This is interesting!
Full text (Sydney Morning Herald, By Helen Pitt, 1 April 2018 — 7:49pm):
Curl Curl hydrofoil to return to Sydney Harbour
Andrew Heighway first fell in love with the sleek lines of Sydney's hydrofoils when, as a boy, his family moved to Manly in 1982. He was transfixed watching their aluminium hulls rise on their foils like giant sea serpents, making the trip across Sydney Harbour from Manly to Circular Quay in close to 12 minutes. He relished the feel of the sea spray on his face and the wind in his hair, when the passenger seats tilted back as the ferry master pulled on the throttle to accelerate it to speeds of up to 60km/h.
When Heighway, the son of a British Airways pilot, returned with his family to Britain in 1988, he took with him a rusty remnant of one of the three hydrofoils scrapped that year at Homebush Bay, and some video of his final trip on the Curl Curl, which he recorded on his bulky camcorder. When the Curl Curl was taken out of service in 1991, the last of the eight that had plied Sydney Harbour since 1965, he developed a desire to discover its fate. And that of the other seven old Sydney fixtures.
He knew the Curl Curl had been shipped back to Italy where it had been built, via the cargo ship Regina in 1992, with three other hydrofoils: the Long Reef, Manly II and Sydney. There they were refurbished to transport passengers to the Aeolian Islands in the Mediterranean. But nothing more.
Now, 30 years since he left Sydney, the British businessman, who sold his successful company Heighway Pinball last year, is embarking on a new enterprise, to bring the last remaining Sydney hydrofoil around the world on its foils - back to Sydney Harbour.
It's been a labour of love and a search that has taken more than a decade, beginning in earnest in 2005, when he enlisted the help of the editor of Fast Ferry International. He knew three had been scrapped in Sydney; he learnt three had been scrapped in Italy, and the first Sydney hydrofoil, Manly 1, had been sold to Great Keppel Island, but now sits rusting on a chook farm at Kulnura, north of Gosford. But the Curl Curl eluded him.
He learnt the Curl Curl had been renamed Spargi, and his friend at Fast Ferry International found it using Google Earth, in a shipyard in Messina, southern Italy. Heighway then discovered it was for sale on an Italian auction site, Gobid.it, but was told he was too late, it had already been scrapped. Not being one to take no for an answer, upon further investigation he learnt it had been sold for scrap by the bankruptcy court of Reggio Callabria. But had not yet been scrapped.
He swiftly tracked down the shipyard, called them, offered to buy it and, by March 2016, after paying an undisclosed sum, became the owner of the last remaining seaworthy Sydney hydrofoil, which now sits in dock 800 metres from where it was built.
"To me she was a massive part of the history of this harbour. I hope we can tap into this desire to bring back the old Sydney I used to know - the hydrofoil was beyond a boat - it was a symbol of this city which wowed the world," he said.
He plans to motor it back to Sydney, in a voyage of many thousand nautical miles, to bring it back to what he believes is its rightful home. In Sydney this week to meet with business partners to discuss his new venture, his quest has been met with an enthusiastic response. Supporters include ferry master Bill Thomas, who captained the Curl Curl for over 25 years - now 92 and living in Yamba - and Qantas employee Chris Verdich, who administers a Facebook group of close to 400 Sydney hydrofoil enthusiasts, who have offered their support selling Curl Curl to Sydney homecoming tour merchandise.
Heighway hopes to attract commercial sponsorship and plans to deck out the hydrofoil to travel from Italy to Sydney, removing the seats so it can carry enough fuel for a sea voyage (its engine can usually travel about 10 hours before needing to refuel). The sea journey, planned for next year will take several months.
Heighway conceded the hydrofoils were replaced by jetcats because they were often mechanically unreliable, but he will install more reliable and economic engines in Italy. He hopes nostalgia for the Curl Curl will fuel the voyage, and help it find a new home on the harbour as a commercial venture. He's especially wanting to tap into Sydneysiders who as children in the 1960s, 70s and 80s longed to ride the hydrofoil, but their parents prevented them because it cost twice as much as the Manly ferry (although it took a maximum 15 minutes, well under half the 30 minute travel time of conventional ferries.)
"The hydrofoil was more than just a part of Sydney folklore, it was a national icon," he said.
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