Monday, October 27

A great day at the Putt Putt regatta – just the tonic to cheer me up

Not just a community carnival, but one for wooden boat enthusiasts – just what this blogger needed to lift his spirits. For the past week, I've pushed the unfolding economic news to the back of my mind as I focused on getting my pretty little boat ready for the show.

But for that distraction, I might have become depressed, not just at the risk of the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression, but at the boring predictability of most of our bloggers and newspaper columnists. Yes, from both the left and the right.

And as for our politicians! Even allowing for the frustration at being in Opposition in times of national or global crisis, Malcolm Turnbull – the guy I still hope will remake the Liberal Party into something liberals could vote for – disappointed me with an unexpected shallowness, displaying more style than substance.

For a few days, I beavered away in the shed chiselling out and painting a nameplate for the transom, “Peter Pan”, and in smaller letters, “Woy Woy”. Once I would have paid a signwriter, but Merry has drawn shut the purse strings. Ah yes, it's millions of similar decisions which accelerate an economic hiccup into recession or even full-blown depression.

Still, it cheered me when a bystander at the the Lions Park launching ramp asked: “That's you, is it?” Right. Got it in one. Now I'm seventy, I can refuse to grow up.

At the ramp, we hoisted the sails – a standing lug mains'l and a little triangular mizzen out over the stern, both a rich brown tan – but with no breeze, we needed the little outboard to head across to the channel north around Rileys Island. With son Ben at the tiller, grandson Tim as crew and me as the proud old codger up front, we motored to the Davistown waterfront.

The annual Putt Putt regatta focuses on a marvellous part of Australia's heritage, the motor launches – most of them of traditional clinker construction – constructed in their hundreds by skilled boatbuilders all around the Australian coast, and powered by simple, robust motors.

Davistown is a fine site for this celebration. Tucked away on a creek running out of the Central Coast's Brisbane Water, it was the location of 19th and early 20th Century timber-getting and shipbuilding enterprises. Its name honours the Davis family, strongly involved in those early industries. Rock Davis operated a major wooden ship building yard across the water at Blackwall.

Peter Pan isn't a putt putt, so it's outside the main focus of the carnival. But it is a traditionally shaped wooden sailing dinghy (to a design by Hobart naval architect Murray Isles), albeit with a modern clinker ply and epoxy construction, so it did qualify as an entrant.

I had a great time yarning with other wooden boat enthusiasts, swapping and comparing information about designs and materials and suppliers. Joined the putt putt procession motoring up Paddys Channel, around Pelican Island and the oyster leases, and back through the Woy Woy channel and that narrow passage that divides St Huberts and Rileys Islands.

Mid-afternoon, when people were pulling their motor launches on to trailers, the wind had freshened. For the first time, we didn't need the outboard as we sailed back to the Woy Woy Lions Park ramp. A most enjoyable end to the day.

Let's leave it there. I may have some worthwhile ideas to put on this blog when I resolve some of those ideas I pushed to the back of my mind, but why spoil the mood today?


  1. Great blog and article on the putt putt day , I keep forgetting to go and have a peek at it.
    Greetings from Woy Woy ( via cyberspace )

  2. What Steve said.