ps check out the cockpit canopy ‘wings’, new to me but with the hours of sunshine they get in Australia, they are a great idea.
I believe she was designed by Clem Masters (RIP) a prolific designer and builder from Sandgate, but the builder is unknown. Her registration papers say she was built in 1968. Although I don’t know the builder, she is however built to a very high standard and was completely rot free and sound when I bought her. It is better to be lucky than smart. The long term owner before me, Mort Hudson, sadly had developed alzheimers which meant he had to sell her, but this also meant he could not recite her history. Mort had named her Tooroorong after his wife’s peanut farm. It seemed to be a tactic that had worked for him and a theme which would follow.
Her original name might have been Venetra. Mort’s wife Barbara mistakenly recalled her name was Helena during the restoration which resulted in the decision to change it back. My wife was keen to go back to the original name before we learned of the error but we decided on St Helena as many classic Moreton Bay boats bear the names of local places and by that time we thought of her as Helena. It is important to keep your wife happy as we see below.
I believe St Helena was a southern boat as before I spent two years restoring her she was enclosed and had a small trunk cabin aft which was pretty difficult to live with and not suitable for a sub tropical climate. The restoration is a whole other story. We had planned some quick work and a $15,000 ceiling. I should run a government with my ability to blow out a budget. Two years later in an enclosed slipway on Breakfast Creek is proof enough of that …
As it turned out, brother in law loved wooden boats. He is an intellectual but also an artisan. He had a peculiar wooden shoal draft sailing boat to I think an Ian Gartside design which he kept in Cabbage Tree Creek. He had also built a beautiful strip plank canoe of cedar which was bright finished. And he collected Wooden Boat Magazine.
Anyway, my wife’s sister, who, what shall I say, might be viewed by some as a hard hard woman, took a dislike to his boat. She was embarrassed because the purist in him would not use an engine and crunched into the jetty on docking and she found the sailing experience uncomfortable. This whole boating business was a folly and an annoyance. She started speaking at family gatherings about how it made good financial sense to be rid of the boat. Whatever (said slowly and with bitterness) I thought. More noise.
I did however become concerned when I heard Johnny start parroting her narrative. While she wore the pants he told me that he was not worried it would sell because it was such a peculiar boat that it would appeal to very few people. Who knew that the only other person in Australia who would be interested was looking for such a boat to try an experimental junk rig on. I said to him after the event, “why wouldn’t you just have made a typo with your phone number in the advertisement – your wife would never realise”. We are all wise after the event.
Shortly after it was advertised my wife came to me, “Jimmy’s sold the boat”. “That’s not good”, I said. “You watch, this will be the end of them”. Well within months they had separated and the blood letting began. As part of his punishment boxes of Wooden Boat Magazines were hidden under my house.
And so I came to stand on the top of that very slippery slope. I read those magazines. One by one. Then religiously. The 18 foot catamaran I had in my late teens whispered in my ear. My favourite book as a boy was The Dove. This was going to be bad.
I started looking at sailing yachts. I wanted a Herreschoff. It had to have a bright mahogany house, teak decks and brass, brass, brass. Anyway, as I stood on the most lovely one in Sydney Harbour about to make my dream a reality I remembered just in time the lesson above. In my family a sailing boat is a divorce. I decided a cruiser would be more likely to keep me in the family business. God bless my wife. She put up with the restoration while I told her outrageous lies about how much it was costing. But despite this now she suggests we use the boat more than I do. Provided we take the dogs. Those damned dogs and their hair. On my beautiful boat. Never mind, happy wife. Happy life. I think I got the good sister.
She doesn’t know I am still looking for a yacht. I saw a lovely Dark Harbour 20 in England the other day. The quote to freight it out here wasn’t that unreasonable. Surely the house renovations can wait a little longer. What could possibly go wrong?”