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The definition of Safety Gear

by John Curnow, Editor, 8 Jul 22:00 UTC
Active Safety Gear - Man's best friend certainly was a friend to all after an incident at sea.... © Photo supplied

Of course everyone has it, and equally, everyone hopes they never have to use it. However, when it all goes South on you, it's really good to know it is all there, and in working order. Life raft, flares, handheld VHF, seasickness tablets and so forth are the items that come to mind pretty quickly.

So when a good friend had a maritime situation recently, it was great to firstly find out that the crew were all OK. What also came about from talking with this vastly-experienced yachtsman were the learnings from the incident. He was so impressed by the ability of his utterly wonderful dog to rally the troops that he said to me, "He's the one piece of safety gear I never thought of as that."

As all of the crew gathered into a central location immediately after the incident, the first thing they all asked was, "Where is the dog?" Later on, when back on shore, he added, "Everyone was comforting the dog and in the process, comforting themselves as well, and this included the first responders too."

The dog suffered no physical ailments at the time, but my friend did comment that, "He has been very clingy since." So maybe if you have a quadruped on board, adding a can of food to the grab bag right about now would be a really good thing to do for the safety gear you never really thought you had...

73 year old looking for a new lover...

I suppose in some ways we are a kind of dating site, anyway. We match sailors with the boats of their dreams. A lot of the time, it is the older vessels that are particularly captivating, not the least of which is because they are still with us today. Primarily, this is because the vessel in question has captivated her custodians in such a way that they have almost put everything else asunder, in order to have her continue on her passage.

So when the Wooden Boat Shop indicated that the owner of the Derwent Hunter was looking to hand her over to the next person whose life she will fulfil, it seemed timely to have a chat with her custodian for the last 30 years, Warren Ladd. "She caught my eye as a young man. She is a dream machine, and a powerful sea going vessel that is still turning heads today. Derwent Hunter is a story maker, and has tales galore to tell," he said of the pole masted, gaff rigged, topsail schooner.

"She is well balanced, does 30nm a day under sail, even now, and hardly burns any diesel, as we use the auxiliary for docking only. She has always done whatever has been asked of her, and for 73 years now she has done so under sail, and for the last 25 years she has been a research vessel, as well."

Known affectionately as the last of the Blue Gum Clippers, she was built to be the sleekest and fastest of the local Hobart fishing fleet. She even had a Marconi rig back then, but was soon configured to her more durable set-up that she sports today. She has a hand-sawn frame, and indeed all her timbers were cut nearby to her Port Cygnet birthplace, and then drawn in by bullock teams. Those species include her Blue Gum hardwood, Tasmanian Oak, Celery Top, and the gorgeous and now protected, Huon Pine.

"All of which makes her a genuine work of art, which is befitting as she is the last one built by Walter Wilson. She was completed in 1946, so was not required for war service. She has survived a small fire, and endeared herself to the previous owners, as well as me. Boats like this need to have legendary sea-keeping qualities, or beauty, and some even have both, just like Derwent Hunter. This is how they survive over time, as people continue to apply the money to maintain them. Otherwise they would be lost."

Derwent Hunter loves a broad reach, which she does most days when in service in her current home in the Whitsundays. Yes, she is in survey, and in 2006 had a major refit with wiring, new transom, some planks replaced, and extra frames some of the key components attended to. It all means she can continue to carry on working and paying her way, or be fully dressed up and become the most elegant of global cruisers for those so inclined.

Her present owner would love to see her head back to Tasmania, perhaps in some sort of CSIRO PR role, and she has plenty of credo there too, having been instrumental in accurately working out the famed East Australia Current, along with tuna and shark populations back in the 60s.

Given she has such a long history, it is not surprising to learn that Ladd's own daughters love the sea, and actually have their own Skipper's tickets derived from time aboard. "I reckon Derwent Hunter has more miles under her keel than even Moby Dick," said Ladd.

Not a journey for the faint-hearted, for she will command your undivided attention, but in return, a vessel like Derwent Hunter has a very special something that is only given to her owner, and exceeds even those experiences she affords all her sail on her. You can begin that passage by checking her out, and also

Cannot wait for the next instalment?

Well, to be honest, neither could we. However, when it was a case of getting the information without images now, or waiting for a little longer so as to have the kinds of detail their pics always have to add that final detail to their great tales, well the answer was easy. We'll kick back for a little bit.

Unfortunately, that wait could be a couple of months, as it turns out, for Laura and Henrique of Mission Océan are presently in the Marquesas, "... and unfortunately the internet here in the isn't good enough to send decent quality photos," as Laura informed us. "We have a few articles to go on Cuba, Panama, the Canal, the crossing and so forth, so would you rather wait until we are in Tahiti?"

So in this world of point and click, courtesy of items like the remote and the mouse, seems like we're just going to have to sit it out, and just wait for the sea freight to arrive. Cannot even ask for it 'par avion'...

Today you will find that we have information for you about cracking deals at Hamilton Island if you are going and need more bunks from Whitsunday Holidays, Marine Auctions coming up, Joanne Socrates, gear from Zhik, Women on Water, whales, on land boat show in New Zealand from Multihull Solutions, SV Taipan are on the move, Sydney International Boat Show is going to have some awesome boats, including the new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410 with the big stick, ARC, Nanni Diesels on sale, Fiji, turtles, sunglasses from Barz Optics, Lin Pardey gets the award from the OCC, North Sails have their cruising focussed NORDAC range, 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 Sail-WorldCruising 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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