July 6 - 12, 2014: Issue 170

 Port Jackson Pleasure Fleets – 9 &  10 
Small Fry, 16, 18 and 20 Footers and the Revolution of Luxurious Auxiliary Motor Yachts

 Yacht ZEPHYR on Sydney Harbour with (most likely) Miss Irene Pritchard at the helm This photo is part of the Australian National Maritime Museum’s William Hall collection; Object number 00002619, ANMM Collection Gift from Bruce Stannard

Port Jackson Pleasure Fleets – 9 &  10 

Small Fry, 16, 18 and 20 Footers and the Revolution of Luxurious Auxiliary Motor Yachts

And I have loved thee. Ocean, and my joy 
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be  
Borne like thy bubbles onward; from a boy; 
I wantoned with thy breakers; they to me were a delight
. — BYRON. 

Most Sydney men can but truly remember when they began boating; the water had always an irresistible attraction for them— they will tell you — and, as soon as they could toddle they made for it. If a child is missed in a waterside suburb, its mother's instinct takes her to the nearest part of the harbour, and probably the little fellow will be found in a packing case or a washtub paddling out in the bay. 

The liberal application of the strap he will surely get will have no effect, mother's arm may tire, the strap may be worn out, but the sparks fly upwards, the urchin will be on the water again at the first opportunity. One fond mother, as a compromise allowed her boy to go in a boat provided a rope attached to its stern was made fast on shore, and the youngsters used to row out till the rope brought them up with a jerk that one day sent one of their number, who was standing in the bow, overboard; and there was a narrow escape from drowning. If a youngster is lucky he will pick up with some old watersider who will give him his first lessons in the handling of a boat. Many young fellows are indebted to Mr. Reuben Ray for pleasant hours in his dingey, following his sailing models, which, with their elastic jibsheets and weighted rudders, were often good enough to win him his week's rent. 

Captain Gilchrist, whose successes in Mr. Benbow's skiff Arrow, and other small sailing boats will be remembered, was one of his pupils. Another old watersider was Captain Toucher, who lived in a lean-to at the head of Berry's Bay. He was rather eccentric, and his many unpatented inventions, which lumbered up his little room, were well worth inspecting. He had a full-rigged ship about 14ft long, with a screw propeller which was driven by hand. When open warfare did not exist between him and the little boys of the neighborhood, he used to take them out in his ship and help them with the modelling and building of their canvassers. But the little rascals often repaid his kindness by throwing stones from the cliffs above on the corrugated iron roof of his lean to. Most old boatmen are fond of youngsters, and ready to give them a helping hand with their small craft, and our boat builders will often give them scrap timber and waste valuable time not only in showing them how to do a job, but in doing it for them. 


Then our old friend, Ned Windebank, was particularly kind to youngsters
“Build me straight, oh worthy master,” was the order given to him by some little boys at Elizabeth Bay, when they wanted a 6ft canvas dingey, “and it must be built by next Saturday morning, Ned.”

The morning and the youngsters arrived, but the boat had not even been commenced. 'Oh, I forgot,' said Ned, but seeing, the little lads' disappointment, he at once gathered together some wooden hoops and scraps, and the boat was built, launched and delivered on the same day. It is the reign of the children in Sydney, and, as a rule, they get a pat on the back when elsewhere they would get a. kick. The coracle of the Ancient Briton was no doubt the original of the canvas dingey of the Sydney boy; it was developed into a smart type of boat, and later the 14ft canvasser was really a wooden boat with the planks a little distance only apart. The canvassers generally beat the wooden dingeys of similar model, and in two of three races against a Clyde-built boat, which had been specially brought out by two young Scotchmen, one of the Webbs showed the superiority of a canvasser. 

