Nautical News - November Edition
Welcome to our latest newsletter just in time for our 110th Anniversary Celebration at RQYS Canaipa. There’s still time to register so please let us know as soon as you can if you can join us.
Our Boat Archive feature in this newsletter is all about the majestic Kala Venturer, who has recently spent some time in our yard in Brisbane. We profile some of her recent maintenance works, and Bill Wright provides us with a fascinating look at her history.
We wouldn’t have a business if it wasn’t for our team and in this newsletter we do a Q&A with Dave Kircher. An insight into one of our most valued team members.
The Queensland Police vessel Stewart Kerlin II  built by our team last year was officially commissioned last week and we were honoured to be part of the ceremony, naming vessels after dedicated police who lost their lives serving. You can see a short video from the very emotional event.

Our suppliers are so important to our business and many of them we’ve partnered with for a long time. In this newsletter we showcase ATL Composites, a business who is partnering with us to deliver world class pleasure and commercial craft.
Hope to see you at our 110th Anniversary.

The team from Norman R. Wright & Sons
Final RSVP’s are due for our 110th Anniversary event at RQYS Canaipa on Saturday the 9th of November. We may offer a little latitude on the final acceptances but if you haven’t confirmed and intend attending please let us know as soon as you can. Please RSVP to with your attendee names and boat name. Hope to see you on the 9th for a fun afternoon.
Our Design - Your Ideas
Your Design - Our Ideas
We are now one of the few yards in the world that continues to both design and build custom vessels entirely in house. Yards of our size rarely employ a full time Naval Architect, let alone the two award winning Naval Architects we have on staff, along with the Wright brothers who are leaders in our industry for custom crafted and designed vessels of all sizes. Some would ask how we’ve survived and thrived for 110 years and it’s really down to our diversification. We do not specialise in any one type of boat. We do everything. This means we have a huge database of all types of boats which allows us to custom design to suit anyone's needs.

From the initial proposal to the launch of the vessel, trialling and compliance documentation, we provide our clients with a complete in-house service for all of their needs. We can work in conjunction with the client’s representative and interior designer if required and the vessel can be designed expressly to meet standards of local or international authorities. We have always invested heavily in technology to keep us at the fore-front of the design aspect. We utilise other facilities such as tank testing and CFD where we do not have the capability.

“I believe that the fact that we do not have a standard design allows us to think outside the square when a client comes to us with a new project.  We always start with a clean sheet of paper and design a boat specifically for them. No compromises. When we design, we do so with cost in mind as we also have to price and build it to the client's budget, which we have been doing successfully now for 110 years” Adam Evripidou, Norman R. Wright & Sons Naval Architect
Our full in-house service includes;
  • Vessel design in compliance with Classification Society requirements and to National and International Survey and relevant Standards
  • New design of pleasure and commercial vessels in traditional or light weight timber
  • FRP composite or aluminium structures
  • Refits of pleasure and commercial vessels
  • Renovation of classic and period vessels
  • Systems upgrades and repowering and modernisation programs
  • Tank testing and performance prediction
  • Placing vessels into Survey
  • Stability Reports
  • Vessel’s external styling
  • Interior design
  • Design to meet CE requirements
  • 3-D CAD generated images and video
  • Full project management
  • R&D Programs
"Life Begins at 40"
They say that your 40’s are the fabulous years, for some a mid-life crisis that spawns a new beginning, for others a maturity that enjoys the highlights of the 20’s and 30’s and a grounding to enjoy the next 40 years. At a ripe old age of 42, Kala Venturer is a mixture of both, some recent TLC for a majestic girl who has travelled many-many blue-water miles and now prepared for another 40 fabulous years at sea.
Kala has been in our facility for the past couple months receiving a selection of maintenance and repairs, and always under the watchful eye of our master timber tradesmen Dave Kircher, who we also feature in this newsletter. Kala’s owner John has spared no expense in ensuring Kala receives the care and attention she deserves including a selection of general underwater maintenance along with freshly painted top sides, new aluminium windows for the saloon, a selection of new cabinetry for the flybridge and a stunning new dash and electronics to name just a few.
When we asked John why he chose to bring Kala all the way from Tasmania where she resides, to undertake the works at Norman R. Wright & Sons in Brisbane, he didn’t hesitate with his reasoning. After learning that some of the apprentices that helped build Kala were still working in the business and would oversee her recent works, it was a simple decision. “Master Timber Boatbuilding Tradesmen” are hard to find these days, so it was a simple decision for John when he knew he had the likes of Dave Fussell & Dave Kircher and their team overseeing Kala’s maintenance and repairs.
Kala has a very interesting past, and we asked Bill Wright to outline a summary of his memories of this wonderful timber vessel.
“The story of Kala Venturer started on the dock of the Royal Motor Yacht Club at Newport, 18 months prior to her launching. On this particular day, we had just arrived in the brand-new vessel called Lorellan. Within half an hour of our arrival a bald headed, middle aged man approached us and asked where the Lorellan had come from and who built the vessel. Bill Anderson, the then Manager of NRW, explained we had just completed the boat and delivered her to her new owner Dennis Porter. The man on the dock introduced himself as Kevin Alexander and asked for a price on an identical vessel. He was mightily impressed. The contract was signed 4 weeks later and that was the birth of Kala.

