Saturday, August 30, 2014

Memories of the Vagabond


The Vagabond as I remember her growing up
The wedding boat in 1997

 When the Beach or holidays are mentioned, I think of the Vagabond.

The smell of diesel always reminds me of the Vagabond.

The Vagabond was a big part of my childhood; most weekend and every school holidays.  She was built in 1958 by my grandfather and uncle and passed to my father, when Granddad died.

The Vagabond had a distinctive chug chug chug sound, which could be heard for miles.  I remember my Nanna listening out for it and then I would follow Nanna into the back yard, where she would look out to check if it was returning.  She would then start cooking for the men returning from fishing. I was only 6 when she died, so it is an early memory.

My Grandfather and Uncle took 2 years to build the Vagabond, which was launched
 4th October 1958.
You can read more here.
As a child, I loved it when dad would get up close to the Entrance of the 90 Mile Beach.  I really liked it when the boat would rock furiously in the waves.  I remember mum yelling at me to get inside the boat as I would be on the side and hold on to the railing with no life jacket on (maybe this was the first indication that I would like theme park rides?).

My grandfather, Gordon Walker aboard the Vagabond
Undated

I have many vivid memories of the Vagabond;
  • When we drove into the Beach, the Vagabond was always moored in a prime position, across the channel from the jetty.
  • The first time I saw a dolphin was when I was aboard the Vagabond.  I thought it was a shark!
  • Dad holding me and letting me steer the boat but I couldn't see where we were going
  • Pretending to steer the Vagabond from the rudder at the back of the boat
  • Getting my fingers pinched in the cables that controlled the steering that ran along the side the boat
  • Jumping up on the seat when a Flathead was flapping around as I didn't want to get spiked.
  • Leaning over the side and washing bait from my hands by using the the water coming out the side of the Vagabond from the bilge pump.
  • My mother's panic when my little sister (who was only a toddler) had fallen off the jetty and was in the water between the jetty and the Vagabond.  
The life jackets were similar to these
Image Source: www.ebay.co.uk
  • The old dirty life jackets that were stored in the Bow, which smelt like diesel. We only wore them when we were playing in the water.  We would try (always unsuccessfully) to sink or go under the water wearing them.  Even multiple kids sitting on them would not sink them!  A lot of fun trying to sink them!
  • There was no toilet aboard the Vagabond and we would need to to into the cabin, shut the door and use a bucket for a toilet, which would then be emptied overboard.
  • Sitting in the sun on the engine box reading a book when the Vagabond was running.  It was very warm, noisy and rattled/vibrated.
  • I liked to sit on the "Flying Bridge" when the Vagabond was motoring (but Mum didn't like it). I don't think anyone could ever tell me why it was called a "Flying Bridge" as it just didn't make sense to me.
  • Rowing from the jetty to the Vagabond and then swimming and diving from the boat.
  • Holding my breath and swimming under the Vagabond.  Initially the width and then the length as we became more confident. Don't think Mum and Dad knew about this.

The Vagabond's maiden voyage
4th October 1958
Gordon Walker and his sons on the Bow
  • The Vagabond being up on the Slips, having barnacles removed and being painted.  It seemed so much bigger out of the water.
  • Asking Dad to change the colour and being told that "Marine Orange and White are safest and easily spotted from the air in an emergency"
  • Being told to stop winding and casting, winding and casting and to wait patiently for a fish to bite
  • Trying to get out of the dinghy into the Vagabond  with one leg on each boat, the tide separated the boats and I did the splits, falling into the water, fully clothed.  I seem to remember this happening to a cousin too?
  • Feeling guilty that my daughter got sun-burnt the first time we took her on the Vagabond (she was only a baby)
  • My sister getting married aboard the Vagabond with my son and daughter in the wedding party.  We watched on from the jetty
I am sure that I will add further memories and find photos in future.

The Vagabond in 2013
New Owner, New Mooring, New Colour
Just not the same!

This prompt was inspired by Sepia Saturday.  Please click to read more posts.

26 comments:

  1. What a wonderful story of memories. It's an inspiration to think back to particular events in one's life & write down all the memories we can think of, of that event. Thank you for sharing such a lovely idea!

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    1. I am very fortunate that this site is archived for perpetuity by the National Library of Australia so I am thinking that I will now record some of my own memories for future generations.

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  2. Built in 1958 and still going strong! Your grandfather new how to build a boat.
    I loved your dot points. What great memories.

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  3. Oops. I do know how to spell knew:)

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    1. Yes Granddad was a very smart man and a very talented craftsman from what I understand. Mum and Dad are still using a table and chairs that he made.

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  4. Lots of happy memories there, shame the Vagabond didn't stay in the family, but that's life

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    1. Yes I was saddened initially too but a boat like the Vagabond needs a lot of ongoing maintenance, which was too much for Dad. All the family have moved away from the coast and couldn't commit to it either.

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  5. I was very happy that some cousins commented (on Facebook) about their memories of the Vagabond, including some new information about my Uncles and Grandfather being out overnight during a storm (and there was a King Tide, which flooded the beach house). The family were in panic, having no idea if they were safe (no mobile phones back in the 1960s). Think this will be the topic of a future blog post.

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  6. The Vagabond is a very strong source of memories for you. Lovely.

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    1. As is the beach house but I will write about that another time.

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  7. What a great source of memories. The boat sure has lasted a long time.

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    1. And I haven't even written about the fishing or the trips to 90 Mile Beach!

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  8. Lovely memories for you. Great joys of life, water and boats and off to the beach, family love for sure!

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    1. It was a very big part of our childhood............and then as teenagers we thought it was boring to go the Beach House..............and now as an adult, I love going there as I totally relax!

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  9. Great story and memories of that sturdy and long-lasting boat. I'm not a boat person but my sister was - she and her husband sailed from Darwin to the US on a very little yacht called "Little Boat" (29 ft in length) and then back with their two little girls on a slightly larger boat (36 ft). I must encourage her to write some stories of their memorable voyages.

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    1. That sounds like an AMAZING journey. Yes, I would be interested in reading about it.

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  10. Such a lot of lovely memories Sharon

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    1. Thank you Kerryn. I enjoyed reminiscing.

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  11. The vagabond was a member of the family it seemed, playing a huge role in family fun and memories Sharon. How great that your blog is being archived on Pandora! definitely write some personal memory storie

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    1. Thank you Pauleen. I was very proud to have it included on Pandora and it motivates me to write further family history stories as what more does a historian want than to have our stories and research recorded for future generations!

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  12. Wonderful memories of the much-loved boat, and great that you have added to them through facebook too.

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    1. I have many cousins and relatives that like to read my posts by only seem to comment on Facebook. There were some wonderful additional reminiscences, information and comments made on Facebook, which I will need to add on to this post.

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  13. I'm sure your parents didn't know about you swimming under the boat! Ah memories.

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    1. We got up to so much at the Beach. It is a wonder we are still here today! The only rule was that we had to be home by dark!

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  14. What a splendid blog post -- photos, news clipping, and a bullet list of memories comprised of love, adventure, mystery, silliness, danger, family, you name it. A++

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    1. Thank you Wendy. What a lovely comment. I appreciate it.

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