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After growing up on the Gold Coast of Queensland, John decided there was more of the world to see and set off backpacking at the ripe old age of 18. During his travels he became a crew member sailing on a H28 classic timber cutter on the east coast of the States, and decided that cruising was the goal that he would pursue back in Australia. In the 70’s ferro cement was the cheapest building medium, and he set about building a Hartley “Fijian”, a 43 foot flush deck cutter.

Within a couple of years “Tardus” was launched and her first cruise was to the Solomon Islands in 1977. A number of cruising seasons followed up and down the east coast of Australia from Cairns to Sydney and back, working in a large variety of jobs from time to time. While living on Tardus and working in Cairns, he met Catherine.



Catherine also decided that there was more to the world, after growing up in Auckland (the “City of Sails”), New Zealand, and she also spent a couple of years backpacking in various parts of the world. After arriving in Australia she spent some time “cruising” in a campervan from Perth to Sydney via the Northern Territory. Catherine was also living in Cairns by 1983 when she met John. As this was when all the yachts were on pile moorings across the inlet from the city centre, her first introduction to the yachting life was onboard “Tardus”, John’s home at the time. He still brings up the fact that she felt seasick while the boat was still tied to the moorings in the inlet. As Tardus was for sale, we soon decided that living in Catherine’s house at Trinity Beach was a better idea.

We built another house at Trinity Beach as owner builders, so we put in a lot of our own labour, and of course, was not finished off properly until we sold it in 1988. We were married in 1986, and our first son Richard was born in December that year. Whilst Catherine was still in hospital, we started our own business, with John working as a general motor mechanic. Our second house was up the range in Kuranda on 2 acres of rainforest, on which we also did a lot of the work ourselves. During early 1988 we had a holiday travelling to Brisbane and Sydney looking for a boat that we could live on as a family.

We purchased “Gabrielle” a steel 34 foot Maurice Griffiths, and after John delivered her from Brisbane to Cairns, she was trucked up to the front yard in Kuranda when second son Andrew was 6 weeks old. In his “spare time” from the business and 2 young children John rewired and plumbed, made solid stainless steel rails, a radar/solar panel tower and sand blasted and painted the boat over a 2 year period. She was back down on the pile moorings in Cairns Inlet by the end of 1990, in time for Cyclone Winifred on Xmas Eve 1990. We had 7 large rainforest trees blown down by a domino effect from the first one, with the last one landing on the roof of the house. As John was down looking after Gabrielle up the mangrove creeks behind Cairns for 4 days, Catherine had already left the house to a less vulnerable location, with the 2 boys, as David was due to be born within the month.



According to the “5 year plan” that we had formulated, we sold the business mid 1991 to a long term employee, rented the house and moved on to Gabrielle in September 1991, with David being only 9 months old, and the other two only nearly 3 and nearly 5. We left Cairns and spent the next 3 months cruising down to Mooloolaba. By the time we reached there, we had decided that we could live as a family on a boat, enjoyed the cruising lifestyle, but needed a bigger boat. During our cruising we had been aboard a catamaran, which was a real revelation to us (they had 2 recliner armchairs in their salon). Over the next year living at the marina in Mooloolaba we talked to, read about, met and pestered every person associated with multihulls that we saw. We were lucky to have the Australian Multihull Championships located there that year, and were able to meet and talk to Lock Crowther, and became friends with Peter & Anne Snell (now of Easy Catamarans). Even though one live aboard Russell did not own a Chamberlin designed cat, he was very enthusiastic and encouraged us to go to talk to Robin, who luckily lived nearby. Robin had not designed for a couple of years, and so he was given a free reign to design a catamaran for our few requirements, which were full time live aboard capacity, 6ft 1in headroom, easy access to hulls, and drain overboard shower.


As we had kept our house in Kuranda, as “insurance” against not liking our new life, we then sold the house to raise the funds for the building of the new boat. We rented an old house on 10 acres right next to the motorway inland from Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, and with the agreement of the landlord (I don’t think he really understood the scale) we built a shed for the construction. As Catchcry was to be built in a new material for John - strip cedar hulls, plywood bridgedeck and cabin sides with epoxy resin, we employed a boat builder Jeff McDavitt to build the shell to painting stage. Thirteen months of very hard work, John 7 days a week, we were able to move Catchcry to the Caboolture River for launching in March 1994. It was quite unfinished inside but had all the requirements for the water - steering and engine systems, head and shower and beds to sleep on, and lighting was installed at first one light per day. For the next 6 years the galley had a bench, but not cupboard doors, the table was an old second hand one cut down and screwed in place and the seating was cut down foam from mattresses covered in $2 metre material. The hull was not lined and there was no carpet on the floor, all just bare epoxied hull material, but at least the boys couldn’t wreck it!