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Letters


Perils of the Hobart start

On Boxing Day I motored up from Botany Bay with three friends to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. This was to be my third visit in the same boat to the event, so I knew roughly what to expect.
We were travelling in my 6.2 metre Marlin Broadbill cat, not the biggest boat on the harbour by any stretch of the imagination. But it would seem to me that in the eyes of some skippers, the vessel was invisible.
At the 1pm start time we were off Watsons Bay, part of the pack, moving slowly towards the heads, in a six-knot zone.
It started shortly after. The ‘big boat, little member’ mentality, large vessels cutting through the pack with scant regard to the others obeying the rules. Bow up, stern down, oblivious to anyone directly in front of them, I watched vessels pass within metres of each other.
A Maritime vessel screamed past us, his lights flashing, pointing the finger at the offenders telling them to slow down. With the huge amount of traffic the seas in the harbour now resembled Cape Horn.
Threatened from every side and keen to stay out of the way, I found myself getting closer to the rocks as we neared the harbour entrance. Adjacent to the Hornby light, one of the mates cried out, “Max, look out!”
Directly behind me was the huge bow of a 40ft cruiser going flat-out, just one boat length away. Up on the bow of the other boat a passenger was pointing down at us screaming to his skipper of the impending collision. I accelerated out of trouble and watched the other boat pass us as if nothing had happened.
Among the assembled multitude were people in kayaks. In my opinion they are placing their lives in the hands of fools just described. It’s just a matter of time before someone is going to lose their life.
Sydney to Hobart by yacht and the perils of Bass Strait … kids stuff.
Watson Bay to the Sydney Heads by motorboat, now there’s a real adventure.
Max Gleeson,
Caringbah.

Cruising the NSW coast

A note of caution to any cruising yachtsman intending to call in at Ulladulla on the NSW South coast.
The cost of tying up at Ulladulla is $40 per night. Payment is usually made at the Search and Rescue station just up from the Tuna wharf.
Forty dollars a day is, in my view, not cheap, considering what you get … or don’t get. Firstly, the wharf itself is an imposing concrete and stone structure forming the inner wall of the main breakwater. There are two (recently added) stainless steel ladders along its entire length. At low tide there’s a good two metre jump to the lip of the wharf – and no handholds.
I only saw four bollards on the jetty, all big enough to hold the QE2. Most of these are taken up by permanents or fishing boats.
There is water, but don’t try and hook up your domestic hose fitting – these babies are one and a half inch, high pressure outlets suitable for blowing out wet tanks. Mains AC is available.
And payment of your $40 doesn’t give you any security of tenure. If a commercial fishing boat needs space on the wharf, off you get. While there is not necessarily any unpleasantness involved in this – you can usually raft up to the vessel in question – it’s just that having paid your money you don’t always get to stay where you thought you were entitled to stay. Bit like getting turfed out of your motel room because a truckie has arrived.
There is a toilet. It’s about 250 metres down the road by the local pool. It is kept clean and so on, but we’re not talking the Hilton. Concrete floors and horse-stall doors, more like breezy, as it were.
Oh, and you can’t leave the boat unattended.
Add to this a serious surge in a developed easterly or nor’easter, and almost nowhere in the basin to drop the pick, and the attraction of Ulladulla as a destination starts to pall. Compare this to Bermagui further south – $20 a night, lovely facilities, safe harbour, and a professional marina management – no contest.
No problem with the fishos on a personal level here – they’re good people (watch ‘Hardliners’ on Foxtel for a fascinating insight into the hard, dangerous work these guys do). It’s just a matter of value for money.
Come on Ulladulla – you can do better.
Simon Dickins,
Melbourne.