The wooden dingey of today is a miniature of the 22-footers, described in a recent article. They range from 6ft to 14ft in length and from 5ft to 8ft in beam. One very successful dingey is the Zephyr, which Miss Irene Pritchard so often piloted to victory. That boat is 8ft long by 8ft beam. One of the most recent additions to - the fleet is the Estelle, built by Golding. She makes a man regret that he is not a boy again to sail in so sweet a little craft. 


In the early eighties the 16 and 19 footers were the favorite classes, and the 14-footers were becoming popular. When you meet Mr. A. J. Soutar in his stately Oithona, you can hardly imagine that he would have to plead guilty to having sailed the 16ft. and afterwards the Lucia, 19ft.- Mr. Chas. Saunders, one of our present Public Service commissioners, used to sail the speedy Bronzewing, 19ft; Dr. Milford sailed the Young Jack, 16ft: Dr. Elliott sailed small boats as well as yachts: Mr. Fred Doran, who is one of the best, if not the best, of our amateur yacht skippers, sailed the Sophia, 16ft; Mr. Carmichael, who afterwards owned the yacht Australian, sailed the Ouida, 16ft, and some of our straightest and most respectable citizens will tell you, and truthfully, too, that there is no sailing so charming as that of the small centreboarders of their youth. 

A Sixteen-foot Skiff.

There was a nest of owners of 18-footers in Snails Bay towards the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties. They were mostly young married men, and in their many impromptu little matches their young wives, some of whom are grandmothers now, used to sit to windward and work the sheets. Those were happy days, and, though some of their owners have attained to bigger craft, and live in more fashionable suburbs, they would willingly put back the clock, if it were only to sail those races over again. 


The 18-footers, which are now the ruling class of racing centre-boarders, are very different from the boats of the same length above mentioned. Old Andrew Reynolds used to complain of the tendency of builders to run to beam in their models. “I don’t call them boats,” he used to say; “they are ships.” 

If he were alive now he would indeed be shocked at the beaminess of the present-day 18-footers. Charles Dunn is one of the few of our builders who now maintain that the beam is overdone, and, with his Qui Vive, Mascotte, and Crescent, has shown that the less beamy boat can at least bold her own on a rough day. 

Mr: Win. Pacey was, perhaps the founder of the class; his Edith and Gymea raced in the old Balmain Sailing Club handicap matches somewhere towards the end of the eighties. The Rev. Ronald Cameron also Sailed an 18-footer in the same club, where he demonstrated that an open boat could be well sailed without bad language, and afterwards he sailed the Aztec in the Johnstone’s Bay Sailing Club, to which body the credit of forming the 18-footers into a distinct class must be given. Mr. Pontey, an amateur built the successful Cygnet— often a winner with Tom Colebrook at the 'pick-handle.' Mr. Dempster brought out the Aztec, already mentioned, and the O.K., both built by HubbardJoe Donnelly built the Ariel, an intercolonial champion, for Mr. Gorrick; Deering built the Stella; Golding built the Nereid, the Yvonne and the Thalia, all successful boats; Williams built a speedy Australian, which was recently replaced by Golding’s Australian (formerly the Arline) the present champion; George Holmes gave an order to Joe Donnelly for a boat which bears the builder's name, and is worthy of it; and the Goldings' latest effort, the Eileen is making her way into the first flight from scratch. There are many fine boats - which have been left out of the above list - the reader, however, can glean all the further information he may wish for in the reports of the Weekly races if he has not the opportunity of seeing the splendid sailing of these boats, which, notwithstanding their modest 18ft, loom biggest in the public eye at the present time. 


It will give us pause if we turn away for a few minutes from the racers to the numerous pleasure craft which have seldom, if ever, faced a starter's flag. They are of many sizes and designs and afford their owners a great deal of enjoyment. Many owners do not care for racing; they say', with some truth - that it is leaving off work to carry bricks, but it is to be noticed that they don't allow another boat to pass them if they can help it. Heavy fathers take their wives and families out sailing in boats, which make one feel inclined to accuse the builders of having plagiarised the lines of their owner's corpulent figures. On holidays you will see many such boats moored in the different bays, their owners' reclining under an improvised awning ashore whilst girls in white muslin or colored prints move about laying the cloth or lighting a fire to boil the inevitable billy. 

