Our raid challenge took place in quite light winds, which meant that the teams opting to row the course were in with a good chance of winning. In fact, Team Derrie, rowing in Gary’s Skerrie came inequal first. Several of the sailing entries also resorted to oars at different times as well.

View the embedded image gallery online at:
Preparations on the day were made difficult by being unable to have the launching ramp unlocked in a timely fashion, and when it was eventually unlocked it was too late for one of our competitors, who had broken a mast while towing their boat under a tree. Andrew Yen had to remove a few unwelcome guests from his boat - no fewer than three Redback Spiders! Perhaps this explains why he didn’t win - the crew might have been a bit distracted, in case the rest of the family was also in residence.

This year, the challenge started with a circumnavigation of Gunn Island, with each team nominating how long they expected this to take. The team closest to their nominated time received ten points, second closest received nine points, and so on. There were bonus points available for the teams that were closest to the times that Gary and I had achieved when rowing and sailing our boats around the island earlier. Team Begonia took top points here, matching their nominated time perfectly.

As each team returned they were given their sealed envelope of sailing instructions, and strongly advised to head upstairs to work on the coded part of the instructions. The coded message was in the Nancy Blackett semaphore font used in some of the Swallows and Amazons books. Teams were given a decoding key as part of their instructions. The message provided additional information about where they would be able to find answers to the questions, and to be on the lookout for rubber ducks around the lake, which were worth additional points.

.The instructions included a number of questions that could only be answered by sailing to the Northern, Western, and Southern parts of the lake, and then getting out of the boat and exploring the area.A chart of the lake was included, and competitors had to identify a number of locations on the chart, most with a suitably Arthur Ransome flavour. Challenges included demonstrating three knots from a list, naming Committee members, identifying boat classes sailing on the lake on the day, and measuring the width of the gate into the boat yard (the envelope included a 20cm WBA ruler).

A number of code words were on display around the Northern portion of the lake. When decoded, these were the titles of several of the Swallows and Amazons books.

Finally, there were several folded pieces of paper strategically placed, with a WBA logo on the outside. These contained either a black spot or a white spot, and could be used at the final ceremony, before the winners were announced. A black spot let you become a pirate, and steal five points from another team. However, if you had a white spot you were able to repel boarders, and negate a black spot. Most of these were collected, but sadly they weren’t used. If they had been there would have been a singlewinner rather than a tie. For the next raid I think perhaps teams might be inclined to be a bit more piratical!

It was great to see nine teams on, and off, the water, getting involved in the challenges, and generally having a wonderful time. It was particularly great to see so many families involved. Special mention goes out to Jenny and David Stott’s young granddaughter, Charlotte, who took great delight in finding as many ducks as she could.

After the results were tallied, Team Derrie and Team Talisman came equal first, on 77 points (out of a possible 110 points), followed by Team Iso, on 71 points, the Banana Benders, on 66 points, Begonia, on 58 points, and the Coburgers on 55 points. Three teams, Annie, Bluebelle, and Kokomo, retired at different points during the day, and were not included in the results.

Thanks to all of the teams that competed, and special thanks to Gary for his assistance in preparing the questions and running the day. Also thanks to Gary, there is a great video that gives an idea of the fun on the day: https://bit.ly/3MgaLLk

Finally, thanks for Stephen Taylor for the photos of competitors on the day.
Looking forward to the next one...



I first set eyes on the Alma Doepel around 1978, alongside Gem Pier in Williamstown. I had a job on a King Island fishing boat I had been involved with during my time at Pompei's and it was moored alongside her, not that I knew her name then.

The fisherman told me they were going to restore it and convert it for use as a Sail Training Vessel. I could not believe it. The decks were a mix of old, cupped, hardwood and well worn white beech. Oakum and tar spewed out the seams everywhere.

The bulwarks were just holding on with rusted iron brackets and the old hatch coamings were just about worn out. There was an old box wheelhouse near the stern, with rusty chains running out across the side decks then back through even rustier sheaths to an iron tiller. There was a stump mast for'ard with a boom attached and an old rusty donkey engine alongside it. The bowsprit had been cut off just outside the scrolled fiddle head. The hull was a mess, and not fit to float, let along be worth repainting. Those were my first impressions of the Alma Doepel.