I briefly saw them passing by

I came out to Australia with my husband from England for the Ashes and stayed with my son-in-law at their home in Castle Cove. Rather than watch the start of the Boxing Day Test, we were invited out on a neighbour’s high-speed fibreglass share-launch to watch “The Start Of The Sydney-Hobart”.
I had never heard of it and didn’t know what to expect but from the way my ‘loveable-larrikin’ currency-trading, bonus-fuelled, Australian son-in-law was carrying on it was something quite special.
“The biggest yachting event on the international calendar ... watched, admired and envied all over the world,” he said. Stimulated by his enthusiasm, I got rather excited, and was looking forward to this apparently very special day out on the water.
Frankly, I was disappointed – much as you Australians (understandably) must be about the cricket.
In weather we’re more used to in England, we were herded with other spectators back behind some floating bollards as if this was the Mall and Prince Charles and his Consort were scheduled to speed by.
We were so far back we barely heard the starter’s gun and only just glimpsed in the distance two or three very big yachts speed out to sea in less than six minutes.
And then they were gone. There was now nothing to look at bar a bunch of heavily-handicapped, clearly non-thoroughbred, much smaller and slower yachts – who had hitherto been held back a polite distance from the others – sail off in hopeless pursuit.
The sea around us was now very rough and many collisions narrowly avoided, as my husband and I realised that whatever it was we had come to see was already over.
The rest of the day was spent at a rowdy, crowded anchorage near Manly, eating take-away chicken and salad with our fingers and drinking warm white wine from plastic cups.
I thanked my son-in-law for his thoughtfulness, without letting on that we felt let down. We left for England the next day, and spent a week in Hong Kong … waiting for the snow to melt at Heathrow and wondering what the Boxing Day fuss in Sydney was all about.
Margaret Wynette-deSloop,
Dorking, United Kingdom.

Mooring Minders

I notice there seems to be an issue with so called mooring minders.
My observation is that there are only few really derelict boats moored in the high demand areas of Sydney Harbour (especially east of the bridge). In my area there are plenty of boats that seem to be used infrequently but are maintained in a reasonable state of repair.
Some of the owners of these boats I know and there are many reasons for them not using their boat as often as they would like. Some bird droppings and a dirty bottom do not make a boat a mooring minder.
So how do you determine when a boat is a mooring minder?
I have had to justify keeping my mooring when the boat was under repair because someone thought the mooring had become vacant. In respect of mooring maintenance, I agree that a mooring licence should require some proof of maintenance of the mooring. This by itself does not prevent the mooring from failing and the boat going walkabout.
Jock Jude,
Milsons Point.

Courtesy moorings

I read with interest the letter from David Lyall of the Boat Owners Association (Afloat Jan’11) regarding two new courtesy moorings recently located either side of the Spit Bridge, making five in all.
There have always been two ‘pink’ courtesy moorings on the eastern side of the bridge, so has NSW Maritime simply pulled one up and placed it on the western side?
I would like a quid for every illegally tied-up small fishing boat or visiting yacht I have shifted off these moorings in the past; and I don’t really think they are necessary at all. Each courtesy mooring in Athol Bay, Bantry Bay and others around the waterway cost some $1,200 to buy and lay plus a yearly servicing fee.
I think Middle Harbour boaters need to take responsibility for judging their timing to coincide with the bridge openings and learn to use an anchor, where possible.
We could then spend the saved money (got to be over $30,000 a year) on storing and auctioning off mooring minders.
Graham Forsaith,
Sydneysail.

The ‘Al Clark’ philosophy on life

Such an observation about John Powell (Afloat Jan’11), also says a lot about the man that wrote it and I feel that an explanation of the ‘Al Clark’ philosophy on life is due. We all sailed out of VYC and all became the best of friends to this day (45years later).
Al was and still is an inspiration and role model to those who knew him. He was a successful dentist who loved life, women and sailing (in any order).
Some sailing highlights … runner up to David Forbes (the eventual 1972 Olympic Gold Medallist in the Star class); four times World Champion in the Laser Class. And that is just a snapshot of his sailing. He was one of the best sailors Australia has ever produced.
His great skill I feel was with people (of all ages), he was my best friend and with my friends being about 18 years younger, he was accepted without question. He had a wonderful general knowledge, and an ability to remember details of people and then meet them six months later and ask, “How are you going in your Uni course?” – with total detail and genuine interest.
He was open with advice, be it in life or sports. And this continued to the next generation. He attended my daughter’s wedding recently and she was so happy that Al was there, at 86 years of age.
He left his body to science, and there was a well attended wake that he had been talking about for years. This was his second ‘wake’ as he was shot down in WWII and they thought he had been killed.
It was said at the wake that we were drinking his cellar, but that’s not true … he and his friends had been drinking the very best for years.
Rodney Bassetti,
Vaucluse.

