Our History

The Full Story

There are many stories that make the full story of how our club came to be.

Below are extracts from Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette, The Douglas Times, club newsletters and press releases.

These historic documents are part of the full story...

This page is updated regularly.

Keep looking in for more and more on the wonderful story of Port Douglas Yacht Club. 

1985 - The First Meeting

The first meeting of the Yacht Club was in 1985 but it was nine years later before we had a club house. The club’s official opening was on December the 4th 1993 opened by Sir James Hardy. At last after a big struggle raising funds we were able to move from the tin shed that now sits on the water front to remind our senior members of a past era. Peter Hinchcliffe was the Commodore and he and his team of helpers were the ones that did all the negotiation to get our club house started. At first the club only opened on a race day and on some Friday and Saturday nights. Someone would go into the kitchen and cook up a few meals for those that happened to turn up. No staff was employed, it was all volunteer’s in the kitchen and behind the bar. At that stage we had a pepper corn rent each year. Our rates were low as well as our lease. Soon all that changed and we employed a manager and we were open Friday, Saturday and Sundays.

The club has had a few add-ons since then as the patronage grew. One of the first was the roof over the side towards Closehaven Marina. Under the iron are the names of the yacht’s that donated $30 a sheet to put on that extension. They have since been covered up by the cover you now look up and see. That cover looks pretty tattered today, maybe it is time to replace it and put the yacht names on the new covering? The next add on was the area where the pool table is out to the edge of our boundary which until then just had a cheap cover over it and the big shade cover looking over the lawn to the pontoon. That one was recently replaced after cyclone Yasi.

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter April 2011

Suspicion over Application for Lease

Looking through our archives for information for our newsletter I found two documents copied from the local newspaper. Yes, the boys back then negotiated very hard to obtain the ground we now lease and I take my hat off to them. Here is what the newspaper clipping had to say.

Port Douglas Yacht Club has submitted a plan to council for a yacht club on Dickson Inlet despite two Council rejections of the proposal. At last month’s Council meeting Council rejected a request for an area of some 10,000 sq meters for a yacht club and slipping facility up stream of, and adjoining Closehaven Marina. The proposal was supported by the Minister for Water and Resources and Maritime Services, Mr Martin Tenni on the grounds that the facility would be used solely for the purpose of maintaining member’s boats and not fishing boats and trawlers. The plan to build a yacht club, 25 wet berths, and a hard standing area of 280 sq meters for boat storage and for members to do their own maintenance which would include a 50 ton boat lifter was refused by Council on the grounds that the proposal was premature. The council had yet to decide on how best to use this part of R 177 Local Government (Port Douglas Harbour Reserve.) The council remarked it was only three months since the first application for the yacht club, and the council rejected then on the grounds it was presenting unfair competition to the existing slipway and the area was too large to lease to one concern. However the yacht club members’ have not been daunted by the rejection and have submitted fresh plans to the council detailing exactly how they intend to utilise the one hectare of land. The club believes the lease of the land would allow a much sort after facility to build and cater for the increasing yachting population. Architects Woodhead Australia has prepared a plan for the yacht club in keeping with Port Douglas architecture. The club also maintains that an important aspect of the proposal is the provision being made for a junior boat club which would provide a valuable service to members of the community. The resent application of the Douglas Chamber of Commerce for five hectares of waterfront adjoining the proposed site to be reserved for public access to the inlet was supported by the club. In the advent of both applications being successful we would endeavour to develop our site to complement the public reserve the club pledged to council. Council however did not view the Yacht Club proposal as a replication for the site. Following Tuesday’s committee meeting chairman of the council Tony Mijo said the club was knocked back on its first application and has not reapplied for a site. “We thought their resent submission was only asking us to give consideration to the concept rather than a definitive application for a development on a specific site. Because the Council cannot see the club raising the funds for such an ambitions development we remain suspicious that the Club is a front for a local developer. We will need to be convinced the project is financially viable before we give it serious consideration.”

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter July 2012

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1986  - July Press Release

Can you imagine starting up a yacht club with just a few friends and making it actually work! Well that is how the Port Douglas Yacht Club started in 1985.

Twelve months on after the first meeting there was a press release to the Gazette and at last we had somewhere to hold meetings and social events - and the rest is history...

