Voyage to win hearts

Mervyn and Eirlys Kennett from Burrum Heads have been South Passage volunteers since 2001.
Mervyn and Eirlys Kennett from Burrum Heads have been South Passage volunteers since 2001. Karleila Thomsen

OLD sea merchants, doctors, bricklayers and thrill seekers met at Urangan Marina at the weekend to take one of the year's great adventures.

A sailing vessel resembling a boat in which Captain James Cook discovered this great land way back in 1770 was in town and moored at the Fraser Coast.

Titled, South Passage, the 100foot, gaff-rigged schooner is mostly reserved for school-age children and used for motivation and bonding experiences.

It travels from port to port along Australia's east coast, chartering the odd expedition for the general public and reaching out to disadvantaged people from all backgrounds.

Its crew is made up of volunteers - all keen sailors and charitable individuals - who want to give back to the community.

When the South Passage visits the Fraser Coast twice yearly, locals such as Burrum Heads couple Mervyn and Eirlys Kennett board the ship to lend a hand.

"We are keen sailors," Ms Kennett said.

"We used to have a yacht moored in Manly Boat Harbour in Brisbane which is where the South Passage moors when not going up and down the coast.

"We used to sit there, admire it, and think to ourselves how wonderful it would be to be part of its crew - to be a volunteer."

The two became involved with the timber vessel after retiring to Burrum Heads more than a decade ago and haven't looked back since.

Ms Kennett admitted she could probably write a small book about all the rewarding experiences she's had in those 10 years - of the people she has helped and the lives she has seen changed aboard the wondrous vessel along the Queensland coast.

Topics:  boat community sailing south passage urangan marina

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