Some time later I was travelling and listening to the radio when someone asked for volunteers to work on a boat restoration project. It was at 5 North Warf near where I was going, so I dropped in just to take a look, and met Mike Woods, who was fronting the project. Later I discovered it was Dave Boykett who started the sail training concept and was the driving force behind the project. Work was well under way to remove all the unwanted bits, with Phil Stevens as shipwright in charge. A very brave man to tackle such a large project!

The Alma Doepel was built in 1903 by Fred Doepel, a saw miller working near Bellingen. This was his largest and newest ship, at 118' long by 24'wide, with a draft about 5'6", rigged as a three masted topsail schooner. He had built a barge, and then the Violet Doepel, an 86' ketch, before. His ships were used to cart timber from his sawmill to the river mouth, to load onto ships bound for Sydney. Alma Doepel was built shallow to get over the bar with two centerboards to help her sail, and provide them independence. Engines came later.

The AD set up a supporters club, which I joined, and we spent many weekends ripping off all kinds of rotten bits. The bulwarks were gone and the deck was next along with part of the topstrake. New decking was ordered in white beech (5"x3") and set aside for seasoning. Five new deck beams were cut from 16"x 10" spotted gum to replace badly worn and rotted ones and the stem fantail area needed much attention.

The supporters club managed to get enough money to have a concentrated push just before the Christmas break. The old deck house and the two side deck houses, one the toilet, the other storage, were removed and work was started in earnest with a number of volunteers and a few experienced paid hands. With the new deck beams in place we put down a temporary ply deck and closed in the hold with a temporary set of steps to below, so the ship could do its Summer fund raising.

We replaced all the stanchions apart from the Knightheads, and added new spotted gum margin boards, along with a start on the deck planking by then. A new handrail a meter high was added to conform to the latest marine board rules. A grown knee breasthook was set on the stem and new 5"x 3" spotted gum bulwark posts were fitted around the deck edge with a 5"x3" merbau handrail on top. Then heavy merbau taffrails fore and aft to strengthen things up and provide fairleads over the stern hand rails for mooring lines.

Early on, the ship was hauled out on the Ports and Harbours Williamstown slip for a survey and to antifoul the bottom. None of us volunteers were allowed near this Union slip. Mike and Phil were allowed to measure the hull so drawings could be made for its stability criteria some time later. Kell Steinman got that job. Alma Doepel had a Melbourne Boat Show stand where a bowsprit and jib boom Phil made was on show. By the time the fundraising and other uses for the ship had passed, the next year was well under way and Phil had a new job at the Warrnambool Maritime Museum.

When the funds were good enough for another big push I was the only one with boat building experience around, so I was 'persuaded' to become Shipwright in charge. "What did I know about large ships like this" I argued, but they did not listen. As it turns out, large ships are just heavier and bigger but the principles are pretty much the same as building a dinghy. We spent the next four years when time and money allowed restoring this derelict wreck back to sailing again.

During that time we replaced the deck and fitted spotted gum covering boards around the posts. Dave Boykett arranged the use of a slipway near Hastings behind an engineering firm owned by his mate. The only catch was the slip needed upgrading for the AD. We spent months up to the arm pits in some time freezing rain to dig out the footings and pour the concrete, then dig out another 100' below low tide out into the mud before we had enough depth to slip the ship. More of Dave's engineering friends made three 24' x16' galvanised cradles to fit the three sets of rails we laid. With draw bars in between, the cradles were 90+' long. A hole was dug for a haul out point at the end of the slip.

At our first slipping we replaced a number of badly worm eaten planks and took stock of what was needed. The next year we stepped new 60' steel lower masts. Another of Dave's steel worker friends did not just weld fitting for the shrouds but cut out a profile of what was needed from 6" thick blocks of solid steel then fitted these to the masts. George Herbert helped to sort out the rigging. His is a life story worth telling.

