Our Life Afloat

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Blog of Jack and Jude
explorers, authors, photographers & videographers

The cruising world has lost another icon ~

Larry Pardey and partner Lin

Larry Pardey passed away in New Zealand after years of decline from Parkinsonian dementia. He was 81.

Although we had shared several anchorages around the world, Jack and Jude never met Larry. So it’s best we reproduce the eulogy given by Phil Ross, editor of Cruising Helmsman, who had the pleasure of a few lazy afternoons with both Larry and partner Lin.

“Larry was one of those people whose presence commanded respect. Which is kind of an enigma since he was one of the quietest people you could meet. His strength of character stood out, as opposed to others who try to command respect with bluster and volume. One you admire, the other you walk away.

Crack a joke he liked, however, then the whole body would shake and that scruffy beard would crack wide open with the appearance of those pearly whites.

What a couple they made. Lin was all gregariousness and coquettish intelligence; totally mirror-reverse of Larry, who quietly concentrated on your every word. An intense interest in what you had to say before making his own considered opinion.”

September Issue Dedicated to Larry Pardey
Phil Ross, editor Cruising Helmsman

Coral Sea – Perfect Place

Plummeting temperatures, torrential rains, and a pandemic making us fear for our lives have us dreaming of sailing the fabulous Coral Sea once again. The timing is perfect. Trade winds and balmy days in August, September, and November are the best times to sail, explore, and dive amongst the crystal clear waters of the Coral Sea.

Ending COVID-19 in weeks

Portrait of Jack by dear friend David

In our 50 years afloat, we have shared life with a variety of folks from every stratum of life. So many, that now in our older years,  we find amazing comfort in the memories of their companionship and wisdom. Mankind’s strength lies in supporting others on this journey through life.

We have travelled the world and chose to live in Australia because here is a caring society looking after those facing difficulties. As a country, we look after each other and share the burden of doing this.

So Little Known about this Insidious Virus
At this moment, we face the biggest challenge ever known. That’s a mighty strong statement based on the fact that we know so little of this insidious coronavirus. What we know is that it kills the old and weak.

But what about mild cases in younger lives?

Being a man who has survived seven decades, I know our bodies struggle as we age. Around our 40th year, our kidneys, heart, lungs and circulatory system can suffer breakdowns. Around our 50th year, it’s all downhill from there. So young people do not gamble your future on a virus we know so little. Protect your society and protect yourselves by staying smart.

Stating the Obvious
Australia is an island. If we keep the border closed and everyone maintains a safe distance from each other, we can rid our country of this deadly virus and go forward again without fear in weeks. 

Amateur Radio Expeditions to Spratly Islands, Mellish Reef and Malpelo

Mellish Reef

Way back when we were raising two children afloat, we earned our keep by taking brave Amateur Radio Operators to faraway mid-ocean pinpricks of land, where we set up base stations to talk around the world – sometimes contacting upwards of 30,000 stations.

Spratly Islands

In the news of late is the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. We took a group there in 1979 and nearly got blasted out of the water by military cannons mounted on a tiny sand islet. They were not Chinese like those taking over this very important island group today but North Vietnamese, the greatest force back then. Here’s that story.

Amboyna Cay Spratly Islands

Amboyna Cay Spratly Islands



In 1982, we took four operators to a Coral Sea Islet atop Mellish Reef, a treeless sand cay 600 m X 120 m long. Here is a YouTube video of that adventure.

OPERATORS: Bruce – Harry – Franz – Fernando

Our dear friend Harry is now a silent key, and to honour this fine gentle person, Franz Langner DJ9ZB put together a photo book and sent one to us. When I went to order extra copies for our sons, I noticed Franz had produced heaps of others. He’s a mad DXer and goes on many expeditions. But one of his books popped out because he’d been to Malpelo.


Those of you who have read our latest book, Around the World, will know that name because my sons, Jason and Jerome, and I climbed that bloody gigantic rock jutting out of the Pacific in 1986!  

I bring this to your attention because when we were at Isla de Malpelo, it was an uninhabited rock covered in nesting seabirds surrounded by an eternity of ocean with heaps of fish. A stronghold of Nature. After an incredibly scary climb, at the tippy-top, I spoke to my teenaged sons about what might happen to this isolated rock. A prophetic speech to young minds.

Today, Malpelo is one of the world’s top diving spots and much in demand by tourist seeking the exotic. And the nesting sea birds? They have been reduced to very few by noisy visitors and foreign fisheries taking all they want.

For a better grip on the ongoing destruction of the natural world by mankind’s expansion, read Around the World, written from diary notes recorded nearly four decades ago. An amazing tale of experienced sailors on one last fling.

Submissions to the Lower Gordon River Draft Recreation Zone Plan

and Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Tourism Master Plan

Recently in Tasmania, these two important master plans came up for review, and public submissions were requested before a final draft is compiled. The LGRZP controls what is allowed in the navigable section of the Gordon River. The TWWHA controls what will be permitted in Tasmania’s World Heritage Estate. Both plans are very important to tourism operators, visitors and users of this vast area of Tasmania.

A few of our friends’ livelihood depends on what is in these documents, and some worry the governing body wants to curtail river traffic and shut down casual visitors aboard private vessels.

