The * is the random and minimal character content that this list''s software requires to posta reply. It is only once the reply is posted that you actually get to see the full topic and title of a thread if you are coming in through the "Today''s Messages" button.
While the poeple here are great, the software for this list is annoying and not terribly user-friendly.
Since the bit of your message that was displayed said "does anyone have info about this boat" but did not show the title, I posted * in order to see which boat you might have meant. Being as i am also in Australia, I thought there was a chance it was something local that I had some familiarity with.
Then I would have gone back and edited my post to have useful content.
Unfortunately, I have never met the beasties, so the * remained unchanged.
Sorry for the confusion.