Australia's most exclusive Yacht Club with a membership of just ONE !
(don't spoil it by joining!)

Strict dress codes apply:

Life-jacket and tie for gentlemen and inflatable bikinis for ladies.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My next boat?

The Innespace Seabreacher (or Sea Breacher) is a two-seat submersible personal watercraft, designed by Rob Innes and Dan Piazza of the American company Innespace. It is the production model of the single-seat Innespace Dolphin.

This larger two-seat vessel is powered by an Atkins Rotary Marine engine coupled to a Hurth V-drive transmission.

The vessel's shape is based on the shape of a dolphin, and imitates a dolphin's movement.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Too stingy to buy a trailer?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What are you sinking about?

Love Love from julien berthier on Vimeo.

The Love Love boat was built to look as if it is sinking.

French artist Julien Berthier has designed a fully functional boat to look as if it is sinking. The 6.5m (21ft) yacht was cut in half with a new keel and motor added so it remains in the sinking position while being fully functional. He describes it as "the permanent and mobile image of a wrecked ship that has become a functional and safe leisure object."

Berthier has taken the boat (or should I say half-a-boat) across the English Channel to London and has toured it around Europe, getting plenty of offers of assistance from unwitting Good Samaritans, who would presumably be either very annoyed or rather bemused by the contraption.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The ship that never sank


Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5    Part 6    Part 7
Part 8    Part 9    Part 10    Part 11    Part 12    Part 14
Part 15    Part 16    Part 17

I've just discovered Robin Gardiner's book The Great TITANIC Conspiracy in which he unearthes a wealth of new evidence for his theory that the sinking of the TITANIC was a vast conspiracy, and that the ship that went down on 14th April 1912 was in fact OLYMPIC, TITANIC's sister-ship, and the sinking was planned as one of the world's greatest insurance frauds.

To the present day the most common maritime insurance fraud involves changing identities of ships. But tragically the planned staging of the sinking of Titanic, whereby other ships from the company would be on hand to rescue all the passengers and crew, went disastrously wrong and 1500 souls perished on the supposedly unsinkable ship's maiden voyage.

This book concentrates on the conspiracy, with evidence of why the White Star company intended to defraud the insurance company by swapping the identity of Titanic and the recently damaged Olympic in a collision with HMS Hawke, with new conclusive photographic and documentary evidence of the swap. The story starts with financier J P Morgan's takeover of White Star and the Royal Navy's investment in the company's new liners as potential troop carriers.

Following the Agadir crisis in 1911 Morgan began to ship gold and other treasures back to the safe haven of the US. The pressure on White Star to make up the cost of the damage to Olympic, which the insurance company would not cover, through swapping the identities of Olympic and Titanic, was also the opportunity for Morgan with the collusion of the British government, to quietly ship GBP8 million of gold to the US.

But unbeknown to the government, the gold was spirited away. The subsequent staged collision with the iceberg went horribly wrong as those in charge of Titanic completely underestimated the scale of the panic and the ensuing disaster as the ship quickly sank and the rescue boats failed to arrive became a disaster that would reverberate around the world.

This gripping account recounts the author's theory on the whole build up to the disaster and its aftermath in which all parties were involved in collusion, conspiracy and cover-up on an unprecedented scale. Is it true or is it fiction? Only the reader can decide.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Need a survey?

This looks rigged!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What a ship!

The Emma Maersk, owned by the Danish Maersk Line, is the world's largest container vessel ever built.

This monster transports goods across the Pacific in just 5 days!! This is one of three ships presently in service, with another two ships commissioned to be completed in 2012.

These ships were commissioned by Wal-Mart to get all their goods and stuff from China . They hold an incredible 15,000 containers and have a 207 foot deck beam!! The full crew is just 13 people on a ship longer than a US Aircraft Carrier (which has a crew of 5,000).

With its 207' beam it is too big to fit through the Panama or Suez Canals. It is strictly transpacific. Cruise speed: 31 knots. The goods arrive 4 days before the typical container ship (18-20 knots) on a China-to-California run. 91% of Walmart products are made in China. So this behemoth is hugely competitive even when carrying perishable goods.

