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Idiosyncrasies of new lifejacket laws

The Maritime News column (Afloat Apr’12) contained a defence of Maritime’s new lifejacket laws, specifically explaining the “requirement to wear a lifejacket when alone in a small open boat, and that includes a tender”.

I further quote, “being alone in a small open boat continues to prove fatal. Since July 2011, 10 lives have been lost in boating accidents in NSW. Four of those involved a person in a tender … not wearing a lifejacket”.

The above explanation does not submit, even an approximation of, the number of people partaking of open boating in NSW, and, given the number of swing moorings throughout NSW, makes not the slightest attempt to estimate tender use (even at twice per year). Thus there is no attempt to quantify the number of deaths compared with the number of people involved in the activity.

There will always be fatalities no matter what the regulations. I speculate that as a percentage of people involved, the above fatality figures of 10 and four would be extraordinarily low.

If the authorities consider life to be so sacred as to impose the “alone in a tender” lifejacket regulations, then a 40kph speed limit should exist on all city roads and all vehicles be engineered so they are mechanically incapable of exceeding 110kph. (Random gun/knife searches on the public wouldn’t go astray either.)

If I row my tender to my vessel alone, with 30cm of freeboard, without a lifejacket I am illegal. Invite another three adults, giving me only 10cm freeboard (and much higher overall CG), without a lifejacket I am legal.

In a bay on a regular ferry route 10cm of freeboard is foolhardy. Ah, but legal.
And what is so special about being “less than 4.8m” (minimum loa before law applies). Again, at 2.4m, with a comfortable and stable WL beam of 1m, rowing my tender alone without a lifejacket is illegal. Hop into a single scull, loa 8m and 25cm beam, tricky and potentially unstable, without a lifejacket is legal.

Whether alone in an open boat, or seagoing craft 100nm offshore, and especially in a tender on the harbour, I shall continue to make my own decisions regarding my own safety, and respectfully suggest the authorities enact legislation more thoughtfully, and certainly be wary of using simplistic and shallow explanations.

Peter M. Wargent,

Removal of cruise ship facilities from Port Jackson

I heartily concur with Graeme Andrews’ sentiments on the Sydney cruise terminal debacle.

One topic into which he did not weigh into was the fact that re-jigging the streets around the overseas terminal at the Quay now prevents the victualling of cruise ships, and the profound loss of income and eventually the capacity (due to victuallers leaving the trade) to effect this essential task.

Of course, every instrumentality that could be involved in the narrowing of the streets and denying access to large trucks has denied responsibility. The very same instrumentalities which, over the decades, have denuded Sydney of commercial maritime activities (except, of course, those involving luxury cruisers and the like).

One profound disappointment is the present State Government proceeding with the removal of the Barangaroo cruise ship facilities. Balmain is totally unsuitable from a large liner and passenger transport point of view, especially since the heavy rail line which ran to the city and the airport has now (only recently) been placed out of use and given over to proposed light rail use.

The tracks are still there and access still (just) available. Let’s stop the tram at Lilyfield on a permanent basis before it’s too late. Tourist trains still serve wharves (if not the jetties themselves) in New Zealand. This scenario could easily be duplicated at Balmain, if this unwelcome alternative terminal transpires.

Perhaps the complete removal of cruise ship facilities from Port Jackson (and relocation to Newcastle or Wollongong) is only just around the corner, if the authorities’ continued denuding actions in favour of commercial/residential options are any indication.

Ian Heather,

Cruise ship berthing

Noting the interest of late around Sydney concerning cruise ships and where to berth ’em makes me wonder if it might not be a good idea for the government to re-purchase the Finger Wharf in Woolloomooloo.

It would cost a lot less than trying to build something new somewhere else for a trade that only runs for about half the year.

Graeme Andrews,

‘Unofficial’ use of moorings does not work

Further to Noel Parker’s letter ‘Ban on anchoring in Little Manly and Quarantine’ (Afloat May’12).

With respect to his comment concerning the “unofficial system” that works at the Basin and Refuge Bay, Broken Bay, I would suggest that it certainly does not work well at the Basin, and any ‘unofficial’ use there or elsewhere is being done so against the laws that are in place. A mooring licence conditions leaflet from the marine authority clearly explains this.

