Our Life Afloat

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

Golden Anniversary Edition
Jude came from the north country of England where she lived a pretty wonderful youth in the open spaces of the North Sea Coast experiencing a perfect straight-line youth that is comfortable and pleasant to recall, while my youth was definitely more topsy-turvy. Never did I expect, with my explosive nature and propensity for trouble, that I would remain married to the same lady for fifty years. But later next week on the 19th, Jude and I will celebrate our Golden Anniversary. We’re both kind of chuffed about that.

Now most folks reaching this impressive achievement would be inviting relatives and friends over to share in the glorious event, and there’d be good food and copious amounts of drink on hand, maybe even a live band and dance floor under a marquee like events we’ve hosted before that were a lot of fun. But it’s not going to happen that way for this milestone.

Because our lives of late have been mostly spent in remote places, we have pretty much since our children left, celebrated every year of our union surrounded by Earth in its Natural state, just the two of us, reflecting on how fortunate we’ve been and reminiscing on how we met and the life we built together.

I must have been at that sweet age of twenty two, traipsing around Europe on my first time out of America and had been without female companionship for most of those six months. So when I wandered into that Frankfurt bar and spotted two blond vivacious ladies laughing uproariously, I made my move that resulted in the three of us hitchhiking to Paris the very next day. They were English nurses heading home for their final exams and so Paris seemed a good next destination. Upon meeting up in Paris, we rocked up to the Eiffel Tower where with big swooning eyes I asked Beth, the one with mischief in her eyes, if she’d like to accompany me to the top.

Beth and Jude in 1999

“Oh No-o-o-o. Couldn’t do that. I’m afraid of heights!” she admitted. And suddenly deflated, I heard a small voice from behind Beth offer, “I’ll go up with you.” Judith being the quieter of the two and Beth being so out going, I hadn’t taken much notice of her until that moment.

I grew up in Hollywood, where big time hustlers abound, and where you’re either a movie star or gonna be one, so I was pretty used to hearing big whoppers. But you know, Jude was just the opposite. Atop the great tower with all of Paris at our feet, she talked softly and every word impressed me as the truth without the stretching I’d come to expect. Alone with the blustery wind and occasional wet, I told her my story, and for the first time ever, I didn’t feel the need to stretch it one little bit. It was just so comfortable to speak uninhibited, to admit my failings and talk about my dream of travelling the world experiencing the wild places.

Paris flashed past in a blur of good times and the girls went back to the UK, and I followed them, lobbing up at their flat just in the midst of their final exams. Like a third thumb, I was really in the way, but I met Jude’s mum and dad, and liked them immensely. Both were direct and easy to be with and they still lived in the same house where Judith was born. Later that same night Jude and I went for a walk down to the Whitley Bay Beach where we lay on the sand just in front of Spanish City all lit up with gala lights. Accompanied by mild surf keeping beat with the band playing behind us, we talked for hours, and somewhere during that, a revelation hit me. Here was a straight forward simple lady, so vastly different to those I’d dated back in LA. She loved the great outdoors, and wasn’t fussed over fine clothes nor did she need lots of makeup. I’d never given much thought to marriage, not me. My own folks had made a mess of theirs and so getting hitched had always seemed unattractive, then came an explosion when I knew Judith would make a wonderful lifelong partner, and so without too much more thinking, with a hot flush I blurted out a proposal.

Once out, I knew it was the right thing, but maybe a bit fast for Judith, and so I toddled off the next day, eager to try and  forget my impulsiveness.

Back home, working again on a drawing board, I dreamt of Judith, how easy it felt with her, and I made up graphic art proclaiming my love that I posted to her and spent huge amounts on overseas phone calls just hear her voice. I kept dreaming of travelling to faraway lands with her, and so after a year of saving every penny, and selling my first ever new car, I was able to offer to fly her to America and sponsor her working visa.

The world moves in strange ways and with Judith’s father passing leaving a great void, with her mother’s blessing, she agreed to my proposal.

