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 Project:  Moreton Bay Cruisers

Trailable Fibreglass Cruising boats in 1930's Moreton Bay Cruiser style  (9.9m version with 2.9m beam, and 8.4m version with 2.5m beam.)

We have long admired the local Cruising motorboats that can be seen in waterways between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, and indeed up the Queensland Coast.

These emerged early last century and even before that, and were loved by the cruising people of the day, particularly author and historian Thomas Welsby whose books described many happy adventures in these boats.

Thomas Welsby's Motor Launch "Amity"


Many similar boats frequented Brisbane's Moreton Bay, and down to Southport on the Gold Coast.

 Many of these boats survive and are still in use today.

Andrew Harper's Book "Classic Moreton Bay Cruisers" is a definitive celebration of these boats with hundreds of beautiful pictures, and makes an excellent coffee table book....highly recommended


We (Trish and I, and our friend Doug) have had these two 9.9m (32ft 6") yachts sailing up and down the Queensland Coast since 2004.

Although they are lighter than the normal Moreton Bay Cruisers, we have been struck by the similarity in the hull shapes below the waterline. The major difference is the long keel of the MBC.

These yachts have a beam of 3.01m. Under the new highway towing rules for Eastern Australia, sailing boats must be under 2.9m in width to be legally towed on the road by large four-wheel drive vehicles. Over that width the towing vehicle must be a truck with GVMass over 4.5 tonnes.

It occurred to us that as we now had a width problem that needed sorting out, and as we had long mused over the possibility of using these hulls to make a Moreton Bay Cruiser, now might be the time to make it happen.

We looked at the various designs in Andrew's Book, and at the boat of our friend Charlie Cooper who owns "Esna"

We considered taking a mould from Esna, but she is still too beamy.

We decided we would use our existing hulls to make two new Cruisers, with the general proportions and appearance of Miranda, which we agree is most like the sort of boat we would like to end up with.

Our hulls sail well, so we need to keep the raisable dagger keel and rudder, and a reasonable sailing ability, with a folding mast that extends only to the transom when folded. To have enough sail area we

will use a gaff rig, with a furling headsail.

 9.9m Moreton Bay Cruiser now sailing



Our Moreton Bay Cruiser "Marjorie" is launched and sailing at last.

Goes along beautifully although we have only sailed her in light air so far.

Engine purrs along 1450 rpm we get about 6.5 knots and fuel burn seems to be around 1.7 litres per hour at that RPM.

Looking forward to some great cruising now! 

Latest Project...Moreton Bay Cruiser from Ross 780 Hull.

The advantage of the smaller boats is that they will be trailable without the signage, lights, and flags that are needed with an oversized boat.

The first one will be electric, with an ePropulsion Navy 6 outboard and lithium batteries.

Construction pictures further down the page.

This is a preliminary drawing

Meanwhile work continues on the Ross 780 Moreton Bay Cruiser.

We are nearly finished the internal glasswork, with the window frames being the biggest job remaining.

The furniture is all bonded to the hull, and the hull has now been released from the mould.



The furniture has been laid up on the mould and released, rolled upright, and inserted into the hull which is still in the hull mould.

The furniture mould is now complete


We are making a pattern from which we will take the furniture mould.






 Centreboard mould halves being prepared


Centrecase being assembled

Centrecase halves being laminated

Laminate completed

Hull laid up


Laminate under way...coremat core panels cut here

Gelcoat spayed on with Polygun

Hull mould is modified and ready to use

We have started to modify the Ross 780 hull mould by raising the sides and closing off the transom.











We have made the mast for the boat, with the gaff rig and the jib furler set up.

We brought our two boats into the workshop, and removed the decks and almost all of the interior structure.


At the widest part of the hull a bar with threaded ends was put through the hull, and the beam was wound in from 3.01m to 2.85m.

The unsupported hull is quite flexible, and pulling it in here resulted in a slight broadening of the beam forward, but still with a pleasing line.

