Justus Veeneklaas with NSW Couta Boat Titles 2012 trophy
Thursday, 5 April 2012
Bruce Stannard bids farewell to an old friend
When Justus Veeneklaas, an old and much-loved friend died in my arms recently, the sudden and dramatic loss left me profoundly shaken and set me thinking about the tenuous nature of our existence. While most people naturally prefer not to dwell on the all too brief span of our lives, very few of us appear to be prepared for, much less reconciled to, its inevitable ending. I was one of them, but not any more.
Justus, who would have been 70 in July, had a distinguished career in international business. He and Marianne, his wife of 43 years, shared a passionate interest in music, the theatre, literature and art - all areas in which he was an exceptionally generous benefactor and patron. He invariably had constructive and carefully considered opinions on most things and was never shy in expressing them. I admired his candour and his sparkling good humour.
Justus was a tall, sandy-haired, blue-eyed Frieslander, a native of the Netherlands’ northern-most province, but woe betide anyone who called him a Dutchman. He saw himself as a Viking, a descendant of the seaborne invaders who swept out of Norway in the 10th century to conquer the Low Countries and overrun much of Britain and Europe. His abiding passion, which we shared, was an interest in traditional wooden sailing boats. He was a champion yachtsman with a long record of success in bluewater classics and in around-the-buoys regattas.
On the day of his death we had spent a delightful afternoon together aboard the lovely Huon Pine Couta Boat he had aptly named Tenacity. The name was a direct reflection of his own indomitable spirit. Life had dealt him some pretty tough cards: quintuple bypass heart surgery, kidney failure and a constant regime of dialysis asof 10 tears ago, but he never complained and was always up-beat and optimistic. Although most people of his age have long since retired, he remained busy building a new start-up company. He found time for golf three days a week and had even picked up playing the clarinet with weekly lessons after a 40 year break. So here was a man who plainly loved Life and enjoyed it to the full.
We spent an unforgettable four hours together on his boat on Pittwater. The autumn sun was shining out of a cloudless blue sky. A gentle nor’easter was blowing and so we went out to encourage his two young grandsons, Finn and Charlie, who were off in their own little Optimist dinghies, being coached by their father, Menno. There was an easy banter between them all as the boys crouched in their dinghies and watched the tell-tale ribbons in the rigging for signs of the breeze. Justus was clearly very proud of the wee boys and he spoke to them with respect and admiration.
We went back the Veeneklaas family home at Newport, made the boat fast to the jetty at the foot of the garden and tucked into a splendid salad luncheon under the shade of a waterfront gazebo. Here was the quintessential Australian experience: kids in their dinghies under the eyes of a doting Dad and their beaming grandparents. In a world full of chaos and uncertainty for so many people, here was an Australian family doing what Aussie families have always done. It was reassuring to me at least, that in the midst of so much social change, some things stay the same. But then, just when everything seemed so blissfully perfect, along came the killer blow.
We were attaching the cover on Tenacity when Justus suffered a massive heart attack. He died in my arms on the foredeck. I cannot imagine a more fitting end for any sailor. Justus Veeneklaas was farewelled in a private ceremony and, according to his wishes, his ashes are to be scattered at sea just north of Barrenjoey Head.
Justus Veeneklaas aboard couta boat Tenacity
Old Gaffers Regatta 2011
Couta boats and Ranger yachts at start Photograph:John Jeremy
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
A record 65 traditional boats turned out for the splendid Old Gaffers Regatta on Sydney Harbour.
Bruce Stannard reports.
Sydney Amateur Sailing Club was founded in 1872 and continues to stick resolutely to its long and distinguished Corinthian heritage. There are no garish corporate logos or other signs of crass commercialism to mar the walls of the delightful old weatherboard clubhouse that stands hard by the shores of Mosman Bay and the Amateurs seems to get by nicely without the distracting clatter of poker machines. But there’s something else that sets the club apart. Unlike every other club in Sydney these days, the Amateurs continues to foster wooden boats and the traditional rigs that make them so distinctive.
Every other year the club hosts the Old Gaffers Regatta, an event that invariably attracts the biggest and most beautiful fleet of traditional boats that you’re likely to see anywhere on Sydney Harbour. On 23 October 2011, a record number of boats came together on a perfect summer’s day: brilliant sunshine and a cool and shifting breeze, for what turned out to be a celebration of all traditions we hold dear in the world of wooden boats. Rafted together in front of the clubhouse were many of Australia’s most beautiful vintage vessels, flags fluttering, varnish gleaming, brasswork brightly burnished and each looking each looking splendid in their finery.
But it was not just the boats that impressed me. It was the unabashed spirit of enthusiasm, shared interest and the sense of camaraderie that made the day so special. The club was abuzz with sailors and their families. A jazz band played, sausages sizzled on barbecues and everyone seemed caught-up in the festive atmosphere. Behind all the bonhomie was the knowledge that ahead lay not a cut-throat race but a parade of sail, an opportunity to show off the boats and simply enjoy the day.
Five Couta Boats – one of the biggest fleet outside Victoria – came down from Pittwater and I had the privilege of being aboard one of them, the 10-year-old TENACITY, designed and built in Huon Pine by Tim Phillips for the former Phillips Australia Chairman, Justus Veeneklaas. TENACITY is professionally maintained in absolutely A1 order. Her teak decks were spotless, her brightwork immaculate, and all her lines and gear were in perfect order.Cameras were click-click-clicking away as soon as we made sail. Fresh from her new season refit she slipped along easily as the light and fluky breeze moved from sou’west to south’east. At this time of the year, before the arrival of the hot summer days that call forth the reliable Sydney sea breeze, the nor’easter, the wind in the Harbour can be something of a fickle shifting lottery. So it was on regatta day.
The race committee had wisely divided the fleet into three separate divisions. We were the first to be sent away with the bigger, heavier and slower boats started last.It is impossible not to be deeply impressed by the speed and acceleration of the 26ft Couta Boats. TENACITY is a full 10ft on the beam, and with such broad and powerful shoulders I thought she might be hard to get going in the light air. Instead, she proved to be very slippery indeed. Although we were not meant to be out to win at all costs, it was nevertheless deeply satisfying to feel the boat’s quick and lively sensitivity. We sailed her like a big dinghy, with the crew’s moveable ballast crouched down to leeward in the light stuff and stacked on the windward rail in the heavier puffs. Two thirds of the way up the first windward leg we found ourselves in the lead. It was at that critical point that the skipper made the grave mistake of handing over the course instructions and appointing me tactician. I looked at the all too familiar chart that would see us round Shark Island on the starboard hand and ease away for the run down to the leeward mark in Atholl Bight. I knew the course like the back of my hand. No need to read the fine print.
