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by Mike John (editious officious), Redland City, Queensland - Australia

There was a call recently for Duckworks readers to write about how they got started in boats. Here's my story.

I put my love of sailboats down to one man named Bryce but after I started writing this I realised that, like most things, it starts with your parents. And here they are:




Ellen was a lady who liked camping and the beach. She lived with a coupled named Plumb who boarded her and her brother Reg.

My grandmother's maiden name was Doris Emily May Plumb. Leo visited his relatives and met my mother. They married in 1951. Leo never camped before but he loved it. They spent their honeymoon in a shack, with a straw bed, Leo owned at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

Leo was very active before marriage though and had friends who did balancing and weights. Leo had a few Queensland records for weight lifting. He lifted 370lbs in a dead lift which was to his waist. He actually weighed 8 stone, 13 pounds and was a bantam weight - the lightest class. The certificate got his weight wrong. He was 6' tall. He did weights until around the time I was born when he was 45.

It is about 200lbs here, trying to remember from childhood what each disc weighed.

So their love of activity was changed later in life to fishing and camping.

Yamba, NSW, around 1975. We are the camp on the right with the old Ford Star V8 Custom line.

I was not a fan of fishing. I hated the going nowhere fast sitting still. I was an active little boy and I loved swimming in the river above at high tide. They went fishing at high tide every day - for six hours - in a small boat. I had to swim at low tide in the mud, sea lice and weeds. This mostly went on for the whole four weeks were camped.

I loved working with tools and this is me at about 2-3. Notice the nuts all over the lawn around me.
But I had to go fishing. You can see that I don't look overly impressed. I had no sunglasses, as kids did in those days, and I was suffering from bright light. I did not catch them. For some reason I had to hold them as my size reminded all of how big they were. The question is then, how high was I in this photo - I don't know. About 4' I guess.
My first captaincy. SS Blow Up Boat.
My brother and an old friend Col. That was our boat. 12' bond wood. It leaked and was glassed with chopped mat and polyester. Now I could tell them that will not work.

In the late 80s I was bored with all this. There was guy named Bryce who owned a Hunter 19 trailer sailer with a 50% ballasted swing keel. He asked me sailing. I loved it.

Then I met a kind man named Bryce. 14' putt putt boat by David Payne.
Bryce and I carrying back the dinghy tender after a sail.
My first sailboat, Heron 11.

Bryce knew the Australian sailing classes and as we sailed he told me about what we saw. That's a Hood he would say. He quizzed me for it's stats.

Bryce had a stack of sailing magazines from the 60s-80s and I learnt about what each class had. Ballast ratios, displacement, sail area etc. Anyway, he got me interested in sailing boats.

I once heard a man say that people with a passion are happier so I kept up the interest and sometimes like attracts like and my interest grew. One day I wanted to make a model boat.

I went to visit Ross Lillistone at Bayside Wooden Boats in Wynnum, before he left for Esk, Queensland. Ross was surrounded by blokes but he gave me some time to look around, some scrap wood and a name of a man at Hemmant named Barry who had a boatbuilding club, which no longer exists.

I loved it.

My first attempts at model boats.

I never finished them as I start on my full size boatbuilding life.

I built my first boat there. A Richard Wood's Pixie 14. I have never to this date completely finished a model boat.

I saw Chuck and Sandra's boatbuilding index to plans was out of date and I started fixing it for them. Later I was offered the job of editor by Chuck and here I am four years later.

My parents put me in the right place at the right time. Bryce, a kindly science teacher, mentored me and saved my boredom. I was annoying, but he had lots of patience. Meeting Ross and Barry set me on a path to Chuck and Sandra.

My story is not remarkable, but it did get me a job where I am paid to look at lovely, boat pics you guys send me. Jealous? Well tell us your story and send me some more pics to look at?

Some of the results:

Pixie 14

Bolger QueenMab

Bolger Junebug

Littest Yacht Coffee Table


Michalak Catbox

Jeff Horton's Tangerine

SOF modified from Thomas Firth Jones' Tuchahoe 10

I have an AF4 Casa in my sights and I am inching closer to starting it.

Mike John

ed Duckworks

Duckworks Group


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