OLD CRAFT: Jeff Wheatley of the Fitzroy Motor Boat Club has just finished building a wooden boat. He hopes to plan a boat regatta along the Fitzroy River during the next Rockhampton River Festival.
OLD CRAFT: Jeff Wheatley of the Fitzroy Motor Boat Club has just finished building a wooden boat. He hopes to plan a boat regatta along the Fitzroy River during the next Rockhampton River Festival. Vanessa Jarrett

Imagine the spectacle of a boat regatta at the next festival

JEFF WHEATLEY has just finished building himself a wooden boat and he's keen to show it off to the local community.

Mr Wheatley also owns a medium-sized yacht and last year spent four months sailing through the Queensland islands.

When he decided he wanted to build a wooden boat, he went to his friend, Pat Whiteside, an old craftsman and fellow Fitzroy Motor Boat Club member.

Together they built a boat each, so Mr Whiteside could show him what to do.

Jeff Wheatley with his new handmade wooden boat he has made himself,
Jeff Wheatley with his new handmade wooden boat he has made himself, Vanessa Jarrett

It took about 12 months they just finished the "lovely little sailing boats” two weeks ago.

The boats have been made using old traditional methods with no nails or screws.

"It's all bent timber, cut to shape,” Mr Wheatley said.

"It's taken a couple of thousand hours and a couple of thousand dollars.”

The two men spent about 20 hours a week working on it.

"If you pay yourself about 10 cents an hour you'd go close to even,” he said.

Up close details of the wooden boat Jeff Wheatley built himself.
Up close details of the wooden boat Jeff Wheatley built himself. Vanessa Jarrett

But it was all worth it, they have caught the interest of many and they sail "magnificently”.

Now the Fitzroy Motor Boat Club vice-commodore is hoping to plan a boat regatta at the next Rockhampton River Festival.

"A vision of boats, sailing, paddling and motoring along the river would be quite the spectacle,” Mr Wheatley said.

The Fitzroy Motor Boat Club has a long-standing history in Rockhampton, with 150 years of various name changes.

This year, the Fitzroy Motor Boat Club itself celebrates 100 years.

It is dinghies only in the carpark outside the Fitzroy River Motor Boat Club as the river rises over the 8 meter mark in the 2010 floods.
It is dinghies only in the carpark outside the Fitzroy River Motor Boat Club as the river rises over the 8 meter mark in the 2010 floods. Chris Ison

The club has about 100 members, who get together to work on their boats, whether its rebuilding or refurbishing or just coming down to the club for an afternoon tea looking over the beautiful river.

"(The club) is just anyone with a passion for not just boating, but fishing as well,” Mr Wheatley said.

"People with a common interest with boats and fishing, it is a good camaraderie.”

"There are quite a few people in Rockhampton who have built their own boats and leave them under the house or in the shed; they just build them for fun.

"The regatta would be a way of promoting the club, showing off the boats and encouraging recreational boating and fishing on the Fitzroy River.”

Jeff Wheatley would love to see a regatta of boats floating down the Fitzroy River during Rockhampton River Festival.
Jeff Wheatley would love to see a regatta of boats floating down the Fitzroy River during Rockhampton River Festival. Vanessa Jarrett

Mr Wheatley would like to see people bring all their little handmade boats down with the ultimate aim of having a grand regatta during the River Festival.

"If we can get other clubs and people involved we could have 100 boats up and down the river, it would be a spectacle,” he said.

"All sorts of dinghies, power boats, catamarans, monohulls.

"It's a river festival - celebrating boats and the river makes a lot of sense.

"We want to highlight the fact that people love their boats and use their boats in the Fitzroy River.”

On a permanent basis there is about 130 boats up and down the Fitzroy River, running through the city.

The club has seen this number grow significantly over the last couple of years.

"The council have done an absolutely magnificent job promoting the river precinct and the Fitzroy River,” Mr Wheatley said.

"There are visitors coming from all over Australia to Rockhampton, we have noticed it.

"The amount of people coming here fishing for barramundi has tripled over the last 18 months, through the council putting in so much effort in developing this area.”

The new deck extensions at the Fitzroy Motor Boat Club.
The new deck extensions at the Fitzroy Motor Boat Club. Vanessa Jarrett

The club will host a social day next weekend where Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rouke will officially unveil the new $30,000 deck extensions.

SOCIAL DAY:

Sunday August 26

For boat lovers and families

Sausage sizzle, entertainment and bar

Bring your boat if you wish

305 - 375 Quay Street, Rockhampton

Email fitzroymbc@gmail.com

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