Designer John Easton Builder Lawrence & Son Launched 1938, Perth Length 14.3m, 47ft
Winnilya was built for Frank Boan, the then principal of the Boans Department Store, Perth. She was built in Perth by the Lawrence Bros. who had a boat building yard situated at the bottom end of William Street on the edge of the Swan River, just west of Barrack Street Jetty. Her keel was laid in 1937, with her construction taking just over a year. Local jarrah was used for the keel, while the hull planks were of New Zealand Kauri. Nearly all the exterior woodwork above deck and all the interior woodwork is either sheoak or silkyoak with the deck planking originally of beech. Her first motors were Ailsa Craig diesels, possibly the first diesel powered boat on the river, nowadays twin caterpillar diesels installed in 2003 give her a cruising speed of 8.5 knots.
With the outbreak of WW2, Winnilya, along with most boats of any size on the river at that time, were seconded into the “Naval Auxiliary Personnel Patrol”, (the comment “dad’s navy”has been referred to a few times over the years) and based at R.F.B.Y.C., which was also seconded by the Navy for the duration of the war and known as Leeuwin ll. They were used for the purpose of ”harbour and coastal patrols”. The photo from the War Museum in Canberra shows Winnilya in 1941 painted in navy grey with a machine mount on her foredeck and a depth charge on her transom, anchored in the Swan River. Years ago the bosun at that time, in answer to the question did they ever drop a charge in anger replied – no thank goodness, at our speed it would have blown us up!
The Boan family owned Winnilya for 34 years until Bill Meecham purchased her in 1972, and having passed on to his son Meikle in 1990. She is a regular visitor to Rottnest – as she always has been – makes an annual trip to Mandurah, even up the Murray River and spends many hours cruising the Swan River, time trialling and the odd trip to Garden Island. The rest of the time is spent in her pen as R.F.B.Y.C. where she has resided for the past 78 years.
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