Just a few more clicks

Another Road trip to South Australia and then on to Victoria getting out on the road to see the DeckHardware Customers. This trip started on Friday afternoon and Sunday late I was in Coffin Bay west of Port Lincoln.  I nearly didn’t make it after receiving a call on Saturday to say the sewer had blocked at home.  Nothing I could do if I returned home so the girls called in the plumber and dealt with the cleanup!

I had debated going the high road through Broken Hill or the regular road through Hay.  After some input from friends I decided to go my normal route maybe next time I will go through Broken Hill. There’s only an hours difference in the drive time according to the GPS, not much when you consider the drive is 2 1/2 days.

It’s always good to see DeckHardware customers and the responses to the new products available from the various suppliers and this trip was no exception.

Once through the hills east of Adelaide,  I headed north and around the Gulf it is a really nice drive, all 100kph and plenty of laybys to have a short break.   I use a website Freecamping Australia  and an App called Toiletmap to help find out of the way places to stop.   One thing that I’ve found myself doing on these longer stretches is estimating the length of the straight ahead. Looking at the odometer at the start and again at the end. There are the 20km ones just east of the SA/NSW border, but there’s a few long ones heading to Port Lincoln too. The difference being that the NSW straights are just that, pretty flat too. The SA straights are up and down and you can see the road way ahead by the cutting in the vegetation. Something a little different to think about I know, but it wiles away the time.

I know I get to see a great deal of the Australian Outback on these roads trips and some of the changes I’ve seen are for the better, especially the roadworks.  It’s always interesting to see the changes in towns in between trips as none of the outlets I visit move premises, I know how to get to the greater majority by memory. The Mornington peninsula is a great example. The new Freeway south from Melbourne CBD to Sorrento and the roads that have sprung out from it are an example. Melbourne is going to be huge in the decades ahead. Rather like the Gold Coast creeping closer to Brisbane. Sydney is bounded by the mountains to the west and national parks to the north and south so land here is at a premium.

Like all of the trips I do, there’s always something new to check out. It’s amazing the places that boats pop up in, one’s that have seemingly disappeared. Recently I mentioned finding Defiance the Yacht in northern Brisbane, this time it’s an old 9m winged sportboat that David Lambourne and then Peter Sorrenson sailed sometime back – Margaret L. A boat builder in Victoria has picked it up for himself after the previous owner broke the mast. Pete will have fun with this one I’m sure.

Bit of time to be spent in Sydney and then off to Perth later in the year.  The Sailing Season is here with my home club’s Open Day this Saturday where I will be onboard the Hugh George leading the way for the Sail Past.

Down South and 3605kms later

Following on from the interstate trips to Western Australia and Southern Queensland, this time I was off down south to Victoria via the ACT. Friday morning was an early start to try and beat the Sydney peak hour and the dreaded M5 to Canberra. Four hours later, not too bad I suppose, Driving in to Canberra Yacht Club to meet up with Matt Owen the CEO. Like many who I ring, Matt took advantage of the DeckHardware van calling through and pre ordered, then came out to see what’s new. Unfortunately time was against him due to another appointment so we didn’t have the chance to spend as much time as we had liked. After dropping off a Sydney Sailboat Expo poster and going through a few items and I was off to Victoria.

Driving through the Snowy Mountains at this time of year suits me, I prefer Palm Trees to snow. Those who haven’t done the trip should as it’s a great alternative to the coast road. I arrived in Paynesville in time to drop off a Flying Eleven mainsail and jib for Stuart Loft to have a twilight launching and sail of his new acquisition. Lofty had arranged with Andrew [Dolly] Divola for me to be the go between/courier, timing. I hung around Paynesville and Metung seeing Aaron Hill who operates outlets in both towns, on Saturday morning. Again Aaron was one of those who took the opportunity to have a carton of DeckHardware products delivered. Like many he also took advantage of the van to purchase more. Saturday was also the Opening Day for the Great Lakes Sailing Club, so I took all of that in too, always interesting to see how other clubs do it. Then off to Sandringham, more K’s.

