Classic build

In build at the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin, Tasmania, is a project that combines modern construction with traditional methods.

03 June 2020


A project underway at the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin, Tasmania, is aiming to showcase the enduring appeal and relevance of shipwrights in Australia.

The vessel, a Franklin 29 designed by Andrew Wolstenhholme, will feature a strip-planked hull made from western red cedar, laid decks of celery top pine, Huon pine on the transom and fitout with other Tasmanian native timbers.

Early predictions suggest it will have a cruising speed of 17 knots, powered by a 110HP low-emission diesel engine and a displacement of a little over four tons.

Paul D’Olier, Operations Manager at the Wooden Boat Centre, is the main proponent of the project. “The aim is to introduce a world-class shipwright training program back into the Wooden Boat Centre,” said Paul.

“To do this, we had to have a variety of both traditional and modern boat construction within the course and the content also needed to be consistent year on year. Traditional construction components were easy with our small clinker and carvel boats that are a staple for us.”


Paul continues, “I proposed a larger modern strip plank production boat (the Franklin 29) to fulfil the main part of the program.”

Students will learn about modern construction strip plank methods including CNC cut moulds and bulkheads; introduction to modern adhesives and fillers used in strip plank construction; vacuum bag sheathing processes; Dynel deck sheathing; composite bulkhead materials; laid deck installation; interior fit-out and mechanical and electrical fit-out.

ATL Composites, in conjunction with their local distributors Tasmanian Marine Distributors, has been working closely with the Wooden Boat Centre over the last couple of months, providing recommendations on materials and construction techniques for the Franklin 29 project.

ATL Composites CEO Nicholas Cossich commented, “We are honoured to be collaborating with the Wooden Boat Centre on this showcase project for the Australian Wooden Boat Festival.”

The wooden boat has earned universal esteem for its part in human history, explained Paul, adding that it deserves to continue to evolve and thrive.

“We live on an island and as a country, we would not exist without explorers in wooden ships. Rather than just having museum displays, it is important to preserve our links to history by training craftsmen for the present and the future.”

Paul D’Olier, Operations Manager at the Wooden Boat Centre, emphasises: “There are many historic vessels worldwide that need skilled shipwrights to preserve and restore them.”

Operating for 25 years, the Wooden Boat Centre has acquired an international reputation for its quality teaching and fine vessels. The centre welcomes more than 22,000 visitors each year, many taking the time to engage through workshop tours and short courses.

The lower workshop at the centre, where the 29-foot vessel is under construction, is only metres from the picturesque Huon River, the site of the construction of Tasmania’s most famous wooden boat, The May Queen. Built in Tasmanian blue gum in 1867, she is proudly moored at Constitution Dock in Hobart.

Construction has begun on the Franklin 29. The project is on track for delivery ahead of the 2021 Wooden Boat Festival on 5–8 February, where it will be on display. Ideally, the Franklin 29 will be sold prior to or during the show, to fund the next project.

“If the new owner is based in Sydney, Brisbane or the Gold Coast, it could well visit a boat show in those regions,” said Paul. “It would make the perfect day boat for those climates.”


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