The Moreton Bay Classic – PART TWO – The Race


The Moreton Bay Classic – PART TWO – The Race

Following on from yesterdays story showcasing the inaugural running of the Moreton Bay Classic – probably the biggest classic one day on-the-water event in Australia, today we get to see the race fleet up close. The last group of photos are from the post race festivities in Horseshoe Bay.                                                                                                                           If you missed yesterdays story – scroll down to view it or click this link

As mention yesterday – the time is long overdue for an event like this on the Waitemata – no drag racers, no show ponies, no big ego’s or bad attitudes and no 24hr marathons  – just a good old fashioned woody day out accumulating in a bay for a BBQ. Details soon. 

The Race/Social Event That Stops The Bay – The Moreton Bay Classic – PART ONE

The Race Social Event That Stops The Bay – The Moreton Bay Classic – PART ONE

Todays mega woody story comes to us from Brisbane based woody Andrew Christie, who regularly sends in reports from the woody movement from across the ditch. Todays is a goody, so find a comfy spot and enjoy 🙂 Take it away Andrew – 

“For my part I have long looked across the Tasman Sea towards the Waitamata Harbour with envy.  The number of classic boats and classic boat events there is the stuff of magic and dreams for a wooden boat tragic.

Here on Moreton Bay in South East Queensland, its own boating paradise, we had nothing to compare until a grudge match between young Jacob Oxlade and Paul Crowther, bubbled to the surface in a throwaway challenge that snowballed in to the largest event for classic wooden boats that Moreton Bay has ever seen last Saturday, 25 June 2022.

Jacob Oxlade, 24 a qualified Master has the good fortune, skill and presence that has seen him become skipper of the South Pacific 11 a 72 foot vessel designed by Eldridge MGuiness and built by the famous Norman R Wright & Son in 1962.  Jacob skippers the South Pacific from Far North Queensland to Tasmania and has formerly skippered other known Moreton Bay Classics, Bali Hai, Mohokoi, Lady Brisbane and others.  Paul Crowther is a member of a successful business dynasty who has recently become the proud owner of the Mohokoi a 70 foot vessel built by Wayne Tipper in 1995.

Jacob in South Pacific was escorting Paul to Myora on North Stradbroke Island, an anchorage favoured by salty Classic Moreton Bay Cruisers as Paul got to know the ropes. As it happened, Mohokoi was ahead of the South Pacific and Paul slowed to let Jacob enter the anchorage first.  As is the nature of such things, an argument then ensued about who was first and who was fastest.  The gauntlet was thrown down by Paul and the challenge accepted by Jacob.  It was on.  The “Race that Stops the Bay” was suddenly being promoted on local classic boating social media but quickly became the “Event that Stops the Bay” to accommodate fears relating to insurance and other regulatory matters that tie down our modern nanny world.

Jacob hoped to attract perhaps eight of the known larger classic vessels and about ten smaller ones for an event he hoped would be reminiscent of old photographs he had seen of the processions of classic boats that escorted the Britannia up the Brisbane River on the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Queensland in the 1970s.

Jacob regrets that the entry form he published was not designed to accommodate the sheer volume of entrants that he had to process.  Thirty-One classic vessels registered to actively participate in a race of 10.9 nautical miles from Green Island near Manly Harbour in Moreton Bay to South West Rocks at Peel Island. Seventy-One classic vessels registered as spectators.  Jacob counted One Hundred and Twenty Classics in the post-race anchorage of Horseshoe Bay and more again were present close to shore before the starting gun. Entries continued to pour in after close of registration and even on to the day of the event itself.

Jacob is cognisant that each of these classic wooden boats is unique and special.   He inherited his love of them from his father Paul Oxlade who would take him boating from a young age, where Paul Oxlade would point out each of the old Queensland woodies, being able to name their owners, builders, build dates and slip ways, a remarkable skill seemingly only shared by the now Skipper of the Lady Brisbane Mark Nielson.  Such was his father’s inspiration that Jacob became a Master in his own right who desires to share his love of these classic vessels with his own younger generation.  He believes he has come some way to achieving this goal with what is to become a regular event in what is now known as “The Moreton Bay Classic”.

