Utiekah III and Skipper Giles

Utiekah III was built at Cygnet in 1925 by Messrs. Wilson Bros.

A newspaper clipping from The Argus, Melbourne - 2 June 1925
A Pleasant Holiday Task

Clipping 1952 image
Skipper Giles,
taken about 1953.

Extract from the Mercury Newspaper, Hobart, 17 May 1927
15,000 Miles in South Seas
The Venture Described

Great interest is being displayed by yachtsmen throughout the Commonwealth, particularly in Melbourne, in the preparations being made for the extended cruise of the yacht Utiekah III, which Mr. E. Giles, of the Victorian Royal Yacht Club, with a crew of six, is to take in a few days to the South Seas. The boat and her owners Messrs. J. E. Giles and A. Hamilton are well known to southern yachtsmen, the Utiekah having been built at the Cygnet slip by Messrs. Wilson Bros. about two years ago. She was a familiar figure at the various regattas hero during the past two seasons.

Her skipper (Mr. Elliott Giles) is a Melbourne Grammar School master, and one of the keenest and best navigators of small craft in Australian yachting circles. He has had a wide experience in Australian coastal waters, and is considered by experts as the ideal skipper for this daring trip - the biggest cruise in Australian yachting annals. Associated with him are Messrs. A. Hamilton, A. Peck, Mark Mackie, G. A. Soilleux, and J Crossley Hartle, of Melbourne, and Mr. Newton Scott, of Sydney, all yachtsmen of long and varied experience.

A "Mercury" representative visited the Royal Yacht Club at Williamstown, where the boat is slipped, and was cordially welcomed by the members of the crew, who are hard at work getting her ready for sea.

Asking what the itinerary of the trip was, he was informed that there was no definite plan, and that they intended to be just wanderers of the ocean. They expected to leave Melbourne on May 20, and proceed to Sydney. From there Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands are in the programme, after which they propose to go just where inclination or the prevailing winds may take them. Cruising in a circle in the tropics, Tahiti, Fiji, and Tonga may be visited, as well as many other lesser known of the Isles of the Pacific in November the yacht will leave the tropics and come south again, probably to the Australian or New Zealand coast. The cruise, which is expected to extend to 15,000 miles, will conclude in Hobart in January next.


An inspection of the little craft in which the voyage is to be made was most Interesting. She is being sheathed with copper to withstand the deadly borer of the tropic seas, and some extra fittings are being made to enable the large supplies of stores she will carry to be conveniently arranged. No radical alterations of any kind are necessary, however, as Mr. Giles designed the yacht for a trip of this kind. The first impression one gets on stepping aboard is the admirable way in which all available space has been laid out to the fullest advantage.

Her dimensions are:-Length, 56ft.; beam, 15ft 91n.; draught, 6ft. 6in.; tonnage, 37.2. She was built by Wilson Bros. at Cygnet, and rigged In Hobart. Her planking and decks are Huon pine throughout, and her sailing qualities are the delight of her owners, who tried her out in some very heavy weather around the Tasmanian coast. She is ketch rigged,-and is fitted with an Ailsa Craig motor engine of 20.26 h.p. as an auxiliary. Electric lighting is provided by a dynamo and storage battery, which will give a full eight hour's supply without recharging. in the arrangement of the interior every inch of space is used to best advantage, and every convenience that could be suggested has been installed. The drinking water is carried in a tank under the floor of the saloon amidships, and the interior of the ship has been so well designed that in addition to the roomy saloon, three cabins, a bathroom, and cook's galley have been comfortably contrived, in addition to large storage lockers at both ends of the ship for spare sails, ropes, and similar necessaries. Her owners are very proud of their boat, and pay a glowing tribute to the honest and skilful work put into the construction by Messrs. Wilson Bros., who have built so many fine vessels at the Cygnet ship-yards,

The yacht when she leaves Melbourne will carry, in addition to her crew, a ton of groceries and other necessaries, 500 gallons of water, and 100 gallons of petrol.


The members of the crew chosen by Mr. Giles to accompany him on his great undertaking have been drawn from many different avenues of civilian life, but all are keen yachtsmen, each with a proficiency for a particular job. They are keenly looking forward to the great adventure, and no one with greater eagerness than Mr. Arthur Peck, M.R.I.V.A., who has been a yachtsman for 50 years, and is as great an enthusiast as ever. A prominent Melbourne architect by profession. Mr. Peck has taken part in many lengthy cruises, and, although 72 years of age, is hard at work helping to get the boat ready I for sea, as light heartedly as the youngest of his colleagues.