The day I picked her up at the airport, we drove to the Golden Gate Bridge, to a grassy park overlooking San Francisco Bay with views under the bridge to the far horizon of the Pacific Ocean. Steamers were heading out past the haunting rock island of Alcatraz. Right there with the world at our feet, I pulled out a huge Michelin map of Africa and laying it open on the bonnet of my Hillman Minx, traced an ink line I’d drawn from Tangiers through the Sahara, Central Africa and through the Congo, then asked Judith if she’d like to accompany me to South Africa.

She had just flown halfway around the world and landed in a land strangely different to her’s, to join a man she’d only known from few encounters and a dozen phone calls, who was then explaining how they’d buy a VW kombi in Europe, fit it out, and then ended by saying the trip would probably take a year.

The moment Jack opened up his map of Africa, everything I’d ever learnt from my parents about honesty, loyalty and hard work, important ingredients to a successful life, became reality. Instantly I knew I’d follow this man to the end of my days.

Our route through Africa

After a few moments studying the map, the radiant flush of youth rising in her cheeks, Jude turned with a cute pert smile and nodded. The bond was made in that instant, the bond that we’ve honoured for more than fifty years. The bond that has seen us successfully raise two fine sons, build a boat, sail the world, and explore a hundred countries. It’s been a bond that has not always been easy to keep intact, but one where the future has always been kept in sight. A future that would see our physical strength weaken, where our hormones would lose some of their fire, and companionship become even more welcome.

To those wanting to achieve this goal, we’ll not tell you how to do it. Instead this is how it worked for us. We learnt to let little irritants pass right over our heads and work towards our goals together and honour our partner. For as the years have passed, as our physical beauty has faded, our achievements have taken their place. And like on a ship, there needs to be a crew sharing the tasks, consultative when making decisions. A team of two is far more powerful than one and one. This became more evident as the years passed, as did the realisation that not any of us is perfect. We struggle most without a dream to pursue. And we have discovered that it’s best to resolve any and all problems by open and frank dialogue rather than let them fester. Good luck to you all. We encourage you to work towards this Golden Goal, because every bump along the way doesn’t matter when you reach the destination.


Other news is limited to our preparations. We bought a second hand kayak. Worked on Mini B, the Compass Careel, and fitted some off road beauties to our Suzuki.

Watch this space for photos of the event….

SEC allows Musk to resume plotting end of fossil fuel era

“It is important we accelerate the transition to sustainable energy,” Musk said. “We are playing a crazy game with the atmosphere and the oceans.”

On a mission to save the world

Elon Musk speaking at the Sorbonne in Paris in 2015

He plans to do that by using renewables, and particularly solar, to power the world, balanced and stored in batteries, like his Tesla Powerwalls and the Tesla big battery in South Australia, along with other forms of storage, and electric vehicles replacing the internal combustion engine for cars, buses and trucks.

Banyandah sailing in 1984 - East Africa

Banyandah sailing in 1984
East Africa

coco de mer

coco de mer and Suzie

Photos sent in by dear friend Suzie, ex skipper of Chimere, who we travelled with through Africa and the Seychelles. Our time with them will be a chapter in our next book.

Suzi recently wrote: Jim Madge was a remarkable character, whom I met at the Changi yacht club in Singapore in 1982. He had just sold his small sailboat for a larger 46 foot Taiwan ketch “Chimere” and was in need of a captain. Jim wanted his boat moved to the Gulf area of Abu Dhabi as he worked in the oil industry. In Singapore he was in charge of building 3 dynamic drill ships for Sedco, of Texas. Jim was very intelligent and taught classes in regards to things you need to know about operating drill ships, that drilled the deepest underwater wells. Unfortunately one day while on the construction site of one of the drill ships a stray minuscule piece of metal that was being cut hit the side of Jim’s face and entered into his ear. He was not aware of this. The piece of metal worked its way into Jim’s ear, putting pressure on his brain. Jim woke up as if he was a child, he knew nothing and spoke gibberish. A friend recognized something was wrong with him. He was operated on to remove the metal, however Jim was never the same. One minute he was incredibly intelligent and the next like a baby who could not read or write. This is when I met Jim. When he invited me to his house there were hundred dollar bills laying on the floor, when I mentioned this, he asked what they were. He did not know.

