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Episode 52: David Smyth email

Hi David,

Just a quick email to say “thanks”  

My eldest son Nate, who is now 14 years of age, was born with a variety of serious congenital heart defects.  Over the years he has undergone 8 open-heart operations and numerous supporting operations.  He has a pacemaker, mechanical valve and his heart has been extensively re-plumbed.  We’ve spent many months in various Brisbane hospitals over the years.   We live in Cairns so it has been challenging managing this.

Nate is naturally not drawn to outdoor activities, like sport, and tends to spend most of his time indoors.  So I was keen to find something he could do outdoors that was not too physically demanding and provided the benefits of getting outdoors.   After listening to some of your podcasts it occurred to me that sailing would be ideal.

In one of your podcasts you encouraged listeners to visit their local yacht club to get involved.  So, I contacted our local sailing club and booked myself, Nate and his younger brother Elliott into a beginners sailing course.  Over several weeks we learnt the basics of sailing using Puffin Pacers (dinghies) including learning, the hard way, to remember to duck under the boom :-)

This went well and I thought we shouldn’t waste these newly acquired skills.  Nate was not keen on the stress of racing so I thought we could simply go sailing on weekends for a bit of fun and get outdoors.  So I bought a small old fixed keel sailing boat, a 25ft Top Hat for $6,250.   Basically, the price of a crappy secondhand car!!!  It was in pretty good condition given its age and came with everything including a relatively new tender and a permanent swing mooring in the Cairns Inlet.  The swing mooring only costs about $55 per year!    It is not fast or flashy but it is clean, sails and floats J.   I was pleasantly surprised that it can be low cost to get started on the water!   

This little boat, which we have had for just over a year now, has been fantastic.  We go out to local islands or nearby beaches and have had multiple overnight trips.   It is small enough for the boys to handle the sails etc.   We regularly take other kids out sailing with us too.  These kids are often experiencing sailing for the first time and, like Nate, going through various challenges.

We have learnt heaps with this little boat and hope to learn a lot more.   

Your podcasts have really helped so I just wanted to let you know the impact they have had on us and hope this encourages you to continue sharing information about sailing.

All the best and I look forward to hearing more great stories.


David Smyth