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It’s A Pirate’s Life For Me

It’s A Pirate’s Life For Me

At the bow of this strange looking boat sits a one-eyed pirate duck made from melted down fishing sinkers, affectionately named Black Daffy, the pirate duck.

This is a remarkable story of how a dad- made child’s playground became a sailing boat, which is set to become an iconic part of Southeast Queensland waterways life.

Owner of this unique ship, Silvio Rodriguez, explains, “It first started as a pirate boat playground with a slide which I began making for my daughter. But as time went by it began looking like it could possibly float. I then embarked on a mission to learn a few skills in boat building to make sure it was going to be possible. And so began an ongoing focus on detailing it whilst making it seaworthy.“

This is a real-life case of where there is a will there is a way. Silvio is adamant there is a pirate in us all, whether in a corporate life, family life or sea life. “I was just lucky enough to have a three-year-old girl who loves an unfolding adventure, and in that unfolding adventure, Black Daffy was born.”


The inspiration for the boat first came to mind when my daughter and I were sitting down watching “How To Train Your Dragon”, a computer-animated action fantasy film. The design and trimmings have only been limited by our imaginations.

“The outer structures are Hobie sailing catamaran hulls. The rest I slowly designed as I went along. I used marine ply and recycled timbers, and detailed it with what I could find. I fibreglassed the centre hull, epoxy-finished everything,

and painstakingly put it all together over a four-year period.”

It has been a great test of courage for Silvio. “The most difficult aspect of building the boat was having the mental belief that it would actually float when I first launched it on the Maroochydore River. With no one around, I let go and set off with the anticipation that I would be playing the imaginary trumpet as it sunk. Rather, an hour later I return to shore popping an imaginary bottle of champagne to celebrate a successful maiden voyage.”

Sitting at just under seven meters, Black Daffy is powered by a 5hp 2-stroke outboard. However, Silvio eventually plans to install an electric motor, which he estimates will provide more power at half the weight.

This trial-and-error method of organic boat building has paid off for Silvio. “My three- year-old can handle the boat, but that could be due to her being a part of it from day one of the building process. Perhaps a complete stranger would look at it and think, ‘What does each and every rope line control?’ Once you know how, sailing this ship is child’s play.

For logistical convenience, the boat is trailerable. Silvio explains, “I began putting together a custom-built trailer as soon as I decided to take Black Duffy off its original playground stumps, and turn it into a real ship.”


Silvio believes that this little ship can be placed into survey with the governing bodies, to gain the required credentials and permits to take paying passengers on guided tours. The aim is to create a unique charter experience to travel the Pumicestone Passage by water. “It’s going to be a family-friendly adventure for the young at heart. The tours will consist of a pirate adventure that passes by all the Pumicestone Passage beaches toward Caloundra’s esplanade, for a quick pick up of food from a selected menu, then over to Bribie Island’s northern beach point for an island picnic. The tour will include photos of your adventure picnic.”

Based on his research, the Black Duffy will be licensed to carry a maximum weight of 260kg rather than quantity of people. This translates to comfortably 2-adults and 2-children (under 7yrs) onboard at any one time.

He will ultimately offer a range of long and short fun rides for mums and dads together with their children for memorable photo moments. The three options will include a 20-minute joy ride (no stops), a 2-hour Pumicestone Passage Cruise (with one stop at Bribie Island for quick photos), and the 3.5-hour return Pumicestone Passage picnic cruise (with two stops: Bulcock Beach, then Bribie Island for a picnic and photos).

“This is very much a get-dressed-up-in- your-crazy-costume adventure, or guests can arrive in their laidback beachy attire. I’ll definitely be supplying pirate hats if no one has one.”


The Pumicestone Passage and northern extremes of Moreton Bay are an ideal location for such a passive charter. Silvio articulates, “The waterways users around here are considerate, alert, and best of all, like one big family of ocean lovers. Perhaps the only real dangers are the low tide sandbars that rise, which can sometimes catch you unexpectedly.”

Silvio is a passionate local boater. “Once you set sail along the Pumicestone Passageway, you lose yourself in the tranquility of the tide’s current, the distant sea hawks that circle above, the unsuspecting dolphins

that cruise by the drifting hulls, and the splendour of morning sunrise that touches your face as you approach the Bribie Island northern point at dawn. It’s like a soundtrack of pictures that plays right before your eyes.”

For the last 15 years, Silvio has worked as a hospitality venue consultant. He explained that as time passed, he began growing tiresome of business owners unable to break out of their self- made boxes. It was time for a fun career change.

The Black Daffy project is going to be Silvio’s ideal waterways lifestyle. In fact, his family and friends expected nothing less from this guy with his wacky imagination. “I love the smiles and conversations the cruise brings. I definitely

Photos by Doug Bazley Blueys Photography

would love to operate Black Daffy full-time, but I can only imagine that weather will play a big role. But hey, who am I kidding? The Sunshine Coast hardly ever sees bad weather!”

Where Silvio goes, he goes with his heart. “If living my life happily means living with only what one needs to survive and being comfortable with nothing more, then I can only aim my focus on the Black Daffy and hope that it will sail me and my family in that right direction.”

You can pre-book your Black Daffy experience via Facebook@blackdaffycruises, and expect a confirmation reply as soon as the ship is ready to set sail.


By Andy Kancachian


(Published in the Oct-Dec 2019 edition)