Rubeena’s beauty routine

Skipper Alan Lewis and painter Jo Roberts give the Rubeena her regular spruce-up. Photo: Liz Bell

Liz Bell

JUST like anyone in midlife, the Rubeena is not immune to the ageing affects of weather, time and hard work.
So as part of a regular beauty routine, she has just had her annual paint job, plus a two-yearly out-of-water marine survey to make sure she is fit for service.
Skipper Alan Lewis said the heritage boat, which will turn 110 next year, was “all compliant” and didn’t need any major repairs this year, despite her advanced years.
“As women age, you’ve got to spend a lot of money on them to keep them looking good … it’s like that with boats,” he joked.
“But the surveyor said she was in excellent condition for her age, so that’s good.”
Alan said the much-loved boat would have another repaint in 2022 and had to look her best for her birthday on April 4.
The wooden boat will soon welcome aboard its 30,000th passenger.
The Rubeena was first launched at Lakes Entrance in 1912, but has been modernised in recent years to provide a quiet and leisurely ride from the Port of Sale to the Swing Bridge.
It is the oldest intact operational bridge of its kind in Australia.
Passengers can step back in time and share the peaceful journey with Alan, who runs Port of Sale Heritage Cruises, and along the way can spot whistling Kktes, pelicans, sea eagles, cormorants, moorhens, and azure kingfishers.
Alan says the vessel is the oldest boat on the Victorian boating register, and while she was initially powered by steam, the Rubeena was eventually upgraded to use petrol, then diesel and, in 1994, she became electric.
Alan said he hoped to celebrate the Rubeena’s 110th birthday with a community event such as a fun run, COVID and council permitting.