The race format was kept simple with the primary focus being on a day out and participation which had to be both easy and free as an antidote to our post Covid 19 world.  It was not a navigation event or log race. It was simply a race from post to post but with a handicap on each boats’ start times set by William Wright, a third generation boatbuilder and naval architect with the Norman R Wright & Sons dynasty who handicapped them according to their waterline length, horsepower and top speed.  First across the finish line was the Coral Sea, followed by Floodtide, Lady Mac, Nyala and Tamara.  A best and fairest award of a Garmin watch was won by the Skipper of Mohokoi, the decision being made by John Stewart, Commodore of the Breakfast Creek Boat Club.  The watch was donated with thanks to Gordon Triplett from Garmin.

Because this year’s event occurred spontaneously and without much notice, a fact belied by the sheer number of participants, it is intended to hold the event once more next year to allow those people who missed out a chance to attend, after which it will become bi-annual, to be held in the winter of each year of the Tasmanian Wooden Boat Festival.  The timing is designed to take advantage of the beautiful Winter conditions Moreton Bay experiences and to allow those vessels making their way North for the Winter season both from Tasmania and the South generally to participate. The date has already been set at 24 June 2023 which coincides with the commencement of the Queensland School Holidays and which avoids conflicts with other events listed on the Boating Industry Association’s calendar.  In the event of poor weather a contingency plan for celebrations at Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron’s Canaipa campus are in place.

It is Jacob’s intention that next year all of the classic vessels will be entered as participants with any moderns to be registered as spectators as he explained there was confusion in the minds of classic owners unfamiliar with the format of the new event this year with the result many were shy, entering only as spectators.

At the conclusion of the race festivities continued with a presentation that occurred on the beach at Horseshoe Bay, where a feast of seafood, a lamb on a spit, and a pig on a spit was provided free of charge to participants.

Jacob focused specific attention on safety and an avoidance of inconveniencing non participants, the course being designed to avoid conflict with bay ferries or creating wake on local beaches.  The event was run in consultation with Maritime Safety Queensland and the Water Police who reported no negative occurrences from the event.  Congratulations must go to Jacob and Paul for their thoughtfulness in providing both general refuse and recycling bins at the beach function and for organising a clean-up of the beach the following day such that it was left in better condition than before the presentation.

Thanks must also go to Paul Crowther who paid for the spit roasts and a live band out of his own pocket, Bryant Engineering, the Queensland Gardner specialists who provided the seafood and who operated the rotisseries and set up and pulled down the beach facilities the day before and after the event and to Tony from Tony’s Boats and Marine who paid for bread, onions, napkins and the other bibs and bobs that made the barbeque a success.

The event was filmed by Nick Cornish who runs Game Rod Media so expect a quality documentary about it in the near future.  A Facebook group for the Moreton Bay Classic features footage of the vessels and the event and provides updated information future events.

With a view to keeping the event free to participate in, Jacob and Paul are looking for sponsors and are floating the idea of providing a cap or pennant to commemorate each future event which will bear sponsor logos.

And so a new event was born, the fruit of a throwaway challenge, but which highlighted the health of classic wooding boating in Moreton Bay.  Make sure you support the Moreton Bay Classic and see you on the waters of Moreton Bay on 24 June 2023, and suffer in your jocks on the Waitemata Harbour as it is warm and dry here in Queensland.”

I think waitematawoodys needs to look into pulling a similar event off on the Waitemata – back to you all ASAP with details 🙂 Alan H

The Race – below is just a tease – come back tomorrow for photos from the course 😉

Merita – 6 Years Older


The 1965, Jim (James) Dymock built 38’ launch – Merita, last appeared on WW in June 2016 when Murray Morrissey sent in a great collection of photos from her her launch day at Milford, Auckland. I understand that Brin Wilson had a hand in designing the cabin top. Link here to that story

Prior to the above story, thanks to Pamela Cundy, Brian Worthington & Ken Ricketts we got to see more photos of the boat in the 2013>2015 period. Link below

Lots of photos & intel at those two links – read the comments as well.

