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In the course of my Moreton Bay researches I have often wondered why so may wooden boats – once the love of someone’s life – lie abandoned and left to rot amongst the mangroves.

Abandoned boats at Rusters boatyard, Redland Bay, in the early 1990s

Abandoned boats at Rusters boatyard, Redland Bay, in the early 1990s

Last weekend, I revisited one such ‘cemetery’ at Rusters in Redland Bay. It was a former boatyard that I used to frequent in the early 1990s to visit and interview bay identity Eric Reye who had made his home there on his boat ‘Coolooloa’. Eric spent years converting the old surf landing dory that he purchased after WW2 into a floating laboratory for further research into biting midges (he was a world leader in that field then). Although he never fulfilled his dream, ‘Coolooloa’ did provide him with a home, and with an interest in trying to make the old craft seaworthy.

Eric Reye on his boat 'Coolooloa' at Rusters boatyard in the early 1990s

Eric Reye on his boat ‘Coolooloa’ at Rusters boatyard in the early 1990s

Like a true sailor, he loved his boat – it was his ‘other woman’. And I think this is why so many boats are left to rot: their owners just couldn’t bear to part with them, so that eventually when they died their boats were left to fade away, forgotten widows, in the mangroves.

Peter Ludlow and the widow 'Coolooloa' at Rusters 6 June 2015

Peter Ludlow and the widow ‘Coolooloa’ at Rusters 6 June 2015