VAGABOND - More Information


VAGABOND, at the time owned by Sam Small, was one of 15 starters in the first OGA race, from Perth Flying Squadron, on 18-Apr-1982. 

DELTA (another current OGA boat) then owned by Brian Axcell, also took part in this race.

From A Brief History of the Old Gaffers Association in Western Australia by Barry Hicks, October 1995


This is a preview of the account published in the March 2016 OGA Newsletter, Photos as in the Newsletter publication will be added.

VAGABOND - Robert King


VAGABOND has made a reappearance again at CYC after many years in obscurity and so I thought it might be of interest for members to know something of the history of this boat that started her life at CYC.

I'm relying on a lot of my information from her previous owner Tony Larard who was a junior member at CYC 1951 - 59 and has restored and worked on a number of boats including VAGABOND during his lifetime, and of course from our own Club archives run by indomitable Sylvia Boykett.

Judging from when she first started appearing in CYC races, I believe VAGABOND was built in about 1950 in the yard of K.Brown on the road running along the railway line in Cottesloe near the old flour mills.  The business was apparently joinery or cabinet-making. 

Robin Gourley, a prominent yachtsman and boat builder from the Raters era, told Tony that VAGABOND was either based on Robin's yacht WANGARA or he had actually lent the moulds of WANGARA to the builders.  Both were similar of the plumb stem and stern type, with centre plates and a low cabin with rounded coamings at the front.

She came to CYC as a new vessel  and is mentioned under the Windward Trophy Master Mariner in 1952,  won the Patrons trophy in 1953 and 54 and again is mentioned in the Windward trophy in 1957, all when still in Brown's ownership.  After this, ownership passed to Jack Legge, who again is mentioned in relation to the Windward Trophy in 1970.  Jack Legge was still the registered owner in 1974.  She took part in the Bakke Trophy in '75 under the ownership of M.Bond, and the Tropical Traders in March '76 and the closing Day Race in April '76.  Club records are silent after this but she had been in the Club for over 25 years.

After she left CYC, she was for a number of years moored off East Fremantle Yacht Club.  

Her history then becomes sketchy:  she was taken out of the water at some point to be given a major refit but as sometimes happens in these situations, the big refit was a long time in coming and after something like 15-17 years in the open and out of the water the hull was in a fairly poor condition! 

After this period it seems a good samaritan shifted her to the wooden boat repairs shed in Slip Street on the Fremantle wharf where a substantial refit was commenced: a new stem and stern post were fitted, along with a number of new ribs and a new transom.  She seem to have lost a foot in length at this time and was now 24 foot (Tony had remembered her as 25 foot).

Work stopped yet again and it seems she sat (still in the shed fortunately this time) for a number of years with no progress.

In 2009 the tenant of the shed was given an eviction notice and the various vessels therein in different conditions from derelict to completely restored were offered for auction.  

Tony Larard eventually purchased Vagabond as a retirement project: in spite of the earlier work, she still had no deck or beams and the planking (although of New Zealand Kauri) was in poor condition.  He spent a year getting her back to sailing condition: his boatbuilding apprenticeship came into its own now.  The forward half was raised two planks to try to give a bit more headroom below, and a small cabin added.  The centreplate was not replaced and a fin keel added in lieu.

Restoring the planking was going to be too much work and expense so the alternative was to sheath the hull and new deck in fibreglass, done professionally.  Finally she was fitted with a gaff rig similar to her original though the bowsprit was shortened for convenience of berthing and she had a corresponding smaller jib than she would have had originally.

She was re-launched in 2010 and Tony had 4 years of sailing her out of Challenger harbour.  Unfortunately, he was then hit by Parkinson's disease and had to sell the boat as he could no longer handle her.  We were fortunate to buy her in March 2014 and having a preference for River sailing rather than the ocean, were delighted when we were able to bring her back to CYC.  Tony still enjoys coming out on her from time to time.

We find her an enjoyable  boat to sail though she can be hard work in stronger winds as she has pronounced weather helm doubtless not helped by the smaller jib.  

Whilst her race winning days are over - the extra weight of engine and superstructure and her older hull design can no way compete with more modern lighter yachts - we still find her a pleasant day sail boat with a mature air to her. Like her current owners, she is enjoying a quiet retirement, taking life at a leisurely pace but hoping that she has many years ahead of her yet -  after all, she seems to have a knack of survival!

PS In the fifties she raced under the number C11.  When we joined the Club I enquired if this number was available but the then secretary explained it was already taken and initially offered C111.  She then phoned me back to say C1 was available - would I like that?  Why not, I thought, as she is one of the older yachts in the Clack to ub, so accepted.  I've since wondered if I've trodden on any toes but hope I would have been told if I had!

Robert King  March 2016 OGA Newsletter