The next year's slipping we replaced more planks, most on the starboard side under the counter and some on the port side, with a few elsewhere. At some stage we jacked the ship up with two 50 ton jacks and starting from aft we replaced the old outer keel that covered the old center case slots, progressively one section at a time. This was cut from three lengths of 16" x 12" spotted gum with 7' long hook scarfs and bolted right through the two 10" x 10" inner keelsons, the 6" frames, the original 4"x 14" plank keel and the 16" new outer keels. We drilled 48 x 1" holes with extended bits then countersunk them using a boarding bar with cutters at the bottom to let the nuts in. We went around the drill a number of times when it stuck.

After about three months out of the water she had opened up badly we replaced most of the Ports and Harbours synthetic caulking and re-caulked her with oakum paying the seam with shaman (tar + lime) This was not so bad. The next year we lifted her again completely clear of the cradles to place a 100' steel shoe under her. That did make me nervous. To add weight and strength to the ship I suggested the ballast needed to comply with her stability criteria should be in the steel shoe. More friends arranged for three 33' lengths of 12"x 6" plus 12" x 3/4" steel for side plates, delivered free from BHP to the slip, then cut and welded by the engineers to make up the shoe complete with centreboard slots. This was rolled out under the ship and we jacked it into position with a thick bed of felt and tar between and drilled and riveted 3/4" rods across the keel to hold it in place. They said the shoe would not bend. They were so wrong! It bent like a banana despite the two 12"x 3/4"side plates!

I designed and started a new central deck house with a galley on the fore end, more planking and a number of watertight bulkheads to comply with the code. The Marine Board wanted steel bulkheads but after some research they agreed to two layers of 1" spotted gum on 5"X 3" gum post. Far more heat resistant than steel! We also had about 30 tons of lead cast into ingots designed to hang between the frames which also helped in her stability. Lindsay Harry, ADs engineer, fitted steel shoes at the fore and aft ends of the keel with a new rudder bearing for the new rudder we made. This was built up to form a 6' bald of 6" hard wood with a 12"x 9" length to form the 9" rudder shaft. New steering gear and a new wheel were also fitted. We also lined the cases with stainless steel box liners and replaced the case sides.

*Apparently at around 38 degrees the AD could roll over quite easily, but she would need to be pushed very hard to get there. Surviving this long is testament to that. We all learnt a lot!  As a paid 'volunteer' I probably spent more time working as a volunteer on the AD than the times I was paid for. The experience was priceless, as were many of the people we met!

Tom Whitfield

PS: I still think it would have been far better to build a new ship that complied with the latest codes. We do have a suitable design for a 43m S T vessel ready to go!!!!

On Wednesday, 21 September 2022 WBA member Bob Morgan gave a presentation about a voyage of 200kms up PNG’s mighty and remote Sepik River and onwards to the region's erupting and dormant volcanic sea islands, and then on to the coral atolls of the sub-equatorial Ninigo Archipelago and the Admiralty Islands of the Northern Bismarck Sea.

Our August sailing day saw several WBA members on the lake, in blustery conditions. After my first trip around the island, with Ethan, I decided that reefing would be a sensible step. Detatching the booms, furling the sails around the mast, and then reattaching the snotter through the reefing points and connecting the booms again is a lot faster with the new setup I’m using, but is still a bit cumbersome. To a certain extent, I think this might be a matter of lack of practice - very much a matter of use it or lose it, as I haven’t been doing much sailing recently... With the sails reefed, Pitthirrit handled well, and still pointed upwind quite reasonably, so I’m happy with the way I have arranged things now.

The winds were quite strong at times, with a few boats on the lake capsizing, but none of ours - just... (but that’s another story, for someone else to tell). Those with boats took out members who arrived without boats, so most who came for the day managed to get out onto the water. Peter Murphy and his son showed up with a very nifty nesting Eastport pram. Lunch on the verandah was a great time to catch up with friends and share a few stories and ideas. The weather is improving, and we are hoping to see even more members at coming sailing days.


View the embedded image gallery online at:

 Thanks to Steve Taylor and Ethan Urch for photos

Ahoy Members,

On the evening of the 24th of August, a considerable number of members journeyed though the dreary weather. All so they could have their efforts rewarded with Peter promoting the upcoming Amazing Raid, followed by the feature presentation “The Riddle of the Sands”. A film about a man who also journeys though dreary weather, a long time ago, in hemisphere far far away.

