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Yanu: Restoring a Piece of Marine History

Yanu: Restoring a Piece of Marine History

When the Yanu heads out for its frequent fishing trips from its berth at the Gold Coast’s Versace Marina, it carries 40 years of history with it. While it was not an easy journey to get this classic fishing boat seaworthy again, its owner, Wayne Haylock, could not be prouder with the results. After its extensive and expensive restoration, the Yanu provides all the mod cons of a new boat that is rolled out of the factory, within the friendly and enduring style of its original Woodnutt build.

After living on the Gold Coast for the last 30 years, Wayne Haylock and his business, Burleigh Pools, are well known and respected regular fixtures in the local community. But it is his lifelong passion for boating that he is best known for.

Wayne’s love affair with boats began in the late ‘60s when he was regularly water skiing behind them in Victoria. His early boats were notoriously unreliable though. “I think my boats spent nearly as much time being towed back in to shore as they did towing water skis,” Wayne chuckled.

Fishing soon overtook skiing as Wayne’s primary passion. He routinely tackled game fish in his 25-foot Bertram before upgrading to his 34-foot Black Watch, which he kept at Bribie Island. It was there that game fishing sunk its real hooks into him.

Wayne and his son, Chris, had just joined the Bribie Island Game Fishing Club. On their first day, they were following a bunch of far more experienced fishermen out for the day. “Before I knew it, my 10-year-old son had hooked a black marlin! It was incredible! Somehow, he got the huge fish in without a gimbal. It was jumping and thrashing around the boat. Moments like that just burn into your memory. There’s nothing else like it. That was an amazing moment. And it’s cost me a lot of money and time since then to keep doing it. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Wayne recalled.

Naturally it was intense love of fishing that drew Wayne to the 40-foot Yanu. When Wayne first saw the boat in 2004 sitting at the Versace Marina for sale, he just had to have it. “It was just such a classic-looking, comfortable old boat. Having a tower was a real bonus, too. Sure, it was never going to be the fastest in the water, but there weren’t any seas it couldn’t handle. Considering my wife Maureen and I are no longer in our 20s, it’s just the perfect boat for us. Never having to worry about the weather is a huge comfort. And timber boats have a different feel about them. The way they creak and groan adds real personality,” Wayne enthused.

The Yanu had suffered significant wood rot over the last several years. The journey to get it seaworthy would be far from smooth sailing. The sheer amount of work required to restore this 40-year-old boat would intimidate most people. But Wayne’s respect for the Yanu’s history ran deep and was a big part of the motivation. “The boat was crafted by a Queensland shipwright, Frank Woodnutt, who’s still building boats today in his 80s. It was originally launched as the Yanu 3 up in Cairns in 1977. And that very year the biggest black marlin of the season was caught on the boat. The Yanu’s amazing history is a big part of what kept me going through this restoration,” said Wayne.

A little over a year ago, when Wayne decided to begin the Yanu’s ambitious restoration, he sat down with his long-time friend, Adrian Parker from Power and Marine. Adrian’s business has been focused primarily on the 50-foot market, and has done countless engine installations. He had also been working on the Yanu’s engine on and off for 20 years, so he knew the boat extremely well. Not only could Adrian handle the restoration of the Yanu’s engines, but because of his extensive marine contacts, he also stepped up as a project manager to help Wayne. Before long, Adrian had organized a crack team of marine tradies, including carpentry, electrical and painting.

When we discussed the Yanu project with the team, the common themes were that they did not initially realise just how big the project would become, or how long it would take, but that Wayne’s commitment to doing the project properly, and refusing to cut corners, kept the challenging project moving.

The project’s boatbuilder, Troy Dibben, remembers being genuinely excited when he first heard about the Yanu job. “It’s not often you get to work on a 40-year-old boat. But wow, was it in need of some work! When I first got up on the boat to have a look around with Wayne, we just about fell through the timber. The entire front deck was rotten, and the more I poked around, the worse it got. It’s a bit like when you have termites in a house – the more you scratch back the more damage you discover. I’d say 60% of the entire boat was rotten and needed to be rebuilt. The job became so much bigger than I expected. But the boat just had too much history to stop, and Wayne was fanatical about wanting everything done right, which I really respected.”