That most basic of all sailing errors would soon cost us the lead and the race.
There are two rounding marks off the southern tip of Shark Island. I made the unforgivable blunder of assuming we needed to round only one of them, the Totem Pole. In fact we were required to round the yellow YA Buoy as well. Our rivals astern must have watched this gaff with some satisfaction. They allowed us to commit to the rounding and then called us back for the humiliation of a 360 degree re-rounding, a manoeuvre that sent us back into the middle of the fleet. If I could have slipped over the side at that moment and allowed the Harbour’s waters to cover my embarrassment I would have gladly done so.
After such a crushing blow the skipper and crew could have been forgiven for packing it in, cracking a tinnie and simply cruising round the course. Justus Veeneklaas is made of sterner stuff. Up came the centreplate and with crew weight to leeward we set off after the leaders. Justus is nothing if not tenacious, hence the name of his boat.In Amsterdam during the Second World War, his family were in hiding from the occupying German army. His birth in a cellar coincided with the Nazi retreat. His father watched their jack boots marching past the cellar window and decided that there was some justice in the world after all. He therefore named his infant son Justus (justice).
Justus will tell you that he is not Dutch at all but a native of the northern province of Friesland, which makes him a blue-eyed Viking with a long an illustrious seafaring heritage. He has always owned traditional wooden boats. Kidney failure means that Justus spends a good deal of time each and every week on dialysis. He needs to be tenacious just to stay alive. Every hour on the water is a blessing.
There are lessons there for all of us. Life is precious: make the most of every moment and above all, don’t ever give up. By the time we completed the race that day we had sailed back to within a few metres of the eventual winner. To me, the eventual placing was of no importance. I had had the privilege of spending a day under sail in the company of a man for whom I have the most profound admiration and respect. That sense of camaraderie is what sailing should be all about.
The Couta Boat Association gratefully acknowledges that this article is shared with the Classic Yacht Association of Australia Magazine, Issue 31 - November 2011 and thanks its editor, Roger Dundas. (CYAA website is www.classic-yacht.asn.au)
Batavia - A Story of Mutiny and Murder on her Maiden Voyage
Carmen Bell, Monday, 5 December 2011
On 27 October 1628, the newly built Batavia, commissioned by the Dutch East India Company, sailed from Texel for the Dutch East Indies to obtain spices. She sailed under the command of senior merchant Francisco Pelsaert, with Ariaen Jacobsz as skipper. They had previously encountered each other in India and, although some animosity had developed between them there, it is not known whether Pelsaert even remembered Jacobsz when he boarded Batavia. Also on board was junior merchant Jeronimus Cornelisz, a bankrupt pharmacist from Haarlem who was fleeing the Netherlands, in fear of arrest because of his heretical beliefs.
During the voyage, Jacobsz and Cornelisz conceived a plan to take the ship, which would allow them to start a new life somewhere, using the huge supply of trade gold and silver then on board. After leaving Cape Town, where they had stopped for supplies, Jacobsz deliberately steered the ship off course, away from the rest of the fleet. Jacobsz and Cornelisz had already gathered a small group of men around them and arranged an incident from which the mutiny was to ensue. This involved molesting a high-ranking young female passenger, Lucretia Jans, in order to provoke Pelsaert into disciplining the crew. They hoped to paint his discipline as unfair and recruit more members out of sympathy. However, the woman was able to identify her attackers.The mutineers were then forced to wait until Pelsaert made arrests, but he never acted.
On 4 June 1629 the ship struck a reef near Beacon Island, part of the Houtman Abrolhos off the Western Australian coast.Of the 322 aboard, most of the passengers and crew managed to get ashore, although 40 people drowned. The survivors, including all the women and children, were then transferred to nearby islands in the ship's longboat and yawl. An initial survey of the islands found no fresh water and only limited food (sea lions and birds). Pelsaert realised the dire situation and decided to search for water on the mainland.
A group comprising Captain Jacobsz and Francisco Pelsaert, together with senior officers, a few crew members and some passengers, left the wreck site in a 30-foot (9.1 m) longboat in search of drinking water. After an unsuccessful search for water on the mainland, they abandoned the other survivors and headed North in a dangerous voyage to the city of Batavia (now known as Jakarta). This journey ranks as one of the greatest feats of navigaton in open boats, and took 33 days. All aboard survived.
After their arrival in Batavia, the boatswain Jan Evertsz was arrested and executed for negligence and "outrageous behaviour" before the loss of the ship (he was suspected to have been involved). Jacobsz was also arrested for negligence, although his position in the potential mutiny was not guessed by Pelsaert.
Batavia's Governor General Jan Coen immediately gave Pelsaert command of the Sardam to rescue the other survivors, as well as to attempt to salvage riches from the Batavia's wreck. He arrived at the islands two months after leaving Batavia, only to discover that a bloody mutiny had taken place amongst the survivors, reducing their numbers by at least a hundred.
Jeronimus Cornelisz, who had been left in charge of the survivors, was well aware that if that party ever reached the port of Batavia, Pelsaert would report the impending mutiny, and his position in the planned mutiny might become apparent. Therefore, he made plans to hijack any rescue ship that might return and use the vessel to seek another safe haven. Cornelisz even made far-fetched plans to start a new kingdom, using the gold and silver from the wrecked Batavia. However, to carry out this plan, he first needed to eliminate possible opponents. Cornelisz's first deliberate act was to have all weapons and food supplies commandeered and placed under his control. He then moved a group of soldiers, led by Wiebbe Hayes, to nearby WestWallabiIsland, under the false pretence of searching for water. They were told to light signal fires when they found water and they would then be rescued.Convinced that they would be unsuccessful, he then left them there to die.
When Cornelisz had complete control, the remaining survivors faced two months of unrelenting butchery and savagery. With a dedicated band of murderous young men, Cornelisz began to systematically kill anyone he believed would be a problem to his reign of terror, or a burden on their limited resources. The mutineers became intoxicated with killing, and no one could stop them. They needed only the smallest of excuses to drown, bash, strangle or stab to death any of their victims, including women and children.
