Mandurah maritime history’s helping hand

Maritime annexe volunteer Dave Austin and Mandurah Forum manager Nigel Haines.Picture: Jon Hewson d414368
Maritime annexe volunteer Dave Austin and Mandurah Forum manager Nigel Haines.Picture: Jon Hewson d414368

Mandurah Forum manager Nigel Haines presented a cheque for more than $860 to volunteer co-ordinator Jan Baker at the museum’s maritime annexe, the Boatshed.

The money was from Mandurah Forum’s Money Spinner project, which donates to good causes in the community.

The donation will allow the Friends to continue their efforts, working with the City of Mandurah to conserve and interpret parts of Mandurah’s rich maritime heritage.

The City supported the establishment of a maritime heritage centre by securing the old Fisheries department boatshed in Winjan Place. It has been refurbished as a workshop where fishing boats from Mandurah’s past can be conserved.

A team of volunteers took up the challenge of working to not only conserve this heritage, but collect items of maritime history and tell the story behind many of the fishing boats.

Two boats under restoration are both tunnel hulled fishing boats built by brothers Joe and Fahd Wilson.

In the 1940s, Joe Wilson considered a purpose-designed and built motor vessel to suit the specific nature of the Peel Harvey Estuary. He designed and built a vessel with the motor mounted up under the foredeck, driving a propeller in a full tunnel in the centre.

Although this vessel was successful in being able to operate in just inches of water, it was slow for the horsepower and difficult to turn, which worked against it when attempting to quickly put a net around a school of fish.

Joe built another vessel, this time with a tunnel-stern, or semi-tunnel, which solved these problems while retaining most of the shallow draft ability of the first model.

The vessel was an instant success and fishermen who had only recently converted their sailing vessels to power were lining up to get their hands on one. The design was a phenomenal success and remained the local fishermen’s boat of choice for many years.