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The Boat Competition

Earlier in the trip I had joined a team in the 'build your own boat' competition.  Now it was time for the float-off.

The challenge was to build a boat not longer than 3 feet or higher than 2 that would survive a tsunami in the larger pool (a crew member 'bombing' nearby); carry six cans of drink for more than a minute without sinking; and sail the length of the pool, being 'whooshed' along if necessary by a team member, but not touched.

Bob Mason was elected captain and immediately began designing a part raft, part outrigger, rigged with sails resembling those on the local boats. Doug Truscott joined the team. We wanted bamboo but a local guy on Kiriwina suggested 'raintree'. Bob got him to cut around 15 linear metres, mostly of 3cm diameter sticks, with his bush knife (machete).

Two rafts would sit atop the two swimming pool 'noodles' I'd purchased in Brisbane that I estimated had sufficient displacement to carry six cans, together with Bob's superstructure. I'd already cut these in half and bound the four bits in pairs with duct tape - later removed - as twine was more aesthetic.

On Kiriwina we also purchased a couple of locally carved figures as crew for our vessel. My locally purchased figure would be the helmsman.


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The helmsman - incompetent as it turned out
when not steering he was praying - it seldom works


Bob, our major enthusiast, also purchased a lifeboat. Doug had acquired some smaller crew in Brisbane.


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Our entry in the boat building competition


The sails were involuntarily provided by Cunard.

Ours, when finally tested, as it had never been in water, was by far the most seaworthy - and the fastest. It actually sailed away with no encouragement.

Our wives were roped in as a cheer squad (a bit sexist but boys will be boys). Wendy was cameraperson.


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My she was yar!



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The other three teams also built boats that passed all the tests.  Apparently that's unusual - some usually sink after being loaded or bombed - much to the delight of the audience.


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Two of our competitors - the one on the left about to be 'bombed' by the guy in the air


Unfortunately on the final race, our boat, well ahead to that point, crashed into the pool ladder near the finish line and the rules precluded Bob pulling it free. He was in the water ready to 'woosh' but our boat sailed off so quickly that he couldn't get there to woosh it away in time.

So we lost by a single point. The final race was worth seven and a half points. We never found out what happened to the half.

But most agreed that we had won 'hands down' so we had to have a couple of drinks to celebrate.



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Bridge over the River Kwai



In 1957-58 the film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai‘ was ground breaking.  It was remarkable for being mainly shot on location (in Ceylon not Thailand) rather than in a studio and for involving the construction and demolition of a real, fully functioning rail bridge.   It's still regarded by many as one of the finest movies ever made. 

One of the things a tourist to Bangkok is encouraged to do is to take a day trip to the actual bridge.

Read more: Bridge over the River Kwai

Fiction, Recollections & News




On the morning of May1st 2016 I jumped, or rather slid, out of a plane over Wollongong at 14,000 feet.

It was a tandem jump, meaning that I had an instructor strapped to my back.


Striding Confidently Before Going Up


At that height the curvature of the earth is quite evident.  There was an air-show underway at the airport we took off from and we were soon looking down on the planes of the RAAF  Roulette aerobatic display team.  They looked like little model aircraft flying in perfect formation.  

Read more: Skydiving

Opinions and Philosophy

Sum; estis; sunt

(I am; you are; they are)



What in the World am I doing here?

'Once in a while, I'm standing here, doing something.  And I think, "What in the world am I doing here?" It's a big surprise'
-   Donald Rumsfeld US Secretary of Defence - May 16, 2001, interview with the New York Times

As far as we know humans are the only species on Earth that asks this question. And we have apparently been asking it for a good part of the last 100,000 years.

Read more: Sum; estis; sunt

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