Cornelisz never committed any of the murders himself, although he tried and failed to strangle a baby. Instead, he used his powers of persuasion to coerce others into doing it for him, firstly under the pretence that the victim had committed a crime such as theft. Eventually, the mutineers began to kill for pleasure, or simply because they were bored. He planned to reduce the island's population to around 45 so that their supplies would last as long as possible. Between them, his followers murdered at least 110 men, women and children.
Although Cornelisz had left the soldiers to die, they had in fact found good sources of water and food on their islands. Initially, they did not know of the barbarity taking place on the other islands and still sent pre-arranged smoke signals announcing their finds. However, they soon learned of the massacres from survivors fleeing Cornelisz' island. The soldiers put together makeshift weapons from materials washed up from the wreck. They also set a watch so that they were ready for the mutineers, and built a small fort out of limestone and coral blocks.
Cornelisz seized on the news of water on the other island as his own supply was dwindling and the continued survival of the soldiers threatened his own success. He went with his men to try to defeat the soldiers marooned on West Wallabi Island. However, the trained soldiers were by now much better fed than the mutineers and easily defeated them in several battles, eventually taking Cornelisz hostage. The mutineers who escaped regrouped under a man named Wouter Loos and tried again, this time employing muskets to besiege Hayes' fort and almost defeated the soldiers. But Wiebbe Hayes' men prevailed again just as Pelsaert arrived. A race to the rescue ship ensued between Cornelisz's men and the soldiers. Wiebbe Hayes reached the ship first and was able to present his side of the story to Pelsaert. After a short battle, the combined force captured all of the mutineers.
Pelsaert decided to conduct a trial on the islands, because the Saardam on the return voyage to Batavia would have been overcrowded with survivors and prisoners. After a brief trial, the worst offenders were taken to Seals' Island and executed. Cornelisz and several of the major mutineers had both hands chopped off before being hanged.Wouter Loos and a cabin boy, considered only minor offenders, were marooned on mainland Australia, never to be heard of again. (Reports of unusually light-skinned Aborigines in the area by later British settlers have been suggested as evidence that the two men might have been adopted into a local Aboriginal clan.) The remaining mutineers were taken to Batavia for trial. Five were hanged, while several others were flogged. Cornelisz's second in command, Jacop Pietersz, was 'broken on the wheel', the most severe punishment available at the time.
Captain Jacobsz, despite being tortured, did not confess to his part in planning the mutiny and escaped execution due to lack of evidence. What finally became of him is unknown. It is suspected that he died in prison in Batavia.
A board of inquiry decided that Pelsaert had exercised a lack of authority and was therefore partly responsible for what had happened. His financial assets were seized and he died a broken man within a year.
On the other hand, the common soldier Wiebbe Hayes was hailed as a hero. The Dutch East India Company promoted him to sergeant, and later to lieutenant, which increased his salary fivefold.
Of the original 341 people on board Batavia, only 68 made it to the port of Batavia.
In the period 1970 through to 1974 some of the cannon from the Batavia wreck, an anchor and many artifacts were salvaged, including timbers from the port side of the stern of the ship. These were then conserved by the Museum's conservation laboratories. In order to facilitate the monitoring and any future treatment the hull timbers were erected on a steel frame.
In 1972 the Netherlands transferred all rights to Dutch shipwrecks on the Australian coasts to Australia. Some of the items, including human remains, which were excavated, are now on display in the WesternAustralianMuseum – Shipwreck Galleries in Fremantle, Australia. Others are held by the WesternAustralianMuseum, Geraldton. While a great deal of materials has been recovered from the wreck-site, the majority of the cannons and anchors have been left in-situ. As a result the wreck remains one of the premier dive sites on the West Australian coast and is part of the Museum's wreck trail, or underwater museum-without-walls concept.
A replica of the Batavia was built at the Bataviawerf (BataviaWharf) in Lelystad in the Netherlands. The project lasted from 1985 to 1995, and was conducted as an employment project for young people under master-shipbuilder Willem Vos. The Batavia replica was built with traditional materials, such as oak and hemp, and using the tools and methods of the time of the original ship's construction. For the design, good use was made of the remains of the original ship in Fremantle (and of the Vasa in Stockholm), as well as historical sources, such as 17th century building descriptions (actual building plans weren't made at the time), and prints and paintings by artists (who, at the time, generally painted fairly true to nature), of similar ships.
On 25 September 1999, the new Batavia was transported to Australia by barge, and moored at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney. In 2000, Batavia was the flagship for the Dutch Olympic Team during the 2000 Olympic Games. During her stay in Australia, the ship was towed to the ocean once, where she sailed on her own. On 12 June 2001, the ship returned to the Bataviawerf in Lelystad, where she remains on display to visitors.
The replica longboat of the Batavia will be at the Geelong WoodenBoat Festival 2012 (Labour Day Weekend)
Squaring the Currency Circle for Keeping an Old Boat
Couta Boat Fitting
Carmen Bell, Saturday, 30 July 2011
Another rainy, windy weekend. Perfect for reading my sailing magazines. The following piece written by Guy Venables brought a smile to my face.
The reason one can always find, in every yard, boats which have slunk off to the corners to slowly and painfully die ofboredom is often simply due to bogus mathematics.Enthusiastically, the new boat owner will bring thought patterns from his old life to this new one of boat ownership and restoration.
The most common, totally erroneous approach is to equate time with money.In boat restoration it can be mentally harmful.In fact to do so is to play by the rules of the very thing we are actively trying to avoid.
Take my friend Paul , a Portsmouth car salesman by trade and just the sort of person who, for want of any other way to make sense of the world, leans on the time/money way of thinking as a reliable way to justify all work.Halfway through restoring a 1940s speedboat he turned to me, exasperated, and told me that even if he’d only paid himself £5 an hour, his restoration would have cost him £1,900.This is the sort of mathematics that finds one in a negative word where paint ain’t, the stays go … and knots turn to nots.
The mere notion that he should be paying himself was, of course, ludicrous.I worked out that without his self-inflicted imaginary wages his restoration had so far only cost him £600.This was more like it and he cheered up and tried to sell me a van.
