Tag Archives: Mersey River

Enduring Threads: part 17

Selling the farm

Dad was devastated when the time came to sell the farm. Consecutive bad years meant that the farm was not paying its way. The decision to sell was my mother’s.

Dad’s depression following this was hard. He started working for a local builder, Gordon Ibbott, doing his books. Once he managed to get Gordon back on his feet, Dad became a marine and boat building chandler. He loved the sea and was a competent sailor. Getting out to sea suited him. We children were taken out to fish, but often my mother chose to stay home. His first fishing boat was ‘Sabrina’, and then the ‘Brenda’.

Sabrina, Dad's first fishing boat

Sabrina, Dad’s first fishing boat

‘She’s broad in the beam’, my father would say when asked why it was called that. In fact it was called that when he bought it. These boats helped restore Dad’s self- worth. We had many fishing expeditions in both fishing boats. Dad built a fibreglass dinghy in the sunroom, that was too big to get out, so the windows had to be removed to extricate it.

Once, in a storm, ‘Brenda’ was seen floating past the house. She was normally moored opposite the Elimatta Hotel in the Mersey River. Dad rushed out with the dinghy and rescued her.

Dad later bought ‘ Valkyrie’, a beautiful ketch, but I’d left home by then. He also built ‘Argos’, which took years and had to be recorked several times before it went in the water. These boats took the place of the farm by restoring Dad’s independence and need for occasional solitude.

Valkyrie on the Mersey

Valkyrie on the Mersey

One memorable expedition, Christopher and his father Eric Pyett accompanied Dad around to Ulverstone for a race to Devonport. Valkyrie was the biggest yacht in the race; so the Ulverstone Yacht club, put ‘a rooster’, as Dad called him, on board to see that there was no foul play.

Dad silently objected by going below to make a cup of tea. He was always partial to a cuppa. By the time they had had their tea, the other boats had left, and Dad appeared unconcerned, ‘They appear to have left us behind!’

Christopher being competitive was totally frustrated. Eric and Frank enjoyed the trip, but the man was dropped unceremoniously on the Ulverstone wharf, where they had to return him.

Angus said the only time he remembers Dad swearing was when he was below in Valkyrie. As

Mum and Dad on Valkyrie

Mum and Dad on Valkyrie

he checked the speedo log, he said, ‘this thing is f****d!’ Valkyrie was eventually sold to some Victorians, who sailed her back to Victoria, only to sink her on the coast line on their return.

Later in the 70s Dad moved shop. Gordon built another shop with materials from some demolition work, and Dad was more than willing to utilise the materials. Here at East Devonport they built a solar panel shop with slow combustion heaters on one side. His marine shop moved to the other half, next door. Nigel worked with my Father, so they ran the businesses together. Dad was always interested in the environment. His organic garden with chooks flourished; this was well before Permaculture became popular.

Devonport developed; there was now an arcade next to Churches’ jeweller’s shop. That was the arcade my father told Christopher not to visit on a Friday night, ‘ Be careful lad, don’t go there, it’s the tunnel of love.’

 

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