edited: Friday, April 12, 2013
By Dave Field
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Sunday, June 27, 2004
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What Pymble never discovered about Melita
A converted Caloundra prawn trawler with the name 'Melita' appears in 'Profile Three' and in ‘Trapping Judas,’ skippered by a man called Nobby Clark. In the course of the story, Jack Pymble decides to ask Nobby what the name 'Melita' means, but never gets around to it. This is a little about the boat (shown above), which existed and on which I worked many an exciting day as a technical officer. 'Melita' is named after a group of sea creatures called amphipods. She was given that name by the scientists and technicians who worked in what was called the Marine Pollution Studies Group, a Victorian Government organisation formed to investigate the extent of pollution in Port Phillip Bay in Australia. 'Melita', sixteen and a half metres long, was the largest of several research vessels used by the Group. She was used in her research role for various types of fishing, as a scallop dredger, and as a platform for a wide variety of other scientific investigations. Like her sister vessel 'Capitella,’ 'Melita' often became the 'base station' craft from which other, much smaller boats would operate since they could move into very shallow water, guided by radio messages from Nobby, who was directing them using radar to track them. In many ways the most glamorous - and others the most unglamorous - work done from 'Melita' was scientific diving, usually involving a group of five or six people, four being SCUBA divers. In the story, Nobby says he contracted himself and Melita to support scientific work - that's my fabrication. In reality, Nobby was a technician with the group - though he skippered 'Melita' for many years - and the boat was owned by the Victorian Government. I’d love the opportunity to have a cup of Nobby’s awful coffee - or tea, Milo, or Bonox, just one more time.
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