However it troubled me that he’d so utterly missed that the actual process of doing it should be pay itself.Secondly, once you embark upon the journey of restoration it should not be judged within the confines of hourly rates but by the parameters of the rest of your life.To do it by hourly rates would be akin to attempting to tell the time by only ever looking at the second hand of the clock.
The other well-used and dangerous equation is the one dividing the money spent on upkeep and mooring by the times the boat is taken out per year, concluding in the terrifying realisation that each trip out costs around £780.This equation should always be kept secret.From yourself if possible, from everybody else, definitely.
Once out in the open this is a monetary unit often wielded by unhappy partners or spouses to dissuade the continuation of a life with a boat, often citing the number of nights out, shoes, babysitters or non-boat fixing holidays that a mere six months of marine payments could pay for.
Even to the salt-keen partner the legitimate question pops up as to why we don’t hire a boat for half the cost and hassle.Ignore this question as no one has ever successfully answered it.In fact, ignore most questions and when doubt seeps into your mind’s bilges, look ahead and always remember where you aren’t.You are not, for instance, in an office at Portsmouth selling cars.This pastime should not be judged by maths.If it were, boats would have far more straight lines.
The History of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
held in Hobart biannually
The inaugural Australian Wooden Boat Festival was staged in November 1994 by enthusiastic friends Cathy Hawkins, Ian Johnston and Andy Gamlin thanks to financial assistance from the Tasmanian State Government and sponsors Hobart Marine Board, Hobart City Council, RACT Insurance, Risby timbers, Holymans, Spirit of Tasmania and ABC radio. It followed Andy’s visit to Brest’94 in Brittany in 1992. Held over a normal two day weekend the Festival attracted huge and enthusiastic crowds, a very successful food component, a French frigate that transported a canoe from Isle de Pins (New Caledonia) and the “HM Bark Endeavour Replica” on her maiden voyage from Perth WA. The very first day was warm, summery and held under a clear sky which complimented the 180 beautiful wooden boats in Constitution Dock. Sunday’s drizzle was a contrast in conditions but the Festival continued with music, dance, nautical demonstrations. The new event was considered an outstanding success.
Also held in November, the second event was staged in 1996 in cold blustery conditions two years after the first. Never-the-less, almost 200 boats enthusiastically arrived for more celebration. The Festival was again organized by the three founders and supported by a number of volunteers and again the public response was highly supportive. This time a modest entry fee was asked of the public to support the growing costs of staging the event. A very interesting craft became the feature vessel of the Festival. Known as “Charlie”, a 25 foot steam driven mahogany canoe came from South Australia. Crowds were amazed at the sight of this different craft. A handful of Couta boats also arrived from Sorrento, Port Philip Bay, that provided some stiff competition for local division racing yachts.
A change for the third festival in 1998 brought the Rotary Club of Salamanca into an ownership role. Appointed as Festival Director, Andy Gamlin (co-founder and formerly co-director) began organizing the Festival on a “full time” basis. The Logan (NZ) built and beautifully restored racing yacht “Sayonara” was attracted to the Festival from Melbourne. Some incredible model boats were also brought over from Melbourne that drew a lot of public comment. Weather again intervened and the whole weekend was affected by rain causing a downturn in the largely Tasmanian visitor numbers.
New dates were established for 2001 and a 3 day event was staged to compliment the long running Royal Hobart Regatta. The Rotary Club handed ownership to a new, stand alone organization, Australian Wooden Boat Festival Inc. with Jayne Wilson as Chair and Andy Gamlin as Festival Director. An immediate and positive response from boat owners occurred and some 320 boats registered. The weekend was a huge success and held in warm and sunny weather for all three days. The Festival was once again featured “HM Bark Endeavour Replica” following a world tour, “Astor” of early Sydney Hobart yacht race fame and the replica of Flinder’s famous vessel of early Tasmanian discovery, “Norfolk”. The three day format permitted a new entertainment formula, the introduction of the “Parade of Sail” and other new events, such as specially written and performed theatre.
A new committee and new Festival Director for the 5th Festival in 2003 set the scene for a new format and entertainment approach. Similar boat entries and visitor numbers enjoyed an exquisite 3 day weekend of summer weather. A beautifully restored and presented “Wraith of Odin” (ex Pittwater, Sydney) stole the show. The historic 22 foot “Tassie II” was another feature of the Festival as she was launched in front of the crowd after being brought over from Melbourne.
Work towards the third 3 day Festival included attracting the 1874 three masted iron barque “James Craig” back to Tasmania after almost 30 years of restoration in Sydney. Another major attraction was the three replica Viking Ships transported from Denmark for the Festival. Five popular specialist boat builders from the Viking Ship Museum also joined the Festival to demonstrate boat building skills with their ‘authentic’ replica Viking tools and rope making equipment. Several couta boats from Victoria successfully sailed across Bass Strait during fairly severe conditions. The response was unprecedented and some 450 boats registered followed by a similar explosion in visitor response. Accommodation in Hobart and for miles around filled to capacity with a common response that is expected to be mirrored in 2007.
Andy Gamlin headed up the 2007 Festival which was held over four days for the first time. The summer weather was glorious and almost 70,000 visitors were in attendance. The event was packed with special features including HM Bark Endeavour, the replica Dutch ship Duyfken and for the first time in Australia three magnificent traditional boats from Holland. A special 'Dutch Village' was set up dockside and was very much a crowd favourite. A record 620 boats attended the festival. An extensive program of entertainment, music, demonstrations, displays, and sensational food added to the vibrancy of the event.
The ever popular James Craig made a superb centre piece for the 2009 festival. She was joined by a flotilla of other Tall Ships including Enterprize, Young Endeavour, Lady Nelson and Windeward Bound. A cool and showery start to the Saturday meant that attendances were down on previous years. A new management team headed up by Rob McGuire delivered a superb event and according to many boat owners was the best yet. Billed as "The Best of Australia in the Heart of Tasmania" the event attracted record boat entries – with every state and territory represented. This included 4 amazing 18ft replica racing skiffs from Sydney and a dug-out Tiwi Island Canoe that was built specially for the Festival. An on-water program was established as well as the Community Boat Building and a Seafood Theatre being introduced as new activities for the first time.
Will be a 4-day event, held 11-14 February 2011.
Mutiny on the Bounty - Again!