Next we attached flat side moulds made from Polypanel and continued the topside laminate up to the required height.


The motor chosen for these boats is the Nanni four cylinder 38hp engine with a 2.45 gearbox..

A smaller engine may have been sufficient, but we want a larger engine swinging a large folding propeller, so hull speed can be achieved at the mid range of the engine output where

we will have low fuel consumption, and low noise and vibration. Hull speed for this hull seems to be about 7.4 knots.

A folding propeller is always slightly less efficient than a fixed prop, but as this boat will still sail quite a bit, we need the low drag of the folded prop, and also we don't want to have to deal

with the dilemma of letting a propeller spin or locking it whilst sailing.

this is the layout for the new bathroom. We wanted a normal household bathroom sink and bench, with a normal sized toilet, and an uncluttered appearance

The floor falling to the waste has been set up, toilet mount positioned, and the release agent put on ready to mould.

Fibreglass has been applied to make the mould

completed bathroom mould, ready to polish and take a bathroom article off.

The first article out of the mould

The first bathroom is being installed in Doug's boat.


A flat mould has been made to enable laying up bulkheads

A new main bulkhead has been made and is loosely in place awaiting the bathroom moulding

Keel winch is inset and will be covered by a fairing in the finished bathroom.

Showerdrain is a small embedded bilge pump which will pump out into the centrecase

bathroom is bonded in, and sink has its waste outlet plumbed.

Aft bathroom bulkhead has been shaped from 8mm Polypanel and a door cut out and fitted

bulkhead has been bonded in

the aft bulkheads have been installed.

The hull is now braced across, so the threaded rod has been removed.


a place is being made for the will act as a freezer to supplement the main fridge

the toilet is sitting in place


the stove will sit here....more shelving around it though

shelves have been made on the back of the centrecase


A beech benchtop has been fitted. It needs further work before we seal and set it onto the galley.


galley top has been set in place and painted with clear 2-pack paint.


In the bathroom, shower assembly has been mounted.

Has to come off again so more flowcoat can be applied to the bulkhead.



Hanging the engine in place to see how it's going to fit

measuring the angle of Doug's engine mounts so we can get the shaft angle right

Now the engine is tilted back to the template

Now we have it at the right angle, we lower it to have the same height off the hull as Doug's shaft


I ground the hull where the engine is going and then put some glass over it.

 The glass is

600 g/sq m Chopstrand matt

600 g/sq m Double bias unidirectional glass

450 g/sq m chopstrand matt

450  g/sq m chopstrand matt

450  g/sq m chopstrand matt

450 g/sq m chopstrand skirt around the edge.

 which is about 5.3mm thick.

Should add a lot of strength and stiffness to the area.

 All up it should weigh about 14kg.

We want retro style 1930's windows, so moulds for round fixed windows were made.

A pattern was made from mdf for the window flanges.

It was mounted on a flat surface and sprayed with pva release agent. Then a mould was made over it.

Windows were cast from the mould.

These flanges were cast from a mixture of resin, gelcoat stiffened by addition of chopped glass fibres.


The completed flanges were fitted with grey tint acrylic discs about 5mm thick.

They were sprayed with acrylic "Oiled bronze"paint.


windows were mounted on the side of the boat


White trim flanges were made to neated the inside appearance of the windows


The galley is near finished

a small table on the back of the front v berth


The mounting of the engine is now commenced.

A one and a quarter inch 316 shaft has been machined at both ends to provide a 7/8 UNC thread and a 1/16 taper.

The shaft is reversible.


This is the milling machine making the 5/16" keyway slot in the propeller shaft

completed slot with key inserted


We need to make a fibreglass tube to allow the shaft to exit through the hull.

we lay up a thin layer of glass cloth over an aluminium tube which has been waxed and gelcoated

Then we cut a slit in the side of the tube and remove it from the aluminium tube

Then we lay up about 8mm thich double bias cloth (600gm/sq m) around the tube

The shaftlog has been cleaned up and tapered to fit the water seal

the surface has been sealed with Vinyl Ester resin.

