The Slipyard Development

Working at the shipyards was another exciting entry into the working world. By the time we launched the ‘Lass’ I was being given more demanding and responsible jobs. Also, at about this time, Jock’s other two brothers Don and Max had joined us and made a very skilled team. Max had been working with Purdon and Featherstone during the war years building the hospital vessels and was the most skilled worker and boat builder. I spent a lot of time working alongside and with Max. He wasn’t an easy bloke to work with – very demanding, had a zero tolerance for a slack work ethic of any kind which, on reflection, stood me in good stead right through life.

The ‘Lass’ was a new concept. By renowned English designer Robert Clark, she was quite different to Jock’s designs at that time. Sleek and what appeared to me to be very modern, she was of a similar style to the Sparkman and Stephens ‘Mistral V’ being built at Purdon and Featherstone’s at that time. This beautiful craft had topsides of varnished mahogany. ‘Lass’ was completed in time for the 1948 Sydney Hobart race and ‘Westward’ was entered again

(having won the 1947 race on handicap). Jock asked if I would like to join the crew on ‘Westward’ and I jumped at the chance. The sail up was fairly uneventful, and again the trip between Tasman Island and Cape Pillar was most spectacular. Seasick a few times on the way but overall a good trip. We had time in Sydney to slip the yacht in Neutral Bay and moor in Rose Bay, at that time, the headquarters of the Sunderland Flying Boat operations. I recall a newspaper reporter coming on board and the other boys told him that I was the cook for the trip. He asked me all sorts of questions about the food I was to serve and took a photograph. I searched Sydney newspaper archives last time I was there but couldn’t find anything. I was to sail on a return trip with the ‘Lass’ to Sydney from Hobart following a subsequent race around 1950.