Yacht - De Havilland Rambler

Basic Overview

The De Havilland Rambler is a "Standard Trailable Yacht" under the Australian Trailable Yacht and Sports Boat Rule 2014.

This is a wet boat*, well suited for daytime sailing on inland waters. (* Wet Boat: You get wet as the waves crash over the side, or as you briefly go under the water, or if you forget to put in the corks that stop the boat from sinking.)

Mallacoota, 2016

Lake Burley Griffin, 2016

Googong, 2015

Designed Alan Payne AM (Sydney naval designer responsible for Australia's first entry into the America's Cup - 'Gretal') the design was highly thought of.


Length over all (LOA): 18ft 6in - 5.64m
LOA less NSW RTA deductibles: 5.49m
Waterline length (LWL): 17ft 5in - 5.3m
Beam: 8ft - 2.44m
Draught: 1ft 3in - 0.38m
Draught with center board down: 3ft 3in - 0.99m
Weight: 800 lbs - 362.8 kg
Mass: 1201 lbs - 545kg

Sailing Rig
Conventional Bermudian
Mast: Aluminium 21ft - 6.4m, 4 side stays

Boom: Simple push in with goose neck fittingsOriginal spars by De Havilland Marine.
Sail Area:
1. Mainsail 126 sq ft (11.7m4)
2. Genoa 77 sq ft (7.2m4)
3. No 2 jib 51 sq ft (4.7m4) (optional)
4. Storm jib 35 sq ft (3.3m4).
Originally carried Miller Whitworth sails with twist on nylon hanks for the jib and nylon mainsail battens
Ratchet winch centrally located

Original 9hp Johnson mounted off -center on the transom
Retro filled with a 54lb thrust electric motor, solar charged running off a marine 12V battery.

Storage and Accommodation
Under bow locker: Sails
Cabin: sleeps 2 comfortably (protected from crocs and goannas), prov for toilet, generous stowage under bunks
Deck: sleeps 2 uncomfortably (provision for external cover).
Electrics: Solar panels change a dedicated 12V Battery which drives navigation lights, radios, pumps, wind speed indicators, GPS and on-board computer - and acts as a backup for the electric motor.

Class Based Handicap (CBH): 0.626 (handicap as at 2014)


As a trailerable boat, the standing rigging will be put up on a regular basis, perhaps every time the boat is to be put on the water.

After a bit of trial and error at putting the mast up, I have settled on the following process, which can be accomplished by one person but is much easier with two.

You can put the standing rigging up while on a trailer or when in the water, but it is far harder on the water, and perhaps almost impossible with just one person. Doing this on a trailer before launch comes with two risks. Firstly, there is an added risk of a fall onto ground (which is harder than water). Secondly, there is a new risk of the mast hitting overhanging trees, so check the path you are going to take to the boat ramp.

1: place the mast aft of the step on the hull, ensuring spreaders are angled downwards on both sides of mast and that no ropes/chains will foul the step.
2: check electrics to 360 degree white light at top of mast then disconnect electrics
3: connect upper stays (2) and lower stays (2) to deck
4. lift mast slightly above the horizontal and slip the foot of the mast into the step on the hull, until it locks onto the steel pivot in the foot.
5. the front stay can then be pulled forward to raise the mast until it is locked in place. If the mast starts to swing either way, check that one of the side stays has not become fouled.
6: connect electrics and recheck for power to the top light.
7. slip the boom into the mast pin and choose to rig for no sails or sails.
8. check that the mast is upright, ensuring that the stays are not tight but fairly evenly tensioned. Note that the rigging should only achieve tensioning when the jib is in place. Any undue top mast curvature under sail may need fine adjustments to tighten or loosen the shrouds. I have been told not to overtighten the stays - they need to be able to flex. (see also the useful article at http://www.thecoastalpassage.com/petrearigging.html).


If you plan on buying one of these, take an experienced yachts person along with you. While these are solid boats, the age is such that some key components could be starting to fail through age - particularly the back deck (which could be very expensive to replace). I was lucky with this one - excellent care from the previous owners had left her in great shape and good working order (for inland lakes).

Without Sails

I sail the Rambler with and without sails. Sailing without sails is accomplished with a small electric outboard or, when i fail to charge the batteries, by oar.

Here are a couple of shots of standing rigging for the yacht, and the boom. Pictures taken on the Genoa River, SE Australia.

Note that the stays are tensioned and that a back stay has been fitted.

With Sails

Pictures from Lake Burley Griffin. With sails, the stays are relaxed a little. As the Jib is stressed, it effectively replaces the fore stay (which can become lax and interfere with the Jib) and also tensions the side stays.

Sailing: Mallacoota

Mallacoota is at the extreme South East tip of the Australian mainland. It has a superb inlet (navigable from Gypsy Point to the town - but the Bar has a fearsome reputation). Over time the sand bar at the heads has silted to less than 1.5m.

The inlet consists of lakes, wide connecting areas and one relatively narrow connector, all subject to different levels of tidal flow and changeable winds. There are sand bars in the lakes and along some shorelines.

Sailing: Googong

Googong is an alpine lake caught in a jurisdictional conundrum between New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. The lake has no direction flow, apart from a number of turbines that turn the water over. It has a number of areas with drowned trees and sand banks that constitute navigation hazards.

Wind can quickly gift this lake with high, short frequency waves, capable of swamping low boats. Rangers also tell of the need to occasionally rescue people pushed by winds away from the launch and recovery areas.


Sailing Lake Burley Griffin

With an established club and events, perhaps a location not to be missed.

Black Mountain Tower

National Library

Commonwealth Avenue Bridge

A reflection of the yacht in the windows of the National Museum

Sailing Bateman's Bay

The port of Bateman's Bay is a tourist destination and home for ocean going yachts and fishermen/women. While the bay is cut by a span bridge, it can be opened to give access to a wide river and the upstream waters of the Clyde River.

While the bay itself looks broad, sailing in protected waters is compromised by sand banks and rough water in the center of the bay, and relatively congested waters (particularly on public holidays). The waters of the bar are dangerous and passage is safest on the incoming tide.

I unload the boat at Hanging Rock boat ramp.

I sailed to a pre-booked berth at the nearby Marina, which is well appointed and is home to a beautiful collection of clean ocean going vessels. (Must clean my boat as well.)

The Marina has a great cafe with views of the bay and Marina.


The span bridge can be opened (727263 / 018604777).

Sailing small yachts in protected waters is relatively restricted by prevailing winds, but well worthwhile. Be prepared to use your motor to assist as tacking may be tight and, if the tide is against you, futile. Against the incoming tide, a 54lb thrust electric motor barely made headway.


The bay is home to thousands of jelly fish



eBoof said…
I also have a de Havilland Rambler (mine is number 23) and am interested in getting contact with other owners.
eBoof said…
Peter was this your boat. I have number 23 and am looking at restoring her.
Kind regards
Rob Lovett
eBoof said…
Hi Peter,
Was this your boat. I have number 023 and am looking at restoring her.
Rob Lovett
Peter Quinton said…
eBoof - apologies for the delayed response. Yes, this is mine - happy to get in touch - you will find my contact details in my profile :)

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