Sad demise of grand old lady Vale de Moura

Vale de Moura
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The picture below tells the sad story, but according to the Batemans Bay Post, it took a Batemans Bay firefighter on a morning walk to notice that the lovely old timber yacht Vale De Moura had sunk, leaving only the two masts of its schooner rig showing above the water.

Vale de Moura sunk
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The immediate concern of Batemans Bay residents was the possibility of leaked contaminants such as fuel, but the yacht is a sad loss, and Sail-World hopes it can be salvaged. The Vale De Moura is the last survivor of a fleet of traditional, sail-powered fishing vessels that worked commercially on and around the west coast of Portugal, and has a proud history.

The 56-year-old, 72ft schooner Vale de Moura had circumnavigated the world twice in earlier days, but was impounded by Australian customs officials when it sailed into Mooloolaba in 1994. This was because they didn't believe the Austrian skipper, who maintained he had sailed it from Europe single-handedly.

A previous owner, Peter Walsh, told the Sunshine Coast Daily that the officials were convinced that he had killed his crew. So the yacht, with such a glorious past, was impounded by Australian authorities for three years, and then sold to a Perth businessman, who thought he could restore it.

But little happened, and it became a stationery fixture at Mooloolaba wharf. Its next adventures were to start when two holiday-makers from Batemans Bay saw it. 'We thought it would be wonderful to restore,' said one of the holiday-makers, Krystina Mackintosh.

So Krystina's husband John Mackintosh spoke with friends Tony Sutton, Peter Walsh and Bob Beresford and they negotiated the purchase of the yacht from the Perth businessman.

In 2005, the four new owners arrived in Mooloolaba, cleaned up the boat and sailed it to Batemans Bay, where it has been ever since.

Let's hope the modern-day buccaneers will be able to salvage the so sweetly lined Vale De Moura (Valley of the Moors) successfully.