Is 2016 the comeback year for wooden boats?

Jessica Watson
Posted February 23 2016

Main image courtesy of ©

It would be a stretch of imagination to suggest that wooden boats are an easy or practical option to get out on the water. Few boaties have the skills or knowledge to build and maintain wooden beauties any more, and the fast pace of modern life leaves little time for the never-ending cycle of sanding and painting that these boats demand.

Yet in a world of fantastic plastics and flying multihulls, wooden boats haven’t disappeared into obscurity. In fact, like vintage clothing and fixie bicycles, they appear to be making a comeback. And the growing number and popularity of wooden boat shows certainly supports this theory.

Stuart Dickson, chairman of the upcoming Yanmar Wooden Boatshop Wooden Boat Festival of Geelong, has observed a strong interest in history and maritime history. Stuart says that the event has seen great visitation in recent years. "It’s a bit of a nostalgic thing," he says. "The craftsmanship of these beauties is just something we don’t get any more." ©

While this craftsmanship will be on display at the show, a unique feature of the Geelong festival is the strong emphasis on sailing, with opportunities for classic, wooden yacht, skiff and dinghy owners to race. This has the added benefit of treating spectators to the magnificent sight of the boats under sail. And wooden motor boats and rowing skiffs haven’t been neglected either, with a navigation rally and rowing races planned.

On shore, the wider festival schedule will indulge nostalgia for all things wooden, classic and marine. The schedule is jam-packed with everything from whiskey tasting to classic cars, presentations from Antarctic adventurer Tim Jarvis and lighthouse keeper Pat Howell, and films showcasing indigenous maritime history. Hopefully treasure hunts, entertainment by Captain Jack Sparrow and face painting will also inspire the younger generation to take an interest in the nautical history.

The Yanmar Wooden Boatshop Wooden Boat Festival of Geelong will be held at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club from Saturday the 12th of March till Monday the 14th. You can find all the details here.

Sydney locals will also have the opportunity to get their wooden boat fix in April with the National Maritime Museum set to announce their much anticipated Wooden Boat Festival programme.

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