Colourful Characters of the South Pacific

In our first memoir, Beer in the Bilges, Sailing Adventures in the South Pacific, we talked about our sailing experiences in the early 1980s and some of the amazing characters we met along the way. They included Sharkbite Charlie, Rosie, the three-hundred-pound dancer, and Gunter, the mysterious German chef from South America.

There are plenty more characters to talk about!

There were plenty more that we didn’t have room for, so we are including some of them in a second memoir that we’re currently writing. Here’s a sneak peek into one of those characters.

photo courtesy of Bjarte Kvinge Tvedt

photo courtesy of Bjarte Kvinge Tvedt

His name is Gerhart Jacoby, better known as Gert. He’s German by birth, but Peter first met him in the Whitsunday Islands, off the coast of Queensland in Australia. Gert, along with brothers Helmut and Gunther, had a 105-foot wooden brigantine named Golden Plover. They used it as a charter boat to take tourists out for cruises among the islands.

The tall ship was originally built in Melbourne in 1910, at the end of the days of sailing ships, and gutted by a fire in 1968. The three brothers rebuilt the ship between 1970 and 1974, and sailed her around the world before putting her to work. At the time she was the oldest commercial vessel in Australia.

Their colourful history

photo courtesy of Jesús Manuel Nieto Bobadilla

photo courtesy of Jesús Manuel Nieto Bobadilla

Gert and the Golden Plover share a colourful history. The ship appeared in the 1980 film The Blue Lagoon, starring Brooke Shields, in which Gert played the part of a sailor on board the vessel. The ship was also used later in other films, including Dead Calm, Paradise Found, and Eliza Fraser.

Gert Jacoby may be best remembered, though, for his arrival aboard the Golden Plover in Sydney Harbour to participate in Australia Day celebrations in 1982. As Gert was to say later in his defense, he fired a roll of toilet paper across the bow of a Royal Australian Navy destroyer using his ship’s brass cannon “…as a friendly salute.  If we frightened the Navy I’m sorry.”

photo courtesy of Jason Conlon

photo courtesy of Jason Conlon

The Sydney Morning Herald used the events of that day, January 21, 1982 as their front page story , describing the Golden Plover as “The ship that raised the Navy’s steam.” The full story on page 3 shows a piratical-looking captain and crew with the offending cannon.

The stories continue

Peter’s friendship with Gert continued after Gert bought Ron of Argyll, the classic ketch that features prominently in Beer in the Bilges. We will have more to say about Gert in our next memoir, along with lots more truly amazing characters!


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