The ship was built in five sections. The sections were floated together and then welded. The command bridge is higher than a 10-storey building and the ship has 11 cargo crane rigs that can operate simultaneously, unloading the entire ship in less than two hours.

Additional info:

Country of origin - Denmark
Length - 1,302 ft
Width - 207 ft
Net cargo - 123,200 tons
Engine - 14 cylinders in-line diesel engine (110,000 BHP)
Cruise Speed - 31 knots
Cargo capacity - 15,000 TEU (1 TEU = 20 cubic feet)
Crew - 13 people !
First Trip - Sept. 08, 2006
Construction cost - US$145,000,000

A documentary on the History Channel noted that all of those containers are shipped back to China EMPTY! Yep, that's right - EMPTY!

We send nothing back on these ships. What does that tell you about the current financial state of the Western world? Just keep buying those imported goods (mostly gadgets) until you run out of money. Then you may start to wonder what the cause of all the unemployment might be!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Living on (bread and) water

So you're thinking of living permanently on your boat? Think again! You may need a larger boat just to store all the rules and regulations that govern such an innocent pursuit:

The appropriate laws are contained in the "Management of Waters and Waterside Lands Regulations—N.S.W."

The maximum amount of time you can live on board is 21 days in every 6 months. Beyond this, your vessel becomes a "moored houseboat," and there are requirements.

Firstly, you need special permission from NSW Maritime, or from the Crown.

Before it even comes down to a NSW Maritime decision, you must have two things:

1. Written permission from the landowner who owns the land you will use to access your vessel, that they approve of the use of the land for that purpose;

2.Written approval from the council of the nearest adjoining land, that they do not dissapprove of you living on board the vessel, and the standard of living therein.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A new neighbour?

The sun was over the yardarm and we were enjoying a drink on the verandah when a rubber-duckie came up the river. He waved, we waved, and he came ashore!

It turned out to be the 64-year-old sailor Brian Metcalfe who, a couple of weeks ago, had spent an excruciating night stranded off Batemans Bay suffering from hypothermia and medication withdrawal. [Read more].

Brian lives permanently on a 24ft TRITON 721, and is anchored - indefinitely, it seems - in the Bay off Square Head. Now that he has explored the upper reaches, he wants to move upriver.

An example of a TRITON 721 but not Brian's

Welcome to the Nelligen Yacht Club, Brian!
Wear our yacht club t-shirt with pride!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ahoy there, AMBER LADY!

Click on image for another patch

I've rowed out to AMBER LADY to inspect the patches - and they are looking good!

After all the rowing, I had to have a coffee-and-cake break while I ran the engine for ten minutes or so.

Click here for a close-up of the book's cover

Nick, I left you this book to expand your mental horizon as we sit around the infinity edge pool at the Banjar Hills Retreat in Bali.

I also left some housekeeping material to keep the boat clean:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Travelling North - at a snail's pace

CHARON at the 1972 Sydney Boat Show

Richard and Wendy's CHARON is currently tucked up at a jetty alongside the Wangi Wangi Workers Club at Lake Macquarie where it is blowing a gale.

They took the train down to Sydney to visit the Boat Show. There they were given an old photo of CHARON when she was the centrepiece of the 1972 boat show.

P.S. Wendy, Padma has just finished reading Rosamunde Pilcher's Winter Solstice and highly recommends it!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

If it fits, wear it!

New lifejacket rules to improve boating safety and reduce deaths from drowning will come into effect from 1 November 2010.

Under the rules, people will be required to wear lifejackets at times of heightened risk.

The reforms are the result of a NSW Maritime discussion paper on the issue, which generated a strong response from the boating community with a record 3615 submissions.

The new rules for wearing lifejackets include:

By children less than 12 years of age when:
- in a vessel less than 4.8 metres;
- when in an open area of a vessel less than 8 metres in length that is underway;

By all boaters in a vessel less than 4.8 metres in the following heightened risk situations:
- at night;
- on open (ocean) waters;
- on alpine waters; and
- when boating alone;

At times of ‘Skipper Judgement and Direction’ in ‘heightened risk’ situations such as when the weather worsens or the boat breaks down;

When water-skiing or wakeboarding;

When operating a canoe or kayak on:
- enclosed waters, when more than 100 metres from shore; and
- ocean waters.

