Headed south, far south.

It’s been a while since I last went to Tasmania, last time was for the Australian Youth Sailing Championships. This time however I had the chance to head down to Hobart and take in the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. This is a Bi-Annual event that has grown over the years. In co-operation with Brierley Marine who have outlets in Hobart and Launceston, DeckHardware had a range of products on display in the hall. Teaming up with Ben King who has assisted DeckHardware with a few shows on the mainland and is now at Brierley Launceston, we had a different range on display with a focus on the Wooden Boat market. The show is a massive undertaking and the locals have really put their support behind it. With free entry, there was talk of over 400,000 visitors. many of these were from the mainland, I seemed to be running in to them every couple of minutes! On the ferry over from Melbourne it seemed like everyone was headed that way. The great factor was that the weather was fantastic with clear skies and temperatures in the high 20s each day. Melissa flew down for the Sunday, luckily, as Saturday was the hottest and busiest. A cruise ship arrived early Saturday morning and the comment was – ‘there’s another 5000 visitors!’. The show eclipsed Sydney and certainly Sanctuary Cove, I don’t think I’ve run into so many people that I haven’t seen for a long time. If you have the chance, book accommodation now for the next one in 2017 because I think most will be back and with their friends too. It’s well worth the effort.

The Four

Then I headed north for the last round of the Manly Junior State Titles at Point Wolstoncroft on Lake Macquarie. I think this is just about the only place on the lake I haven’t been to before. Held at the NSW Sport and Recreation Centre, this was a great facility for a kids regatta. Plenty of area to run around ashore, pool, tennis court and cabin and tent accommodation, as well as plenty of rigging area on the foreshore. The sailing area of course being Lake Macquarie is excellent. Having attended three previous Manly Junior events this season as sponsor it was good to catch up with all of them again. It was another great weekend, the Noreaster came in around lunchtime, a little late but consistent when it came. Congratulations to all involved, parents, regatta officials and competitors.

For something different, I’m off again this weekend. South again. I’m running the second edition of the Snowy Mountains Regatta at Jindabyne in southern New South Wales. If it’s like last year with clear skies and 8-10 knot winds we’ll all be happy.

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.