The Heron is a traditional gaff rig sailing dinghy
designed by Jack Holt, who also designed other popular one
design classes like the Mirror and Lazy E.
||3.43 m (11' 3")|
||1.37 m (4' 6")|
||63 kgs (140 lbs)|
||6.5 m sq (70 sq ft)
As a dinghy the Heron is: compact, stable and easy to
manage; has a roomy, comfortable cockpit, with a high boom;
and as a family boat can take two adults plus two children.
The gaff rig handles well under sail, and you can also row
the boat, or proceed under power with a small outboard. The Heron class was
quite popular in the early 1970s.
under construction in the shed
at 23 Wood Terrace, Whyalla (1971)
I helped Dad to build the Heron as much as I
could. While most Herons were built purely with one-design
racing in mind, that wasn't uppermost in Dad's mind. Our Heron was built solidly, with provision for a small
outboard motor and two oars. (Indeed we raced the first
season with the oars stowed onboard!) The sails were cut rather flat
so that they'd last. (Others more interested in racing would get
full cut sails and when the sails stretched out of measurement,
would simply replace them.)
heading to the sea
for the first time.
Eventually one Sunday we were ready
to journey out to the Whyalla Yacht Club and launch the Heron, now
named Jurra, for the first time. Dad hadn't yet made
a boat trailer so Jurra was
eased out of the shed and placed on Uncle Doug Farrar's wooden
box trailer with bags stuffed with seaweed as padding.
On arrival at the yacht club, then located out on
the southern side of The Basin, Dad decided to
"launch" Jurra off the beach (now part
of the tailings dam), rather than down the
club ramp into the Basin. Thus she was carefully carted out
on to the mud flats and rigged with all
due care and attention. Then we waited for the tide to
come in. And waited!
for the tide to come in.
This doesn't exactly make for a spectacular launching.
Keep in mind that Whyalla was then in its prime as the ship
building capital of Australia having launched 80,000 plus
tonne ships. In the scheme of things the launch of .066
tonne Jurra doesn't really measure up. But it was a special
moment for our family.
The maiden voyage was most successful. Later that week we
went out again in a bit of a blow. Well actually the sirens
were going off in the shipyard and steelworks warning that
the cranes had to be locked down. We went out anyway and broke the mast!
"Always thought there might be a problem with those
knots in the wood," said Dad as we were being towed in.
and my sister sailing Jurra
Sunday mornings in summer would see us
out being taught to sail by Dad. In the afternoons I'd crew
for him in the racing. As Dad was often away interstate or
overseas during those years, he set up the Heron, its
trailer and jinker such that Mum could drive me out to the
yacht club and I could rig and launch the Heron by myself.
Saturdays were often spent sailing off to explore Point
Lowly to the North, or the mangroves south of Whyalla with David and
My cousin Grant
Farrar would often crew for me in the Sunday afternoon
races. Grant still refers to the time, on a very
rough day, when we capsized three times before the start of
the race, another handful of times during the race, but won.
In fact we were the only boat in any of the classes to
finish that day!
Monday, 01 April 2013