Microyachts
in the Tasman

Back to the Tasman

G'DAY 88

 

Ashley Coulston has had - by any standard - an unusual life. The Ausstralian was once famous for his sailing the G'day 88 across the Tasman in 1988. He's now far more infamous for the execution-style killing of three people in Victoria, Australia in July 1992, and he is currently serving a life sentence for this triple murder.  

The G'day 88 was entirely Ashley's creation, and it took $AUS8,000 and 11 months to complete. The completed vessel was 8ft long, 5ft in the beam and had a keel-to-deck height of 6ft. It seemed from the outset to be designed with the heavy swells of the Tasman in mind. The sailrig for this crossing was a butterfly rig, where there are two mainsails fitted to a single mast. One harbour pilot who saw the G'day 88 said "a tremendous amount of thought went into what provisions and equipment were needed".

The initial W-E crossing began on 26 January 1988 from Port Stephens, just north of Sydney. The small yacht was beset by a succession of problems, nontheless after five weeks of sailing he had rounded the northern cape of New Zealand's North Island. He had made a transit of the Tasman. More problems ocurred however and on March 7th, the yacht was dismasted. By March 12th, Ashley decided he should activate his emergency beacon. He was rescued by a passing tanker, though the G'day 88 was abandoned. 

Even though he had crossed the Tasman, since no landfall was made by the yacht, it seems that no "official" record could be claimed for the G'day 88.

Somewhat miraculously, the G'day 88 was found beached and intact a few months later. With help from several NZ sponsors, the boat was refitted so it could make the return E-W crossing. A bow sprit was added to the yacht, a taller mast fitted and a conventional mainsail and jib arrangment was used.

The return voyage started off from the east coast of the North Island on 25 October 1988, with Ashley sailing north-east initially for two weeks, then sailing west to Australia once suitable winds were encountered. Unlike the initial crossing, this return voyage was problem free, and on 6 January 1989, after 65 days of sailing, he made landfall in Brisbane. 

In all Ashley Coulston spent 111 days sailing the G'day 88 on his trans-Tasman voyages, covering 4280 miles (1575 miles W-E, 2705 miles E-W).

Click here for a schematic of the yacht - note that this drawing seems to be a blending together of the G'day 88 in both its W-E and E-W configurations. The butterfly rig (shown in the drawing) was only used on the W-E leg, and the bowsprit only fitted for the E-W leg. The green paintwork on the hull is almost certainly black on the real thing.   

 

 

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