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Building a classic!

Building a classic!

By Andy Kancachian interview with Simon Wright

Simon Wright and Andrew Wright, brothers hailing from Brisbane, epitomise the boating lifestyle in South East Queensland. Their lifelong journey with boats began during their childhood, starting with small sailing dinghies and encompassing activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and water skiing – anything related to boating that brings joy. Their late father, Tom Wright, played a pivotal role in fostering this passion during their youth in Mackay and later years on the Tinaroo Dam in the Atherton Tablelands. Tom, who resided in Cairns, sadly passed away in February 2022, leaving behind an impressive collection of wooden boats, including canoes, small rowing boats, sailing boats, and a timber runabout.

After their father’s passing and while finalising his estate, they stumbled upon a completed hull in a storage shed on the Atherton Tablelands. It was a pristine hull lacking electrics, power, or finishing touches, sitting on a trailer seemingly untouched. They transported the hull to Brisbane and embarked on the journey of making it seaworthy. They christened the boat ‘Blue Water Drive,’ named after a street their father frequented when accessing Lake Tinaroo.

This boat is an Albury Brothers Runabout constructed from plans purchased from D.N Hylan & Assoc Boatbuilders in Brooklyn, Maine – a 19’7″ Vee bottom Boat. The Albury name is renowned in boatbuilding, originating from the northern Bahamas. For nearly 40 years, Willard and Benny Albury have crafted outstanding outboard runabouts, recognised for their smooth rides, seaworthiness, sturdiness, and impressive speed with modest horsepower. At the time, these plans represented what Willard Albury considers to be his optimal boat, the best of over 250 individual boats.

The late Mark Boutle from Innisfail in North Queensland was the builder of the hull, commissioned by Tom Wright in 2012. Mark initially pursued furniture-making as a hobby, later receiving training from local boat builders in Innisfail before venturing into crafting timber boats independently. He built five boats of various sizes and styles for Tom, with ‘Blue Water Drive’ being his final creation before his passing.

Before commencing the project, the brothers sought advice from Russell at Marine Matters and obtained a comprehensive survey from Nick at KPS Marine. They entrusted Rowlands Boat Trimmers with the upholstery, bimini, and cover, while the outboard and steering were expertly installed by Australian Marine Centre. The finishing touch, the windscreen, was provided by Blue Water Windscreens.

Andrew and Simon painstakingly sorted through their father’s extensive boat collection, with the support of the local Cairns Wooden Boat Association, where Tom played a significant role. Many boats were either sold or gifted to local boating enthusiasts, while some found new homes in larger southern cities. Andrew and Simon chose to retain some canoes (captured in photos with Tom) and two small power boats, one of which is ‘Blue Water Drive.’ These choices were made in memory of Tom and to take advantage of the stunning boating opportunities available in Southeast Queensland.


‘Blue Water Drive’ is surveyed for up to seven adults and boasts a 140hp Suzuki outboard, ensuring effortless planing. Its epoxy-coated hull is suitable for calm or semi-sheltered waters. The bimini was meticulously designed for comfortable standing height for most adults during all-day family outings. It can also be separated into two pieces for flexibility and is entirely removable, allowing the boat to transform into a classic cruiser. The tan and cream upholstery complement the timber aesthetics for a timeless appearance.

While adapting to owning a classic boat has presented some challenges, the brothers are now prepared to turn heads wherever they go. They receive compliments on the boat’s beauty every time they take it out. The standout features of ‘Blue Water Drive’ include its exquisite timber craftsmanship, ample space for two families, and an open plan, comfortable layout perfect for days on the water. Its classic lines and straightforward design make it an ideal, user-friendly boat.

The boat has been put to versatile use, from towing kids and adults behind it, to leisurely cruises up the Brisbane River for picnics and docking at waterside cafes. It has also facilitated explorations of the bay, including trips to Peel Island and Moreton Island.

Simon emphasises that, like any timber boat, regular washing and cleaning are imperative for its longevity. Dry storage is essential, as wood requires special care and attention to withstand the environmental elements. While these boats are undeniably beautiful, they demand dedicated maintenance to preserve their splendor.

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Published in print October-December 2023