In the winter of ’62 there were three options for blokes whose wives were bearing the last of the baby-booming buns in their proverbial oven. Watch BP Pick a Box with Bob and Dolly Dyer, go to the pub or build a boat.
New Haines Hunter ... or is it a hardtop version of an existing model
My old man chose the latter. He bought plans for a newly introduced plywood sail trainer called the Pelican, as did his mate the dentist, and a doctor down the road.
Our boat bore more brass than a marching band, and hardwood seats that could support Margie (Biggest Loser) even before she lost the weight.
It banged its bluff bow into chop, but it taught us the ropes and ferried us to wild, unchartered lands … on Lake Macquarie.
David Foster couldn’t kill the thing with his axe and, 50 years later, it’s still serving as a rowboat and there’s dozens of its fibreglass brethren out there racing.
At the same time, Holden was building the EK, the vast majority of which have rusted to bits or been boiled down to make garden furniture. It bears no resemblance to the latest Holden … though word is the Commodore may also be destined for the scrapheap.
We live in interesting times. No one builds anything anymore, and no one buys anything. Technology is taking over, and they’re even talking of turning the Sydney Morning Herald and Age into tabloids before inevitably going on line.
So what hope does the boating industry have, long term, when development has stagnated and boats from the 60s refuse to die.
How long is it before we get our boating kicks on Wii?
Gone are the iconic designers, the pioneers on whose name empires were built. When they died the goodwill expired with them, which is why companies now prefer to be nameless and faceless.
Words like 'all new model' used to grab attention. Now it means they’ve added a hardtop or a slightly larger cockpit.
It’s hard to predict where the next great trend will take us. Personally, I’d love to see a wave-piercing trimaran trailerboat with hybrid electric-diesel propulsion, roto-moulded from recycled thongs.
We've got more chance of seeing a distant relative of Noah build another ark.
On the eve of a new financial year, when spreadsheets are looking flatter than an EK at the scrapyard, let’s pray for a miracle. Like a new model that is, actually, new.
Otherwise, I suggest we take matters into our own hands – men, get your wife pregnant, grab some plywood and start building.
Old timber boats never die, they just become outboard-powered tenders