Seajay ship-shape and ready to trawl
AFTER almost a year's work, yesterday was the moment of truth for Colin Mather, when the aluminium trawler he built from scratch was launched into Palmers Channel.
The launch was an historic occasion, and marked the first new trawler to be launched locally in over 20 years.
It took three hours for the trawler, named Seajay, to travel from Mr Mather's Townsend front yard to South Bank Rd, where it was hoisted off the back of the truck and into the river.
Mr Mather said there was never any doubt the trawler was going to sit well on the water.
"I was confident everything was going to well, and the whole launch went right to plan. Everything went very smoothly," he said.
"It was great to finally get it in the water so I could check a few things and see how it all went. Even though it's all new gear it's still a test to make sure everything is working.
"There were a few spots I had to check to make sure water any wasn't getting through the seals, but they were so tight I had to loosen them to let a little bit of water in to cool things down while it was getting towed."
It was a nervous wait for the family and friends who gathered on the bank to watch the trawler get lowered into the river, and all breathed a sigh of relief when the crane's brace slackened and the boat was floating free.
Mr Mather's wife Roz said it was exciting to finally see the trawler on the water.
"There's been a lot of time and work put into this trawler," she said.
"I'm so glad everything has gone well and it's finally in the water."
It will still be under two weeks before the trawler will be fully operational as Mr Mather continues to work on the exhaust system and hydraulics at his wharf on Palmers Channel South Bank Rd.
"I'm really looking forward to starting to test a few things and putting it to work," he said.
Mr Mather began work on the aluminium trawler in April last year on the front yard of his father's house in Woolgoolga.
An aluminium welder by trade, Mr Mather used to build boats in Brisbane for Aluminium Boats Australia, but has since become a commercial fisher on the Clarence River.
Mr Mather said the time spent was worth it.
"It's an investment for the future, you can't keep making money with old gear that's going to break down and let you down and cost you more to fix and run that what you make," he said.
"So if I've got something that's cheap to run, fairly maintenance free and new, there's less chance of breakdowns, plus it's built how I wanted it to be, so it'll be more efficient."