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The team at Classic Wooden Boat.

03 5155 4173

Classic Wooden Boat is all about the history of classic wooden boats and boat builders in Australia. We provide an online store for boating apparel and classic boat prints, poetry and artwork. We provide a wooden boat sales brokerage, including insurance reports, surveys, boat delivery, boat transport, and much, much more.

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Argyll a 1945, classic bridgedeck lakes cruiser, built by C.C. Neill at Paynesville on the Gippsland Lakes.
My first meeting with Argyll was in January 2004, after helping a neighbour of the MacArthur’s moor her at the Bulls Cruiser's fuel jetty, during a summer storm. It proved to be an expensive yet highly enjoyable meeting.


Argyll was ‘on the market’ and purchased by the author, 3 days later, we took delivery the next week and overnighted onboard for the next 12 weekends to gain a better understanding of Argyll. The work then began . After I produced comprehensive computer design ideas, the challenge was to find the most appropriate and sympathetic craftsmen to help bring my conceptual drawings to life. Paynesville Shipwrights, James Frecheville and Tim Heaney from FH Boats were just those people, supported by their team of David Clark, Justin van Abel and Ken Morrison, the next 9 months really disappeared over the horizon. I thank each and every person involved in, as James called it...‘The Argyll Project’.

The images below of Argyll show her in her ready for sale condition, after more than 50 years of ownership in the MacArthur Family.

Argyll was designed and built in Paynesville, by the famous local boat builder C.C.Neill. Completed at the end of World War II, Argyll was commissioned by Archibald MacArthur, a farmer from Lindenow near Bairnsdale.
The MacArthur Family have a holiday cottage at Flagstaff, on the Cunninghame Arm, just inside Lakes Entrance. Argyll was built to commute to the cottage. The author was the 2nd registered caretaker, of Argyll.

The images below and original hand drawn lofting plans were generously donated by Charlie’s son Ray Neill, a wealth of information and knowledge and also a keen yachtsman aboard his wooden Herreshoff H28 on the Gippsland Lakes. Ray regularly paddles the last craft built by Charlie, a magnificent lightweight wooden racing kayak.
The images were taken on Argyll’s launch day at Sunset Cove, Paynesville and later at Steamer Landing in 1945. Charlie Neill is pictured on the 90 Mile Beach and in the boat shed. Ray Neill is the little boy in the timber dinghy next to Argyll at Steamer Landing.


Argyll was returned to the scene of her first anchorage in 1945, Steamer Landing on the Bunga Arm, Gippsland Lakes. Nothing had changed much in her 44 years, apart from a new Ford Lehman 4 cylinder diesel engine in 1975 and many coats of paint. After anchoring her securely, in the back lake, I climbed to the top of the dunes, armed with digital camera and Apple Laptop and started the process of recreating a newer, yet still classic version of the ‘old Argyll’. A bottle of Narkoogee Shiraz helped get the creative juices flowing. My design brief was simple. I wanted to retain her classic lines yet increase space and berths inside the house to ensure that our weekends and holidays were not crammed, and that the boat had a warm, snug and cozy feel about her.

Argyll was redesigned utilising many of the features that the owner liked in a previous Whittley Cruisemaster GRP cruiser. These maximum size trailerable boats are an exercise in design sense and allocation of space. Argyll has borrowed much from their functionality and space utilisation.

The bridgedeck full length cabin and upper wheel house saloon gives nearly 30 feet in length of internal cabin space. Many visitors onboard comment that we have much more functional space than their 40 ft boats. Our design concepts were based on the fact that when we leave Melbourne, nearly 300 kilometres away, the most variable consideration is the weather. With Argyll we have comfortable, warm and waterproof accommodation, for weeks at a time, without living under clears or covers.