The PSS (Packless Sealing System) fits neatly over the end of the shaft log.

A hot day today, but managed to prepare the engine mounts and glass them in to the hull.

shaft log has been glassed in after careful alignment with the engine.

PSS seal is in place although the stainless ring has not been put in place yet.

The cutlass bearing has been welded together and polished

a hole has been cut above the propeller positionto allow a recess in the hull to be made to give sufficient clearanmce to the propeller

The piece that was cut out has been built up with polyurethane foam to the required shape

The foam has been fibreglassed preparatory to being smoothed and used as a mould to create the propeller clearance blister.

The hull has been sanded to help the fibreglass of the blister to key onto the hull.


the blister pattern has been fibreglassed and flowcoated, then coated with pva release agent.

this is the first pass of fibreglass over the blister. It has since been glassed more heavily.


Prop setup


Clearance of the propeller blade from the hull now over 70mm

Edges have to be ground away to make a smooth entry all around and reduce turbulence, particularly from the front.

Fuel tank mould. Custom shaped to the hull. It has a capacity of about 120litres. We'll extend it 87mm to make it hold another ~52litres.

Mould is now set up with 87mm extension...should hold 190 litres approx

Also set out a section of mould top make the lid

fuel tank has been laid up, and the baffle glassed in

the tank lid has had its 3 tubes attached

the tank has been joined. The edge will be fibreglassed over as well as the vinyl ester bog joining

these are the outlets for the tank.

fuel tank is finished

the tank has been bogged in and bonded in

a 200 litre water tank has been made and installed on stb side, and supports for the three batteries, water trap and hot water system.

aft cockpit bulkheads are in

Support frames for the cockpit are complete

There is a large underfloor locker allowed for in the frames here.

Structural floors in the galley are finished and the sole installed

the frame for the mould for the deck/hardtop/cockpit sole is complete


The melamine finish particle board panels have been mounted on the frame, completing the mould for the deck/hardtop/cockpit sole

I've masked out the shape of the cockpit sole and waxwed the mould with TR regular wax

Then I gelcoated by brush with white gelcoat. It was then backed up with a roller.

Then a first pass of 225gm/sq m Chopstrand Matt (tie layer) was applied.

Then a layer of 600gm/sq m double bias unidirectiuonal cloth was applied

the 15mm polypropylene honeycomb core has been attached to the laminate, held down by a vacuum bag

The vacuum pump is sucking from the corner

the final layer of 600gm/sq m Double bias unidirectional e-glass has been applied to the cockpit floor moulding

Cockpit floor has been fitted, however transom has to be laid up first.

Deck mould has been cambered by inserting 50mm spacers under the outside edges

The deck has been marked out and first passed with 225gm/sq m Chopstrand Matt.

The 600 gram Double Bias cloth has been applied, then the 20mm Honycomb core has been applied and pressed onto the laminate by vacuum.

Then the light wires were inserted into the core, and the final layer of Double Bias Cloth applied, with Peel Ply to give a good smooth finish

The deck will be released tomorrow, ready to offer up to the hull.

Deck has been released and offered up to the hull. It still has to be scribed down onto the bulkheads to make it sit nicely.

Deck has been bonded to the hull with 3 layers of 450 chopstrand matt.

An aluminium 50 x 50 angle section has been used as a mould to make a 50 x 50 joing flange to support the outside of the hull/deck joint

Aluminium toerail will be mounted on the flange

Anchor locker lid has been cut out and the edges detailed. Then a flange was cast on the outside with 3mm clearance on each side.

500 x 500 weaver hatch has been mounted in the foredeck and two 300 x 200 opaque hatches mounted, one above the bathroom, and one above the galley.

The deck has been bonded down onto the hull and the 50 x 50mm angle fibreglass joining cover bonded down as well.

