Three iconic Halvorsen timber motor yachts recently returned to water after three years of meticulous restoration works, relying on the range of WEST SYSTEM products to bring them back to their former glory.
An important part of Australian boat building history, Halvorsen boats have been a common sight on waterways around the country for close to 100 years.
Lars Halvorsen Sons is considered one of the most famous names in Australian marine engineering.
Lars, the son of Halvor Anderson, a Norwegian farmer and boat builder, arrived in Australia in 1924. With his sons, Lars built a successful boatbuilding and repair business, launching their first boat, Sirius at Drummoyne, before setting up shop in Neutral Bay and then Ryde.
Over the decades, they built 1,299 craft and made the Halvorsen name an Australian byword for quality and style.
Russell Salisbury, Shipwright and owner of Russell Marine Maintenance based at The Boat Works, oversaw the restoration of these majestic motor yachts: MY Memory, MY Anna and his own vessel, MY Glenorie.
At the vessels’ “splashdown” at The Boat Works in September, in time to enjoy glorious spring sunshine on the Gold Coast, Russel recounted the tale of each unique Halvorsen.
“I found Glenorie at a Marina, near Runaway Bay in 2020, and she was just days away from sinking. Cole and Abby, who own Memory, were married in 2020, but because of the pandemic, couldn’t travel for their honeymoon, so they bought a classic timber boat and set about restoring her.
“John has owned Anna for about 25 years, and decided it was time to refurbish her. All the factors came together – time, budget, skills and passion. We worked on them together and shared the journey.”
Expert marine trades involved in the project included 143 Boat Building, Kingfisher Cruisers, Choice Stainless, Craft Coverings, Moreton Bay Boat Works and Spraytech Marine.
The scope of works included replacing the steering, installing new cabin tops and full roof fabrication, intricate refinishing and respray works, resealing windows, tap and sink fixtures restored, new diesel engines, new interiors and superb upholstery, teak duckboards, and much more.
A key component of the restoration was WEST SYSTEM, which Russell says he has relied on for more than 30 years.
“I have been using WEST SYSTEM epoxies since the beginning when I did my apprenticeship at Doornbos boat builders on the Biggera Creek to establishing Russell Marine at the Boat Works in 2008 and to the present,” he stated.
“I like the overall reliability of the product. Whether it be a resin-based sheathing project, resin infused with adhesive powder to make a strong gluing compound or the resin again infused with micro balloons or fairing powder to make a beautiful filling compound was faultless from a mixing perspective because of the clever inclusion of the measured pump packs available.
“When marine professionals or amateurs are mixing resin, it is so easy to have one pump resin, one pump hardener, whether it be slow or fast cure hardener required – just one of the excellent product features to suit our ever changing temperatures over the seasons.”
For the Halvorsen project specifically, Russell said WEST SYSTEM was key.
“It is difficult to explain the significance of WEST SYSTEM epoxies when it comes to these Halvorsen restorations. From the very outset, the product was used with its adhesive powder additive to the resin to form a sloppy mix of extremely strong glue to be brushed onto hundreds of pieces of thin solid timber to laminate the structural ribs to form the framework before replanking in the affected areas of hull could begin.
“This flexibility of being able to add adhesive powder to the resin to achieve differing consistencies upon each unique requirement stands the product out against all others. From laminating fine timber veneers for interior fit out, to gluing the beautiful solid teak cabin side components together, then using the resin alone in the capacity of sheathing with differing weights of fibreglass mattings for the hull, cabin tops and decks.
“The other and most appreciated function is in securing the finish required to be able to begin priming and painting in achieving smooth and fair finishes by using the resin, again with varying amounts of fairing powder added to form an easy to sand filler.”
For Russell, who grew up boating on the Gold Coast in all kinds of craft, the appeal of the Halvorsen is both aesthetic and historic.
“I’ve always loved timber boats. There’s something enduring and calming about them. The craftsmanship, the clever design and simplicity of operation,” he enthused.
“For people who understand the allure, it’s about the voyage, not the destination. They have a special hull shape that means they are never going to go fast. They’re a day cruiser or weekender and cruise along at about 8 knots – and they’re ideal for the canals and the Broadwater.”
“Halvorsens are a part of Australian boating history and appeal to every demographic – from people who grew up enjoying them to younger generations who like the retro lines.”
“There is nothing like a classic timber boat for attracting attention,” says Russell, who is the authorised agent for the Grand Banks and Palm Beach brands of motor yachts under the GB Marine Group.
“People reminisce about their childhood, growing up on similar boats. Looking around on launch day, seeing all the families there and people from all walks of life, it was very heartening. It made all the effort worthwhile.”
He reiterates the convenience and flexibility of the product make WEST SYSTEM the ideal product range for such a challenging undertaking.
“By adding differing powder additives to achieve mediums for gluing or filling in many different aspects, and the reliability of knowing as long as you pay attention to the one pump resin, one pump hardener formula, no matter what the quantity the mix is always correct and will cure due to the measured pump system.
“The experience of rebuilding these magnificent Halvorsens over the last three years would have been a very different one without the addition of WEST SYSTEM products and I firmly believe the vessels are better, stronger and prettier for it.”
WEST SYSTEM offers a complete line of products for a wide range of wooden boat building needs. For new wooden boat construction, it provides the means to build a beautiful and efficient, wood, composite craft, and the same components can be used for wooden boat repairs and restoration. Download the Gougeon Brothers Wooden Boat Restoration and Repair Manual for Free on https://www.westsystem.com.au/product-category/publications/