Thursday, July 21, 2011

Working Together today for a Healthier Reef Tomorrow

Local Reef Guardian Schools are participating in the Future Leaders Eco Challenge (FLEC)with this year's event seeing students participate in activities focused on supporting healthy ecosystems and improving sustainability in their schools and at home.

The theme for this year's Reef Guardian Schools FLEC, Working Together today for a Healthier Reef Tomorrow, aims to help students connect sustainability and environmental initiatives within their community to a healthy Great Barrier Reef.

Students will have the opportunity to investigate a local ecosystem through field based activities that are translatable to their school based projects.

The Whitsunday Future Leaders Eco Challenge; Bring a hat, sunscreen, water bottle, raincoat and sturdy closed shoes next Wednesday at Cannonvale Beach from 8.45am


Whale Jail?


Is Australia a whale jail? Is overregulation killing tourism? Compare Canada and Australian whale tourism.

In eastern Canada – "But for a real thrill why not try sea kayaking to get up close and personal with whales. Where else in the world can you see humpback whales (some 5,000 pass this way each year) and 10,000-year-old icebergs only two hours from New York?

"The company offers snorkelling and diving with whales for $199 and "Iceberg Close Encounter" for $149."

However, in Australia the headlines read "FEDERAL agents will carry out secret surveys of Cairns tourist boats by land and sea to ensure they are keeping a good distance from migrating humpback whales.

"The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and officers from the Federal environment department, alongside officers from the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management, are starting compliance surveys, as part of a nationwide operation to enforce whale approach limits.

Boats are not allowed to be within 100m of a whale in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. A person in water must not move any closer than 300m to a whale. A person must not enter water closer than 300m to a whale.

A department of environment representative said officers would be involved in a various compliance and enforcement strategies, including land and sea patrols and covert surveillance.

"The public are encouraged to report suspected offences."

Your writer can confirm that the main problem with getting up close and personal with a humpback whale is that they have very smelly fish breath.

"Whale watching did not exist as an organized activity a half a century ago, yet today it accounts for some 3 million participants in thirty countries generating almost a half a billion dollars annually." Value of Life by Stephen Kellert (1997)


Thorny issue


Funding is sought to put in place a long-term eradication program for Crown of Thorns starfish (COTS) following recent research and assessment in the Whitsunday area by Projects Global.

The Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association and the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators are seeking letters of support for a Regional Crown of Thorns Eradication Program.

Local divers and Projects Global confirmed that some locations do have significant outbreaks and collected sufficient data to apply for government funding for a Whitsundays specific eradication program.


Mariner Notices


Boat Haven Bay - Mariners be advised that a sailing vessel has sunk midway between Abel Point and Mandalay Point, in the Small Craft Mooring Area. The vessel, exposed at all tides, lies in about three (3) metres of water. A Special Mark buoy is temporarily established to mark the sunken vessel. Mariners should use caution in the vicinity. AUS charts 252, 253 & 268

Going north? Admiralty publication Indonesia Pilot Volume 3 Fifth Edition 2011 be published and replaces previous editions. For further details, refer RAN Australian Hydrographic Service.


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan


Cap'n Dan is a regular broadcaster on ABC Radio Tropical North

Funds needed for reef stars halt

 A Crown of Thorns Starfish control and assessment team operating in the Whitsunday region during June killed hundreds of the starfish on Bait and Knuckle reefs in the first significant outbreak in several years.

Col McKenzie, from the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, says operators in the Whitsundays noticed an explosion in Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) numbers in the region, with Bait and Knuckle reefs damaged.

"We need to do something about it or it'll just eat all the coral out on those particular reefs," Mr McKenzie said.

Blame for the increase in the pest is the result of significant recent rainfall.

"Bait Reef operators have noted a significant increase in the number of COTS they see during their diving day," long time local diving expert Tony Fontes told The Whitsunday Coast Guardian this week.

"Dive operators are now working with the Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association to lobbying for a government sponsored eradication program.

The crown-of-thorns is a corallivore, a carnivorous predator that preys on reef coral polyps.


Mystery ship in port


A three-mast schooner with an interesting history has been in port recently.

Now known as 'Southern Cloud' the white 39.62m (130-foot) sailing yacht was launched in 1989 in Denmark designed to cruise in style and when launched was the biggest fibreglass composite luxury vessel in the world.

Accommodating up to 12 guests in seven cabins, 'Southern Cloud' is here for the winter sailing season before returning to Sydney for the summer.

However, it is the history of the Superyacht that is of interest here.

Named Butterfly McQueen when launched, the Bermuda rigged schooner was until recent times owned by a secretive Danish cult charity organisation whose directors have been in and out of court for years, when they could be found.

