I grew up on a 68 ft. cutter
. It was a charter
vessel upon which my dad took groups out to local reefs
and islands every weekend.
Every Easter and Christmas
we did an extended cruise
to the Whitsundays, which was a paradise in the late sixties. I sailed sabots with mates on the weekends when I was not at the reef. Later I sailed Hobie cats off the beach and my uncle and I have some great yarns about the mischief we got up to on his Tornado too. I love the sea.
One day a film crew chartered the “Southern maid” (and yes, for anyone in the know, it was the very same vessel owned by Andrew Martin of Percy Island fame) they were making a documentary and were doing some filming around the reefs
my father knew so well.
My dad was a professional diver and had imported for me (as a seven year old) a small aqualung from the states. Well, the film crew were blown away at this little reef kid and filmed a few shots of me diving
. To cut along story short, I ended up featuring in a series of documentaries about conservation on the Great Barrier Reef
Sir David Frost narrated one, Ex Prime minister Sir John Gorton another. I met lots of interesting people. Learned about film camerawork from the likes of Ben Cropp and Ron and Valerie Taylor. I travelled up and down the reef from New Guinea to Heron Island. I rode
rays, got bitten by Moray eels, and ate dugong and speared crayfish with Torres straight Islanders. I dived on the (now world famous) “cod hole” off Lizard Island all before my thirteenth birthday.
Back at school
and back into the “real” world after a whirlwind couple of years, the much taunted & bullied “reef boy” completed his schooling and became a cameraman at the local television station.
I bought a “Daydream” hull
already installed. Over the next few years I fitted her out, honing my boatbuilding skills. I met the fellow who had built the hull
and rented a room from him while I worked on the boat in his backyard. All the while learning
from this journeyman boat builder
, who, now in his seventies, had built dozens of vessels in his lifetime. I thought I was close to completion so I quit work to work on the boat full time. Big mistake! within six months I had not finished and run out of money
I got a job in Sydney
and left the boat in Townsville. I swapped the boat for a functional trailer sailor and some cash and enjoyed some fun times on Sydney
I worked around Australia
before settling to start a family
. We were together for 20 years (and raised a fine son) before the bean counters decided that the fifty year old bloke was one too many for the shareholders to bear, and I was retrenched. After over 100 unsuccessful job applications (I honestly would have done anything) the relationship went south and we separated.
The say “the darkest hour is right before dawn” Within six months I had applied for and landed a job in the industry again. We sold the house and I wound up with $100,000 as my share of the split. I had a good job and life was looking good. I realised I was now in a position to achieve my lifelong goal of “cruising”. I was thinking “about 50 for the boat and the remainder in the kitty and away I go”!
I ended up falling in love. Who wouldn’t? Have you ever seen the Cabo Rico
Tiburon? The clipper bow, the sweet lines, spacious centre cockpit
. She was $80,000 though. But, what the hey? What’s money
when you’re in love? I could always just keep working a little longer and all would be well.
Around this time I met Cheryl and we hit it off. Cheryl had split with her husband after being diagnosed with Leukaemia. Which is now being successfully managed with chemotherapy. She had never considered any life other than suburbia and quickly fell in love with the idea of us cruising together. We set to work, in every minute of our spare time we sanded, painted, epoxied, polished, sweated, cursed, laughed and …well, you folks all know how it goes.
Then the Motor
blew. I knew it was not brilliant but thought I could bring it up to scratch. I replaced the motor with a reconditioned one, and $12,000 later all was looking good again. Over the course of this time I began to notice small holes drilled here and there throughout the interior
. One night aboard after a few weeks of rain I noticed the drips coming from the holes. They were inspection
holes to gauge the extent of the water
ingress. On a Balsa cored hull! Several hours of tapping later we were aware of the full extent of the rot
. The entire deck
would need to be replaced.
After a very difficult period of time, I picked myself up dusted myself off and got to work. I extracted $12,000 from the surveyor
for their negligence. This was achieved without involving lawyers and I figured it was the best I could expect without the additional pain of a protracted legal
case and the possibility of losing a lot more money. At least it covered the motor! I went to the bank and borrowed $60,000 and recruited the services of the best shipwright I could find to make my beautiful yacht better again. I figured it better to have it professionally repaired quickly, than me bumble along and perhaps run out of time/money etc.
I would simply enjoy day sailing
until I had paid off the loan.
has all been replaced; I am slowly fitting all the deck hardware
back on, (properly this time, as that was one source of the water
ingress) the bronze ports
are affixed back into the coach sides. I have also discovered that all the capping rails were never properly sealed so now the rails are off and I am in the process of repairing the leaky stanchion bases. Once completed, there will be no more leaks
. A dry boat at last!
Now, with Marina fees
, and loan repayments and such, there’s not much money left over for any improvements. I have seven years of repayments left and I am working full time and then working on my boat all weekend.
I have suffered with a bad back most of my working life. The constant contortion required of boat repair, as any boat owner knows, is not that easy on the back. My engine
room in particular is very cramped and several times I have lain on my back on the dock
trying to straighten out.
I drove long distance recently and got out of the car with damage to my back.
I have a severe prolapse, which is pushing on nerves and, as well as being very painful, is apparently very dangerous. They flew me (on the flying doctor, 2am last Tuesday) to a bigger hospital. An MRI had revealed the extent of the problem and they felt it better for me to be here.
I am lying here in the hospital bed
waiting in a queue for surgery soon.
I have no health insurance
, and money is starting to get very tight.
I am in love with my little Cabo and couldn’t even countenance the thought of selling her. I’d be flat out even getting the $80,000 back, let alone any more.
That’s my wannabe story for you Atoll. Thanks for the prompt, as this could also serve as the introduction
I’d never posted in meets and greets.
You are right; I have benefitted from your knowledge, thanks mate.
When I posted about the dangers of not properly bedding deck hardware
on a balsa cored boat, DOJ
sensibly suggested replacing the stress areas with marine
ply to serve as a crush block, your advice was to replace with sugar, hops and barley instead, so that when I had to open it up again we could all get pissed.
Sheesh mate, I thought that was hilarious.
10,000 unemployed comedians and you wannabe one too. I guess we’re both wannabes hey? I recon I have a better sense of humour though
Re - the term wannabe, I have been called far worse than that by better people than you Atoll. Just as long as you don’t call me late for Dinner hey? I know a lot of folks get off on bigging themselves up by putting others down, but personally its not my way.
P.S. for a number of reasons, pointed out by the new surveyor
and shipwright, it was obvious that the senior policeman I bought the boat from knew, without a doubt, of the extent of the rot
I only mention his occupation because I stupidly expected a little more honesty.
I would have been happy buying
too, at the right price
What really surprised me was that in canvassing opinions about my predicament, 95% of folks said “cover it up and flog it off to some other sucker”
What a wonderful world!
Peace and Love