SV Rhona H

Ms ARMITAGE - Mr President, today I am speaking about one of Hobart's oldest and smallest working tall ships, the sailing vessel Rhona H or SV Rhona H, to which it is commonly abbreviated. In the interests of full disclosure, the Rhona H was for over 20 years in the possession of my husband, meaning I know it very well, and I understand its authenticity and just how much it means to people. Since the sale of the vessel, I have become its patron.

 

The 52-foot gaff-rigged fishing vessel was originally built for Frere Youl of Symmons Plains in 1942, and was sold around 1946 to Max Hardy, a Stanley fisherman, who helped promote the crayfish industry in north-west Tasmania around that time. The Rhona H was built by Tasmanian shipwright Ned Jack, from Huon pine over celery top frames with Tasmanian Oregon masts. Those with knowledge of these materials will be aware of their high quality and thus begin to understand the quality of the vessel itself.The Rhona H is equipped with traditional rigging, six handmade sails and authentic wooden blocks. 

 

Whilst there are modern sailing tools on board for emergency use, typically the rigging and furling the mast is done all the traditional way, making it extremely environmentally friendly.  Stepping onto the SV Rhona H therefore is like stepping back in time. It forms a special part of Tasmania's rich sailing history and heritage.

 

The Rhona H continued to be used as a commercial fishing vessel until around the early 1990s, at which time she was converted for use in sail training and charter work. Throughout her tenure the Rhona H has made many trips across Bass Strait to Queenscliff on Victoria's coast and has sailed to King and Flinders islands.  These days the Rhona H is a Hobart icon, setting sail from Sullivans Cove all year round, crewed by volunteers, usually on the weekend, with twilight harbour sails offered during the summer months.Trips on the Rhona H range from short trips along the River Derwent, or longer day sails along the D'Entrecasteaux Channel down to Kettering and Bruny Island.  Annually, the vessel makes a trip to Port Arthur or Recherche Bay, providing a truly authentic and immersive experience for those who make these trips. 

 

The Rhona H is operated by Heritage Sailing Tasmania, a not-for-profit enterprise, whose vision is to integrate traditional sailing, conservation and health promotion in Tasmania.  Heritage Sailing Tasmania does this by providing these unique experiences for their crews and guests, and providing team building, education, health and enjoyment. As an organisation which is so entrenched in the maritime community in Tasmania, and which works with the organisations such as the Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania and the Wooden Boat Build, Heritage Sailing Tasmania and the SV Rhona H promote health and wellbeing, social cohesion, and secures passage of heritage maritime knowledge for their youth development programs. The sense of connection and community which is fostered through these activities places an emphasis on mindfulness and brings a team spirit to the crew and guests on the trips the SV Rhona H makes. 

 

The Rhona H therefore brings vibrancy and a rich culture to the Tasmanian maritime community.To this end, the SV Rhona H has also deservedly received a number of awards and recognitions, including a bronze award from the Tasmanian Tourism Awards in 2018, winning the innovative service award from the Innovative Tasmania awards in 2017, a certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor in 2019, amongst many others. 

 

We are very lucky to have access to such a vessel, which is so true to history in both the way it looks and the way it operates. Under Heritage Sailing Tasmania's stewardship, the SV Rhona H provides people with a truly unique and authentic opportunity to experience traditional sailing on a traditional vessel, which brings a great deal of character to our waters. I encourage everyone here to visit the vessel at Elizabeth Street pier, and to perhaps even try their hand at some of the tasks on a weekend trip.  I know the current owners, Julie and Charles, would make everyone very welcome. The SV Rhona H is a truly magnificent vessel and adds richness and depth to Tasmania's maritime community.

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March 24, 2020

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