Sail Away With Me

A case of Carlsberg, many handy mates, an eye for beauty and lots of luck coincided to bring the Yukon, a gaff rigged fishing cutter in her first incarnation, to Tasmania’s shores.

Built of oak in 1930 to trawl the North Sea as far as Scotland’s Aberdeen, her next incarnation was as a pleasure craft socialising on the Danish wooden boat circuit.

But by the time the Australian shipwright David Nash saw her lovely lines she had hit hard times. He rescued the Yukon from the bottom of a harbour near Copenhagen and negotiated hard for her sale price – a case of cold beer.

After seven years of restoration, much more socialising at Denmark’s boating festivals and a circumnavigation of the globe, the Yukon is ready for her next adventure.

The 22 metre wooden boat is returning to a hybrid of her working and playing days for a 14-leg journey along some of the most spectacular parts of Australia’s east coast.

From Tasmania to Brisbane and south again, she will be trawling with a different type of net in the name of science and conservation, while her guests relax on deck.

This first ever-Australian analysis of micro-plastics at the ocean surface will be a crucial scientific investigation. The net the Yukon will trail to assist is a fine gauge Neustonic net designed to pick up traces of the plastic pollution poisoning sea birds and marine animals at an alarming rate.

David’s most recent circumnavigation, this time with his wife Ea and young sons Kristopher and Aron, was an extraordinary experience but the sea gypsy was disturbed by how much had changed in the 20 years since his first round the world expedition.

“There is so much rubbish in really remote places, so much plastic, so many more people out there compared to two decades ago," David says.

The East Coast Odyssey project, a partnership between Wildiaries, the Yukon’s owners, Monash University’s Dr Jennifer Lavers, an ecologist with a mission to mitigate micro-plastic poisoning, plus a number of proactive anti-pollution groups, is designed to change the way people see their contribution to conservation.

It can be fun, exhilarating and enlightening, is the message.

Some of Australia’s best mariners and wildlife guides will be onboard the Yukon to show guests the rare (and abundant) creatures and wild places off our coastline.

Much of the attention to plastic pollution to date has centred around the world’s gyres, those rotating ocean currents that trap large quantities of debris like the now infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

However, Jennifer Lavers, who has found 90 percent of Lord Howe Island’s shearwater chicks have ingested plastic, believes more study on insidious micro-plastic contamination outside the gyres is vital.

But that requires a special kind of boat - and a special kind of team…

If you would like to join us on the East Coast Odyssey for any leg between August and December 2013, send us your details by completing the form at http://eastcoastodyssey.wildiaries.com/ or call Caroline on 0413 749 841.

Wildiaries • April 2013