Jim hired me as his captain and kept me on my toes. He would want to clean out the bilge of the engine room and open a thru hole fitting to get water into the bilge, then go to get a tool or something and forget about the open sea cock. I would go below and find the floorboards floating! Jim!

It was in Kenya that we met Banyandah and the 4 J’s. They were great friends and helped me a lot on things a lady captain did not know, I was learning as we went!

For Christmas, we were in the Seychelles on Praslin island, where the famous coco de mer grows. These were protected and each was tagged. Jim decided to pick one for me, not knowing it was highly illegal.

I wrote back: Hey Suzi saying; Jim was a man you’d never forget. His lopsided smile and buffoon guffaw didn’t gel with his highly intelligent remarks. But Suzi, Praslin Island was where we celebrated Christmas, then afterwards are two boats  moved around the corner to the much smaller Curieuse. Only a ranger’s house there, and the coco de mer were also there, the only other island where those monsters grow. The first day we invited the ranger on board Banyandah for lunch and he reciprocated by inviting the Four J’s to his place for lunch the next day, and during this lovely event he asked if we wanted a souvenir nut and told us where to find a few fallen ones on a beach. We invited the Chimere crew along and while walking across the island, Jim went missing, so we simply sat down for morning snack. During which Jim reappeared coming over a grassy rise, and in his hands he was carrying an enormous nut and wearing the biggest silly grin any man could have. Walking straight to you, he said something like, “For you Suzie, Merry Christmas.”

Next day Jude and I went back to the ranger’s house to thank him for his kindness, and he asked, “Did you see Ol’ Joe? Biggest nut ever grown on the island.”

I’m thinking you’ll have to read our next book, Around the World in Ever Increasing Circles, to hear how that turned out.

Father’s Day and Special Visitors

With plenty of good food flowing from the barbie and more coming out the fridge, our good weather lasted through a wonderful Father’s Day when the Three Amigos celebrated another year of fatherhood with all our children playing like the kids they still are. 

It’s always such a treat to have the family gather to celebrate our strength and unity, our good health, while we have loads of fun, the memory of which we’ll carrying in our hearts through any trying times ahead. My thanks and heart felt affection goes to my oldest son Jason, manning the wood barbie and his brother Jerome, running crazily around entertaining the little ones, plus big hugs for Jude’s tasty salads and treats. 


Then late in the day, a pair we first met during an amazing encounter arrived. Geoff and Janet Fenton had come from a wintry Tasmania and were checking out the neighborhood. Our first encounter happened after trekking to faraway New Harbour on Tasmania’s south coast. Since then we have worked on a few projects with a passion for the unique wilderness that has seen the creation of two Wildcare groups committed to maintaining and improving facilities in the west and south west. Staying the night at our place gave us a great opportunity to hear how the Deny King Heritage Museum in Melaleuca was coming along.

Janet Fenton is the natural fit as the President of the Friends of Melaleuca as she is the daughter of legendary bushman Deny King, tin miner, naturalist, artist, environmentalist. If you’re looking for a fantastic book about an icon of Tasmania’s far southwest whose continued efforts saw the area around Melaleuca successfully declared a World Heritage site, then find a copy of King of the Wilderness by Christobel Mattingley. It’s one of those books that you’ll keep to read again and again.

There are no roads to remote Melaleuca which can only be reached on foot, by boat or small plane. While it’s renowned for its world heritage area, few know about its mining history. From the 1930s until quite recently, a small settlement mined high grade alluvial cassiterite (tin oxide).

Installing Aviation panel
Photo by Janet Fenton

Friends of Melaleuca
The volunteer group Friends of Melaleuca was formed in 2009, shortly after the area was permanently listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register. The area is important for both its natural and cultural values and includes the homestead and garden of the late Deny King AM.

 Janet Fenton sorting treasures in the red Engine-shed for planned heritage mining trail at Melaleuca. (Photo Erika Shankley). The daughters of Deny and Margaret King, Janet and Mary, spent a unique childhood growing up at Melaleuca.

Janet Fenton sorting treasures in the red Engine-shed for planned heritage mining muesum at Melaleuca..
Photo Erika Shankley

Janet Fenton said that one of their primary aims was to demonstrate that a mining area can be successfully rehabilitated and used for tourism and education. The group aims to undertake practical work such as maintenance of heritage buildings and other infrastructure.

