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Tacoma Surf Boat

Vessel Number: HV000426
Date: 1944
Previous Owner: Haldane Bros ,
Vessel type: Surf Boats
Dimensions:
Vessel Dimensions: 6.71 m x 5.49 m x 1.83 m x 0.46 m, 0.4 tonnes (22 ft x 18 ft x 6 ft x 1.5 ft, 0.39 tons)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Significance
The TACOMA SURF BOAT was built by the Haldane Bros in 1944 for them to work off surf beaches in Southern Australia, net fishing for Australian salmon. It was adapted from the published design of the Sydney surf boat and was built at their home on the Moyne River at Port Fairy. It is an excellent example of Australian ingenuity and adaptation. Surf boats, along with whale boats and similar double-ended shore based fishing boats had been capable craft working on and off surf beaches along the Australian coastline over many decades. This craft's operation as a net boat on the shoreline is an intriguing use of the type. The Haldane Bros later became well known when they helped establish tuna fishing as a viable industry based in Port Lincoln South Australia.
DescriptionThe TACOMA SURF BOAT is 6.71 m long and 1.83 m wide. It is carvel built, with the hull made from Oregon planking and stringy bark frames. It has three rowing stations and the bow was fitted with a net box.

The young Haldane fishermen had grown up in Port Fairy after World War 1. The three brothers Bill, Alan and Hugh were no strangers to surf and open boats as they had participated in couta boat fishing since their early teens in the 1930s, and had been members of the local surf club. Bill Haldane was the last official coxswain of the Port Fairy life boat. They decided to build the TACOMA SURF BOAT while they awaited the arrival of their plans to build the large fishing vessel TACOMA. The surf boat design was chosen because it enabled three to four men to set the net in moderate surf conditions. The three Haldane brothers were members of the local Port Fairy Surf Life Saving Club and understood both the sport and the commercial opportunities in the surf of the southern coast.

When the Haldanes moved to Port Lincoln in South Australia in the early 1950s with TACOMA to begin their enduring association with the region that covered a variety of fishing activities, the TACOMA SURF BOAT was transported as deck cargo on the voyage to Port Lincoln. Thereafter it was an integral part of their Australian salmon fishing operations, catching an estimated 12,000 tonnes of fish until it was retired in 1968.

The TACOMA SURF BOAT was used in the following manner. A school of fish was spotted from the TACOMA's crow’s nest or by an onshore party which had been stationed on high ground, using either walky-talky or flag signals. The beach group would join the party of rowers that had come ashore. The shoals of salmon usually traveled parallel to the beach, so the boat and net started to shoot-set heading out through the surf at right angles to the beach. The three rowers, working without a sweep oar, would row out until they reached a set of coloured floats on the net. This was the signal to then turn and travel along parallel to the beach until another set length of the net was reached. The boat then returned through the surf to the beach where the net was then pulled in and eventually closed to herd the fish into the bag it had formed. The bag was then either rowed out to TACOMA or a line from TACOMA was secured and the bag winched to the boat. The fish were then brailed aboard TACOMA.

The TACOMA SURF BOAT's long life is in part due to the original material and building methods employed, and its continued operation in the ownership of one fishing family. After it was retired in 1968 it had a brief period with the Port Lincoln Naval Cadets before it was returned to the Haldanes. It has since been restored by Robin Haldane and is now owned and rowed by members of the Tacoma Preservation Society and once again associated with TACOMA.
Vessel Details
Current status:operational
Deck layout:open
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:oar
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:sweep oar
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:canoe stern/double endedDE
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:round bottom
Related materials:photos

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