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Wirake

Vessel Number: HV000179
Dimensions:
Vessel Dimensions: 7.92 m x 2.29 m x 0.84 m (26 ft x 7.5 ft x 2.75 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Significance
WIRAKE is a motor launch built in World War II for military use. No details are known of its launch date, builder or other early history; however its hull and parts of its superstructure conform to details of the 26 foot (7.92m) motor dories that were built during the war. It is an example of the mass produced workboats and support vessels built in Australia during the war, and an unknown but probably small number have survived as recreational craft such as WIRAKE.
DescriptionWIRAKE has a wooden single chine hull with a veed section shape that flattens out at the stern. This is a typical powerboat shape, suitable for this light but handy vessel that would have operated in enclosed waters. The hull was moulded in plywood. A presentation book made after the war for employees of General Motors Holden, 'War Record of GMH' confirms that amongst the many vessels they built during the war, their Woodville plant in SA built the 26ft dories. More research needs to be completed on the dories' background, but Mori Flapan's Australian and New Zealand Boat Register has noted the following information.

'In the latter half of 1945 General Motors - Holden's Ltd at Woodville, SA were engaged in building 43 of the 26' motor dories for the Royal Navy. Seven of the motor dories were to be fitted with Perkins diesel engines and the other 36 were to be fitted with Chrysler Crown engines. A progress report dated 20 August advised that component parts for the 43 motor dories were complete, excepting for a few parts yet to be approved for engine fittings. 25 hulls were in various stages of construction. Two had been fitted with engines (one Perkins and one Chrysler Crown) and were being used by the Engineering Department for developmental purposes. Installation of the remaining 6 boats with Perkins diesel engines was to commence that week. By the end of October it was expected that 30 hulls would be completed (seven fitted with diesel engines and approximately 10 fitted with Chrysler Crown engines). The balance of 13 hulls would be in the final stages of construction.'

It has also been suggested that dories were also built for the US Army. The Australian Army Watercraft book by Brain Alsop notes that the army operated 26 ft. dories, and that they were made by both Slazengers in Sydney and GMH at Woodville. Further clarification is needed to confirm whether indeed the RN and US Army were supplied with these craft, but it quite likely that both the RAN and Australian Army were operators of the dories. The RAN is understood to have acquired a number of these dories after the war, with at least two operational in the 1960s. They were general dockyard boats, used for transporting small numbers of personnel around the harbour and between vessels and shore, and became line handling craft as well, being small and manoeuvrable. No external numbers were carried, nor were they given names, and existing records seem to show little information on their background.

In 2012 WIRAKE is used as a private recreational craft, but retains the hull shape and part of the forward cabin superstructure that it was built with during the war. The current owner bought the vessel in 2006.

Its private ownership backgorund has been traced back to the late 1970s when it was moored in Pittwater. The owner ( christian name Heinz) restored the boat over a long period and is thought to have given it the name WIRAKE during this time. Unfortunatley it was damaged when washed ashore and had to have further work done again. In 1999 it was owned by Jim Fitzpatrick, who sold it in 2003.
Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber plywood
Current status:floating
Current status:operational
Deck layout:cabin
Deck layout:decked with cockpit
Deck material and construction:timber plywood
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:monohull
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:keel hung rudder
Motor propulsion:diesel
Motor propulsion:inboard
Motor propulsion:motor vesselMV
Propeller:single
Related materials:film
Related materials:photos
ship:Byzantine ships:ships:ships:wheelhouse
Alternate Numbers

Vessel Registration Number: NB955N

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