Introducing the Bay's new Lady

Published online: Dec 28, 2010 News Lucinda Dean -
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TIN Can Bay has a new maritime resident not usually found in these waters.

The Lady Woodward is a decommissioned Sydney ferry that is being lovingly transformed into a habitable houseboat by owner Skipper Dave and his family.

A ferry is not your everyday boat purchase and Dave admits he didn't set out to buy one.

A Google search for large boats led him to an online broker and after stop-and-start negotiations, he bought The Lady for a royal six-figure sum.

The ferry, which was built in 1970 to carry 605 passengers, did the daily run between Manly and Circular Quay, before she was retired in 1998.

For 10 years, she worked as a tender vessel for a salmon farm in Strachan, Tasmania, before Dave took possession in May 2010.

The voyage from Bass Strait to Tin Can Bay was 1250 nautical miles (2315 km) and the fuel bill alone was $20,000.

Coming out of Bass Strait, Dave and his son, Cameron, braved 15-metre seas and 50-knot winds.

Dave said there was no danger, although what he described could have been a scene from The Perfect Storm.

"The ferry was being lifted by the waves, surfing, then dropping 50-feet (15m) at the front, down the face of these waves," he said.

"Then it would hit the troughs and the whole boat would slow down and as it slowed down, you could see 50-feet (15m) waves coming up behind you.

"That happened for 36 hours."

They then anchored at Hummock Island, waited two days for favourable weather conditions and then it was smooth sailing up the east coast, with the prevailing wind behind them.

Dave said it was like being on a millpond when the ferry was anchored.

"I watch other boats bobbing up and down on the swell, but when a wave hits her side, the water shoots back again and nothing moves," he said.


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