Deadline looms for future of Wanderer tall ship project

Ben Boyd's Wanderer

Ben Boyd's Wanderer

Wanderer project president Chris Nicholls remains optimistic about the future of building a replica of Ben Boyd’s 1837 tall ship in Boydtown despite the departure of the venture’s shipwright, and ongoing funding and logistical problems.

A time limit of the end of the 2017-18 financial year has been set to keep the project afloat.

“It cannot go past that date without a clear, realisable path,” Mr Nicholls said.

Despite considerable effort over six years there had been limited progress, he said. An unfortunate outcome was the loss of long-time members and waning support from volunteers.

Mr Nicholls confirmed that volunteer shipwright and past president Morrie Lynch of South East Nautical Services had decided to leave the project for personal reasons.

“On behalf of all the committee and the association, I thank him for his mentoring, hard work, energy, determination and passion as a valuable member of our team over four years,” he said. 

On a positive note, Mr Nicholls said a limited liability company would be set up by Christmas, enabling the committee to apply for the millions of dollars needed in government grants and philanthropic donations.

The original costing of the project was “seriously understated”, he said. “Building the replica is likely to cost up to twice the original estimated $2.8 million.”

No real plan had been developed for the ongoing viability of the tall ship and costs of up to $900,000 a year could be expected for its maintenance, crew, victualing, as well as other fees and charges, he said.

While further construction of the ship has been deferred until the review of the project is finalised at the end of the financial year, work on an undercover shipyard at Boydtown and fundraising will continue.

There was much more to the project than “simply building a boat”, he said. It was an important and valuable social enterprise for Eden and the Sapphire Coast.