My dad was born in the Channel Islands.....the island of Guernsey. He spent 7 years in the Royal Navy on HMS Ark Royal and HMS Cummberland before we left England on one of those government sponsored 10 quid package deals to Australia onboard the ocean liner Flavia way back in the early 60's. I am sure that this heritage and six weeks at sea at the age of two and a half is where my passion for the sea started.
From then on, every year my parents worked hard, scrimped and saved so our family could holiday near the sea. Urunga, Batemans Bay, Long Jetty, Kogarah and Shoal Bay were the more regular haunts along with visits to our very few relatives near the beach in Sydney. Growing up in the Central West of NSW we looked forward to our annual coastal holidays as they were the treat of the year. I remember begging each year for dad to buy a boat but we were by no means a well off family. Our first dinghy had a cantankerous seagull outboard but I thought it was just the ducks guts!
I should thank my parents for creating my passion for the sea.
Since our dear departed friend John Kumm first thrust the yacht tiller in my mate Glenn M and my hands way back in the early 80's, I have realised I have felt at home near the water and boats. I have sailed, boated and fished with some great people over the years and we have enjoyed many memorable moments.
Back in the early 80's, I learnt from experienced skippers the right way to stay safe at sea and how to assist others in distress; for this I thank the old Skippers and crew of Southport Air Sea Rescue (now Volunteer Marine Rescue). The opportunity to train on the Old Southport Bar before it had walls was the biggest adrenalin rush one could have. To be Skipper of a 23ft 470hp Sharkcat Rescue vessel in 2-3m breaking seas is a buzz! Most yachties and boaties are happy to just get in or out of a bar or seaway once.......we would spend hours training in and out of the broken water looking for the deepest channel of the day/week so we could escort yachts safely through the bar. The eight years I spent as a volunteer with ASR were some of the best in my life....although Relle may not agree!!
Some moments were more memorable than others for the WRONG reasons!!! Like five ASR Skippers on a J24 with wings, broaching whilst crossing the Gold Coast Seaway after a passage race, skipping down the barrel beam on with Kev wringing the neck of the outboard whilst surfing inside the 2m breaking wave.......the old 9.9 Jonno never missed a beat!! The old adage too many Chiefs not enough Indians may have applied......
My most memorable job was the rescue of 19 Japanese tourists from an upturned Flybridge Cruiser that flipped on the seaward side of Wave Break Island in the Southport Seaway on a run-out tide on New Years Eve. My crew were first on scene and rescued 11 people (it was a little crowded and no-one spoke English) and stood by until a second vessel arrived, We also coordinated the entire rescue including helicopter assistance....very satisfying result with no loss of life.
Its was not always fun and excitement. Often a pleasant day on the water would be saddened by injury or loss of life....be it a head on collision between boats at night; a man throwing a stick to his dog and then duck diving in the shallow water to hide from the dog only to knock himself unconscious on a solitary rock on a sandy beach; an old man with dementia drowning at the waters edge or a boat flipping on the bar or seaway. These days made you even safer at sea.
This leads me to the purpose of this Blog which will probably astound my beautiful children as much as it did my wife! I want you to join me on an adventure as I tackle the goals I have set for myself as I approach the ripe age of 50.
To procrastinate is to perish.
For many years I have imagined inside my head space that a time would come where I would sail the world....be that solo, with my wife Relle or just a mate.
In preparation I have set myself three goals:
- Achieve RYA Yachtmaster qualifications.
- Circumnavigate Australia in 2010.
- Compete in the 2011 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race (S2H) in 'Just Jo'.
A crew of six is required to race in the Sydney to Hobart. I have five highly skilled and top blokes in mind and over the coming months will attempt to coerce them with offerings of wet, cold and windy nights at sea accompanied by bouts of sea sickness and sheer terror whilst rewarding them with adventure, exhilaration and accomplishment.
I plan to take in the East Coast races where possible and arrange the voyage in legs. Detailed planning will commence shortly but for the purpose of this post my initial thoughts are:
- Gain commitment from the crew.
- Seek sponsorship.
- Undertake a Safety at Sea Course in Jan 2010 in Brisbane so the crew can meet, greet and get wet together.
- Circumnavigate Australia by race and cruise 2010.
- My intent is to invite the crew to join me on various legs to get used to the yacht for a week at a time...or longer. This will assist in gaining the necessary sea time to enable an entry in the S2H race.
- Preliminary timings:
- Depart Late July 2010 for Sydney
- Race - Sydney to Gold Coast late July 2010
- Cruise to Brisbane inside the Broadwater.
- Race - Brisbane to Great Keppel Island early Aug 2010
- Cruise to Airlie Beach
- Race - Airlie Beach Race week mid Aug 2010
- Cruise to Townsville
- Townsville to Cairns
- Cairns to Lizard Island
- Lizard to Thursday Island
- Thursday Island to Nhulunbuy (Gove)
- Nhulunbuy to Darwin
- Darwin to Broome
- Broome to Perth
- Perth to Albany
- Albany to Kangaroo Island
- Kangaroo Island to Hobart
- Hobart to Sydney
- Sydney to Newcastle
- Haul for maintenance.
- Sydney to Hobart 26 Dec 2011
As the plan evolves I hope you will enjoy following the circumnavigation of 'Just Jo'.