The Naracoopa, built by E.A. Jack in Launceston in 1940, was a 297 ton auxiliary ketch: that is, she combined both sail and engine. This type of ketch was used by Holyman and Sons after the volume of trade from the Bass Strait islands became too small to use larger ships.
Although small, the Naracoopa was the largest ship to have been built on the Tamar at that time. She had a length of 130 feet, a beam of 26 feet and was powered by a diesel engine. Wooden hulled, she was built almost entirely of Tasmanian timbers.
When launched, Holyman and Sons said she was intended for use on the Flinders Island, King Island, Melbourne and Launceston run. Specially built to meet the needs of this run, she had provision for the carriage of livestock and perishable goods. She was also able to carry twelve passengers, accommodated in two-berth cabins.
The launch of the Naracoopa created a bit of a sensation. It took place on Saturday the19th of October 1940 in Launceston, and she was to be christened by Mrs Davies, wife of the Minister for Lands and Works. The ketch began to move rapidly down the slipway while Mrs Davies was still giving her speech, so she quickly named her Naracoopa and swung the bottle of champagne. Unfortunately, the champagne bottle missed the moving boat. The day was saved, however, when Captain Ivan Holyman caught the bottle on the backswing and managed to smash it across the rapidly retreating bow of the boat.
The Naracoopa caught fire and sank between Adelaide and Port Lincoln on the 15th June 1968.
Written by Leah Johnson.
Bass Strait Maritime Centre File number 83
The Mercury, Saturday 19th October 1940
The Examiner, Monday 21st October 1940, pages 1, 4 and 5