Firstly, I understand that there are approximately 60 club-type moorings and a handful of private moorings at the Basin. There are no public/courtesy moorings there and only a couple at Refuge and America Bays.

Secondly, the mooring apparatus for each mooring is owned by the mooring licensee – it is their private property. A mooring licence is issued for the area where their mooring apparatus is to be placed. The mooring itself is for use by that individual or authorised club member.

Thirdly, there has been absolute carnage at the Basin this summer. Dozens of moorings have been dragged all over the place by what I might suggest is “unofficial use” and usually by vessels that are too big for the moorings or rafts of vessels. Some moorings are now side by side, others are so close that it is possible to step from boat to boat, while others have been dragged almost towards the horizon.

It is abundantly clear that “unofficial” use does not work. Some visitors seem to have little respect for a mooring that they pick up, even if it is one that is owned by the club that they belong to. Perhaps the adage ‘a thousand miles from care’ prevails.

I would suspect that public moorings would suffer a similar fate, and who would bear the additional cost of that misuse – indirectly you and I – let alone the costs of administering and policing them?

Bob Taylor,

Marine Rescue funding

Further to P. O’Connor’s letter (Afloat Apr’12) there is absolutely no argument that personnel engaged as volunteers are well trained and provide an essential service to the boating public. Their dedication is without question and the fund raising that occurs is incredible. 

The financial details documented in the February issue of Afloat were extracted from the NSW Maritime Financial Report 2009 – Other grants – (Marine Rescue Volunteers, Marine Safety Committee & Australia Day support – $4.882 Million).

The following is an extract of a reply from the General Manager, Office of Boating Safety, Transport NSW dated 10th January 2012.

“The allocation of over $4 Million to Marine Rescue NSW in 2009-2010 included a one-off allocation of $3 Million to assist the newly created organization in its establishment.

    •    $1.47 Million annual recurrent allocation.

    •    Monthly marine rescue contributions received from licence and registered vessel owners (excluding personal watercraft) estimated to be in the vicinity of $5 Million for the full financial year.”

Dennis Donald,

NSW government continues wetland rent rip-off

Despite a commitment (in September 2009) to the Waterfront Action Group (WAG) to charge “a fair market rent” for wetland leased or licensed to owners of jetties, boatsheds, mooring pens etc., and an exhaustive review by IPART last year, the current Government has continued to charge rents that are substantially above market.
The final IPART report was provided to the Government last December, but the Government has so far refused to release it and failed to implement the IPART recommendations.

Dramatically incorrect invoices have continued to be issued by the Crown Lands Division of the Department of Primary Industries and by Roads and Maritime Services, despite their (and the Ministers’) knowledge that those invoices are substantially incorrect.

In his judgment in the WAG-funded appeal to the Court of Appeal last year, Justice Macfarlan made reference to the fact that an argument could have been put, that because the rate of return (which is a 10 year rolling average, that should be rolled every year) had not been reviewed since early 2004, Crown Lands Division should have applied “the market rent”, under Section 143(1) of the Crown Lands Act, instead of applying the IPART formula, under Section 143(2) of the same act.

WAG is currently considering testing that theory in Court, following a request from a Pittwater member, who is a divorced lady with three school-age children and cannot afford the $18,000 plus wetland rent being demanded of her, with a Statement of Claim issued out of a Newcastle Court.

WAG considers that the rent demanded by Crown Lands Division is approximately 10 times the “market rent” for Pittwater and is looking forward to challenging the Government on this continuing rip-off, which they criticised when in opposition.

George Citer,
Chairman, WAG.

Elusive Spirit

I refer to Don Hartley’s letter ‘Finished with engines – elusive skills of a single-handed sailor’ (Afloat May’12).

I’d like to thank Don of Balmain as it invoked memories of my meanderings through Refuge Bay and America Bay that was part of a perfect two day sail in the Hawkesbury River and Pittwater, overnighting in Smiths Creek. I remember saying ‘gidday’ to Don as I sailed by his yacht located on a mooring in America Bay.

