Paul Isherwood with his paddle boat, the Arthur Reuben – a vessel that took him six years to complete, and is now on the market. Photos: PAUL MENSCH

By MADISON EASTMOND

PAUL Isherwood is a man determined to keep the history and legacy of Murray River paddle boats alive.

Describing himself as just an “old Navy guy,” Paul’s passion for boats, and the river in general, has recently seen him build his own vessel from scratch!

The ‘Arthur Reuben’ paddle boat, named after his father, has taken Paul six years to complete, with the vessel now on the market.

“If I was single I’d probably keep it, but if I kept it I’d be single!” he joked. “I have such a love of boats and I built this as a way to keep the legacy of paddle boats alive.

“The Murray has so much history with paddle steamers, and I think it’s very important to continue that.”

Paul was the overseer, labourer and designer of the Arthur Reuben, and began construction in his sister’s backyard. He has deliberately built the vessel to look more than 100-years-old, and features a flat hull ‘side wheeler paddle vessel’ design.

The Arthur Reuben is built with 6mm thick 3/50 grade steel, and is 24 metres long, including a 5.9m beam.

The vessel is powered by a Dorman 60hp diesel engine, and has five cabins in total, including three double cabins and two bunk beds.

“Two double cabins and one bunk cabin have full bathrooms attached, and the remaining double cabin and bunk just have a toilet and hand basin,” Paul explained.

The gallery and kitchen has a gas range, two stainless sinks with hot and cold water, and stores more than 2000 litres of fresh water.

The two-storey vessel also features a lounge area, and a huge dining and living room off the galley, which leads directly to a rear open deck. 

“What people need to be aware of is that it’s not a houseboat, it’s a paddle boat,” Paul said. 

“So to take on a boat like this you need to have a keen interest in the history – it’s not like a houseboat where you can jump in and start driving, bearings need to be greased and such, you need to be really invested.

“But if someone is (interested), it would make the perfect boat!”

Water almost seems to run through Paul’s veins, with his early working years spent at sea.

“I’ve been at sea since I was 15, working on oil rigs and such,” he said. “I’ve been surrounded by water, off it, on it, and under it for most of my adult life, as I was a clearance diver for the Navy for many years – and I just have always loved boats.”

Paul said it was with a heavy heart that he has to handover the captain’s cap of the Arthur Reuben.

“Originally we were going to run this boat as a floating restaurant, and also do overnight tours – but, because there has been so little water in the river, and so many trees in the water, it is too difficult to navigate a boat any bigger than a tinny through it,” he said.

“Taking into account the costs involved, and the fact we have so little water in the river, we thought as much as we don’t want to, it would be better to turn it into a private vessel and sell it.

“The only reason we got down to Mildura was because of the recent flush that came through that made the water two metres higher than it usually is – and in saying that, we just got down here.

“We brought the boat down because it is almost five times as wide down here, and so much easier to navigate.

“It will actually be able to be used in this part of the river.”

Those interested in finding out more about the Arthur Reuben are asked to contact Bill Muir on 0417 531 316.