‘Pirate Pete’ is the proud new owner of the brand new Seawind 1260, that Cumberland Charter Yachts will be welcoming in to the fleet in August this year. We asked him what his background story was in buying the Seawind 1260 and why he chose to have it chartered in the Whitsundays.
Here is his story:
Where it all began
I guess my story began in 1986 when I was at university studying to be a PE teacher. A friend and I hitch hiked from Canberra to the Whitsundays for an adventure as we had never traveled that far north before. We had no money (hence the hitch hiking) and camped by the side of the road or people who gave us lifts offered to put us up for the night.
We arrived in Airlie Beach and stayed in a backpackers for a week looking for work, eating rice flavoured with cup-a-soup satchels, as that was all that we could afford. A lovely lady at a travel agent felt sorry for us and gave us $50 to buy food and a 1-day pass for a boat trip around the islands. We used the day cruise not to sight see but to visit all the personnel departments at each resort and begged for a job.
A few days later when we were just about to be kicked out of the backpackers for not paying our board, we got a phone call from South Molle Island offering us bar jobs, which we gleefully accepted! We worked there for 3 months before having to return to university but loved the Whitsundays and vowed to come back to explore more of this paradise.
My first bareboat charter (1989)
A few years later as a young teacher (with some savings finally) I organised a bareboat charter on a 44 ft Beneteau for myself and 6 mates. I said to them “Why just stay on one island when we can get our own boat and experience ALL the Islands?” “It not only covers our accommodation but also our travel and we can eat (and drink) cheaper than staying at a resort”.
The added bonus was the sailing aspect which I really loved, having never sailed before. The boys loved the idea and I even brought a Jolly Roger flag which we proudly flew to warn other boats to steer clear of us, which was a good thing as we were inexperienced sailors and needed plenty of room. We had a Kangaroo court, and for minor indiscretions you had to walk the plank or be keel-hauled for major crimes. It was the best holiday I had ever had and I vowed to come back again as often as possible.
This was also the start of my pirateering days……..
Pirates of the Hawkesbury
About 10 years ago (2008) I organised a houseboat trip for my crew including my good mate Paul who had developed a rare form of Motor Neuron disease and was wheelchair bound. He used to live on the south coast and spent all his childhood in his tinny catching fish and eating oysters off the rocks. He hadn’t been fishing or even on the water for 15 years due to his condition so I found the only wheelchair friendly houseboat in NSW and we booked a 3-day trip on the Hawkesbury for 10 motley crew.
We assigned each crew member a role like Skipper, First Mate, Quarter Master (self), Botanist, Bait Master, BBQologist, Ancient Mariner, Master of coin, Gunnery, Games Master and Cabin Boy. I found some pirate shirts and got our names and roles printed on them, plus bandannas, eye patches, earrings and skull rings. I even found an appropriate pirate flag which reads “The Beatings will continue…….until Morale Improves”.
It was a great weekend of bonding, fishing, playing cards, a few beers and reliving stories of our glory days. Besides catching up with your best mates, the scenery and serenity of just floating along the river with no neighbours or people to bother you is just blissful. We go every year now (sometimes twice) and it has become a great tradition with people referring to us as the “Pirates of the Hawkesbury”, and the owners of the houseboat call me Pirate Pete.
A return to the Whitsundays (finally)
In 2013 after a mortgage or two and several children I hadn’t been back to the Whitsundays since I left university and desperately wanted to take my family so they could experience the holiday of a lifetime that I had done two decades prior. My better half, who’s not really a boat person, was reluctant at first about the idea of chartering a bareboat, especially given my inexperience as a skipper, but I was confident she and the kids would love it and share my love of boats, sailing and exploring the Whitsundays.
I chose a sailing catamaran for our charter vessel which would be more stable, have more room to move and not feel as claustrophobic as a monohull, especially downstairs. We chose a Seawind 1160 called “Alchemist” for our 10-day adventure, loving the three-way folding doors creating a huge indoor/outdoor living space. We spent our first night in beautiful Nara Inlet where we caught fish for dinner and had a relaxing night sleep in the peacefully quiet and calm waters.
The next 7 days were like heaven on earth sailing around all the beautiful bays and beaches, visiting Whitehaven beach, island resorts for a cocktail and swim, snorkelling in the warm waters and catching lots of fish. The Seawind sailing cat was the perfect choice and so easy to live on and sail, especially for a novice like myself.
Turning a dream in to a reality
One clarifying day I said to myself, “Imagine doing this all the time? Why retire in one place?” I realised then and there that this is what I want to do when I retire; cruise around Australia and New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, the Carribean and the Mediterranean. I had no idea how I could afford this dream, so after 5 years of thinking, saving and researching, I came up with the idea of buying a yacht that I want to retire on, putting it into charter for 5-7 years while I save for retirement and build up my sailing skills.
Meanwhile the yacht is basically paying for itself, giving joy to others and we get to use it when not in charter. After much research I found the best all round yacht in the world was of course the Australian owned and designed Seawind 1260 (a newer, larger version of the 1160 we had chartered previously). It just won World Cruising Magazine’s “Best Yacht under 50 feet” so I’m very happy with my choice. And so a 30 year dream has become a reality.
Written by Pirate Pete