Anniversary Regatta seems to bring together the oddest collection of odd craft imaginable, and their owners moor them under a lee or hang them in strings behind some ship, drink beer or ginger, beer, eat water-melon and watch the races. 

The 'Yellow Dogs' — so-called because they were built of kauri, and varnished— were at one time very popular with those who hired boats. They were generally about 24ft long, carried large sails, and their hirers clubbed together to meet expenses. Some of the boats are still extant and may be recognised by the boisterous fun their crews indulge in, and the music hall songs they sing. Boat sailing is the monopoly of no caste in Sydney, and the harbor, one of the best playgrounds in the world, is open just as much to the youngsters who put their sixpences together and hire a yellow dog as to the owner of a 40-tonner. There are owners, though they are not so numerous as they were, whose ownership of a boat may be ascribed to their passion for inside or outside fishing rather than to a love of sailing. The writer has no wish to harp on the tendency of the amateur fisherman to exaggeration; but it can safely be said that those who wet their lines in this part of the world are not exceptions to the rule. The writer found himself sailing up the coast with two of the very Choicest of these fishermen. They sat opposite each other and took it in turns to tell their fictions, a slice of one of which will suffice. 


'The bream were there that day, and we soon began hauling them out of the wet. I never saw such beauties, some of them scaled close on 5lb. They kept Billy and me so busy that we didn't notice that the weight of the fish had put the skiff down so much that the water was running in through the top of the centreboard box. She was nearly full before we noticed it, and there was nothing for it but to leave the sport and make for the beach. Just then a thundering great nurse put his nose up and took a sniff at the boat, and while I was pulling for the shore for all I was worth, Billy was chucking fish to the shark like the Sunday School teacher threw his pupils to the wolves that were chasing his sleigh. 

The shark still came on, and we had no sooner grounded than it made a jump at us and landed high and dry on the beach.  
We gave our bream to everyone that came along, and all the visitors went home from Watson's Bay that evening with a string of the finest fish you ever saw. The only thing that grieved me was the way they would lie about, having caught them themselves. We towed the shark when it was dead round to the pier, rigged a derrick to hoist it out and put up our tent over our prize. We charged sixpence a head, children half price,  to see that shark. Whole schools came from Sydney with their teachers to see it; and parsons came down and moralised. One man came up to me, and thanked me with tears in his eyes. He had been, he said, on the verge of becoming an Infidel, because he could not swallow the story about Jonah and the whale, but after seeing that shark his faith was restored to him. What a roaring business we did till the shark got too high, and the residents began to complain! Then the police came and broke up the show. When I got home my people thought I had robbed a bank— I was so flush of cash; and I had to tell my old dad, who was a very pious man, all about it. He reached out for his green hide whip, and would have given me the father of a hiding for telling lies — though, you know, I was speaking nothing but the truth; but when I rang in on him all about the infidel we had converted, it was the scene between George Washington and his father all over again.' 


The 20-footers were one of the best combined types of racing and pleasure boats. They afforded their owners the pleasure of racing and comfortable outside cruising. It is a belief that the class is defunch. Some of the feats may be mentioned: The Ellis-built Wingadee and Wanganella, which Mr. Pros. Trebeck, who, after an absence of nearly a quarter of a century from racing, led the 30-footers' home on King's Birthday, sailed successfully— the Golding- built Nereus and Itonia, the Ciytie by Donnelly, the Elaine by Ellis, the Maritana and Cynthia by Hayes, and the Grace Darling by Allen. The most graceful, however, of all our boats are the 16-feet centreboard skiffs. As many as 30 sometimes come to the scratch, and their racing is so attractive that the senior yacht clubs invite the mosquito fleet to race at their regattas. 
(To Be Continued.)
A Sixteen-foot Skiff.
PORT JACKSON'S PLEASURE FLEETS. (1907, December 7). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article113892129


''God hath made man upright: but they have sought out many inventions." – (Old Testament). 