Claiming to be a target for the SIS and the CIA, cult leader Mogens Amdi Petersen disappeared one day in 1979 and not seen again for the next 22 years until he was arrested in the US. Released in 2006 during an appeal Petersen and four other directors of the 'charity' have been hunted by Danish authorities on allegations of money laundering, tax evasion, and fraud.

The Superyacht was originally named after Butterfly McQueen; the first black actress to win an Oscar - for her role as Scarlett O'Hara's maid Prissy in the 1939 American epic-romance-drama movie "Gone With The Wind". Her Oscar award had to be picked up by somebody else because of the racial discrimination, which existed at the time.


Coral Sea battle


This week thirty warships are patrolling in the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef area as part of as part of Australia's largest joint military training exercise with U.S.

Joint Task Force Commander, Vice Admiral Scott Van Buskirk, Commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, said the exercise was important for Australia and the U.S. to maintain close military ties.

"By exercising together we will increase interoperability, flexibility and readiness which will help us maintain peace and stability in the Pacific," Vice Admiral Van Buskirk said.

Exercise Talisman Sabre involves more than 22,000 troops at Shoalwater Bay near Rockhampton, and other sites in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Talisman Sabre exercise is Australia's largest joint military training exercise and it is important to the security of the region.


Marine Notices


Lagoon Rock - Mariners are advised that the lighted west cardinal mark beacon Q (9) 15s, which marks Lagoon Rock off Whitehaven Beach, has been destroyed.

Spitfire Rock - Mariners are advised that the lighted west cardinal mark buoy Q (9) 15s that marks Spitfire Rock in Kennedy Sound, south-west of Lindeman Island, has been reported to be off station. AUS charts 252, 254 & 824


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan

Farmers, fishers, school kids, councils - say "our reef"


The screening of the new Reef Guardian community announcements on television featuring fishers, farmers and graziers has surprised some; however, the programs aim to highlight the positive actions undertaken by primary producers along our Great Barrier Reef coast.

The Reef Guardian initiatives are voluntary programs that aim to promote new industry stewardship to improve capacity and facilitate the adoption of environmentally sustainable practices that will ultimately improve the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

Participants representing GrowCom, Canegrowers, Agforce, Regional NRM groups, Local Marine Advisory Committees, DPI, State and Commonwealth Government, as well as grower/producers expressed enthusiastic support for the Reef Guardian programs.

The overarching objective of the programs is to engage positively with farmers, fishers and graziers in the Great Barrier Reef catchment, through recognition of best practice management actions that contributes to reef resilience.

At a recent meeting of the Whitsunday Local Marine Advisory Committee members heard from Karen Vohland, GBRMPA Director of Reef Guardians and Regional Engagement,

"It is not an eco certification program, it is skill list recognition program," She said.

"It is about encouraging and recognising the work that is already happening; developing skills. Not just about environmental sustainability but includes economic sustainability for farmers, fishers and others who have a great knowledge and ability to do what they do."

Weather it is the soil or the sea it all affects the GBR and this program can generate positive outcomes and best management practices leading to a triple bottom line of social, economic and environmental of the various businesses.

The Project will strengthen the existing Reef Guardian School Program, which has in excess of 230 schools participating, and the Reef Guardian Council Program with ten councils involved.




TIPA is Tourism in Protected Areas and is a framework for managing tourism on national parks that has been under discussion with the tourism industry, recently finalised, and released by then Minister for Environment Kate Jones MP and Jan Jarratt MP Minister for Tourism.

An information evening for tourism operators that run programs on many of our iconic National Parks in Queensland is on Wednesday July 13, 6pm Reef Gateway Hotel, RSVP or details -


Pirates are real


Yes, and there are two types of pirates. The popular type speaks a combination of West Country English and 1930s Hollywood called 'mid Atlantic,' sing songs about rum and waving their hook in the air. Seen in Airlie Beach during International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Note. Saturday September 10 this year)

Then there's the other type who, if they speak English, have a Somalian accent and are armed to the teeth, if they have any. They kidnap ships and crews and then ransom them. This type be giving 'type one' pirates a bad name.

Those sailors who are lucky enough to be roaming the high seas or considering it often ask about staying safe in a sometimes-unsafe world.

To be very safe, consider staying in a safe harbour sitting on a big fat armchair, where demanding that 'someone should do something about it' works a treat.

The next level requires doing something yourself where you find quickly that the Nanny State ends where the water gets rough.

Therefore, it pays to consider ways to protect yourself and your ship; the best idea is to not go where gunplay is the norm. So avoid some regions usually where your insurance coverage ends, be cautious and educate yourself about areas with lower, but existing risks.

Even on the waterfront, having a second wallet with small amount of cash, expired credit card and perhaps a cheap watch to give aggressive intruders might save your bacon.