Then and now – Adventure Bay, Van Diemen’s Land, where Caook stayed briefly during his third voyage. The artist is William Ellis, surgeon’s second mate aboard the Discovery.Tasmania’s historic Treasure Island

Those who are spurred on to visit Bruny Island by Winsome and Graeme Andrews’ interesting article about the ferries that have provided access to the island (Afloat Jan’11) may be interested in its connections with our early history.
Adventure Bay on the south-east side of the island was named by Captain Tobias Furneaux of HMS Adventure accompanying Captain James Cook on his second voyage when he went there to collect wood and water.
Then and now – Adventure Bay, Van Diemen’s Land, where Caook stayed briefly during his third voyage. The artist is William Ellis, surgeon’s second mate aboard the Discovery.It was his report of it that led to Cook calling in there for the same reason on his third, and fatal, voyage in HMS Resolution in January 1777. William Bligh was Cook’s Master on this voyage and when he came past in HMS Bounty in August 1788 he also called in for wood and water.
He repeated this when he came to the Pacific again on his second breadfruit voyage in HMS Providence in February 1792. Midshipman Matthew Flinders was on this voyage.
Visitors to Adventure Bay can see how little the scene has changed since William Ellis on Cook’s third voyage and George Tobin on the second breadfruit voyage drew the scenery. Even the trees look as if they have been standing there for over 200 years!
Also at Adventure Bay is a fine small museum dedicated to the memory of Bligh. It is certainly worth a visit.
Yes, go and visit Tasmania’s Treasure Island.
Peter Poland, President,
Woollahra History & Heritage Society.

Lady Wakehurst cruises

Further to Ian Heather’s letter (Afloat Jan’11) about the Lady Wakehurst in Hobart after the collapse of the bridge. He mentions that on return to Sydney the Lady Wakehurst was “fitted out in a harbour cruise configuration, but was never used as such”.
Lady Wakehurst became the cruise vessel for Sydney Ferries in late 1990 and used to do a Harbour History Cruise which cruised part of the main harbour as far as Shark Island before heading west and going as far up river as Looking Glass Bay, Gladesville.
In the afternoon she did a Harbour Sites Cruise which went east to Vaucluse, north to the Heads and then across Hunter Bay and under the Spit Bridge into Middle Harbour before returning in time for the next bridge opening and then direct back to Circular Quay.
Paul Oliver,
Umina Beach.

When Hobart’s bridge went down

In his article (Afloat Dec’10) Graeme Andrews asks, where were you when the bridge went down?
A hung-over crew, we were returning to Sydney on the lovely S&S43 Corroberee  after the Hobart race. As we went down the River Derwent the Lake Illawarra steamed past.
One of our crew, Nick Stephenson who worked as a radio operator for AWA, commented that she was the ship he was rostered to sail on but had juggled duties to sail the race.
Not long after we heard the dreadful news. God knows what must have been going on in his head but it made the enormity of the accident somehow much closer.
Lawrie Gubb,
Airlie Beach.

Party rent-a-boats

I read Sarah Steel’s letter about bozos rent-a-houseboat (Afloat Jan’11) with interest. I was surprised that she considered it a new water sport.
It has been going on for years and in my experience it has never been gender specific or common to one age group. My family owned and operated Don’s Boatshed at Brooklyn through the 1960s and into the ’80s. While there were not many houseboats, there were other rent-a-craft and the activities were often very much as described.
Being located near to the Anglers Rest one of the only two watering holes on Broken Bay at the time – the other being the Newport Arms – it was not unusual to see a party of rent-a-boaters staggering back to their boat following an afternoon at either pub with the supplies for a night on board.
Frequently they were in no condition take control of the boat. However, once on board the drinking would continue as they set off at full throttle to find a mooring where they could party long and loud into the night.
One thing that did surprise me was the reference to stubbies. In my experience the current generation appear to have developed a taste for the stronger ready to drink beverages.
Sunday mornings often meant unravelling ropes from around propellers so that the crew could get ashore to replenish the grog supplies for the trip back to the hire base.
Although the antics were similar, there were fewer people enjoying the waterways of Broken Bay in those days so perhaps it was not as obvious.
It sounds like life on Broken Bay hasn’t changed all that much.
Jim Paterson,
Canberra.