Enjoying my yacht is always a pleasure for me and whether with a crew or single-handed, racing or cruising, different skills are needed and therefore my excuse is to practise them as often as possible.

My Beneteau First 305 (1986 vintage) is a great yacht to sail and takes me up and down the coast safely both cruising and in offshore races. It also holds its own around the cans (when the skipper makes good decisions) in Brisbane Water with Gosford Sailing Club and loves racing in Pittwater and Sydney Harbour in regattas and the Beneteau Cups.

For me sailing is always enjoyable in any form on any yacht and I enjoy practising as often as I can.

Robert Swan,
Elusive Spirit, Gosford Sailing Club.

On street boat parking

I had to laugh on reading Stannard’s story about Dugga Beazley (Afloat Apr’12) and seeing Dugga’s fishing boats propped up in the street.

With flash unit blocks all around and BMWs and Mercs parked alongside, he is fixing, painting and anti-fouling away.

Yet here in Sydney the do-gooders complain about trailer boats parked near golf courses and parks.

God help them if Dugga ever moved in next door!

Andrew Divola,
Allambie Heights.

Overt flag display

Dave Tierney (Afloat Apr’12) introduces two new aspects from WA about flying the Australian Ensign – cars and racism.

Having lived in WA, I can tell Dave that the practice of flying our blue ensign on cars in the days leading up to and on Australia Day is just as prevalent in NSW but it misses the point. 

My disappointment is over the lack of pride in the red ensign by boat owners be it Australia Day or any other day.

As to the study by the university academic that suggest flying the Australian flag from cars may be racist, I say who cares. We are Australians and should be proud of it by at least flying our beautiful flag.

John Hancox,

Afloat on the DanubeAfloat on the Danube

Thought you might like this photo I took of Capt Ference, the skipper of Scenic Ruby as he navigated the Danube River in March this year. He has both the February and March Afloat with him.

Also thanks to all concerned with putting out this great magazine. I have been an avid reader since it first came out. I took the magazines with me on the cruise and left them on board as the crew were very interested to read about being afloat in Australia.

Ian Thors,
by email.

Dolphins line up for conga

On weekend late afternoons for the past couple of summers, the relaxing rhythm of someone playing a big conga drum has drifted around Obelisk Bay.

It sets a very pleasant mood and can probably be heard in the right conditions over on South Head.

The serene percussionist sets himself up on the south side of Middle Head in the late afternoon sunlight and away he goes to the pleasure of anyone on the harbour who cares to hear him.

A few Sundays ago when it was warm, a small pod of dolphins were clearly checking him out. They swam along the shore from Georges Head and ‘congagated’ below drummer boy’s rocky perch. 

I’d say they were enjoying it as much as we were.

Gary Jackson,
Georges Heights.

A punt each way

Back in the ‘good old days’ of my youth, in the early and mid-1960s, on most Saturdays we drove from southern Sydney to Sackville, via the road through Windsor, Wilberforce and Ebenezer, to spend the day water skiing. We crossed the Hawkesbury at Sackville using a small punt which was driven by a gentleman who lived in a nearby house, probably owned by the DMR or some such Authority.

Given that we would arrive at the river around 8am, we would be the first to require the services of the punt and we would be obliged to summon the driver by ringing a very loud bell that was positioned adjacent the eastern-side punt ramp.

If rung for long enough, the bell would serve to rouse the driver (and any others who may have lived within a five kilometre radius) who, having occupied himself in a nearby pub on Friday night, would wander down to the punt, very bleary-eyed, in his bare feet and obviously clothed as he had slept.

It was all very amusing, and even more so when we reached the western side of the river and the punt ran up the ramp to the maximum possible distance, placing the normally submerged structure well out of the water and with the driver looking even more bleary-eyed and at peace with the world.

Having driven off the punt we would be called-upon (using ever-ready crow bars) to lever the punt back down the ramp and into its intended floating condition.

Oh for the ‘good old days’ of antiquated punts and interesting characters!

Naturally, the end-of-day return trip was usually uneventful, sobriety having temporarily been restored.