The writer was stuck up for a quotation for this article. He happened, however, to go on board an auxiliary yacht in Broken Bay, and found the owner monkeying under the cock-pit with his oil engine. That owner is a good citizen, a pillar of the church in fact, he is the embodiment of all the good qualities that are usually set forth in illuminated addresses; but on the occasion referred to his language was calculated to shock a member of Parliament. When every known expletive with variations had been exhausted, he endeavored, in a paroxysm of rage, to tear the motor from its bed to throw it overboard. Failing in his attempt, he crawled out, stem first, greasy, grimy, perspiring, and calling for the longest and coolest drink on board. He caught sight of the writer,  “Ah, Lanyard!” he exclaimed; “and when are you going to have a motor in your boat? You really ought to have one.” 

Then it occurred to the writer that the text above quoted would be particularly suitable for this article. Motor boats are distinctly in just now, as in our schoolboy days peg-tops or marbles were in, with this difference however, motor boats never go out in the sense that peg-tops and marbles go out. Whilst most of the sailing men put their craft on the hard because of lack of wind during the winter afternoons, the owners of motor boats enjoy the smooth water and the delightfully clear and bracing weather. You see their boats rushing along, their brass fit tings glittering in the sun, you see them anchored off the white -beaches of the harbor; and you see them lying outside whilst their crews are busy fishing. Nor is it during the winter only that motor-boating is pleasant. After a long tiring day in town, where the nor' easter seems to have acquired a warm, treacle like consistency, what could be more exhilarating than to dash down the harbor in a speedy, little boat dead in the teeth of the sea-breeze, the cool salt spray splashing in your face? A motor-boat requires a smaller, crew, and takes infinitely less time to get underweigh than the average sailing boat. You can time your return to a minute, unless you have a breakdown, the probability of which is becoming slighter every day, owing to improved motors and an increased knowledge of their working. 

Sydney Harbor can boast of many varieties of motor boats; the long, graceful, polished cedar hull, which, minus muffler and reversing clutch, rushes along with a roar at 20 miles an hour, throwing a fine spray from each -bow, which looks like a wing, and glistens in the sun; the larger, heavier, and sumptuously furnished cruiser, with her polished brass, make-believe funnel; but teak and plate-glass cabins; the plain, but serviceable boat, that earns her living; the skiff, the punt, the eight-foot dingey even, and there are schooners, ketches, sailing yachts, and coach-house boats which have their auxiliary motors. And yet but a few years ago the smell of the motor boat was not smelt- on the harbor. But withal the advent of the motor has not made any converts among the present generation of sailing men, and, except in cases where time is essential, the sailing man will not have a motor on his mind; the propeller when not in use, however small it may be, affects the sailing speed, and, under certain conditions, has a tendency to make a boat under sail steer wildly, and there is never the same charming feel about the tiller when a propeller is being towed; the boat seems to lose life. So it is not among the ranks of the sailing men to any great extent that the motor boat has found her recruits. They come rather from the classes who would ''praise the sea but stay on land,” had it not been for the marine motor. 

