Wyuna Launch 

An evolution of over 165 years guiding ships in and out of Port Phillip Heads, this rugged little workboat will astound you with her seaworthy nature and clean sweeping lines.

Hand built clinker-style, with an African Teak fitout and a classic Yanmar "putt-putt" this little dream boat turns heads wherever she goes.


Length Overall: 18'
Draft: 2'
Beam: 7'3"
Engine: Yanmar 2GMY 12hp @ 3200 RPM


  • Fitted with a 2GMFY Yanmar diesel
  • At 155 kg this little beuty is no light-weight
  • Imported for the Wyuna from Japan, these engines are made to order
  • Heat exchanger, cooling and good old-fashioned direct gear lever control
  • This cast iron engine has all of the characteristics you would expect from an engine built in the 60s
  • Electric start or hand cranked
  • Smooth and low revving


  • Comfortable seating for up to 8 adults
  • Simple gear and throttle controls make her highly manouverable and easy to handle
  • The sturdy spray dodger gives instant protection from the elements
  • Traditional soft fendering is practical around the marina or when alongside
  • An evolutionary workboat 'designed by the pilots for use around the Heads

A Brief History of the Port Phillip Sea Pilots 

In 1839 George Tobin was granted the first Pilots license. Camped on the beach under Shortland Bluff, the Pilots where the first white men to inhabit this area. With only whale boats, crewed usually by five convicts to put to sea in, the Pilots were not required to board ships outside the heads, if wind and tide permitted they usually did so. In bad weather it was their practice to signal the ships from inside the heads and guide them on a safe course.
Many ships came to grief in the Rip, only the pilots and their crews were available to give immediate assistance. Incredible feats were performed, on the occasion of the wreck of the Isabella, George Tobin swam through the surf to fix a line to the ship which allowed the passengers to reach the safety of the shore.

A larger vessel was needed to allow the Pilots to be stationed outside the heads. In 1852 the Brigantine Boomerang was purchased, however a square rigged vessel proved to be unhandy in bad weather. In early 1853 she was replaced by the Corsair, a celebrated cutter of the Royal Yacht Squadron. Built on the Isle of Wight she was 63'6"x 18'9"x9'6" 51 tons and she became Cruising Pilot Cutter for No 1 company.

The schooner Rip was built for £4,528 in 1861 at Cedar Point, St Johns, New Brunswick, Canada and she was based on the New York Pilot Schooners, said to be the only exact sister ship to the famous Schooner America designed by George Steers. Fine ended with long over hangs, the counter stern was shortened by 8' to prevent the slamming when hove to outside. In service for 40 years, on July 15th 1873 Rip was swamped by huge seas in a south westerly gale off Point Nepean, with the loss of four lives and tales of heroism the vessel survived  after drifting dismasted, back through the heads. Corsair in similar circumstances on May 2nd 1874 was not so lucky becoming a total wreck missing stays whilst tacking out.

Purpose built by Ferguson Bros, Glascow, UK in 1953 is a twin screw diesel electric ship. The Pilot vessel on station would employ two crews each serving one week about and the change taking place between 9.00am & 11.00 am every Monday. The last cruising Pilot Cutter to be used at Queenscliff, she stayed in service until 1978 when she was sold to the Australian Maritime College for use as a training vessel.

The tenders of Wyuna and her predecessors were used to transfer the pilots from the cruising pilot cutters to the waiting ships. These small plucky work boats often had to operate in severe conditions. One account in the Herald in the early 60s was of a breakdown with Wyuna, unable to pick up her launch in heavy weather, the launch ran fair wind in 35 knots of WSW for the safety of Western Port Bay, by the time the Wyuna caught up, the launch was abeam of Cape Shcank.

These functional launches were an evolving design dating back to the earliest days of the cruising pilot cutters. Rowed by two oarsmen or with fair wind, sailed with a dipping lug rig.The launch was lowered away to weather of the waiting ship and then picked up to leeward.

The shape of the launches, changed to facilitate the operation of petrol Simplex engines in the early 40's, and later Yanmar diesel engines in the early 60's.

Our 18-ft Port Phillip Pilot Launch design mirrors these later boats. The lines were lifted from Betsy, one of the last launches built by master shipwright Jack Beazley who worked for the service from 1945 for over 50 years. Jack generaly built one boat per year, on inspecting our new launch Wyuna, upon completion, he stated she's a dinki-di pilot boat, if ya saw her steaming around you'd think shes just dropped off the ship.

61 3 5984 4 333




61 3 5984 4 333