8 Bells Jimmy Howell (South Australia)

Recidivist

Super Anarchist
Just received the sad news that Jimmy has passed away at 96, only weeks after completeing his umpteenth Adelaide to Port Lincoln Race.

Jimmy was an absolute institution in South Australian offshore racing, an inspiration through and through.  Not just sailing, but devotion to his club, the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron, and to his many friends and sailing comrades.  The downstairs sailors' bar at RSAYS is "Jimmy's Bar" because of his lead role in refurbishing what used to be the locker room and dinghy shed.  How long ago was that - 20 years or more?

I sailed with Jim on most of his boats, from a young tacker on Adele the Daydream, then Colleen Marie the 34' Randall pencil, Wylo (whose deck planks only strained the larger fish), Ramrod the Duncy 35, Nimrod the Duncy 3/4 tonner, Nimrod II the Farr 11.6, Born Free the Cole 43 and Sunburst the Peterson 43.  I didn't sail on Puss'n'boots that I remember, and didn't sail on his last boat Vulcan the Bene, but I think my brother sailed on both of those. 

To say I learned a lot sailing with Jim would be an understatement.  I also learned a lot about boat building, repairing and strengthening the earlier boats, fitting out the later ones that he built from bare hulls (including casting all the fittings like deck hatches, spinnaker pole fittings, deck turning blocks and the like, to make it affordable).  His late wife Molly fed us all every weekend as the crew turned up at their house to advance the latest boat a bit further.  I learned also a lot about life - Jim always was an absolute gentleman and a wonderful role model for us youngsters.

One of the great stories about Jim was the time he was told by a doctor that he had a potential brain aneurism and needed to undergo urgent surgery.  Jim said "I can't have surgery now, I'm navigating for my mate in the Sydney-Hobart Race in a couple of weeks". The doc said "but you could die!"  Jim went to see Keith Flint, the skipper, and told Keith (also now dec) the story - "I could drop dead at any moment and there would be nothing you could do".  Keith said "We'll take a body bag then."  That was the 1998 race, and Jimmy wasn't one of the fatalities.  In the race footage there's a shot of Helsal 2 on her beam ends under storm jib alone in 70 knots - with a quite voice saying on the radio "we've got a bit on, but nothing we can't handle" (or words to that effect). That voice was Jimmy.  He had the operation later, and lived another 20 years to sail many more miles.

A consumate sailor and gentleman - sail on Jimmy.

 

paps49

Super Anarchist
8,930
308
Adelaide Australia
This from the club today....









[SIZE=10.5pt]Following a private funeral for Past Commodore Jimmy Howell next week, all Squadron Members & their partners, and friends from the yachting community are cordially invited to attend a celebration of Jimmy's life at a Memorial Ceremony to be held on Saturday the 13th April at 10am in the Dinghy Shed. (Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron)[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]This will be a look back at Jimmy's extraordinary sailing history in the casual company of sailing mates at the club which was so important in his life[/SIZE]
[SIZE=11.5pt] [/SIZE]

[SIZE=11.5pt][/SIZE]

I will be attending and partaking in one of Jimmy's favorite past times, having a beer in the morning.

[SIZE=11.5pt]Sail on Jimmy.[/SIZE]









 

Timmys_Trick_Turkey

Super Anarchist
1,604
2
Greg and I bulked up quickly in summer of (84 ?), working the coffee grinders on Bacardi with shoulders locked together, the handles a blur as the headsail sheets inched in, changing gear by stepping on a button on the cockpit floor, and then collapsing to the floor, just in time for Jim to call "tacking" again..  At the end of the season Jimmy announced that we would be doing the Westcoaster, and that he would talk to Mollie about a new masthead number 2 headsail for the race, but wasnt confident he could pull it off as he had promised Mollie a new piano instead.

As we headed out to the starting line in Melbourne, Jim called for "Molly's Piano" to be brought up on deck.  We flew "Mollie's Piano" (a beautiful mylar masthead number 2 headsail) all the way to Hobart, and took out first place with it.   It was the year that the Sydney Hobart Fleet had their first casualty (Wal Russell). 

As Jim stepped back onto the foredeck, after the trophy presentation in Hobart, carrying the portable tv first prize "for Mollie", he twisted his ankle and spent most of the return trip down below with it bound up while Rob Human and I sailed the boat home via the east coast of Tasmania.   When we got to Bass Straight, the conditions were horrific and after many hours of no westward progress under storm trysail, we sheltered in Refuge Cove with the navy.  I nearly drowned there in a borrowed rubber ducky trying to rescue clothing blown off the fence, but after using the satellite phone to beg for more annual leave, we made our way home via backstairs passage in beautiful conditions. We were miles from shore, in the middle of backstairs passage, with no sign of any other boats when suddenly a frogman surfaced in front of us with a crayfish in each hand. As we sailed past, he threw the crayfish into the cockpit in dangerous proximity to our bare feet and we returned fire with a volley of full beer cans.  How he got there was a mystery. Unforgettable sailing moments.

Bacardi was a powerful beast when she was wound up. A cockpit of hydraulic valves, and massive bronze cast genoa cars.  As we came out behind Kangaroo Island, a sudden gust sheared off the retaining pin in the leeward genoa car. It shot back along the track, lept off the end, and the flogging sheet with the genoa car on it, beat the heck out of the deck, and smashed one of the prize prism deck lenses and cracked the deck before we could wrestle it back under control.

Jimmy was a brilliant, inspirational role model, a true gentleman and he even let me helm occasionally, even though that was his true passion and gift.  Fair winds and gentle seas after the long trick is over Jimmy, you deserve it more than anyone I know, and on behalf of the legion of youngsters you took under your wing, thanks sincerely for the memories Jimmy.  

 
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paps49

Super Anarchist
8,930
308
Adelaide Australia
Just back from Jimmy's farewell a great turnout and a nice tribute to a lovely man.

They say you can judge a skipper by the longevity of their crew.

Jimmy's last boat was Vulcan a Benny 47.7 with which he claimed even more silverware for his overflowing collection. He completed the Adelaide-Pt Lincoln race on her just weeks before passing. Each of the crew spoke this morning starting with the newby who joined 20 years ago. Many of us in the audience had sailed with Jimmy for shorter periods  over 40 years or so.

Stories were told and later over a few glasses much bullshit was spoken.

He would have loved it.

 
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SJHennings

New member
4
0
Camden
Hi

I am trying to locate a boat my father in law originally had built and owned called Born Free.  It was a Cole 43 and I notice you mentioned it above in your comment as having sailed on it.  Do you know the whereabouts of this boat now?  I am trying to locate it so my elderly father in law could perhaps view it again after all these years as a surprise.

Born Free Cole 43 from Sydney originally. 

 

Recidivist

Super Anarchist
Hi

I am trying to locate a boat my father in law originally had built and owned called Born Free.  It was a Cole 43 and I notice you mentioned it above in your comment as having sailed on it.  Do you know the whereabouts of this boat now?  I am trying to locate it so my elderly father in law could perhaps view it again after all these years as a surprise.

Born Free Cole 43 from Sydney originally. 
Hi SJH.

Sorry, I can't help with the current location of Born Free, maybe someone else?

An interesting story about Born Free - we were sailing in a Kangaroo Island race (or we were down near American River anyway) in very light conditions.  We were getting murdered by another boat nearby (can't remember now, may have been Minna the other Cole 43).  I was spending a lot of time in Darwin in those days and had learned a lot about light weather sailing, so I asked for a go on the helm.  By holding the helm central and allowing some way to build, not caring about direction, I discovered that when I did try to steer back to the desired direction, the boat went the other way!  We had reverse helm at very low speeds.  We worked with this and slowly got the boat on course with about half a knot of speed, by which time the boat answered the helm the right way.  We clawed back on the other boat and passed them.

As a keen student of boat design, I had heard of the reverse helm issue before - IIRC Gretel II had the same issue at low speed.  What would cause it was a mystery, but we reckoned it was probably associated with the rudder/skeg aperture for the prop.  Jim didn't do things by half, so the aperture was filled in and a hydraulic drive installed that allowed the prop to be shifted to ahead of the rudder.  This worked, and the boat that had been affectionately known as "Born Loser" started to collect silverware.

 

SJHennings

New member
4
0
Camden
I hadn't but I will follow up that now - thank you

Thanks for that.  Yes very interesting.

So do you remember who the owner or skipper was of Born Free at the time you speak of?

 
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