 

The M.V. Martin Cash was the start of Quicksilver Connections run to fame. The Martin Cash used to run from Port to Low Isles on a daily basis long before Skase came to town and built the Sheraton and the Marina Mirage.

It wasn’t long before they bought their first catamaran which took tourists to Agincourt Reef. Then a bigger catamaran was built to take its place and the smaller one went on the Low Isles run.

 

At that stage our patron John Morris had built Closehaven Marina and the Martin Cash was moored on the side near the Yacht Club but at that time there were only mangroves there. More about that in another news letter.

The press release is pictured here and you might notice our old logo on the top, a set of scales with a catamaran on one side and a mono hull on the other.

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter October 2011

1987  - AGM Report

This newspaper report from either The Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette or The Douglas Times reports on the 1987 Annual General Meeting. 

Douglas Shire Councillor Greg May addressed the meeting to explain councils offer to agree to construction of a clubhouse next to the recently constructed Closehaven Marina, and a separate haul-out facility to be located further upstream.

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"Geoff Nicholson who at the time owned Voodoo brought his machine down from the Tablelands to level out the area."

Laying the Foundations for the Future

Before the Club House was built and opened by Sir James Hardy there was plenty of work for the volunteers to do. When you look around at the trees and lawns they didn’t arrive by magic! What we used to call the Mareeba Cowboys played a big part in the Club’s history. Greg Byrne, Geoff Nicholson, Ron Keeling and Gordon Powell were just a few that took part in the landscaping, and of course the Port members played their part. This photo was taken when Geoff Nicholson who at the time owned Voodoo brought his machine down from the Tablelands to level out the area.

This is now our water front lawn where the flagpole now stands. A team of volunteers arrived to help put down the lawn and of course after all working bees have a few beers at the Club after.

The flag pole was at the kitchen side of the Club but as the trees grew it was recently moved to its present position. One of our kitchen contractors started a garden there and the trees eventually hid the flag pole. The Club has moved a long way since the tin shed which now stands in the corner. 

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter June 2012

1991 - New Clubhouse on Schedule

Below: Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette, December 1991.

Right: Members volunteer their time to build the foundations.   

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1991 - Minister for Lands and Member for Barron save the Day

Douglas Times, February 1991.   

1991 - Raising Funds to Build a Clubhouse

To raise the funds the club offered $500 Building Memberships that carried life membership and voting rights. Also on offer were $800 Family Building Memberships and various categories of Corporate Membership ranging from $1,500 to $5,000.

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The Douglas Times, December 19th, 1991

1992 – A letter to the Lands Department Part 1

This letter taken from our archives should be of interest to new and old members as it reminds us all of the struggle and the big effort of our past committees to get our Club House up and running.

Many hours of negotiation was done before the building was started and we all now enjoy the fruits of their hard work. With the 20th anniversary of the Club House opening coming up next year it’d be great to have as many people there as we can to celebrate that occasion. Henry Cotter 2013

 

 LANDS DEPARTMENT Re: Lease for proposed Yacht Club Building Further to the visit by Mr Bill Eaton some months ago, to which a concrete slab is laid on the land at Port Douglas, upon which it is proposed to erect a building for the PDYC. You will recall that this land was previously allocated to the Club by the Douglas Shire Council, as trustees for the Lands Department, to be leased at a peppercorn rental so long as the building remained and was used as a Yacht club. As we understand the new arrangement, as detailed by Mr Eaton, our Club will be able to enjoy the privilege of a small rental. Mainly the Club will be able to enjoy a five year rent free period once the building is erected. Then allowing for the Club to become financial and established a fair and reasonable rental will be struck for a further five years. After which the Club will be in a position to furnish details of its trading and financial position so that an equitable rental could then be reached, fair to both parties. At your request we now submit detailed plans for the proposed building which has been submitted to the Douglas Shire Council. These plans have been approved by the fire Department and building approval is expected within a short time. We have received quotes for the building ranging from $65k to $75k from local builders. A meeting is planned with these builders in an effort to prune costs and save money. To this end we will construct our building to standard whilst being allowed to finish off the finer details such as painting and interior woodwork with the enthusiastic volunteer labour of Club members. 

