Sailing adventurer mourned

TASMANIA has lost a friendly, hardworking and honest character with the death of Bern Cuthbertson.

Mr Cuthbertson, 89, died at his home on Tuesday after being ill for some time.

He was well known across Australia because of his maritime adventures circumnavigating Tasmania, his work to create the first purpose-built abalone mothership, the fact that he pioneered bringing abalone back to port alive and  his role in limiting of Tasmania's abalone licence ownership to 125.

In his autobiography Small Ships That Shaped My Life , Mr Cuthbertson explained that his earliest memories of the sea were on the stone banks of the Mersey River at Devonport, where he was born in 1924.

He was eight and had been having a picnic with his family before his father's race  when, being a ``showoff'', he ``snuck off'' to attempt to row a dinghy.

``It was just before the start of a race when dad spotted me,'' Mr Cuthbertson wrote.

``He ran his yacht downwind past me, hauled her close on the wind and sailed back past me.

``Dad yelled at me to stow the oars and sit in the stern. I had never travelled so fast in my life.''

Mr Cuthbertson then went on to help his dad during the school holidays on the ketch Weerutta, before starting a fishing career that spanned six decades.

In 1998, Mr Cuthbertson and a crew of five circumnavigated the state in the replica Norfolk that he had made.

The journey re-enacted the Bass and Flinders journey from 1798.

 Late in December 2006, Mr Cuthbertson went out with another crew to re-enact James Kelly's 1815-16 journey of exploration in replica whale boat Elizabeth.

However, the trip was cut short when the boat capsized.

Both boats are on display at the Bass and Flinders Centre, George Town.

The Bass and Flinders Centre's Tim Cory said it was an ``absolute privilege'' for the site to display his good friend's boats.

``He was a beautiful man,'' Dr Cory said.

``He had such a huge following because he was so honest and fair.''

Dr Cory still remembers the day when  Mr Cuthbertson came to fix his replica Norfolk.

``He came in with his old crew and stepped on to fix the mast and sail,'' Dr Cory said.

``He knew exactly what he was doing -  it was incredible.

``He was a very special person.

``He was the type of guy you expected to live forever.''

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