Like all good stories, there is intrigue in the history of Sebranzer. Erica and Nick Nicholson took ownership of the 56-foot carvel constructed Iron Bark and Spotted Gum motor yacht in 2018 yet she was launched in 1967 on the Brisbane River at Bulimba. Over the last two years, they have visited Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard (GCCM) as they lovingly restore, repair and improve the vessel along the way hearing stories of her construction and previous owners. Yet there is more they wish to know.
Neither Nick nor Erica are novice boat owners. Nick began his boating career at ten, sailing on the Mary River. In his own words he explains “My father and the father of a mate bought us a 12-foot Thorpe Trainee Dinghy when we were ten years-old. Thus, started a lifelong love of boating in all its forms.” A lifestyle which included being a founding member of what we know now as VMR Jacobs Well. Erica’s first foray into sailing was a little more dramatic joining Nick on a return leg from north Queensland to Brisbane in 1968.
With careers completed, in November 2010, Erica and Nick began living onboard the sailing yacht they owned at the time and undertook a 30,000 nautical mile cruise to, around and from South East Asia. When quizzed on their favourite place, Nick offers, “Our standard response to that question has always been ‘wherever we are’. There have been so many highlights it is not easy to say what we love most about living and cruising on board. We have met some extraordinary people, seen some amazing places, experienced vastly different cultures and wildly different forms of Government.”
This response downplays the variety of what they have seen; the orchid gardens of Johor Baru, the wondrous farming practices of Cameron Highlands, the limestone pillars and hongs (caves) of Phang Nga Bay, the fabulous Colonial architecture of Ipoh, and, when it comes to sheer beauty, the Indonesian province of Rajah Ampat.
Yet in 2018, they swapped the sails for engines and bought Sebranzer. Wooden boats are a labour of love, so Nick and Erica returned to GCCM in 2020, after visiting in previous years. Sebranzer was lifted to undertake some paint works in the new high clearance undercover work bays at GCCM; a perfect location for the boat as her stabilising sail mast stands 15 metres from her keel.
“We chose GCCM for our recent project because it offered everything we would need at very competitive prices. We knew we would get every assistance and care with the lift out and would be placed under cover for painting. We found that the staff do understand the attachment of owners to their boats and will genuinely make every effort to meet expectations,” explains Nick.
Nick continues, “GCCM has available every trade I could imagine being needed. When it comes to wooden boats such as ours, Scooter Eaton at AME is worth his substantial weight in gold. Andrew and the crew at South Pacific Marine Group dealt skilfully and happily with the challenges presented by an old girl like Sebranzer. At short notice, Bryce at Lumark turned out a couple of first-rate little fabrications for us. Everyone we dealt with on the site was helpful and fair dinkum.”
Freshly painted and having undertaken the required works, Nick and Erica are now cruising the Queensland coast and spending time with family.
“We love having wooden boats and their owners up on the boatyard at GCCM,” offers Travis Slatter, Yard Manager. “Nick and Erica are clearly passionate about their boat and it is great to work with owners keen to get the job done right.”
Sebranzer represents more than just a new boat for Nick and Erica. She is a new voyage of discovery, different but just as exciting as their seven years cruising Asia. Now, it is a journey to uncover her history, some of which has already been revealed as her silhouette often brings people telling stories of their own recollections of the boat. With over 50 years cruising, there is plenty more for Nick and Erica to learn about their iconic Moreton Bay Cruiser and they welcome anyone with stories to tell.