Steam Yacht Preana

The Preana organisation has been formed with the intention of restoring the Preana to her original condition. The is a not for profit organisation.

By the 1930s, Preana had slipped down the scale, and was sold to the Watt family and had been fitted out as a fishing vessel, with a scallop dredge. She was then converted by Mr. Charles Lucas to a fine motor yacht for his own use and for cruising. In the late 1930's she passed into the hands of Mr. WJ. Clark, and was known as the motor launch 'WJ. Clark'.

For many years she sat idle and engineless at her moorings off Battery Point. In 1985 she was shifted to new moorings at Prince of Wales Bay, but sank at the marina there in mid 1992. Thankfully for the `PREANA', perhaps the only serving Hobart built Steam Yacht she was rescued by the Preana Trust  and has now been restored  to her original condition so that once again the PREANA can grace the waterways of Hobart and the Derwent River.


It must be at least 16 years ago that the Preana Trust acquired the remains of "Preana". I say remains because she was in such a derelict state that she was about to be broken up to salvage the Huon pine planking from the hull Huon pine is a  wonderful boat building timber endernic to Tasmania, the trees take about 500 years to reach maturity and they are now becoming very scarce.
"Preana'" was built in Hobart in 1896 as a luxury yacht for Mr Gibson. a wealthy flour miller and MP. She was 55 feet long and was powered by a Simpson Strickland triple expansion engine taking steam from a Kingdon boiler. A feature of the design was the slender hull with cantilevered decks to make her wider. She was used by Mr Gibson to entertain his friends and there are several photos of her at the Royal Hobart Regatta and similar events in the early years of the 2O th century.

As time went on she was allowed to deteriorate and at a date unknown she was converted to a fishing boat when the steam plant was removed. The downhill slide continued until she finished up lying in the mud with the tide rising and falling inside the hull.

The Trust had a bit more vision than most of the people who saw the rotting hull,  acquired it and had it placed on land,  then set about finding out all that he could about the history of the boat and he also set about finding people who were willing to Volunteer to help with the restoration. I was asked if I could find  an engine and boiler.

We advertised in "Funnel" for a Simpson Strickland triple and were offered one from Europe but the price was far more than could be afforded. The Trust found a person in Melbourne who had a US Navy type E compound which was the right size for the job.  A boiler could not be found so I drew a design for a vertical fire tube boiler of suitable size. It is designed to comply with the Australian code AS 1797-1986. The grate is designed for wood firing.

At that time I was about to set out on a five year circumnavigation of the world on the replica of Captain Cook's ship "Endeavour” ( I did not realise that at the time. neither did my wife!) . While I was away, work on the hull restoration went on. In order to satisfy modern Survey requirements the hull was given an extra layer of diagonal planking, the keel was strengthened and most of the ribs were "stepfathered'". The cabin was rebuilt to the exact Outline shown in early photos of the vessel. The Tasmanian Forestry Commission donated Huon pine for the work. The Trust searched around Hobart to find most of the original brass ports which are a feature of the cabin. Replicas were made for the others.

When I returned to Hobart in 2000 the hull restoration was well under way and cabins had been rebuilt. Steel for the boiler had been obtained and a local engineering firm agreed to let us do the straightforward work in their workshop while they did the plate rolling and welding at cost. Meanwhile the engine had been restored, fortunately it was in fairly good condition and it did not need a great deal of work. There were no feed pumps. Vacuum pump or lubricator with the engine so I made these to designs which I had found successful when I built the "James Goodwin" in 1993. I also made steam operated cylinder cocks to the design which I used in the engine for my own boat.
No photos could be found of the interior of the cabin so we rebuilt them in what we considers to be the style of the time when the boat was built, with some modem amenities including a gas fired stove and oven, a refrigerator, electric lighting and a head and shower. The head and shower is very compact and in the same space there is a hand basin of the type which was used in early railway carriages, the basin empties when it is folded  away after use. Inside the cabin much use has been made of polished brass; engraved glass and polished Queensland cedar to obtain a 19th century ambience. There is a silver samovar which is heated by steam from the boiler (an upmarket version
of the Windermere kettle!)
We contacted some descendants of Mr Gibson who loaned us samples of the Monogrammed dinner plates which once belonged to the ship. Using these as a pattern a complete
set of crockery was made. This looks very elegant when set out on the saloon table with monogrammed wine glasses and table linen.

“ Preana” was re-launched in 2005, it soon became apparent that there was a stability problem. The slender hull was probably never very stable and with the extra layer of strip planking fitted during the restoration, it floated high out of the water and it was very tender. There was no room within the hull for extra ballast and so at the suggestion of a naval architect a heavy stell keel was made and fitted beneath the hull. This looks quite strange when the ship is seen on the slip however it has solved the problem and the vessel was passed as safe for use in sheltered waters by the surveyor.

On Februarv 6`h there was a re-commissioning ceremony at which the State Premier was present.
The vessel is yet to enter commercial service, however it is intended that she will be used to take small groups of people for cruises on the Derwent River.