MV Argyll Registered number BY 82
33’x 12’x 3’ approx Timber Bridgedeck Gentleman’s displacement cruiser.
Constructed by C.C. Neil of carvel planked Kauri in 1945.
Rebuilt and refitted by Frecheville Heaney Paynesville 2004.
Maintained and slipped annually by Frecheville Heaney, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.
Fibreglass sheathed marine ply over timber decking and solid timber framing.
Solid Brazilian Mahogany cabin sides, hatches and tastefull VJ timber panelling fitout
Fully rebuilt and reconditioned 80hp Ford Lehman 4 cylinder diesel 2007. 150 hours. All new engine mounts, shafts, exhausts and ceramic seals 2004. 145 litres fuel. Engine uses 2.8 litres p/hr @5 knots 1100 rpm, 4.5 litres p/hr 7 knots@1550 rpm.
12 volt starter and dual 6 volt house batteries, 140 watt solar panel, digital monitor. 40 litre heat exhange / 240 volt hot water system, plus 220 litres water.
Dual automatic bilge pumps. Dual anchors, warps and chains, multiple mooring lines.
Navman Colour fishfinder, depthsounder, GPS and Plotter, Navman digital fuel flow. Navman UHF Radio, GME Electrophone radio, CD player, Qualcomm Satellite phone.
Double berth forward, 2 oversize singles to port, extra large double convertible stern. Mahogany Drop leaf dining table, over engine box seats 8-10.
120 litre Waeco stainless fridge freezer 12/240 volt. double burner Origo Metho stove. Brazilian Mahogany galley, Stainless sink. Drop down pantry, ample cupboards and storage. Full size stand up H/C shower. porta potti, also H/C deck shower on swim platform. Fully carpeted interior floors, suede effect upholstery on seating and bunks.

Argyll was refloated in November 2004. Her original construction was so exacting that after nearly 11 months on dry stand she needed less than 2 hours for her planking to ‘take up’ with help from some of her own sawdust released under her waterline.
It seems almost too simple (and disrespectfull) to jump over a few pages from purchase, redesign, rebuild and refloat. On following pages you can follow Argyll’s rebuilding progress on a step by step basis. The end result with Argyll afloat again, was one of the most gratifying experiences and a real sense of achievement for everyone involved. After cruising around Raymond Island with lots more of that red ‘creative stimulus’ we retired to the Paynesville Motor Cruiser Club, next to Slip Bight Marina on McMillan Strait for a celebration dinner.

Argyll has continued to provide a real sense of ‘pride of ownership’ at almost every mooring and jetty we tie up on.
People seem to be attracted to her classic lines and always ask about her history, as a result we have come to meet more people, and made many friendships on the Lakes in the last 2-3 years than in our previous 10 years boating here.  

 The following library of images, in no particular order, display the sheer amount of work that goes into the total rebuild and rebirth of a Classic Wooden Boat like Argyll. Like all projects of this magnitude, the approach is plan everything, plan and check again and keep the conversation and dialogue open with your chosen boat builders and support trades. In James Frecheville and Tim Heaney, I certainly found the right team.

Like all wooden boat owners, I have caught the bug that has us contemplating and studying the “Book of Dreams” I am constantly looking at my next project.
Whilst Argyll is truly irreplaceable, I have decided I need my next wooden boat challenge.
It will be a huge one… We will keep you posted in the coming weeks.
Argyll was placed on the market in June 2009 and sold to the first person who boarded her less than 2 weeks later.
Argyll has a new home in Sydney at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, right next door to Kirribilli House. Her new owner (3rd caretaker in 65 years) Dr Steven Tracy is a well known Etchell and Dragon sailor on Sydney Harbour. Steven is pictured with his partner Mel Nathan also a keen Yngling sailer at RSYS.

We know Argyll is going to a caring home and look forward to spending some time aboard Argyll on the Harbour or Pittwater in the years to come.
Argyll received more than 10,000 visits in under 3 weeks on Boatpoint, with more than 500 people accessing our contact details. Once again a testament to the huge resurgence and public interest in classic wooden boats.