Bounty Boat Replica
Carmen Bell, Wednesday, 7 April 2010
221 years after the original mutiny - and this time it's for a good cause
It was in April 1789 that the famous ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ occurred just off the waters of the islands of Ha’apai in the Kingdom of Tonga. The story goes that, whilst in the Pacific, the Bounty crew were attracted to the idyllic life and were angered by the (alleged) cruelty of their commanding officer William Bligh. The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian and some of his followers and they tried to get Bligh to sail the Bounty back to Tahiti because they terribly missed their Tahitian mistresses. Bligh did not agree with the mutineers and he insisted they continue sailing to Australia.
Fletcher Christian and his followers then cast commanding officer William Bligh and Bligh’s loyal crew adrift in a boat near TofuaIsland in Ha’apai. Whilst Fletcher and the mutineers sailed to Pitcairn Island and settled there, Bligh and his men sailed for 42 days and over an epic 3,700 nautical miles from Ha’apai in the Kingdom of Tonga to Kupang in Timor in an overloaded boat with little food or water and no charts.
The story has been retold in movies, books and even in song. Now, Australian adventurer Don McIntyre is set to embark on an incredible nautical journey to re-create one of the most extraordinary stories of survival and determination – Captain William Bligh’s 4,000 mile open boat ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ voyage. The re-enactment, following the journey across the Pacific from the Kingdom of Tonga to Timor, will launch on the same day, at the same time and in the same place 221 years after the original mutiny journey - i.e. 28 April.
The seven week expedition aboard the Talisker Bounty Boat – a 25-ft long, 7-ft wide, open wooden vessel – will see McIntyre and his crew facing the same deprivations as the original crew when cast adrift in the middle of the Pacific. Using the replica 18th century traditional open timber whale boat, they will relive Bligh’s nightmare by attempting to sail the same voyage under similar conditions with no charts, no extra landings, no toilet paper, not enough food or water. Bligh and his crew only had 150 pounds of ships biscuits, 16 two-pound pieces of pork, 6 quarts of rum, 6 bottles of wine and 28 gallons of water McIntyre and his crew are deliberately not taking enough food and water in order to relive the challenges Bligh faced two centuries ago.
On Friday, 9 April 2010 at the Mitchell Library in Sydney, there will be the final crew send off and many of Bligh's personal artefacts (including his notebook, log book, telescope, personal seal and some letter he wrote to his wife after the mutiny) will be on display. McIntyre and the crew of the Talisker Bounty Boat are expected to arrive in Nuku’alofa on Monday 12 April, 2010. They will stay at the Royal Sunset Island Resort on ‘AtataIsland (offshore from Tongatapu), where they will get everything in order. On Monday 19 April, they will set off on a nine day voyage to the exact location that the mutiny occurred and where Captain William Bligh was forcibly removed from the Bounty. From there, the crew will sail to Tofua in Ha’apai and spend 3 days exploring just as Bligh did after the Mutiny. The expedition even hopes to visit the cave that Bligh and his men sheltered in while on the TofuaIsland. From there the crew will sail on and mark the beginning of their replica voyage.
Talisker’s Bounty Boat Expedition will attempt to raise over $250,000 for the Sheffield Institute Foundation for Motor Neurone Disease (SIF), which is the world’s first research Institute into Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. They will also use the voyage to monitor sea life and water temperatures in the Pacific and work with academics to compare their findings with the detailed log that Bligh kept.
Sponsored by Parks Victoria and Queenscliff Harbour P/L
Regattas had been held at Queenscliff in the 1850s between the crews of the Customs, Pilots and Health Officer’s boats.The year 1862 marked the first regatta when the fishermen joined in.In 1865 it was the fishermen themselves who organised their first regatta, and these Fishermen’s Regattas became an annual event, held either at New Year or at Easter time.
Queenscliff fishermen successfully sailed their working boats against boats built for pleasure in races up the Bay.In 1888 Ben Chidgey won the Hundred Pound Cup at Hobson’s Bay, and in 1890 Walter Shapter won the Mordialloc Regatta.This did not sit well with the city folk, and in 1890 the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, and the Yacht Clubs at Hobson’s Bay, Brighton and St Kilda excluded fishermen from their races on the grounds ‘that they were professionals.’
These days, the Couta Boat Association is very pleased with its association with the Classic Yacht Association of Australia and has again invited the Williamstown-based classic yachts to join in the Queenscliff Regatta 2010.
The Queenscliff Couta Boat Regatta was held on Saturday, 6 February 2010.This historic Regatta, which commemorates the Queenscliff Fishermen’s Regattas of the mid-1860’s, is organised by the Couta Boat Association and is an aggregate race which counts towards the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club season championship.
The newly completed Queenscliff Harbour provided a most suitable venue for this gathering of couta boats from around Port Phillip and, due to the efforts of the Queenscliff Harbour staff and with the cooperation of existing berth holders, adequate raft-up and mooring space was cleared to accommodate not only the visiting couta boats, but also wooden motor launches now owned by many previous couta boat skippers, and some of the majestic classic yachts from Williamstown.This event has all the makings of growing into a boat festival celebrating the beauty and endurance of wooden boats.
The weather forecast was as usual a bit up in the air, making decisions on whether to bring boats to Queenscliff a bit of a challenge for skippers from afar.Isn’t it amazing that we cannot get reliable forecasts just a few days out from a sailing event, yet we are told with absolute certainty by the meteorologists and climatologists what will happen to us in the year 2100?Full marks go to the classic yachts Mercedes III, Boambillee andVentura, but in particular to couta boat Ella C129, who made the trip from Williamstown (and Geelong) on Friday in fairly rough conditions in order to be at QueenscliffHarbour in time for the Regatta.
As Mornington Peninsula boats arrived from onward on Saturday, they gathered in the central basin of the QueenscliffHarbour and skippers and crew made their way to the Harbour Shed to collect regatta T-shirts and fish & chips, and to attend the race briefing.Everyone enjoyed being on or near their boats, and the sense of camaraderie was palpable. The planned start was a blessing as the wind started to build and race management was keen to get the race underway.Blissfully, Division 1 couta boats had a good start without general recall, followed by Division 2 and then the classic yachts.
