Tasmania and Maine share a lot in common. They are both boat building and fishing centres with a long and exciting maritime history. They both have world-class cruising grounds and a small local population trying to keep the secret! But the tastiest similarity has to be the reverence for lobster, and the ritual of catching, preparing, and feasting on the delicious bugs of the sea.
In 2021 the Australian Wooden Boat Festival will celebrate the designs, restorations, and new builds happening right here in Australia – and being in Tasmania means we often don’t have to venture too far afield to discover the most inspiring projects. In this case it’s less than an hour’s drive (or a day’s sail) from Hobart before we reach the famed Wilson’s Boat Yard right outside Cygnet. Established in 1863, it is one of the country’s oldest boat building enterprises, and in 2019 it’s as busy as ever.
Early last year Philip Myer allied himself with designer and ship-builder Terry Lean of Wilson’s to create a lobsteryacht, inspired by the fishing boats that weave their way through the jagged coasts of Maine. During a visit to New England 8 years ago, Philip was struck by the rugged beauty of lobster boat Benito being built by Peter Kass for his cousin Will Baillieu at John’s Bay Boat Yard, in South Bristol. And the obsession grew from there, when on a later trip he spotted another Kass-buit boat, Abigail and Carter, motoring in and out of Camden Harbour for day trips. As Philip puts it, “I could hear its mighty 1000hp Cat diesel and watched it go by – idling at 7 knots…I was getting addicted to these boats.”
Jump to 2019 and work is well under way on Neilma G., named in honour of Myer’s aunt, a writer who was passionate about the sea and inspired Philip’s love of all things nautical. “Though it takes it’s inspiration from Maine lobster boats,” says Philip, “it is not a straight copy. Neilma G. was designed by Terry Lean and myself over several years and the result is our interpretation of a ‘Maine style’ lobster boat. It was not designed to be a working boat, but a picnic or day cruiser with some basic but comfortable accommodations, whilst retaining the Maine-style working lobster boat heritage.”
Nielma G.‘s planking is of Huon Pine harvested from the Lake Pieman, making her, as Philip puts it, a truly “Antipodean Lobster Boat”. The building methods are also unique: Terry’s plans were tested in a Naval Architects computer, and although the moulds could have been cut straight from that computer program, Neilma G. was fully lofted in the traditional manner from Terry’s table of offsets.
She is a unique new build with a fantastic back story, and we look forward to hosting her at the 2021 Australian Wooden Boat Festival, supported by an exhibition of some incredible photography that Kraig Carlstrom is producing during the build. And if you’re lucky you might have a chance to meet Philip and Terry and hear the story of the build straight from the horse’s mouth.
Tune in next month for Part 2 of the Neilma G. story!
Images courtesy of Kraig Carlstrom