Planning and Preparation

Western Australia doesn’t have a boat drivers’ licensing system as do eastern states. Arrangements were made for the WA Harbour and Light Department to conduct boat drivers licence examinations on behalf of the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales. These licences would also be valid in South Australia.

Cleveland Marine offered to provide six flat bottomed punts for the expedition (they originally proposed V hulls but these proved to be completely unsuitable for the task) and one specially designed, lightweight race boat. The punts would be 3.3 metres in length with a slightly curved transom and no welding. To allow trimming of the boats with different people of different weight, seats were dispensed with in favour of bean bags. A rectangular shaped block of polystyrene 125mm thick, covered by cotton and with a rectangular hole in the middle to create a seat effect was used for buoyancy.

Eight expedition members agreed to their motors being used for the expedition. No motor was less than six years old. Mercury Marine agreed to supply all the parts required to overhaul the motors, plus they supplied numerous other spare parts.

Coordinating the transport of six boats, eight motors, 18 men, three vehicles, two trailers, and four tons of equipment to the start point at Albury was a challenging task.

Kentucky Fried Chicken put up $1000 cash Sponsorship plus two printed T-shirts for each member. Cargills provided the expedition with two four-man tents.

During late January and early February 1981, I was involved in organising the Rottnest and Return Race ’81 and David Whitney took over coordination.

AFTER the completion of the Rottnest Race, Dudley Cummuskey and John Ferguson, with assistance from some of the expedition members, overhauled seven motors in six nights.

Final preparations were made for Harvey Webster and I to depart as the advance party. The club trailer was modified, painted, and advertising signs affixed. The race boat was prepared, equipment was checked and packed, and at 9.00 p.m. on 3 March 1981 we departed for Deniliquin to compete in the Edward River Race.

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