Having set my sights on converting a Tassie cray boat the search was on!

Not Love at First Sight

I was most fortunate that a very dear friend, Graeme "Frizzle" Freeman, (now sadly prematurely departed) had recently retired to his home state of Tasmania and settled on the east coast near the fishing port of Triabunna. Frizzle had been a mentor to me in all things nautical for my entire adult life and there was nothing about boats, boat construction, sailing and seamanship that Frizzle didn't know.

Graeme "Frizzle" Freeman

The response I got from Frizzle when I explained that I wanted to buy a cray boat and take it to South Georgia was "What the f*%#K would you want to do that for???" I knew immediately that he approved of the idea otherwise his response would have been along the lines of "You're a f*%#king  galah! Have you learn't nothing???". In confirmation he took the bit between his teeth and set off in search of the boat I was looking for.

It was not long before I got an excited call from Frizzle that he had found the perfect boat and that the existing owners were in financial strife and keen to sell. "Get your arse down here. You can steal it if you're quick." I flew down to Hobart the next day to first set eyes on Ada Hardy. It was February 2003.

I wondered around the boat self-consciously speechless with Frizzle chattering away about the 2" thick celery top planking, massive deck beams, stainless steel ring frames, Gardner 8L38 engine and 4LW auxilliary, 70t displacement, and so on and so forth. I was simply overawed. The boat was massive. Looking out from the wheelhouse I felt I was on a small ship. I had never seen a Gardner 8L3B engine before and it was huge!

Ada Hardy at Elizabeth Dock, Hobart Feb 2003

View from the Wheel House

Foredeck showing red removable planks to access wet well

At 60' Ada Hardy is much bigger than your typical cray boat. She also has a raised aft deck - like a poop deck on traditional sailing ships. This provides full width accommodation space in the aft 1/3rd of the boat with the wheelhouse above and the engine room below.

 

The aft accommodation was huge and fitted out with a main saloon, a captains cabin with a queen size bed, 2 additional bunk beds, a large galley and a bathroom with a full size bath!! The foc'sle was fitted out with its own WC and 4 bunks.

 

The area below decks between the bulkhead under the front of the wheel house and the forward bulkhead under the mast was taken up by a massive freezer well, a flooded wet well (open to the sea through openings below the waterline) and two large water tanks.

I clearly remember Frizzle saying "Look at these decks, 2" thick planks on 9" deep beams, drop a sledge hammer and it will bounce back and hit you in the face!" I couldn't quite work out what he meant but I took it to be a good thing.

Aside from the sheer size and scale of everything, I was thrown completely by the configuration and size of the boat. Tassie cray boats are generally low freeboard (to make getting pots on board easier) with high bulwarks, a flush deck with a lot of shear and an aft pilothouse. Crew (max 2) accommodation is in the foc'sle and a small galley, dinette and captains berth are located immediately behind or as part of the wheelhouse. Typically they are 40' - 45' long.

Gardner 8L3B in Engine Room looking Forward

Foredeck looking aft. Note raised afte "poop" deck and open hatch to 10T freezer well.

I left Hobart that evening quite overwhelmed and totally uncertain that this was the boat for me, but Frizzle on the other hand, was adamant that this was it.  He noted in particular that the boat was of unbelievably robust construction by Bernard Wilson - one of the most respected wooden boat builders in Tasmania; that she was relatively new having been built in 1987 and that she was powered by a magnificent Gardner 8L3B engine. As he said, "You could clean her up, remove all the fishing gear and head off to South Georgia now if you wanted to!" Whilst I would certainly be wanting some greater level of creature comforts than found on a utilitarian fishing boat, I knew he was right.

In the following weeks I obtained a set of plans for the boat, started making some sketches and notes about what I would modify, consulted a naval architect and had Frizzle and another boat builder friend help put together a ball park guestimate of what a conversion would cost.

 

Three weeks later I headed back to Tasmania for another inspection and a sea-trial and I was hooked!