As the wind whistles down the hillsides and out to sea, rattling the rigging, nudging Freespirit against the dock, I’m left to ponder the last few weeks.
After the Southern Ocean wreaked havoc upon my poor soft dodger I figure now is a good a time as ever to over haul the whole system. I engaged a young shipwright right here in the Marina to help out. Bought some timber, fibre glass and resin and away we go building a hard version.
There are constraints to every job and this one was no exception.
The new dodger had to be built right on the boat for a whole raft of reasons, not the least was the shipwright I have engaged has no shed for tools or materials that would allow a dodger to be finished in. With the weather closing in we have beavered our way to the completion of stage one….. a freestanding structure. … and done it under a big silver tarp that covers the whole rear of the boat from mast to stern.
Next comes some of the refinements, including windows, roof and fibre glassing the whole thing inside and outside.
Just prior to our starting work on Freespirit I took a bike ride out to Port Arthur. Glorious weather and even more glorious roads…. oh yeah!
Port Arthur has been endlessly written about, debated, cataloged and combed and there isn’t much more I could tell you about it than a Google search would reveal.
In amongst all the historical stuff you would find stories of its more recent sordid past. I speak of here the Port Arthur Massacre. A dreadful mass shooting of 35 innocent people and the injury of 23 others.
So, what is it like to be there?
The Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority have done a good job with getting on with business since 28th of April 1996. The new ticketing, restaurant and gift shop complex handles a very high number of visitors all year round.
The Cafe where most of the shootings took place is now a shrine of contemplation and rememberance.
Overall I’d say that the PAHSM’s attempt to humanise this historic site have been successful in overcoming the negativity of visiting a place where the worst of the worst prisioners were sent. Where brutality and harsh conditions were the norm.
No walls… didn’t need em. It was either the bush or a very long swim for escapee choices. The prisoners were constantly reminded that the water was full of hungry man eating sharks and taking to the bush still required an escapee to get across a tiny narrow strip of land that joined the landmass to the mainland.
At Eaglehawk neck a garrison of soldiers with dogs was the gauntlet through which they must pass to gain freedom.
The tour guide took us in carfully measured steps around the site, gave an excellent commetary and involved the crowd in word play very effectively. Again personalising the experience of living there at Port Arthur as a prisoner, guard, governor and supervisors wives. After the guided tour we were taken for a short boat tour of the Point Puer Boys prison site, then around the Isle of the Dead and back to the dock. Again with voice over from a CD.
The whole place is now run as smooth as a well oiled machine. I took the cheap and cheerful Bronze ticket which gave you all the basics, plus there were ghost tours most evenings.. now that sounds like a frightful experience! I wonder what they got with the gold, silver and platinum passes?
A sweet ride back to Kettering and my boat home.
Will update you on hard dodger progress, for now here are a couple of pics.