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URANA at the Classic and Wooden Boat Festival 2012


Vessel Number: HV000547
Date: c1911
Vessel Dimensions: 7.92 m x 2.13 m x 0.91 m (26 ft x 7 ft x 3 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
URANA is an early 20th century built motor launch that has had a long association with the Gippsland Lakes region, before being taken to Sydney in 1994. It has an interesting hull shape, featuring a double-ended, canoe stern style that was common in early motor launch design, but is now rarely used in contemporay craft.
DescriptionURANA is 7.92 metres long, carvel built with full length kauri planking and features an elegant canoe stern that curves back on itself to rake forward at deck level. The deck is beech planking. It is believed to have been built as early as 1911 but its construction origins are not well documented, with one reference suggesting it was built at Urana near Albury, an unusual location. Gippsland has also been suggested.

A Victorian origin is most likely as its known history centres around the Gippsland lakes from the 1920s until around 1994. According to Jim Bull from the well-known Bull family of boatbuilders at Metung its first known owner was James Nicholas Incoll, who had served in the 23rd Infantry battalion in World War I, and then worked on the Victorian railways as an electrician installing signals. He had bought the boat from an unknown owner, and then negotiated with the Bulls to have it stored in a shack adjacent to the Bull’s boat yard at Paynesville on the Gippsland Lakes. Incoll and the boat stayed there until Incoll died in 1948. During that time he kept it in excellent condition and used it regularly.

The next known owner was James Frechville in 1989, also a well-known boat builder in Paynesville on the Gippsland lakes. He found it on the Nicholson River nearby, bought it and then gave it an overhaul. He motored URANA on the lakes regulary. He recalls URANA was a fine vessel and he sold it in 1994 with some reluctance to an owner in Sydney. A later owner in Sydney was Glenn Stewart, and when he passed away the launch was left on shore at Lewis Anchorage on Taren point, where the current owner purchased it around 2007 from Ed Lewis. It needed extensive work again, and he has completely rebuilt the hull and superstructure bringing it back to an excellent condition. The hull has been fibreglassed and it has a Yanmar diesel engine.

The name URANA is cast into the bronze steering wheel, and it is aboriginal for ‘temporary shelter’. Urana is also a property near Albury, hence the suggestion that it may have been built there, however it is possible it was built elsewhere for the then owner of the property and took its name accordingly.

A 1992 survey report refers to URANA as a pilot boat. It may have been used as a river pilot boat on the Yarra, transporting pilots to and between vessels, as there are images of similar small craft operating as workboats on the Yarra, but there is nothing recorded indicating URANA was one of these craft.

Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:wood/fibreglass
Current status:floating
Current status:operational
Deck layout:cabin
Deck layout:decked with cockpit
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:canoe stern/double endedDE
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:round bottom
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:keel hung rudder
Motor propulsion:diesel
Motor propulsion:motor vesselMV
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:wheel

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