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter November 2012

1992 – A letter to the Lands Department Part 2

In 1992 Commodore Peter Hinchcliffe wrote to the Lands Department. The letter expressed the clubs plans to develop a parcel of land on which a slab had been laid in preparation for the building of the club house. Peter wrote;

The concrete slab which as you know has been laid is unencumbered and has been paid for by way of generous local donations and some fund raising by the club. Our current bank balance is made up of $13,000 deposited with the National Australian Bank, Mossman as a term deposit and $4,746 in a cheque account used to cover running expenses. With the privilege granted by the Licensing Department we enjoy small fund raising activities by way of food and beer sold after each weekly sailing event held during the sailing season. These events raise an average of $650 to $850 each time.

Along with the above mentioned fund raising efforts we have just embarked on an ambitious scheme to raise money in the way of a printed prospectus aimed at the business corporation sector of the Port Douglas and Mossman area. These people will be asked for donations towards the Club, part of such donation allowing membership for a set period and participation in future Club activities. It is thought our biggest membership potential will come from local areas. The prospectus is also aimed at individual and family members who may also wish to donate thus allowing them certain privileges. Thinking in a positive manner we believe we will reach our goal of $50,000 in a matter of weeks. We have enclosed a copy of the prospectus for your perusal knowing that you will find it self explanatory and its idea and aims praiseworthy. Once the building is erected which you will have noted is for aesthetic and pleasing tropical nature we believe we will attract a large number of locals to both enjoy the area and its surrounds along with the camaraderie associated with a family sporting activity. Such interest will allow for a build-up of members and the inherent finance. Once this has been established we will apply for a liquor licence to sell both liquor and food and so do away with the licences we currently enjoy. We look forward to your reply in confirmation and to the time we can invite Mr Eaton to lay the first stone at a ceremony with the local dignitaries’ and hopefully the official opening.

And so the foundation was laid for the club we enjoy today.

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter December 2012

1993 - All hands on deck for completion of the Clubhouse

Right: Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette, July 22nd, 1993

Below: Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette, February 25th, 1993

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The tradition of the club working bee is as old as the club itself. Indeed it was very much built off the back of the working bee.

 

Many dedicated members to this day still honour that tradition, regularly giving freely their time and energy for the greater good of the club.

The reward is their pride and of course a light lunch and one or two cold ones on the house.    

1993 - Finished at last!

The Club House was opened by Sir James Hardy OBE on Saturday 4th December 1993 

Below & right: Douglas Times, 2nd, December, 1993

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1994 - Fundraising for the Kitchen

A letter to members dated 7th April, 1994 from Commodore Bill McNeil called on members to contribute towards establishing the kitchen.

Here is what Billy had to say.

“Dear member. The Port Douglas Yacht club has come a long way in the last year with the construction of the Club House finally coming to fruition. The support from the members and local business to help raise the funds without venturing into financial commitments was a tremendous effort. PDYC is a not for profit organisation and is surviving on bar revenue to cover overheads and is currently trading on a General Purpose Permit which limits trading hours considerably. In order to generate more revenue through the club it’s vital we get the kitchen up and running. Council has inspected the building and is currently completing a list of requirements necessary to obtaining a Certificate of Classification. The letter then called on members to lend up to $1,000 interest free to the club to raise an estimated $10,000 needed to complete the required work. “Dr Dick our number one Honorary Life member has already taken up the offer and we currently hold $1,000 in a special account set up for completion of the Club house. I hope you will consider the above proposal and if you are in a position where you may be able to assist the Club would be truly grateful. Yours sincerely, Bill McNeil

These are the names I could find who came forward and put in the money. There may have been others. The original intention was to raise $10,000. Some donations were for $500 and some for $1,000. The names I can find are Jeffery Nicholson, Moss & Theresa Hunt, Paula Wallace, Peter Terracall, Dr Dick Colahan, Peter & Carolyn Hinchcliffe and Bill McNeil. I have been unable to find any more information and apologise if I have left anyone out. Further investigations will be made to try and reveal exactly who is responsible for helping to finance the building of the kitchen and this great club house that we all enjoy so much. During this time there were others that put in money which were called ‘corporate members’. They were very generous with their donation’s too, people such as John Morris, Jim & Joe Wallace and Quicksilver Connections. Our assets are now worth just under half a million. We have had a few ups and downs since opening the Club House and at one time nearly lost the lot. At the moment we have a very bright future. 

