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by Andrew and Melissa Darnley beachy@norex.com.au

Our first article about our boat Coogee appeared in this magazine earlier in the year. We thought we would give you an update of our cruising so far.
The Redwing 18 design is just the boat for cruising our closest river here in the most eastern corner of Northern New South Wales, Australia. The Tweed River rises in the lush rainforest covered ranges of an ancient volcano and winds north east through rich alluvial flats farmed for sugar cane, to the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean.
The lower reaches of the Tweed shelters a small fishing fleet of timber trawlers and a
modest number of cruising sailing boats. As for Duckworks style craft we seem to be the only boat on the water. Smaller boats in the river are mainly the very popular aluminium fishing skiffs known as "tinnies" in Australia and high powered fiberglass fishing and ski boats known by us as "give us a break mate!"

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Coogee floats off her trailer into the Tweed River.

The first launching of Coogee was a low key affair. Melissa and I were aided by just a couple of calm friends. Coogee easily floated off her trailer and into the launching cove of the river and settled much to our expectations as the stable platform she is. Our first run was down river at a steady 7 knots, with a slow cruise around the boat harbour and then back out into the main channel, which being so close to the ocean, has water so clear and green you could see the white silica sand underneath. Were we ecstatic! Being January and the height of our summer, wide brim hats were the order of the day, but the cool sea breeze took the edge off the sub-tropical heat. The sun can burn the cripes out of you over here!

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Can't wipe the grin off his face!

The run back up river gave the production boaties a good look at what sedate and relaxing river cruising is all about. With the tiler in one hand and the river running under us, we were almost transported back to a time when many people used this byway to go to town in open timber lapstrake boats for supplies, business or a day out fishing on a
river that once teamed with fish. In those days, before the 1940's, the cane crushing season brought processions of barges filled to overflowing with hand cut cane,being towed to the mill by a steam powered tug, Droghers would also run down river to load cream bound for Sydney, onto small steam powered coastal ships.
Our next outing with another couple of friends took us to the middle section of the Tweed River. Cruising along we took in the sugar cane fields and the view of the valley's hills which are farmed for tropical fruits. We pulled up in a shady spot with an overhang of rainforest trees for a typical Aussie 'cuppa' (a mug of tea and a sweet oat biscuit called an Anzac).

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Time for a Cuppa.

It's wonderful how the simplest things in life so often give the most pleasure! 

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Even the sugar cane fields looked surreal.

On the first weekend of June, officially Winter, we decided on a run on the upper navigable reach of the river. In summer this area would be just too hot and humid.  However, we chose a truly magical Indian summer day and the river looked like a sheet of glass, reflecting the river banks, cane fields, rainforest and the valley's central mountain in postcard like scenes. Andrew was so

spellbound by the reflections that he nearly ran us aground and Melissa had to take over the helm! Turning to look back at the wake of the boat gave the impression of rolling waves of liquid glass. This was an experience you just couldn't get in a high powered boat. It's what classic cruising is all about.

Andy gives motor final test revs before coming to shore to pick up crew.

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Melissa seems amazed. Look Ma one hand!

Regulation issue straw hats, sunscreen and big smiles.

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Long suffering friends. Brian (trans Australia glider pilot) really gets his skills tested at the helm of Coogee.

Hey Andy, a little bit more to Port.

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Bye Melissa, see you on the way back!

I still think my hat's better than your hat!

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Melissa takes the helm. Who's got the big grin now?

Mt. Warning reflects in the distance.

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It doesn't get much better than this!

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