Heritage Muesum
Research of family archives, historical records and government reports and the development of the interpretation material was undertaken by Wildcare volunteers. This was expanded by contributions of historic images by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery and the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office. The material was then refined and edited for inclusion on interpretation panels designed by Lea Walpole of Queenstown, the graphic designer.

Two way radio display, showing
Janet and Mary using radio at Melaleuca.


Seventeen interpretation panels were matt laminated and mounted to aluminium composite, taking into consideration the damp climate at Melaleuca. These travelled by boat and were installed in the museum by the volunteers. A number of display cases were also constructed specifically for objects selected for display

What a treat for those visiting Port Davey. But please if coming by yacht or mini-liner, do not bring your vessel up the narrow shallow channel. Instead anchor at King’s Point or off Clayton’s Corner and dingy up the few miles to the landing pontoon, keeping all the stakes on your left going upstream.

Janet and Jude – birds of a feather 
Cute, passionate, informative, and fun

The reality is –
New coal power is NOT the answer for cheaper electricity bills

In a recent report, the highest authority states that based on deep, sophisticated modelling which looked at the most economical way to replace our ageing coal plants as they retire, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), who is responsible for operating Australia’s gas and electricity markets and power systems, said, “The lowest cost replacement for this retiring capacity and energy will be a portfolio of resources, including solar (28 gigawatts), wind (10.5 GW) and storage (17 GW and 90 GWh), complemented by 500 megawatts of flexible gas plant and transmission investment.”

New coal power didn’t rate a mention! And no wonder. Prices of electricity from new renewable energy projects are already far cheaper than the likely price from the new-generation coal plants some Coalition MPs want to see built.
[ More in Save Earth Now ]

by Earthvalues Institute

Putting the Capital Back in Nature

The word Nature was first used in the 12th century and has come to represent all of the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and all the other features, forces, and processes that happen or exist independently of people, such as the weather, the sea, mountains.

Before the Scientific Revolution, Nature was considered in a spiritual context, deserving of respect and admiration. But now that we have come to use Nature’s animals, fresh water, minerals, forests in a non-sustainable way and destroyed some of the balance, we have replaced the capital letter “N” in Nature with a lower case one.

A coincidence? Perhaps.

This may sound absurd
We know that this may sound absurd in today’s view of economics, but we just got back from Tenterfield, birthplace of the nation and home to Australia’s biggest rock, where we noticed that to camp next to The Rock would cost $68 a night for a family of five with children over five years. That’s $12 a head, plus another $8 for the car, bring your own camping gear.

Bald Rock
Australia’s largest granite rock

Is that Expensive –
For only three days of camping to let your children explore the magic of Nature would cost a family of five more than two-hundred dollars in fees. That got us wondering just how many families actually camp at the rock and climb it for the marvelous views to far forested horizons holding pockets of bold granite sculptured by Nature. Having done this ourselves many time, we then wondered if schools bring classes to Nature or did the Scouts have excursions to our Parks for learning outdoor skills with wholesome exercise as a bonus.

The Four J's

Life Afloat ~ The Four J’s

Having raised our children predominately surrounded by Nature, we know that exposing our youth to more Nature will make it better for all of us, and Earth, and the other creatures.

Parks should be FREE
So, maybe Parks should be free, with educators telling stories of what’s surrounding us. That always worked when we were kids, and we think it still works for today’s children. Instead of giving Parks the minimum budget to look after the Nation’s Estate and have minimal activities and restricted access, maybe we should be giving Parks a much higher priority so that we create good healthy kids with an appetite to Save Earth Now.  

It has been our experience that children really turn on to little critters in the realness of the natural world and if someone inspirational told them about the creation, and how it works, it would make sense to them and they’d want to restore balance. And for the rest of their happy long lives they would think about doing just that. Think about it.

First step – Get the kids outside and connected to Nature and less in front of the screens.