Inside all the bonding has been done which greatly strengthens the boat which is now a total bonded unit

The Anchor Winch will be attached to the deck tomorrow.

The toerails from the previous iteration of the boat have been cleaned and are ready to attach tomorrow

The pulpit has been reconditioned, and the lights modernised by having led bulbs fitted, and new gaskets

It is ready to bolt on tomorrow. The bow roller for the anchor has been fitted.

toerails have been bonded onto the hull with screws and Sikaflex

slots have been cut to allow water to drain from the deck under the toerail. Thge slot can be seen in the picture above

cockpit sole has been set into place with polyester putty and glassed in around the edges.

inserts are being made to allow sealed lids for access under the floor.

Transom has been started with gelcoat and tie layer on the mould

The aft bunks will be installed on either side of the cockpit. Just measuring now so the panel to construct them can be laid up on the flat deck mould.

The fronts of the bunks will angle back to allow floor access hatches to be fitted, and also to give more footroom in the cockpit.

 Transom has been completed and mounted. Rudder gudgeons have been mounted onto the transom and the area heavily reinforced with chopstrand, double bias cloth and fibreglass panel.

Cockpit access hatch surrounds have been mounted in place.

Making the transom......with inset doors

Transom has to contain the hydraulic steering, the gas bottle, and the back anchor

using this mould to make a pedestal mount for the rudder hydraulic ram

ram setup

Pin for the ram has to be easily removable without tools to allow for emergency steering

gas bottle setup

transom front on. Stormboard fitted

in the galley, the top cupboard now has sliding perspex doors

cockpit is now almost completed, with steering chairs mounted, and back bunks made

cockpit steering seats are oiffice chairs mounted on marine pedestals

provision made under the step for the engine cooling raw water supply

completed transom

hydraulic steering ram mounted in the transom

a companionway has been made through the transom

a microwave and clock mounted in the galley


Coamings have been started on cockpit sides

hardtop has been laminated from epoxy resin with 20mm polypropylene honeycomb core,lighting and nav light wires installed, removed from mould

Hardtop has been placed above the cockpit

the coaming has now been completed, and Trish has flowcoated underneath

We have made an engine box and put it in place overe the engine

we have started making the supports for the hardtop. 50mm ss tube is being used for these, welded onto 3mm plates

Trish has been filling and undercoating the hull sides

The MDF patterns for the windows have been made.

Flanges will be added and then fibreglass moulds made from them. The window frames will be made from fibreglass, and the glass will be clear toughened glass.

Window frames have been finished with their mounting flanges on on the back side and sealed with acrylic sealer. Tomorrow they'll be painted with 2-pack white ready to be moulded in fibreglass.

The window frame patterns have been hot glued to the flat sheet mould and sprayed with pva release agent ready to be moulded tomorrow

Window frame moulds have been gelcoated with black gelcoat, and first pass of 225g/sq m Chopstrand matt applied.

The first window frame is completer from the mould.

Seems very strong and construction using filler made from polyester resin, talc and Perlite seems to work well.

The front opening window has been completed ready for painting before installation. Meanwhile the diagonal windows are being made.

Front windows have been fitted.

Hardtop has been painted inside and out.

All vertical tube supports have been bolted in.

Stanchions and lifelines have been fitted.












































 Ross 780 "Harmony"


We sold "Il Aquarii" and traded in "Harmony"which is a Classic Ross 780 Mk 1 from the early/mid 80's constructed from epoxy fibreglass over a Western Red Cedar Core.

Harmony was in good shape but the interior was a basic racing fitout with nice bunks and cushions but no galley or loo.

We have made a comfortable cruising interior and are currently working on the exterior.

We have installed a classic Ross 780 moulded galley which has a large electric icebox.

The bulkhead through to the front cabin has been opened up so I can hand tea and toast through to the first class front cabin in the mornings.

There is a water pressure system and a house type filtered water tap with a filter.

Shelves have been installed to lay out clothes instead of spreading them over the bunks as we previously did.