Ray Walton,

Captain Cook’s landing at Kurnell

The Botany Bay article by Alan Lucas (Afloat May’12) featured a detail of the monument at Kurnell, showing the date of Cook’s landing as 28 April. For the reasons outlined below from the Sydney Observatory website, this date is generally accepted as being incorrect.

“Like other Royal Navy captains of his time, Cook did not take the IDL [International Date Line] into account when recording dates, even when sailing west across the Pacific. An extra complication in interpreting dates in his log is that he was using nautical time that began at noon and was 12 hours ahead of the civil day.

“Thus in his journal he recorded his landing at Botany Bay on the afternoon of Sunday 29 April 1770. In civil time that was the afternoon of 28 April and that is the time inscribed on the Captain Cook monument at Kurnell. However, as Cook did not add the extra day on crossing the IDL it is now usual to correct his date to 29 April.”

Despite this, the re-enactment is held annually on 28 April and there seems to be no interest in correcting the date on the monument.

Well done to the Cooks River Valley Association for using the occasion to highlight the volume of plastic waste in the river and need for container deposit legislation … even if the date is wrong. Thank you for the priceless magazine!

Maurice Lang,
Dundas Valley.

Olley tubs

I was a boarder at Riverview in the 1950s in the period Alan Lucas wrote about (Memory Lane Cove River, Afloat Apr’12).

I learned about boats in ‘Olley tubs’ which were small whalers of ancient age and named after the Junior Rowing Master.

The reservoir pictured on p35 we called ‘the convicts pool’, built well before the school was established. Rainy winter weekends usually resulted in the masters organising a paper chase with the ‘hares’ leaving a paper trail throughout the gardens and bush to be followed by the ‘hounds’ (the rest of the school).

The trail always crossed the convicts pool where the hares in hiding would ensure that everyone had a swim. The water was always freezing!

David Davis,

Smooth as silk but lacking in sensitivity

Enjoyed Alan Luxton’s article on the Bligh Mutiny (Afloat May’12). However, his assertion that “there was no such thing as condoms in those days” is incorrect. They had been around for centuries.

Eighteenth century condoms were made of silk or linen (chemically treated), or of animal intestine or bladder (again chemically treated).

Apparently Casanova was a great devotee prior to 1774 (see his memoirs). However, they were reportedly uncomfortable and lacking in sensitivity, and very expensive … maybe Bligh’s sailors were as underpaid as the rest of the British Navy at that time!

It took the British Fleet mutinies of the 1790s – the Channel Fleet, Spithead and the Nore – to address some of the pay and conditions problems for British Navy sailors.

For those with an interest in such things, see http:/ See also the Alan Lewrie nautical novels by Dewey Lambdin for stories of sailors and shore leave.

Terry Plunkett,

Christian’s syphilis

I am curious to know why Mr Luxton fights shy of naming syphilis in his story of Mutiny on the Bounty (Afloat Apr’12).

His reference to activities of the sailors on the island of Tahiti seems to imply that the “venereal disease” originated there. Syphilis was a then incurable disease carried by a surprising number of supposedly respectable European men, doubtless women too.

Together with smallpox it did a great deal of the work of conquering both the Americas and the Antipodes. Native populations were quickly decimated or devastated, as they had no immunity to the disease. Lack of knowledge of the disease process caused unfortunate native peoples to pass the disease on among themselves.

The spirochete is also able to pass through the human placenta, enabling congenital syphilis. Fletcher Christian would have been unusually kind to make a decision not to give it to his sweetheart. Distance and circumstance played greater roles here, I think.

Thank goodness for the work of Howard Florey for his work on antibiotics that enabled the spread of these terrible diseases to be halted. (Fleming merely took the credit for Florey’s work).

On a topic in the same area, re “the old woman herself destitute even of a fig-leaf” (Botany Bay article), the fig leaf is an artistic convention used to hide the genitals of a nude figure. It strikes me that the native Australians of Botany Bay had a lot more dress sense than the Europeans in their tight wool coats and boots.