After dropping off another carton locally, I was off to Warrnambool Sunday, pretty much a days drive again. Pleasant though as the road is more and more familiar with each trip. Coming through Colac for example, how much water do they have? Enough to sail? Almost this time, I’ve seen the water well down in the past but they must have had a bit. I know they had more as it rained for much of the time I was there!

Monday morning and a good start with a couple of local customers showing some of the range out of the van. This trip was looking good from a sales view. Off again for the 3 hour tour back to Geelong and updating more customers. Tuesday morning was another good sale with one customer, nice. After seeing 12 different outlets, I finished the day on the other side of Port Phillip Bay, this time at Sorrento. It’s a good hike around the bay, about 100kms I think, there is the ferry of course but I have to see those on the way. Wednesday I started the day locally and worked my way anti-clockwise this time, another 13 seen, a busy but again a productive day. Showing off the new product range and talking about the upcoming Sydney Sailboat Expo is enjoyable but takes time. Those who I left SSE posters will were all receptive on the idea that Melissa and her team have been working on, some talking about making the trip for the show next April.

Thursday  was not quite as busy number wise, however those I saw were excellent. I spent some time with Andrew McDougall and Andrew Morris at KA Sail discussing the upcoming Moth Worlds at Sorrento. Amac also showed me the new Waszp drawings, I’m lucky to be one of only a handful to see his new design. Amac is hoping to be able to sail one at Sorrento this January, hopefully we’ll have a production Waszp at SSE as they plan on having two boats there. Another who I saw Thursday was Martin Sly, one of the better boatbuilder/repairers in Melbourne. Martin has a rather large shed, full of all types of sail and power requiring his attention. Like others, he also came to the van to shop. Friday was down to Western Port to see those there, followed by coming back to Sandringham at Lunchtime. After a couple of hours at the two chandleries and the club, it was in to the city for the last stop of the week.

In previous trips, I had a good run out of the CBD. This time however it took over an hour to hit the Hume Highway. I only got as far as Tarcutta before stopping for the night. 3605kms, 47 different DeckHardware customers and eight days later, home.

I’ll be back to Sandringham in December to help officiate at ISAF Sailing World Cup/Sail Melbourne. In the lead up to the event, I’ll be attending the ISAF International Race Officers conference, hopefully in the New Year I’ll be an IRO. Studying to come.

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It’s all on, the season has started.

Last Saturday was the Annual Sailpast at Middle Harbour Yacht Club, a tradition that stems back some decades. As the Principal race officer, it was again the opportunity to lead the club fleet in the start boat past the marina to take the salute from the ‘Flags’. The there was a club house start for the opening race of the 2014/15 sailing season. However I had other things to do later that day, packing my bags for a work trip to Western Australia.

As in past trips, I’ve been able to stay with good friends interstate, first up it was Colin and Katie Spence and their young son Connor. Colin over the years has been a purchaser of the Liros rope and whilst he’s no longer doing the amount of rig work, he’s still quite active sailing his Moth. Colin is looking forward to the upcoming Worlds to be held in Sorrento and his Moth is constantly being up graded. It was wonderful to catch up with them again, although Connor at three years of age referred to me as being one of his Dads ‘boyfriends’. That caused a few laughs, one that we’ll probably remind him as he grows older.

Later in the week in Perth, I again had the occasion to stay with Paul Eldrid of One Sails Perth. Paul is the co-owner [with Scott Disley] of the General Lee, a rather quick offshore racer in WA. This season however he’s running a new 47’er that’s currently in transit to Sydney for this years Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. The Indian team have made the decision to sail out of Sydney for the qualifying races, so I’ll see a bit more of Paul and Scott in the lead up to Boxing Day. Looking forward to it.

As is the case, I had a fair bit on and quite a few to see and show some of the new DeckHardware  products. Again I had a bit of driving and whilst I didn’t get to either Albany or Geraldton, I still covered quite a bit south, north and around Perth and Fremantle, just under 1000kms. With a list of chandleries,  sailmakers and other users of the DeckHardware range some may think it repetitive, however with 18 suppliers and over 10,000 items, there’s always something that someone hasn’t seen and wants to look at. In this case it was the recent JDC product Windoo, an addition to the mobile phone for checking wind speed and other information.

