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 The Isa Pearl

 "From Rags to Respectable" as published in TCP # 11

 By Bob Norson

As you read this…somewhere out there right now….there is someone with their elbows at a bar with a beer trapped in their hand saying to the bored and sceptical person next to them….”Some day I'm gonna get an old boat that needs fixing up and when I'm done with her I'm gonna take her to the islands and do a little charter business for a livin.” At this point the mate next to em at the bar rolls his eyes and says with little sincerity, “sure ya are mate and you'll save me a berth on the first voyage won't cha!” Everybody listening in then has a good laugh over the protests of the dreamer and it's forgotten about.

It's the quiet ones that you have to keep your eye on…Warren “Sparrow” Burton is a professional boat builder. A “chippy” of notable reputation, he started looking around for the right boat to do just like the dreamers talk about. His search took him to the Gold Coast where he met an old friend of mine, Tyrone McKee, who had sailed a Lugger down from Thursday Island towing his Hartley 39, “Supernova” behind! Ty and Sparrow couldn't agree on price so the “Waitoa,” boat number A59 remains in Moreton bay to this day.

Sparrow found the right boat in 1989. The “Ise,” boat number A56, named after a famous pearling coast in Japan,

Had come to hard times at Escape river. Seems the crew got pissed up one day and passed out with the boat lashed to a wharf that dries on the low tide. You guessed it….when the low came the boat fell off the piles and flooded, where she stayed for six weeks. Sparrow bought her “as is, where is” and put a rough patch of fibre glass on her damaged planks and sailed her to Cairns where she was lifted out and trucked to Mission Beach where she was in the back yard for five years.

continued below photos and captions...

 large photo above is Ise with the patch amidships for the sail to Cairns. Pics immediately above are of Sparrow preparing and underway to Cairns.

 The boat Charlie Crowley built in 1956 would hardly be recognised today as a working boat. Not because she isn't genuine, she is the real thing but soooo shiny! Comfort has been accommodated without wrecking her
authenticity. The boat is obviously looked after to a higher standard than mere survey requirement. So now…Sparrow and first mate, Machi, are sailing around the islands. They are at the premium end of the charter fleet, only taking a maximum of eight passengers at a time for overnighters, and live on the anchor between charters or even the occasional movie deal. (“Tales of the South Seas” Warner Bros production)

For a classic tour of the Whitsunday's…you can ring “Ise Pearl” on 0438 645 017



 That's Sparrow and Machi aboard in Nara Inlet. Hook Island, Whitsundays.