LettersGot Something to Say? 

Roads Scholars

A couple of issues in relation to the ‘Brave New World’ of Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) – or you could call it adopting the ‘Yes, Minister’ way of working.

After Friday 30 November your readers and the boating public will have found that most of the easy access to knowledgeable staff (that is to say, staff who knows something about boating) is a thing of the past.

Boaties will from now on have no choice but to go to the former RTA now RMS Registries.

There the unsuspecting boating customer will learn first hand that few, if any, of the Registries will be able to fully deliver the service required by the boating enthusiast.
Not forgetting, also, that after that date, Afloat magazine will of course NOT be available in the RMS Registries.

This all reminds me – by the way – that all the huffin’ ’n’ puffin’ about ‘customer service’ by RMS and the government is obviously just hot air.

There are NO customers!

Only tax-payers!

Because none of us have a choice to avoid paying for an endless list of licenses and registration fees !

A customer, I would have thought, is someone who can make a choice about what product or service that they want to purchase.

We have no choice!

It would be preferable if RMS and the new state government would be honest just once!

But we will all be able to walk on water before that happens!

Gunhild Swietoslava,
Kanwal, NSW. 

Marlin board riders

I don’t know whether anyone else has noticed that marlin boards on the stern of some power boats are being used as an extension to the passenger deck area.

Marlin boards are there to assist boarding from a wharf, dinghy or jetty onto the stern of the boat and to allow passengers to use the board when slipping over the side for a quick dip. They often have folding or even removable ladders to assist people to get back up onto the board. I guess the name has something to do with fishing but as I get all my fish from Pyrmont Fish Markets I don’t have any knowledge of the name’s origins.

The latest addition to the marlin board is a couple of fabricated stainless steel rails which seem to slot into holes in the board and offer a sort of rail across the stern of the vessel. Some boards are used for carrying inflatable tenders rather like toast in a rack.

What they should not be used for is carrying passengers while the vessel speeds across the water. Does the skipper really think that is a safe thing to do, or do they not mind the bow being raised up as extra weight is placed exactly where you don’t want it?

The other day I saw a women standing on the marlin board of a substantial power boat, bum resting on the stainless steel rail device and holding a beer bottle.

The boat? Oh well that was only doing about 25 knots round Fort Denison area. What’s wrong with that?

My, Oh My! One little slip, one bumpy wave to cross or a sudden swing to one side or the other and she may well would have a real problem. As she fell in, her beer would be lost.

Seriously folks, what is it with the craze which I see all the time now?
Sorry RMS, another group of idiots to talk to.

Graham Forsaith,

High cost of amalgamation

I was a member of Volunteer Marine Rescue for many years prior to the amalgamation of the three groups. During the lead up to amalgamation we were informed of many things to entice us.

One of the bigger concerns was the matter of monies raised, and what would become of these funds after the event. A major point put out (and still espoused loudly) was “money raised locally, stays local”. But what has happened?

Units are now being told that the new vessels will require financial input from money raised locally; some units have been asked to hand over more than $200,000 that has been raised for local improvements.

From the MRNSW Financial Statement 2012: “The company (MRNSW) received $3 million in advance funding from the NSW Government in February 2011, that is to be repaid from the monthly receipts for boat registration and fishing licences over five years, at the rate of $50,000 per month. The loan bears no interest.”

Ongoing income from the MRNSW levy on water users raised $1,400,000 in the July-Oct 2011 period alone, so for the full year this exceeds $4M. There was also a $1.5M annual grant from NSW Maritime (now RMS). So why are units being told they have to hand over more locally raised funds?

Now this might sound OK on the face of it; but think about it. Units still have to fund all the fuel, slipping, mooring, berthing, building maintenance, and all the other items that are needed to maintain and foster a volunteer organisation. You would think that $5.5M+ per annum, with the levy CPI indexed, would be enough to fund an ongoing asset renewal.

But have a look at the cost of the MRNSW staff and admin!

There has been a been an enormous increase in spending by the head office.

Compare the year-on-year costs. A quick look at the MRNSW financial statement shows:

2010 Admin cost $194,577; Staff cost $193,087.

2012 Admin cost $1,168,118; Staff cost $1,249,031.

From $387,644 in 2010 to $2,417,149 in 2012 for staff and admin alone. Just under 50%!

Also there is a move to require banking and financial transactions to be done through the head office. This will require bank details and funds to be ‘managed’ by MRNSW.

Will this mean that the “money raised locally, stays local” will now mean “once head office have authorised the spending”?

Is this a way of making sure no locally raised unit funds are ‘hidden’ from MRNSW’s fingers? Will MRNSW be able to ‘redirect’ locally raised funds to whatever MRNSW thinks is appropriate?

Imagine the new department/staff/office space required to manage this!

