The Bay Post/Moruya Examiner profiles the hobbies of people in our community each week in the feature, ‘Get on your hobbyhorse’. Do you have an interesting hobby? Email journalist Josh Gidney at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone him at 4472 6577.
MORUYA’S Tony Decourt found a hobby that floated his boat while living on a Canadian island as a child and, 63 years later, that boat is still afloat.
Mr Decourt was born in Belgium, where, as he says, “there were no boats”.
He migrated to Toronto Island, in Lake Ontario, with his father, brother and sisters at age 12.
“It was a kid’s dream, living on an island,” he recalled.
“An old shipwright gave me a wooden boat which needed repair and showed me how.
“After school I would watch him work on boats and he became a friend.”
It took Tony a whole season to fix that boat.
“I needed to replace many of the planks, and I had to earn money by washing windows,” he said.
“My brother and I launched it and realised the bung was missing.
“He had to stick his finger in it, while I went to get a bung.”
After an anxious search, he eventually found a cork that would do the job and his maritime history began.
In winter, the lake froze over, but that didn’t keep Mr Decourt off it.
“A friend had an ice boat, and we went ice sailing on it,” he recalled.
“It was dangerous.
“There were spots where little whirlpools formed that were ice free.
“If you went into them, you had seconds before you were dead.
“One day we went into one, but got out quickly.”
Other canoes and boats followed, financed by his window-washing efforts.
His specialty was (and still is) the boating equivalent of pound puppies: boats set to be torched.
“I’d take on anything derelict,” he said.
“It is all about taking on a boat that is falling apart and restoring it to full glory.
“That’s the passion.”
Marriage, children and moving to Australia put Mr Decourt’s boating passion on hold.
“I saw my first son crawling amongst the bilge, grease and oil on a boat and thought ‘this is no life for a child’,” he said.
He lived in West Ryde, Goulburn and Stanwell Tops, before moving to Moruya three years ago, and resuming his hobby.
“It would have been stupid not to,” he said.
“It all came back.
“There is an enthusiastic group of boat owners around here.”
He now has two repaired boats in the water, one in the Moruya River near the bridge and the other in Narooma.
“I’m always working on two or three at a time,” he said.
“People give me boats because they know they will go to a good home.
“The older the boat, the more exciting.”