Chapter 61

Thank you Enrico Casorzo for the idea of constructing a steel yacht using the multi chine method and thank you Len Hedges for the plans for Rebecca.

While up in Darwin I met Enrico Casorzo, a technical officer from Sydney Office. Enrico and his family came from Chile and had settled in Sydney. He was building a steel yacht on the outskirts of Sydney and was describing it’s method of construction. Instead of rolling the plates to get a round bilge yacht, this design was multi chine to get a comparable effect.


The usual chine design went from single to three or five, but this one had eight chines and a unique method of construction. I did not have the skill to roll and weld the plates for a round bilge which could end up like a corrugated iron roof, but I could manage this system. I discovered Enrico worked with Len Hedges in the Sydney office. Len was a Civil Engineer and Naval Architect. He was a strong advocate for ferro cement and had several successful designs in this. He also designed smaller trailer sailors, dories and surf-boards. I understood, that at one stage, he had been in partnership with Alan Payne, another Naval Architect and designer of a successful America Cup challenger; Alan Payne had a yacht 36 foot with five chines in steel so it looked as though I was on the right track at last, settling my aim at something under 40 foot in steel.

Returning from Darwin on Friday, 2nd May, I spent the night with Dad and went to the house-boat the next day. Monday was a public holiday and I was back in the office on Tuesday. I had been nominated to attend a “Wind Seminar” in Sydney from 12th to 14th May and took several days recreation leave to sort my personal affects out. I decided to drive to Sydney so as to have a car while there so took the extra days as recreation leave. I drove down the coast on the Friday, stayed with Ian at Sea Horse Motel on Friday and Saturday night leaving the Gold Coast at 6.15a.m. Sunday, and arrived in Sydney at 8.00p.m. Lectures started Monday evening so I had the morning free so managed to see Len Hedges and tell him what I was looking for. He showed me sketch plans of his Dorrigo Class 38 foot cutter.

This was 38 ft. long, centre cockpit, cutter or schooner rigged with a centre board. I had decided against ferro cement due to the fact it could be punctured easier than steel in certain situations and did not hold its value as much due to the number of sub-standard hulls built; it was a most sophisticated method of construction that had been over simplified. There were traps in the approach “anyone can build it”, but you could get the shape and finish you wanted on the hull. I also decided against a centre board, considering it as another moving part that could go wrong, especially if it got bent by any means and could be a source of noise inside the hull. I had also settled on a cutter rig since you could halve the sail area simply by dropping the yankee jib and there was only one mast. Len said he would look at this and I arranged to meet him on the Friday afternoon, 16th May. The Wind Seminar was intense and thorough covering all aspects especially down drafts due to tall buildings and changes in terrain categories due to development or degradation of the landscape and finished midday 16th May. I called to see Len Hedges and purchased the boat plans for $700. I then left Sydney at 5.00p.m. and drove over-night arriving in Brisbane on Saturday, 17th.

There was a meeting with the solicitor on 19th and I started back in the office on 20th May. The contract for transfer of the house was signed on Tuesday, 27th May. In a short time we resolved joint custody and Betty would buy out my share of the house so the children had a stable home. I would contribute to their support and this was acceptable to the court. I had been through the exercise of sub-dividing the house etc., but this would not work and I still had the dream of building my own yacht and sailing it around the world. Now the opportunity presented itself and I need compromise no longer. It was not that we disliked each other, but like one in three families, we could not continue as a unit. In hindsight it was a wonder we lasted together so long and now each of us was free to fulfil their own dream. I was always a bit of a loner and it was loss of faith in human nature that hurt me most. Obviously we could not give each other what was needed but there was no point in this controlling or ruining the rest of our lives, so we each got on with being ourselves.

Those early months back in Brisbane were hectic to say the least. On 3rd June I flew to Townsville for inspections of the AIMS building at Turtle Bay, ATC building, Police building, Accounts and Store building footings, Kerwin Telephone Exchange, ATCSR tower and helicopter hangars; leaving Townsville on the 5.40p.m. flight for Brisbane on the 5th I was back in the office on the 6th. Now I had ordered the yacht plans and settled in to the house boat. The boat plans arrived on 1st July, 1975. In June I presented a paper entitled “Darwin Cyclone” at the Structural Group Meeting of Queensland Division of the Institution of Engineers and this was well received.

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