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Vessel Number: HV000183
Date: 1914
Builder: Alec Ross
Designer: Alec Ross
Vessel Dimensions: 7.92 m x 7.01 m x 2.44 m x 0.91 m (26 ft x 23 ft x 8 ft x 3 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
OSPREY is a typical Tasmanian workboat and fishing boat. Built about 1914 on Vansittart Island in the Furneaux Group off Northern Tasmania, it remained in operation as a working craft until at least the 1960s.
DescriptionOSPREY has a long and interesting history of use, ownership and gradual changes. One of its more recent owners, John Harding, researched this history by collecting the recollections of people associated with the island area and archived references.

The story about the original owners, builders and materials shares a thread of accidental or unusual arrival in the area. The islands were settled by a mixed group of people over many years. In 1875 Captain Ross came to the islands in search of a fortune contained in a wreck. The fortune did not exist but he settled there, married an islander and they had a family including a son, Alec. They also adopted another son Alf from the "Wayward Boys Home' in Launceston. In 1912 a survivor of another wreck, Fred Strondelsohn also remained on the island. He set up a store on the island in partnership with another local. Fred realized he needed a boat to use between the mainland and the island to provision the store, and commissioned Alec Ross to build it.

It appears the construction was a community effort. Alec was soon joined by his adopted brother Alf who was recognised for his craftsmanship, while other locals supplied timber they thought might be useful. The hull is planked in kauri, and the self-sufficient islanders used one of the kauri logs scavenged from yet another wreck in 1882. Recollections suggest OSPREY and perhaps two other similar boats were built on the shores of Vansittart Island in 1914. Bill Riddle who was a teenager at the time remembers work happening occasionally at night, when the kangaroos became a pest knocking over the lanterns.

OSPREY started out as a small open workboat, with sails and a sweep oar, carrying wool, sheep and produce, and able to be handled by a single person. In 1923 a two-stroke engine was added which, according to one source who sailed in the boat, 'fired about every boat length, and could be the very devil to start.' George Ross, grandson of Alex indicated that his father Alec Ross sold the boat to Dick Barrett of Dog Island, who later took it to Bridport on the mainland, where its fishing career started in the 1930s. At different times it fished for couta and whitebait.

It was still an open boat, but with a foredeck added. OSPREY remained in this configuration until owners in the mid 1960s reconditioned and rerigged the boat with a Bermudan sailplan. It was now just used as a recreational yacht. In the 1970s a small cabin was added, and a new Yanmar diesel installed. Later in the 70s some deadwood and a longer bowsprit were added to balance the rig and improve its sailing qualities. The final rig improvement came about in 1987 when it was put back to being a gaff cutter, and the crew found it could be left to 'steer itself' with minimal trim.

OSPREY has since taken part in a number of vintage regattas and events. The original hull and structure along with the gradual changes to superstructure and rig are in good condition and tell the story of its varied eventful life.

Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber plywood
Current status:floating
Current status:operational
Deck layout:cabin
Deck material and construction:timber plywood
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:tiller
Hull material and construction:clinkerglued lapstrakelapstrake
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:canoe stern/double endedDE
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:plumb stemvertical stem
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:launch deadwood
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:spade rudder
Motor propulsion:diesel
Motor propulsion:motor vesselMV
Related materials:photos
Related materials:references
Rig type:cutter
Rig type:gaff
Sail cloth:synthetic
Spar material:timber
Alternate Numbers

Vessel Registration Number: HT11422

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