Home' Afloat : AFLOAT June 2014 Contents Take monthly with water June 2014 55
Many readers will have known David
Lucas, who drowned in a vicious rip
at Brunswick Heads on 12 March this year.
Such a sad loss to the world.
Dave ran up 250,000 sea miles in the
last 40 years. His friends included such
luminaries as Bernard Moitessier, the
Smeetons and the Hiscocks, to name but
a few. But he shunned the limelight, the
ocean racing scene and what he called
“ those new-fangled radios and electronic
gadgets which boats have these days”.
Quiet and absolutely without
pretension, he had great difficulty making
enemies. When not at the pub Dave was
equally happy socializing or away from
the crowds, exploring unknown Pacific
His experience was eclectic, to say the
least. He starting as a logman working the
timber tugs in northern British Columbia
and then, in his beloved Herreshoff Liberty
3, he sailed back and forth between
Vancouver and New Zealand for over a
decade. I met him in Lautoka when Liberty
3 took part in our inaugural Malolo LaiLai-
Vila anti-yacht race.
After a couple of years with Rainbow
Yacht Charters in the Bay of Islands David
and Ian Allan bought Koala, an elegant 46ft
timber tug, which became a familiar sight
on Sydney waters. Koala carved a niche for
herself in the film industry and Dave was
boat wrangler on a number of watery films
including Dead Calm, The Rack and Jack Show
and Return to the Blue Lagoon.
VALE CAPTAIN DAVE
ECLECTIC, UNFLAPPABLE SEAMAN WHO
MARCHED TO THE BEAT OF HIS OWN DRUM
Dave only acted once in a film himself.
Scrounging for pennies in Hawaii he drifted
onto a film set and agreed to be an extra,
driving a Rolls Royce for a day.
“ The easiest money I ever made,” he
told me. It was not until 10 years later
that someone told him they had seen him
dressed as a chauffeur in a pornographic
movie. He had had no idea!
As skipper and mentor for the Ocean
Youth Club Dave then took the steel cutter
Destiny on perhaps a dozen trips out to
Lord Howe Island from Sydney. Setting
out on one of those trips with a boatload
of children, Destiny’s engine gave up near
Sow and Pigs. Undeterred, Dave threw
an inflatable into the water and pushed
the yacht out the heads and into the
breeze. When I later asked him about this
engineless trip to LHI and back his laconic
answer was “quite uneventful”.
In 1999 Dave found himself skippering
a lovely old 70ft kauri motor vessel in
the Pacific Islands for Circus Pacific. His
cargo was a travelling circus troupe which
had been cobbled together by a French
Polynesian illusionist. All in a day’s work
He then returned to Australia to work
on the Port Macquarie-Lord Howe Island
barge run for a couple of years, before
retiring to Bangalow.
David was remarkable for his freedom
of spirit and his complete disregard for
material possessions. He was the kindest
person I have ever met. His generosity of
spirit and his willingness to lend a hand
to sailors in need, anywhere and at any
time, were quite inspiring. In Koala he
once towed a disabled trawler into port
and it didn’t occur to him to negotiate
a salvage contract. At his best when the
weather was worst, he was a gentle soul
and a fine seaman.
I was privileged to have Dave with
me for over 20,000 miles in Tainui – from
Sydney to Macquarie Island, across the
Southern Ocean to Patagonia, from
Buenos Aires to Trinidad and from Nova
Scotia to Labrador. All of those trips would
have been so much more difficult without
his unflappable presence and his superb
seamanship. The worse the weather, the
tougher he seemed to get.
Having said that, I must add that David
Lucas could be a very difficult man. He
marched to his own tune and his idea
of punctuality was at best idiosyncratic.
How often we sat patiently waiting, while
he rolled yet another cigarette, before we
could cast off, tie in a reef or set off to
explore a new town. If he didn’t like your
suggested course of action he would just
ignore it. But Dave loved and served Tainui
unreservedly. In the end nothing else really
David Lucas is survived by his wife
Jeanette and his dear friend Harriet (an
elderly rescue dog). Captain Dave will be
sadly missed. h
David Lucas on Campbell Island.
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