It appears that the concerns units had prior to the amalgamation of a ‘big Government Department’ being formed is coming into fruition.

A Worried Volunteer.
(Name withheld to protect the local unit) 

Metho is OK

I was surprised by the negative response to an earlier letter ‘Winter warmth without the gadgets’ (Afloat Oct’12), offering the cheap alternative to cabin heating by the use of a ceramic (garden pot) over a metho or propane burner.

As it is logical to assume that the boat owner would have some passive ventilation in the boat (dorade vent, cowl vent, etc.), frankly I can’t see the problem. Burning denatured alcohol only produces carbon dioxide, heat and steam. Contrary to the current scare about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it is not poisonous, otherwise you could kill your wife just by sleeping with her on board a yacht on a cold night.

Carbon monoxide is poisonous, and it can be generated from excessive heating of a clay pot, but only if the clay pot has a very high content of vegetative matter (bark, sticks, twigs, etc.). This is unlikely … unless you have made your own from flood debris.

So metho is OK. Turn it off before you get under the doona … and sleep head to toe with your wife to avoid carbon dioxide poisoning.

Dr Ian Curtis, BSc Hons PhD,

Ceramic pots as heaters

I read with interest the letters in your November 2012 issue from Messrs Thompson and Phipps regarding the use of ceramic flower pots as heaters.

Whereas I respect their views and appreciate their intentions, I fail to see the difference between heating your evening meal, boiling the ‘billy’ or heating an inverted ceramic pot as a heater. All these functions will produce both carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) as by-products of the combustion of the LPG.

Maybe I am missing something here and if so I would welcome enlightenment, as the use of inverted flower pots is fairly widespread particularly in the colder states.
In regards to my own vessel, I will have to unfortunately use LPG, and will most certainly fit a gas detector, shut-off valves etc. However, I will also be fitting CO detectors both at the galley and sleeping quarters of the vessel. In addition to this I will be fitting an exhaust system to the galley area, similar to your home kitchen system, to remove both the moisture and the smells, gasses etc.

CO detectors are relatively cheep and can be hard wired or battery operated similar to smoke detectors in your home.

H. C. Morgan,
by email.

Prejudiced angle

In his effort to encourage you to “keep your editorial apolitical”, Martin Angle has revealed to us all, in no uncertain terms, his strong and perhaps biased leaning to the opposite to side which he claims you favour in your magazine (‘Boaters to be banned from new Marine Parks’, Afloat July’12).

Although you make it clear that your terrific magazine encourages feedback, positive or negative, I for one, as a long-term reader, consider Martin has lowered the tone of Afloat considerably with his letter, but full credit to the editorial staff for even printing it.

Dave Rickard,

The Blue Ocean and all that

Congratulations on publishing Marie-Claire Demers’ article ‘Dragging the chain’ (Afloat Oct’12) – interesting, informative and informed. However, some of the assertions of Bruce Stannard’s  ‘The Lament for the Blue Ocean’ should not go unchallenged.

The oceans are not being “acidified”. The Ph of the oceans is alkaline. A pedantic point perhaps, however, the main burden of the article rested on the proposition that Global Warming is man-made and could be stopped if everyone gave up on burning fossil fuels. In fact our Federal Government has asserted “that the science is settled” on this matter.

If, at this point, your eyes start to glaze over and you think “not another nutter rabbitting on about global warming” … go make a cup of coffee and resume reading your copy of Joseph Conrad.

However, if you’re stuck on a desert island with only Afloat and a railway timetable to read, here is an alternative take to Mr Carl Safina’s propositions.

There is a vigorous debate going on here and overseas among scientists which challenge the ‘conventional’ hypotheses on global warming. The science is certainly NOT settled. Yes, the earth is warming, it has been for about 150 years, ever since the Little Ice Age.

What the main controversies are about are how much the current and ‘projected’ warming is; is CO2 the main driver, will the outcome be dangerous, (or perhaps beneficial), can all, or any, nations afford the cost of ‘decarbonising’?

These, and many other related matters are not settled. They may not be settled, until your grandchildren are my age, which is substantial. For those of you with access to the internet there are three blogs which you may find informative – WUWT [Watts Up With That] US (world’s most popular science blog); UK – Bishop Hill; Oz – JoNova.

I will leave the question of over-fishing to those who are much, much better qualified to comment.

Evan Thomas,
West Pennant Hills.

Seagrass friendly moorings

I am dismayed by the extreme reaction of Graham Forsaith (Afloat Nov’12) to the suggestions of Ms Demers that seagrass friendly mooring may help the situation at Quarantine Bay. Mr Forsaith appears to believe that any suggestion that we could reduce the impact of our boating on the environment must mean that all boaters are thugs and vandals.