The forthcoming cruise is no new adventure for Mr. Peck. He knows the Pacific Islands well-where the cyclones form, the secrets of the currents, the vagaries of the doldrums, the prevailing breezes. He knows where the snug anchorages are for small craft and where the coral reefs lurk. He is at home with a sextant or when steering full and bye. He loves a tall ship, and his favourite literature is the Sailing Directory, Pacific, Vol. HI. He thinks the sea is a good place for young people, and is taking his son with him. In the meantime he is very busy down at the slipway, getting the ship ready for the voyage. "

Hobart Mercury, 28 May 1927


The 37-ton yacht Utiekah III. left Melbourne today on a cruise of the Pacific. Accompanying the part owners, Messrs. S. E. Giles and A. Hamilton, are Mr. G. A. Solleux, secretary of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, and four other experienced yachtsmen.

The first port of call will be Sydney, thence to Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, and Tonga, in the Solomons. Leaving the tropics in November, the yacht will cruise to New Zealand, going thence to Tasmania, which will be circumnavigated.

It is expected that the yacht will return to Melbourne in February next.

Hobart Mercury, 15 December 1927

Local yachtsmen will be interested to hear that the Utiekah 111., owned by Mr. Giles, of Sydney, left that port for Hobart yesterday. The Utiekah lll., which was built-at Cygnet by Wilson Bros., for Mr. Giles. is a fine type of auxiliary cruiser, and has just returned to Sydney from an extended cruise of the South Sea Islands.

The Mercury - 22 December 1927

Next week is regatta week, and many of the yachts will be leaving for the Channel on Saturday or over the week-end. In years gone by this used to be a splendid holiday trip but in later days it has developed with races practically every day into a very strenuous business indeed. No one, however, seems to mind that and there are just as many clamouring for berths on yachts in the Christmas Regatta week as there ever were - and just as many disappointed. Racing begins at Esperance on Monday (Boxing Day) followed by the first regatta at Southport, for years, on the following day. Southport is the furthest south the yachts will reach; after that they come up to Cygnet for Thursday and Fridays racing followed by Shipwrights Point on New Years Day which winds up a very busy week of racing. Good entries have been received for all the regattas and the week should be a memorable one.

The Mercury - 22 December 1927

Utiekah III is again at, Hobart after a most adventurous cruise of the South Sea islands - one of the lengthiest and adventurous ever undertaken by an Australian yacht - and it is pleasing to know that the Tasmanian built vessel stood up to the ordeal splendidly. I was having a yarn with Mr. I E. Giles, part owner of her yesterday when he referred glowingly to the vessels fine qualities. "We left Sydney on Wednesday December 14" he told me and carried a northerly wind, fresh at times, right to the Tasmanian coast. We ran from Gabo Island to Eddystone under square sail and later double reefed mainsail. The sea was pretty rough most of the time but as she always had before, Utiekah behaved splendidly. Our best day's run was 185 miles. "We sighted Eddystone light before daybreak on Saturday after a run of about 68 hours from Sydney. Then the wind fell lighter and off Freycinet Peninsula on Saturday night we were becalmed. We set the engine going, during the night but early next morning the weather was thick and foggy from the south'ard, and we could not make a landfall. Eventually we made the coast by Pirates Bay and put in there. We were then four days and half an hour from Sydney. We remained there over Sunday night, and on Monday we beat round the Pillar in squally weather with a confused sea, reaching Sandy Bay about 6 o'clock on Monday evening. Utiekah III has cruised over 7,000 miles, visiting Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands and the Tonga, Samoa and Fiji groups, and she has proved herself a splendid little sea-going ship. During most of the outward trip the weather was rather rough and on the homeward voyage she lay to a sea anchor for 40 hours in a southerly gale. She never shipped a sea at any time and she was always habitable and as comfortable as could, be expected below. It was always possible to have regular hot meals. Among the islands she created a great deal of interest and was much admired everywhere. She was built by Wilson Bros. at Port Cygnet three years ago, and I must say that she reflects the greatest possible credit on them."

The crew at present are Messrs Elliott Giles and A Hamilton, owners, T.A. Dickson, H.N.Scott, J.Hartle and M.Mackie. The yacht will be cruising in Tasmanian waters for the next five or six weeks.

