Bygone boating

Geoff Middleton | VOLUME 25, ISSUE 4

A traditional displacement boat built with modern tricks, the Terrara 18 is as versatile as it is cute.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge once said: “If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives is a lantern on the stern, which shines only on the waves behind us!”

A wise man was Sam, but this story is about lessons learned in history that have actually had a bearing on the present.

Quite often, behind a boat’s design and manufacture is an interesting story; a story of how the boat came into the mind of the designer or the manufacturer. Perhaps a story of passion, a story of evolution or a story of history. The Terrara 18 is just such a boat.

Built on the south coast of NSW, the Terrara 18 is not a new boat. It has been around for a few years, with around 50 being sold around the country. The sweet lines and overall look of the Terrara 18 hark back to a bygone era of fishing and picnic boats and, according to Paul Kennedy of Kennedy Shipwrights, that’s exactly what it is. In fact, the Terrara is a direct copy of an old fishing boat.

“When I was a young apprentice shipwright, a fisherman who’d got too old to continue to fish gave me his boat,” Kennedy explained.

“It was a lovely clinker boat, with nice lines and a seaworthy nature. I loved the boat and, as a shipwright, I wanted to continue the classic boats of yesteryear. Those boats were good, solid, seaworthy boats that were easy to handle for one person; I thought this genre of boats should be respected and maintained to some extent. I really admired that little boat.

“At the time, we were in a town called Terrara and the boat was called Terrara Queen. As the boat was getting on a bit, like its former owner, I thought of replicating it in fibreglass so that it wouldn’t be lost.

“I filled in the clinkers and flared the hull and that became the mould for the first Terrara,” said Kennedy.


The Terrara is constructed of hand-laid GRP and is powered by a 10hp two-cylinder Nanni diesel. As the original boat was constructed of wood, the fibreglass version is much lighter, so Kennedy has added 300kg of lead in the keel to sit the hull down in the water and give it a more solid feel. “The advantage of that,” Kennedy said, “is that you can put the weight just where you want it for ideal balance and trim.”

The Terrara is fully trailerable and weighs in at around 980kg, so it can be easily towed by a family sedan or a 4WD.

It features a small cabin, which is lockable and has a couple of bunks that can convert to a double berth. There is stowage in the cabin while an optional Porta Potti makes it usable as an overnighter.

In the cockpit, there are seats around the gunwales and transom and an optional cockpit table turns this space into the ideal picnic area.

There is access to the foredeck, either around the side decks or through the forward hatch. On the bow is a stainless steel cross bollard with fairleads for berthing and also a nice jarrah bowsprit, with roller fairlead for the anchor.

The anchor locker is substantial, so there would be no problem with a good-sized pick, and there’s plenty of room for chain and rope.

Our test boat was equipped with the ‘Picnic Pack’, which includes the table as well as a coloured hull, Flexiteek decks and seat tops, sun awning, swim ladder, Porta Potti and timber framing on the windscreen.

Standard steering is via a tiller, but buyers can opt for a forward helm station, with wheel steering. Personally, I liked the patina of the traditional set-up, with the oiled jarrah tiller. Kennedy told us that some customers have really tricked-up their Terraras with electronics, including autopilot and chartplotters, so there’s really no end to where the imagination can take you with one of these cute little boats.


We took the boat out on to Port Phillip Bay on a beautiful summer’s day. The launch process was seamless, with a multi-roller Easytow trailer. We simply backed her in, started the engine, unhooked the Terrara and backed it off the trailer.

The little Nanni diesel sits in an insulated box amidships and feeds power via a shaft to the three-blade bronze prop. The prop is well protected, so there’s little or no chance of damaging it if you run aground or have a problem on the trailer.

Underway, the Terrara is a dream. It potters along at a sedate pace and there is not much engine noise from the Nanni. It’s actually quite smooth for a two-pot engine and burns just 1lt per hour – or less.

Fuel load is 54lt in one stainless-steel tank, so you can potter around rivers, lakes and bays all weekend and still have plenty of fuel left over.

Top speed is quoted as eight knots, but a more relaxing five to six knots will get you to where you want to go comfortably and in a good amount of style.


It’s not often that you get a proper displacement boat that is trailerable and the Terrara is just such a vessel. With an all-up weight of just over a tonne, the Terrara can be trailered to just about anywhere. Imagine exploring new lakes, river systems and even a bit of a foray offshore on a calm day. The Terrara can lend itself to all manner of uses and even though it is a displacement boat, it only draws a midge over half a metre, so you can navigate rivers and lakes with confidence.

Another string to the Terrara bow is that it can be ordered as an open boat. If you can imagine the boat pictured here with no cabin, it looks for all the world like the old ‘putt-putts’ we used to see on Sydney Harbour. The boat is still the same configuration, with centre-mounted engine and seating fore and aft. The lack of cabin does give it a bit more room for moving around and, again, would make it an ideal fishing or family day boat.

I found the Terrara to be a very amicable boat for four or five people. You can go fishing, go for a picnic or even a weekend away. It’s a testament to its heritage; a fishing boat of yesteryear that’s been made into a versatile vessel that will happily be towed behind most large cars. The Terrara will fit in your garage or sit in the water at the marina with panache. And it will do this while offering the glories of a bygone era of boating, with the comforts of modern technology and luxury.

Here’s one for you, Mr Coleridge!


Length: 5.6m

Beam: 2.2m

Draft: 0.55m

Weight: 980kg

Fuel: 54lt

Engine: Nanni 2.54 He Eco (10hp) diesel

Price as tested: $52,000

Priced from: $42,600

Contact: Kennedy Shipwrights, tel: (02) 4422 8023, web: