Dick scouting for new boating locations from the air over Tasmania
Dick Smith is well known for his love of adventure, as well as his business and philanthropic endeavours, of course. But not everyone is aware that Dick is also a keen boatie. This week I had the pleasure of chatting to Dick, and I was hoping that he’d tell me that he loves boating over all other modes of adventure, but I have to be honest: Dick tells me, ‘Of course I love flying the most.’ However, this aviator has also spent plenty of time afloat. Here’s what he had to say about boating;
Jess: How did you get into boating?
Dick: As a kid I was very lucky. My parents didn’t have any money but my Dad was very charismatic and befriended people who had weekenders at Clair Beach. They would let us stay at their houses, and there I use to sail on a VJ and a moth. And then when I was about 16 or 17, I had a girlfriend whose dad was an enthusiastic sailor. When I was 20, I did my only ocean sailing: I sailed from Sydney to Lord Howe Island to attempt to climb Ball’s Pyramid.
That gave me the idea of boating, and then when I had enough money I built a boat with a helipad on the back, called Ulysses Blue. I had that for about two years, but I didn’t really like it because you had to have a crew and it didn’t really have any privacy. So one day I asked what boat that just a couple take out and it was suggested about a 59fter, so I brought a 59ft Selene.
Jess: How does boating compare with flying and other means of travelling?
Dick: Of course I love flying the most, but boating is different. I think boating’s just a wonderful thing. If you haven’t boated Tasmania and Cape York, there’s something wrong with you.
Jess: What do you look for in a boat?
Dick: I look for a boat that’s quiet. My big boat always had to have a generator going and I can detect the slightest hum. So my last two boats, I’ve had huge battery banks and two inverters. I don’t like automation; I like manual switching of everything because that’s very simple.
Jess: What about sailing boats?
Dick: I’ve always a had a sailboat. I currently have a Hobie [wave]. We’ve got a place at Clareville [Pittwater] so I use the Hobie there. I like it when there’s reasonable wind and I can fly a hull.
Jess: What are your favourite boating regions and locations? And why?
Dick: I’ve been to over 200 of the 300 countries in the world and having flown five times around the world at low altitude. I’ve seen some pretty spectacular boating areas, but I can tell you Australia has some of the best.
One of my favourite places in Australia is Tasmania, Port Davey, and up to Macquarie Harbour, through Hells Gates, far up the Gordon River to moor at Warners Landing near St Johns Falls. That’s a beautiful place to go boating.
The east coast [of Tasmania] is very good, especially places like Wineglass Bay and Maria Island. I love going through the Dunalley Cannel; it’s a bit of a test, as the eastern bar to get into takes a bit of expertise.
I love the area south of Hobart, and we also love to go to the Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart, even though we only have a wooden table. We hide our boat around the corner so no one can see it! Generally speaking, Tasmania’s my favourite as there’s not many people.
And Wilsons Prom has some wonderful bays, some of the best places I’ve ever been; also a wonderful place to go boating. Refugee Cove is just the most beautiful mooring.
Then there’s the islands of Bass Straight, especially the Kent group. At Deal Island, walking up to the lighthouse is well worth it.
And Antarctica is one of my favourite places for boating.
Jess: Where’s next? What’s another place you’d like to go boating?
Dick: I flew over the islands in the Spencer Gulf recently, and I’m heading there with the boat February/ March next year. There are some wonderful islands in the Gulf. The Gambier Islands, Wedge Island and Thistle Island look good from the air, so we’ll head there. There’s lots of places you can get protection, lots of little coves that are protected.
It’s not everyone who counts Antarctica among their favourite boating destinations, scouts for anchorages by plane or builds their first boat with a helipad on the back! I owe Dick a big thanks for his insights, and remember you can sign up to Deckee and share your favourite boating locations as well, I’d love to hear from you!