Hobart Mercury, 6 February 1928

Carrying a bronzed and happy crew, the yacht Utiekah lll. arrived back in Melbourne today after a six months cruise of the South Sea Islands. The distance covered was approximately 10,000 miles. The arrival was timed to coincide with the gala day organised by the St Kilda Yacht Club, of which fleet the Utiekah III. is a unit.

The yacht was manned by Messrs. 1. E Giles (Capt.), A. Hamilton, H. Newton Scott, A. Peek, W. Mackie, J. C. Hartle, and G. A. Solleux, who left the vessel at Fiji in September to go on to England, where he will study architecture.

Advocate, Burnie, Tas. - Friday 22 December 1933
A Six Weeks' Tasmanian Cruise:

Weeks of adventure lie ahead of the schoolboys on the 38-ton ketch-rigged yacht Utiekah III., which cleared Port Phillip Heads on Tuesday for her annual summer cruise, on which the owner, Mr. I. Eliot Giles, ceases to be a master of the Melbourne Grammar School and be comes "skipper" to the boys who sail with him.

This year Mr. Giles has with him two seasoned yachtsmen- Mr. 0. H. Alsop, of Sydney, and Mr. T. A. Dickson, for some years commodore of the Geelong Yacht Club, but now resident in South Australia.

The "deckhands" consist of six grammar boys, ranging in age from 13 up: W. Nodrum, I. Harvey, P. Black, J. and P. Wharton, and S. Howard.

The Utiekah will cruise this year to the south of Tasmania, via Flinders Island and the East Coast, and will visit her birthplace. Port Cygnet, south of Hobart, where she was built eight years ago by Mr. Walter Wilson to the order of Mr. Giles and Mr. A. Hamilton.

Recently, while at her moorings at Williamstown, in collision with a Customs launch, the yacht suffered damage estimated at £250. and for a time Mr. Giles feared that this year's Tasmanian cruise would have to be abandoned.

The yacht's address will be care of Royal Yacht Club, Hobart, until January 21. She is due back at Melbourne about the end of the first week in February.


Hobart Mercury, 10 January 1935

In continuation of her annual cruise in Southern Tasmanian waters, the Melbourne-owned auxiliary yacht, Utiekah III., left Port Cygnet yesterday for Port Esperance. After spending two or three days at that port it is the intention of her owner, Mr. I. E. Giles, to sail to Southport and then to Recherche. She will return to Port Cygnet on Saturday week. The following Monday or Tuesday she will begin her homeward trip, calling at Barnes' Bay and Hobart en-route.

The Utiekah III. was built at Port Cygnet in 1925 by the Wilson Brothers to the design of Mr. Giles, and each year since then she has visited Cygnet. For several years she has been flagship for the Cygnet regatta. She has been a regular annual visitor also to the regatta at Shipwrights Point. On the last Sunday of each year the vessel is at Port Cygnet, and Mr. Giles issues many invitations to Cygnet residents to sail in the bay.

Hobart Mercury, 28 January 1935

The auxiliary yawl Utiekah III., owned by Mr. Elliott Giles, of Melbourne, which has been cruising in Tasmanian waters for more than a month on her annual summer visit, left Hobart early yesterday morning in commencement of her return voyage to Melbourne. In addition to members of the crew who travelled to Tasmania on the yawl, Messrs. E. Slater and G. Swallleu, of Melbourne, came to Hobart, via Launceston, last week to Join the yacht.

Mr. Giles has much enjoyed the cruise, and intends coming to Tasmania again next summer. The return voyage to Melbourne will be made in easy stages, occupying about 10 days, and stopping at suitable anchorages en route.

Hobart Mercury, 4 January 1938
UTIEKAH III AT HOBART - Auxiliary Yawl Makes Annual Visit

The auxiliary yawl, Utiekah III., which makes a cruise to Tasmanian waters each year, reached Hobart yesterday, after having spent a few days in the Channel. The yawl, which was constructed at Port Cygnet, is owned by Mr. A. E. Giles, who has visited Hobart on several occasions, accompanied by a party of pupils of the Melbourne Grammar School, where he is a master.

Utiekah is a Maori word, meaning "music of the rippling waters," and is pronounced "Utiekah".

Hobart Mercury, 8 June 1950

A retired Melbourne Grammar School master, with an inherent love of boats and the sea, is living on his sleek 56ft. ketch Utiekah III at a Cygnet anchorage. He likes the life and intends to continue it indefinitely.