Needless to say, showing this meant I had to go to a few of the clubs WA, something that’s pretty easy to do when one likes looking at boats. Finding the Farr727 on the slips brought back memories from the mid 1970’s, seeing the C&C99 ‘In the Red’ which had just been sold from MHYC to WA was also a surprise. Of course watching the build progress of many boats is always interesting. With the range we carry, there’s always something to suggest to the builder, Marelon plumbing by Forespar and Non Skid by TBS France being just a few. The Australian Women’s match racing was on at Royal Perth Yacht Club whilst I was there, always good to see the looks on some sailors faces when they see me in odd places. In this case is was eventual winner Katie Spithill Pellew and her brother/coach Tom. Also sailing was DeckHardware Ambassador and NSW 420 skipper Lauren Gallaway getting more time and experience on the water, good to see.

As in the past, there’s always something coming up. In this case I’m off to Queensland shortly followed by Victoria. Just a few more ‘clicks’ on the odometer.

 

Headed North

Last Thursday I left Sydney and headed north, this trip was a combination of a few things. I run a course for Yachting New South Wales teaching country clubs the art of being a race official and on this occasion I was at Kingscliff with members of the Tweed Valley Sailing Club. Like many of the country clubs, their fleet is a broad range of classes and abilities, what doesn’t change is the enthusiasm for the sport of sailing. It was good to catch up again with Commodore Bill who I had met on a previous trip. Also with a former customer Michael, now retired to the Gold Coast and sailing an Impulse dinghy. Amongst the experienced members was one fellow just back from a world cruise, he certainly had some stories. There is also some practical and it was good to see those who don’t usually use compasses and GPSs experimenting.

The following day I attended the Sanctuary Cove Boatshow to see what’s new and a general catch up with those there. For the first time in too many years, their was absolutely no rain. Usually the shows have had a shower and even heavy downpours to put a dampener on things. Those outside rejoiced as it was clear skies, although the clothing companies would ague otherwise. Rain for them brings the customers. It was nice to spend the day wandering around without the need for jackets and umbrellas.

Whilst these were the two primary reasons for the trip, I also had the chance to stop and see a few of DeckHardware’s customers both old and new. It’s always good to see them and show a range of products, especially the builders who stop and think ‘where can I use that?’. One I saw is building a carbon 20′ foiling catamaran, taking the rig off his Tornado to have some fun. I look forward to seeing how the country clubs where he sails handicap him. Spending a couple of hours going through the Allen, Liros, PROtect and TBS range opens a few eyes, especially when they are able to place a few blocks and cleats here and there. Another builder I have to take some parts to show when I next drive past in a couple of weeks time, he’s building a one off carbon race boat and every little weight loss helps the speed gains.

Next trip is to Lake Keepit for the Keepit Kool Regatta in June, one I’ve not been to even though it’s been going for several decades now.First up however, I’m attending a race management course for my own accreditation. As the ISAF rules change each four years, so does one have to re sit and re visit the courses to maintain currency. This is a two day event, the ones I hold go for 4-4.5hours. Hopefully I’ll pass without too many issues.

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First trip to Queensland for 2014

Last week saw me driving up to Queensland for the first time in 2014. For a change of pace I went up the inland via the New England Highway. In years gone by this was normally an added hour so to the coast road, however with all the new bypasses it took quite some hours longer. I’ll continue to use the coast from now on I think.

Monday afternoon I started off in the west of Brisbane, helpful as that’s where I was coming in from and then went on to a new retail outlet in Brisbane’s east which opened late last year. Tuesday was spent doing the rounds of the outlets around the Brisbane area and then heading off to the Sunshine Coast. There are a couple of builders finishing off a couple of large Schionning catamarans, these both looked pretty good only a month or so out from launch. Both of these builders have another to follow which is good for the local employment.