Arthur Davies invites his old university buddy Charles Carruthers to partake in some duck-hunting, although when he said duck-hunting, he meant to say secret mission. While on the “duck-hunting” trip, they came across a German official. This man has a daughter who plays a distracting love interest, the final component to any entertaining movie. With those ingredients, the story unfolds and you should have been there. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I’ll see you at the next Club Night. Now I think we can all agree, that film was best consumed with the bottomless buttered popcorn, then beautifully bookended with party pies, quiches (my personal favourate) and social mingling. I had a lovely opportunity to meet many other members in our welcoming club. So if you’re reading this and I haven’t met you… I’ll see you at the next Club Night at APYC, which is on the 21st of Sep at 07:30pm, It will be a presentation by Bob Morgan, on the aquatic-based culture of the Sepik River Region in PNG.

The next big thing that happened the past month in the WBA, was the always so enjoyable Sailing Day on the 28th. Before we hit the water Jim came out swinging with a map of the upcoming Murray trip. Sounds tempting doesn’t it, 100km of calm winding rivers nestled between Mulwala and Tocumwal, potentially riddled with budgie-sized mosquitos. Such a call to adventure can do that to a WBA member. For more details don’t hesitate to get in contact and join the trip, budgie smugglers are optional.

With pointing at a blue squiggle on a map out of the way. It was time for the hulls to be planted in the water and sails to hug the wind. Fanciable dream boats by Gary and Jim, the Derry and Talisman were out making waves. Before you ask, yes of course Ozzie was there. How else would we all know when to set sail. How else would we all know when to set sail.

As it was my first experience with such magic, I want to highlight Peter’s Lapwing called Pitthirrit. The magic I speak of is in the panache of the sail configuration. When the mainsail’s tension is dropped, she stays perfectly in place. You are left peacefully in the water watching the waves and the wind move around you. Quite spectacular stuff, I heavily recommend sweet talking Peter, that way you can experience it for yourself.

For those who may have been hesitant to bring your boat down, due to the manuvering involved around the club house. We will now have access to the roadside boat ramp booked for every sailing day. No more trees trying to reclaim our masts. Hooray!!

Thank you for another beautiful month members, I look forward to the next one. We have a presentation on PNG culture, and our WBA culture in the making with the Amazing Raid. I look forard to seeing you all there.

Ethan Urch WBA President

I’d like to begin by keeping my first President’s Report short and sweet, similar to how long I’ve been in the position. I’ll use this report to recall my experience and the atmosphere of our most recent sailing day on the 24th of July. As well as putting forward how I will be upholding my obligations in this new role.

I was embarrassingly half an hour early and eager for the sailing day. My enthusiasm was definitely in the right place though. The weather was about as good as it can get during the thick of a Melbourne winter. The sun was shining, ready to greet our club’s crew. As for the wind, it was at the ready to fill our sails and noses with Andrew’s culinary skills.

After Begonia, Graham and a few other members had a wrestle with her rigging, she was launched. There must have been some sore fingers after the altercation, no one raised their hands for Captain. Graham took the initiative... and thrust it upon one of our newest members, Louen. With no hesitation he took the position and crew out on the lake to experience Begonia’s magic.

Our mystical club boat was not alone that day, many of our member’s boats joined the fleet. Hard hitters such as Talisman, Lyndsay Symons, Derry and even David’s ‘transformer in disguise’ dinghy were making waves. There were many charming boats out that day, all documented in Gary’s video. A link to the channel is on the WBA website, including a backlog of many other spectacular sailing days.

The BBQ-fueled wind had an alluring effect on all the sailors and members. We were all carving up the water watching the waves our fleet carved around Gunn Island. Then within the dip-to-black of a blink, we all were all in the conference room with a mouth full of roast pumpkin. I want to thank everyone who contributed to the mile-long table of delicacy. Every mouthful was a taste of home, the home we build within our club.

