Set for sailing after seven years of toil
By RACHEL SCOLLAY
HE'S been at the helm of the Rivertown Times for the last three years, but now intrepid editor and reporter Jamie Brown is about to head out to sea, captaining the catamaran he built at Evans Head.
It's been a seven-year labour of love for Jamie and his 'bush engineer' partner Stan Johnston, with the pair working away doggedly several days a week at the Old Slipway in Evans Head.
Stan and Jamie have been making things together ever since they first became neighbours back in 1989.
They met when Jamie was having trouble with his Honda Civic, and Stan sauntered over with his tools.
"We ended up re-building the head on that Civic five times in two years," Jamie said.
Since then it's been one thing after another, but nothing as ambitious as the 12m long, 8m wide Hitchhiker catamaran, the Lisa Dart ? so named in the time-honoured, seafaring tradition after Jamie's wife.
"We made three plywood kayaks and thought 'Right. We know how to build a boat'," Jamie said.
"But there was a little bit more to it than that.
They started with two steel beams.
The catamaran itself was made of plywood covered with glass cloth and epoxy resin.
Jamie reckons that 78-yearold Stan only went grey since he began working on the Lisa Dart.
"It's been good," said Stan who is a motor engineer.
"I've been retired for a long time and it gives me something to do every day.
"It keeps me out of trouble."
Stan and Jamie's progress has been followed with interest by people in Evans Head and Jamie said they often got people dropping by the Old Slipway to take a peek.
"They'll say, 'I've been following this for seven years'," he said.
"It's a real compliment.
"Most of them we don't even know."
Jamie said he had enjoyed the challenge of such a long-term project, and felt he could now tackle anything ? even writing a novel.
The trick was not to focus on the big picture too much.
"It's too overwhelming," he said.
"At the beginning it's fullon Freddy freak-out.
"But you just take a bite and chew slowly."
Jamie hoped to launch the Lisa Dart and head off for the Whitsundays with the family in May, and is aiming to be back in Evans Head around Christmas.
He's also planning on getting a reluctant Stan out on the water for at least some of the time.
"I broke my neck a couple of years ago," said Stan.
"So I've got a bit of a bal- ance problem."
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