about us

There was a time when many boatyards dotted the shores of the Gippsland Lakes. Bull’s Cruisers was one of the most prolific – beginning with Joseph Bull, who started building trading vessels and charter boats in Metung in 1924. For more than a century, boats such as these maintained a reputation for seaworthiness and reliability.

James Frecheville established a small boat repair business at Paynesville in 1990. Tim Heaney joined James as a boatbuilder in 1997. In 2003, the pair incorporated Frecheville Heaney Boatbuilders, establishing a business that is recognised Australia wide for its expertise, craftsmanship and passion for excellence.

James retired from the company in 2020. Tim and his talented team continue to build new boats and to salvage childhood memories and maritime treasures in their small but busy Paynesville workshop.

Although the heyday of commercial shipbuilding on the Gippsland Lakes is gone, boatbuilders like Frecheville Heaney continue to maintain the highest standards of craftsmanship and preserves that rich history.

our work

Since the early nineties, 59 Slip Road has turned out outstanding yachts and powerboats. Timber (planked and plywood) and fibreglass (including carbon fibre) – every project receives the same attention to detail.

Here are some examples...

Alchera gets a facelift

ROSITA – 1934 John Hacker Gentleman's Racer

The line drawings for this class – mahogany speedster – were found in a 1938 US Motor Boating Plans catalogue. This handcrafted reproduction is an example of what can he achieved by combining epoxy technology with time honoured timber boatbuilding skills. ROSITA is a vessel of beauty, longevity and durability. She will outlive all of us; and that is the way it should be.

our crew

Steve, Rob, Tim and Scott

A new take on boatbuilding traditions

Dating back thousands of years – as long as there have been boats – the same basic techniques and beliefs have guided the boatbuilders' craft. Sure, materials and designs have changed, but the principles remain the same.

Boats need to be light, yet strong. They must withstand the capricious action of water, sun and wind – wave action, tides, UV rays, corrosion, heat, cold, chemical reactions, and so much more need to be taken into account. To become a master boatbuilder is a lifelong commitment to learning, and a willingness to expect the unexpected. That's how we approach every day.

We combine the best of traditional materials and methods with the latest composite materials. Knowing what approach is best in any application is a daily part of our planning process, as we work to bring old boats back to life.

Tim Heaney

In the finest traditions of classic boatbuilders, Tim Heaney is hands-on in every aspect of the business. A qualified carpenter and joiner, but with an active connection to boating at Paynesville that dates back to his boyhood, Tim joined the firm in the nineties, filling in whenever the apprentice was away. This became such a regular event, he decided to make the shift permanent. A few years later, James and Tim formed a partnership that lasted until James decided to hang up his tools in 2020.

Today, Tim leads one of the most highly respected classic boat building and restoration teams in Australia. Their ability to build new craft employing traditional and modern materials – often based on old designs – and to bring old hulks back from the dead are well regarded among boating enthusiasts.

Scott Jackson

Scott Jackson joined Frecheville Heaney in 2020, with almost 20 years experience as a cabinet maker, carpenter and stair maker. He had been working with Whittley, Haynes and Savage boats, but with a yen to work on more traditional designs.

Steve McKinnon

Steve McKinnon has served his apprenticeship with the company since 2021. He has been a boating enthusiast as long as he can remember, having earned his boating licence at the age of 12. Steve got the bug for boat construction doing work experience at Gippsland Ports in high school. He's never wanted to do anything else. Steve feels that he still has a lot to learn, and loves to find solutions to new challenges.

Rob Jackson

A horticulturalist by training, Scott's younger brother Rob spends much of his spare time working on land conservation projects. He has worked with fibreglass for eight years, building boats, trains, caravans and firefighting appliances. Like the rest of the team, Rob is a sailing enthusiast who loves to see the smile on clients' faces when their pride and joy is brought back to life.


Quayside | 59 Slip Road Paynesville VIC 3880 Australia
Phone/SMS | +61 437 850 053
Email | office@fhboats.com.au