Surfboats were an important part of surf rescue in the years prior to IRBs and rescue helicopters.  Their construction evolved from timber to fibre composite, making them lighter and requiring less maintenance.  Despite the wooden surfboats having become a dying breed, their iconic status in surf lifesaving ensures their allure lives on.  Bermagui SLSC is fortunate in not only having one of these icons but having it in pristine condition thanks to the efforts of a small team led by Rob Shaw.

The Bermagui surfboat was built by a Master Craftsman, Bob Miles, who is included in the Australian Surf Rowers League's Hall of Fame, his boats having won Australian and World titles.  The history of the boat is not completely clear.  It appears that it was built for the Maroubra South Club.  However, its trail from there to Bermagui is less clear.  One opinion is that it was donated directly to Bermagui by Maroubra South.  An alternative view is that the boat was originally named Miss Surf and that it was given to Bermagui club by the Tathra Surf Club.  A third one is that it came via Narooma SLSC.  What is known for sure from the inscriptions on the boat and the plaque is that that the vessel was built by Bob Miles and that it was finished in October 1984, the thirty second boat built that year.  Other letters, MSN, stand for Maroubra South NSW.

Rob Shaw was keen to interest some young people in learning about the techniques involved in restoration and hoped also to have some former boat builders to become interested in the project.  Rob, being a cabinet maker, was keen to pass some of his knowledge onto the younger chaps and the club would have the satisfaction of having the restored Bob Miles boat.

The boat is cedar ply laminate.  Mark Orr donated some red cedar to enable a new seat to be built and others restored.  New cleats and a bow rowlock holder had to be made by laminating teak and oregon pieces and cutting them to shape.  Some collision damage near the bow also had to be repaired before the boat was completely sanded back and revarnished.

As the final photo shows, the finished product is something that Bermagui can be proud of.  Later this year it will be put on display as the central attraction inside the clubhouse.

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