Home' Afloat : AFLOAT January 2017 Contents 34 AFLOAT.com.au January 2017
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Unit 5/28 VORE STREET, SILVERWATER 2128
• Pontoon & Pylon Fenders
• Boat & Dinghy Gunwales
• Window / Porthole & Hatch Seals
• Marine Carpet / Rubber Sheeting
• Neoprene self adhesive strips
• Sponge Sheet / Wetsuit Sheeting
• Tapered Bungs / Cord / Tube / Strip
We can now deliver our Pontoon and Pylon Fenders
to most major cities and towns in Australia
my crash-course in naval architecture I
have learned one crucial fact: the longer
the boat the more beautiful the lines ...
so 32 feet it is. (Although 50ft would have
been ver y sweet!)
Fibreglass has a lot for which to praise
and a certainly a lot to condemn. It has
transformed the boating world, making
yachts and power boats accessible to all
who wish to float. But lost is the great
individuality of stout-hearted vessels
launched from the sheds around the
Harbour between the Wars.
There remains but a handful of
bespoke (if the term can be applied to
boatbuilding) shipwrights. Wooden boat
builders certainly have not set their hearts
on becoming filthy rich men. Theirs is a
labour of skill, art and great passion. I
found one such soul in Kettering, just
south of Hobart. A bit of a hike from
Sydney, but the local timbers are plentiful
and the weather encourages workers to
Time for another confession. After
having just ridiculed fibreglass, the
decision was to build the launch stripped
planked, tongue-and-grooved western
red cedar, glassed on both sides. The
purists may disown me but practical
considerations won out. The cabin will be
teak as will the deck but after many, many
years of plank-on-edge boats I feel I am
allowed this one nod to commonsense.
The interior fit-out will be in painted ply.
The power plant caused much debate.
This is far different and more critical
science than selecting a yacht’s motor to
chug along at 5 for 6 knots. Power curves,
fuel consumption and of course noise
issues all to be calculated. We’ve chosen
a six-cylinder Steyr, at a modest 150hp.
No particular reason for the choice of
brand. I ’ve noticed that the maxi yachts
are using these motors to drive their
hydraulics. They run day and night at idle,
then are required to frantically work out
their cylinders at every tack. Also several of
the Sydney water taxis are flogging about
the Harbour with these engines.
It is promised to be relatively quiet
and lightweight and with a strange alloy
mono-block construction (no separate
cylinder head) trouble free ... I’ll let you
Enter the white knight. I was rabbiting
on about engine selection to a dear old
mate who lives out West on the other side
of the Great Divide. Bob Craig’s his name,
no escape to anonymity in this story!
He reckons he knows a bit about motors
(judicious application of banana skins to a
noisy diff, that sort of thing) having spent
a lifetime flogging cars and trucks.
It’s a long way for a swim in the sea
but he’s always had a power boat moored
in Sydney Harbour. But mostly big nasty,
noisy plastic things that push half the
Harbour aside as they plough along with
a four-foot wake. He had come to the same
conclusion though. A 30-footer would
be a handy practical boat that required
no crew, no fuss. An excellent diversion
during his regular visits to Sydney. Would
I like a partner?
Now I’ve observed mates with shared
boats. Mixed results. From perfect
arrangements to unmitigated disasters.
Seems to me it’s a bit like lending a bloke
your wife, or perhaps a mistress. It’s clearly
fraught with danger and heartache. Worse
still if things go crook you could even lose
a mate. But from the Central West Bob’s
hardly likely to just pop down for a quick
run very often. And love him like a brother
it would be fun to share this adventure.
So here we are in Kettering in the
careful and artful hands of one Andrew
Denman. His large shed is located behind
his house just next door to the Kettering
cemetery (the permanent home of many
an old Tassie wooden boat builder).
As you can see from the pictures, the
boat – she now has a name, Stormy Weather
is just about planked. And a sweet job
too, I ’m pleased to report.
A keen eye may have noted Andrew
Denman has tongue and grooved the
planks for greater lateral strength and
stability. Denman also has a computer
cutter in his shed, so the jig was most
accurately cut from the three-dimensional
model of the boat drawn by Dovell.
See, you’d really have to push purism to
the limit to build a planked boat; especially
given the time and cost savings. Anyway I
don’t want to protest too much. Stripped
planked and glassed it is, and proud!
Roll-over is expected this month, the
gods and the Denman boys willing. h
*John Westacott is a senescent lifetime
yachtie. He is former head of news and current
affairs for Channel Nine.
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