Beachcomber cutter rigged gaff built 1860


12th October 2016
Article Publisher

Beachcomber is a cutter rigged gaff built sometime between1860-1870 and was made in Paynesville from Kauri planks with Australian hardwoods on the keel.

She has a LOA 22ft and a sail area 300 sq.ft with a Yanmar 9HP auxiliary motor.

Beachcomber was built for the Barton family who owned properties at Point Wilson and Ocean Grange. They used her with several other boats for commuting to Paynesville and later for a growing tourist business based upon Ocean Grange. Locals here tell me that she was a familiar sight before the second war sailed in all conditions by Freddy Barton, often using her to transport sheep and goats from island to island. By this time she had become a sort of ‘water ute’, before being sold to the McCleod family.

In the ’40’s and ’50’s she had a reduced sail area (dipping lug rig and jib), a large motor and a cuddy cabin. The centreboard had been removed and a false keel had been added. It appears she then had several owners and spent a good deal of time at the bottom of the Mitchell river until she was rescued by Andy Henderson in the 1980’s. 

Fred Herbert bought her in 1989 and spent four years restoring her(using the skills of many local shipwrights and craftspeople). They were able to restore her using all of the original planking bar the top plank, and the keel is original wood too. A new boiler plate centreboard was fitted and she was rigged in a fashion typical for her age. All of the wooden blocks and cleats are hand made and Queensland Beech was used to plank her decks.

The Ditterich family purchased her from Fred in 2015 and have begun a gradual process of maintaining, refitting and restoring her running rigging, standing rigging, floors and decks.  We are hopeful that there are others in the district who might help fill in some of the blanks in this boat’s history. We would be grateful for any stories! Leigh Robinson gave us the one about Freddy Barton and the livestock. There is quite a bit known about the local fishing traditions and associated boats and I love that this boat spans shopping, tourism and farming in it’s story.


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