The Blundstone Shipwright’s Village at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2023 is the place to see wooden boat building thriving in Tasmania. A large display and activity program presented by the Wooden Boat Centre, Franklin, gives festival-goers a chance to meet and talk to working shipwrights and students from the finest traditional wooden boat school in Australia. You can see boats under restoration, new builds, craft demonstrations and tool talks, and met the people who keep this heritage craftsmanship alive. Don’t miss it! Find us at map location SV, just beside Waterman’s Dock.
The Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin is a complete facility for shipwright training, boat building, restorations, repairs and special projects Here at the Shipwright’s Village, you can see examples of the wide range of work we do:
Iola – A Labour of Love
This historic Tamar Cod Boat was built in Launceston in 1919 by David Hudson, as a commercial fishing boat with a wet well to get the catch to market in prime condition. Purchased in 1920 by a local solicitor, Iola was converted into a family day sailer and used by the Tyson and Cameron families for more than six decades. The boat passed out of the family and was much altered over the following years, until Baden and Angus Cameron brought the boat into family ownership and commissioned the Wooden Boat Centre to do a major restoration. To start, student shipwrights had to remove more than 100 years of thick lead paint to reach the original timber. The Huon Pine hull was found to be in remarkably good shape, but several broken ribs and a stem post had to replaced. The decision was taken to re-fasten the entire hull with hundreds of new copper rivets, preparing Iola for the next hundred years. Its distinctive curved bowsprit echoes the style of the popular Victorian Couta boats.
Undine – A Derwent Classic
The Derwent Class fast racing yachts became a fixture on the river for which they are named in the 1920s. Sailors loved the sleek design and relatively simple build which made them more accessible than the expensive, luxury ocean-racing yachts of the day and they have remained popular ever since. This example was rescued in 2021 with a donation to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival and a joint venture with the Wooden Boat Centre, Franklin set about a hull-up restoration to bring the boat back to original condition. Built by Don Colbourn in 1947 to an AC Barber design, Undine has been through several owners (and names!) but will one day soon be ready to race again. Sponsors AkzoNobel will showcase the latest in high-tech boat finishes to complete the job smartly.
Skin on Frame Kayak – Adventure Cruising
This quick-build project can easily be completed in just a couple of weeks – in fact, it is one of the most popular short courses at the Wooden Boat School in Franklin. Skin on frame design goes back thousands of years to the earliest boats of wicker and stretched cowhide. Our more modern version uses lightweight timbers, ballistic nylon and space-age polymer epoxy resins to create ultra-light, very strong craft that can go anywhere on the top of a car. Providing access to thousands of kilometres of Tasmanian rivers, inlets and sheltered bays, these are understandably popular adventure machines.
Pics: Skin on Frame Kayak
The Whitehall Dinghy –A Traditional Workboat
Based on the Royal Navy gigs and the working boats of the 19th century New York waterfront, the Whitehall dinghy is a robust, tough little boat suitable for sailing or rowing. This is the boat of choice for many Wooden Boat Centre ‘sponsors’, who will pay for materials and instruction, while getting the hands-on experience of building their own boat from the keel up. This example was completed in 2022 and kindly loaned to the WBC for exhibition at the festival. It is built entirely in Huon Pine, an increasingly rare and precious timber that may not be available for much longer, making this elegant boat one of the last of its kind. Its beauty lies in its simple, clean lines and the superb craftsmanship that has gone into each hand-cut joint and fastening.
Jane de Cray – A Tasmanian Love Story
This lovely little boat was built by Spence Harrison at Eaglehawk Neck as a fishing boat in in the post-war era, later purchased by Dr. Eric and Susan Fricker of Premaydena on the Tasman Peninsula. The boat was used for many years as a family fishing boat and runabout in Norfolk Bay. Dr. Fricker passed away in 2018, by which time the old boat had lain in the yard for many years. Sue Fricker, well-known local artist, decided to donate the boat to the Wooden Boat Centre, where shipwrights and volunteers completed a loving renovation and returned the Jane de Cray to service as a river launch and day boat on the Huon River. Her home port is Franklin at the Wooden Boat Centre wharf.
Pics: JANE DE CRAY
What’s On the Bench?
Join us for a series of talks and demonstrations at the Wooden Boat Centre workbench, over the course of the four festival days. You can examine a traditional boat-maker’s tool chest, learn to correctly sharpen blades of all sorts from kitchen knives to chisels and planes, practice tying simple maritime knots or see rope being made by hand on a traditional ropewalk. Get your hands on some classic Tasmania timbers and try your own skill at planing a board straight and true!
Sessions start at 10:00, 12:00, 2:00 and 4:00pm daily. See notice board for details and schedule.
Pics: BENCH JOBS
Beam Me Up, Scotty!
Want to know more about the short and long courses offered at the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin? Take the first step towards achieving your wooden boat dream at the last remaining full-time traditional wooden boat building school in Australia. Full-time courses start in February, short course are scheduled throughout the year and you can commence a sponsored build whenever it is convenient for you, as space allows.
Thanks to Paul Cullen (Ex-AWBF GM) for the run down on the WBC’s programs and activities for 2023! Want to know more? Head to the Wooden Boat Centre’s website here!