There will be a 12-month advisory period while boaters get used to the new rules, where NSW Maritime will only penalise repeat offenders.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Another fourth Greek letter

Steve Leonard, the originator of the Deltacraft range of boats, with fellow boat builder John Gale are setting out to recreate the Deltacraft Islander in a 2010 guise. They are presently building the moulds and hope to be in production by Christmas 2010.

The new boat is a metre longer than the old ones and fitted with a rear gate and a lovely shape to the transom with an full-width moulded landing platform. Accommodation includes a larger shower/toilet cabin, larger modernised galley, 50mm (2 inches) more headroom taking it to nearly 1.9 mtrs, around 6' 3". The cockpit is huge, seating 8 and sleeping 2, with 3 sleeping in the cabin all on full-length bunks.

A new deep full-length keel with ballast stiffens the boat up enormously and designed hull alterations make the new boat the best ever. With the Volvo 3-cylinder engine driving a 4-blade propeller, the fuel usage is expected to be only 1.5 litres per hour at hull speed. For its weight and size, this makes it a most economical boat to run, thus the most eco-friendly.

Priced at $59,900, it is a lot of boat for the money. Trade-in Deltas welcomed.

For more details, email Steve at or visit the website of the Delta Islander Club.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cheers from CHARON

According to their latest blog, CHARON and her crew are still in the Pitt Water/Broken Bay area. However, fellow yachties gave them a spare chart of the Whitsundays which may induce them to set sail for warmer climes soon.

They may cross paths with TEKANI II who has had her new name emblazoned on her mainsail-sock and is now ready to head back to her home port Cairns.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tekani II

In December last year I wrote this blog about my 82-year-old mate Brian Darcey from Cairns who was about to set sail in an ocean-going yacht which he had bought in Zealand.

There were some last-minute problems with that particular boat. Brian has since bought this South Coast 36 ketch which he renamed Tekani II (after the island of the same name in Papua New Guinea where his old mate Graeme Carson used to lived).

He spent the last couple of weeks at Mooloolaba Marina where he familiarised himself with his new boat and is now ready to set sail for new horizons.

Good luck and fair winds, Brian!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Playing with boats and getting paid for it!

Here I was in sunny Samoa in 1978, assisting in the formation of the PACIFIC FORUM LINE.

I am the second from the right. I have forgotten all the other people except for the General Manager, a dour Yorkshireman by the name of Captain Dewsnap, who is the fourth from the right.

Those were the days! And here are more pictures.

I revisited Samoa in April 2007 and found a far more glamorous PFL office:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Not a yacht but a ship all the same

A photo of the "Mofarrij-D" (built 1960, LOA 172.9m, GT 17826, DW 25867), one of six ageing bulk carriers which my Saudi boss Sheikh Abdulghani Abdulrahiem Mofarrij, in a sudden rush of blood to his head, had bought in mid-1983.

I will never forget the day he asked me to accompany him to the offices of the Greek shipping company INTERTRANS in Piraeus. There a Greek lawyer presented him with a whole ream of legal papers which, entirely drawn up in the Greek language, documented his purchase of six rustbuckets that would become the company fleet of "Mofarrij-A", "Mofarrij-B", "Mofarrij-C" "Mofarrij-D", "Mofarrij-F", and "Mofarrij-G".

Despite my whispered urgings not to sign anything he could not read, let alone buy ships which, judged by their appearance, where in worse shape than Lord Jim's "Patna", he initialled every page and signed on the dotted line.

Not surprisingly, all six vessels finished up with the knackers in Chittagong in Bangladesh and Huangpu in China less than two years later but by that time I had already resigned from my position as Group Financial Controller as I simply couldn't bear to see the business go down the toilet through sheer stupidity.

