Wooden Boat Centre Works Wonders with WEST SYSTEM

By Lorraine Duckworth ATL Composites

Located on the banks of the picturesque Huon River at Franklin, Tasmania, The Wooden Boat Centre is Australia’s only wooden boat building school, creating original masterpieces and restoring heritage vessels while mentoring students from all walks of life.

For the past 30 years, the Wooden Boat Centre has been dedicated to keeping the tradition of hand-made boats alive. Their one year shipwright course, and a variety of shorter courses, give students hands-on experience in both traditional and modern boat building techniques.

Locals and visitors are always welcome to visit for a guided tour to explore the age-old craft of wooden boat building.

“The appeal of the wooden boat is universal,” explains Cody Horgan, head shipwright and manager of the Wooden Boat Centre. “They are functional, beautiful and represent the pinnacle of artistic expression in wood. It’s an enduring art form. To build a timber boat is an amazing experience and keeping these skills alive is very satisfying.”

Cody Horgan, head shipwright and manager.

Cody was a student in 1999/2000 and gained a Diploma in Wooden Boatbuilding. He has since worked in various boat yards around Sydney and Bobbin Head on many various projects. For the past eight years, prior to joining the boat school, Cody worked at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney. There he carried out maintenance of the tall ship Endeavour (replica), as well as maintained the f leet of small vessels that span Australia’s nautical heritage.

In the lead up to the 2023 Australian Wooden Boat Festival, students at The Wooden Boat Centre were working on several unique projects, including the restoration of a historic Tamar Cod Boat from Launceston, with the aim of modernizing and refreshing her for her next incarnation as a family day boat.

As Cody explains, “It’s a fishing boat conversion to a Couta- style day boat for her owners to enjoy for day trips.

“It’s made of Huon Pine with a plywood deck with fibreglass on top. The next step is a false-laid deck of Celery Top Pine that looks like a real deck, held down by modern composites.”

The Wooden Boat Centre has relied on WEST SYSTEM® for many years.

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The plywood and fiberglass deck serve as the base for the Celery Top Pine overlay.

This 1940s Tamar Cod Boat, Iola, was restored by students and volunteers over the course of 2 years.

The Celery Top Pine deck will be left uncoated so it will turn silver over time.

“On this particular project we used WEST SYSTEM 105 Epoxy Resin® and 206 Slow Hardener®, plus 403 Microfiber Filler,” says Cody. “The deck will be left uncoated so it will turn silver over time.”

“We use WEST SYSTEM for its consistent quality,” he continues. “It delivers the same results every time, which is important, particularly when you’re instructing students. I’m a stickler for quality and I want products that perform in different conditions and temperatures. ATL Composites also offers technical support and advice which we have found vital.”

The Cod to Couta Boat, called Iola is on track to be finished by the end of 2022, Cody reports. She will head to her owners on the South Coast of NSW.

The team at The Wooden Boat Centre is aiming to display a Derwent Class racing boat, a Haven 12 ½ sailing boat and skin-on-frame ultra-light kayaks made at the Centre at the 2023 Australian Wooden Boat Festival, February 10th-13th in Hobart.

For More Information:

To learn more about the Wooden Boat Centre visit, woodenboatcentre.com

To learn more about the AU Wooden Boat Festival visit, australianwoodenboatfestival.com.au