Australian Wooden Boat Festival

After cycling on Maria Island we had “a little bit of stress” as we only had a week to reach Hobart in time for the legendary Wooden Boat Festival. We had heard about this event while in Bundaberg and it was “only” 3500 kilometers away. We had been heading towards it since October – four months ago. It is billed as the largest show of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and everyone said it was amazing.

To reach Hobart, we took a shortcut through the Denison Canal. Luckily Ivan from the wooden yacht Laurabada was transiting on the same day and coordinated with the appropriate authority to have the swing bridge opened to allow us through. We just had to negotiate the treacherous bar and shallows to reach the canal entrance. Dougal, who lives nearby went down to the beach in the morning to give us an on the spot wave report and declared the bar “passable”. We are so lucky to meet such amazingly friendly and helpful people.

After lots of hard sailing against the wind we turned the corner around the Iron Pot lighthouse and sailed the last few miles directly downwind to anchor off Tasmania’s capital city of Hobart. The next day Paul and Lucie arrived and we had three boats around us that we knew from Brisbane (2021), Bundaberg (2022) and Tasmania (2023). The sailing world is a village.

The Wooden Boat Show starts with a procession of vessels up the Derwent River so we took our dinghy out and tied to a buoy in the middle of the river and waited. We were approached by a wall of sail as everything from the 670 ton “James Craig” to tiny skiffs set sail and headed our way. A few years ago we watched an Atlantic Rally leave the Canary Islands but nothing can compare to the sight of so many historic boats sailing in company.

In the afternoon and on the following day we visited the show in the center of Hobart. It was an incredibly interesting event made even more so by meeting people we already knew. They, in turn, introduced us to others and, as soon as they mentioned that we had sailed from Scotland, we were immediately made unbelievably welcome.

Ivan invited us on to his beautiful 49 foot ketch and showed us not only the whole boat but also photographs of her history including her build in 1953 by his father. Various other owners called past which allowed us to learn more about treating and varnishing wood in an hour than in the last five years.

Dougal made us welcome at the Royal Institute of Naval Architects booth and introduced us to his family, a colleague who trains ships captains and an inventor who has designed and built an amazing underwater work robot.

The boats were all beautiful and a far cry from modern plastic boats but we both agreed, we love our Artemis and don’t miss having all that wood that needs so much attention.

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