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The Club Whittley Tradition

The Club Whittley Tradition

Club Whittley Queensland was born at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show in 1996. Northside Marine owner, Greg Nickerson, had a great idea of forming a social club for like-minded Whittley owners to plan trips together, forge lifelong friendships, and pass on valuable information about the Whittley boats to each other. There was only one requirement: you had to own a Whittley — old or new, it didn’t matter. Everyone was welcome.

For the last 25 years, Club Whittley Queensland has been a well-structured, professional club that plans trips once a month for members to come together and travel throughout Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Luckily Whittley boats are trailerable, so no matter how far we travel on the road, we can use our boats as caravans as such, during a long haul.

The committee plans twelve trips per year, and a calendar is produced shortly after the AGM, usually held in August, that will outline the next year. We always plan an overnight stay or two, depending if there is a long weekend. We do try to plan our trips that are on long weekends for longer breaks such as Hervey Bay, Fraser Island, and New South Wales. We have also planned two-week trips to places such as the Whitsundays. Oh, the beauty of owning a trailer boat!

National rallies are planned every two years, as Whittley Boats are owned, built and proudly Australian-made in Melbourne. We travel to each state for these rallies, which can have as many as 60-70 boats participate. These rallies are planned for years in advance and great fun!

Club Whittley Queensland has a private Facebook page for financial members. Most weekends, weather permitting, someone would post they are going out somewhere and ask if anyone would like to join them. Membership is only $72 per year and what you learn from the Club is priceless.

The main reason my husband and I joined Club Whittley Queensland was to gain experience. We were pretty new to boating at the time, and to buy a 20ft boat as your first boat was a little daunting. But I wanted it badly! I was researching the Whittley CR2080 stern drive for quite some time and the Club information came up in Google, and then I realised they were on Facebook as well.

One day we were sitting on the verandah of the Moreton Bay Trailer Boat Club at Manly, and we watched a Whittley come in and went over to talk to the owner. He just happened to be the treasurer of the Club. They welcomed us aboard their boat and told us so much then and there, that the next week we owned a CR2080. This encounter gave both my husband and I the confidence we could get the boat we really wanted and have sufficient help with things like launch- and-retrieve, which we all know can be the most stressful part of boating. We joined the Club that same week and went on every trip they had planned from there on. Everyone in the Club was so eager to pass on their experience that we have learnt so much about the boat. We were confident in no time! We have also met people who will be lifelong friends. It doesn’t matter how new to boating you may be; everyone is willing to lend a hand.

During our most recent trip, for instance, we encountered a mechanical problem and a hose burst. The boat was taking on water. Naturally, I was in full panic! But over the radio, the advice was to beach the boat, pump out the water, and look for the leak. We had 18 boats on this trip around Bribie, and the problem was dealt with quickly, easily and calmly. Thank goodness for my wonderful Club!

We have had people travel from as far as Melbourne to the Whitsundays. The best thing about Club Whittley being in almost every state is that you can easily check with interstate clubs what trips are coming up and tag along as you are travelling the coast, making lifelong friends and gaining experience along the way.

Our last trip was planned for 6-7 June to Bribie Island. Although the Covid-19 pandemic threw a little spanner in the calendar, we still had a fantastic turnout of 18 boats! This trip was coordinated by Julian Cox, the outgoing Commodore, and a scuba instructor for most of his adult life. He lives up that way and knows the area extremely well. We launched from the Bribie VMR. It was great as with so many members there, everyone gave a hand at launching, but this weekend proved the retrieval wasn’t as easy as we hoped. Wind picked up, the current was strong and we had six Whittley boats trying to get in as well as all the other non-Whittley boats and jetskis. None of us left the ramp until we were all in and safely on the trailer. Even the most experienced skipper was happy for the hand as it just makes it so much easier.

Members came from the Gold Coast, Ipswich, Northside, Bayside and a few were locals, so they were able to launch either from their own canal pontoons or local ramps. Some stayed at a marina for the first night and some stayed on the water at Bongaree. The plan was to all meet at Bongaree by 11am Saturday and travel up to Mission Point campsite, where we had a bonfire on the beach for happy hour and a very peaceful sleep in glassed-out waters. We had approximately 50 people, and we were all very conscious of the social distancing rule of 20 in a gathering, so formed groups that rotated around. We built a fire on the shore. Our biggest delight was seeing the kids having so much fun! We are super excited that more and more kids are coming into our Club! We are gaining more members all the time and love seeing more kids coming each time, with just a ball and no iPads in sight!

We have all sorts of Whittley models in our Club, from CW1650 to the CR2800. The majority of boats are somewhere in the middle, CR2080s, CR2380s, SLs, then up to the CR2600s, and a couple of CR2800s, which is the largest in the Whittley fleet.

These trips are very professionally planned by the person who knows the areas best, knows the currents, and knows the best places to stay the night to get out of the wind. These trips are planned 12 months in advance, but the fine tuning comes into play around two weeks out, and then is closely monitored by the trip coordinator and the Commodore of the Club, who puts together a planned route, tides, and weather, and advises on the best launch location. If it’s too windy and could be deemed unsafe, the trip is cancelled or postponed.

While underway and following each other, the trip coordinator reminds us over the radio to keep a safe distance away from each other. Everyone can communicate with each other if any problems arise, which are swiftly accessed. Advice from the many highly experienced boaties is given to stricken vessels, if required.

When coming ashore, the trip coordinator will call the national park, camp sites or marina to advise us of their protocols. We have been very lucky with even private property owners more than happy to let us tender up to their land for happy hour and catch up, or even for a fire in winter.

If it wasn’t for Club Whittley Queensland, we wouldn’t get half the use out of our boat as we do, and would not travel to places we would never think of going! We quickly discovered, while using our boat so much, that we needed more storage, a bigger fuel tank, and more fresh water. So we sold the 2080 and are now proud owners of the CR2600 Sterndrive. I have become passionate about the brand “Whittley” and the wonderful lifestyle, and the friendships that feel like family.

Whittley has the perfect model for everyone. Whether it is fishing, cruising, or wine and crackers at sunset, you would be hard-matched to find a better finished boat with all the options, handling abilities, and the good looks of a Whittley. All Whittley boats are now available as an outboard. At Whittley QLD Sales, we can put together the perfect package to suit your needs. With every new boat purchased, Whittley Qld Sales includes a free one-year membership to our Club, which can be invaluable to the new boatie, just as it was to us and still is.

Our next planned trip is September on the Gold Coast Broadwater, and conditions being great, we will cross the bar at the Spit and venture out to look for whales. October brings the long weekend and the popular Fraser Island Trip.

By Lisa Greig

 

Published in the August – November 2020 print edition.

 

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