Carpet tacks on deck in strange ports are reported to have some affect, leave a light and music on, buy some pepper spray but leave your guns at home.


Mariner Notices


While out sailing this week I saw that the leading lights on Daydream Island guiding vessels through Unsafe Passage between Mid Molle Island and North Molle Island be still in disrepair.


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan


Cap'n Dan is a regular broadcaster on ABC Radio Tropical North

Short sleeves and sports boats get ready to race

Having turned 21 last year, the annual Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week has grown in stature by adding exciting class fleets to the tropical shirtsleeve sailing at Airlie Beach and around the Whitsunday islands.

The fast, furious and highly competitive sports boat class will be joined on Pioneer Bay by new fleets of junior sailors sailing International Optimists and the tried and true Sabot.

For the first time, junior sailors are to join the bigger boats in this fantastic regatta sailing with the rest of the world at the August 12-18 regatta.

While the August 12 start is nearing, teenage sailors Klaus and Eva Lorenz from Whitsunday Sailing Club have some serious sailing to do before then, as they will represent Australia in Optimists at the 2011 Asian Championships, taking place in Singapore in the last week of July.

The Whitsunday Optimist Regatta during Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week will eventually form part of a Queensland circuit, with its own perpetual trophy.

Over 100 boats will be racing across ten classes at Airlie Beach with racing from Friday August 12.




Yes, the 'BVGYC' Beaut Views Grotty Yachty Club is planning a rendezvous during race week that will mark twenty five years since John Bertrand AM fresh from skippering Australia II to victory in the 1983 America's Cup head-butted the platypus.

While at press time, it is not known if Bertrand will grace Airlie Beach for the Race Week reunion a usually reliable source says BVGYC Commodore and Boating Oz pioneer Kathy McKenzie will be in town for the event.

Susie Costello is tracking down some of the crew, Lawso is usually in Airlie at the sailing club and some others will no doubt float up, as they tend to do.


Holiday sailing


 The Whitsunday Sailing Club has a fun sailing program for kids who are looking for an introduction to sailing these school holidays.

Sailing instructor Roger Stewart says, "The whole idea of this holiday program is to introduce kids to the basic elements of sailing and sea safety. I try to focus on making every session fun and interactive."


Smile and wave!


Some Japanese tourists just asked me to take a picture of them. When I said "Wave" they ran off.


Old bubbly


Last year divers found intact bottles of champagne, believed to date from between 1782 and 1788, in the hold of a shipwreck on the Baltic seabed. In November, a bottle of the "world's oldest champagne" was opened and tasted by experts who judged it to be quite palatable. Last week two bottles of the shipwreck champagne went on auction in Finland. Despite expectations that each bottle might sell for as much 100,000 Euros (approximately $140,000), the winning bids were 30,000 Euros ($43,500) for a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and 24,000 Euros for a bottle of Juglar.   

The money is to go towards maritime history and environmental projects in the Aland Islands, located between Sweden and Finland. Experts are still trying to determine the identity of the 170-Year-Old shipwreck, believed en route to Russia and the Tsar's court.


Sabot sails


Recovering from the cyclone, Mission Beach Sailing Club is in desperate need of Sabot sails for their club boats. Sails in any condition would be appreciated, as they do not have five sails for their 'learn to sail' sabots. Contact: Judy Heath 40688201


Want a chance?


Racing and delivery crew wanted for Hamilton Island Race Week -


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan


And then there were none

 And then there were none


Submariners are known as a tough breed and they themselves will say "a bit crazy' to sail a boat below sea level.

However, as with any fighting force they need support and leadership and that appears to be the missing elements in both Australia and Canada.

Both Australia and Canada have naval headquarters in cities far away from the sea in Canberra and Ottawa and both places are described as full of admirals, politicians, bureaucrats and a waste substance that should not be published in a family newspaper.

Sure, an accident or mechanical breakdown will occur, that is why nations have more than one submarine.

Last week HMCS Corner Brook grounded leaving Canada without any operational subs.

Apparently the Canadians are not alone in this regard, as Aussie sub HMAS Dechaineux is in dock in Perth for inspection after limping home from Singapore leaving the Australasian fleet of six submarines also in no shape to put to sea.

Reports say that for the first time in a generation, Australia does not have a single submarine available to defend the nation today.

Sources say the entire fleet of six Collins-class submarines cannot be put to sea despite the navy's claim that two of them remain officially "operational" but insiders say the reality is that neither vessel could be put to sea today if required.

Not having a single task-ready submarine is an embarrassment for the navy, whose attempts to improve the performance of the $10 billion fleet have been stymied by breakdowns, accidents, lack of crew and the growing unreliability of the ageing vessels built between 1990 and 2004.


