For those of us that love boats there can be nothing that gets the blood pumping more than spending a day or two, or three, looking at unique craftsman built wooden boats. No matter how small or large it is the workmanship and beauty of a wooden boat that sets it apart from all others.

Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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Wooden Boat Festival: Hobart Tasmania

by Mike Fry

Having said all that to have a few hundred wooden boats jam packed into one of the world’s most beautiful dockside areas, as in Hobart, and the pulse gets racing enough to call a paramedic.

Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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We are blessed in Tasmania to have an idyllic island with a beautiful coastline, historic precincts and boats galore. This year the bi-annual event drew over 200,000 visitors to the Hobart waterfront and the organisers are to be commended for providing a weekend of infinite pleasure for everyone with great food, entertainment and ambience.


 

It would be outside the scope of this or any article to really do justice to all of the marine exhibits however I will let the images do the talking with just a few words as a modest accompaniment.

I was privileged to be able to go to the top floor of Sullivans Cove Apartments to take an elevated shot of the waterfront. Such was the expanse of the event that Mt Wellington would have been a better spot to get it all in. However the items on display would have been too small of course.

Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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There were some magnificent tall ships attending the largest of which was the James Craig albeit an iron hull. However the timber ships looked magnificent with their tall masts, rigging and many a tale to be told from their ancient timbers. Wood is a living thing and when a ship is built of timber it has a soul and a pulse, something you have to experience to understand.


 

In big seas the wooden boats groan and move. They wheeze and shudder as if taking deep breaths as they barge through the swells and rise up and over the waves. Make no mistake timber ships live and breathe and after a storm they seem to take a huge breath of air and then relax knowing that they carried their crew and cargo safely through the tempest and to calmer waters.

Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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The waterfront was awash with old sea dogs and here are a couple of them. Yours truly (left) and my brother-in-law Quenton Higgs who was there representing Fishcare.

Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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One of the most intriguing vessels was the Notorious a handmade replica of a 15 th century Caravel. Built of Cupressus Macrocarpa in Victoria by Graeme Wylie this interesting ship is of the same ilk in which Christopher Columbus discovered the New World and at 18.1 metres the Atlantic Ocean would have seemed very daunting. Columbus had three ships the Santa Maria, Nina and Pinta with the Santa Maria being a similar size to Notorious and the other two vessels being around 15 metres in length.

Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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What is even more amazing is that the Santa Maria had a complement of 40 which leads me to think that the Santa Maria would have to have been a little larger surely. Below decks the conditions would have been so cramped even for 20 persons. This makes the Notorious even more amazing as a time capsule of maritime discovery, hardship and pioneering spirit.

Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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Another step back in time was the replica Slavic vessel which would have dated around the 10th to 12th centuries and resembled what we would have termed a Viking style ship. Built in Russia on the banks of the Volga this little ship, the Russich has sailed over three oceans and 20 seas on a trip of 13,500 nautical miles from the port of Tolyatti in Russia to Hobart. The end of their journey will be in Sydney.

Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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There were just too many interesting boats to see let alone write about but let me mention a few interesting people I met along the way. One such person was Nick Randall who is a furniture designer who is using boat designs and boat building techniques in his furniture making.

Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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Two fly fishermen with their hand built lake fishing boats, Ross Scrim (left) and Malcolm Crosse (right), proudly showing off their craftsmanship.

Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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Alwyn Medwin from Rosebery on the west coast with his historic boat Chalma JJ with an old Blaxland 1 cylinder petrol motor.

Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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Alan Morrison at the wheel of his fully restored Huon pine cruiser the J-Lee-M which is now berthed at Kettering and available for charters as it was back in the old days on the Gordon River at Strahan.

Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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Please enjoy this collection of beautifully crafted boats and engines and if you missed this year’s event make sure you don’t miss the next show in 2015.

Wooden Boat Festival - Hobart Tasmania
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Mike Fry is the co-owner of Ormiston House bed and breakfast
accommodation in Strahan on the west coast of Tasmania.

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Map: Wooden Boat Festival, Hobart Tasmania