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Our Life Afloat — 22 Comments

  1. Congratulations on your golden Anniversary, an amazing achievement, we both enjoy reading about your adventures.
    Perhaps we might catch up in Tassy this summer.
    Look forward to following your travels into the future
    Ian And Helen

  2. G’day and congratulations, I hope you spoilt that girl on the day Jack. Look forward to our next catch up. Love and best wishes to you both
    John and Lyn Brewster

  3. Thank you for sharing a small part of your fascinating life story – a vignette of such a rich life together. We are privileged to have shared some moments with you. Hope we can catch up again in Tassie this summer.
    Chris & Suzanne.

    • Hi Chris and Suzanne.
      A vignette it’s been and hopefully continues on with more of the same. Thanks, we’re inland of you at the moment, heading south with a kayak on the roof…. Love J&J

  4. Jack & Jude, every good wish for your enormous anniversary, well done! I’m about to fly from WA to Mooloolaba to help a lady sail her Laurent Giles Vertue 25 to Tassie. Tiny ship but we’ll see how we go.

  5. Hi Jack and Jude, Always look forward to reading your adventures and blog. My wife and i spent every day off for 5 years rebuilding a 32′ Colin Archer cutter rigged sloop, mid 90’s. She was ferro built. Rebuilt at the then ballina marina. We had a couple of trips to the barrier reef before a new home and 2 puppies became preferred so she was sold. I have always regretted letting her go so live sailing adventures through you and others. Thank you Jack and Jude.

    • Michael, I’m trying to picture your boat at the marina, maybe a photo will blow away the cobwebs, but nonetheless we’re delighted to provide a wee bit of your vicariously sailing adventures. 🙂 There be lots more coming this December.

  6. Dunk Island Shipwreck Mystery.
    My wife and I are local yachties from Townsville who recently came upon an old shipwreck at Stingaree Reef on Dunk Is. The remaining steel frame from this once sizeable vessel is slowly being consumed by the muddy elements and mangroves are growing through the structure. Having enquired with some locals and then with The Museum of Tropical Qld in Townsville, I discovered the shipwreck was only recently listed in June, 2018 after discovery by a staff Archaeologist, on the Australian National Shipwreck data base and listed as ‘Unknown’- for vessel name, details and any history. Curiosity now has the better of me and I would like to find out more details before the vessel disappears altogether. Does anyone have any information about this vessel, when and why it came to grief on Stingaree Reef opposite Kumboola Islet?

  7. Funny old world, your email blog arrives, the Fenton’s visit you. Leonie posted back my copy of Janet’s book ‘Wyn &Clyde’, I received it today. I read it years ago while alongside the Jetty at Clayton’s Corner, Port Davey. Treasured memories.Thanks Jack & Jude.

    • Good to hear from you Alan, and wish we could relive those halcyon days in paradise. Hey, just to jog your memory, get a copy of September AFLOAT, it’s dedicated to Tasmania and we’ve got a well presented article covering the west coast. Cheers, J&J

  8. Hello Jack & Jude,
    Wow, what a life! Loved reading your adventures! May we share them by posting your link on our TideMinders Facebook page? Larry and I have been looking for something that’s enjoyable with grit, real determination in living life; you two with your experiences are the prime example! What excitement you add to those, like us, who have wonderful sailing memories and are now retired.
    Good health to you and Jude!
    Best to you, Judy and Larry Gray

    • G’day from Australia – Glad you find our articles enjoyable and uplifting. The sailing life keeps us active and fit, and so far we’ve adapted well to loosing some physical strength. We’d be delighted if you posted a link on your facebook page. Cheers J&J&

    • Thank you Carlo for your your well wishes. Jude is a heroic lady with a high threshold for pain and filled with determination, and we’re pleased to report that she’s on the mend nicely. The broken wrist bones are doing well and the swelling, which has given her such pain, is easing. Cheers, J&J

  9. Wow, it seems as though nothing will stop you two from finding a way to be cold and uncomfortable in a tent somewhere far from civilisation. It’s good to hear Jude is on the mend. Can’t risk damaging those rowing wrists can we. I hope she gets better quickly and a late happy birthday to you Jack from the Peace and Plenty gang.

    • Hello Niki, Lauren and little Lulu –
      Cheers for birthday greetings and “cute” summation. Far from civilisation sounds all right to us!
      Appreciate all your work getting Zulu Waterways so useful to the boating community.

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