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.

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.