The Australian Wooden Boat Festival

Saturday 9 February 2019
Sunday 10 February 2019
Monday 11 February 2019

Prince of Wales Marina (Hobart)

Having fallen so far behind with this Ship’s Log, on account of filling each day with a variety of exciting activities – none of which included sitting down and writing – I feel it’s necessary to “consolidate” three days of the Wooden Boat Festival into one.

James Craig and the Soren Larsen – our anchor mates from a few days earlier off Port Arthur – dominate the Hobart docks
Linda before going aboard the Endeavour with Murray and Liz
Murray checks out the start-of-art cooking arrangements aboard the Endeavour
Liz, Murray and Linda take a moment to smile for the camera
Yep, that’s what it is, as they say, “our aim is to keep this ship clean, your aim will help too”
Linda aboard the Endeavour … she’s a grand sight … and so is the Endeavour … Arrrr
Liz and Murray get the tour aboard the Endeavour … Chimere’s headroom is NOT so low now, is it?!

These three days – Saturday, Sunday and Monday – essentially saw us enjoying the many activities, displays and events of the festival, spread across the downtown, harbourside area of Hobart.

For many people, and I must admit this included my own dear Linda, the thought of spending several days at a wooden boat festival, didn’t fill them with a sense of anticipation and excitement.  The response being … “what do you do? look at wooden boats all day?”

A highlight of the Wooden Boat Festival is the “Quick ‘n’ Dirty” boat race – the kids make their boat on day one, paint it on day two, then race it on day three.

The Australian Wooden Boat Festival comes around every two years, and Hobart is the ideal location, given its maritime past … and present.  Everything at the festival is free and there was such a variety of things to see and do … well worth checking out if you are looking for something to do in two years’ time …

The rules of the Quick ‘n’ Dirty boat race on Constitution Dock are pretty simple … make it around the two buoys and back to the start first.
No doubt inspired by the regular Sydney to Hobart campaigner “Wild Oats”, the winner of the
Quick ‘n’ Dirty race was named “Rolled Oats” and carried an anti-plastic message – it was consequently held together with wire, not plastic cable ties.

In summing it up, Linda commented on the “vibe” and the colour, plus the overall feeling of the event that she warmed to.  The kind weather and the big crowds, plus the opportunity to take in the amazing Salamanca Market on the Saturday, all just added to the experience.  Maybe it was the demographic the event attracted, (there were a lot of white beards, bald heads and salty complexions) but everyone seemed so friendly, approachable and accommodating and in terms of litter and rubbish, I don’t recall seeing any.  

We of course saw the tall ships – lots and lots of them – tied up dockside and it was nice to reflect that we had seen at least five of them out on the open ocean actually doing what they were built to do – being useful !

Linda, Murray and Liz went aboard the Endeavour for a tour (along with a steady stream of others) and after nearly crawling around below decks, Murray had a greater appreciation for the generous headroom aboard Chimere, even though his earlier scares from banging his head had not yet healed.  The good thing is that he’s not hitting his head so often now, so even old dogs (and new sea-dogs) can be taught new tricks …  in terms of knowing when to instinctively crouch and stoop.

Saturday saw us say good-bye to Bill, (with Uber-Murray kindly running him out to the airport after lunch) who had actually lived and worked in Hobart for some time many years ago; actually, inside the state parliament house as a responsible public servant.  In fact, while we were driving around the countryside on Friday, or visiting the Mona art centre, Bill was catching up with a couple of work colleagues from 40+ years ago. Now no longer junior clerks, but senior managers either retired or close to it.

Bill before the mast

So, what can we say about Bill … ever dependable Bill.  (Who only joined the voyage because he is a friend and neighbour of Alistair, who, as mentioned yesterday only heard about the trip himself because his sister Isobel mentioned it to him)  Well amongst Bill’s super-powers must be numbered … an ability and willingness to fix stuff, dependability, blue eyes and attractiveness as a hammock companion (aboard the Endeavour), stick flaking (of anchor chain), eating, fog watch, turtle sand-crawling, voice impersonations thoughtfulness and storytelling.  It was really sad to say good-bye to Bill, but who knows when our paths will cross again.