Nobody is accusing boaters of deliberate damage, rather it is an accumulation of small unintentional damage that is the problem. He accepts that “a small clump of seagrass is swept by an anchor chain or two”, yet he also notes that often it is 40 anchors at Quarantine, which would make 40 small clumps swept away!

Please can we have a bit of moderation in this discussion. Surely RMS can afford to provide a few seagrass friendly moorings in the most sensitive areas.

These will naturally take most of the traffic on days when there are only a few boats. On busy days, the late arrivals will have to anchor a little bit away from these moorings in deeper water with less seagrass and thus less damage.

If we follow Mr Forsaith’s advice and don’t even consider a few seagrass friendly moorings, but it then turns out that the scientists were indeed correct, we will then certainly be faced with a total ban on anchoring. Better to have a few yellow marks bobbing about in the seagrass areas and to allow occasional anchoring on the margins.

I think that John Hancox has it right in his letter in the same edition. Let RMS put a few of these moorings down to try while we continue to debate if the seagrass is shrinking or growing etc. Note also that the feedback I have from Manly Cove where they have been trialled is that they indeed work as intended.

Greg Wilkins,

Seagrass anchoring ban compromise

The BOA is pleased to hear a voice calling for compromise in respect of the proposed ban on anchoring at Quarantine and Manly West; ‘Dragging the chain: the science behind anchoring restrictions in seagrass’ (Afloat, Oct’12)) but it is a pity that your correspondent did not look a bit more closely at the history of the proposed bans.

Compromise, consultation, negotiation and appropriate alternatives were not on the agenda until BOA forced Fisheries to reconsider the process that they had used in imposing the bans on anchoring. As a result of BOA objections, Fisheries produced an issues paper that allowed boaters to see what was being proposed and to provide responses to Fisheries. Those responses are now being considered, and I am sure that many of them will include some of the ideas put forward by your correspondent.

However, the issues paper produced by Fisheries did not consider that there were alternatives to the anchoring ban. From the very start of this process, Fisheries has decided that the appropriate action for protection of the seagrass is to ban anchoring in the area. The ‘options’ referred to in the issues paper are simply a choice of where the lines banning anchoring are going to be drawn.

Any suggestions for alternative action that could be just as effective in maintaining the seagrass, while being much less disturbing to boating activity, have been rejected or ignored. Considering that some of the seagrass at Quarantine and Manly West appears to be healthy and thriving, despite over 150 years of recreational boating in the area, it seems reasonable to expect that some alternative to an outright ban ought to be possible.

But BOA has had great difficulty in persuading Fisheries to consider that there is any other option available.

BOA didn’t start this dispute – it started when Fisheries took their plan to two Sydney Harbour RMS user groups and presented it as a fait accompli, without any prior warning or any consultation with boating groups. It is BOA action that has resulted in the proposals being advertised to the boating community.

BOA had an expectation that responses from the boating community (and others) would be considered in a fair and open manner, but the lack of any analysis of the social impact of the bans, the brief period allowed for responses (and the tiny extension that was allowed in response to complaints about the timing) and the failure of the issues paper to consider alternative options must raise concerns about the final outcome.

BOA has always been prepared to work with Fisheries and RMS as much as is required to ensure that the outcomes for boating and the environment are the best that can be achieved. The invitation stands.

Jeff Richards, President,
Boat Owners Association of NSW Inc.

Bow scroll from the Captain Tom Fenwick

As a kid my now 40-something mate was given an old bit of driftwood with the word ‘CAPTAIN’ chiselled into it by an old timer from Peats Bight who had found it washed up on the shore.

It’s been hanging on the wall of his workshop in Spencer to this day. Seeing Graeme Andrews’ article (Afloat Nov’12) we were thrilled to learn that without a doubt it’s part of the starboard bow scroll from the Captain Tom Fenwick.

Our mate, trawlerman Davo can remember as a teenager seeing her run up on the shore on the point where Graces Shore meets Peats Bight. Her final resting place. Nothing remains now except for the bit hanging on Splash’s shed wall which was originally the first general store in Spencer owned by the Deas family (another story).

I hope that completes Graeme’s tale.

Rob Wood,
by email.

Townsville’s workboat

I read with great interest Alan Lucas’s story ‘Joyce Hiley – Townsville’s multi-purpose workboat that had a date with royalty’ (Afloat Oct’11). I had often wondered what had become of the Joyce Hiley.

My father and grandfather, Bruce David Douglas and Bruce James Douglas were the original builders of this boat. They were both shipwrights for the Townsville Harbour Board as it was then called. My Grandfather passed away in February 1966 not long before her completion leaving my father to complete her.

He often talked of her, as she held special significance for him, being the last job they worked on together. I was only about four years old at this time. I also remember when you speak of her after Cyclone Althea in 1971. As soon as the last wind blew, Dad was off out the door and down to the harbour to make sure the boats were ok and rescue her and the other boats.

