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Vessel Number: HV000231
Date: 1949
Vessel Dimensions: 14.02 m x 12.8 m x 3.96 m x 1.37 m, 22.64 tonnes (46 ft x 42 ft x 13 ft x 4.5 ft, 23 tons)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
WAIBEN was built as the Pilot Vessel at Thursday Island in the Torres Strait and served from 1949 to 1977. It had a long career in Queensland, undertaking a variety of official duties for about 30 years, and then operating as a charter vessel for a further 25 years. It is also an example of a typical commercial launch built by the prolific firm of Norman Wright and Sons of Brisbane which retains its original form.
DescriptionWAIBEN is 14 metres long, carvel planked with a typical raised deck and cabin house arrangement. It is of sturdy construction, well suited to coastal operations. It was commissioned by the Queensland Harbours and Marine department and arrived in Thursday Island on 31 October 1949, along with a new Harbour Master and staff, restoring the pilot service which had been taken over by the armed services when the island was evacuated during the war. Norman Wright and Sons shipped it to Cairns in north Queensland where it was launched before proceeding to Thursday Island.

The name WAIBEN is the Indigenous title for Thursday Island. WAIBEN was built to replace the previous pilot launch SYLVIA, which had been taken over by the armed forces in World War II, and kept by the army after the war. When WAIBEN arrived at Thursday Island the first job it did was to replace a number of missing navigation aids, removed during War when the Japanese forces were advancing south.

For many years WAIBEN served the area in more ways that just being the pilot vessel; it did whatever was asked of it, becoming an official launch, taxi, prisoner transport and small cargo vessel operating in an area from the mainland to Thursday Island and north into the strait.

In 1977 WAIBEN was transferred south to Mackay, QLD, where it operated as the pilot vessel from Hay Point. In 1982 it was relieved by the newer vessel EMBLEY, and later that year sold in unusual circumstances. It was considered uneconomical to repair. WAIBEN was slipped with the shipwrights Ray and Val Goldston and the Queensland Marine Board instructed the Goldstons to burn the craft. Horrified at this suggestion, the Goldstons offered to buy it for $100.00 as is. They explained that this was a good deal as they would otherwise charge $500.00 to remove the burnt remains from their property.

Not surprisingly Goldstons became owners of the craft. They repaired it and kept it in operation as a charter boat, working from Brampton Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Working up until 2005, WAIBEN took out guests on champagne cruises, fishing charters and diving tours.

In 2007 it was purchased by the current owner for use as a private recreational launch for fishing trips. In 2008 it retained the appearance of its original pilot vessel days with a fitout suited to its current use.

Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber planked
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber plywood
Current status:operational
Deck layout:open/foredeck
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Deck material and construction:timber plywood
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:tiller
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:monohull
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:spade rudder
Motor propulsion:auxiliary motor
Motor propulsion:diesel
Motor propulsion:motor vesselMV
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:wheel
ships:ships:Byzantine ships:ship:wheelhouse
Alternate Numbers

Vessel Registration Number: 191906

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