Boat of the Month - Montgomery 28 Margherita

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  • Trade-A-Boat

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Builder-developer, yachtie, author and philanthropist RICHARD BUXTON is parting with his fully restored, historically significant, and much-loved wooden launch <I>Margherita</I>

Boat of the Month - Montgomery 28 Margherita
Boat of the Month — Montgomery 28 <I>Margherita</I>

Touched by royalty, Margherita is a 28ft fishing/recreational launch built
of New Zealand kauri, a timber that rivals Huon pine, one of the finest boatbuilding timbers and now so rare it cannot be obtained.

She was built in 1954 for Albert (Bert) Findlay, then commodore of the Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC), primarily for fishing. Her design was based on a Nova Scotian deep-sea fishing smack. Construction was on the Maribyrong River by Montgomery Boat Builders, then famous craftsmen for timber launches and yachts.

Margherita can be described as an elegant small ship, with perfectly balanced lines and proportions that are hard to find in modern fishing launches.

In 1956, she was the official launch out of the RBYC for the Melbourne Olympic Games. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip used the launch to watch the dragon-class sailing during those games.

Later on, Margherita was used in the post-nuclear holocaust film On The Beach, starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. Filmed in Melbourne, Margherita’s role was as the tender to the submarine — a cutout nailed to a barge — anchored in Port Phillip Bay. Gardner quoted that, "Melbourne was the best place to film the end of the world."

Well, the end of the world did not happen in Melbourne, and Margherita has lived on for the last 50 years, down the Mornington Peninsula at Sorrento.

I first saw her in the late 1950s and journeyed to Mud Island onboard with Bert Findlay. My love affair for her never waned, saying quietly to myself that I will own her one day.

My chance came in early 2009, when I was looking around to upgrade to a larger launch, and luckily Margherita was for sale. I was able to rescue her as she was slightly unloved in recent times. Although, I believe she has been well maintained during most of her life.

I then set about a total restoration. There was not one single element that was not either rebuilt or replaced, including but not limited to the following: new electrical system; overhaul of the 30hp Yanmar diesel; two new 200lt stainless steel fuel tanks; new propeller shafts with a new three-blade propeller; new stainless steel water tank; and, rebuilt mahogany gallery and sink with portable gas stove.

I have fitted a new Muir electric winch and bowsprit with 60m galvanised chain and a SARCA anchor, new stainless steel handrails, new VHF radio, new Raymarine GPS and fishfinder, and a stainless steel and teak
diving ladder.

The original Clearview was restored as new, I have fitted a new GME radio/disc player with marine speakers, re-chromed all the original vents, bollards and portholes, fitted a new pressurised saltwater washdown system, and made mahogany chart racks and flag holders. To make my life comfortable, I refitted the vee-berth, which cleverly fits over the permanently connected toilet, and added a new icebox to cool down the beer and wine.

Margherita is ready for her next 50 years of service.

The total restoration was completed at the end of 2009, primarily undertaken by Greg Blunt of Williamstown, and
the replacement cost today would be about $200,000. The asking price for Margherita is $145,000 and a mooring is also available at $25,000 cost.

Margherita is moored at Sorrento, awaiting my return from cruising Tasmania onboard my new yacht Scarlet Ribbon.

The price of the boat is subject to EOI and any genuine offers will be considered with finance. Margherita is now patiently waiting for a passionate new owner to enjoy fishing and cruising, and, perhaps, another royal visit.

Boating has been in Richard Buxton’s blood all his life. The 63-year-old, from the famous property family, told Trade-a-Boat he spent many years circumnavigating Australia, not once but twice.

The circumnavigations were a recreation of explorer Matthew Flinders’ journey of 1802-03, an idea spawned by a 10,000nm trip of the Australian coastline Buxton undertook in a single-engine Cessna with two daughters in 2002-03.

His boat of choice was a 12m Cavalier and armed with 8000 photographs from the trip, which ended back in Melbourne in March 2007, Buxton put pen to paper.

The culmination was a coffee table book If Matthew Flinders Had Wings. Released more than a year ago, the book has raised $175,000 for the Epsilon Research Fund, a charitable foundation set-up by the Buxton family to direct profits to medical research.

Apart from raising funds and the book was also about raising awareness about mental health while telling the story about the total coastline of Australia. (You can view details of Richard’s book at

Montgomery 28

FOR SALE: $145,000
MATERIAL: Kauri pine
TYPE: Monohull
LENGTH: 23ft
BEAM: 3.8m
DRAFT: 1.2m
ENGINE: Yanmar diesel
PROP: Three-blade
DETAILS: For inspection and details, phone 0418 332 479, email: or visit

We were smitten by the sweet lines of this 1954 smack for sale in Trade-a-Boat. Built by revered Montgomery Boat Builders, Margherita has been lovingly restored and will make any would-be wooden-boat buff eternally happy. Just gorgeous.


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