Storm damage: The Jillian lies battered and broken on McCrae beach. Pictures: Supplied
ONE of Rye and Rosebud’s longest-serving fishing charter operators suffered a blow last week when The Jillian was wrecked in a fierce storm.
Operators Jon and Steve Dart’s Pompei-built 32 footer was washed ashore in huge waves while moored at McCrae, Saturday 9 February. Its cabin and covered area was torn off and the hull split along one side.
Last week the 20-passenger boat was sitting high and dry and roped off while the brothers decided what to do with her.
In an open letter to friends and customers on Monday 11 February, the Darts said the destructive winds and waves of Port Phillip had “claimed another victim”.
“This time it was too close to home,” they said. “The Jillian, our iconic and much loved charter fishing boat which … had been instrumental in saving the lives of so many yachtsmen and seagoers on the bay, was washed ashore with devastating consequences.
“We couldn’t save her and the best we could do was salvage what we could and clean up what we couldn’t. It was heartbreaking work, but, with the help of our amazing friends, relatives and some wonderful people who we didn’t even know, the job was completed on the day.
“We have managed to salvage the damaged Pompei-built hull which tomorrow will be moved into storage.”
The Darts said the response to the tragedy from friends, long-term customers and members of the public had been “overwhelming and we sincerely thank everybody for their support”.
The brothers will put their second boat, the Ashlea Rose, into service so that the charter business can continue.
The smaller Ashlea Rose licensed for 12 passengers will continue to operate out of Rosebud and Rye.
The wrecking is a double blow for the brothers who had the business up for sale only two months ago in what they described as the ultimate “sea change” experience.
The boat had been refurbished at Martha Cove Marina and was “ready for the holiday season”, their sales literature stated.