Historic Wooden Boats Gather in Hobart
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You're not alone if you think that the only thing Hobart and sailing have in common is the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. After all, the Sydney to Hobart race is arguably the biggest internationally-known sailing event on the Australian yachting calendar. But move over Maine, move over Boston and Washington, and everywhere else you are accustomed to experiencing and enjoying the spectacle and experience of the grand, old wooden boats, as Australia’s history-rich state of Tasmania is set to deliver the southern hemisphere’s largest collection of wooden boats in a four-day festival, awash in maritime history and culture.
This month the city of Hobart, which is situated in Tasmania’s south east, plays host to the MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival; an event which began in 1994 as a two-day celebration featuring 180 wooden boats. Now, in just under one week, the River Derwent will come alive with hundreds of classic and modern wooden boats, including several tall ships as they participate in four days of sailing, demonstrations, presentations and of course dozens of hands-on activities, experiences and entertainments for adults and children alike.
Anyone able to find their way to Hobart this month will find endless hours of enjoyment in the number and variety of ships, models and even 'boats in bottles'. From tall ships to classic sailboats, to superbly crafted and detailed model boats, visitors will have the opportunity to talk with the builders, shipwrights, owners, sailors and craftspeople for who the historic traditions and skills surrounding wooden boats are their daily activity. Festival goers can also attend numerous speaking and stage events presented by an impressive range of well-known international and local sailing identities including Jon Wilson, founder of WoodenBoat Publications, Sean Koomen, Chief Instructor at Washington’s Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building, and one of America’s most knowledgeable cruising sailors, Lin Pardey. There will even be a Quick ’n’ Dirty Boat Building Challenge in which teams of children will represent their schools in building sailboats powered by one-sail and one paddle. The two-passenger boats must be built on one day, decorated the next and withstand the rigors of a two-lap course on the final day of the festival.
The weekend will officially open with the Parade of Sails at 12.30pm on Friday, February 8th (that's 6.30pm on Thursday, February 7th PT) and will be led by the Governor’s Launch, the MV Egeria, followed by the tall ships James Craig, Young Endeavour, Bark Endeavour, One and All, Soren Larsen, Yukon, Lady Nelson, Windeward Bound, Julie Burgess and Rhona H.
So if you love wooden boats, or if you’ve always wanted to go to Australia, more specifically Tasmania, now is a great time to do so. And while you’re there you can also explore and learn more about the region’s regular sailing activities. Who knows, you might enjoy yourself so much that you want to move to Hobart. Worse things can happen!