This is really not going to mean a bloody thing to anyone outside of Australia but hear me out if you will.
There's a free little publication down under called "Afloat". Its not a bad read, a little bit Sydneycentric it must be said though it does cover maritime news beyond our wee town and hey, the price is right. Its worth a read by the way and is available on line.
For nigh on 16 years a column has appeared, "Rogues Yarn" by one Harry ('arry) Driftwood. The ramblings of a more than half way decent old fart who loved the waterway on which he lived and of course his home for many a year 'Driftwood' herself.
Driftwood is moored off Balmain in a bay just to the east of Iron Cove , Port Jackson ... or Sinny 'arbour as 'arry was want to call the place. Just across the water lies Birkenhead Point and one day last week 'arry took his dinghy across to BP for a spot of shopping, a spot of lunch and a spot of chatting. Sometime that afternoon he went back aboard the dinghy and well, that was that. For whatever reason, and I know not what, he didn't make it back to Driftwood.
I didn't know 'arry. Met him a couple of times, most recently when another mate relaunched his own boat after a two year rebuild. She is an old timber launch and if there was one thing 'arry loved it was old timber boats and so he was there to cheer on the proud owner as the Little Green Boat was returned to her natural environment. He came across as a good bloke and I must admit I'd have loved to have sat down for a good long yarn. To my regret I never did.
Thats 'arry at the launch, he's the old coot in the background scratching his nose and in the second pic thats (shh don't tell anyone) the Wombet looking back at him.
Afloat have allowed me to post a copy of one of 'arry's columns but I'd also like to post this small bit from his May 09 column ... I hope he gets his tree .
"Some friends think I am morbid and negative but ’tis wrong, as I relish the drama and humour of pain and joy and the endless circus of conditione lay humanitee. That’s French. I think. And I worked with a namesake once who was fond of saying: “Cheer up, ’Arry, we’ll all soon be dead!” That’s orright too as I was dead for millions of years before I got here and I didna feel a thing. Is this called graveyard humour?
While I am on morbid subjects: I wish to be buried in the bosom of Mother Gaia and a mango or cherry tree planted over me to enjoy my “Good olde blood ’n bone” as dear Peter Cundall of the ABC gardening show says.
And from the Lyra Heroica and Charlie Dibdin (who carked in l8l4) and his poem Tom Bowling; “Here, a sheer hulk, lies poor ’Arry, The darling of our crew, No more he’ll hear the tempest howling, For death has broached him too. His form was of the manliest beauty, his heart was kind and soft, Faithful below he did his duty, But now he’s gone aloft! Amen!
Remember: A mango or cherry tree!" Henry Adam aka 'arry Driftwood.
I left my heart in Hobart Town
I feel a little guilty for, as the North drowns and the South burns, we self-indulgent buggers have been disporting in balmy weather at 40 degrees South, attending the ninth Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart, and ’Arry the Driftwood has been present all nine of ’em.
Now let me say at the outset that none of it is my fault and I was in Tasmania at the time. Oi, oi, oi Missus God! Did we do something wrong? Forgive us for we know not what we do!
Where are the Climate Deniers? Plotting with the Flat Earthers? Yes, we know that natural forces are busy all the time … or we wouldn’t be here but in a methane atmosphere … but only a mug couldn’t see the profound effect of killions of people hastening desertification and poisoning the air with their ubiquitous Bee Ems, nay?
Enough ’Arry … beyond the introduction of human myxomatosis, the princes and priests of capitalism and their Running Dogs will prevent any succour. Haw, haw, you are an old bastard ’Arry . Now I ain’t seen all the wooden boat shows, which seem to be breedin’ like bleedin’ rabbits, so I canna say categorically that it is the best – the Hobart one – but it is one of The Best. I think it is the southern ambience and the smaller, more personal, population who have an abiding interest and loyalty to their maritime and wooden boatbuilding heritage. As ever, I always like to acknowledge the minions behind the scenes.
The pullers and pushers and spielers who suffer the stress and tension and some disappointments to arrive at a cohesive beginning and a neat and happy ending. Too many to name, and, from the dunny attendant to the serangs, important in their own way. Lois Ryan the spieler, Ian Johnston the pusher, famous Rosa the mooring genius are a few. Many, many boats. Names, faces, people, many from up north.
G’day ’Arry! G’day mate! Jack, Bill, Tom, Dick, Harry, Uncle Tom Cobley and all. Warm feelings of brotherhood and THE KNOWLEDGE. Knowledge of boats and gear and weather and The Sea. Shining paint and gleaming varnish. Clean bottoms and sails resting as skippers glowed with pride and families tea’d and coffee’d and wined The conditions smiled and the Great Southern Weather Dynamo slumbered as the mainland cooked. And we lucky ones felt sorry for those not here on Van Diemens Land. Living on a boat for over a quarter of a century strikes firm bonds – like being married to a treasured mate, and there are few other boats/wimmin that I covet. But then now and again one does see some that make the heart flutter.
Westwind, Chris Dickeri and Gilli, was there and feted by locals as she was Jock Muir’s first boat. Muir, a Tassie legend both for his sailing and yacht building, began building Westwind in his parents’ backyard in 1935. She was near terminal when Chris saw her at Port Stephens. He acquired her and sailed to Sydney where Dickori docked at Kurnell to take on the daunting resurrection of a lovely Colin Archer styled hull; formerly a ketch, now a cutter. By the time he had finished stripping the boat it was just ribs and planks. He estimates he replaced about 40 per cent of the craft during rebuilding over a period of about eight years. There are probably only ten percent of dreamers who start such a task who succeed and Chris, with meagre resources, brought it off and is worthy of his notice. Onya Chris and Gilli!
Wildwave, line-honours winner of the 1953 Sydney- Hobart Race another lovely of Jock’s also here with Maht and crew. Some changes to the old town since my last visit … the pernicious tower cranes gave me the heebie jeebies; and a lovely old sound brick building demolished before my eyes. Buggers! I thought you were above that Hobart.
Otherwise it were all so luverly.
Thanks to Afloat for permission to reprint copyright material. Their affection for 'arry is just so apparent in our emails back and forth today. To wit "An itinerant boatman and reverer of wimmin to the last. He will be missed."
AFLOAT Magazine June 2011