Once everyone was full of food, Chris pulled out his secret weapon... the AGM. Quite clever on his part, hard to run from a meeting when your belly is as full as our sails were in the first half of the day. He recalled the club’s exciting events of the past year, including the challenging times the committee and he led us through. He spoke on the heartfelt gathering in Colin’s memory, held in the tranquil slice of the world he called home.

“F65!” Graham hollered out into the room of empty plates and raffle tickets. The winning ticket rang in Mick’s ears, he came forth and was awarded the lock to Graham’s skilled artisan secrets. After a little back and forth of whether the key was part of the prize or not, the next two stunning prizes were awarded to Peter and Alex With the heightened adrenaline of a raffle out of the way. It was time for the club to vote and restructure the committee members, with the nominations being top picks and a room full of food-coma affected members, the new committee was elected. Then followed by the long awaited star of the day... dessert!

I do want to thank the club for understanding that I wasn’t feeling too well and had to leave during dessert. Could be something to do with Chris relinquishing the shoulder tension inducing role onto me. With my newly hardened shoulders, enthusiasm, and support from the committee, I will be an ever approachable president (who says he’ll keep it short then talk for a whole page - I couldn’t help myself, it was such a welcoming and warm sailing day we all had).

In the spirit of section (e) of my obligations as president, “to record the history of wooden boatbuilding and boats”, I’d like to put out an expression of interest, for any members who would be comfortable with sharing the stories behind their boat that is a part of the WBA fleet, and their experiences/adventures with wooden boats. Email me at the president@woodenboat. asn.au. I am very interested in record the collective history of WBA members, then wrapping it up in a pleasant video series that we’ll put on the club’s social media. The content will be a great way to capture our club’s history and to attract new members who share our passion.

I look forward to meeting more of you at the next event the WBA holds.
Good winds, Ethan

Vale Colin Hunt.
As previously notified we mourn the loss of Colin, a founder member of the WBA who died suddenly on 24 June at his Paynesville home. Colin was fond of “messing about in boats”, particularly traditional wooden ones. He was a prolific builder and has his own flotilla at home. He will be sadly missed at club events with his humour and ability as a raconteur. Our thoughts are with his wife Jan and family.

Our thoughts are also with Graham Signorini, whose father died last week...

After a protracted autumn with some lovely weather we are now certainly into winter, cold days and nights compounding an energy crisis.
Our club night on15 June was a very well attended one (34 people) and we can credit the attraction of Dugga Beazley’s ability to tell a good tale (or two) for the interest. We had not only members but visitors from the Bellarine area, including Jack, Dugga’s cousin, who made the trip to check on the veracity of Dugga’s tales! A great night was enjoyed by all and the talk continued with supper.

We postponed our sailing day in June and rescheduled for the 3 July due to Albert Yacht Club’s Regatta being held over the same weekend. The sailing day was cold but clear with a light wind which gradually increased to a gusty SSW. We had a good turnout, with 3 new members, visitors and regulars totalling 14 people. Boats launched, reefs tucked into sails and the boats enjoyed the outing. One mishap at the end of the day resulted in a skipper and crew receiving a dunking, rescued by attendant RIBs, skipper retrieved and boat towed to shore for bailing out for retrieval. Dried off, all was restored to order again.

On July 24 we have our AGM and nominations are now open for committee roles, a nomination form can be obtained from our web site and also on the back page of “Shavings”. To ensure we have a club that is looking towards the future, be involved and stand for a committee role, it is a very rewarding experience and will ensure the longevity of your club. The AGM will involve a sail day as well the business of appointing a new committee along with a supplied BBQ lunch prepared with expertise by Andrew Cohen, we ask that you bring a salad / sweet to share.

Graham Signorini has donated one of his superbly crafted wooden locks to be raffled on the day… bring cash and our Treasurer Sharon will gladly relieve you of it.
As always I look forward to seeing you at the AGM .

Cheers, Chris

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.

Gary Hardy

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.

Jim Stockton

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

 Gary Hardy


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.
Chris Kelly

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” !)


Coming up
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 secretary@woodenboat.asn.au

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
Chris Kelly

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!

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Chris Kelly

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.

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Paul Rubera

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