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter August & September 2012

1995 - A call to operate the kitchen

In April 1995 following completion of the kitchen the call went out to find a suitable operator to lease the new facilities.

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Advertisement Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette and Douglas Times newspapers, 27th April, 1995. 

1995 - Minutes of a Meeting

I was reading through the minutes the other day, the date was Sunday 26th of March 1995. Our Club House was opened on the 4th of December 1994 so it hadn’t been opened that long. The kitchen didn’t have a full time staff, we were still growing. 

The minute’s say council had not inspected the kitchen (that would have been for a permit to sell food) and that Rick Hershel offered to loan the club two gas burners. The committee to source interested parties to run the kitchen of course them being volunteers.

The Treasurers report was that the bank balance was satisfactory and no merger accounts outstanding. Looking at the balance sheet it showed an income of $4,671, payments $7,981 total cash at the bank $4,605.69

The treasurer reported that $1,400 of Februarys takings would show up in March’s takings as was unable to get to the bank in time.

 

Most of the rest of the meeting was taken up with the coming of the Easter Regatta which at the time was one of the big events of the sailing calendar. Sunseeker to be contacted as start boat with the start line of the sugar terminal in Cairns. The finishing line at the entrance to Port. The rest of the races would be run by the Port Douglas Yacht Club. I have no details of how the races went or who won the series. They expected thirty plus boats to enter. Cruising Yacht Squadron to donate 20 cartons. Nomination fee to be $65 which will be divided, $30 to Marina Mirage for berths, $20 to the Cruising Yacht Squadron and $15 to the Port Douglas Yacht Club.

 

It was moved that the Clipper Cup would go on the agenda for the next meeting in April.

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter January 2012

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1995 - October Newsletter 

I was looking through our files and found a newsletter dated October 1995.  These are some pieces taken out of that earlier newsletter.

“First and foremost would all the PDYC volunteers who helped out during the Mirage Resort Clipper Cup stand up and give yourselves a big pat on the back, you did a great job. After six months of planning the inaugural Mirage Resort Clipper Cup finally happened and judging by the response of the skippers at the skippers meeting it can only be judged as a great success. Like all inaugural events there were a few minor hiccups to start with but these were overcome. The weather could not have been better with the first race in Cairns starting in 20 knots of breeze, the last race ending in 6 knots.

 

The three boats that represented our club all did our club proud. In IMS “Marina Mirage Challenge” sailing in the PDYC colours for the last time. “Cab Driver” now racing under Port Douglas colours finished in second place. PHS 2 and “Corlar” in fourth place. I would like to thank all the skippers of these yachts for doing a fine job in representing our club. To the volunteer’s outside the club I would like to thank Bob Brenac the handicapper, Arthur Hodge who set and controlled the race. The owners and skippers of the course boats, Ian “Stripey” Grant our media man and Dick Gooch and the team of office workers who computed the race results and daily newsletters. To all who helped out – A job well done by all. Without you events of this size could never be run.”

 

Report by Greg Byrne. There were 36 yachts in that race. To make that happen there was an incredible amount of work went into putting on this event. I have read through some of the minutes of Greg reporting back to the committee on the numerous trips to Cairns to set this all up. Some of those yachts are still around today.

 

Commodore Bill Mc Neil reported; “Now that the regatta is over the euphoria is subsiding and we have to take a serious look at keeping the club progressing and improving. Our application for a full licence has been submitted to council and is being processed. It is of course vital that the club obtains this licence as without it the club itself would become nonexistence. There will be a general meeting (see enclosed notice in this newsletter) to put your thoughts and recommendations to committee on what we believe is a sound and viable path to a successful club. Issues will undoubtedly not receive unanimous agreement so we look forward to a good roll up at the meeting.”

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter April 2012

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Lady Douglas & The Bally Hooley

In the early days of the club, members and the committee of the day, were always looking for ways of having fun and making a few dollars for the club. Some of those people are still around Port, but it is a long time since I have seen them at the bar. This is a shame, as they did a lot to get the Port Douglas Yacht Club off the ground.