I will enjoy sharing this story with my mother and other family members. I have a cousin who is currently researching family history, and I was telling her of the Joyce Hiley after she was asking about their boat building skills.

Raeleen Harris,

The Sailors Airbag

A friend in St Lucia, WI, who used to live in Sydney and has since been very active in the Caribbean sailing scene sent me this link about the Jordan Series Drogue http://www.jordanseriesdrogue.com/D_3.htm.

Perhaps Afloat readers who are blue water sailors would be interested in the info on this site if they are not already aware of it.

Don Skinner,
Paraparaumu Beach, NZ.

Burns Philp Bash

Early in October every year, a diminishing group of elderly gentlemen, most in their 70s, 80s and 90s and fewer than 60 in number gather at the historic Automobile Club in Macquarie Street, Sydney. These gentlemen arrive singularly or in groups with some being helped by relatives or friends. This group is made up mainly of ex-masters, deck officers, engineering officers, radio officers, pursers and seamen and are the last personnel of one of Australia’s most famous, proud and respected historic company and shipping line of the Burns Philp Company.

Their ships were once lined up in their numbers with their black and white chequered band funnels alongside their berths at Walsh Bay – always visible to the many commuters from the Harbour Bridge and surrounding Harbour areas.

These men, who are fast becoming part of both Sydney’s and Australia’s history, come in their regulatory standard formal dress of jacket and company tie from both local and interstate areas, and even as far away as Lord Howe Island, Singapore and Bali to meet up for this annual luncheon event (Burns Philp Bash).

They talk about old times of pre-war, the war and post war, with slaps on backs (do you remember when?), clinking of glasses, exchange of old photos of once proud ships and their crews e.g. Tulagi, Neptuna, Bulolo, Burnside, Braeside, Malekula, Montoro, Malaita, Moresby, Muliama, Mamutu, Malabar, Macdhui and others. Some even remember the bombing and sinking of Macdhui in Port Moresby and Neptuna in Darwin by the Japanese, unloading cargoes at sea in surf-boats at Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, Wewak, Alexishaven, Lorengeau and other ports in Papua New Guinea as well as carrying missionaries (with their dreams) and passengers to the many ports.

As they sit for the standard company ship’s Sunday meal of Pea, Ham & sippet soup; Roast Turkey or Ham Dinner and Rhum-Negrita and raisin ice cream; apologies while the names of those who have crossed the bar are read out and shipmates are remembered, the conversation flows.

All at once they are young seafarers again remembering the action and good times enjoyed when Burns Philp was one of Australia’s leading shipping companies, with the young guns out there paving Australia’s future shipping which has now been taken over by ‘Flags of Convenience’.

John Redmond, Marine Engineer,
by email.

Joe Adams

Have just read my latest copy of Afloat and was horrified to read about the murder of Joe Adams.

Tony and I were good friends with Joe and Anne for many years. Joe gave us great advice when we were building our last boat at the bottom of Browns Bay off McCarrs Creek, Pittwater.

We later met up with Joe again in Port Macquarie with his second wife.

Joe was a great designer and friend and this is a terrible way to end one’s life.

Gwen Warhurst,
Thorneside, Qld.


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

RAAF Marine Section and the Pacific Campaign

Seeking information, preferably photographic, to support In Tribute an exhibition to be held September 2014 and relating to the former RAAF Marine Section and the Pacific Campaign 1941-1945.

Would anyone have any info on the following?

MV Wanaka – 2,500 tons

Balus – a lugger of 35 tons; 50ft x 18ft beam

Betty Jane – a petrol barge

Hygea – a sailing vessel

Crash Boat?

Further, could anyone provide photographs of RAAF 37291 LAC Cliff Searle and/or RAAF 411002 LAC A.F (Bob) Burne?

Personal or group photographs are acceptable but need to be capable of reproducing to A4 size.

Expenses will be recompensed.

Alec N. Howard,
tel: 02 4975 1973,
19 Oakwood Road, Rathmines, NSW 2283.

Salty dog Gloria needs rescuingSalty dog Gloria needs rescuing

Sydney Dogs and Cats Home, is a refuge for Sydney’s lost and abandoned pets. We receive up to 4,000 animals each year that are looking for their forever home, like gorgeous Gloria, an Australian Kelpie.

The goal of the Home is to prevent the unnecessary euthanasia of healthy, loving, domestic pets, by re-homing them and giving them a second chance at life.

Being a charity the Home relies heavily on the financial support of the community to keep the animals happy and healthy until they find their forever home. If you can’t adopt but want to show your support, please consider making a donation.

Call 02 9587 9611 or head to www.sydneydogsandcatshome.org.