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Beach Shells, Bathurst Head, Cape York, Queensland - by Grant Da Costa
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Peter Carter

My introduction to sailing occurred in the 1970s, at one of nature’s jewels, Manus Island, a province of Papua New Guinea just two degrees south of the equator. It has a wide protected lagoon surrounded by islands where Ruth and I tacked and gybed the bosun dinghies of the Royal Australian Navy.  Once, on a lively reach, I actually led the small fleet, but then wallowed at the mark – forgetting to lower the centre-board.  This was a defining moment:  a racing sailor I was not, but a deep fascination and love of the physics of sailing grew.

In the late 70s we joined another couple and their three children on “Moonshadow”, their 53ft ferro-cement ketch, with our two year old son Andrew, to cruise from Brisbane up the Queensland coast to Papua New Guinea and beyond. The Barrier Reef islands and the passage to Port Moresby were magnificent in the south-east trades.  The children had plenty of room, the deck was netted, and at anchor we listened to the rattle of Andrew’s tricycle as he cruised up and back on the deck.

Photo of Peter Carter

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Right & far right: Byamee - The Creator Spirit

“Moonshadow” was lost, grounded on a reef south of the Kokoda Trail.  So my medical career continued, specialising in Ear, Nose and Throat surgery, with sailing restricted to the occasional bare-boat charter with friends, in Greece, Turkey, Corsica or Croatia.

Left: Moonshadow off the Queensland coast, 1976

Peter Page 2 Leanne Grant Ruth Peter Page 1 Moonshadow sailing off the coast of Queensland in 1976 Ruth and Peter Carter's yacht, Byamee

We purchased Byamee, a 40ft round-bilge steel cutter in 1999. Built in Blackwattle Bay, Sydney by the Maas brothers to a Rob O’Brian design, she was a “Footloose 40”, beautifully crafted then lovingly fitted out by Bill and Ann Wilson, the first owners.

I retired from full-time practice in 2001. Our experience and competence grew as we took Byamee first to the Clarence River and Grafton, then the Whitsundays, Tasmania and back up the coast.

Ruth and Peter Carter's yacht, Byamee

Circumnavigation of Australia

In 2003 we again enjoyed the south-east trades as we sailed up the Queensland coast in March, but this time we continued on to the top end then the Kimberleys in winter, the West Australian coast in spring and then the long hop across the Great Australian Bight in the Southern Ocean in summer.

We fitted out Byamee with 160W of solar panels, Airmarine wind generator, Cape Horn wind steering and a wonderful additional autopilot for running downwind in light airs – a Holden windscreen wiper motor controlled by the fluxgate compass, moving the minute rod on the wind steering hub to utilise the steering power of the Cape Horn paddle.   It was superb – silent and accurate.   NEXT PAGE >>