 

At one time the sugar cane railway went from Port to Mossman, and the Ballyhooley cane train was used as a tourist attraction to take tourists to the Mossman Mill. At this time one of our members had a very bright idea. This idea was to get the Ballyhooley to take members and interested non-members, to the Mossman Hotel for an evening’s entertainment. A booking would be made for the train, and once at the hotel dinner and drinks would be consumed before a night of, of course, ‘fun’ . The Mossman hotel would give us a group discount, which enabled the profits to then go towards the building of our clubhouse. The Ballyhooley crew provided many stops on our way over to Mossman, with one important stop being to supply drinks to the thirsty travellers. There were also stops where the passengers would dash into the cane paddocks. The girls would head to the right and the men would dash to the left. On the way back it was hard to remember which was left and which was right. Of course we would return as well by the Ballyhooley.

These nights were to be eagerly anticipated for the coming year. Another great night was Valentine’s Day night. We had our Club House by this time, so it was arranged that the Ballyhooley would stop at the yacht club crossing to pick up passengers to carry them to St. Crispin’s Station. Here the passengers would have liquid refreshments before then boarding the “Lady Douglas” boat for the return trip to the Clubhouse. This arrangement also ran in reverse, boat first, liquid refreshments and then the train back to the yacht club. Passengers could take their pick. The club didn’t have a commercial kitchen at that time, so some members would volunteer food, usually prepared at home and brought in to the club. The yacht club has come a long way since then. It has always been a venue of much fun, however I can’t recall any long-standing romances blossoming during these times.

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter August 2011

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ABOVE: Start of 1994 Lizard Island Race, Douglas Times 1994

BELOW: A gathering at Lizard Island, date unknown

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The Lizard Island Yacht Race and Rally

The Lizard Island Yacht Race and Rally, was one race our yacht club had in past years. I can’t remember who started this yacht race, so if any of our readers remember maybe they could let the committee know, or write out an account of the first race.

The race was a once-ayear event, looked forward to by our members as well as members from clubs down south. The briefing was held a week before the race, after which, with music supplied by a band, we partied until midnight. For those still in the party mood, up to town to the Iron Bar was the place to go until the early hours of the morning. Most times we had tee shirts for sale, looking like the uniform of the night.

 

The race/rally incorporated some leaving up to a week before and doing a cruise up the coast with, most making Hope Iles the first stop. The people who wanted to race, left on Friday night, with a start time of 1730 hours. Quicksilver was always obliging and made Wavedancer available as the’ start boat’. Members of the public and club members who were not sailing could go out on Wavedancer and watch the racing yachts get ready to go over the start line. Drinks were available at the bar and there was always a long queue waiting to board when Wavedancer was ready to depart.

 

An official was appointed to take finishing times at Lizard Island. It was this official’s job to make contact with Lizard Island Resort to finalise arrangements for us to use the Marlin Bar for lunch, and for the prize giving. At one of our events I believe there were 120 people present. Most yachts didn’t leave Lizard Island the next day, preferring to party on for a week or more. The race was usually scheduled close to the full moon, which was a great aid for those sailing through the night. A Halloween party was held at the Marlin Bar on the full moon, which added another attraction whilst there. A beach party where the game of ‘The Priest of the Parish’ was always played and was most popular. One particular aspect of this game was that it required a lot of drinking of rum.

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter March 2011

PDYC to PNG

According to the records in our archives, there were seven yachts participating in the inaugural yacht race to PNG. Red Boomer II (Bill McNeil), Horizon (Gordon Powell), Monsoon II (John Morris), Mushula (Darrel Nelson) and Ramardoo, Scherezadl and Sumurum. There was also a ‘radio and safety’ power boat called Tangaroa. I don’t recall the radio schedules but the participating yachts called in once or twice a day, as a safety check. Arrangements were made for Customs to come to Port Douglas to give the boats Customs clearance. A fee was charged, which was taken out of the ‘entrance fee’. Our committee issued us with all sorts of information, such as, problems with malaria, where to access fuel, the availability of stores, and they informed us of local customs. Dr Dick and his committee made most of the arrangements. The party was arranged with an ‘expat’ by the name of John Morris, (no relation to our patron). The yachts were left in Pearl Bay and we used our dinghies to travel the half mile to the landing, then climbed the hill to John’s house. He had arranged for two trusted locals to keep an eye on our boats to keep the ‘rascals’ away (rascals being thieves in Papua New Guinea). After a few days around the near island we headed along the Louisiade Archipelago and ended up in Misima. At Misima miners were cutting away the top of a mountain to access the gold. I was amazed to see local people driving the massive trucks, carting the rubble down the hill to be crushed to extract the gold. All the people of the outer island live by fishing and gardening. The soil isn’t very productive but apparently they manage to grow enough to nourish themselves, as I didn’t notice any malnourished people. Actually the people seem to be happy and friendly. They get their clothes by trading with the passing yachts. There are no K Marts or Myers to be seen. The locals come out to a yacht with a few vegetables to trade for T-shirts, fish hooks or something that is of use to them. (You can’t eat money.) Customs clearance was available at Misima and this stage of the cruise some of the boats headed back to Australia whilst others went further north.

