Wooden oyster punts being built at the Narooma slipway

The first wooden commercial boat to be built in Narooma for 30 years is taking shape at the Narooma slipway.

Narooma slipway owner Malcolm Baddeley and legendary Narooma boat builder Jimmy Taylor are building a large, wooden oyster punt for a local oyster grower on Wagonga Inlet.

The boat building is all part of the new activity at the Narooma slipway that sat unused for some time causing great inconvenience for local boat owners.

They hope it will be the first of many and are keen to supply oyster growers up and down the coast from Batemans Bay to Merimbula with their handmade wooden oyster punts.

“With a bit of luck we will be building many more of these and nobody else I know is building wooden commercial boats anymore,” Mr Baddeley said. “It will bring a bit more industry into town and potentially provide employment and teach these skills to young people.”

The oyster punt frame is being built out of local hardwood from a sawmill at Bodalla, and will be covered in plywood and then fibreglass and finally a coat of paint.

In the men’s minds, the wooden punts are better than modern aluminium versions as they are heavier, more flexible and yet capable of taking more knocks.

“They are more wind resistant, more resilient and stronger,” Mr Baddeley said.

It’s the same design that Mr Taylor used more than 30 years and all done from inside his head with no plans on paper.

They will each take about three weeks to build and then the oyster farmer can put whatever outboard and lifting gear they want on the hull.

“The ones Jimmy built 30 years ago are still going on the inlet today but are coming to the end of their lives,” Mr Baddeley said.

“Just like me,” Mr Taylor added, laughing.

Mr Baddeley said he wanted to get local students and Aboriginal people involved in the boat building operation as apprentices and was working with schools and others to make it happen,.

The Narooma slipway steeped in history has been brought into the 21st century to continue its function as a working boat repair and building facility by Mr Baddeley and wife, Margaret. 

Operating as Mal’s Slipway and Boat Repairs, they recently purchased the facility and have chosen to retain the name Taylor’s Boat Shed in recognition of the Taylor family that took over its operation in 1947, using it for many decades to build and service local vessels of all sizes.

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