Naturally sailors always pay close attention to the wind, but when sailing in Queenscliff waters, it is a bit like sailing on a conveyor belt as the tides run very hard in this area close to the Rip; and on Saturday, there was an ebb tide of 6.4 knots ... Boats which tossed onto port tack early lost valuable ground, but those which seemingly went too far on their initial starboard course, did very well indeed.I watched the race along with a good number of people from QueenscliffHarbour’s observation tower platform.It is a heart-warming feeling to see a flock of some 35 couta boats in the waters where they originated.
Trophy presentation was at the newly opened harbour restaurant 360Q, followed by a sold out Regatta Dinner there.Vin Rigby, a retired St. Leonard’s fisherman, told us about his life on the sea, and Dugga Beazley and his family came all the way from Port Melbourne to hear him speak.Naturally, the Queenscliff Couta Boat Regatta would not be complete without the ‘Harbour Master’ Lewis Ferrier, who not only thanked Vin on behalf of all of us for his talk, but also marked the turning buoy with his fishing boat Rosebud on Sunday during the Sailpast.
Handicap Results for the Queenscliff Regatta 2010 are (full list can be viewed on www.sscbc.com.au – Couta Boat Aggregate 09/10):
Couta Boat Division 1:
1stMurielC17built 1917 by Mitch Lacco Skipper: Tim Phillips
2ndDarneyC03built 2003 by the Wooden Boatshop Skipper: Wayne Parr
3rdC97C97built 1997 by Jeffrey Richardson Skipper: Jeffrey Richardson
Couta Boat Division 2:
1stDuchessC21built 1952 by Alex Lacco Skipper: Andrew Creek
2ndReginaC34built 1934 by Peter Locke Skipper: Janette Ellis
3rdEllaC129built 2001 by Brett Almond Skipper: Michael MacTavish
1stMercedes IIIR450built 1966 by Cec Quilkey Skipper: Martin Ryan
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL ...
This event could not have been a success without the sponsorship from Parks Victoria and Queenscliff Harbour P/L and the attendance of so many boats. Lew Ferrier farewelled the departing fleet on Sunday with the words "Hope to see you again next year, if YOU are alive" ( - he is 87!)
How many degrees of separation would that be? Dinghy was in the water for 5.5 months and traveled 350 miles
When the Spirit of Mystery approached Australia in early-March 2009, she was caught in a significant storm which ended up rolling her by 90 degrees. This resulted in one crew member suffering a broken leg as he was on watch on deck, and the loss of equipment. I remember how Pete and Andy Goss bemoaned the fact, that the little wooden clinker dinghy was ripped off its mounting on deck and lost at that time.
The Spirit of Mystery spent some time at Queenscliff Harbour to undertake repairs and, when setting off to Tasmania, had young boatbuilder Jeremy Clowes as one of her crew.
Amazingly, the lost dinghy which has now been named the Intrepid Tacker was washed up on a beach in King Island. The kids who found her happen to be the Stone Haven Cup holders, which links them to the King Island Sail Cub. They mentioned that they had found a dinghy to the Commodore, John Hiscock, who had welcomed the Spirit of Mystery on her stopover. Andy Goss had given a talk at the Club at that time and made a joke about the lost dinghy, saying "If you find one washed up, give us a call or make good use of it." Amazingly, out of the blue - 4 months later - Pete Goss received an email with some photos attached asking if this was his dinghy!
Tacker was made from the off-cuts of the Spirit of Mystery and had her own sail, rudder, dagger board and oars - a true tender. All of her parts were found with her, except for the sail.
Andy and Pete Goss felt that it was only fitting that Jeremy Clowes fix her up, as he is so entwined in the King Island aspect of the story. His boat yard is Peninsula Wooden Boats in Rosebud (just behind Rosebud Engineering) and his email is email@example.com . He has made a start on the dinghy already, and sent some photos. He pulled the dinghy back into shape and had to remove the top four planks which need replacing. Sailmaker Col Anderson (Doyle-Fraser) donated some grown knees from his yacht Acrospire, and I believe that there will be a contribution of materials from the Alma Doepel as well. It is nice to see that the wooden boat family is joining in this project.
Trans Tasman Classic Challenge Series
Historic skiffs in Auckland
Carmen Bell, Wednesday, 16 December 2009
Open to Classic and Modern Yachts - and Special
Invitation to Couta Boats
The Classic Yacht Association of New Zealand has confirmed that they have obtained sponsorship from Oceanbridge Shipping for the shipping cost for two couta boats from Australia to New Zealand.
If you are interested please make contact with Joyce Talbot as soon as possible ... (one boat owner has already done so)
Below is the programme information for the Trans Tasman Classic Challenge Series:
Join us for two fabulous weeks of classic sailing and racing on the spectacular waters of the Hauraki Gulf and WaitemataHarbour, and the enjoyment of the warm hospitality and camaraderie of kiwi Classic Yachties.
Bring your own boat or crew on one of our beautiful ladies..............
Schedule of Events:
Friday Jan 29: Devonport Yacht Club Night Race to Mahurangi. (24 miles)
Saturday Jan 30: Mahurangi Cruising Club Classic Yacht Regatta & Classic
Launch Rally – non-series optional event
Sunday Jan 31: CYANZ Mahurangi to Auckland Race. (24 miles)
Raft up in Viaduct
Monday Feb 1: Oceanbridge Auckland Anniversary Regatta
The Southern Trust Classic Yacht Regatta: 11-14 Feb, with Race HQ based in the Viaduct. Food and bar open each night after racing
Thursday Feb 11: Skippers briefing, followed by dinner at the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron
Friday Feb 12: Race 1
Saturday Feb 13: Race 2 followed by Race 3
Sunday Feb 14: Race 4 & Official Prize-giving
Saturday 30 January: An absolute highlight of the season hosted by the
Mahurangi Cruising Club. The origins of this event go back to 1858 when a
regatta was held between the Navy and local work boats finishing with a picnic ashore, and was revived in 1977. With over 100 classics competing and a 1000 spectator boats the atmosphere in the MahurangiHarbour is incredible! The Regatta is followed by a very popular prize-giving at Scotts Landing with a ‘big band’ playing classics from the swing era and more.
While not part of the Classics Series this event is highly recommended for a
relaxed fun day of racing, great camaraderie & tall tales in a beautifully historic setting. It’s a “Must do”.
