Wyuna Launch


Our Wyuna Launch is designed for those who love to leisurely explore local coastlines, casually entertain friends, and spend afternoons fishing, swimming, and picnicking on the water. The Wyuna Launch is an extremely versatile clinker-style “putt-putt”. She is seaworthy and reliable and comes with comfort, style, and an illustrious history.

Exceptional working boat origins...

As with all the boats in our range, the Wyuna Launch has strong working origins. She was used through the 1900s to help ships navigate the treacherous body of water between Bass Strait and Port Phillip Bay, known as The Heads. The Wyuna is a boat of exceptional power and might, she is solid, spacious and extremely safe, and would suit anyone interested in a highly capable 18’ tender.


Length       18'
Beam       7'3"
Draft        2'
Power        Yanmar 3YM20 @ 3600 rpm
Cruising Speed       7 knots

Carrying Capacity       6 people

Design Features 

︎    Classic clinker construction
Steam bent ribs and grown knees highlight the Wynua Launch’s incredible, classic lines. She is a real beauty and turns heads wherever she goes.

︎    Spacious
Comfortable seating for up to 8-12 adults makes the Wyuna Launch an ideal tender and knockabout boat. Floorboards are optional and the decision to go without can drastically expand the surface area.

︎    Simple to use and extremely safe
Gear and throttle controls ensure she is highly manoeuvrable and easy to handle. Traditional soft fendering is practical around the marina or when alongside other vessels. The sturdy spray canvas dodger gives instant protection from the elements if required.


A brief history of the Port Phillip Sea Pilots

The Port Phillip Heads (known colloquially as “The Heads”), is a slim, tidal passage of water connecting Port Phillip Bay to Bass Strait. With 1 nautical mile of possible thoroughfare, and an extremely uneven, rocky reef, navigating The Heads takes expert local knowledge.

The Wadawurrung People are the traditional custodians of The Heads. However, following colonisation and the expansion of Melbourne and Geelong as major cargo ports, The Port Phillip Sea Pilots was founded in 1839. Their mission was to ensure the safe passage of ships through The Heads. The original pilots camped on the beach at Queenscliff and were taken to and from ships by a 30’ whaleboat, apparently manned by convicts.

During the early years of the pilot service many ships came to grief, ran aground, or sank and the pilots were renowned for performing incredible feats of seamanship. For example, when the Isabella Watson, an immigrant ship was wrecked in 1852, George Tobin, the first registered pilot, famously swam through the surf to fix a line to the ship. 50 passengers were saved that day, though a further 9 drowned.

Following a succession of shipwrecks and the loss of many lives, it became apparent the Port Phillip Sea Pilots required a larger vessel. In 1953 Wyuna was constructed and she subsequently became a highly successful pilot boat, operating for over 3 decades in all manner of conditions, and often during the evening. Wyuna would lower down her tender and deliver pilots to the incoming ship, steering the often-tempestuous passage through The Heads. 

The tender to the Wyuna – which came to be known as the Wyuna Launch – delivered hundreds of pilots to incoming and outgoing ships and garnered a reputation as a robust and seaworthy work vessel. Of her duties  Captain Robin Fisher reported:

“The pilots steered the [Wyuna Launch] alongside the ship so that it was beneath the ladder and the able-bodied seaman’s job was to hold the boat in position using the boat rope. The pilot had to wait for the right moment, being especially careful if the weather was bad and the ship was rolling, and then he climbed the ladder… Sometimes the ships did not stop completely and keeping the Wyuna Launch in position needed some delicate manoeuvring”.

Eventually the Wyuna and her trusty Launch were replaced with the current 12-metre fibreglass pilot launches. Though her legacy lives on, and we continue to celebrate the tenacity and strength of the early Wyuna Launch.


“I’ve used our Wyuna Launch for 10 years now in fair-weather and foul and can testify she is a magnificent vessel. She is a testament of over 100 years of design development for use in the Port Phillip Heads (The Rip) and beyond in Bass Strait. Many a Port Phillip Sea Pilot & his coxswain have trusted their lives to this little vessel to transfer to a ship to bring her safety through the notorious Heads entrance into Port Phillip Bay in atrocious weather.”

Director, The Wooden Boatshop