Fast forward 6 years and Jason Prew spotted Merita berthed at Gulf Harbour, looking very smart. Somewhere along the way she has ‘lost’ her mast, but in my view looks better for it.

The Biography of Pearl Diver

Launch day Nov 1965 – Westhaven
Birkdale c.1968

The Biography Of Pearl Diver  

The build of the 30’ launch – Pearl Diver was started in 1960 by Ken Rickett’s friend Lloyd Burnand. She was built in an old corrugated iron shed, at his parent’s home, in Ngapipi Rd Orakei.  Lloyd bought the boat as a kit set off Shipbuilders, who supplied a good number of kit sets, all between about 28′ to 34′, during the years 1960-66. Over nearly 6 years Lloyd assembled / built the boat. At the time he was in his early 20’s (photo above of Lloyd outside the shed). Being somewhat of a perfectionist Lloyd put only the best of everything into the  build and the launch was his pride & joy between 1965 to1982. 

She was built of 3 skins of kauri, on opposite diagonals, held together by ‘Epiglue’, a very strong adhesive, this combined with through fastened copper nails, made her like a proverbial brick outhouse.   The coamings were fibre-glassed over marine ply, with a very distinctive, futuristic for the day, window styling, which was partly created by Lloyd purchasing and having professionally cut up, a windscreen from a 1950’s Chev Impala car, and using the 90 degree rounded corner sections of the windscreen glass of this, for her front screen corners. The rest of the boat was finished with a product called ‘International Poly 707’. 

Original power came from a 6 cyl. 100 h.p. intermittent and 86 h.p. continuous rating Ford diesel, which drove through a 2 to 1  Borg Warner gearbox & reduction gear, to a 20 x 22 Henley propeller. This engine was replaced c.1994 with a 180 h.p. inter-cooled artificially aspirated Ford diesel, which she still has today. 

Lloyd was a keen aqualung diver from way back in the very early days of the sport i.e. the mid1950’s. He even fitted a portable 3000 p.s.i. petrol driven, aqualung compressor on Pearl Diver. The boat was named after his passion for diving and his wife named Pearl – a habit of many ’smart’ boat owners back in those days 🙂 The launch was kept at several locations during Lloyd’s tenure  – Westhaven, Bayswater and the Tamaki River, but her best home was at the bottom of Llyod and Pearl’s waters edge home in Birkdale. There she would sit on a wooden cradle for winter maintenance. Note: click on photos to enlarge

Ownership Timeline

• Lloyd owned her until c.1982, when she passed to Pearl & her second husband Steve Lomax, kept on a swing mooring at the Sandspit, Warkworth. • Sold in c.1987/8, to a Mr C Bradshaw. For how long unknown – anyone able to confirm timings.  • Late 1980’s or early 1990’s appeared for sale with a Titirangi phone number – price $50k  • Mid 1999 she appeared for sale again with a Northland phone number. Price $75k, (new 180HP engine fitted). The ad photo shows a fly bridge added. The owner was Graham Eastgate of Tutukaka. • Eastgate sold her to Doug and Raewyn Marsh in July 1999 and they relocated the boat to McLeods Bay, Whangarei Heads. • July 2004 the Marshs sold the launch to Barry and Julie Spencer. The Spencers relocated the launch to Doves Bay, Kerikeri in August 2004. • Present owner, Reb Aplin, inherited Pearl Diver off the estate of Barry Spencer, Barry was in his 70’s, when they bought her and for a number of his later years Reb mostly cared for her, on his behalf, as age prevented Barry from doing much of her maintenance. When Barry passed away, late last year (2021), at age 89, he bequeathed Pearl Diver to Reb, who took the boat over a couple of months ago, and  is going through her, and bringing her right up to the minute, in every respect. Hopefully considering removing the block of penthouse. She is still moored at Doves Bay, Kerikeri. 

Special thanks to – Ken Ricketts for pulling the bones of this story together and the following people for their time, knowledge and sharing of photos – Pearl Burnand-Lomax, Warren Burnand ( Lloyd’s son), Val Schmidt (nee Burnand, Lloyd’s sister) and present owner Reb Aplin.  Story edited a lot by Alan H