Our thoughts go out to the many supporters of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival who have been affected by the terrible floods here in Tasmania in recent weeks. We’re receiving reports from all across the northern part of the state, and from many east coast locations, of shocking damage and loss not just to boats and marinas, but to houses, farms and stock. The violence of these swollen rivers and monstrous sea conditions is terrible to behold and the clean-up will take many months. Video clips on YouTube carry awful footage of whole marinas being swept away and sickening damage being done to much-loved boats. Many vessels have not even been found yet, as the emergency services sensibly devote their time to saving human lives. As an active player in rural Tasmania, the Bendigo Bank has opened a flood victims appeal on the internet at www.bendigobank.com.au/flood-appeals or you can donate at any branch.
At least there is something to look forward to as preparations for the 12th Australian Wooden Boat Festival kick up another gear. Expressions of interest for Boats Afloat have ramped up since applications opened just two months ago. So far, 158 applications have been received and selectors report that the standard of quality is very high. The judges look not for the largest or the shiniest vessels, but for those that carry a history or a special interest for lovers of wooden boats.
We farewell one of our longest serving project managers this time around, as David Hunt, who has run the Model Boats Exhibition since the festival started in 1994, lays down his backstage pass and looks forward to enjoying the festival from the spectator side. David has been tireless in organising the show every second year and he has been responsible for some impressive displays. The Model Boat Exhibition, and the on-water demonstrations of these remarkable works of art and engineering, have always been a highlight of the AWBF.
It’s festival season in the Northern Hemisphere and we salute our opposite numbers in Mystic, Connecticut, Port Townsend in Washington State and of course the big one: the Fete Maritime in Brest, France. The latter was the inspiration, all those years ago, for Andy Gamlin and friends Cathy Hawkins and Ian Johnston to start a wooden boat festival in their own home port, Hobart.
We are taking a special interest in maps these days, as the search for historical documents to support our Abel Tasman theme for the 2017 festival. We are delighted to have the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, who have contributed generously to the project. We are working with the Dutch National Archives and the Scheepvaartmuseum (Amsterdam’s famous maritime museum) to unearth Tasman’s logs and charts. It’s interesting to discover how much Dutch material is held in Australian collections, including valuable Tasmanian resources at the Channel Heritage Centre in Margate and in the collection of the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery. The exhibition will describe the remarkable achievements of Abel Tasman and other early Dutch explorers, who visited Australia long before the French and British expeditions that followed.
Read more about these and many other stories, in this month’s AWBF News blog and don’t forget that if you would like to submit an article or a news piece, don’t hesitate. The AWBF News blog is published on the 14th of each month and copy deadline is a week before that. Send your submission as a Word document, with images in JPEG format to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Cullen, General Manager