I was sent up to the loft floor to alter the buttocks aft of the Lorellan’s lofting to make the new vessel have a slightly straighter run aft to cope with the additional horsepower of the 8LXB Gardner. The hull was built in the middle slipway at the old Quay Street, Bulimba shed. As a third/fourth year apprentice, my job after lofting was making the moulds with Shayne Conway and then help set up the moulds, followed by joining in the team fitting the steam bent spotted gum timber, which was then followed by the planking up of the vessel. 70-year-old George Franz was my team-mate, he drilled and I hammered in the copper nails on the port side of the vessel while another team (Shayne Conway and Quinten Hendry) planked up the starboard side.  Senior leading hand, and a long-term employee, Lenny Spring, was busy splitting and making the spotted gum bottom planks and then the Oregon (Douglas Fir) topside planking. The vessel then quickly grew into shape.  The Queensland Beech deck was laid and plyed in Lastro Meric (precursor to Sikaflex). The marine plywood house took shape and the Queensland Maple interior was fitted. The interior having many parts built by our cabinet loft by Roy Colverhowe and his apprentice off-sider Russell Moore.  The vessel was then painted, and the rig fitted.

Launching day was fast approaching and Dad asked Kevin for the name of the vessel as we needed to get our name plaques under way. Kevin explained her name would be “Kala Venturer”. Kala being the initials of Kevin and his wife’s name. Kala was launched in 1977 and floated beautifully on her lines. She was then trialled and handed over.
Her first trip to Sydney was a non-event, having to turn around at the Gold Coast bar with an overheating stern gland. We returned to Brisbane and realigned the Gardner. All good! We set off for Sydney a second time. The crew was Bill Anderson, Kevin, Bruce Anderson (Billson and my future brother-in-law) and myself. What a wonderful trip. Beautiful northerly breezes behind us rolling along out on the 60-fathom line. We were sitting on 11–16 knots with the aid of the southerly set. Bruce and I even set the sails. Up went the jib, mainsail and mizzen. No increases in speed but settling the roll out of Kala’s motion. We were greeted in Sydney by Dennis Porter and many other friends.