Deirdre FitzGerald,

Titanic illusion

Ken Wright’s article ‘Titanic and Myth’ (Afloat May’12) has a picture purportedly of the Titanic and the resemblance is certainly there. Titanic had the forward promenade (A) deck enclosed, as in the picture, distinguishing her from her sister Olympic in which it was not.

The picture is actually of the Olympic which has been ‘doctored’ in relation to the promenade deck, undoubtedly to give a ‘rendition’ of Titanic on her departure from Southampton.

This point is made by Don Lynch (historian of the Titanic Historical Society) and Ken Marschall (perhaps the world’s leading Titanic artist) in their book Ghosts of the Abyss.

John Macarthur,

The big V12s

Paul Hopkins’ mention of the V12 Merlins (Once Were Warriors, Afloat Mar’12) brought back fond memories of the days when I was the ‘Rower Inna’ at the original Deepwater Motor Boat Club, which was then at Kentucky a couple of miles upriver of Milperra Bridge.

My afternoon’s pay was ten bob and a meat pie with sauce … plus tips. I always kept an eye out for the skipper of the cruiser Elaine B which was worth at least a quid.

There was a meeting at Hen and Chicken Bay, the big drawcard was a match race between two Merlin powered boats, Redhead (which was brought over as deck cargo from NZ) and Alphast. Each boat was 30ft plus in length and of entirely different in design, Redhead had your normal shaped water cutting bow, fairly narrow beam and only the cylinder heads and rocker boxes showing above the deck.

Alphast was as beamy as a dance floor and dead flat on the bottom. It had about five or six fins similar to surfboard fin. Out of the deck the whole Rolls Royce Merlin was exposed from the sump up.

But there was a fly in the ointment, a three-pointer named Wasp owned by Ernie Nunn and powered by a Ferrari engine. Wasp was half the size of the opposition but it had a few surprises in store for them.

I was sitting on this huge boulder with many others and I swear that that rock vibrated each time those Merlins went past. You can imagine these two giants going flat chat up the straight and passing a little dot that was Wasp.

But as they came out of the big 150ft turn who would show their head first but Wasp. I can’t remember the result but Alphast didn’t finish as on the last turn going too hard it tore off all the fins and proceeded sideways only to become stuck in the mud among the mangroves.

About 20 blokes got Alphast back in the water out of the mud. They all looked like Al Jolson when the boat was refloated!

Ray Curtis,

Provocative challenge

With regard to the various events that are happening lately to commemorate the Titanic disaster.

My grandmother, Elizebeth Anne Butt, was good friends with Sarah Smith the wife of Captain Edward John Smith. My grandmother lived in Southampton not very far from the Smiths.

When the Titanic left Southampton on her maiden voyage, she and Sarah went down to the docks and, as guests of Captain Smith, were given a tour of the ship. During the tour they came across a message written along a passage bulkhead with the following words chalked up; ‘EVEN GOD CANNOT SINK THIS SHIP’!

Obviously written in reference to the supposed advanced design and safety features that was all the news in the media then.

After the loss of the Titanic and Captain Smith, Sarah was unable to keep their dog because of the connection with her husband and the sad memories this engendered. So Sarah gave the dog to my grandmother.

Colin Aburrow,
Barragup WA.

Faded memories

Alan Lucas’s article ‘Memory Lane Cove River’ (Afloat Apr’12) article brings back many fond memories of Sydney Harbour. However, we have to disagree with the caption describing the photograph of Bob Dyer’s launch passing Fort Denison. I have discussed this with my brother in Adelaide and an old friend in St Lucia, WI, all ex-Sydneysider boatees and now octogenarians.

The part of Fort Denison shown in the photograph is the edge of the Martello Tower on the eastern end of the fort so that the launch is on the northern side of it heading in an easterly direction. Therefore the photograph is sighting in a south easterly direction. Bennelong Point is to the west of Fort Denison and in the background is the southern approaches to the Harbour Bridge and the Rocks, not as salubrious an area in those days as it is now.

We are of the opinion that the point in the immediate background is Garden Island and the building is the old fitters shop on the island’s west side outermost wharf. The old tram sheds on Bennelong Point had a completely different profile which, looking east to west was flat-roofed and north to south a ‘saw-tooth’ profile covering about eight parallel tram tracks.