Oceanbridge Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta
Monday 1 February: New Zealand’s oldest sporting event, first raced in1840 and celebrating Auckland 170th Birthday in 2010. A fabulous day on the water featuring races for all classes of vessel from optimists to A Class Keelers & Tall Ships, with the classics being the highlight of the day’s racing. Also features a tugboat race!!
The Southern Trust Classic Yacht Regatta
12-14 February: A fabulous three days of racing and rafting up, celebrating our yachting heritage with great camaraderie and prize-givings after the day’s racing in Race HQ right at the Viaduct.
There are opportunities for those of you who would like to crew on one of our vessels and compete for the Trans Tasman Trophy (during the Classic Yacht Regatta only).
For a selection of accommodation, all within walking distance of the harbour:
We will be endeavouring to organise berthage for Australian vessels at the
Viaduct or close by at Westhaven Marina. Once we have your registration of
interest we can pursue options on your behalf.
Things to do in Auckland
There are a multitude of things to do while visiting Auckland - beaches, parks, art galleries, museums, markets, winery tours ...... www.aucklandnz.com for a
detailed guide of what’s happening, where and when
For more information and to register your interest, contact Joyce Talbot:
p: +64 9 836 4747 m: +64 21 818 448
f: +64 9 836 4015
The Cup Regatta 2009
Mark Chew, Sunday, 13 September 2009
Members of the Classic Yacht Association of Australia and the Couta Boat Association share a love of wooden boats, and this event provides an opportunity to show-case their vessels.
The third and revised iteration of The Melbourne Cup Regatta is planned to get underway on Friday the 30th October, 2009 with two special contests:
The first is a 2-on-2 boat contest between the CYAA gun racing boats from the 60's, Mercedes III and Boambillee, and two of the hottest boats from the Couta Boat Fleet. The "Guineas Trophy", as it will be called, is the brain child of Martin Ryan, who was fascinated by the speed of the fishing boats, when sailing in their company at the 2009 Queenscliff Regatta, compared to state of the art 1960's Ocean racers. A thousand Guineas will be on the table for the winning Association. For more information see the guineaschallenge offical document.
At the same time Melbourne's re-energised Tumlaren fleet will compete to find the top boat on Port Phillip, reliving the glory days of the 40's and 50's.
After these two new events there will be a Opening Cocktail Party held at The Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, looking across Hobson's Bay Back to the City of Melbourne. We are hoping to arrange for as many vessels as possible to be berthed out the front of RYCV, rafting up and creating a fun social atmosphere in which we can share stories and information on our magnificent old boats.
The Regatta proper will start on Saturday 31st October, 2009 with a 20 nautical mile Passage Race around the top end of the Bay. Sunday 1st November, 2009 is a day for the purists with two short Laid Courses, testing the pure sailing skills of the racing fleet. Monday 2nd November, 2009 will see a morning Pursuit Race based on the corrected handicaps from previous races with the aim of a grouped finish at RYCV at around lunch time. On Monday afternoon we will hold a massive gourmet BBQ followed by the Presentation of trophies and prizes. And, if you still have any energy left, you can always go to the other "Cup" on Tuesday.
As always we are encouraging our interstate and Trans-Tasman members and enthusiasts to attend. They can be guaranteed a great weekend of sailing and socializing whilst celebrating The Melbourne Classic Fleet. Be a part of it!
Some Comments from 2008
"The racing was fabulous and close and the company superb. A great event and one which the CYANZ will be promoting as a 'must do' for next November." Tony Blake CYANZ President.
"Thank you to you and your team for putting on another special Cup Weekend Regatta…… the conditions were excellent for sailing, which we really enjoyed; plus the good company of the Kiwis we had as crew. The voyage across the bay to Sorrento, which I also enjoy, worked out well with quick and easy passages both directions." Rod Martin Couta Boat Skipper.
After completing the original route taken by 7 brave Cornishmen in 1854, the boat will now travel around the coast of Australia.
After an epic voyage from Newlyn, Cornwall, UK to Williamstown, Victoria, Australia the Spirit of Mystery was slipped at Williamstown for repair of damage she sustained in a knockdown on 3 March 2009.The freak wave that hit the boat not only damaged communication equipment and tore off the life raft, it also resulted in one of the crew, Mark Maidman, sustaining a broken leg.Sadly, it also tore off the sailing dinghy which had been built with off-cuts of the 37-foot Cornish lugger replica and which thus is irreplacable.
At the behest of the Couta Boat Association, a visit to the Southern end of Port Phillip was organised, and Andy Goss brought the Spirit of Mystery to the Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron, the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club and finally to Queenscliff Harbour. Couta boat Lyndal Lea met the Spirit of Mystery just off Portsea and piloted her into her mooring spot in the central basin of the Harbour for public viewing.And indeed a large number of visitors came to Queenscliff to see the boat over the ensuing days.
While moored at Queenscliff, some more boat maintenance was undertaken and plans were made for the next leg of her journey to KingIsland and then on to Launceston, Tasmania.The Queenscliff stopover proved to be a stroke of good luck as the mooring facilities were quite protected to sit out a couple of violent storm fronts which were approaching, with winds of up to 55 knots and seas of 3+ metres within Port Phillip, and naturally much more in Bass Strait.
So, on Wedneday, the 29th of April 2009, the Spirit of Mystery left Queenscliff with a crew of 5:Andy Goss and Henriette Lemay were joined by Rosebud boat builder Jeremy Clowes, Ocean Grove sculptor Noel Essex and retired Queenscliffe councilor Steven Lee. Couta fisherman Lew Ferrier in his fishing boat Rosebud escorted the Spirit of Mystery out the Cut and through the Heads and was joined by motor launch Rough Up from Portsea.Lew handed one of his old couta jigs to Andy Goss as a departing gift with no doubt a colourful description of how to use it, and indeed it took less than 30 minutes for the crew on Spirit of Mystery to catch the first of several couta!