See related story TAREing my hair out.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pirates and how to handle them

This advice was given to me by my old seafaring mate Brian Darcey in Cairns. It is intended for those yachtsmen who still want to do what he did in more innocent times than the present: sail away in a yacht and cruise the South Pacific.

The good news is that you still can. The bad news is that there are people out there who will kill you for whatever they think you might have on board and no-one will stop them. Offshore, in countries like Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, you are on your own and must be able to look after yourself and your ship without outside help. The Indian Ocean is worse and piracy is a growth industry.

You still want to go? Then hear this:

Piracy is not new.  In the 18th Century, it was alive and well and any vessel that ventured offshore armed itself. The better armed you were, the less the risk that the villains would attack you.  British and American ships were rarely attacked, as they all carried guns and people trained to use them who would open fire on any vessel which came too close and refused to stop and identify itself. The pirates were well aware of this and usually sought softer targets than well-armed British and Americans.

You  need some defensive hardware, not all of it legal in civilised countries like Australia.

1. A loudhailer (and I mean really LOUD)
2. A spotlight with at least a 0.5km range
3. Two  grenade launchers with 5 rounds for each (ask at a waterfront pub, or contact easily found unofficial gun dealers at your first port of entry in PNG or the Solomons.) Use a few rounds for practice on a floating log well offshore. You will be pleasantly surprised at the spectacular results.

On passage keep a good lookout and leave the radar turned on.  If  approached by any small vessel, day or night, warn them with the loud hailer to back off, ONCE! 

If they keep coming, open fire with the grenade launcher, being careful to lead the target to allow for the speed of both vessels.  The first shot should be aimed ahead of the suspect vessel and will almost always be enough to halt it in its tracks.

If it keeps coming, correct your aim and forget the survivors, as these killers hunt in packs and their friends will be close by and will pick up anyone still swimming. Do not, under any circumstances, report the incident to police, customs or military who may be in nominal control of the area.

Illegal? Of course it is:  the law frowns on this sort of thing, but be aware, that the same law won't be there when you are boarded  by people who are not afraid to die and to take you and your crew with them.  Get rid of the artillery over the side in deep water before re-entering Australia.
Security in anchorages

Leaving a dinghy in the water overnight in an anchorage is a message that a live one has arrived. Hoist it on deck or in the davits before sunset. Overnight anchor watches are not practicable for short-handed cruising yachts, but the risk of finding armed intruders in the cabin after dark is a real one.

One safety device is available for legal purchase in Australia from any agricultural equipment dealer. It won't work on a steel hull, but the ship's company on a glass, timber or ferro boat can enjoy a good night's sleep free from unwelcome intruders if you connect a 12-volt cattle fence unit to the lifelines with appropriate insulation to isolate it where necessary. This will give a non-lethal, but powerful jolt to anyone who touches the lifelines if they try to climb aboard. Try it yourself standing barefoot in a wet canoe for a convincing demonstration.

Bon voyage.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Life doesn't get much better than this!

Sitting on my boat lying at anchor in a peaceful cove, with a glass of Jacob's Creek Merlot in my hand and the radio tuned to FM Classical Music - life doesn't get much better than this!

David Glasheen on Restoration Island, Horst Berger on Uiha Island, the Hepworth Family on Pigeon Island, Ron Brandt on Packe Island, "German Harry " on Deliverance Island, Tom Neale on Suwarrov: they all had their reasons to shun civilisation but I can enjoy their lifestyle and yet rejoin the "real world" anytime I want by simply driving down the 8 km to the Bay.

I may even sleep aboard "Lady Anne" tonight. With the companionway left half-open, I can watch the stars as the waves gently rock me to sleep. I have all the victuals in the galley: tinned baked beans, tinned braised steak, tinned rice cream pudding, bread, tea, coffee, sugar, and another bottle of Jacob's Creek!

I drink to that!

Sail ho, CHARON!

We've just heard from Richard and Wendy who stopped at Ulladulla and Greenwell Point (Nowra), and got liquored up at Wollongong (see picture), before heading for Sydney.