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter September 2011

Remembering Keith Quinn

I note that the Keith Quinn Memorial Fun Race is being revived. With so many new Club members in the last few years my guess is, that some would ask, “who was Keith Quinn?”

Keith owned four yachts that I recall. I can remember him sailing into Port in the late eighties in a yacht called “Maggie May” which is still in Port. He later sold her and bought a ‘ferro’ yacht that had once done a Sydney / Hobart. That yacht was later sold and Keith bought a steel boat called “Serenata”. The other boat he owned has been in our hardstand for a number of years, by the name of “Myjbe”.

Once a year he would go out and find sponsors to donate prizes for this event. It was a fun day with a race around buoys, with dirty tricks allowed. Water bombs were the order of the day; flour bombs had to be banned, as when they dried quickly in the January sun it was very hard to remove the flour. I remember once sailing past another yacht with an elderly couple on board; we had a water bomb at the ready. The idea was to just plonk one on their aft-deck but “never under estimate your enemy”. As we slowly caught up with the said yacht, we were doused with a hose, and not one bomb did we get on their deck. At times up to thirty-two yachts could be out on the water at the same time, but the average was a lot less than that. Prize giving was round 1600 hrs with Keith doing the honours. He also arranged for a band to play for the rest of the afternoon. Keith, being the professional drummer that he was, played the drums. The band was always a good money-maker for the club. At one time Keith delivered a yacht to New Guinea, single-handed for his brother. His navigating equipment was a depth sounder, a steering compass and a portable radio. His stores were several cartons of beer and several cartons of baked beans in small cans. He used the radio as a direction finder and the compass to steer by. The other aid he had was a log to check distance. Navigating through the Torres Straight must have been a nightmare. He was living on a block of land up in Highland Park in Julatten. This was where he was found one day, dead, having been bitten by a snake. For a man who had spent so much time on the water, it was not the way you would have predicted that he would end his life. A big funeral was held for Keith and our Commodore at that time, Dorelle Downs read the eulogy. She announced that from now on the race would be called the “Keith Quinn Memorial Fun Race”. Unfortunately his grave didn’t have a headstone, so the club placed a donation tin on the bar, to raise enough money for one. When I was Commodore I searched for details of his family, to request their permission, but was unable to trace any one. Therefore, it was finally decided that the money would be used to install the lockers that now bear his name.

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter May 2011

The Club Flag Pole

The PDYC was built for fun. It was also built “off the back of a truck” in more ways than one. The flagpole now standing on the green lawn in front of the Clubhouse has such a history. The origin of the flagpole was from SV „Willow”.

One mast was damaged and the subject of an insurance claim; the other was suspect to fail and was replaced also. The damaged masts were dumped on a vacant block and forgotten. The guinea-grass grew over them and left to rot. The Coast-Guard had no use for the masts, but seeing a need for our Club, they were recovered and claimed with a flag-pole in mind. It has taken over 20 years to come to fruition. Well done past committee of 2009/2010.

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter February 2011

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Billy Boomer & Red Boomer II

When Red Boomer II sailed back into Port Douglas she brought with her a past commodore and club legend.

