Hello there, Australian Wooden Boat Festival diehards. This is Paul the Younger with my first log entry. It’s been a whirlwind two months of collecting ideas, meeting people, sifting through the relics of festivals gone by, and planning for 2021. Paul the Older spent a couple weeks getting me settled and then took a well-earned vacation in warmer climes. He’s back in Hobart-town now preparing for the Australian Antarctic Festival, which is set to coincide with two gargantuan Antarctic conferences in August of 2020, so he’s certainly not resting on his laurels. Mr. Cullen was always but a phone call away as I got settled, so I thank him for that and for the hard work he’s put in over 8 years, leaving me with a solid foundation and a thriving festival as my starting point.
I can’t express how thrilled I am to be leading the festival forward. For 25 years now the Australian Wooden Boat Festival has been bringing people together to celebrate Hobart’s (and the world’s) remarkable maritime heritage. For four days at the height of summer, the waterfront is absolutely bustling. The Derwent billows with sails, children race each other in makeshift dinghies, choruses belt out sea shanties, and crowds weave through the hundred of boats tucked into every nook of the waterfront. It’s a time when Tasmanians, visitors, and the seafaring community from across the globe all come together to share their skills, their stories, and their passion for wooden boats. This is my type of festival. It’s all about joy, adventure, learning, culture and community – all the good things in life. I am truly honoured to be a part of such a great event, and look forward to inspiring a new generation of wooden boat enthusiasts so this festival can thrive for another 25 years.
With Australia as the feature country in 2021, we are going to focus on bringing together boat builders, restorers, experts and educators from around the country to share their knowledge. The maritime culture of Australia is so rich, and it is about time it takes centre stage at our festival: 100-year old living restorations floating beside shiny new builds fresh out of Tasmania’s boat yards; Tasmania’s legendary timbers, pulled from the depths of Lake Pieman, transformed into works of art before your eyes; boat designers from around the country waxing poetic on some newfangled industry development while indigenous canoe makers revive a tradition that has been a part of this land for tens of thousands of years. Demonstrations, classes, markets, races, stories, adventures: it’s a playground for one and all.
There is something about wooden boats that brings people together. Civilisations around the world came of age on the water, it is a tradition that we share as human beings. And in 2021, once again, we will bring people together from around the world to eat, drink, teach, learn, and celebrate wooden boats.
— Paul Stephanus