[Click here] to read their sailing blog.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gale Warning

It's blowing a gale down here and we're wondering if Richard and Wendy made it safely to their next port-of-call, be that Ulladulla or Jervis Bay.

We'll keep you posted as news comes in!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Today's ceremony

The Management and Board of

Nelligen Yacht Club

Issues this certificate to

Richard and Wendy

in recognition of their endurance stay

of one whole week in the Clyde River

The entire Nelligen Yacht Club, its Commodore, Secretary, Treasurer, and only-member-all-rolled-into-one, will present this certificate to Richard and Wendy on their ketch Charon at a lunchtime ceremony today.

Cheese will be served with the Commodore-Secretary-Treasurer-only member's usual whine.

left to right: Roy, Padma, the skipper Richard, David, the skipper's mate Wendy

[Click here] to read Richard and Wendy's sailing blog.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New arrivals

Richard and Wendy aboard the Seven Seas 37 ketch "Charon" anchored off "Riverbend" yesterday. They are from Hobart and will sail for tropical Queensland in a day or two. The best neighbours to have!

Richard taking a photo of their ketch from Riverbend

The four of us had dinner by the fireplace, washed it all down with mulled wine, and then started on our sing-a-long. Richard plays a mean honkytonk piano and I joined in with my squeezebox and it turned into a really great night.

[Click here] to read Richard and Wendy's sailing blog.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Life is a genuinely artificial beach

One more reason to join the Nelligen Yacht Club: a genuinely artificial beach! Does life get any better than this?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Don't spoil it by joining!

The Nelligen Yacht Club, Australia's most exclusive yacht club with a membership of just ONE, is up and running.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Shipboard entertainment

With my Van-Gogh's-ear for music, it could be argued that the Germans should have been required to lay down their accordions along with their arms at the end of the war.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

REMYdial action completed

A certain vessel has returned from the obscurity of Cyne Mallows Creek, refurbished and restored to her former glory.

Welcome back, REMY!

She's a Compass Easterly 30 who's spent all her life at Pittwater and Gosford before coming to Nelligen.

The Reception Committee:
John McSmith, Harbourmaster, Port Nelligen
Nick Ligakis, Neighbour-at-moorings and shipping magnate
Peter Goerman,
(self-appoint.) Commodore, Nelligen Yacht Club

Friday, January 1, 2010

Looking out for Lucas!

Click on image for a close-up of book

An (unfinancial) member of the Nelligen Yacht Club phoned to say that the Alan Lucas was sailing up the Clyde River.

Of course, anybody who has sailed the east coast of Australia or read any number of sailing magazines over the last four decades will know the name. Alan Lucas hit the sailing scene in 1968 with the release of his indispensable pilot book, Cruising the Coral Coast, now in its eighth edition. So to attract Alan's attention, I sat on the jetty and waited, nonchalantly displaying a copy of his Cruising the Coral Coast (albeit an old 4th edition which I picked up from the local op-shop - remember, I'm a self-funded retiree!).

Altogether twenty-three books and cruising guides have been published by Alan Lucas since the 1960s, covering not only Australian cruising grounds but the Pacific, Europe, Red Sea and Indian Ocean, along with a plethora of How-To Manuals. Alan is quick to add that most ‘never went to a second edition or were unceremoniously remaindered.’ Regardless, many of us have more than one well-thumbed Lucas book in our library and remain on the look-out for additions to the collection!

Born in July 1936, the young Alan Lucas began his lifelong passion for life afloat on the Lane Cove River, “…much of it trying to drown myself in a strange range of home-made craft, from tin canoes to rafts, war-surplus rubber dinghies and aeroplane wing fuel tanks…” In his early teens, VJs and open 12’ skiffs replaced the earlier prototypes before he became the proud owner of a “dilapidated 6-metre launch” which he ketch-rigged. Although a foundation member of the Sydney Junior Offshore Group, racing has never featured heavily on the Lucas sailing agenda. ”Big time racing doesn’t grab me being a non-competitive person,” he says. “However racing is the best way to acquire sail trimming skills. In that area, cruising makes you pretty slack!”

