The Dinghy is a living example of the passion for & the longstanding community of excellence around boat building in the South East of Tasmania. Still in use as a family fishing boat, The Dinghy was built as a project by Bruce Miller, with the support and guidance of master boat builder, Reg Fazackerley. It is believed that this twelve foot clinker is the only Fazackerley-designed dinghy to be built inside a family home (much to his wife Julie’s dismay). With 2 children still in nappies and two not yet started school, navigating the wood shavings, sawdust, construction frame, array of tools & timber was the sacrifice Bruce and Julie were prepared to make in the pursuit of the dream. The sacrifice paid off as 3 generations have enjoyed The Dinghy’s beautiful lines, stunning timber grains and seaworthiness.
Bruce loved Fazackerley’s craft, the beautiful flare in the bow, the lovely curve of Tumblehome in the stern. None too shy, he introduced himself to Reg and, in the spirit of this community (lovers of beautifully designed and crafted boats), the master boat builder took the young engineer under his wing, providing him with a scale half model (“beamy” with a decent draft and high in the stern to sit nicely on the water with an outboard motor) and expert guidance during construction.
The Dinghy has a Huon Pine stem (2 inch thick on the inside and 2 inch thick layers on the outside) and ‘grown Knees’ (Sheoaks grown on the right angles) and a ‘grown’ Wattle root breasthook. King Billy Pine was selected for the planks for ease of handling (not as brittle as Huon Pine, easier to bend and will splinter rather than fracture on impact according to Reg). Bruce built his own electric steamer and followed Reg’s instructions: Nothing less than 20 minutes, probably 30-45 minutes. If you keep it going longer the planks will come out like a limp, wet rag. The planks are shaped one at a time each side, locked in place using only handmade wooden clamps, each plank bevelled to sit flat on the transom and the bow stem carved for a neat fit. With Reg’s blessing, Bruce altered the design slightly by using wider planks at the gunwale to take up the curvature.
When complete Bruce took it to Sandy Bay for Reg to inspect. After a long, nerve-wracking inspection, Reg gave the jubilant young man the thumbs up.
Fitted with a 4 horse Johnson and a pair of cut down racing scull oars, The Dinghy became a much-loved family fishing vessel. Every spring, Bruce would put The Dinghy on the front lawn and hook up the hose with a trickle of water, bungs in, to let it take up. It would be days before it held water, leaking through the gaps in the cold, shrunken planks, then timbers gradually swelling, breathing, coming to life again.
So many wonderful memories in this labour of love, a combination of the determination and natural talent of one young man, guided and supported by the expertise and wisdom of a master, in the grand tradition of the passing-on of knowledge & craft.