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Tasmanian Celery Top Pine shines at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival

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The Australian Wooden Boat Festival, held biannually in Hobart, has become the largest Wooden Boat Festival in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting maritime enthusiasts from around the world. A highlight of this year’s event is a handcrafted Celery Top Pine boat born of a collaboration between Tasmania’s Wooden Boat Centre and the U.S. based North West School of Wooden Boat Building. Celery Top Pine is a worthy jewel in the crown of the festival – the fine-grained, pale, honey-coloured timber is “incredibly durable and wonderful to work with.”

Sean Koomen is the Chief Instructor at the North West School of Wooden Boat Building in Washington State. The United States is the guest country for the 2019 festival. For the past three festivals a guest country has been invited to participate including the Netherlands, Indonesia, and Japan. 

Paul Cullen, General Manager of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival, says that “because each of these countries has a maritime tradition that goes back a long way, it’s interesting to compare what they do and what we do here in Australia.” 

Sean and his team have been working with the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin for the last ten weeks to build a wooden boat for this year’s festival. 

Building Celery Top Pine Boats

Celery Top Pine Boats being built at The Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin

 ‘As we are the guest country this year, we were looking for a design that would reflect that,’ says Mr Koomen. ‘We needed to find something we could build in ten weeks by a U.S designer. We chose a Haven 12 1/2 designed by Joel White. That’s how this particular boat came to be.’ 

The boat is made from reclaimed Tasmanian Celery Top Pine, which was donated by Tasmanian Timber supplier, Hydrowood.  

Celery Top Pine has long been coveted by furniture makers. It is an outstanding timber for external use. It is durable under extreme weather conditions. Not only is this iconic Tasmanian timber perfect for decking, cladding and outdoor furniture, it is a beautiful timber for boat building. 

"Celery Top Pine really is a beautiful timber,’ says Mr Koomen. ‘It’s the first time I’ve worked with Tasmanian timbers. I knew it was an incredibly durable wood but it’s wonderful to work with. It carves and saws beautifully and it steam bends really well. It finishes beautifully with varnish too. It’s a really good boat building timber."

‘We thought a boat building project was a great way to build momentum leading up to the festival,’ says Mr Koomen. 

 The boat is being auctioned on Sunday 10thFebruary. The proceeds will contribute to the Wooden Boat Festival itself to support the overall project. 

Mr Koomen says he would encourage people to come and see the boat, which is on display at the Wooden Boat Festival in the Shipwright’s Village on Hobart’s waterfront.

Wooden Boat Festival

The Celery Top Pine Boat on Hobart's waterfront. Image: Richard Bennett.

Building boats builds relationships 

The boat is even more special because another objective of this project was to cement a relationship between the two boat building schools from two countries.

‘Collaborating with the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin was one of the best parts,’ says Mr Kooman. ‘We learned things from each other and exchanged all kinds of tricks and techniques.’

‘It’s up to the new owner to name her. There are ten of us in our crew from the boat building school and we’re all very excited about it.’

‘It’s a beautiful wooden boat, it’s really like a little smaller yacht,’ he says. ‘It’s sixteen feet long, but it has all the elements of a bigger yacht in it. We’re very happy with the product.’ 

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