Like many vessels of her size and age, the Argus’s exact history is a combination of myth and guesstimation. It is believed that she was originally commissioned by BHP for service at Pt. Pirie. At some point though she found herself on the Murray. The previous owners, Tim and Ann Potter, themselves SA Wooden Boat Association identities, acquired her after Tim had assisted in a salvage operation to retrieve her from the bottom of the river near Walkers Flat. She had sunk after the refilling of the Murray Basin at the end of the drought which ravaged the river in the first decade of this century. Tim floated her again and she enjoyed many admiring glances as she putted, posing her pleasant proportions. Besotted also by her form, Sally and I purchased her in August 2013 and took immediately to this cathartic “slow-down” aspect of an otherwise hectic life style. We did regular “overnighters” between Murray Bridge and Mannum. We married a year later, embarking upon a most romantic honeymoon along the ancient waterway to Wakerie, not far (by land at least) to where we grew up in SA’s Riverland.
After enjoying another Wooden Boat Festival in 2015, the Argus was on her homeward voyage back to Murray Bridge when Lake Alexandrina, fabled for her sudden and mischievous transformations from millpond to tumult, delaminated some fibreglass from her belly. Leaking, we headed for the nearest visible land. Fortuitously, our distress was noted by neighboring vessels who were able to follow behind and pick up jettisoning cargo until we managed reach the shores of Snake Island.
High and dry on a low loader after salvage, Michael uttered those words which would embark on a labor of folley, sweat, money but ultimately of love; “You know what Sally?, Lets just fix everything!” And so it began in the boat yard of Duck Flat Wooden Boats in Mt Barker. Stripped down to nothing but hull,Pat and his crew turned her turtle where they splined and glassed her to the waterline. She had at some stage been converted to outboard propulsion so that had to go, a 10HP Nanni installed on hefty new Tas Oak bearers, the new heart donor. We took the empty caucus back to a long suffering friend’s farm shed where the construction of the new aft wheel house side decks and cowling commenced. An unforseen change of employment took us and the Argus to our new home in Kingston where the interior fitment commenced in view of the Derwent. Much of the timber work has been made with recycled Oregon shed frames and is now exposed through rich clear varnish. Her form now, still traditional, is much less work boat and more Gentlemen’s Cruiser. She retains many of her original Bronze fittings such as portholes, wheel and cleats and many more brass fittings have been purchased to pop against the fresh bright work. The waterways of Southern Tasmania are a brand new adventure for the Argus and us. We are aiming for a mid spring launch to Argus’s new home in Port Huon. Never predicted that!