Aunty Su sets sail

You know the feeling – that project you start, yet never quite get around to finishing.
But Campbells Creek local Luca Royle has cause for self congratulations, and some useful tips to share, after finally completing a special project she began about 15 years ago – building a classic sailing boat from scratch.
The professional photographer/doco-maker and graduate architect began building her 19-foot gaff-rigged Weekender sailing boat in her parents’ Melbourne garage back in 2004.
At the time she’d just returned to Australia from her fast-lane life as a photographer based in Hong Kong.
Luca ordered the plans for the stylish little boat – with its 16-foot deck, cabin with sleeping and storage space, long keel and rakish bowsprit – from the US and set about building the Auntie Su from plywood and fibreglass.
“I read the 44-page plans and went ‘Oh my God’ – but I broke it down two pages at a time and that’s how this big project got completed,” Luca says.
“It’s like 1000 steps but only five or six were really hard.”
Two years later the Aunty Su was ready to hit the water at Werribee – but that was as an un-rigged vessel reliant on a motor to get about, not as the fully rigged sailing boat she was intended to be.
Then followed a return stint to Hong Kong for Luca, and for quite a few years the Aunty Su project remained not quite finished.
It was not until 2012 that Luca was ready to return to Australia, this time to the Castlemaine area where she has remained ever since, and last year she decided it was finally time to finish off That Project.
“I realised I needed some help to get her in the water. It’s a gaff rig and I simply didn’t have enough experience to rig it,” Luca says.
So mid-way through last year she turned to Cairn Curran Sailing Club for help, which she found in the shape of club commodore Andrew Kean.
“I emailed Andrew, the club commodore. He knew about rigging and he was so helpful,” Luca says.
“We got her all rigged up.”
Luca also joined the Cairn Curran Sailing Club and in October last year the special day arrived.
The Aunty Su – named after Luca’s own formal first name (Sue) – finally entered the water at the local reservoir as the fully fledged and rigged sailing boat she was always meant to be.
“She sailed well and did everything right,” says Luca who vividly recalls Aunty Su’s maiden voyage under sail at Cairn Curran.
Now the local sailing club member has her sights firmly set on improving her own sailing skills – something Andrew says the club is more than happy to help with.
“It’s a very down-to-earth and welcoming club,” says Luca who also hopes to introduce her seven nephews and one niece to sailing.
Luca says getting the Aunty Su finished taught her a few valuable things about shifting That Project out of the metaphoric back shed.
“Firstly it’s never too late to complete a project,” she says.
“Big projects are usually just a series of small jobs but lots of them.
“And I learned to recognise when you need expert help. I learned that one late,” she laughs.
“Anything you do in life is a bit of a self portrait and I think it’s symbolic of setting a new course and direction.”
Luca is now completing an online e-book on the art of mastering photographic composition – to be published through Amazon. More about that will soon be available through her upcoming website

A view from aboard Aunty Su on her maiden outing under sail on Cairn Curran.
A view from aboard Aunty Su on her maiden outing under sail on Cairn Curran.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four × two =

error: Content is protected !!