Bunbury boatbuilder Jim MacDonald built about half a dozen of L. Francis Herreshoff’s famous cruising and racing H-28 yachts in the 1950s. At the time the H-28, which L. Francis had designed in the early 1940s, was one of the most popular yachts in Australia.
It could be cruised anywhere, it was quick around the buoys in everything from a zephyr to a gale, and its lines were beautiful. Herreshoff said he wanted to design a yacht that combined “grace of line, stability and sea kindliness” It would be, he said, a cruising ketch for the man who has only limited time to sail and who “must report to the office without fail on Monday morning”. Dozens of H-28s were built by do-it-yourselfers around the world and hundreds more by professional boat yards such as that run by Jim McDonald in the pretty town of Bunbury, south of Perth.
While McDonald was working on this yacht, acclaimed Australian film maker Charles Chauvel was working on the first full-length colour feature film made in Australia. The film, called Jedda after the lead character played by Ngarla Kunoth, was a huge hit when it was released. MacDonald launched this yacht in1959, named her Jedda, and so she still is today.
Retired South Australian sailor Tony Gerlach, and a syndicate comprised of two of his mates and their three wives, became the fifth owners of Jedda when they bought her from a bloke who had brought the sloop with him to Adelaide from Perth a few years before.
In Perth the yacht, rigged as a Bermudian sloop rather than the ketch Herreshoff originally designed, had been used by all her previous owners for racing and an occasional bit of coastal cruising.
MacDonald had built the hull of 32mm Karri that was carvel planked. Her full-length cast-iron keel was filled with lead ingots and she displaced three and a half tonnes.
David Baskett brought the boat to Melbourne from Adelaide. A self draining cockpit was fitted and her timber and her mast restored by Ferdi Darley.
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