Off the bows of Dyer’s launch there are, although indistinct, some large buildings which I suggest are the waterfront flats of Point Piper.

The launch is most likely to be that of Bob Dyer as I remember him pulling into Joel’s Boatshed in Balmoral to either pick up or land Sabu ‘The Elephant Boy’ around that time. However, I think this 1930s/40s era motor cruiser predated his later game fishing boat which had a flying bridge.

Many thanks Afloat for many fine memories.

Don Skinner, Wellington, NZ.
Jim Skinner, Adelaide, SA.
John Kessell, St Lucia, WI.

Bob Dyer’s boat

The photo in Alan Lucas’s article ‘Memory Lane Cove River’ (Afloat Apr’12) isn’t Bob Dyer’s boat.

The first Tennessee was a Halvorsen 25 and Tennessee II was a Halvorsen 38 which was basically an enlarged 36 with a flybridge. He took delivery of Tennessee II in 1951.

The boat in the photo has portholes in the hull, neither of the Tennessee boats had portholes in the hull, also there isn’t a flybridge or fishing poles.

Incidentally, Tennessee II was number 1010 out of the Halvorsen factory, my boat White Crest a Halvorsen 36 was build number 1008, also built in 1951. It has been located in Queensland since 1969, I have owned it since 2003.

I understand Tennessee II is still in good shape and is moored on the Hawkesbury.
Keep up the good work, I really enjoy Afloat.

Dennis Watt,
Gold Coast.

Scuttling of Australia IScuttling of Australia I

Stored away in an old box I found several photos of the scuttling of Australia I on 12 April 1924. Her location is 095 degrees 24 miles from Inner Sydney Head.

These photographs must have been taken during my father’s appointment as O/C in charge of the RAAF Richmond photographic section.

From L to R. 1 – The two tugs towing HMAS Australia I seaward with two tugs in escort. 2 – The tender leaving Australia I with the crew that had just opened all sea water valves. 3, 4 & 5 – she lists progressively to port. 6 – now bottom up and the Squadron firing their salute across her. 7 – on her final plunge to the bottom.

Her forward mast and lookout superstructure were removed and mounted on Bradleys Head.

Neville Aurousseau,
Tomakin NSW.

Scarborough EngineeringSatisfaction guaranteed

We wanted to share our feelings of satisfaction and pride in owning a beautiful and unique restored timber boat, pictured.

We found Scarborough Engineering through Afloat magazine. Our new boat is not only beautiful to look at but guarantees so much fun each time we use it. Thanks, Dave.

We’re stoked!

Bob & Dottie Swoope,


Please ensure letters to the RSVP section include your contact details (e.g. Name, phone number, email address and suburb).


Yacht KareelaYacht Kareela

I’ve always loved your magazine since 1994, when I moved to Australia from Canada. A shipwright by trade, and a mariner by profession, I now find myself up the Brisbane River at Carrington Rocks, where I am in charge of a beautiful old vessel from Lavender Bay, Sydney.

Attached is a photo of Kareela at Carrington Boating Club, in the Sherwood Reach of the Brisbane River. Built by Holmes of Lavender Bay, the build dates conflict. Insurance says 1930, registration 1932. I hope a reader of yours may recognise Kareela and provide some information. She’s been up here awhile, and is well known on Moreton Bay.

Ian Howard,
0405 071 942
106 Hilda St, Corinda, Qld   4075

Halvorsen KenoshaHalvorsen Kenosha

I am the owner of a Halvorsen 25 foot cruiser Kenosha (pictured) that I purchased some three years ago out of SE Queensland.

She now resides on the Gippsland Lakes at Paynesville, Victoria. She is a lovely boat and will go in for a major refit later this year. 

I am trying to piece together her history. The previous owner has also tried and could not verify when she was built and what her original name was. We think she was built in 1950 and Kenosha appears not to be her original name. Are any readers able to assist?

Les Mathieson,
0418 106 725;
P O Box 142, Paynesville, Victoria, 3880.