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Vessel Number: HV000011
Date: 1905
Vessel Dimensions: 7.5 m x 1.98 m x 1.52 m, 3.21 tonnes (24.61 ft x 6.5 ft x 4.99 ft, 3.16 tons)
Engine dimensions: 72.89 x 67 mm, 3.73Kilowatts, 1No. (2.86 x 2.63 in., 5Horsepower)
Registered Dimensions: 2.89Tons
Classification:Vessels and fittings
SAO is a yacht built by WM Ford Boatbuilders in 1905. SAO is an excellent example of typical yacht design and construction from the early 1900s and one of the most intact and original examples of a yacht of this period in Australia. It is also an early example of a vessel from WM Ford.They were amongst the most important boatbuilding firms in Sydney from the 1880s until the 1950s, and a small number of their craft remain extant.

DescriptionSAO is a wooden carvel built hull, 7.5 metres long and rigged as a gaff cutter It has a deep keel configuration. Built by WM Ford Boatbuilders in 1905, it was used as a cruising boat on and around Sydney Harbour. The designer is unknown however Fords were capable builders who did design some of the small craft they built, and it is possible they also designed SAO. Another possible designer was EW Heywood, an acomplished amateur designer who also had a number of craft built by Ford.

SAO is noted during its construction in a Sydney Morning Herald report 5 August 1905: " Mr JB Holdsworth is having a little deep-keeled, counter stern yacht for pleasure sailing, The craft will shortly be afloat". It was begun around late May, as a report from 30th May 1905 notes that it is 'in hand'.

An intriguing feature is the apparent revision at the sternpost, it appears to have had a new post and rudder trunk added aft of the original one, possibly in relation to an early engine installation.

SAO's history has been recorded by the current owners, and it is known that a relative of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, the famous Australian pioneer aviator, was one of the early owners. This was Thomas Kingsford Swallow. The Swallows were close relatives of Charles' mother Catherine Kingsford Smith and the families spent a lot of time together prior to WW1. During this time as a youngster, Charles learnt to sail on SAO.

Ian Mackersey in his biography of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith 'Smithy', writes the following " On the small family boat, Sao, he learned how to sail. Camping expeditions would act magnetically to rally retinues of friends and cousins to their favourite destination, in the Hawkesbury River estuary, about 20 miles north of Sydney. They visited Flint and Steel Bay, on the southern rocky forested shore, year after year. It was accessible only by sea and their privacy rarely intruded apon. A photograph taken there, probably in the summer of 1913, shows a happy family group beside a tent in the bush. Winifred, Wilfred, Eric, Leofric and his fiancee, Elfreda, and Charles ( Kingsford Smith) are all there. So are cousins Rupert Swallow and Godfrey and Philip Kingsford."

Lloyds Register for yachts records that Thomas Kingsford Swallow bought SAO in February 1912 from the first owner J B Holdsworth. It was then sold by Swallow family in 1917 and it is understood from their family that Thomas was wounded in the war and they thought he would not be able to sail again. A Mr Muller acquired SAO in 1919. He sold the yacht at a date unknown to the Campbell brothers and they kept it on Lake Macquarie until around 1925.

SAO returned to Sydney Harbour eventually, and in the early 1960's owner Rob McAuley recalls enjoying sailing SAO, but when he bought it the yacht needed work. They recaulked the topsides and put on a new gaff yard, taken from an 18-foot skiff, while SAO's original gaff yard ended up on a flagpole.

SAO was restored to excellent condition by the current owners who bought the vessel in 1964. It has the same rig proportions, in fact they went as far as retrieving the gaff yard from the flagpole. The structure is largely original and only repaired as necessary. SAO has sailed in a number of SASC Gaffers Day events and featured in other classic yacht festivals.
Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber planked
Current status:covered
Current status:floating
Current status:operational
Deck layout:cabin
Deck layout:decked with cockpit
Deck material and construction:timber plywood
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:tiller
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:displacement
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:overhanging transom
Hull shape:plumb stemvertical stem
Hull shape:round bottom
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:full keel
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:keel hung rudder
Motor propulsion:diesel
Motor propulsion:inboard
Related materials:film
Related materials:interviews
Related materials:photos
Related materials:plans
Rig type:cutter
Rig type:gaff
Sail cloth:synthetic
Spar material:timber
Additional Titles

Primary title: Sao

Previous title: Rover

Alternate Numbers

Sail Number: A48

Official Number: 121104

Related Sites Berrys Bay NSW

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