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Captain Dick Gandy (Daljit Gandhi) was
one of Australia’s most highly qualified
and respected master mariners. His
books have become essential educational
aids in Marine Training institutions
throughout Australia. The Sydney Morning
Herald summed up their contribution to
marine studies with two words, “Simply
His massive Australian Boating Manual,
first published in 1996 and currently in its
5th edition, is a brilliant tour de force. In 2005
he was made an Honorary Commodore
of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard
Association for his contribution to sensible
practice and safety at sea.
As a TAFE teacher, Dick Gandy trained
over four thousand commercial marine
trainees and recreational enthusiasts
from all over Australia. As well as admiring
him as a no-nonsense, inspiring teacher,
his students will remember him as an
entertaining teller of tall tales, all of
them funny, many of them naughty. Dick’s
memory for jokes was prodigious and his
delight in telling them a joy.
Brookvale TAFE students will recall
that no one was ever late for Mr Gandy’s
lectures; he began each morning with a
joke and students were honour bound not
to repeat it for those who could not get
out of bed in time. Lateness, of course,
rarely occurred in Dick Gandy’s classes.
A proposal that the Simulator Room at
Northern Beaches TAFE be named in
honour of Dick seems a fitting memorial
to a lovable and worthy man.
CAPTAIN DICK GANDY
AUTHOR OF AUSTRALIAN BOATING MANUAL
Dick was the youngest of ten children of
a middleclass family living in West Punjab.
When the creation of Pakistan occurred in
1947, the family was forced to flee to East
Punjab with only the things they could
carry. Dick’s father had to accept any work
he was offered and died a sad and broken
man. Dick’s mother died when Dick was ten.
Fortunately, Dick’s brother, Joginder
Gandhi was older than Dick by sixteen
years. He became the big brother and
father figure for Dick after the death of
the family patriarch, taking a particular
interest in Dick’s education. When Dick was
at High School, his brother asked him why
he had not brought home an application
form to allow him to sit for a government
scholarship that was on offer to boys
nationwide. The scholarship provided for
years of free training and accommodation
at the famous Maritime College in Bombay.
Dick explained that he had no interest
in such a course, knew nothing about the
subject and had never even seen the sea,
all valid reasons one would have thought.
But his brother stared at him in disbelief.
“How could you be so stupid!” he
yelled. “ Whenever an opportunity comes
your way, you must grab it. It doesn’t
matter that you don’t know anything or
have no interest in it. You can learn. Life
is full of opportunities. Never turn your
back on them.”
Dick sat for the exam and topped
the list of successful applicants from all
In 1961 in Chandigarh, he was accepted
as a student at the selective pre-university
Government College for Men where he
studied medicine. But at the end of 1962,
he finally succumbed to the “flung spray
and the blown plume, and the seagulls
crying.” He joined the Indian Mercantile
Marine Training Ship, Dufferin, and his life
upon the great oceans of the world began.
Dick Gandy was a big man, slim and
very tall, but his heart was much bigger.
The affection he bestowed on others
was boundless, as was his compassion,
kindness and generosity. In India he
provided financial support to a charitable
organization providing care for homeless
In Australia he showed his gratitude for
his happiness in being here by choosing to
become a Lifeline Phone Counsellor. This
involves undergoing six months of training
followed by nightshifts at a Lifeline Centre,
often four nights a week from 10pm-4am.
Counsellors sometimes find these hours
onerous, and listening to other people’s
problems can be draining, but Dick’s innate
empathy for others and his exceptional
communication skills enabled him to
provide practical assistance for five years
to all who contacted him.
In the dedication for his renowned
Australian Boating Manual Dick wrote:
My experience of the human spirit is that it
is filled with kindness and generosity. This book
is dedicated to those who are less fortunate in
Those lines provide an insight into the
man. His wide circle of friends was drawn
from a range of professions, occupations
and cultures. He delighted in getting
ever yone together, sometimes at home,
sometimes in one of the local parks. He
was an entertaining host, a good cook with
a penchant for Indian cuisine and good
wine. Dick was a Sikh who loved Australia.
After rapidly becoming very ill with
Motor Neurone Disease, Captain Dick
Gandy died in his sleep on Monday 26
February after a short period of being
He was cremated with only his family
present. Dick’s last words to one of his
friends were typical of the man.
“ This disease is putting me at the end
of my life without too much suffering.
Every life ends, and I accept my quick end
without regret or sadness.”
Dick is survived by his adult daughter
and son, Kizzy and Ben, in England, his wife
Jing and his beloved little daughter, Priya.
h Olma Mignacca
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