“No it won’t be a rough trip, as it is located in sheltered waters. The business part of the trip is to inspect a small expedition yacht that I would like to buy to use for paying guests on weekends and for me doing research during the week,” I replied.
“If it is a motor yacht, won’t you need to have someone skipper it for you?” Neal asked, “Yes I will, I am hoping that I can a skipper and two crew members, who will do charters on weekends and during the week work part time on conservation work on the island, with one of the crew to be a chef, so we don’t starve,” I replied.
“Actually, I am interested in becoming a chef, do you think Finn will teach me some of it. On the last trip out, I was helping him in the galley a lot, as it helped to keep my mind off worries,” Neal said to me. “That would be great, I want only the best for you guys, and I am happy with whatever you want to do with your life, as long as it is not illegal,” I answered.
“How long before we go on this trip?” Jedd asked me, “It depends on how quickly the travel agent can get things booked and organised for us,” I replied. “It’s a shame that Sarah and Oscar can’t come along too, I will miss having them around all the time,’ Neale said to me.
“Maybe once we get settled we can see if we can get them to come over, but I really rely on Sarah keeping the business going, as she is excellent at doing all of the business marketing, which gets all of the charters, which employs all of the crew,” I stated.
“Oh yeah, I didn’t think about all that,” Neale replied sadly, “You never know, if things start to go quiet with charters here, maybe we can relocated the yacht and crew to Tasmania,” I stated, “Yeah? That would be awesome,” Jedd said happily.
Two days later, with all the crew and staff knowing about our trip to Tasmania, I received a call back from Joyce, when Sarah was out on her lunch break, with everything arranged, with out trip beginning in three days time. “Lads, that was the travel agent on the phone, we are leaving in two days time, so we need to get everything that you need washed, dried and packed before then,” I announced, when the boys walked into the house for lunch.
“Awesome, holiday time, does that mean no school?” Jedd responded, “Yes, and I have already spoken to the school principal about it, and she is fine with it, as long as you come back with a completed assignment each,” I answered, which go a groan from both lads.
“We will need to get some cold weather clothes, but we can wait until e get to Hobart for that stuff, so we don’t have to carry any extra luggage. Go and sort out what you want to take, with two weeks of clothes maximum, as that is all you will need,” I said to the boys.
After saying goodbye to the yacht crew and staff, we drove down to Perth, where I planned to stay at the apartment in East Perth overnight, and leave my vehicle there, in the morning we would catch a taxi to the airport, with our flight due to leave at 11.05 am, and it will stop over in Melbourne at 4.30 pm, then depart Melbourne at 5.45 pm, and arrive in Hobart at 7 pm.
Joyce had arranged for us to stay in a hotel for a night in Hobart, and the following day we would drive down to Port Huon, which just over one hour drive away. I had already arranged for a meeting with the sellers of the small expedition yacht, set for the day after we arrive in Port Huon, so as to give us a day to just relax and have a good look around the region.
When we arrived in Hobart, having already eaten onboard the plane, we settled down for an early night, after a full day of travelling and three hour time difference from Perth. Having collected our hire car at the airport, and with there being no rush the following day, we had a late breakfast before packing our overnight luggage, and heading off just before 10 am.
We spent the rest of the morning looking around Hobart before having an early lunch and setting off to Port Huon, an hour to the south of the capital. When we drove into the small coastal town of Port Huon, in the late morning, it was a perfect day, with clear skies and the water on the river had a slight ripple with the breeze, the place where we would be staying stands out clearly with its tangerine colour and on a raised hill, with the Marina directly opposite, which is handy.
Once we had checked into our rooms, with the boys sharing a room with an adjoining door between our rooms, which we decided to leave open. The lady in reception informed us that the nearest main services are in the inland town of Geeveston, just 3.5 kilometres away, where there are additional restaurants, a service station, and supermarket, which we would check out after lunch.
Once we had settled in and eaten lunch, we went for a walk across the road, and seeing that there is no security gates at the end of each of the jetties, we stepped onto the jetty, which is where the yacht that I was interested in buying is located.
It was hard not to miss the yacht, with its huge lettering on the aft of the yacht, and looking up I could see three satellite domes and a weather radar system and a number of radio communications aerials on the mast. And as we approached on the jetty we could see a polished aft deck.
With a swim platform, and two seats for fishing just above it, and forward of that on the main deck is a seating area with an outdoor dining table, and a walkway on the side of the main indoor saloon, can be seen through the open curtains.
The next windows we came across reveal a small study and just forward of that is a large suite that covers the full width of the yacht. The rest of the windows forward of that are port holes, and it was hard to get a look inside, and I assumed that they were crew areas. On the next deck up I could see a covered outdoor area, and above that I could see a transfer boat secured to the deck behind the wheelhouse.
As we walked towards the bow of the yacht, we could see that she was in very good shape, for the tens years since she was built. “Hey Anton, look at that,” Jedd said to me as he pointed over to the next jetty, where there was a slightly bigger yacht, which had a ‘For Sale’ sign on it, and there was someone working on the upper deck.
“Let’s go and check it out, eh guys?” I said to my brothers, who followed me back to shore and over to the next jetty, where we followed it to near the end, where this other yacht was located. “Ahoy onboard, permission to speak to the owner please,” I called out.
“That would be me young man, how may I help you,” came the response with a strong accent, as we watched him come down to the main deck aft. “My name is…” “Hamilton, yes I know who you are, step onboard; my name is Hamish McCulloch Kilburn,” the gentleman said in a strong Scottish accent.
“Wow, that is an awesome name,” Neale said, as we stepped onboard the yacht, and the man smiled at Neal’s comment. “I am Anton, and these two rascals are my younger brothers, who I am their guardian,” I said to Mr Kilburn. “I have been following your career and adventures for some time now, how may I help you today, Anton?” Mr Kilburn asked me.
“Well sir, we have unlimited access to a private island not that far away, and as you may know I have a few science degrees under my belt, and I would like to buy a small expedition yacht so as to be able to do my own private ocean studies, as well as have weekend charters to help fund them,” I explained.
“I see, and is this island that you mention called Partridge Island?” Mr Kilburn asked me, “Why yes it is… are you by any chance the old friend of the late Mr George Huntaway?” I asked, “Yes I am actually, so I am guessing that you are good friends with Vic and Rita then?” Mr Kilburn replied smiling.
“Yes, I am actually, we met when I was still a teenager, on Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean, and they were very helpful to me during a very stressful time. Since they are all the way over in Canada, they have offered me the use of the island, as caretakers, to look after the island and keep it looking good,” I replied.
“Well, I be damned! This must be fate that we are meeting like this. Let me give you a full tour of this yacht, and maybe we can come to some sort of agreement,” Mr Kilburn said to us, just asyoung woman appeared, who had long flowing red hair, almost down to her waist.
“This is my daughter Francesca. Darling, this is Mr Anton Hamilton, and his two brothers Neale and Jedd, they have come to have a look at our yacht,” Mr Kilburn said making the introductions. “Ms Francesca, it is a pleasure to meet you,” I said to his daughter, and the boys said the same to her.
“We have live onboard for a decade now, and Francesca is a qualified chef, so she comes handy when we have guests onboard, as well as keeping her dear old Papa well fed,” Mr Kilburn said to us.
“The ‘Huon Duchess’ as she is known is 42 metres long, 8.4 metres wide and has a draft of 2.6 metres, she has 4 decks, with a master guest suite, two queen guest cabins and two twin guest cabins, plus two officer cabins two twin crew cabins and one single crew cabin,” Mr Kilburn said to us as he began the tour.
As we sat down in the main saloon and Francesca served us some cool drinks, I thought about everything that I had just seen, with it being six metres longer than the other yacht that we will see tomorrow, with this yacht having room for two extra crew, but two less guests.
“If I do buy this yacht, would you and Francesca be prepared to remain onboard as skipper and chef, and maybe help with some conservation work on the island when not on charters?” I asked.
“That would be wonderful thankyou Mr Anton, I was really worried about what we would do once we had sold the yacht,” Francesca responded, and Mr Kilburn just smiled and nodded. “That would make us both very happy thank you,” he replied after a long pause.
“I have already seen the layout of the other yacht that I was going to see tomorrow, and from what I have seen here today, I am a lot happier with what you have, plus the price is a little less than what the other yacht owner is asking,” I announced to the Kilburn’s.
“That is wonderful news, I have all of the necessary papers ready to go, if you want a lawyer to take a look at them for you,” Mr Kilburn stated, “Thankyou, I am familiar with sales contracts for vessels, so I will have a look at them overnight, and have a bank cheque ready for you in the late morning,” I replied.
“Excellent, may I suggest that we go for an overnight cruise tomorrow in celebration,” Francesca suggested, “Yes, I think we would like that thankyou, tell me when you do have charters, where do you start off from, and where do you take your guests?” I asked.
“We come from Margate originally, which is just 20 kilometres south of Hobart, where we still have our old home there, but we put it up for long term lease after my dear wife past away, just after George had passed away,” Mr Kilburn said.
“We go back there every six months to check on the old place, and we see it every time we do a charter, as we detour past it to get to Margate Marina, to pick up our guests, and also drop them off at the end of the cruise. Apart from the house we also have 25 acres that surrounds it, and it has unlimited view of the Derwent River, where we have our own private jetty.
In regards to our itinerary, we sail the full length of Bruny Island on the western side, which is a full two days and two night’s trip, with regular sight seeing stops along the way, with dinner for the guests served at Dennes Point café on the first night and the Bruny Island Winery near Lunawanna on the second night,” Francesca said to me.
“I see, is that to keep the crew numbers down to a bare minimum?” I asked, “Yes, Francesca can cope with all the cooking & serving of breakfast and lunch, plus morning and afternoon tea on her own, and when it is a full yacht, we employ just one local girl who is our main steward, doing the serving, cleaning, and helping out where ever possible,” Mr Kilburn responded, as Francesca had stood up and disappeared, but returned a few minutes later with a small folder, which she handed over to me.
On the front cover it has a picture of the yacht, and below it the words, ‘Yacht Cruise Itinerary’, and I opened it up where it revealed a map of Bruny Island, and in Red was a line to indicate the route of the yacht, and in Yellow there was a land route from Jetty beach to the lighthouse at the bottom of the island.
“What is this land route, how do you get your guests to the lighthouse?” I asked, “We own our own minibus, which remains at the lighthouse, and one of the staff there comes and collects the guests from the beach and deliver them back to the yacht afterwards,” Mr Kilburn explained.
After spending nearly two hours onboard the yacht, we thanked Mr Kilburn and Francesca, before leaving and we walked back to our accommodation. “What did you think of that yacht?” I asked my brothers as we sat down in my room. “I think it is great Anton, but won’t it be expensive to operate a yacht like that, compared to the yacht we already have back home in Jurien Bay?” Neale asked.
“Yes, it will be when you compare it to our yacht at home, but there will be a lot more guests looking for a great short holiday, which we will be able to provide,” I responded, just as my mobile rang, and looking at the caller ID, I smiled, “It is Anita calling…” I said to my brothers before answering the call.
“Hello wonderful lady, how can help you on this fine Tasmanian day,” I said, and there was a long pause, before Anita cleared her throat, “Um, hi Anton, look there is no easy way to say this to you, but there has been a major incident here in Jurien Bay. No one is hurt or injured, but your house and offices have been destroyed in a fire, which looks like arson.
Everyone was out on the yacht spending a few days on the water when it happened, and there was not much the fire crews could do, as it went up so quickly,” Anita announced to me, and I was shocked at what I had just heard, and wondered what would have caused all of this to happen.
“Is Si there? I would like to speak to him please,” I eventually said, and after a bit of a pause, Simon came onto the phone, “Hi mate, it is a real mess, both buildings were burnt to the ground, but none of the animal were hurt or injured at all, and I agree with Anita’s theory, that it is arson.
We were at the Cervantes Islands when we saw the smoke, and it was really black, like it was burning fuel… Hang on Anita has come back with some information,” Simon said to me.
Copyright Feb 2021 All Rights Reserved, Preston Wigglesworth