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Two half block models of a Masterman 10 foot sailing skiff and a 16 foot butcher boat

Overall: Height: 700 mm, width: 1050 mm
Medium: Wood, metal
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Christine O'Brien
Object Name: Half block model
Object No: 00029552

User Terms

    Two half block models on single backing board with a beveled edge. Label beneath the model on the left reads `Masterman 10' Sailing Skiff'. Label beneath model on the right reads `the 16' Butcher Boat'. A label in the centre reads `Clinker Boat Supplies / Nick Masterman / 9 Nina St Balmain. / Specialist in traditional wooden boats & equipment'.
    SignificanceBefore a ship was built a half model such as this was created to plan a vessel's design and to display the hull to the ship builders and clients. These skilfully crafted models are replicas of their full scale counterparts and provide details of the design and build of individual vessels. This particular model highlights the career of Australian master shipbuilder Nick Masterman.
    HistoryShip builder's half block models were produced to demonstrate the shape of a vessel and were constructed by joining a series of planks together. Builders then used the model as a reference when cutting and fitting timbers for the full scale vessel.

    Nick Masterman was a master shipwright who excelled at building clinker hulled skiffs and was well-known for the beautifully crafted wooden boats he produced from his small boatyard in Balmain. In an age where fibreglass was rapidly replacing the art of traditional wooden boatbuilding, Masterman was an advocate for the quality and craftsmanship of traditional techniques. Nick Masterman had begun building wooden boats at the age of 13 and had later trained as a shipwright and naval architect in Sydney. He also spent time studying in Japan at a major shipyard, and in 1978 established his own boatyard in Balmain. Masterman had also worked to recreate the butcher boat - the original Sydney Harbour runabout. Butcher boats were a regular feature in Sydney Harbour, and based out of Man O'War Steps in Circular Quay they serviced sailing ships at anchor with crew and provisions.

    Masterman's reputation as one of Australia's leading experts on wooden boats led him to secure a commission to restore the steam yacht ENA. In 1983 work commenced on ENA, an enormous undertaking that involved replacing much of the deck and hull and the vessel's diesel engine with an 1888 steam engine. Once the project was complete in 1986, ENA successfully circumnavigated Australia, the first steam yacht to do so, and the oldest yacht to do so.

    Nick Masterman died in 1993 leaving behind a legacy of traditional small wooden boat revival in Australia.

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