Rc sailing came about for me after noticing these boats appearing on Hobby King (only Hong Kong store back then, actually started by an Aussie) and I wondered whether they could be anything like the real thing. So I got into it. I thought it might be just a small hobby.(?)

I sailed my first boat, a Legend, costing about $A200 delivered from Hong Kong, around this time in 2009. I followed that up with a Monsoon then a Sailor. Postage on the Sailor was $A70 as I recall.

You were lucky to get an undamaged boat back then, but mainly the servo tray leg/s broken away from the hull. There wasn’t much in the way of support and only one major forum even talking about them in a small way. People seemed to think they were “toys”, it seemed.

Initially I sailed off the  baked clay shore out about where the pontoon is these days.Even then it seemed hard to imagine it ever being filled, only getting smaller and drier, maybe.

My first sailing companion was my son Mike and then Billy Matthews who I’d known for many years through rc flying.

Before long Brian got to hearing what Billy had to say and thought he’d also “give it a go”. His first was a Legend that took nearly 2 months to get delivered, not sure why.

Billy had the first Phantom I’d ever seen and my immediate appraisal was “Hmm, not for me, don’t think it will be very popular.”

Ha!  Wrong on that one.!

Brian then bought a Sailor and we were both very pleased with this largest model in the available fleet. Crusoe had never seen the likes of all this and was set to never really forget it.

When we three started sailing the launching waterline was way down below where we have been sailing these days.

After that first summer baking on the dry lake bed we were stoked when the Res was filled up by the authorities. No sooner than we had a month or so enjoying the longer shoreline than Bendigo copped 3 days of torrential rain and Crusoe overflowed. There was 30 cm or more flowing over the walking track just before the jetty, out under the road and into the creek. Foot traffic was halted for about a week until the lake dropped down somewhat.

Nothing begs real interest like hearing a flying mate or two chortling on about the joys of sailing so eventually Noel came along. Charlie also decided to give it a go about then so we had a huge group of 5.

We continued to sail from a small bay a bit further along from the jetty. Getting your boat out and back in without getting ensnared was hard .

Even getting the boats out onto open them we just raced about between two points, no “Lady” required back then.

Typically we just established two rather vague points and just raced as best we could between them.

Part of the getting out and then back in was avoiding the number of stranded small gum trees dotted offshore in all directions. These both played hell with the breeze and also hid you boat completely at critical times coming in.

I still have a few videos from those early days but they were few and nothing like today’s.

With the approach of mid-summer we found it just too hard to stay where we were as the waterline receded a fair bit as the reservoir level stabilised and it was just making hard work of everything. We were reluctant to leave the abundant shade where we were, the main bank being, as you know, totally exposed. Small trees offered welcome shade, most have died since then unfortunately.  The shoreline was now 15 metres higher up.

So, one day, with some reservations, we decamped and went over to try up on the main bank. Our concern was mostly for the open exposure to sun and hot winds.

But, like all endangered wildlife, we adapted and survived, as you know but as it turned out in early 2017, we returned to where we were at West beach.




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