Coordinating all of the mechanical work and carpentry on such a large project was a serious challenge for Adrian. “To give the shipwrights room to work, we moved both the engines out of the way. The main port side engine was lifted right out of the boat and fully reconditioned. For the starboard engine, we were able to get away with just lifting it out of the way for the shipwrights and painters. It was a massive job though. We had three tradesmen working on it full time for 12 months.”

Among all this major timber and engine restoration, Errol Cain from Australian Marine Wholesale got involved to modernize all of the Yanu’s electrical systems. Like the rest of the Yanu project, the electrical work was more complicated than usual, considering the equipment was decades out of date, such as the original paper-based sounder.

Like many of the others involved in the Yanu’s restoration, Errol expected it to be a much smaller job. But he ended up working on the boat many times over the 12 months as he removed all the old analogue gauges, and updated everything to the latest digital devices.

Errol explained the task of updating such an old helm. “The original helm had multiple engine gauges for information, like the tachometer, oil pressure and engine temperature. With today’s advancement in technology, it’s possible to bring these older engine’s data into a modern multi-function display with an interface box from Maretron, Raymarine or Actisense. With this technology in place, you can easily flick between information sources, like Chart Plotter, Fishfinder, Radar, AIS, cameras and more, as well as all of the engine data.”

While the helm update is the most noticeable aspect of the new electronics, Errol explained that it was actually the 4G wireless network setup that was the most difficult. “To install the Glomex 4G Webmote, we had to climb all the way up to the top of the tower. Working in harnesses and full restraints 30 feet up on the tower sure was memorable.”

Looking back on his 12-year journey with the Yanu, Wayne has no regrets, but has loads of excitement for his upcoming fishing trips. “I always wanted a real workhorse from the Yanu – not something that would just sit at the marina. And being at the Versace Marina, you just turn right and you’re on the Seaway, which means it’s so easy to get a lot of use out of it. I like to get out twice a week if I can. And it just handles the weather so well. It doesn’t matter if we’re fishing with just myself and the wife, or if we’re whale watching with 12 passengers. The Yanu has always performed perfectly.”

“It can be tempting to cut corners on a project like this, especially when the costs are adding up. I naively thought I might be able to restore it for $50,000 to $70,000. I reckon it must be up around $200,000 by now, although I haven’t added it up. But there was just no way I could leave it in such a sorry state. And I couldn’t sell it – although so many people tried to buy it off me. I can be a fussy bugger though, so once I’d started, I wanted it done right – something I could be proud of,” explained Wayne.

Clearly, with all the history behind the Yanu, it was a boat worth all of the hard work Wayne and his team put into it. “It was worth all the money to get a boat with such heritage back to its best. I’m just so happy with the result. I’m really looking forward to the day when my son can take it over. I know he’ll appreciate a boat with history like this. It’s a one-off boat. There’s not another built like it,” said Wayne proudly.


By Narayan Pattison






Yanu original 1 gold coast Yanu original 2 gold coast Yanu restoration 1 gold coast


During Restoration:

Yanu restoration 2 gold coast Yanu restoration 3 gold coast


The restored Yanu

Yanu finished 1 gold coast Yanu finished 2 gold coast Yanu finished 3 gold coast Yanu finished 4 gold coast Yanu finished 5 gold coast Yanu finished 6 gold coast Yanu finished 8 gold coast Yanu finished 9 gold coast Yanu finished 10 gold coast



3 Comments so far

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  1. Paul Arthur
    #1 Paul Arthur 2 March, 2017, 04:29

    It would have been nice to see some pictures instead of a boring stern shot.
    Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words

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  2. gavin mcgahan
    #2 gavin mcgahan 30 April, 2017, 00:36

    Awsome resto to all concerned .i saw your boat before you started and were actually one of the people that offered to buy it .i reside in cairns and love woodnutt boats .its great to see yanu alive and well again congrats ps if you guys have any shirts made up id love to purchase onecheers gavin

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