A piece of Newcastle's maritime history has emerged from a Lake Macquarie boatshed and is due to be launched on a new voyage.
The six-metre unnamed wooden vessel, owned by the Murphy family, is believed to be more than a century old and holds links to one of the Hunter's most famous boat-builders, N&E Towns.
"It's a fairly unique piece of craftsmanship," said Paul Murphy.
"You've got a bit of pride in it, for something that's so old and goes so well, and is so well-made," said his brother, Peter Murphy.
The brothers believed it was built about 1920 and could have been modelled on a "butcher boat". In the late 19th and early 20 centuries, butcher boats were rowed out to sea from Newcastle to meet arriving ships, in an effort to secure their food order before they reached port.
Later in its life, the Murphy brothers said, the boat was used as a rescue craft in Maitland during the disastrous 1955 floods.
The boat's life began further down the Hunter River.
According to a plaque attached to the boat, it was built at the workshop of N&E Towns, on Dempsey Island, in the south arm of the river.
Members of the Towns family became widely known as champion scullers, but along the Hunter, the surname was synonymous with building boats. The Towns had been building craft on Dempsey Island since 1869.
When the firm's founder, George Towns senior, died in 1920, the Newcastle Morning Herald noted that "he was widely known as a builder of racing skiffs, watermen's boats, and launches".
The Towns continued building boats until the 1950s, when the workshop was damaged by both fire and flood. Just as N&E Towns disappeared, so did Dempsey Island itself; it was subsumed by the Kooragang industrial development.
This boat, crafted from Australian red cedar and hardwoods, could have also slid into history, Peter and Paul said, if it weren't for their father, Tony Murphy.
In the 1980s, Mr Murphy, a well-known Newcastle builder, came across the boat in a yard in the Greta area and bought it, determined to restore it.
"It had a bit of rot in the boards, so he stripped it all back, revarnished it, fixed up all the rotten timber," said Peter Murphy.
"I was pretty impressed at the amount of love he put into it. It's one of those things. He'd put his mind to something, and he'd do it, no matter what it cost."
And the cost for restoring this boat was thousands of hours in time, as Tony Murphy and an employee worked on the boat in a garage at the family home at Whitebridge.
The restoration project also cost a lot in money. Paul Murphy said his father spent about $5000 on cedar alone to replace planks on the boat.
Peter Murphy, who followed his father into the building trade and is a carpenter and joiner, pointed out the detail in the work, both in the construction and the restoration, from the overlapping planks in its clinker-built construction to the copper rivets holding the timber.
"I'd hate to do it, with the amount of work in it," Peter Murphy said. "To build this, I'm guessing, would be months of work.
"It's just insane, the amount of work."
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Occasionally, the restored boat would be displayed at heritage shows, but Tony Murphy also frequently took it out from the family's house at Nords Wharf.
"It was a great boat to go out fishing in," Paul Murphy said. "He liked to drift, and because it's a heavy boat, it didn't drift too much."
Despite its weight and being designed for two rowers, Peter Murphy said the boat was fast, even with just one person on the oars.
"You can just get in it, one stroke and it just cuts through the water and just keeps going," he said.
Tony Murphy died in 2019, and since then the boat has not been used as much as the brothers would like.
While it was recently filmed for a TAB advertisement, with a "Viking" pulling on the oars, the boat needs more time in the water. So the brothers have decided to sell their late father's pride and joy, with an asking price of $11,500. Letting it go, Paul Murphy said, would be hard.
"For me, it's more the emotional attachment with Dad, who restored it to the beauty it is," he said.
His brother said he hoped it would be bought by "someone who can use it to its potential and show it off. They need to be in the water."
Still, before the boat leaves their shed and lives, Peter Murphy dreams of taking it out for one more row where it first touched water.
"Newcastle harbour, rowing out through the heads," he said. "Maybe we should go and do it."