Wubbo Ockels


The Ecolution, an innovative sailing yacht built by former Dutch astronaut Wubbo Ockels, reached port near The Hague on Tuesday afternoon after a successful test voyage.

The futuristic boat was sabotaged and sunk by vandals last December. Mr Ockels says the first phase of repairs has been completed with more work needed to repair the state of the art electronics.

Mr Ockels called the test voyage with the Ecolution "fantastic". He said, "My wife and I shed tears when the sail was hoisted for the first time."

The hyper-modern yacht with its space-age design is able to generate its own energy and is built with sustainable material.


Ark bids


The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Invincible was sold to Turkish scrappers last February. Now bids are open for the sale of HMS Ark Royal. While scrapping seems a likely outcome the tender allows that "alternatively the vessel may be purchased for re-use/refurbishment for non-warlike purposes."   Now a Devon based diver is bidding to sink the ship as an artificial reef off Torbay to promote sea life and provide a dive site for recreational divers.

In addition to the bid to sink the ship, there be plans to use the Ark Royal as a floating commercial helipad in London, turning it into a school, a nightclub or a base for security personnel during the Olympics." 

All bids are due by 1000 BST on June 13.


Port of Airlie update


Mariners are advised that actual channel depth below port datum (Lowest Astronomical Tide) in the Port of Airlie Marina development, as defined in NTM 1109 (P) of 2010, is declared to be 1.8m as of Thursday, 9 June 2011. AUS charts 252, 253, 268 & 824

Boat Haven note: A meeting of the Proserpine Shire Council on June 9, 1960 approved the adoption of 'Boat Haven' as the name for the bay at the eastern end of the Town of Airlie, till then known as Muddy Bay. The idea was to rid that muddy bay of the stigma of the earlier name. Source: Ray Blackwood.


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Itinerant Boatman and Reverer of Wimmin passes
Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Such a lonely death. The winter storm lashed the mast-tops, and drove black rain into his face. The bay was black and lifeless, reflecting nothing, a black hole in the city, whose far sounds shimmered and dimmed behind the rain. He opened his mouth to the wind and the rain, raging without voice.
Henry Adam, the much-loved and irascible writer for Afloat otherwise known as ’Arry Driftwood died on 15 June having drowned when he fell from his dinghy on a passage between Birkenhead Marina and his good ship Driftwood.
Alan Lucas recalls that he always stood up in his outboard-powered dinghy. “A practice I worried about and gave him a friendly dig about it, but he persisted through rain and shine – both before and after his knee replacement – so I guess he died fully understanding the risks he took and certainly living the life he loved.”
Talking about the death last month of his friend Hans Eriksson after “momentary carelessness” ’Arry concurred in the need to never let up on your vigilance or you will swiftly become LATE.
With startling prescience he mentioned his own moment of rashness … “Usually I throttle back and whip the stop lanyard out and drop it aboard before tying up. But this time with a bit of roughosity the lanyard caught under the throttle and as I whip it up, it opened her up! I’m clinging like hell as we circled around and around the moorings. I’m flat on me arse in the wet bilge until I get me equilibrium and shut things down. Now that coulda been fatal. It coulda!”
Largely self-taught, ’Arry was a man of miscellaneous unfulfilled talents. He was born 17 June 1930 in Montmorency, Victoria. The family then moved to Melbourne. Looking for adventure and “to get away from the coldness” he bought a Thames Bedford van and drove north to Brisbane where he met and married Heather. On the way he worked as a cane-cutter, road labourer and fencer. In 1954 they bought a property in Kalanga and turned the wild bush land into a pineapple farm.
In 1961 they repaired to Redcliffe where he went to night school, working in the daytime as an apprentice radio technician with the old AWA company. Later he joined B&D and Electrolux as a salesman.
Moving to Cairns, he bought his beloved Driftwood and sailed to Sydney, dreaming all the time of one day sailing around the world, a bone of contention with his, now, extended family who teased him mercilessly about his susceptibility to mal de mer.
The grey-bearded grinning ’Arry rarely talked about himself – he was always interested in the opinions of others, particularly if he could start up an enjoyable discussion where you could agree to disagree.
“He was always a strong socialist with a clear way of describing his politics,” said Alan Lucas.
Water neighbour Don Hartley recalls how they used to share a sunset chat. “He was alternatively cursing the government or the big white boat wash. He was a fixture on the Harbour. Ferry crews would wave to him, steam boats would toot and there was always someone pulling alongside to have a chat including the Maritime and the Water coppers. He was much liked.”
You can see him in his dinghy. Standing with his hand behind his back to steer and the other raised in a wave. Head up, cap on, big grin, loudly singing the Internationale.

Eternal virgins shipmate. Love ya!
Robin Copeland