Home' Afloat : AFLOAT December 2014 Contents 74 AFLOAT.com.au December 2014
Just days after his 90th birthday the inimitable Don
Mickleborough slipped off his sailing shoes and quietly left
us on 23 October 2014 to join his mates at the Gone but Not
Forgotten Yacht Club.
His farewell Service was well attended by his old mates and
sailing buddies at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium in Sydney
... a s you’d expect the Chapel was ‘chocka’.
Don’s daughter Linda delivered a eulogy in which she revealed
much of what most of us never knew of the man so beloved by
all whoever came in touch with this jovial character of ocean
sailing. He had sailed and raced the seas of the world.
“Don was a fixer, a technical whiz. He could fix anything,”
“Even if it wasn’t broken, he would fix it!”
On leaving Tasmania after the war he moved into a boatshed
in Potts Point where he purchased his first boat named Franki J
after his beloved wife.
Later, in 1958, he acquired a little wooden boat Southerly.
Don competed in the Hobart race that year. He loved his little
yacht, a Charlie Peel design 35-footer built in 1938 by Thomas
Hoyle at Drummoyne and which he raced vigorously from the
CYCA winning many veterans regattas. He recently sold her to
his sailing crew, John Sheridan and Rob McCauley.
Mickleborough sailed a total 35 Hobart races. He raced with
Rupert Murdoch on Ilina and Jack Rooklyn on Ballyhoo and Apollo
and with his dear friend Don ‘DJ’ Johnson on Final Approach. He
became the only Australian to have sailed on line honours winners
in the world’s three classic ocean events: Hobart, Bermuda and
‘Don Two’ as he was best known (“Don Juan is dead!”) , was
especially known for his larrikin personality. Nonsense was a Don
Two speciality and he loved the company of those who shared
his sense of the ridiculous. Laughter was a Mickleborough trait
and his laugh was infectious.
Walking into the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia on any
night over the years, but lately on Thursdays, Don’s laugh would
resonate, often attracting many a sailor, lady or guest to whom
he would regale any number of his sailing ventures.
‘Mickleborough’s Corner’ was always best attended by his
closest mates, Tony Cable, David ‘Stork’ Reid, Jacko, Sherro, Dick
Logan, McCauley and, whenever in town, the infamous ‘Chas
from Tas’ Blundell.
After a gruelling Hobart
race there was nothing
better than to share drinks
and nonsense with Don at
his favourite watering hole,
the Customs House on
Constitution Dock. He was
a champion of the ‘Quiet
Little Drink’ in its early days.
Don was born in
Launceston in 1924 to Gracie
and Ted Mickleborough.
He was a smart kid. When
14, his mother sent him out
Don Mickleborough, Linda, Cathy
and their familes at Don’s 90th
birthday cake cut.
one day to buy a new jacket ... he returned with a model T Ford.
He served in New Guinea in the war as an engineer with the Air
Force. He built a still in the jungle and made corn whiskey, selling
it to the yanks from ‘Don’s Bar’ and with the proceeds bought
beer for the diggers.
He was a shark and cray fisherman. He pioneered ‘penny in
the slot’ rifle arcades and was at the leading edge of the jukebox
industry. In the ’50s he purchased an industrial laundry on
Parramatta Road and reckoned to the day he died that he retired
when he was 34. He was an entrepreneur. Don was definitely a
ladies man. Women loved him especially his wife Franki who
bore him two children, Linda and Cathy. Franki died in 1971 from
breast cancer shortly after Cathy was born.
Mickleborough was a scallywag and could tell many a yarn,
however, there is one that renowned Melbourne singer and
songwriter Mike ‘Up there Cazaly’ Brady tells about the time
he engaged Don and Chas from Tas to deliver a 39ft trawler to
“It was about as seaworthy as a bin liner full of bricks,” s aid
Brady. This was the beginning of a lasting friendship.
“ We sailed together, ailed together and probably should have
been jailed together. Arriving in Melbourne I decided to shout
the crew to a ‘house of ill repute’.
“Don escorted us protesting his ‘purity’. He stayed in the
waiting room refusing to be tempted to join in. An hour or so
and we all headed back to the boat thinking Don had gone on
ahead. However, we hadn’t noticed that Don had fallen asleep
with a Time magazine on his lap.
“Back on the boat about two hours later I was awoken by
the sound of stomping down the old CYCA jetty and a loud
voice shouting, ‘ the bastards left me in a f#*%ing brothel! The
“ I let him alone. A minute later there was a splash and Don was
in the water. He shouted to me, ‘ the bastards left me in a brothel’.
“All off a sudden it wasn’t me that left him, it was them,”
Don liked ever yone and everyone liked Don. Mickleborough
epitomised the type of people who formed the foundation of
the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia which was at a time, a truly
fair dinkum ocean racing sailors club. He was part of the culture
and character of the CYC and now the best of the best is gone.
h Patrick Bollen
OCEAN RACING’S SCALLYWAG
Don Mickleborough at the ‘QLD’ Shippies Arms Hobart 2013.
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