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Ronald Beltz in retirement

Ronald Beltz

Ronald Beltz was a builder, joiner and cabinet maker who also designed and built a small number of craft in his backyard in suburban Hobart, Tasmania before and after World War II.

Ron Beltz was born at Sandy Bay in Hobart and went to school nearby at Albuera St. He left school soon after Grade 7 and worked for his father at Dover. He also sailed on Derwent Class yachts in the 1920s.

Although his trade was a builder, joiner and cabinet maker, his real desire was to build boats, and Beltz satisfied this over many years by designing and building a small number of varied craft in his backyard at 95a Giblin St, Lenah Valley, a suburb of Hobart. He was entirely self taught in his design and building skills. He was proficient at drawing and built detailed models of vessels. Beltz built his own designs based on half-models he had shaped.

Beltz started by building dinghies then moved onto larger craft. SAND PEEP, a motor launch built in 1934 and about 10.5 m (36 feet) long was his first large vessel. STORM KING, a cruising and racing yacht he made for himself was next, and then after the war he built another yacht MAVOURNEEN ( later called BIKINI in WA) in 1949. The largest vessel he designed and built was a 15.2 m (50 ft) long trawler HELEN J. This was later lost at sea in a rough weather accident.

When completed all the craft were taken by road from his house by truck, going up Giblin St to the main road and then down to the docks at Hobart to be craned into the water. Moving a vessel from his backyard was always a guaranteed to bring out a crowd of neighbours and locals to witness the event.

During World War II he worked in the newly formed Tasmanian Wooden Shipbuilding Board's Prince of Wales Bay yard in Hobart, where large wooden craft were built for the war effort by some famous names of the era in boat building. The first project was AV POOLTA, followed by other craft to the same design. Before the war one of his contracts was to do the fitout on Percy Coverdale's yacht WINSTON CHURCHILL.

Beltz passed away in the 1990s, but his wife Eileen fondly remembers that there was never a time the backyard was not filled with a vessel being built or the materials for one to be started on. The property remains intact in 2009, including his workshop at the back of the yard. One of the last vessels he built was a 3 m (12 ft) dinghy working with his grandson, Michael White.