Monday, April 13

Heritage Afloat celebrates classic and traditional wooden boats

Another great weekend chatting to fellow enthusiasts about traditional boats and wooden-boat building, this time at the annual Heritage Afloat festival at Toronto. It was also a great chance for Merry and I to picnic with our offspring, including six of our grandchildren.

Got in plenty of sailing too, in weather which remained unthreatening for the two days of the festival. Nice timing. As I key this in back at home, it's pouring down outside.

The top picture shows Peter Pan of Woy Woy, named after its not-so-grumpy builder and owner. We took the photo before the display area became really crowded.

Peter Pan attracted plenty of interest, but nothing like Britannia, pictured below.

Brittania is an authentic replica of the classic 18ft skiff of the same name, which is now on exhibition in the National Maritime Museum at Sydney's Darling Harbour. It's sailing out from the ramp with its most basic rig. Under way and racing, the old 18-footers would pile on an astonishing spread of sail, from spars which seemed to reach out forever.

This replica is the work of Ian Smith, a Sydney boatbuilder who helped fire up the enthusiasm for traditional craft when he established Woodcraft Boats and the Sydney Wooden Boat School back in the early 1990s..

Alas, with the demise of Sydney Harbour as a working port, and the gentrification which has taken over its waterfrontages for multi-million-dollar mansions, there's no room for a traditional boatbuilder. Ian Smith now works from premises in an industrial suburb.

Ian Smith describes his construction of the Britannia replica at this page.

The Sydney Flying Squadron gives the history of the 18-footers here and also here.


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