He is Mr. I. E. Giles, who, for 42 years taught at Melbourne Grammar. For many years he was senior house-master.

Having sailed to Tasmania each Summer since 1913, when he made his first voyage in the Utiekah III. Mr Giles decided to "live aboard" at Cygnet on his retirement in 1946.

"Great haunts of mine" was how he yesterday described the lovely Cygnet bays with their perfect anchorages and good fishing grounds.

Next week Mr. Giles will leave for a two months' holiday in Melbourne, but he intends to return and continue living' on the Utiekah.

"My idea is to continue to take Mainland friends on short cruises in the Huon," said Mr. Giles. "We have nothing like it within reach in Victoria. This coastline literally breathes charm."

Mr. Giles has reason, to remember his first crossing of Bass Strait, on Christmas Day, 1913, and says it was the only time he has ever been in danger in 50 years of sailing.

With four Melbourne "Grammar"old boys" as his crew, Mr, Giles encountered the worst weather he has ever known.

Utiekah's mainsail was torn in halves and carried away with the mizzen bumpkin, and the yacht narrowly missed being driven on to Little Night Island in the Furneaux Group.

A member of the crew, was Sir Keith Officer, Australian Ambassador to Paris.

Born in South Australia, Mr. Giles was educated at Oxford after having gained his degree at the University of Adelaide. On returning from England in 1905 he joined the Melbourne Grammar staff.

With his father and brother, Mr. Giles purchased Utiekah I in 1899.

He had the 42ft. Utiekah II. built in Adelaide in 1911.

Utiekah III was built for Mr. Giles in 1925 by Wilson Bros., of Cygnet, who he claims rank high among Australian shipwrights.

Beautifully finished, and comfortably equipped, the Utiekah has accommodation for eight persons without using the saloon cabin.

She has been a familiar sight at "down Channel" regattas and: several times has been flagship at Dover and Cygnet.

Summer 1952-1953
Photos taken during the summer.

This is a link to a page of photos

From memory I think I took these photos during the summer of 1952-53 while I was living at Cygnet. Now 60 years later it is hard to place the time exactly.

If you have photos of Skipper Giles and his boats and would like to display them on the internet, please email them to me at email

I also remember that Skipper Giles's sister lived in the last house along Coolstore Rd. Cygnet at the time that he was living on Utiekah II. He would row ashore to visit her.

Hobart Mercury, 28 December 1954
Cygnet Ketch Was At Dover Regatta Again

Mr. I. E. Giles, a retired master of Melbourne Grammar School, who for the past eight years has lived on his 56ft. ketch, Utiekah III at a Cygnet anchorage, has missed few regattas at Dover since he first sailed from Melbourne on holiday jaunts 41 years ago.

He and his familiar craft which was built at Cygnet by a well-known shipwright, Mr Walter Wilson, attended the regatta again yesterday.

For years Mr. Giles has taken boys from Melbourne public schools on cruises, and yesterday he had six with him.

He recalled that in 1913 when he first sailed to Tasmania and experienced the roughest crossing he had known, one of his pupils was Sir Keith Officer, Australian Ambassador to France, he incidentally, plans to build a home near Dover on his retirement.

December 2001

A link to this web site.

A story about Skipper Giles and his old cruising grounds.

August 29, 2010

A link to this web site.

UTIEKAH III for Sale - She is Unique - 85 Years Young and Still So Alive

June 2012

Searching under I. E. Giles, Melbourne Grammar, Google located this book review at:-
In the South: Tales of Sail and Yearning By Geoff Heriot, published 2012. It has several pages of Skipper Giles's family history.

Plus Last Boat of Elliott 'Spuddo' Giles" in "In the South: Tales of Sail and Yearning" it provides some details of the boat he owned, in his 80's, after selling Utiekah III. - 7 Oct 2012

June 2013

In summary

  • Designer - I.E.Giles
  • Builder - Wilson Bros., Cygnet, Tasmania
  • Length - 56ft
  • Beam - 15ft 9inch
  • Draught - 6ft 6inch
  • Net tonnage - 37.2 tons
  • Planking and decks - Huon pine
  • Rig - Ketch
  • Power - 20.26 h.p Ailsa Craig motor engine

February 2017

I am writing in response to articles found on the Internet associated with Skipper Giles and Utiekah III.

I was a Melbourne Grammar boy from 1949 to 1953. As well coming from a long family background directly connected to sailing and ship building in Melbourne and the UK. I was a member of the Royal Victorian Yacht Club between 1949 to 1954 sailing first in their fleet of Cadet Dinghies and other boats in the Club’s fleet at that time.