Alan's flair for graphic layout has origins in his trade as a commercial artist. Freelancing in advertising agencies kept him afloat financially in the early years, enabling him to dabble in a variety of far more alluring odd jobs like his stint on a 22m Tasmanian trading ketch running fishing charters out of Sydney and working in the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron boatyard. This was “the best” - says Alan and no doubt the beginning of his love affair for ‘mucking around with boats’.

At 22, he began building the first, a 9.5m plywood ketch called ‘Rendezvous’, launching her two years later as his first live-aboard home. For 11 years, 'Rendezvous' carried Alan up and down the East Coast, to the Top End, Timor, the Solomons and New Guinea (where he was lucky enough to meet Robin Lee Graham of Dove fame. ”His cat and mine got along famously.”) During this busy period he also married, had a son and penned the first Coral Coast.

”The inspiration for the book came in 1963 when I proposed a series of anchorage articles for the now defunct ‘Powerboat and Yachting’ magazine. When told the pay, I decided to risk doing a book! I tried getting a Queensland publisher to no avail so I sailed down to Sydney where Horwitz Grahame finally accepted it in 1964. Why they then took four years to release it is beyond explanation – I just don’t know because by the time it was at last published, I was in the Torres Strait.”

The ‘Hippy Era’ was in full swing and Alan says the guide was well received more for its “folksy, life changing ways” than its anchorage descriptions. “Incredibly, I received quite a few letters thanking me for wrenching people out of their nine-to-fives to do something different. The most extraordinary incident was when I found a castaway on a Torres Strait Island who had accidentally been abandoned there by a charter boat. He reckoned his battered copy of 'Cruising the Coral Coast' was the only thing that kept him alive (in those days it had a lot of bush tucker and cooking-type stuff in it). He wasn’t fawning because he had no idea I was the author and I didn’t tell him!”

While ‘Cruising The Coral Coast’ lured legions of ‘squares’ seaward (and sustained the odd castaway!), 'Rendezvous' was meandering its way far from the limelight but indelibly into Alan's memory as one of his favourite boats. He affectionately remembers his first live-aboard home as “Rough as guts but a good sailer that never needed a hand on the tiller – she balanced on all reaches with nothing more than sail adjustment.”

If only life ashore could have been as easily trimmed! After moving onto Palm Island where he worked as skipper of the cargo boat, his marriage failed and 'Rendezvous' was sold. By 1972, life on the land had lost its novelty – forever. “I have to tell you, living ashore was the most vile period of my life”, Alan emphatically maintains. When asked to share his most frustrating cruising experience, his answer is simply, “None. The only frustrations I’ve experienced were living ashore.”

Over thirty-five years of living aboard lay ahead but back then he simply longed to return “to a lifestyle that never hurt me.” Leaving Palm Island behind, he bought a steel hull and deck in Gladstone, refitted her over a few months and set off on this original ‘Soleares’ to cruise the East Coast, completing the second edition of Coral Coast and the original guide to the NSW Coast along the way.

Alan and Patricia in August 2008In 1975, he found a kindred spirit in second wife Patricia. A widow with three children and a sense of adventure to more than match his own, Patricia was immediately at ease on the water. The instant family demanded a bigger boat and a very run-down motor sailer named 'Silver Spray' was quickly purchased. Once again, a refit was needed, this time at Mosman Marina before a quick jaunt north where 'Silver Spray' was sold. Moving ashore behind Hervey Bay, the couple set upon building themselves a ‘real family-sized boat’ – the 18m ferro schooner, ‘Alegrias’. In just 15 months their new home was launched and fitting out completed afloat.

So with their newly-built ‘real’ boat, the Lucas family headed off for “points North, South, East and West, doing the usual coastal thing plus the SW Pacific.” Alan nominates “Watching the joy of my second family as they saw New Guinea for the first time” as one of his life's cruising highlights. "My tearing them out of Sydney suburbia was more than vindicated." Diminishing family numbers and the high cost of running a big boat eventually saw 'Alegrias' delivered to Darwin for a new owner in 1980 and the next chapter began.

