete as any wooden boat is... There will always be tweakings and additions but at the moment the boat is build-wise ready for the water.
The motor has to be “pre delivered” yet and this will be accomplished this week. Why wait to do this until now? Well the motor had to be fitted to the boat to test the articulation of port and starboard lock between the sponsons on the rear ... perfect! So now the motor is attached and vertical it can be filled with oil.
After the pre delivery, a pre launch launch will be organized to test all systems, check to see that she floats to her lines and doesn’t leak, then an official launch will be arranged with due ceremony.
OK, boat launched and tested on a gusty day with a SW breeze up to 25kph and a choppy sea. The boat launched well, floated to her lines and was stable stepping aboard and moving around.
The motor started easily and ran well although in “run-in” mode. so no more than ½ throttle and variable speed, measured by GPS the speed at ½ setting was an easy and quiet 10 knots.
Moving into the wind she has a tendency to have the bow be blown off line by the wind but this is manageable. Spray gathered on the stern deck due to the SW wind, so drain holes will be drilled from the deck into the motor well.
All in all a very pleasing result and great to have a boat again!
It was more of an unplanned rush to the beach rather than a launch party but a free day and some nice warm weather with an onshore breeze was an opportunity I had to make the most of.
Millie is a 14 foot Iain Oughtred Wee Rob canoe which I started building in 2010 because I enjoyed my previous boat build so much. Unlike Beth, my Iain Oughtred Tammie Norrie which was built in 2 years, Millie seems to have been beset by delays.
I pulled the hull off the mold in 2012 and hoisted it into storage suspended from my garage rafters where it stayed for years. We sold the house in 2016 and the canoe went into storage at my younger son’s house, again suspended from the garage rafters. We moved to a new place in 2018 and in 2019 I closed in one wall of my new carport and moved the canoe from my son’s house.
Lockdown number one gave me the firstopportunity to seriously start work again on the canoe. I fitted the bulkheads, floor bearers and deck structure and then had to wait for lockdown to lift to buy my 3mm deck ply.
Deck and coaming were fitted late 2021 and I finished the painting over the Christmas break. With everything finished I took my chances this week to launch before something else more pressing distracted me again.
Millie is destined for my eldest son’s family down in Tassie so she will be strapped on the roof of the car for the big trip down to Franklin.