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Boat Shows

Wooden boats and skills on show

The 61st Melbourne Boat Show, running 26 to 29 October at Docklands, will for the first time include a Heritage and Wooden Boat precinct, featuring classic timber vessels, restored boats and small craft.

Among the businesses and craftspeople on display is The Victorian Wooden Boat Centre, a 1,400-square metre workshop that happens to be located at the waterfront venue.

Nicholas Atkins is the Director and third generation craftsman, specialising in designing and building parts for shipwrights and boat builders, classes and courses, boat kits, workspaces for hire, as well as the full gamut of restoration projects in marine and other industries.

The facility is fully-equipped with high-tech CAD and CNC machinery, as well as all the traditional tools of the trade. Nicholas, who learned the trade from his father and grandfather, works with an apprentice and a couple of additional shipwrights and apprentices, depending on the scope projects.

During the boat show, Nicholas will open the doors of his business and be representing WEST SYSTEM products from ATL Composites.

“I’ve used WEST SYSTEM my whole life,” he says emphatically. “My dad and grandfather too. Everything we do is covered in it!”

Among the many reasons he relies on WEST SYSTEM is that products are “reliable, consistent and there’s a whole range of hardeners and fillers to suit every temperature and every application”.

“There are different sizes and the pump system makes it foolproof. The ATL Composites technical team provides good documentation and support if I need it. I use a lot of ATL products.”

There will be a wide variety of timber and historic vessels on display during the Melbourne Boat Show, fascinating testament to the enduring beauty of classic boats.

“There will be small wooden boats, alongside larger craft by commercial and amateur boat builders,” says Nicholas, listing the replica of the Enterprize tall ship, the steam tug Wattle, and 100-year old, three-masted topsail schooner, Alma Doepel, one of Australia’s oldest surviving tall ships which has been meticulously restored.

Steve Walker, CEO of the Boating Industry Association of Victoria (BIAV), says the show added the Heritage and Wooden Boat Precinct to this year’s show to create another reason for visitors to stay and enjoy the whole day.

“We aim to appeal to and engage the widest range of people as possible,” he explains. “There are cruising yachts, ski and tow boats, and other activations. The Heritage and Wooden Boat Precinct will encourage visitors to bring their family members and friends and enjoy a great day out.

“It may inspire people to get involved in their own project or learn new skills. It’s also the coming together of the wooden boat community.”

“Wooden boats and historic ships have a charm all their own,” Nicholas shares. “It will be a fascinating showcase for visitors to the boat show and hopefully, provide insight into how these boats are made to last.”

For his part, Nicholas enjoys the continual challenge, both intellectual and creative, that working with wood demands. “No project is the same, every one requires different thinking, and the end result give people so much pleasure.”