Futures on old windjammer LawhillFutures on old windjammer Lawhill

As is my custom at this time of year I tend to have a good clean out. In doing so I came across some old notes from my shipchandler father (now deceased).
Dad, being Norwegian and multi-lingual was working for Kopsens in Kent Street at the time and focused mainly on the transatlantic and Wilhelmson ships transiting the east coast of Australia. Sailing ships were not generally on his agenda as these were regarded as more in line with his employer’s retail business.
However, the story goes that father did a very lucrative deal with a boatyard that was over stocked with heavy clump blocks and halyards that had been salvaged from an old sailing ship and various hulks that had been lying around the coast.
Father’s boss was not impressed initially but my father persisted and was able to sell nearly everything to the four-master Lawhill who had suffered some storm damage and had not been able to replace a lot of the damaged gear.
Now this was a long time before the internet or in some cases even reliable phone services. So how did he know she was coming and that she might have damaged gear?
Father had a very reliable network of informants around the Australian coast (and that’s a story in itself) and got the tip-off from one of these informants. He went out and bought the gear on spec … and at the risk of his job judging by the notes he kept. The fact that it paid off is testament to his knowledge, spirit and enthusiasm.
Thor Lund,
Baulkham Hills.

Barging into Paris

Further to the article Pleasure and pain in Paris (Afloat Jan’11) by Valerie Helps and her husband Geoff Bull. My wife and I have had a barge on the Seine for some twenty years now.
Originally from Sydney where I worked as a water taxi driver when not flying. In the early 1990s I flew contract for Air France and bought an old (now 125yrs) Dutch barge. When not in Hong Kong we spend time aboard at our spot at St Fargeau/Ponthierry.
We really did enjoy the article and it rang absolutely true.
Mike and Randi Rigg,
Hong Kong.

Arnold MetcalfLong lasting Laser sailors

A Laser is an excellent design that can be sailed by sailors of all ages. Younger sailers can sail 2-up with a small sail, graduate to 1-up with a radial sail, and start using a full sail as they grow stronger. So we wondered what stories Afloat readers can tell about enduring Laser sailers?
One renowned Laser sailor is Arnold Metcalf (pictured)of Lane Cove 12ft Skiff Club. He’s been racing Lasers continuously since the early 1970s. He’s raced at club, national and international levels, and is known for his six-pack of stomach muscles and competitive spirit. Forty years of racing Lasers does that to you!
Having celebrated his 81st birthday recently and defending a competitive handicap of 13 minutes, we (his family) wondered who else is an enduring Laser sailor?
Alastair Metcalf,
Neutral Bay.

Rowing boat ferry across the Parramatta

Reading Gregory Blaxell’s article on Angela Catterns in the December issue of your most interesting magazine, reminded me of an experience I well remember of years ago on the Parramatta River.
In my infant years around 1935, I had an aunt living in Battersea Street, Abbotsford, and as our only means of transport in those days was the public system, the most convenient way to visit her was as follows.
We lived in the suburb of Ryde and my mum and I caught the tram from the Ryde Tram terminus to Old Punt Road, Gladesville, where we alighted and walked down that road to the wharf beside the Meggitts Linseed Oil complex to a small wharf on the edge of the Parramatta river.
Opposite, on the Abbotsford side of the river beside the Sydney Rowing club, was Hector Bailey’s boatshed (the building appears to be still there) and by calling out across the water to attract attention, Hector would, when contact was made, roll up his trousers to just below his knees and he would row across the river in a small rowing boat to pick us up.
The fee for our trip across to Abbotsford, was threepence. He was a kindly man who always seemed to be in a friendly frame of mind.
Subsequent years saw the rowing boat replaced by a small power‑driven vessel and I think there was a small bell to ring on the Gladesville side of the river, to attract attention. Of course the charge for the river crossing increased with the new vessel.
An endearing memory I cannot forget.
Noel Schofield,
Marsfield.

