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Nabuka - reborn Tassie trawler seeks new owner

by Jeni Bone on 23 Jan 2014
Barney Steven with his pride and joy, Nabuka Jeni Bone
A labour of love rather than a money making project is how owner Barney Steven describes his unique 36-foot Tassie Cray Fishing Boat, NABUKA of Launceston.

Now, after spending many thousands of man hours and dollars on the overhaul of this National Treasure, Barney is hoping new owners will enjoy the meticulously restored product of his vision and take her cruising new horizons.

Built in 1923 by the renowned wooden boat builders, Jacks of Launceston, Nabuka came into Barney’s possession three years ago and he has spent the time since lovingly restoring and converting her to a beautiful Motor-Sailer.


Because of their excellent sea handling ability, many of these vessels have been modified in this manner.

'She has a marvellous pedigree,' says Barney, Himself hailing from Tasmania and now long-time resident of the Gold Coast. Barney devoted a considerable amount of time researching Nabuka’s past, consulting the Tasmanian Maritime Museum and the Tasmania State Archives office.

It was a Tassie Cray Fisher with Wet Well for storing the live crays until they reached Port. After leaving Tasmania, she fished all around Australia having Fishing licences in NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory and even New Guinea. She has circumnavigated Australia twice returning each time to Tasmania.

Barney spent 10 years gazing at Nabuka, which was moored at a house opposite his own waterfront address. The owner didn’t use it but hoped one day to restore it himself. Eventually he wanted to sell her and of course, Barney was interested.

'I recognised what she was by her shape. I was up for the challenge to restore her to a new and beautiful boat.'


And while much of the deck was rotten the Huon Pine hull was in perfect condition. She had good bones. 'These cray boats are built to last, to go anywhere, and put up with the roughest conditions. My aim was to rebuild her where necessary with new materials so she can continue in that spirit and carry on adventuring for many more years to come.'

Barney sourced the best of the best to do the job and managed to contact two of the great shipwrights on the coast who took real pride in the job. They spent two years on the project, stripping her back to bare wood then fibreglassing over the bottom up to waterline and splining the topsides. New deck beams were fitted and a beech laid deck.

Inside, the compact comfortable boat is air-conditioned throughout and boasts Queensland Silver Ash panelling and Red Cedar trim to give a very luxurious finish. Marine grade suede is used for seating and all cupboards are felt lined. 'No short cuts' was the mantra.

'There are no plastic inserts,' Says Barney, referring to the joins and detailing around windows and hatches. 'They are all timber and finished to perfection.'

Neat and spacious, she comprises a separate helm station with a traditional timber wheel and Engine Room beneath.

The engine is probably her second over her long life and has now been completely overhauled with all new parts. It is a Ford Lees 1955 model and all parts were available from Ford Lees in Brisbane. All work on the engine was carried out by Donnelly Engineering at Southport. A new gearbox was also fitted.

'It really performs beautifully and is so simple to access and service through a large hatch in the floor. Navigation equipment is SIMRAD with GPS , depth sounder and charts.'

Fuel capacity is around 250 Litres, with a water capacity of the same. Her cruising speed is a pleasant 6 knots.

Nabuka’s fully re designed and all new interior is neutral, says Barney, 'so her next owners can stamp their own individuality on her'.

Nothing is lacking! Aft of the helm area is a comfortable dining table and bench seating. Large wrap around windows set this aft cabin area off, ideal for socialising and taking in the views.

Her stern is very narrow, elegant and extremely practical in heavy seas. For extra safety the windows are armour plate glass.


Below decks is the galley, as neat as a pin, boasting ample storage plus seating and table for meals. The shower room has been decked out with top of the range glass basin, a full height shower and loo.

There is no gas on board and the galley is equipped with Induction stove and micro wave. All power is supplied by a 5 KVA Onan Generator.

Accommodation is for five or six with two beds forward which can convert, as required, to a double with ample storage space, cupboards seamlessly crafted into panelling and a flat screen TV.

The galley table and the aft cabin table also convert to double beds if required.

This is a sailing couple’s dream boat, the campervan afloat that would suit adventurers or day trippers of any age or inclination.

'She is no longer a traditional fishing boat, that’s for certain,' asserts Barney, 'although her shape is the same. We kept the best parts and have converted her to a modern motor-sailer. She will give her new owners many years of cruising and sailing pleasure, and a little piece of history too.'

Barney envisages the Nabuka cruising the Great Barrier Reef, Whitsundays and the South Pacific, or she could easily do a trip down memory lane and re-visit Tassie.

Barney himself has an equally impressive background. He was an avid and high achieving sailor and 50-year member of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania with line honours in many Regattas and Australian Championships.

After retiring to the Gold Coast in 1988, Barney was at a loose end. In 1990, his friend, Greg Cavill suggested he apply for the position of General Manager at the Southport Yacht Club. After he was appointed in Dec 1990, he stayed at the Club for five years exactly to the day.

Barney’s career included 17 years with Avis Rent a Car as State manager and then Operations Manager Australia. He went on to Manage Great Keppel Island, and Dunk Island for TAA and later, Qantas.

After leaving Dunk Island he was invited to join Thrifty Rent a Car as Managing Director Australia.

'I’m 82 this year and can’t really see us sailing off on an adventure around Australia, although I still like to potter around the Broadwater. I’ve done my bit now. Nabuka’s ready for the next person to enjoy her in her new role.'

For more information and price, contact Barney Steven on 0415 141 455.

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