A small bathroom has been installed on the stb side at the aft end of the saloon, which features:

pressurized water to the sink

Electric toilet

Hot shower with 2 way valve and electric pressure pump

Powerful exhaust fan

Electric pump drains the floor when the shower is in use

There is a large storage area aft of the bathroom with opening doors

there is a table with folding stb side.

The floor has been sealed and carpeted for maximum headroom.

LED lights throughout

There are wooden storage shelves around the galley and a cutlery drawer.

Storage has been built in in front of the centrecase as well as the shelves aft

large front v berth with reading lights on each side.

All lights are LED.



Ross 780 e  (Mk 4)

New Ross 780 Mk4 8.2m yacht.

Note: (Even though the boat is now 8.316m [27ft 3 1/2ins] long, it's still a variation of the older 780, so we have decided to keep the name Ross 780 to avoid confusion with the Ross 830.)

The 780 moulds have been altered to improve the cruising abilities and features of this yacht.

The hull and deck have been lengthened to 8.316m. This gives us an extra 200mm of length to the hull in the galley/bathroom area, and an extra 200mm of length to the cockpit.



The keel is approx 100mm longer to improve stability.

The performance may be slightly enhanced by the slight increase in WL length and stability; on the other side of the equation is a bit more windage due to increased freeboard.

After 68 Ross 780's made since the 1980's, we're officially 'retired' now and the 780 isn't still in production. However we intend to keep making a small number of boats to be sold as fully fitted yachts, albeit fitted to a fairly basic stage.

Here are some pics of the yacht.


The "backsail" shown below prevents the Ross from swishing from side to side when at anchor, which is an annoying habit of these boats in a breeze. It can keep the occupants awake and put strains on the anchor rope.

Keel and rudder must be up for the backsail to work.


Front opening fridge is surrounded by thick insulation on sides, back, top and bottom, reducing its battery consumption to comparable with a top opening fridge.


Latest gas detector with instant solenoid turnoff if any gas is detected. Makes the gas stove a safe option.












 Ross 780   Earlier versions

The Ross 780 has been a quiet achiever in the trailer yacht scene in Australia, with so far 67 boats being made since the mid eighties.


Sirocco and Only Time in Coongul Creek

Sirocco sailing across the bay.


 Sirocco at Big Sandhills


our last Ross 780 before "Il Aquarii" ,  "Only Time", crossing Moreton Bay


"Only Time" parked in Coongul Creek, Fraser Island, our favourite place in the world.


Cockpit sundowner drinks with Dave Shearer at Sandhills of Moreton Island.

Our Earlier Ross 780's

Our third Ross 780 "The Serenity" was the first Ross 780 to have 1.9m headroom and the hot shower setup.


Our second Ross 780 "Getting There" was the first Ross 780 with the open transom


Our first Ross 780 was "Greystoke"

Greystoke in the Bay to Bay race with Rob White as crew

Blazer 740 "Breathless" was a great little boat

Soft Options was our last Seaway 25

Our 14ft centre Console fishing boat with Rob's Little Runabout by Chris Conroy

Our Kwik Kat back in the day




Ross Interior

Seaway 25 Restoration Project


VOLCANO  rebuild.

VOLCANO is a Seaway 25 that was wrecked in Airlie Beach by cyclone ULUI

It was bounced on the rocks for a day or two, and there are many holes and areas of delamination to be fixed.

In addition the deck needs a new cockpit as the old balsa-cored cockpit went soft after being ruined by ingress of water over the years.

These photos show the refurbishment, and are added to almost every day.

We had a soft spot for Volcano as it was the first trailer sailer I had ever sailed in. Its owner were our friends Tom Stephenson, Brent Buzolich, and Paul Young.

We decided Volcano should not end up on the landfill, and decided to do a complete restoration on the boat that took us two years.

The pics below show the work involved...not financially justifiable, but very rewarding.



Blazer 740 we recently finished off for a friend. Here it is at Inskip Point.