The Sunshine Coast area is developing quite quickly and has certainly changed since I first went up there in the mid 70s. It’s no longer a spread out area, all the bush and farm land is being developed at a rate. I then headed south to the Gold Coast, again this area is being built quite rapidly with the upcoming Commonwealth Games. There’s also a light rail/tram railway being built. When I compare the developments in these areas and the total lack of new infrastructure in my local area, it has to make you think. Sydney’s main roads out of the CBD are 2 lanes each way, up north they are 4! Melbourne too has some new freeways and toll roads heading out of town.

Following the week of doing the rounds of the various outlets, boat builders and sailmakers, I then changed my times forward to NSW daylight saving time and stopped off in Ballina. Again catching up with a boatbuilder there, it’s always nice when they come to the DeckHardware van and purchase on the spot.

From Ballina it was down to the Big River Sailing Club at Harwood for another visit. In the past I’ve enjoyed the hospitality of the Northern locals and in turn they appreciate having the van there with a few bits and pieces. This time however I was offered a spot on boat an I550, a little sportsboat built at Ballina. On the last visits, these little boats have inspired me and to have the chance to go for a sail on one, let alone a 2.5hr race, well.. What a hoot, just crack the sheets a little and they are off on the plane like a dinghy. I haven’t had a grin like that since we had Animus up and surfing. I can now see why there’s the eighth boat in the mould and nearly ready to come out.

For a change of pace, I’m heading off to Jindabyne for this weekend. I’ll be running a race officers course as well as the Inaugural Snowy Mountains Regatta. This is catered for the locals who sail a variety of dinghies, cats and small sportboat/trailerables on Lake Jindabyne, they are also hoping for a few of the Canberra locals to come down. The lake is the result of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme providing power to the South-east of Australia. It’s several times the size of Sydney Harbour so there should be plenty of room, not too much traffic apart from fishermen either. I haven’t been down there for several decades as I’m not a snow person [I’d rather sail], needless to say I have packed  for all weather conditions bar snow. Should be interesting, I hope we get some breeze.

Victoria 2014

The first interstate trip this year is to Victoria. Normally at this time of year for the last 30 years or so, I’ve been involved in the Adams10m Class Championships, either as a competitor or as Principal Race Officer. This year however, for the first time, I’ve been given the opportunity to officiate at Geelong’s Festival of Sail for the Sydney38 Championships. Whilst I go to Geelong several times a year to see the various DeckHardware outlets, this is a part of Port Phillip Bay that I’ve never been out on. I certainly look forward to seeing what it’s like as this event is the Southern equivalent to Middle Harbour Yacht Clubs Sydney Harbour Regatta.

Given the chance to come south also presented itself with the opportunity to do the rounds of many outlets in Victoria. I started off with a trip via Metung and Paynesville and for the first time paid a visit to Marley Point. This is the home of the Marley Point Overnight race that has been run for many decades across Lake Wellington, up a narrow channel and in to the northern reaches of the Gippsland Lakes District. An overnight race which attracted around 500 in the early days, these days they get over 100 plus trailer yachts, sportsboats and multihulls. Many of our friends have done the race and back in the 80’s Robyn and I were on our way down when car issues turned us around. We never had the chance to have another go.

Over the last few days I’ve seen nearly forty DeckHardware customers, both old and new. It’s always interesting to see the reaction to some of the new products from our suppliers.

I’m fortunate to be able to stay with an old sailing friend in Melbourne – John Eyles and his partner Sharon. Many will remember some of John’s yachts called Indian Pacific. We sailed together on the J24, SP30, Farr40 in which he won the ’84 Hobart and the Davidson36 throughout the late 70’s and the 80s. Plenty of stories are told at night.

Last night I had the chance to go for a twilight sail at Royal Brighton Yacht Club on board Clipper a Bavaria36. Somehow once again we managed a win despite some of the usual sailing issues. Over rides, headsail sheet under the pole and then tacking…All sorted though for a 40 second win. Thanks to the owner and crew of Clipper for the opportunity to have a sail.

The coming days will see me out on the water with the Sydney38s at Geelong, I look forward to it.

