Soon after we arrived in Australia, in 1987, I bought a boat. I didn’t really need a boat to be honest, but it seemed, especially where we were living at the time (Patterson Lakes), that everyone owned one, so I guess I just got swept along with the crowd. It was something to write home to the United Kingdom about too, telling friends we had one — you can be a dreadful show-off-snob when you’re young can’t you, especially if you want to convince people you left behind in another country that you’re doing well out here, in the greatest country in the world!
The boat I bought wasn’t the first I’d looked at — that had been a Hayne’s Hunter, going for about $13,000, a sum I couldn’t honestly afford. I almost became besotted with the vessel, or the thought of owning it, and it was only when I lay awake most of that night thinking about what I was planning to do, (and the comments my wife Jacqui made about the idea) that I came to my senses and phoned the chap the next morning to tell him I had changed my mind.
Thank goodness I did too, because a couple of days later we saw an ad in the paper about a small speedboat for sale, way down the coast at Sorrento. We hopped in the car and drove to have a look. It also allowed us to have a bit of a day out as well. From Sorrento you can look out to sea on a clear day and just make out the tops of Melbourne’s skyscrapers, way off to the north. Boat or no boat it’s a great place to visit!
The boat was a really pretty little craft, with a rather large engine bolted to the stern and a nice, sloping windscreen at the front. She was a Pride Charger and I named her Kerry Jane, which is our daughter’s name. (Kerry still lives in England to this day and visits us every couple of years.)
I took her for a test run off Sorrento and I was really impressed at the power generated by the motor, plus the fact that she had an ‘aqua-planing’ hull, so that we barely touched the surface as we skimmed along at full speed. Add to all this the fact that she was going for only $4,500, much more like a sum we could afford, and so, without any hesitation I bought her and we towed her all the way back to Patterson Lakes behind the car!
I had a lot of fun with the ‘Kerry Jane’, going out most weekends fishing in Port Phillip. There is a particular point, right in the centre of the bay and marked with a buoy because there’s some sort of a reef down there and I often made for that, with the big motor getting me and anyone with me out to the mark in about 10 minutes, as long as the sea was reasonably calm. I mention this because we went out one day when the sea was a bit rough and I, not thinking correctly, opened up the throttle in my usual fashion. The trouble was the hull design of the boat meant that instead of riding over the waves, she cut straight through them like a knife, so that each big wave rushed over the bow, up the windscreen and straight into my lap — about 15 litres of it. Luckily we were only about a 100m from the river mouth we’d just left, so I was able to turn around a go back in before anything more dangerous happened!
I caught quite a lot of fish from that marker in the bay, mainly snapper and whiting, and I had a lot of fun too, but it suddenly occurred to me one day, when funds happened to be a little short, that the big motor was costing me about $50 in fuel every time I went out. I was going broke for speed! Ridiculous, especially as we could buy perfectly good fish in the local market for about $5! In the end she had to go, I think to a good home. They were a young family who wanted to use her for water-skiing on Lake Eildon, and her motor was certainly built for that!
I go out in friends boats now — it’s cheaper!