THE people of Port Douglas thought Hollywood had come to town when the replica caravel Notorious, originally from Port Fairy, weighed anchor offshore this week.
With the northern Queensland town confirmed as one of the locations for the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, residents thought the Notorious might be the Black Pearl that features in the swashbuckling pirate series.
However, the Notorious has tales of high adventure of its own.
Captain of the hand-built replica of the 15th-century Portugeuese caravel, Graeme Wylie, of Bushfield, said life at sea had been a lot of fun since he and his wife Felicite sailed out of the Moyne River mouth in early 2012.
“We love the sea life,” Mr Wylie said.
They had no idea what lay ahead when they followed the ship out the gate of their Bushfield property to launch it at Port Fairy in February, 2011, he said.
“We had not thought it through,” Mr Wylie said.
But they have since been swept along by a wave of public interest that has supported their voyages to Tasmania and up Australia’s east coast.
The Notorious has been a hit at wooden boat festivals and has been getting a “fantastic reception” in Queensland, its skipper said.
Extensive media coverage has drawn big crowds to the ship’s open days in ports, generating handy revenue for the couple.
Mr Wylie said people loved the look of Notorious and how it was inspired by the story of Warrnambool’s legendary Mahogany Ship, which grew from a ship’s remains found in 1847.
He said the 21-metre-long vessel had handled big ocean swells and storms “really well”, including a gale in Bass Strait that had it shooting along at a top speed of about 11 knots.
Since its first long voyage to Geelong and back, Notorious sailed to Paynesville on the Gippsland lakes to spend the 2012 winter before going to the 2013 Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart, where it was the feature boat.
The present voyage started in early April this year from Lakes Entrance, wild weather giving the couple a tough but quick trip up the NSW coast, where they were invited to the Lake Macquarie Wooden Boat Festival.
Further stops during the six-month voyage have been at Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Mackay, Airlie Beach, Townsville and Cairns.
Mr Wylie said Port Douglas was as far north as the couple intended to go and they would head back south when the winds changed. Their destination is Hobart for the 2015 Wooden Boat Festival in February.
After that, Mr Wylie said they were toying with the idea of going back to Port Fairy for Easter. But that was subject to where wind and whim took them.