 

Victoria October 2013

Following on from the week in South Australia, I spent the Saturday driving to Warrnambool in Victoria in order to start the week there on Monday. I hadn’t driven this particular road before and whilst i have driven past many vineyards and wineries in the country, this day opened up yet more of those comments..’Ohh that’s where that comes from’. Many of the names are common place in the Aussie vernacular and I was able to put the name to the place with a grin as I drove past each sign.

On Monday morning I started off in Warrnambool where on previous visits I’d made contact with a boat builder, Pete Trewartha. Pete’s shed when I first went there had a multitude of yachts, some over 50′. At the moment there is a few yachts, sport boats and a large power boat. Once again I spent several hours going through all of the DeckHardware range of products, one of the reasons why driving and showing the range works. It was then on to Geelong another 3 hour drive and the start of the week in Melbourne and the outer suburbs.

Once again it was a full week of showing the DeckHardware range with new products from Allen Brothers England, Forespar, Liros Ropes and PROtect Tapes. On this trip I was now aware that in the past I was able to do the rounds and see quite a few customers both old and new. With a greater range of new products, it was now taking longer to do the rounds.

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On the last Saturday morning I stayed in Sandringham to catch up with some of the sailors competing in Sail Sandringham, this event had over 150 entries from Optis, Cadets, 420s and 29ers up to SB20s. One of those I ran in to was Ian Brown who was there to race his SB20. Our relationship goes back several decades when he built the first sail for Melissa’s first dinghy in the early 80s. Ian is a multiple champion at state, national and world level with a Bronze medal at the 1976 Olympics. He’d been in to DeckHardware earlier this year with Malcolm Page one day to re fit his boat with a range of Liros Ropes.

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The these two photos show early one morning at Sandringham. These were taken within minutes of each other. First the Moon setting and then the Sun rising, quite spectacular at the time.

 

 

 

 

The shipping photos were taken Monday evening at Port Phillip Heads at the look out over ‘the Rip’. The entrance to the bay is quite small and smaller boats have to time their entry and exit. yacht races are known to start at odd hours to ensure they all get out safely.

Then it was home, total distance covered 5854kms over the previous 15 days. A quite enjoyable trip weather wise apart from the flies and mozzies in Port Lincoln. Whilst I didn’t see as many as I had in the past, those I saw were quite pleased to see the new DeckHardware products.

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SE Queensland part 2

Yet another trip north covering 3015 kms this trip. After dropping by those from Hervey Bay to Bribie Island last time, this trip was to coincide with the annual Sanctuary Cove International Boatshow, then following up with those in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast.

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I spent day one driving north with a detour to Tea Gardens, one of those little out of the way places that you mean to get to sometime.  This time I did, great little spot that would be full of life in Summer. However as has been the case lately, I took the rain with me. I’ll make a note to drop by when it’s warmer. The following day was meant to be spent seeing all those in the Port Macquarie area, however after 155mm of rain overnight, I decided to continue on to Coffs Harbour. Yep more rain, this time only 147mm. 300mm in 48 hours was enough! Time to keep going north.

This time with more luck, the Sanctuary Cove International Boatshow weekend was dry, I must have left it all down south. Spending the weekend wandering around the show talking to others in the marine industry was a little different. The marina was probably half the size of previous years however the main hall/tent area seemed to be  full as usual. It was a great opportunity to spend some time talking to others when they had the chance.

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One of the things about visiting this area is that I get to stay with my Fathers sister Cynthia and her husband Geoff at Hollywell.Waking up to this view is fantastic [when it’s not raining] until the jetskiers start up. Having them banned from Sydney Harbour means I don’t see too much of them, but it was like the neighbours starting up the lawn mower at 0600, you didn’t need an alarm clock.

I had planned to spend the next 5 days with two in Brisbane and the rest on the Gold Coast, visiting clubs, chandleries, builders and others in the marine industry. I was able to visit some great people. One of these was a fellow who was on the phone to Melissa in the office asking about product – ‘Do you have anyone in the area?’ With a little drive down to the Tweed River Sailing Club, I was able to show the range of DeckHardware products and give Bill a chance to touch and feel. He came away with a lot more knowledge on ropes, blocks and some of the other products we offer.

