Brunswick fisherman parts with catamaran
By RACHEL AFFLICK firstname.lastname@example.org BRUNSWICK Heads fisherman Mark 'Mono' Stewart has had countless adventures riding the high seas in his%custom-built catamaran, Windarra.
Now he is selling Windarra, and along with her, the only charter business in Byron Bay licensed for fishing, diving, whale watching and sightseeing.
Mr Stewart started the business Byron Professional Charters, trading as Mono's Sportsfishing Adventures, in 1999 at Byron Bay.
Because of marine park regulations, it has become the only charter boat business of its kind that can work out of the area and Mr Stewart has built the business up to the point where they are now booked 360 days a year.
But after eight years he has decided to retire from the business to spend more time with his young family.
Mr Stewart has fished around the Byron shire all his life. Fourteen years ago he got into fishing journalism and his next step was charter boats. He had Windarra, his second charter boat, custom-made two years ago in order to have it built exactly as he wanted.
"We searched Australia-wide to get the right type of boat and ended up getting it built locally in Alstonville," Mr Stewart said. "It's got on-board DVD players, pop down screens, everything I was able to think of."
Although he will no longer operate a charter, Mr Stewart will continue to be involved with fishing, as a journalist and commercial fisherman.
He plans to get a new, smaller vessel built for his own use.
But he said replacing Windarra would not be easy. For one thing, it is named after his favourite fishing spot, Windarra Banks, a pinnacle of rock off the coast of Brunswick Heads.
"It's got marlin, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, you name it," he said.
Mr Stewart said most of all he would miss all the colourful characters who frequented his charters. "I've met lots of interesting people from all over the world. Seventy per cent of work was repeat business so it feels like severing ties with old friends," he said.
"In all the Internet chat rooms when I told people I was retiring they tried to talk me around."