Seasalter a name to conjure thoughts of the wide open horizon; and during her life of 81 years she has certainly reached over many horizons!
Built in Adelaide for the Headmaster of a Boys College, Seasalter was designed by the famed proponent of the Metacentric Theory- Dr. T. Harrison Butler. Her first 10 years were ignominious as her first owner was “encouraged” to leave Australia for his pacifist and communist views. It was not until after the war when the boat was altered substantially to prepare for the 1949 Sydney Hobart Race. Her rig was cut down from a graceful ketch to a stumpy bald headed cutter. Her elegant raised house was removed and a longer racing cockpit built. She finished 6th out of 12 starters. Through a succession of owners racing and cruising the South Australian and Victorian coasts she added miles beneath her keel and showed her stern to many younger racing boats.
In the 1970’s she was prepared for a non-stop circumnavigation. After two false starts the attempt was abandoned and the vessel sold yet again. Finally in 1992 a New Zealander bought her and sailed to Tonga and Fiji. For the summer cyclone season he would return to the Bay of Islands. I first saw her lying at mooring in the Bay of Islands and thought that she craved a bowsprit. In 2007 a ferocious local storm drove her ashore. On hearing the news of her stranding the owner suffered a heart attack and died.
In due course his son came to try to sell the boat. He approached me for help as I was, at the time, running a wooden boatbuilding school. After sometime he agreed to sell me the boat. She was in a bad way after almost 50 years of neglect and some constructional problems. All the structural fastenings were mild steel or iron. I decided that to give the boat her respect the job would have to be a full restoration. Over 30 months of full time work, all the ferrous fastenings were removed and new bronze ones fashioned. All the metal floors were recast in bronze as were many of the fittings. The entire deck structure was renewed including carlins and beams. The trunk was lifted and refastened; the elegant raised house was replicated; a new interior was built; a new motor was installed and included new wiring and modern systems; a new ketch rig with bowsprit was built with new sails. She was relaunched in December 2015. After a shakedown cruise to Gisbourne, Seasalter left New Zealand and sailed to New Caledonia and then Cairns. From there and mostly solo I sailed her anti-clockwise around Australia. The last big passage was from Albany to Hobart via the south of Matsuyker Island. She displayed in the 2017 AWBF, the 2018 Paynesville Classic Boat Show, the 2018 Geelong Classic Boat Show and the 2018 Sydney wooden Boat and Classic Boat Show. (Bringing Seasalter to the 2019 AWBF is to celebrate the life of my other boat Mavourneen that I was bringing to Hobart. Sadly she was lost on passage from NZ on 09 December 2018.
Mavourneen- built by Ron Beltz Hobart 1946)