The United States were early in the field here with marine motors, and have sent us many excellent engines, the French, the Germans, and the Danes, have sent as good, reliable motors; the Briton, if a late comer, has introduced some splendid specimens; and this State now manufactures marine motors which do not compare unfavorably with the Imported, article. The motor boater is generally a good fellow; he is always ready to play, the part of a good Samaritan to the becalmed sailing yachts, and it is not unusual to see a small motor-boat struggling homewards with a string of sailing boats behind her. One owner of a sailing yacht was heard to say that it was quite unnecessary for him to have a motor in his own craft, when so many of his friends had motors in theirs. If, in holiday time, you go to Broken Bay, the miniature Mediterranean of the Sydney yachtsman, you will see the sailing yachts, lying at their moorings in some snug little cove, their crews lounging and idling. Suddenly a motor-boat will appear; her Tartarin-like owner will bustle everyone into activity. The sailing man has been thinking of rowing his dingey to a neighboring point to wet a fishing line, for his radius is comparatively small; the motor-boater will tell him that he might as well fish in a puddle, and claims him and his ship's company to go schnapper fishing off Cape Three Points. Or sometimes in the evening, when the nor’easter has died away to a zephyr, the motor-boater will gather together a number of fellows from the sailing boats, and take them up some sweet, secluded creek, where the boughs of the trees on each side interlace. Altogether the sailing man has much to be thankful to the motor-boater for, and Christmas and Easter holidays have been rendered doubly enjoyable to sailing men by the hospitality and assistance the motor-boater is in a position to and invariably does offer; in fact motor-boating makes sailing more popular, and, if the sailing man sometimes says nasty things about marine motors, he, takes them all back when in difficulty over a dragging anchor, or belated and becalmed, he is offered a pluck-up by the motor-boater. 

Mr. L. Davies' Fairbanks.
The coming of the motor-boat has brought into the sunlight and the fresh air many of the gentler sex, who otherwise might pale at home; and bevies of gaily-dressed girls, with or without their chaperones, now go down to the harbor in motor launches. Yet, girls and all Included, the 'white wings' of the sailing boats will not be fewer; sailing will still appeal to the increasing class who appreciate its charms, and rather than there being any danger of the marine motor supplanting the sail, both will flourish, and the sailing man will recognise a brother sportsman and a useful ally in the man who finds a motor boat more to his liking or convenience than a sailing boat. Some of the boats may be described as the poetry of marine architecture; others are ugly enough to give a boating-man a nightmare; and why are so many closed in? Is it to bottle up the smell of naphtha, or to keep in the noise of the motor? No other reason can be assigned, unless it be that their owners do not wish their wives to see who is on board, a reason that the pure-minded reader will indignantly scorn. Motor-boats have yet to earn the reputation of naughtiness of motor-cars.

Of  auxiliary motor-yachts, Mr. Arthur Milson's Mischief, designed by Mr. Reeks, and built by Holmes, is a comfortable ketch, fitted out; and kept as one would expect to find a vessel owned by a Milson. Mr. Harry Shelley's Vailele, a centreboard cutter on fishing boat lines, is a luxurious little craft, and always, as bright as a new pin. She has a roomy, well ventilated saloon, a large, self baling cock-pit, and a snug little forecastle. Dr. Scot-Skirving's fine ketch has utility stamped all over her, Mr. Malley's Valencia is a roomy centreboarder, of the coach-house type; and the Iris, recently sold to Dr Arthur Marks, is a graceful coach-house boat, in which her former owner did a great deal of outside fishing and cruising. Mr. Hoskings is about to launch a fine centreboarder, designed by Mr. Heywood;and there are a number of others that Port Jackson has reason to be proud of. The motor boats, pure and simple are almost countless; there were 114 on the register and a great many more are not on it. The Fairbanks, the champion of the Motor Boat Club, is a beautiful boat, built of polished red cedar on American lines.  Her principal rival the Invincible, an entirely local production, is more of a cruiser than her opponent, and as she is built of kauri, and of heavier construction, it is a testimony in favor of her Sydney-built engine and Heywood lines that she has performed so well. Mr. Reeks' boat was designed to float on a morning dew or the perspiration of an ice-box, but is a remarkably comfortable vessel, with a turn of speed.

