It is said that a little love goes a long way. That is so for “Ellie”. It was the reason for her creation and for the love that has gone into her restoration. The Ellen R was designed and built by Norman R Wright & Sons in 1958 for Mr Ernie Rhubin from Rockhampton. Mr Rhubin named his new boat the Ellen R, after his wife Ellen. The Ellen R was moored in Auckland Creek, Gladstone, Queensland for some 25 years. The family apparently used the Ellen R for Reef cruising and exploring the local narrows. She was purchased by Mr Jeff Peach who kept her moored at Breakfast Creek, Queensland for a further 25 years or so. Ellen R made frequent trips to Moreton Bay.
The Ellen R is considered a little unusual for her age given her raised aft cabin, a distinctive variation of the aft trunk cabin common to most bridge deck cruisers. Her aft cabin is constructed at the same level as the aft self draining cockpit, minimising the need for steps and maximising the the opportunity for large windows.
Bill Wright pictured here receiving his MBE along with his brother Ron in 1962. Bill Wright says that his father, Ron, always thought the Ellen R was the best Moreton bay boat ever built. She has a distinctly shallow draft that makes her ideal for navigating shallower areas. Bill thought his father’s affection for Ellen R was due to the fact that she was the first boat that Ron had been totally responsible for.
Ellen R has a Carvel hull design built with spotted gum hardwood below the water line and Oregon topsides. She is superbly fitted out with Queensland maple originally fitted out by Thomas Early & Sons of Brisbane. In 2008 the Ellen R was purchased by Mr Greg Cavill who owned the Breakfast Creek Hotel in Brisbane. Mr Cavill commenced the restoration of the Ellen R, a task that took some 18 months. Mr Cavill who is now deceased is quoted as saying in 2009 “A boat is only as good as the laughter that comes out of it.” That is why Ellie will be the best Sydney harbour cruise people can experience. She will take passengers for a private high-tea cruise on Sydney harbour, and whisky and cheese matching experiences. She will be available as a unique Sydney harbour wooden boat charter.
The Ellen R is powered by the much respected Gardner 5LW (5 cylinder) diesel engine engine which produces 140hp.
Now the Ellen R or “Ellie” is delighting people on Sydney Harbour. She now adds her amazing history to that of the iconic harbour.
Bill Wright senior’s legacy lives on in this gorgeous piece of living maritime history.
Written material referenced from ‘Classic’ Moreton Bay Cruisers, a collection of wooden boats, second edition written by Andrew Harper and sponsored by Norman R Wright & Sons. Photographs care of classicwoodenboat.com