Local Input

We, the locals, and members of Macquarie Harbour Wildcare know this west coast area exceptionally well and can see opportunities to safely and wisely expand and improve facilities in the Gordon River and wider Macquarie Harbour. The local “old families” know there is a considerable history hidden in those forests and waterways that the wider public would love to witness. The Blockade of 1982 at Sir John Falls spawned the Green Movement and stopped The Gordon below Franklin Dam. Also in those forests are historical remnants from the Huon Piners – courageous men who worked under arduous conditions in one of the most magnificent Natural theatres in the world. Inside the World Heritage area are bridges, camps, and tracks that helped open the west. Therefore, many of us spent days studying the extremely complex documents before putting pen to paper writing our submission. You can read our recommendations here.

One part of Jack and Jude’s submission told the committees of the discoveries we made over a four year period. Within what is now World Heritage forested land lies The Goulds Post Track used by explorers, geologists, miners, and pioneers to reach the wild west coast in a time when Tasmania was starving for resources.  But, after World Heritage listing, instead of that track being kept open for the public to witness first-hand the glory of Earth, Nature reclaimed that narrow ribbon used by countless thousands. Jack and Jude made it their mission as private citizens to find that important lost track and record its geodetic position with latitude and longitude. Our images capture a majestic lost land.

Finding Goulds Track

Part 1: Background and History
Part 2: Pain and Pleasure ~ April 2015
Part 3: A Walk in a Park ~ January 2016
Part 4: Bold New Adventure ~ April 2017
Part 5: Baby Steps to Heaven ~ March 2018



This story begins shortly after World War II when a group of fortunate men, passionate about Earth, worked for Tasmanian Hydro, and four times a year they took the tourist boat from Strahan to Sir John Falls. Then over several days, they walked south through what is now The Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park to a Hydro camp on the Gordon River just downstream from the Rocky Sprent. Their job was to measure river flow and river heights.

Walking overland, their journey took them through the full display of Tasmania’s lovely land, from thick wet forests near the river’s edge through regions of drier Manuka and Eucalyptus, and then onto one of those magical phenomena of southern Tasmania, a vast buttongrass plain. This one at the feet of the thickly forested King Billy Range.

Plain before King Billy Range

Vast Plain before King Billy Range


Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin track

Track from East to West

Tasmania, Australia’s second colony, desperately needed resources by the mid-1800s. But attempts to explore Western Tasmania proved a highly dangerous nightmare. Thickly clad mountains and raging rivers blocked access overland, and turbulent seas and one of the world’s most hazardous passages through Hell’s Gate combined to curtail the colony’s development.

This became so desperate that in 1840, Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Franklin ordered the young surveyor James Calder to find a path west. Given charge of twenty convicts and a dozen soldiers, that daunting task took James Calder’s team two years. Then in 1842, an epic journey, Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin were escorted to the west coast to undertake an exploratory overland tour to ascertain whether any available land could be found between the tract of settled districts and the isolated Macquarie Harbour.

There are two excellent accounts of the magnificent adventure undertaken by Lady Jane Franklin. The wife of Tasmania’s highest officeholder demanded to walk through what is still some of Australia’s toughest country. In 1843, the first account was written by David Burn, a journalist who accompanied the 30-person party. And the second, titled Recollections of Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin in Tasmania was written some years after the event by the expedition leader James Calder.

While the Franklin expedition was a success, the track proved highly weather dependent, and twenty years later, in 1862, a team led by Tasmania’s first Geological Surveyor, Charles Gould (1834-1893) forged a much better route linking the west to the east. The Goulds Post Track carried thousands to a new land and became the main link for supplies and news, as well as the postman’s route. After WWI, the Piners used this track to reach their upper river camps. Then in the 1930s, Jim Morrison enhanced the track to haul chafe and supplies from Goulds Landing, near Sir John Falls, to his Sandstone Camp near the Rocky Sprent. Then Hydro used it to survey the mighty Gordon River. 

Immense Historical Value

The Goulds Post Track to Hamilton has immense historical value. It’s intrinsic to who we are, and epitomizes the courage and never give up qualities that Australians so much admire and want to pass on to coming generations.

This historical track should be re-opened because it travels through a diversity of geology, and by doing that, illustrates how Nature copes with the various conditions of wind, sunlight, rain, terrain, and nutrients.

CONTINUE THE JOURNEY: Pain and Pleasure ~ April 2015

electronic version:

Around the World in Ever Increasing Circles

eBook Now Available in Epub and Mobi format….. AUD$12.25 ~
140 colour photos and maps ~ Immediate download


Our Life Afloat — 6 Comments

  1. Glad top hear you are home safe from the wild Tassie weather.
    Stay safe and well from the virus.
    Much Love, xxxx

    • Glad you made it home and have another beautiful space to enjoy. To think you drove across the Hawkesbury River bridge. So near and yet so far in these times. This is Day 52 in isolation on Dangar Island. Sending love. Gerry xo

      • Good to hear from you Gerry, We gave you a wave as we drove over the bridge and thought of you. Nice place to hide out. A bit like Macquarie Harbour 🙂

  2. Hello Jack and Jude, glad you are both safely home. Gee what a trip you had getting there. Happy birthday to you Jude, if Rob and I were still down the West Coast we would have caught up and had a drink with you. Also, if I had known you might have to spend the winter down here, I would have driven to Strahan to get you both and bring you back to our house for the winter. And I know that you have lots of friends down here in Tas that would do the same. Stay well and hopefully we will see you next time you are here. Love from Carol and Rob

    • Hello Carol and Rob, miss you guys. It would have been grand to have shared a tipple to celebrate Jude’s Birthday. Stay safe and we’ll catch up when we return. J&J

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