Historic yacht Sao returns to Tamar River

SETTING SAIL: Historic yacht Sao will be officially welcomed back to the Tamar Valley on Saturday.

SETTING SAIL: Historic yacht Sao will be officially welcomed back to the Tamar Valley on Saturday.

One of Tasmania’s oldest yachts will be welcomed back to its spiritual home on the Tamar River this weekend after spending the last 12 years in the South of the state.

Built in Ned Jack’s Launceston shipyard in 1898, Sao was originally owned by prominent Launceston's Thomas Archer and has since gone through the hands of a number of owners at either end of the state.

The huon pine vessel has recently come into the hands of a four-member syndicate based in the state’s North, who will officially mark the ship’s return with a public ceremony at Port Dalrymple Yacht Club on Saturday.  

Syndicate member Ruth Holt, who also owned Sao for a period between the early 1990s and 2000s, said the yacht still very much resembled the vessel which first set sail in the Tamar 119 years ago. 

“She was made for (Archer) and really he wanted a boat that was a bit of a knockabout for the Tamar River, he was just looking for something he could muck about in,” Mrs Holt said. 

“She still sails beautifully, she was made to sail in river waters so she's very responsive.

“She doesn’t go out in really heavy winds obviously because she's retired - a bit like us - and we just want to enjoy our retirement sailing her on the Tamar.”

OLD TIMER: Sao on the Derwent in 1908. Picture: Graeme Broxam

OLD TIMER: Sao on the Derwent in 1908. Picture: Graeme Broxam

Having been lovingly restored by its previous owner - former Port Cygnet Sailing Club Commodore Geoff Doolan - the yacht has recently sailed its way into the history books, receiving national recognition at this year’s Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart. 

“She's now on the Australian Register of Historic Vessels which is a quite a feather in her cap because to get on that is quite hard.

“Geoff... did a fantastic job with his wife Kate and now if anything she's better than she was when we had her (in the 1990s).

“She has a topsail and a bowsprit and he's done a lot of work to bring her back and make her look wonderful.”

Sao will be welcomed back to the Tamar River at the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club from 2pm to 4pm on Saturday.

Hot drinks, finger food and bar facilities will be available at the event.

For more information email rmholt@gmail.com