See the Open Boat Book Page on this website for details on how to order.
After a couple of years of work and more in the planning, The Open Boat book is finally at the printers. It will be available in early February, and can be pre-ordered throught the link on the Open Boat Book Page on the menu.
It will also be available at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart from 10-13 February. Look for the Eighteen-Footer Britannia displayed on the hard with the big rig spars up!
Being in Brisbane in May to sail Col Gillespie's Irene in the AHSSA Historical Ten Footers Championship (did no good), I spent a few days in the Norman Wright and Sons shed looking at some of the historical material Bill Wright has preserved. I measured and took the lines off 6 of the half-hull models that survive, some of which are pictured below.
The first one is Vanity an 18 footer from 1912, the second is JMH I a sixteen-footer from 1916 when 16's still had built heels, and the third is Taree the 18' World Champion in 1938. I've already drawn up the second two, and there's still Vanity, Langham (18' 1915), JMH II (16' 1919?) and Marjorie (18' 1937) to go. Finding the heeled 16 was particularly exciting as a couple of months ago I was not aware that any models from that era had survived. But as often happens, another one emerged in Sydney at the Sydney Classic and Wooden Boat Festival in April, this time a Double Bay 16 footer built by the Messenger family named HSM. Once I get the lines off that it will be interesting to compare the Sydney and Brisbane boats. You can see on the models that the Brisbane bows are much fuller on deck.
While I was in Brisbane I also went around to the Brisbane Maritime Museum, and declining the offers of the keen volunteers to show me around the destroyer, headed straight to the skiff collection in the smaller shed.
The first photo is of a Sandgate ten footer, quite a different class from the Balmain Ten footers. The last photo is of the sixteen footer Fury which was returned to Brisbane about ten years ago after spending most of its life in San Diego California having been taken there by an American serviceman after the Second World War. The seven photos in the middle are all of a 12 footer Hurricane of 1937, an unusual boat for several reasons. It is planked in Huon Pine, a heavier timber than the almost universally used Australian cedar and it has a built heel, which disappeared in the 16's in the 1920's, in the 12's about the same time, and in the 18's in the early 1930's. And this is in spite of having been built by Watts and Wright who had been pioneers in heel-less skiff building in the 1930's! And more importantly it was a fast boat, being runner-up in the Australian Championship 1939-40. Most of the details of construction, layout and fittings are typical of the time.