Mr. Relph’s Invincible

Mr. Sam Hordern's new yacht, still on the stocks, has been described as the last word in motor yachts. She has a whaleboat bow and cruiser stern. She is high wooded, having no less than 4ft 6in freeboard at the lowest place, and will stand over 10ft out of the water at the stem. She will be schooner rigged, the masts being hinged to make possible the passage of Ryde Bridge, Parramatta River. She will carry three boats — a dingey, a gig, and a motor launch. Anchors will be hove up by an electrically driven capstan to which also the boats' davit-falls can be taken if required. Wash-deck and fire-hose water will be electrically pumped from below, and there will be three-steel Watertight bulkheads. The accommodation consists of main saloon, music saloon, owner's state-room, two other state rooms, with two bunks each, one four-berth cabin, bathroom and lavatory appointments amidships, as well as forward, for the crew, pantry, galley, forecastle, and pilot-house. The spacious deck, flush fore and aft, is 110ft long, with promenade space, except at the extreme ends, where some few feet are devoted to steering gear, anchors, and their fittings. Entering the deck-house by double doors, the music-room is reached, in which are a piano; music- stand, sideboard, card table, and hall stand, all the fittings in which are to be rich, dark, old Indian teak, with fine lines of gold, and the ceilings of embossed zinc in pale, warm tint and flatted. At the far end of this saloon are two handsome staircases— one to the main-saloon below, the other direct on to the upper or bridge deck. The grand stairway leads to the main saloon below, which is 20ft 6in long by the full width of the vessel. This saloon will be fitted in oak, with embossed zinc ceilings and moulded beams, flatted white and gold. It will have ample light and ventilation by .means of a large, domed skylight; and six 8in ports ingeniously worked in with the panels and mirrors to secure balance in the scheme of appointments. Aft of the saloon, and entered by a figured glass door, is a wide alley-way, off which are owner's cabin, 11ft long, having two ports and skylight overhead; bedsteads, not the ordinary ship’s berth; settee, chest of drawers, folding lavatory, hanging wardrobe, and nettings; one fully-appointed bathroom,  with' electrically driven pump for salt water, fresh shower and lavatory appointments; enamel, white, and blue. The state-rooms, each 9ft long, have two bunks — that is to say, the sofa backs turn up and form two sleeping berths — setter, and lockers, wardrobe, folding lavatory fittings, and hanging space. The lazaretts, or sailroom, is situated right aft; while accommodation for four seamen is provided between the stem and first watertight bulkhead forward. The upper, or bridge, deck will be a fine open space when the boats are swung out board — so large, in fact, that 80 persons could dine, or 50 couples dance. 

The yacht will be propelled by three Thorneycroft four-cylinder motors of 100 h.p. each, having Hele-Shaw clutches and exhaust pipes water-jacketed all their length. The yacht's dimensions are: — Length over all, 110ft; length on the load water line, 100ft; beam, 17ft 6in; draft of water, 5ft; speed under full power, 14 knots. The importance of the order,  which is being carried out by Messrs. Morrison and Sinclair, at Balmain, may be gauged by the fact that the largest motor yacht yet built in England is the Swietland,. 78ft long by 13ft beam. Another fine motor yacht is one now awaiting her engines at Ford's. She is 60ft long, and Mr. Heywood is responsible for the design of her hull. But it is impossible even to mention anything like a material number of the really fine motor boats that grace the harbor and are now being built. In competent hands, motor boats are all very well, but a great many owners are novices to matters maritime, who often overcrowd their boats, disregard or are ignorant, of the rule of the road, and take on risks that make one shudder. Some years ago a cab was driven on in a pantomime, and some 70 and odd persons alighted from it, the last giving the poor cabby the legal Robert. If you go up Middle Harbor on a holiday, and see the number of persons who disembark from many of the motor launches, you will think of that pantomime cab. Some reasonable restriction should certainly be imposed on the passenger list before a serious accident occurs. 
(To Be Continued.) 
Mr. L. Davies' Fairbanks.
Mr. Relph’s Invincible
PORT JACKSON'S PLEASURE FLEETS. (1907, December 14). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 11. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article113898146