Vaucluse is no stranger to boats but a craft built by St Michael’s Church from discarded and disparate pieces of wood stood out from the pack at its official launch into Sydney’s Rose Bay last month.

The boat, crafted from pieces of timber from the church’s old roof plus snippets from the original St Andrew’s Cathedral communion table, the crosier of South Sydney Bishop Robert Forsyth and a range of pieces provided by the congregation, has set out on its maiden voyage, watched by some 100 onlookers.

Running the boat out onto Rose Bay

The senior minister of St Michael’s and former carpenter Michael Palmer said the launch, attended by Bishop Forsyth and the Mayor of Woollahra, Andrew Petrie, was a great time of community and fun. 

“In churches we often do the usual things like worship services, outreach and Scripture classes, but I think we do need a few big memory events every now and then to colour our community life,” he says. “I’ve been reminded afresh of the value of working towards one-off events.”

The plan is to auction the boat off in September with the proceeds going towards the construction of a technical and Christian training college in Tanzania. The time between now and then will be used to promote the auction and give the local community a chance to play around with the boat before it sets off to a new home.

Mr Palmer is also looking into whether any public sites or locations would be interested in exhibiting the boat in the lead-up to the auction. He says Woollahra City Council has already indicated interest in helping to promote the sale.

A boat of many pieces Mr Palmer describes as nicely tippy but very spirited

Part of the attraction of the boat, according to Mr Palmer, is the use of different kinds of wood with different colourings to create a beautiful but varied structure.

“The boat is full of bits of wood that wouldn’t normally be used for other things, the sort of wood that you throw away,” he says. “And in some ways that spoke to us. If the church didn’t accommodate all sorts of people, if you had to be a good, perfect person, I wouldn’t want to be a part of it. You want a church of all sorts with all their quirks and humanness.”

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