As a MGS boy I must have come to the notice of the school that I sailed and thus came into contact with the Skipper prior to 3rd term’s end in 1952. I have some distant memory of him talking to me about his boat and his taking boys sailing in Tassie for the Xmas holidays.

After all this I flew to Hobart from Melbourne in an old DC3 at the age of 15. From Hobart to the Skipper’s home port then of Cygnet to spend all the Xmas holidays aboard Utiekah. One of my early memories of this was taking the yacht’s dinghy to a rocky out crop with a billy and told to fill it with oysters for the evening meal. I think the Skipper and I were the only ones on board for some time before others started to arrive. One of those was Don Calvert who at that time may have been about 17. Others to come aboard were I think several older boys who were medical students from Melbourne Uni.

From there things went along as usual sailing through the Channel and stopping off at those ports and Clubs that held sailing regattas over the Xmas and New Year period. I well remember yachts that were short of crew could always obtain a spare from Utiekah. One such yacht that I sailed in several times was a 6 metre called Niney I think. After many weeks we returned to Cygnet where there could have been some change of crew.

After that time Utiekah sailed up to Hobart – Lindsfarne to drop anchor. From my start to finish I think covered all the school holidays that year. I then flew back to Melbourne.

On the web site I obtained your email address from is a photograph titled Skipper takes a spell and leaves it to the crew, during a calmer period", which depicts three boys from the crew of that year. I have closely as possible compared old school photos of me in 1952 and 1953 and I am quite convinced that the boy in the white jumper standing in the background with his hands up to his mouth is me during that 1953 voyage.

Iain Cameron

If you remember your adventures on Utiekah III in the 1950's, as I do,
please email your story to me at email.
I would love to publish your cruise details on these pages.

Australian Wooden Boat Festival - February 2017 Hobart

Utiekah returning to Cygnet

Boat Name: Utiekah III
Boat Owner: Matt Hannon & Charlotte Boss-Walker

Length: 21.4m (70'3''), Launched: 1925, Huon Pine Carvel Ketch Cruising Yacht, Designed by: Jack Savage & Ireton Giles, Built by: Wilson Bros. Shipwrights.

The first of the Wilson ships to be built purely for expedition and cruising and perhaps Australia's first privately funded sail training vessel. The Utiekah III was designed by Jack Savage and built by Master Shipwright Walter Wilson at Robley's Point in 1925, the site of the Port Cygnet Yacht Club.

She is strongly framed in spotted blue gum and tightly planked and decked with Huon pine. Commissioned by Melbourne Grammar housemaster and veteran of the First War, Ireton Elliot 'Skipper' Giles. Skipper had a great love for the freedom of the sea and spirited adventure. His brief was for an auxiliary ketch with Bass Strait crossings in mind. A meticulously constructed model of the Utiekah III is encased on display at the Tasmanian Maritime Museum in Hobart, on the wall beside is a 1939 portrait of Giles at the helm during a Bass Strait crossing. Anecdotally it has been reported that she may have completed as many as 50 such crossings.

In 1927 Giles set sail with a crew of young Grammar fellows and a couple of 'old salts' on a South Pacific voyage, rationed with bully beef and kerosene they departed from the RYCV. Giles was recorded by one journalist as stating that Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands were on the itinerary, beyond which the rest of the passage would be subject 'to inclination and wherever prevailing winds may take them'. The voyage was reported as the first such cruise by a privately owned Australian yacht, visiting Fiji and Samoa.

As many as 4000 boys, and much fewer girls, where given sail training aboard Utiekah III under Skipper Giles. Summers Giles would take groups cruising in Tasmanian waters, he had a particular fondness for the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, its' many cool briny anchorages and plentiful flathead.

He stood down from her helm circa 1959 and later lived aboard a launch in southern Tasmania until the time of his departure from his beloved seas in 1969. A life well lived, may his passion carry on.

In May 2016, after a favourable survey by a Tasmanian shipwright in Townsville NQ, we delivered Utiekah III, back to her birthplace, Port Cygnet, Tasmania. Her timing was remarkably, surging across Storm Bay at 7 knots, shortened and tattered sails, ahead of deepening Tasman Sea low pressure beginning to batter the coast. We consider it a great honour to be the custodians of Utiekah III and are excited to be presenting her as a restoration in progress to AWBF2017.

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