The Wooden Boat Centre Managers Report for last year

WBC Manager’s Report to AGM of Franklin Working Waterfront Association

24th September 2017



·       In the past year we have been able to maintain the employment of our boat builders: David Nash; Pete Laidlaw; Jon Vey-Cox (for most of the year) and our instructor Mike Johnson.

·       Ea Lassen has run the ‘front of house’ effectively with increased visitation and merchandise sales.

·       We have seen a constant level of volunteer support again this year – with some turnover and additions, as is always the case.  This support and diversity of personalities, opinions, story telling and humour makes the rich fabric that is the WBC and reflects the community nature of the organisation.

·       A vital component for the sustainability of our business is the 27 volunteers that work ‘front of house’, as tour guides or as workshop assistants.  Our 2 volunteer Shipwrights – Peter Heading and Adrian Dean have been invaluable in their ongoing support and advice.  We are also pleased to have Mark McBride as our groundsman for another year.

·       Added to the volunteer list are the 10 volunteer committee members on the Franklin Working Waterfront Association that oversee and support our activities.

·       We have changed bookkeepers, with Ninka Koc now assisting us, taking over from Torscha Pearson in November last year.

·       We have also added 2 new part time casual staff – Francis Shepherd for his woodcarving and creative talents and Jen Tubman for her ‘front of house’ assistance.

·       Everyone has again made a fantastic contribution toward making the Wooden Boat Centre what it is – supporting our community near and far and ‘spreading the word’ via tourism.

·       Sadly we have also shared the loss of Greg Guy.  Greg’s support and enthusiasm for all things WBC and maritime has inspired many.


·       We have welcomed 8,179 tourists on guided tours in the past financial year – 2,529 adults; 4554 concession; 184 children and 228 families (assumed to be 4 people).  (See Table 1 for indicative place of origin information).

·       It is estimated that 1/3rd of visitors to the Wooden Boat Centre pay to join a guided tour, putting our tourist visitor numbers at approximately 24,537.  We regularly allow visitors (that we cannot talk into a full tour) to view the discovery area for a small donation, which has increased our donation income for the year.

·       We discontinued the ‘River to Rainforest’ packaged tour.

·       There have been increased group tours by bus throughout the year as well as by water with Coral Expeditions visiting in the summer months.  This is expected to increase incrementally this season. (See Table 2 for group tour numbers).

·       We are currently in consultation with a Chinese tour operator and expect to offer this clientele guided group tours soon.

·       We consistently receive very positive feedback from our visitors on tour completion.

·       Tourism remains our best method of getting our message out – maintaining traditional wooden boatbuilding skills; being an example of an engaged boating community; and offering the opportunity to share that experience through participation in courses.


We have hosted 56 students at the WBC during their training for periods of between 1-12 weeks.  One of our courses (Yukon course) was conducted off site at the Woodbridge slip for a one-week period.


·       In the past year we have run recreational courses in:

o   Clinker dinghy construction x 4 to build 5 dinghies;

o   2 Skin on Frame Kayak courses to build 8 kayaks;

o   1 oars and spars course

o   1 boat design/half model construction course;

o   I course to work on a large vessel – the Yukon Garboard Strakes course;

o   Viking boat course;

o   1 Canadian canoe course;

o   1 strip planked kayak course;

o   1 coastal navigation night course

o   1 Marlin Spike Seamanship night course.

We have continued to host the build of Adrian Dean’s 16’ workboat on Tuesdays.  Adrian instructs 5 volunteer students on this build.

Thanks to the organisation of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival (AWBF) Committee, we hosted the construction of the Dutch BM16 in the December to February period with Bert Van Baar instructing 5 final year Diploma students during their final intern placement.  This vessel was then launched and auctioned by the AWBF, with the boat now residing in Victoria.

We are currently running a Clinker Dinghy course with 3 students.  We have commitments from 7 students for strip planked Kayak, Clinker dinghy and Skin on Frame Kayak courses scheduled to run in the next 6 months.  We are also receiving regular enquiries in relation to the recreational course timetable planned for 2018 and early 2019, hence our courses continue to be in demand.

The development of accredited training course material and partnership negotiation with TasTAFE is ongoing.  It is expected that accredited training courses will be offered early in 2018.

Boat builds:

·       Through our recreational courses we have built 5 clinker dinghies; 8 skin on frame kayaks; 1 strip planked kayak; 4 half models; 1 set of oars; 1 Viking replica boat and 1 completed and 2 pending Canadian canoes.

·       We built a 11’5” Clinker Dinghy for sale by the WBC, during one of our courses.

·       We completed and installed the commissioned  ‘airport biosecurity counter’.

·       We continue to use as much as possible of our precious specialty timbers.  Boatbuilding scrap is used to craft souvenirs and Huon Pine wood shavings are being sold as a sensory memento of workshop visits.


·       Leshelen work is progressing steadily with launch expected by Christmas 2017.

·       2 Fazackerly dinghies were repaired.

·       Insurance repair work to Gemma was undertaken.

·       The Montagu Whaler restoration and relaunch was completed in partnership with the Living Boat Trust, including a canvas cover thanks to a Huon Valley Council grant.

·       We have begun to hire out our powered wharf facilities for on water repairs performed by boat owners.  We hope to expand this capacity in the near future.

Asset management:

·       General de cluttering and reorganising of the workshop.

·       We repainted the ‘front of house’ area to lighten and freshen it up.

·       A garden blitz removing blackberries was undertaken thanks to Fiona Peate.


·       A Work Health and Safety advisory group has been established in recent months to oversee WHS issues, reporting, policy and direction.

·       WorkSafe Tasmania visited on request to provide advice on our WHS management system.

·       We now have a suite of WH&S policies and procedures in place – all part of a WHS management system that is consultative and continuously improving.


·       Our cash flow during the winter period continues to be a significant issue, as we remain at the mercy of tourism fluctuations.

·       We are reviewing our costing structure to enable us to invest more into asset improvement in the future.

·       We are always looking for additional volunteers – especially front of house and tour guides.  Training and support are provided.

General Comments:

We have had a busy, engaged and productive year at the Wooden Boat Centre.  Being an Australian Wooden Boat Festival year we staged a solid presence at this event at our own stall as well as through continued oar making demonstrations in the Shipwrights’ Village.  We have enjoyed the good company and fantastic contribution from so many people.  Thankyou to everyone involved – volunteers, staff, committee, suppliers, customers and supporters.


Anne Holst.