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Please heed the warnings

by John Curnow, Editor, 7 Nov 23:30 UTC
Please heed the signs! © John Curnow

Most people know that there are many dangerous creatures in Australia. Whether they are small and venomous, or large and powerful, the devastating and quick result can be the same. So please listen, and take note of any warning regarding how to conduct yourself when travelling here. We are deeply saddened by the latest shark attack in the Whitsunday Islands, and send our condolences to the family, friends on board, other boaters in Cid Harbour, and also the first responders.

We have good friends there at both Tourism Whitsundays, and Cumberland Charter Yachts, the company from which they had chartered their craft. We do know how much this affects them, as well. For the record, never swim at dusk or dawn, certain locations like Cid Harbour, in murky water, and always have a spotter. Equally, if you are on the mainland in Queensland, the NT or Northern WA, never walk on the beach near a creek, estuary or river, for they belong to the crocs. Remember, the dumbest question is the one not asked, so please check with a local. Given that we, the cruising community, are more like locals in a way, can we ensure that everyone has the same hymn sheet and spreads the word as best as possible to other boaters?

We pretty much covered off the wider subject matter back in an earlier newsletter entitled, Steady On. Drum lines are not the solution. They are indiscriminate, and the collateral damage is appalling. It is tantamount to using a shotgun to solve pesty flies buzzing around your face.

Right. Let's move on...

I had occasion to be at Redland City Marina in Brisbane, recently. It is an extensive facility that is about to receive some major upgrades, one of which is a 200-berth dry stack, where an old tin shed currently stands. Not that this is particularly pertinent to cruisers, but in talking more with the manager, one Ken Drummond, you got to learn way more.

Ken certainly knows the pointy end from the blunt, having built many a fast cat in his day at Windspeed Catamarans. Mostly these were Crowther designs. He also did the full fibreglass fairing on the Collins Class submarines. As the Manager, he also oversees the on-site chandlery, which has gone ballistic of late, as owners come to the yard for repair, and get not only the right advice, but all they need to perform the tasks as well.

There are also all manner of trades on hand, from mechanical to shipwright, rigging to electrical. So if you just want the job done, they can make it happen. The extensive yard - for the whole facility amounts to over four hectares - has a tale or two. Ken informed me about the sailor who came from Lord Howe Island, put his boat on the hardstand, packed up, went to Europe for four months, and then on his return, did the whole thing in reverse.

Evidently he has not been the only one to do so, with another couple parking their cat for around the same length of time whilst they went on an extended cycling tour of Europe one Summer. Clearly the yard rates must be good, and with a Sea Lift to put the boats in and out, obviously quite safe and professional, as well. These two stories are not the only the ones utilising this plan, for there is another craft parked there right now whilst the owner explores France.

Now one of the companies occupying space in the service area is Osprey Marine. As shipwrights, they do all manner of metal and timberwork, GRP and composite repairs, respraying and antifouling, electrical, as well as detailing and maintenance. It is run by Col Holmes, who is very much your typical, unassuming Australian.

However, tucked in the office are the pictures you see here. That keel should look very familiar by now. His father, Phillip, was well known for skiffs and things in the Sydney suburb of Balmain, and was contracted to build it back in the day. Not only was secrecy of paramount importance, whilst they made it in a shed that Alan Bond bought, but also accuracy. Col remembers being the sixteen year old you see with his Dad in the pic, and all the hours with the spokeshave he put in (including the worn out knuckles), as they carved out the plug for the moulding of the über-famous keel that sat below Australia II (KA 6).

"To see it all being built as split plug was pretty amazing, as it was pretty outrageous to look at. Then to see the outcome of it all was just fantastic," said Holmes. Inside his facility was an alloy plate fishing boat which was being resprayed, and a 50-foot powercat was having more than a complete birthday.

"The worst part was is that we only had the one plan to work from. There were no CAD-CAM files being sent via the internet. The Naval Architect, John King, laid it out on the floor, and we were within 70 kilos by the time we delivered it." Remember of course that a 12m weighs in at something in the order of 25 tonne... "So it all turned out quite well. We also did the keel for the completely conventional Challenge 12 (KA 10, also designed by Ben Lexcen) at the same time."

OK. Today you will find that we have information for you about coral reefs, long-line fishing, gear from Musto, sea turtles, seagrass and protecting the seabed, the ARC Down Under Rally, whales, Fiji, the Seawind Pittwater rally, quippy from Navico, training courses, Midway goes into battle on waste, the Multihull Solutions rally, surviving a hurricane, the Ocean Cruising Club's Suzie Too Rally, as well as much more.

So you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other Hemisphere, go to the top of the home page and the drag down menu on the right, select the other half of the globe and, voila, it's all there for you.

In the meantime, do you love being on the ocean? Well remember to love them back too. They need our help. Now more than ever! Until next time...
John Curnow

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