I was sad to see this gallant little vessel go, but am sure we will cross paths again somewhere around Australia.Pete and Andy Goss are planning to be at the Sydney International Boat Show (30 July – 3 August 2009) at DarlingHarbour; for anything beyond that, check the website www.petegoss.com
Dinghy before the Storm
Lyndal Lea and Spirit of Mystery
Spirit of Mystery leaves Queenscliff
Rough Up and Rosebud in good company
Off to King Island
Spirit of Mystery
Couta Boat Association State Championship 2009
Romy off the wind
Nigel Abbott, Thursday, 30 April 2009
A perspective from the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club Captain
Over the last year, I would like to acknowledge the overall improvement in the running of Couta Boat events, due to the positive contribution of many people. Last season's sailing club forum no doubt has been a key influencer by listening to what the sailors and volunteers want out of sailing Couta Boats at Sorrento. Anyway since then the year has been smooth sailing with a good mix of events. This leads me offer a perspective on the final big CBA event for the year – The Investec CBA State Titles was again a big success with close to 40 Couta Boats enjoying a mixed format of passage and round the sticks races.
Day one was reserved for the long passage race. Div 1 went down to Rosebud via the South Channel Pile, with a shorter course for the Div 2's to Rye Pier and return. Those of you who sailed know all this, so I should now comment on the light breeze and ebbing tide which presented quite a challenge to the sailors. The course for the first section of the race went from the start off Sorrento, into a laid mark in near the sisters (in the area of the green cone) and then on down to Number 10 pile off Blairgowrie shops. The trick here was to understand the environment. I'm not talkin' tree hugging, Karma or turning your TV off at the power point, but the real environment – the wind and water – the air temperature and the water texture – the feel of the boat –the trim and gentle coaxing the boat needs to perform to the prevailing conditions. (Perhaps, Boat Karma).
Our first priority is simply to look for wind on water. Boats don't go without wind and when racing adjacent the shore line the breeze can be blanketed in some spots. Second; respect the tide flow. From the first mark, the fleet was sailing in the Sorrento channel down to Number 10, which is similar to sailing upstream in a river. As naturally competitive types we lee-bowed a couple of boats onto port and pushed them off towards the middle of the channel and into the deeper faster flowing water. What bastards... they say (Negative Karma) – but the end result is really quite pleasing to see 'your competitor' sailing away to certain defeat (Positive Karma). The point is; a key factor at the start of this race, was working with the 'environment' being the ebb tide water flow in the channel was a dominant consideration vs. the light wind conditions.
Once past number 10, the waters out to the South Channel Pile and down on to Rosebud, some 9 miles or more away, are of a similar consistency making tide a lesser factor. As the fleet neared Rosebud the wind became more and more affected by Arthur's Seat. This became very interesting... as the boats became influenced by softer winds nearer Rosebud the trailing boats began catching. In sailing, it's never over till the finish line, and often boats a long way ahead can fall foul in becalmed waters (Bad Karma) providing the opportunity for trailing boats to sail around such holes and pass them (Positive Karma). For us, we were pleased to round the Rosebud mark and travel away form the soft winds back towards a building sea breeze that was beginning to establish on the tip of the peninsula (Erection!). These long races don't have the boat handling and short tactical excitement but the overall concentration challenge and keeping the crew on the job whilst they gaze at the picturesque view adds up to a fun day on a Couta.
On the second day, with 3 short Triangle races, the tip is, we still consider the environment but are careful not to punt as heavily on the conditions at the expense of ignoring where the majority of the fleet traffic is headed. Round the sticks, tactical situations such as giving bad air to an opponent or rounding on the outside of a bunch of boats at a mark, all help to push the leaders further and further ahead, leaving most behind to bite and moan at each other.
As I recently heard it said: To win; just do 4 things– 1) Have a system for everything so that preparing the boat, lunches, etc. thru to who does what on the boat is all sorted. (Bit high ground for Coutamen!). 2) Don't know what 2 is... (Couldn't hear). 3) Take your time i.e. put the whisker pole out later and pull it down earlier. 4) Sail high in the flat water spots. That's it.
At the end of the day we all aim to have plenty of fun and to learn as we go. I hope this little story is a help to your goals ... on the water.
Cheers – Captain Nugget.
Division 1 Division 2
C97 (built 1997) 1 Regina C34 (built 1934)
Lisa C71 (built 1991) 2 Lucy C31 (built 1931)
Romy C2003 (built 2003) 3 Morning Star C157 (built 1935)
Plan to Ban Recreational Boating on Port Phillip
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Dates can be very telling ...
Details of a plan that will effectively ban daytime recreational boating on Port Phillip Bay, for six months out of each year, were released today.
The plan, if enacted, would see recreational boats over 4.8 metres, (both power and sail) banned from operating on Port Phillip Bay, between the hours of 1030 (10.30am) and 1530 (3.30pm) every day, in each alternate month.
According to Government Spokesperson Ms Nora Treally, “The current Dredging program in the bay is stirring up sand and sediments, that in the normal course of events would settle to the bottom quickly, generally within a few days. However, with the increased boating activity now taking place on Port Phillip, the sand and sediments are being continually stirred up by boats and remain suspended in the water. This has the effect of making the water in the bay more dense and of a heavier viscosity, a phenomenon known as ‘Thick Water’.”
According to Professor of Aquatics and Marine Life at Monash University, Prof. B. A. Loney , “thick water causes a number of serious problems. It’s a hazard for commercial shipping as large ships find it more difficult to steer and maneuver through thick water and it’s also a problem for fish and other marine life, who generally find it more difficult to swim through the water.”
Thick water is a phenomenon rarely seen in the Southern Hemisphere, but is often reported as occurring in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in Scandinavian waterways where the water temperature often causes the water to become more dense.
Fishermen in the Northern Hemisphere have reported that fish caught in ‘thick water’ appear to be ‘muscled up’ as a result of having to work harder to make their way through the water and are generally not as tender and tasty, as fish caught in normal water.
The ban on recreational boating on the bay is planned to commence on 29 February 2010.
P.S.: Thank you to John Zammit from SHIPMATE for his contribution to April Fool's Day.
The strange custom prevalent throughout this kingdom, of people making fools of one another upon the first of April, arose from the year formerly beginning, as to some purpose, and in some respects, on the twenty-fifth of March, which was supposed to be the incarnation of our Lord; it being customary with the Romans, as well as with us, to hold a festival, attended by an octave, at the commencement of the new year—which festival lasted for eight days, whereof the first and last were the principal; therefore the first of April is the octave of the twenty-fifth of March, and, consequently, the close or ending of the feast, which was both the festival of the Annunciation and the beginning of the new year.
Images from Couta Boat Association State Titles 2006/07