• Spirit with her US crew. Photo courtesy of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival Inc.
    Spirit with her US crew. Photo courtesy of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival Inc.
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Here’s a great opportunity for visitors to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Tasmania in February to literally ‘get into the spirit’.

One of the American wooden boats visiting the 2019 festival is Spirit, a monohull, six-oared Pilot Gig. Spirit is almost 10 metres long (32 feet) and is built of oak and cedar. She was designed by John Gardner and built by the Apprenticeshop – a facility dedicated to wooden boatbuilding and seamanship situated in Rockland, Maine, USA.

Launched in 2017, Spirit is similar to the over 200 Pilot Gigs currently used for recreation and racing in the southwest of England. The Pilot Gig design was gradually developed over 200 years. The early boats of this design were created to be the fastest boats in which to ferry a pilot out to incoming sailing vessels arriving from across the Atlantic.

Spirit is one of 10 similar Pilot Gigs operating within a 15-mile radius of Maine, and there are others being enjoyed in the states of Massachusetts and Vermont.

Spirit’s owner, Susan St John, said that at the recent USA Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, Washington, Spirit was greeted ashore by festival goers.

“But when we wanted to go out for a row, we simply gathered a large group from those at the festival and we carried her into the water,” Susan said.

“Spirit takes a team,” Susan emphasised. “Come and help us launch her, and then come out for a row."

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