This boat is all we want … yeah right

Have you ever noticed that when we talk about men and their toys it is never ‘toy’? It is this way because it never stays as one. It starts out as one, then a bigger/newer/faster one, and then another and so on. After I had my first sailboat a while, I bought a Mirror dinghy, and I remember telling Robyn it is all we will ever need in a sailboat – yeah, right. The Hartley TS 16 came next, and lots of sailing family holidays with our two boys. All we ever needed, until … standing headroom would be nice … a toilet and shower would be nice … four proper bunks … get the picture?

I am not sure if these were ‘must-haves’ for your next boat, but a couple of decades ago there were not too many of these boats one could put on a trailer and tow off to the islands. So, nothing else for it, I would have to design and build my own. Some years later a ‘thing of indescribable beauty’ emerged from my shed ready for some far-off islands. Well not just any islands, but the seventy-four that make up the Whitsunday Islands in north Queensland.

I had sailed among them before. A career of running student enterprise programs where young people developed products or skills they marketed to fund travel, meant as their teacher, I had to go along and keep an eye on them. I mean, one has a duty of care to ensure the kids are safe out there in the real world – on ski-fields, on remote indigenous communities, on Greyhound buses in America, ocean sailing, and many yacht charters, including the Whitsundays. I didn’t let on to the kids, but I said to myself, the next time I come up here it will be with my own boat and my family and lots of time. They found out of course, for I didn’t show up at school for six months and came back suntanned and happy.box_ck

A group of young people enjoying the fruit of their fee-for-service work which funded
their travel plans. In this case yacht charter – Box’s Creek, Gippsland Lakes


Degrees of Freedom

Degrees of Freedom.

Sometimes a man has a dream, the kind that does not go away. He lies awake at night, and even during the day, bits and pieces of the dream take shape. The dream was a holiday around the Whitsunday Islands. The thing that was taking shape was a family sailboat.

cid You ask about the name. Well, I was studying at the time, doing a degree in Social Science. It was a lecture in research methods or something like that. It was hot, and as lecture theatres usually are, it was stuffy.
My mind drifted to the islands where it would not be stuffy. I could feel the gentle tropical breeze drift across the bow of my boat. Not sure what the lecturer was saying, but a single phrase degrees of freedom kept intruding into my mental holiday, until, hey, that’s a great name for my boat.

Some men like to fix things. Some men like to make things. Now of course some men do both, but I am a maker. I once had a classic sports car; did all my courting in it; sat the child seat alongside (it didn’t have seat belts) for my son’s introduction to wind-in-the-hair motoring; later our two sons used to squeeze into the space behind the bucket seats. Had it long enough for it to need fixing. Then it was exchanged for a complete chassis, performance engine, racy gearbox, ready for me to make a fibreglass roadster body. Like I said, I am a maker not a fixer.

Makers or fixers – all men are dreamers. Someday I am going to … and they drift off into that dreamlike state that makes some tune out and others tune in.  And, among these ‘some-day’ plans, as often as not, there will be a boat. And with a boat, an ocean, a sunset, and yes, a tropical island with white beach sand and palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze. Well, that is how it was with me – a dream boat.