Happy 2: Fun at the Maritime Museum


© irene waters 2017

A trip to the Maritime museum on Melbourne Cup Day was a good idea. No-one else was interested in wandering around old boats and lighthouses and we virtually had the museum to ourselves. When we bought our tickets we were offered our own free guide for the time we were there. They were bored with no paying customers and of course we didn’t want them to feel their time was wasted so we agreed. The knowledgeable young girl we went with showed us the light house, the SS Diamantina, the Capricorn Light ship, and a few other small vessels before taking us to Happy II.


© irene waters 2017

You couldn’t help but smile at the little tin can sailing boat.It looked Happy. She told us it had replaced Happy I by Howard Wayne Smith, a Canadian who was intent on circumnavigating the world. He had to be mad. The boat was 4.3 metres long. He left from Florida, sailing through the Panama Canal and made it as far as Noumea (1982) when he hit a coral reef destroying his Happiness and Happy 1. Not daunted he had Happy II built by a local Noumean boat builder. Now totally mad he designed this vessel to be 2.75 metres in length. His cabin did not allow for lying down. He would have had to sleep sitting up. He measured 1.77 metres in length himself and I think even sitting he would have been cramped.


© irene waters 2017

It took Smith 23 days to make the trip from New Caledonia landing in Mooloolabah (on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland). He was immediately pounced upon by immigration and customs and when it was discovered that Smith did not have visas or any other documentation for Australia the authorities impounded his boat and demanded $2000 import duty.  He didn’t have this kind of money by this stage in his voyage and although he had been granted a temporary visitors visa he could not go anywhere. Happy II sat getting decidedly unhappier by the minute. By 1984 the lack of care was showing and cracks were beginning to appear and Happy II was probably no longer seaworthy. As by now Smith had overstayed his visa he was deported to Canada in September 1985.

Now customs was stuck with Happy II and eventually gave her to the museum.

Although Happy II’s tale was not all that happy it did bring a smile. Just shows – we have always been tough on people coming to Australia by boat (not that I condone our treatment of boat people).



About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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2 Responses to Happy 2: Fun at the Maritime Museum

  1. Funny how what was once the norm for arriving in Australia is considered unacceptable now. We have the same short sighted vision in the US.

    Liked by 1 person

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