Ready, Steady, Go – Boats Away!

Chief Instructor Sean Koomen is directing operations in Port Townsend


It’s all on, in our  sister port of Port Townsend in Washington State, as the crew from the North West School of Wooden Boat Building prepares to load 3 x 40′ containers full of beautiful American boats and the materials to build two more.  Chief instructor Sean Koomen is directing operations, working towards a deadline of Tuesday 23 October, when the containers will be lifted for their long trip across the Pacific Ocean via Seattle and Melbourne.  They’ll be here in early December, as will Sean’s crew of experienced boat builders, all former students at the prestigious boat building school in America’s Pacific Northwest.  Their mission?  Build not one, but two Haven 12.5s, the Herreshoff/White design daysailer.  The boats will be a fascinating blend of Tasmanian timber (Hydrowood’s reclaimed celery top pine), sponsored rigging and American craftsmanship.  And where better to do it than the WoodenBoat Centre in Franklin, Tasmania?

But they have to get here first.  The climate-controlled containers will travel by ship to Melbourne, then will be transhipped across the Bass Strait and delivered to Hobart by road transport.  The maze of customs regulations, biosecurity requirements, insurance certificates and carnets would make your head spin, but we have done this just two years ago to bring out the Dutch boats and shipbuilders at the 2017 MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  Tasmania has some of the tightest quarantine rules in the world, so we’ll be making sure that everything is ship shape for a smooth trip and timely delivery.

It’s worth the effort to do something remarkable – share our common heritage of wooden boat craftsmanship and examine the different conditions in Tasmania vs. North America that have driven clever,  innovative design solutions over the past 200 years and more.  It’s a chance to see and touch the real thing and speak to the people who know most about these remarkable boats.  The American Precinct at the festival will display these unique craft, right alongside the Australian Shipwright’s Village, so there’s plenty of opportunity for cross-fertilisation and fun!



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