It’s ON, again! Old favourites, new events, and an excellent guest speaker.
The water is high, and so is the spirit. The festival is back in community hands, and it’s going to be a good one, cheerily going back to the future
The steam and redgum smoke of the big paddle steamers, PS Marion, and PS Oscar W will once more be floating through the calm of mid April, deep
in South Australia’s luxurious autumn. Ashore, there will be an answering cacophony of steam and whistles, and the rattling of the historic cockle train, whisking the lucky from their accommodation further down the track. Perhaps from Victor Harbor, or Port Elliot, or Horseshoe Bay, or Middleton. Buy a ticket to go back in time, take the trip, and find out for yourselves.
Buy more tickets, and go back even further, on the PS Marion and Oscar W. They are machines from another area all of them, and the Marion and the Oscar especially made the propulsion immediate visceral and almost alive. Obedient monsters all, warm, wheezing and certain in their toil.
St Ayles Skiffs, the 7m Community Coastal Rowing Boats, ‘Come and Try’, and watch the demo racing, each day.
This year, for the first time there will be three St Ayles Skiffs, the big community rowing boats that have been such a hit around the world, and now in Australia, doing a demo race each day in front of the wharfs, and giving rowing lessons to anyone that wants a go! These boats will have just come back from rowing slightly over a 100nm in about two weeks, from Cockle Creek at Tasmania’s absolute south, right up to Hobart, and then from Hobart, down to Franklin with six other St Ayles skiffs for the second international st Ayles Skiff regatta, in Franklin, on the Huon River. They did very well, handling a wide and sometimes challenging variety of sea conditions.
The William Randell, built by SA Wooden Boat Festival founder, Roly Bartlett, and now owned by famed 'Melbas' Chocolateirs, SA's Forestal family, will be delighting the crowds once more!
Two are from Victoria, one, Cariad, built in the Welsh Church loft in Latrobe Street, right in the middle of Melbourne’s CBD and one ‘FAST Messenger’ in Warnambool by the stroke recovery group at the Warnambool Base Hospital in Warnambool and the other John Liddy was built in Goolwa, by the workers at Armfield Slip.
All three are great boats, in the regatta this past weekend each of them experienced big wins at the hands of a variety of rowers.
There are four rowers and a cox in each boat. They are remarkably stable, fast and easy to row, even in big waves.
If the weather out look is good, the three boats may row back, from a visit to the St Ayles Skiff builders on Kangaroo Island, from Penneshaw to Cape Jervis. Make sure you ask for your row, there is no cost, we will have life jackets and you should not need to bring any special clothing.
We may even make the second mini regatta race on the Sunday open to ‘new’ rowers. Bring a ‘crew’ from your organisation?
Old favourite, revised! The ‘Rough and Ready’ boat building event, is BACK!
The Rough and Ready, back! BUT, we are all glad it’s April, and NOT early February. It got so hot over the past few festivals.
There are two people in each team.
This event brings out the creative side of even the most curmudgeonly boat builders.
Foundation Sponsors of the SA Wooden Boat Festival, Bote-Cote Epoxy Systems, continue to provide the materials: three sheets of ‘kind of’ premium 4mm plywood, some 32 x 32 planking, a monster pack of zip ties, gloves, hand cleaner, their excellent two party epoxy glue paste, EGLUE, for two hours of carefully scrutinised building.
The boats are let cure overnight, and at around 1pm on the Sunday, their builders take to the waters of the Goolwa basin, following a Le Mans start, paddle one leg of the course, and then, on the other leg come back by ‘other means’. The means must not include fossil fuels, but permits sails, big rubber bands, clockwork motors, and even cordless drills. Someone unkind just suggested fossil fuels could be construed to mean food for some of the builders. This is not so. It refers especially to petroleum or coal related products.
Hand drawn plans may be used, but no templates. Cordless tools may be used.
Excellent trophies, also sponsored by Bote-Cote are there for the winning, inventiveness, fine finish, cleanness of work, elegance, and ‘people’s choice’ this last awarded by acclamation after the Sunday race.
Another highlight: the exciting close to the wharf racing between the big historic Restricted 21 fleet!
In the 80’s there was a brief window of extraordinary international catamaran design activity, where the Americans set up another seemingly unattainable boat race open to challengers from other parts of the world. It became known as the ‘Little Americas Cup’. It looked like the Americans had a mortgage on the trophy.
The boats were limited only to hull length and overall beam. The original boats had a single soft sail.
On the Mornington Peninsula the legendary Cunningham brothers have become catamaran legends, having introduced many Australians to the joys of of the beach multihulls long before Hobie Alter’s ‘Hobie Cat’, with their plywood 16’ Quick cat, and later the Port Phillip Bay taming 6m, the wonderful ‘Yvonne’, possibly the prettiest off the beach cat ever designed. They and their tech head friends now turned their hands to wrenching ‘the new mug’, the ‘Little Americas Cup’ from the Americans.
That story is what you will hear and see footage of in Goolwa, in April. It really is an almost literally home building against the world, story, and the wizard who turned the Cunningham’s ideas into reality, Barry Marmion, will be with us not only to explain it in person but to also demonstrate his latest wizardry to al of us with his new boat, the 6m black plywood foiler catamaran’ Stealth’.
It’s pretty wild to see two guys on a small boat rise right out above the water, piling on speed as they escape the shackles of speed limitations of hulls in the water.
There are going to good trade stalls and the usual food and drink stuff, and a fair bit of music and the unexpected reliably turns up.
Once more we have the excellent commentary of long time Wooden Boat Festival commentator, making sense of it all for everyone, Peter Gubbins.
Some people, we just can’t do without.
All of this, happening in Goolwa in April.
Goolwa. It’s the place where the railway meets the river, and it’s been ‘our’ Wooden Boat Festival site for over two decades.
Warm, friendly, woodenboat bunyips, purring at their toil. Not a monster among them.
Entry is free.