The counter-weight bridge opens to let boats in and out of Constitution Dock, right in the middle of the city
It was a very festive atmosphere
Can’t have a wooden Boat Festival without a steam engine display

The boat festival included a trade pavilion, and in addition there is a ships chandlery right in the middle of town.  I told you Hobart was an amazing place.  In the Melbourne context it would be like having a Ship’s Chandlery opposite Flinders Street Station, or in Sydney at Circular Quay.  Anyway, this meant I could buy a couple of small pumps, a new Australian flag, plus some Harken sail-track bits – all in need aboard Chimere at the moment.  

On Saturday we also farewelled my brother Andrew, who was heading back to his home in Sydney.  Andrew had been very generous in driving us around from place to place, which really made our stay so much more effective.

Rob and Murray check out some more boats

While in Hobart we had the opportunity to also catch up with another Vanuatu sailing volunteer (from 2017), Peter Wright, and his wife Gigi.  Peter and Gigi have just moved to Hobart, from Melbourne, and we got to know each other after Peter responded to a request I made in the Cruising Helmsman magazine in early 2017 for sailing volunteers to help with the work of Medical Sailing Ministries (MSM) ( in Vanuatu

Rob chats with Peter Wright aboard the May Queen. One of Peter’s volunteering gigs

Peter is involved with a range of water-based activities, including as a volunteer at the Maritime Museum and the wooden ship called the May Queen.  It was great to catch up again and even for us all to to go out to dinner together on Monday night.

Walking along the wharf there was also the chance-meeting with the converted fishing vessel called Carolyn.  I recognised the boat immediately because back in 2007 we shared an anchorage at Lady Baron on Flinders Island and the owners Dick and Carolyn invited me, and my two boys, Matt and James, plus friend Jeremy Duke aboard for afternoon tea.  At the time, coming off our small 32 feet yacht Tee Pee, and onto their 50+ feet vessel, seemed an enormous leap.

Rob meets Dick after 12 years. The last time was when they shared an anchorage on Flinders Island in 2007

Another chance meeting occurred at the Prince of Wales Marina when we stumbled across the former head of the Yarra Valley Grammar Music Department, Alison French and her husband Graeme.  When our two boys attended the school they were heavily involved with the Music School, with Linda being head of the parent based support group “Yarra Music” for ten years, so naturally we got to know Alison very well.  As it turned out Alison and Graeme had walked down the wrong pontoon in making their way back to Alison’s brothers large motor cruiser; down from Queensland for a month or two.

A chance meeting saw us catch up briefly with former Head of Yarra Valley Grammar Music, Alison French and her husband Graeme.

Fireworks lit up the sky on the Sunday, and then on the Monday it was the official Hobart Regatta Day – a public holiday since around 1838 as it turns out, which is a long time ago, at least by Australian terms it is.

As Monday came to an end, we all prepared to depart the marina, at least for three days, so as to take in some of the nearby anchorages and sailing grounds, specifically on the Tasman Peninsular.

So cute … mummy duck and her babies, in the marina

We had invited (MSM volunteer) Mark Stephenson to come along and so he would be joining us tomorrow – Tuesday – after being driven down from his home in Devonport by his ever-supportive wife Denise.

I should mention that Monday also saw the two large, and very expensive, motor boats on our port side leave.  Which in a way was a relief, given we were intending to leave tomorrow and the more space the better. 

Our neighbour heading out to sea
Our other neighbour also heading out to sea. Both vessels are owned by the one guy, with five full-time paid crew apparently. They take their boating, and fishing, very seriously

Around this time the wind started to pick up, the rain came and went and the temperature dropped significantly.  The absence of the two boats next to us also meant that our wind break was no longer there, meaning we healed over as each gust came through, sometimes as much as if we were out on the high seas.  They were very strong gusts!

Rob prepares another Ships Log … he’s not hired for his typing skills

Smooth seas, fair breeze and The Australian Wooden Boat Festival

Rob Latimer


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