There’s good news and there’s bad news this issue, so let’s get the bad over with immediately.
Vale Chris Conroy 1940 to 2016.
TV presenter and producer, fibreglass expert, boatbuilder, aircraft designer, writer, and jazz singer. Chris died in his sleep in January and not three weeks ago, at the time of writing, I rang him and asked how he was recovering from his recent stroke.
“Much better Derek, I can speak properly now and it’s looking good.”
“You sound much better – we were getting a bit worried,” I replied.
“I’ll be back in the shed in a week or two, so you come down and we’ll talk about the new Shimmy.”
“Okay, I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.”
Then came the sad visit from a mutual friend.
Chris will mainly be remembered for his long running – 33 years no less – TV show ‘Chris Conroy’s Wonderful World of Boats’ which became ‘Leisureworld.’ He was always ready to film our boats and get us on the show, more often than not, free of charge. He was a staunch supporter and helped us in so many ways. He was the sort of man who would never say no – he was generosity personified.
Clearly a multi-talented individual but few knew of his hidden depths. A decade or so ago he invited us to a jazz event where lo and behold there was Chris singing his heart out with an all-star cast of jazz musicians – Mr Cool, indeed. Even fewer knew of his charitable work, his last being on the committee of a foundation to help kids at risk. Chris touched the lives of countless people and his dogged persistence and relentless good nature was an inspiration to us, especially when the odds stacked up.
Chris really loved this one:
Doctor – “I have some bad news and some really good news.”
Patient – “Okay, let’s have the bad first.”
Doctor – “I’m afraid its terminal, you don’t have long to live.”
Patient – “And the good news?”
Doctor – “Did you see that stunning young receptionist as you came in?”
Patient – “Yes, I could hardly miss her, could I.”
Doctor – “Well I’m sleeping with her.”
Goodbye Chris, we will miss you.
And then there’s the really good news
A consortium headed by ace traditional shipwright Vladimir Martus has launched a project to build a sailing replica of the famous Cutty Sark – a sailing replica, not some desiccated fossil in a museum but a living, breathing clipper to once again grace our oceans with her exquisite presence.
What do you say to that, ‘City of Adelaide’ trustees? How about it Australia? Let’s get her sailing – imagine the races with the Sark! It’s the Ariel and Taeping all over again! Oh yes! ... I must go and lie down for a bit.
Now these superb sailing ships would routinely clock over 15kts, sometimes even 20 in the right conditions, trade winds, perfect trim, stunsails all set, an insane skipper with wild eyes http://cutty-sark.org/
Now to put that into perspective let’s consider the speeds of two other square-rigged ships. First the replica of an 18th Century French frigate L’Hermoine. Twenty years in the building and recently returned from a voyage to America. Top speed so far 13.3kts ‘with more to come.’ Now the frigate was built for speed so let’s compare her with our own iron-hulled marvel, the barque James Craig. This ship was built a hundred and fifty years later to carry over a thousand tons of cargo and yet she has clocked over 14kts, admittedly in ballast. Now her theoretical top speed is around 16kts which would be something to behold www.anmm.gov.au/whats-on/vessels/tall-ship-james-craig
Incidentally, the name Cutty Sark is an 18th Century term for a short flimsy undergarment – a flighty name for a racy ship.
From Sark to Stornaway
We’re building an open Stornaway or rather, framing up one, for a rehabilitation project to help young offenders residing at Her Majesty’s pleasure. The idea is that they help finish the boat and once they get outside the razor wire they can go on voyages of discovery. The boat as a metaphor – a symbol of a new beginning.
From Stornaway to Shimmy
Speaking of the young, we so pleased to report that one of our youngest builders, Kael Kloosterman who lives just south of Perth, is building a Shimmy as a Year 12 project and not only that he’s planning some serious voyages. Kael carefully researched the project, asked us all the right questions, and settled on a Shimmy. We’ll be keenly following and reporting on his progress and doesn’t it restore your confidence in the younger generation? He’ll go far, that lad.
From Shimmy to Secret 20 and Secret 33
And so to yet more good news – we’re absolutely thrilled to report on a game changing project that will . ... Oh, wait a minute, we’ve been sworn to secrecy until March 24 – past the deadline for this issue. What a drag! It’s really frustrating. You’ll just have to check our website www.scruffie.com and Facebook www.facebook.com/ScruffieMarine
We are pleased to report that the new Secret 33 ferry in Perth is now fully operational and awaiting the completion of docking facilities.
We’re still finishing off Boat II and while we’ve hardly had time to think about promoting the 33’s, the enquiries are coming in. Of course my heart is in the sailing version and we hope to re-start the fit-out of that one soon so we can do some real sailing.
Recently the CEO and sales director of Oceanvolt, manufacturers of electric sail drives, paid us a visit and were impressed with the Secrets. For the gaff rigged version I had in mind a single retractable Torqeedo Cruise 4 on a track like the ferries but it doesn’t quite fit on the sailing version. Enter the Oceanvolt’s 8kW sail drive – twice the power, extremely low drag. No need for the retracting mechanism and global monitoring to boot. I’ve designed a separate rudder to accommodate the sail drive and it all looks very encouraging oceanvolt.com