WAG welcomes IPART review of wetland rentals

The Waterfront Action Group (WAG) welcomes the NSW Government’s referral to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to review its fundamentally flawed 2004 formula by which rents are determined for domestic wetland tenancies including jetties, pontoons, mooring pens, reclaimed land etc.
There are approximately 8,000 lessees and licensees affected throughout NSW.
WAG, the Auditor-General of NSW and the NSW Valuer General have all been critical of either the formula or its application over the last five years and which, in the opinion of WAG, has led to gross overcharging of wetland rents.
WAG welcomes the admission by the Keneally government that the system of charging wetland rents needs to be reviewed and WAG looks forward to assisting IPART to develop a more fundamentally correct and transparent system of charging fair market rents.
We will be holding a seminar for members on 10 February, 2011 at the Kirribilli Club, Kirribilli from 6-8pm.
Legal and other experts will address topics such as:
    •   The current level of wetland rents
    •   How wetland rents are calculated – particularly focusing on the rate of return
    •   The new NSW Maritime leases being forced on Sydney Harbour lessees
    •   The possible purchase of reclaimed land from NSW Maritime
    •   Appealing decisions of NSW Maritime
It is currently intended to invite relevant Ministers, Department Heads, Members of Parliament and candidates in the March Parliamentary election. An opportunity will be provided for WAG members to ask questions.
George Citer, Secretary, WAG,
tel: 9948 5228 or 0417 290 884.
www.waterfrontactiongroup.com.au

R.S.V.P.

Extended life for old mooring minder

I am looking for a boat to fix up so I can take out Vietnam Veterans that are still feeling the effect of their ordeals from serving our country.
I contacted NSW Maritime regarding a 30ft yacht moored in Sydney Harbour that has obviously not been used for a number of years due to the fact it is coved in green mould, the timberwork is all decayed, has at least 50mm of bird droppings and is in a general state of disrepair.
The yacht looked like a worthy project and I was willing to pay the owner. This would have given the boat a good home and removed an eye-sore ship hazard. NSW Maritime did contact the owner who in turn contacted me and told me he is now 75 years old and is going to start fixing his boat – high hopes I thought!
It saddens me to think that a boat like that can go to ruin when they could bring lots joy. If anyone knows of a suitable boat I would be happy to hear from you.
Stan Sek,
24 Keda Circuit, North Richmond, NSW  2754.
tel: 0412 333 983. Email stan.sek@tafensw.edu.au

Yacht GumnutYacht Gumnut

I am trying to trace the history of my yacht Gumnut.
She is a Walker H28 ketch. She has an enclosed head on her starboard side and has davits. I bought her from a bloke at Newhaven, Victoria who bought her about 17 years ago from Port Macquarie, NSW.
I would be very grateful for any information on her past owners and cruising history, thanks.
Andrew Runciman,
tel: 03 5625 2262.
email: ajrunciman@bigpond.com

Yacht CelestialYacht Celestial

The yacht Celestial was sunk on mooring at Glades Bay, Sydney.
We spent 2 ½ years refitting in preparation for the Sydney Wooden Boat Show.
Length: 31ft. Beam: 8ft. Draught: 5ft. Construction: Oregon planked. Mast and Spars: Oregon. Flush Deck: Sloop. Also mainsail symbol blue circle with a white square.
It is now time to find the original builder so that we can affix builder’s plaque in the cabin. We would welcome any assistance your readers can offer.
John D. Minehan,
President Shipwright Services, Drummoyne.
tel: 02 9181 3467. Fax: 02 9719 8381.
email john@presidentshipwright.com

General Bourke

I am searching for several images of my forebears’ boats.
1. General Bourke – a cutter. Sank off Sydney Heads 1837 (belonged to my great great grandfather Michael Hindmarsh II.)
2. Charles Webb built 1842 – a ketch. Lost 1859.
3. Sea Serpent built 1852 – a schooner. Lost 1866 (both belonged to my great great uncle George Hindmarsh.)
Dr Michael Hindmarsh III,
61 Alne Bank Lane, Gerringong, NSW   2534.
tel: 0242 340 281; 0417 276 845.