Another stint of shore life was narrowly avoided when “going ashore from 'Alegrias', wondering where the hell we were going to live, we stumbled on a 14m ferro-cutter in the Sailing Club yard – just a bare hull and deck plus an engine, mast and a bit of hardware. We bought her, stowed most of our gear aboard, then drove to Sydney to round up equipment and revise my NSW book.”

You need a boat to revise a cruising guide! And yes, yet another refit ensued. This time a Tasman Seabird named ‘Response’ was given the Lucas touch before ‘doing’ the NSW coast. After serving its purpose, 'Response' was sold and the couple returned to their new cutter, ‘Tientos’ in Darwin. “There were just three of us by then, living in a perpetual dust storm as we fitted her out and rigged her.” 'Tientos' hit the water in September 1981, Indonesia in sight. But endless trouble with failed equipment saw them returning to Darwin, “I think all companies sent their duds to Darwin back then!” Alan muses. After a second failed attempt they finally gave up, sailing to Cairns for what Alan termed a ‘proper recommissioning!’

Perseverance paid off and in 1982 they left Gove on a circumnavigation covering 5 years and producing some vivid memories, like Alan's most nerve-wracking moment at sea when they were “fired at by an Ethiopian gunboat, ordered alongside in a 3-metre swell and interrogated under a row of cocked rifles.”

Returning home in 1987, 'Tientos' was one of the last boats to be cleared in Maryborough before the customs office closed mid-year. Another revision of the Coral Coast was due and the family again headed north for Torres Strait.

Son Ben was ready for high school the following year, prompting the next round of musical masts. ”We deluded ourselves into believing we couldn’t handle the correspondence schooling so moved into a home unit at Point Clare, near Gosford NSW.”

14m of boat was obviously more than they now needed and 'Tientos' was sold to make way for ‘Renee Tighe’. As with most of the Lucas’ purchases, the 9m wooden ketch was in deplorable condition. “We bought her in Queensland, then sailed (and bailed!) her back to Point Clare. I put her in an industrial yard and spent all of 1989 restoring her before launching in 1990. While Ben enjoyed high school (and a peer group that didn’t sail away), Patricia found a good job and I spent much of my time at sea somewhere along the coast.” A few years later, Alan and Patricia moved aboard permanently, leaving Ben where he wanted to be - ashore. “It worked out well” Alan says “because he could ‘man the base’ for mail transfers etc!” Five years' cruising followed as the couple took on the massive job of self-publishing the Coral Coast. ”The pay is better but the commitment to be somewhere within reasonable reach is a tough balancing act”, Alan says. “Going foreign again was out.”

Alan Lucas aboard Soleares IIHowever a new project beckoned – more than big enough to temporarily quell any wanderlust. “For some time, Patricia and I had wanted to build the ‘ultimate’ boat which, regardless of how experienced one becomes, remains a vague notion. But our choice was a 15m shoal draft ketch developed from the lines of a Chesapeake Bay Skipjack. We built 'Soleares II' of fibreglass over seventeen months and launched her in June 1999. 'Renee Tighe' was sold during the period, having overlapped nicely as a home. This all happened in Maryborough, just 20-odd miles from where we built 'Alegrias' twenty-three years earlier.”

This undeniable icon of Australian cruising and ceaseless adventurer has passionately charted a life many of us can only dream of. Along the way, he has inspired and guided many towards their own calm anchorages while quietly living by an all encompassing philosophy. ”When you live life on your terms, in your preferred environment and can support yourself within that environment doing something you love, life doesn’t get much better. A billion dollars couldn’t buy my scene!”

Well, I would have liked to have met Alan Lucas but unfortunately our Club member is not only unfinancial but also bad in spotting a boat as the one sailing up the Clyde was not Alan's! "Storm Boy", you must have had your head buried in the bilge these past ten years because Alan's "Soleares II' is a two-masted ketch, not that single-masted 'weekender' anchored outside your front yard!

P.S. Some interesting reading on Australian coastal cruising and cruising guides for the east coast of Australia.