In 1948, the “Yvonne J” was the third cruiser that my late husband, Max Jones built especially to hire to people who wanted to have a holiday on Berowra Waters and the Hawkesbury River. They were the very first of the hire cruisers in NSW.
During the war in the Pacific (1942-’45) many boats were shipped out from USA in kit form and assembled in boat yards around Sydney Harbour.
When Max was in Asia with Australian Water Transport Small Ships Company he saw many of these very small boats working in shallow rivers and bays as tugs and carriers. The boats were only 26ft long, good design and built of plywood. They were known as “Dories”.
The war ended 15th August, ‘45 and Max was discharged in April,’46. About that time the army was selling off surplus equipment through Army Disposal Stores. When boat kits came up for auction Max got 8 of them. The first two he assembled and fitted out as 4 berth cruisers and sold privately and the others he kept for hiring. Later he brought in larger 36ft, 6 and 8 berth boats. It was a very successful business that we both enjoyed – many of our regular customers becoming lifelong friends.
In the 70s, when we had been in the boat hiring business for nearly 30 years, the first fibre-glass houseboats were being built for hire. That’s when we decided to sell up and get out. By that time we had fifteen 4 to 6 berth hire cruisers each with a dinghy and some spares. We also had half a dozen 18ft half cabin boats for fishermen, complete with icebox for cool beer and fish.
Then there was my favourite – the work boat with its massive Thunderbird motor. It was very fast and powerful for towing.
Yvonne (Von) Jones