The last few weeks have seen some interesting and unusual sailing vessels plying the beautiful waters of Moreton Bay. The most famous being none other than Captain Jack Sparrow’s ‘Black Pearl’. Yes folks, with the filming of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie here in South East Queensland, the Black Pearl has become a familiar sight on our local waterways. Her famous skipper (well the actor playing him anyway) Johnny Depp has been less conspicuous, certainly around many of the dog parks in the local area anyway.
This latest incarnation of Captain Jack’s ship is more than just a movie prop, it is a working sailing ship reconstructed to look like a pirate ship. Previously the film makers have used a fake ship built on a barge but this Black Pearl is the real deal.  Film makers from around the world are discovering what a fantastic location Moreton Bay is and the Pirates movie follows in the wake (note that clever little nautical pun) of other recent blockbusters that have been filmed here such as Angelina Jolie’s ‘Unbroken’ (Peel Island) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader which was filmed on location at Cleveland point. The world is discovering what we have known for years – Moreton Bay is a unique, unspoilt paradise only a few minutes from a major capital city and international airport. Our winters offer reliable weather, calm seas and light conditions that are ideal for filming outdoors. We may even see her out sailing this weekend and given that we still have places available for the long weekend courses this is your chance to enjoy a little bit of Hollywood whilst working towards your next RYA qualification   The Black Pearl is currently moored in Raby Bay Marina for those who might like to go and have a look, but if you want to have a look on board, I wouldn’t mention Barnaby Joyce’s name!
I was down in old Sydney town last week doing the good work of the RYA running Yachtmaster exams. As we passed the Opera House we were greeted by an extraordinary sight.  A 16 metre traditional Hawaiian sailing canoe, under full sail was tacking up the Harbour! I could see the look of panic in the candidate’s eyes, waiting for me to ask what lights it should display at night. (The answer is just a red and green and stern light obviously – it is a sailing vessel after all!) The Hōkūle’a then left Sydney harbour and sailed north to Brisbane where the crew received a traditional welcome to Moreton bay from the Quandmooka people – the traditional owners of the southern Moreton Bay islands. Jenny and I had the great privilege of meeting Captain Bruce Blankenfield and his crew at a welcome barbeque hosted by Southern Cross Yachting skipper Rob Pennell and his partner Brooke. Rob’s soon to be wife Brooke is Hawaiian and knew several of the crew. Theirs is a remarkable story and journey. So far they have sailed from Hawaii visiting Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand and now Australia. The remarkable thing is they sail the way the traditional Hawaiians did for hundreds of years and the boat has no modern amenities whatsoever. No motor, no electronics, no GPS – not even a compass and all navigation is done using only the stars, the sun and the trade winds. (It made me feel quite inadequate as I sit at the chart table surrounded by screens and machines that go beep!)
The Hōkūle’a is on a circumnavigation with many objectives – to celebrate and keep alive traditional Hawaiian culture, to connect with other indigenous peoples in other countries and to draw attention to the plight of our oceans. Despite their remarkable achievements the crew were very humble and very passionate about their causes. What a great group they are. The Hōkūle’a departs Moreton Bay for Townsville this Friday on the next leg of the world trip. We say Aloha and wish them well.
The Hōkūle’a has inspired me to remove all electronics and compasses from our training yachts and we will from now on only navigate around the Bay using the stars, wind, beacons and buoys and the airport tower! I am only joking of course – I tip my hat to them but will stick to the RYA methods myself.
And these of course are all covered in our next RYA day skipper theory course from  13 – 17 July 2015.
With so many interesting vessels to see, the natural beauty of ‘Hollywood on the Bay’ and of course this wonderful winter weather, now is the time to get out on the water with Southern Cross.
That’s all for this week, until next time keep your dogs away from Barnaby Joyce!
Mike Job

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