Ernest Jack 'Jock' Muir
22.10.1914, – 29.11.1995
Born in Hobart in 1914, Jock Muir first embarked on a career in tin smithing at the height of the Depression, sailing and learning the craft of boat building in his spare time. Having won the Stonehaven Cup for cadet dinghies in 1933, Jock moved on to successfully compete in the 16 ft skiff and heavyweight sharpie classes, and following the local cruiser class. In 1937 he completed building a deep-sea cruiser, Westwind, in the backyard of his parents’ house in Battery Point.
During World War II Jock moved to Sydney where he set up his own boatyard business. A few years later illness forced him and his family to return to Hobart. Fortunately by 1948 Jock was on the mend, and following his life’s dream, established his own boatyard at Battery Point.
Here up until his retirement in 1987, Jock and employees, including his younger brother Max who worked at the yard for over four decades, built more than 50 ocean-going vessels, amongst them some of the finest cruising and racing yachts in the country. During this period Jock also designed 100 or so vessels, including cruising and racing yachts, power boats and fishing boats.
With a reputation as an exceptional sailor established in his teens, Jock continued his meteoric rise at the helm throughout his career, particularly with the advent of the blue water Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, competing in the race 19 times between 1946 and 1971. Having won the Sydney to Hobart on handicap in 1947 and 1948 in Westward, a boat he built in a paddock off Queen Street in Sandy Bay, Jock finished first across the line in the 1949 and 1953 races, the former in Waltzing Matilda, a vessel he built and the latter in Wild Wave, a locally built cutter he designed and supervised the building of.
However the 1953 win was short lived as Wild Wave was subsequently disqualified on protest following a breach of the rules at the start of the race. Not giving up, Jock went on to win the race on line honours in 1955 (as co-skipper on board Even) and in 1960 (as sailing master on board Kurrewa IV).
Jock’s legacy continues to this day in the many vessels he built that are still in existence, including Westwind (built 1937), Westward (built 1947), Lass O’Luss (built 1948), Patsy of Island Bay (built 1950), Van Diemen (built 1952), Veolia Maris (built 1958), Balandra (built 1965), and Trevassa (built 1971), as well as with the successful maritime-related enterprises established by his three sons John, Ross and Greg.
A part-owner in the Jock’s Battery Point boatyard since the 1970s, John Muir and his wife Wendy assumed full ownership of the site in 1987. Today, nearly 70 years since Jock originally established the yard, and more than 180 years since boat and shipbuilding formally began along the Napoleon Street foreshore of Battery Point, the location is undergoing a very welcome renaissance.
Doyle Sails and Chandlery and Boat Sales Tasmania have re-located to Muir’s Boatyard. The new tenants bring new life to the old boatyard.