Itwouldn’t look out of place on the set of The Great Gatsby, and it has an interesting history to match.
Mount Pleasant, a 98-year-old launch which survived a Japanese midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour in 1942, is the latest addition to the flotilla at Batemans Bay Marina.
Batemans Bay shipwright Sam Aspinall and Matt Crampin just finished a painstaking 53-week restoration of the vessel to make it shiny and seaworthy again.
It was bought by a Canberra businessman Simon Mitchell (who contributed significantly to the project) after being owned by a family north of Batemans Bay.
The family had brought it down from Sydney 22 years ago, by sea, and it had been out of the water for 19 years.
The boat was built in 1916 to transport passengers between a guest house at Brisbane Water on the NSW Central Coast and a nearby railway station.
Hegarty’s Ferry Company bought it in 1929 for use on Sydney Harbour.
It was requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy at the onset of World War II and used as rating accommodation at Garden Island.
On the night of May 31, 1942 in Sydney Harbour, Mount Pleasant was right in the middle of one of the most harrowing incidents in Australia’s history.
It was rafted up astern of the naval depot ship HMAS Kuttabul, a converted harbour ferry, which was torpedoed by a Japanese midget submarine. Nineteen Australian and two British sailors were killed.
After the war the launch was bought by the Maritime Services Board for work on the harbour before being sold as a live-aboard cruiser in 1980.
It’s not hard for Mr Aspinall to sum up Mount Pleasant’s condition when the restoration began.
“Absolutely terrible,” he said.
“It definitely needed full restoration. We epoxy-sheathed the underneath. Because it had been out of the water so long we couldn’t use 100 per cent traditional techniques.”
Despite this, it now looks much like it would have in 1916, and is ready to cruise the waterways of the Eurobodalla.
WAR SURVIVOR: Batemans Bay shipwright Sam Aspinall with the 98-year-old vessel Mount Pleasant, which he recently completed restoring with Matt Crampin.
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