Kala went on to repeat many Sydney-Brisbane trips. She went around Australia when owned by Mark Wilson. She’s also had many wonderful owners who have always looked after her, including Bruce Phillips, Mark Wilson, John Hughes and in particular, her current custodian John from Tasmania. John keeps her in Hobart and has completed many trips up and down the east coast of Australia.  John is an exceptional owner, having brought her back to as new condition” – Bill Wright
DESIGNER: Ron Wright
BEAM: 15’6”
ENGINE: Gardner 8LXB
DISPLACEMENT: Dry – 34 tons
SPEED (max): 10.2 knots
CRUISE: 9.5 knots
Heart & Soul of Norman R. Wright & Sons
It takes great people to build extraordinary boats and we’re so very fortunate to have many great people within our business. Many of our team members are “Lifers” or people who have spent a vast majority of their working lives in our business. That’s quite possibly the most important reason why we’ve been building great boats for more than 110 Years and Dave Kircher is one such person. Dave is a master tradesmen, a one of kind timber boat builder, with very few matching the knowledge he holds and having been with us for over 24 years. But Dave also accepts the transition the industry has taken over the years into new age systems, processes and materials, and he is a leader in the integration of timber boat building practices into the latest production processes. Here’s a short Q&A with Dave, outlining some things we did and didn’t know about Dave.
Tell us about your background?
I started my boat building apprenticeship at Hugh Morris Boat Builders and finished my trade at Millcraft building timber boats from 32 to 100 feet. Some of the more well-known builds included the Tangalooma Ferry, Keith Williams Ulysses and then Achilles. I also did my trade with Bill Wright and we recently held the 50th anniversary of our boat building trade and we’re still the largest known group in Austalia. I also worked with Dave Fussell in the early days when he started his apprenticeship and now we’re working together again.
How have you seen the industry change?
Timber boat building seems to be an art form these days, as very few in the industry understand the processes. But the biggest change has been the access to timber supply, it’s getting scarce. Before we would get planking in 40 foot lengths delivered in one piece on semi-trailers. Now it’s difficult to find suitably aged timber that long and we now apply split planking techniques.
What do you like about the new boat building processes, systems and materials?
We’re fortunate at Norman R. Wright & Sons that we can apply the old building techniques with the new. The introduction of composites, foams, kevlars and vacuum bagging to name a few are exciting materials and processes that are improving the way boats are built.
What’s the highlight of your career?
I was responsible for the build and fit-out of the flybridge of Whistler, completing the wheelhouse and flybridge including the custom furniture, cabinetry and dash. Just a wonderful project.  (Side note – Whistler returns to our faciilty this November for some upgrades and a new paint job).

What do you think the benefit is for clients when building or maintaining their boat with Norman R. Wright & Sons?
I’m not the only one in the business that’s been here for a number of years, there are plenty of tradesmen who have been here for many years, and most have done their boat building trade in premium timber boat builders. This means that clients get a wealth and depth of knowledge and experience, in many cases the boats we are refitting now, are boats that we worked on as apprentices so we know them inside out. There is no business or team better positioned to manage and maintain your timber boat. But it’s not just our timber boat building experience, it’s a our passion for quality and attention to detail that every client benefits from. We treat every boat that comes into our yard as our own.
Very honoured to play our part in such a great gesture by the Queensland Police Service.

QPV Stewart Kerlin II was a labour of love for our team and we're looking forward to seeing both new QPS boats in action over the coming months and years.

Read the full article from Queensland Police News here
Offering Innovative Solutions to the
Composites Industry
ATL Composites holds a strong and successful position as an epoxy formulator, and is a leading supplier of advanced composite materials and engineering, for the construction of high performance, lightweight structures for the marine, automotive, architectural, civil and industrial tooling markets. For over 40 years, ATL has based their business on interactive customer service, and extensive research and development, to develop easily processed, cost effective products to optimise performance and reduced production time for our clients.

“For over 30 years we have been working with Ian, Bill and the team at Norman R. Wright and Sons,” says Lorraine Murray at ATL Composites. “Such is the synergy, that Ian, Bill, Tony Riek, Dave Kircher, Dave Fussell and Alistair Harvey joined us in Hobart and we co-exhibited at this year’s Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Tasmania, and Dave Kircher gave a practical demonstration using WEST SYSTEM products.

“We have supplied materials for the construction of multiple timber boat projects from medium and large bay cruisers, to repair and maintenance projects, through to commercial pilot boats for the Brisbane City Council, and in more recent years we have collaborated on a multitude of composite projects, like the recently launched Aura, a 60ft Sport-Fisher designed in-house by Bill Wright.”

Click here to read more about ATL Composites
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Norman R Wright & Sons · 39 Rivergate Place, · Murarrie, Qld 4172 · Australia

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