HURRICA V was a 1923 build gentleman’s triple-headed auxiliary ketch to a Charles E Nicholson design and built in Sydney by Australia’s premier boatyard W M Ford cost £10,000 and launched in March 1924 for William (Bill) Oliver a wealthy wool grazier of South Yarra Melbourne, who placed her on the Australian Register of British Ships. She was handed over to Oliver at Sydney in March 1924 and sailed to her home port RYCV at Williamstown Melbourne Victoria. She was placed on the Register of British Ships No.151812. Oliver was already 71 when the yacht was delivered as a private family vessel mainly for cruising, favouring Wilsons Prom and Bass Straight. Kept in magnificent condition by three full time live aboard paid hands, she was feature yacht at the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria. During Oliver’s ownership the mizzen mast removed she became a Bermudan sloop and her hull copper sheathed. In 1938 Oliver became ill, the crew dismissed and by the time of her sale in 1941 she was dilapidated.
She was bought in this poor condition by William (Will) J Stuart of Darling Pt Sydney for £2,000. He had her internal layout remodelled, installed a new Bermudan rig & sail plan to design of Ali Barbour, with taller rig and short bowsprit.
In 1943 she was requisitioned by the Commonwealth of Australia Navy paying £3,250 for war service and cancelling her registration. Internal alterations were made and her rig and sails removed. A wheel house fly bridge & sponsons were added, a large machine gun was mounted on the foredeck, one each side of the cockpit and astern. She was further armed with depth charges. A new diesel main engine, genset & radios were installed and she was painted navy grey as HMAS 542 Stingray. She served principally on search & rescue in New Guinea & Mine Bay until 1946.
In 1946 William Stuart re purchased her for £1,650 in poor post war condition. He had her rebuilt back to her pre-war layout of the deck & interior, then to re sell her in 1948 as he had then bought the larger Fife ASTOR.
In 1948 Clifford (Dick) Crane of Wahroonga Sydney, bought her for use as a social family & business entertaining vessel on Sydney Harbour and Pittwater. The hull was re sheathed in Muntz metal and the boat given a new teak deck and New 65 HP Perkins diesel engine. Ships registration re-established at 1956 in which year her sailing master & crew held a 60 year reunion on board before a further sale.
Crane was a member of the RSYS, chairman of AMP & AGL and on the board of CSR and Henry (Harry) John Wormald of Cremorne Sydney. During holidays the family would sail to Pittwater and NSW coast. They had a timber dodger built over the cockpit. When Crane died the title transferred to wife Phyllis before immediate on-sale in 1963 to E John Shaw Jnr of Mona Vale Sydney - Shaws Sand & Gravel and a director of Clifford Love & Co.
It seems that John Shaw bought the boat in a swap for 3 residential blocks and 2 industrial blocks of land plus £3,000. He used her as a private family vessel based in Pittwater, Sydney. In 1963 they cruised to New Caledonia & the Loyalty Islands, successfully weathering a cyclone en voyage. John and his wife Jan lived on board at RPAYC in 1965. They undertook extensive refits in 1965 and again in 1982 including new bulwarks and teak deck, new raised coach house, diesel engine and new hollow masts. A large overlapping headsail was rigged and the rudder enlarged to rectangular profile to assist downwind control. Shaw had the interior stripped ready for a refit when 1983 recession hit and the vessel was left on mooring for years in derelict state. Shaw’s ownership over 23 years has been the longest.
From 1986 to 1997 Gary John Dover a builder of Sylvania Sydney bought her for AUD 40,000 with only the diesel engine inside. He had her rebuilt from the bare hull specifically for charter from Port Stephens NSW as THE GIFT, in recognition of his inheritance.
He had her fitted with a new cockpit hardtop. The mast head was made hydraulic folding to facilitate passage under bridges. In one incident she was left aground on her beam after a channel marker moved. She undertook a cruise for a religious mission to deliver medical supplies to Port Moresby & Milne Bay. Following another incident hitting a reef she was sold with deadwood damage but in fair commercial condition.
In 1997 Patrick Silver a retired banker in property management of Avalon Sydney purchased for social and occasionally live-aboard purposes, based again in Pittwater, she was given her original name HURRICA V. The Charter configuration was retained. Her topsides however splined and painted, her decks sanded and the cockpit hardtop removed. Among her cruises was one to Fiji. The Dover rig was retained complete with folding topmast. It seems that Silver had difficulty with upkeep maintenance, and the boat was again in a very poor state when offered to the market in 2001.
Annabel & Steve Gunns proprietors of Architrade Architects, of Roseville Sydney then acquired her specifically as a restoration project to be undertaken professionally by the famous Australian boatyard, Norman R Wright & Sons of Brisbane and who carried out the works detailed in the restoration section below.
Following her restoration HURRICA V She returned to her home port in February 2011 and made her maiden voyage across the notorious Bass Strait to Hobart.
emerging in 2011 for the Wooden Boat Festival there. Having looked over her at the Festival, marine historian writer Bruce Stannard of Maritime Heritage Press wrote “I have seen some amazing restorations over the years, but this was something quite extraordinary. She is a tribute to her owner Steve Gunns, his vision and his perseverance. She is without doubt, among the finest vessels of her type anywhere in the world”. HURRICA V’s historic status is recognised by listing in the Australian Register of Historic Vessels.