Then it was up to Brisbane, this time to catch up with those at Manly, firstly at Muir Marine, then at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron [RQ]. With a range of people, I was there the entire morning. Yes, it rained! Sitting in the back of the van with Adrian Finglas the RQ coach showing rope and fittings wasn’t the easiest, but at least we were dry. I thought I’d escape back up to the the Sunshine Coast away from the wet and see a couple of others including builder Jon Sayer, it rained.

Thursday was clear – nearly but enough to not need umbrellas or a jacket. I was able to see a few more, not all on the list but it was good to meet up with those who had started ordering from us in person. Always good to put a name to a face and then show some new and exciting products.

Then the rain came..Friday morning waking up to rain, I’d had enough, time to go home. Yep, it rained Saturday afternoon and Sunday in Sydney. Pool’s full, Dams full and the Wakehurst Parkway is flooded. Anyone need rain, just invite me to stay.

South East Queensland Part one

This time it was trip to South East Queenland,  I started at Hervey Bay and worked my way south to Bribie Island just north of Brisbane.

As is the case with many of these trips, its seeing who is still there and who is not. The first photo is from the Mary River Marina at Maryborough. As can be seen by the debris on the downpipe, they have had an issue with floods in the last few years. The area where you can see through used to house the chandlery in pic2. Bill and his team had had enough of the floods and made the move to Urangan at Hervey Bay It’s a sad state at the Marina, but you can understand why he made the choice to leave. Should you have the opportunity to go to Hervey Bay, drop by and see Bill, he’s walking distance from the marina.

Pic3 show’s one of the great Aussie wonders – a Big Thing. I’m yet to work out what relevance Bushranger Ned Kelly has in Maryborough, he did most if not all of his thieving down in Northern Victoria.

Pic4 shows the boat ramp at Tin Can Bay, the Southern end of Fraser Island – Urangan being the Northern tip. As can be seen by the photo, it’s a fair hike out to the moorings at low tide. It would be at least a mile or so, a bit of planning would be needed going to and fro.

It was a full week on the road seeing just over 40 of DeckHardware’s customers, both old and new. It was good to catch up with a few of the builders and retailers and see what everyone was up to. With two new 60′ Multihulls in build near Noosa and a 45′ center cockpit cruiser being built near Mooloolaba, it’s good to see Australian tradesmen hard at it. I had the opportunity to show a range of product, with nearly 10,000 now across 18 suppliers there’s always something that someone hasn’t seen.

In the coming weeks, it’s back up to Queensland to see those in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast. I’ll also drop by Sanctuary Cove and see how the boat show stacks up this year.

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Been a big few days down south

I’ve been in Hobart for a few days now and it’s been pretty much non stop. I’ve been between several regatttas, the International Cadet Worlds and the 420 and Laser Nationals and then there’s the finish of the other race that I started on Boxing Day, the Rolex Sydney Hobart. I’ve helped competitors re rig and rebuild their boats, on one day re splicing three jib halyards.

I’ve seen the Governor of Tasmania preside over 2 prizegivings, someone should however told him not to repeat the same line each time, I’m sure there are a few others who heard the same comments about the Volvo race being a festival as is the feeling in Hobart at this time of year.

I’ve also had the chance to catch up with old friends and made some new ones, one Launceston Hobart competitor made note last night – “you’re that Phil!” I had to remind him that should he come to MHYC, there’s four Phils to choose from. Hobart at this time of year is a festival with the Taste of Tassie food halls on the waterfront a big part of it. I’m yet to have a Scallop pie, one of the local delicacies, but there’s still time. It’s been good catching up with the likes of Ian and David Ross and Andrew Hunn, all of whom I’ve known for over 35 years.

In the coming days there’s the completion of the 420s and Cadets and then the Australian Youth Championships start. Also on this weekend is another round of the Australian Farr40 circuit with several Sydney boats in town including Estate Master and Transfusion. I’ll drop over the other side of the Derwent River to Bellerive to catch up with these guys in the coming days.

I’m in Hobart for another week or so and the way things are, I’ll need it. Normally a trip down here is around 4 days to see all the builders and chandleries, I’ve only had the chance to see two of those.