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of Pittwater, Australia
The Amelia K: Curious Cargo
& The Underpants Incident
may not be the most beautiful of vessels, but our own ‘Tin Can’ is a
hearty girl. She dependably ploughs the worst of the worst of Pittwater
swells. She is safe passage for children, dogs, groceries… and fridges,
and truck tyres, lamps, not a few unnerved chooks, and wait for it, … a
At one point cargo became so curious we had to tell one of the drivers:
passengers cannot load their cargo themselves, it shouldn’t be on
board. No helping.
no elephants or giraffes onboard. Ever.”
Kirkpatrick built the Amelia K in 1995-96. Unlike the timber Curlew and
Elvina, she’s a relatively young ferry. She was designed using a port
boat as a basis, then modified to suit our ferry service requirements.
worked hard on the Amelia K. Function over form she is, and proud of
it. She’s a strong, sturdy vessel capable of ferrying 67 passengers to
their destination despite the weather. She requires only a Coxswain to
drive due to cleverly laid out docking points.
For me, the
Amelia K is the school boat. When Simon and I first bought the ferry
service, most days I would go with Carrie or Tim and a deckhand on the
school run. Hilarious is an understatement.
When the school year
begins gorgeous little five year olds climb aboard, crying, with
parents left behind, standing at the wharves (often also crying). The
little ones hop on and sit with a friend or a designated “looker
afterer,” which the big girls just love. Inevitably they’re colouring
in, happily chattering in record time. Heartbreaking sobs to high
spirits in less than 60 seconds.
We haven’t forgotten the underpants…
story goes, we needed a new deckhand. I heard about Roz, a good soul
working with underprivileged Vietnamese children. Roz climbed aboard
expecting 20 or so kids quietly doing homework. No Roz. Not so. Sixty
small passengers in tow running amuck.
First experience: one
wee bloke pulling down his underpants, showing Roz his willy. It was a
shock for sure, but easily forgiven. His ‘sorry’ letter melted her
heart. The kids are at times a handful, but so often after leaving the
ferry, we have a bit of a smile and chuckle at their antics.
news of the ‘Tin Can’ has worked its way beyond our own community. Of
course, the Amelia K’s great claim to fame is the rescue of Obeo in
Susan Duncan’s book, and the near demise, of Susan herself. It’s there
in print for posterity!
As well, last year The Australian reported this:
by braille," observes one of my fellow passengers drily as the Church
Point Ferry Service's Amelia K bumps and bashes its way to a standstill
against Bell Wharf on Scotland Island, at Pittwater's southern end.
It's a windy day, with an unusually low tide, and although we're only a
few hundred metres from the mainland, the ferry skipper is working hard
to deliver his passengers safely ashore.
slams the engine into reverse and with a tremendous roar and shudder
the Amelia K -- a functional rather than beautiful vessel -- lurches
away from the wharf to continue its circuit of the island. The Church
Point Ferry Service, which departs hourly, on the half-hour, operates a
daily school run to Newport, an early morning and evening commuter run
and delivers newspapers and mail. It plays a vital role in this
Somebody took our boat !
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Monday morning, January 24, my husband Skip and I trundled down to
Tennis Wharf to head off to work. Alas, our tinny was not
a nor’easter blowing the night before, we thought the best of our
Islanders and checked the mangroves for the boat, thinking the line
might have snapped or knot came untied. Not there.
sighed, caught a ride to the mainland, and checked Commuter Wharf. Not
there. Then we reported our tinny stolen.
By this time we were
late for work. We drove slowly down Pittwater Road, looking for it on
the beach. I dropped Skip at work in Mona Vale and searched
everyplace I could think of. At last I found the boat tied up
the Newport Arms Hotel, safe and sound, with only our towel
missing. Now, we can appreciate that it is darned near
to get off the island after midnight with no late water taxi service.
But whoever took our boat needs to recognize that we wasted most of a
morning and missed work because of a lack of planning on your part. You
owe us a case of beer (preferably cold) and a towel. Do the
thing. Leave them on the boat for us in the next week.
Betsi and Skip
If you were too drunk to remember which boat you took, our motor is
painted brown with cat paw prints on it and has a stern light pole that
sticks up about a meter and a half.
Dr. Betsi Beem
61 2 9351 6599
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