Billy 'Boomer' McNeil and his family have returned from two years knocking around south-east Asia in Red Boomer II, which was built by Bill in New Guinea of local timber. Red Boomer II used to be one of the starters in our race calendar in the early days of our club. One of the last races I can remember Boomer participating in was the Clipper Cup in 2005. Her LOA is 59', with a beam of 16' and draft of 6'6" fully loaded. Bill has done three global circumnavigations, mostly accompanied by his family. When they left Port in 2009, Bill and family sailed to Darwin where they stayed for 12 months before starting a cruise in company to Batam just north of Singapore. They spent Christmas 2010 and New Year in Phuket before moving back down the coast to Singapore and up to the Tioman Islands. Some of the yachts that had headed out into the Indian Ocean and on to the Red Sea had run into pirates, so Bill and family decided not to go that way this time. From the Tioman Islands they worked their way across to Borneo. Bill said the wild life they saw was amazing, elephants, tigers and orangutans were all part of the scenery. From Borneo they travelled east to Sulawesi and on to West Papua, where Bill said the rubbish was thick in the water. On more than one occasion they had blockages in the cooling water that cools the motors. I wonder who is responsible for polluting our oceans. Logs were also encountered. The last stage of the trip after leaving Sulawesi took them to Jayapura, Kavieng and on to Rabaul, where Bill said the diving was amazing with great corals and shipwrecks from the Second World War.

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter December 2011

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"For a number of years he was the nominee for the Yacht Clubs liquor licence."

Remembering Graham Nicholls

I can’t remember when Graham Nicholls came to Port but it was around the same time that Dorelle Downs was Commodore. It didn’t take him long to find the Yacht Club and meet the local yachty’s.

 

There was at that time a motor boat for sale which he bought. Ibis was a wooden boat and a length of 48 feet and had a 250 horse power motor. Graham made this boat his home and it was moored on the end finger of the Yacht Club at Closehaven Marina. Ray Downs showed him the ropes for handling the boat and he was soon taking people out on a Wednesday night for WAGLES. He could pile about twenty people on board and take them up and down the harbour. On a calm night he would take his passengers outside the entrance of Port so they could enjoy a sunset.

Graham always turned up at working bees to lend a hand with the many jobs that needed doing. For a number of years he was the nominee for the Yacht Clubs liquor licence. He was aware of the rules and regulations and made sure they were applied.

 

He moved away from Port a few years back but still kept in contact with several people around here. While working away down south he became unwell and was admitted to hospital for treatment. Graham passed away on the 29th of October 2011 with his family by his side. Graham will be remembered and sadly missed by family and friends that knew him.

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter November 2011

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"In 1990 he was awarded the first club Member of The Year"

Remembering Dr Dick

Sadly, I write again of the loss of one of our members, Dr Dick Colahan

At our last AGM there was a couple that most of our newer members would not have recognised. Their names are Dick and Pauline Colahan. “Dr Dick”, as he is known to all was one of our earliest Commodores in 1989. He and his team of helpers were responsible for getting the yacht club on its feet. I see we are still using the motto “This club was built for fun”, guess who gave us that sign? If you said Dr Dick you would be right. He was there at the very first meeting that formed our Yacht Club. At that time where our club house stands today was covered in mangroves. When I look back it is incredible the work that went into getting the club house built. First the ground had to be raised to its present level.

A few years later the slab was poured but it took a lot of fund raising and a helping hand from our Patron, John Morris. Even before we had obtained the ground we were racing and cruising. Dr Dick was there on his trailer- sailor “Sunburnt Snowflake.” He was an aggressive captain and was always on the start line when the race gun went off. If you look at some of our trophies you will see his name there. He was one of the organisers of our first cruising race to New Guinea and crewed with Gordon Powell on “Horizon” in other races to New Guinea. Dr Dick and Greg Burns were in the 1998 Sydney Hobart. That was the one that the big storm came through and a lot of boats and lives were lost. A month or so later they gave a talk at our Club House about their experience in that race. Dr Dick passed away on Monday 13th of February, 2012. After the funeral at St Mary’s family and friends met at the Club to celebrate his life. Dr Dick came to Port Douglas in 1975. He was Vice Commodore under Bruno Reidwick who died in a plane crash, and became Commodore in 1989. A year later in 1990 he was awarded the first club Member of The Year and was responsible for getting junior sailing going by donating one of six sabot’s that the club had at the time.

Source: Henry Cotter - Club Newsletter February 2012