Life Begins At » Boomer boating

Boomer boating

Rayglass_April_13Aboard her appropriately named boat, ‘First Boomer’, 62-year-old Kathy Casey-Kirschling is leaving the retirement stereotype in her wake – and she’s not alone.

Casey-Kirschling is one of the thousands of boomers (ages 50-64) who love boating. With thousands more boomers retiring over the next two decades,recreational boating industry experts predict the number of boomer boat owners to grow.

The boomer generation is known for redefining every stage of their lives from adolescence to parenthood and retirement is no exception. For boaters, spending time with family, the feeling of freedom on the water and being active in nature are key factors that drive them to the boating lifestyle. It’s no surprise then that as boomers look for ways to stay active after retirement, they’re turning to boating.

“Boating keeps me engaged and moving in my retirement,” said Kathy Casey-Kirschling. “Whether we’re tubing, fishing or simply hosting celebrations on the water, boating enhances the time I spend with my husband, kids and grandkids.”

As a 15-year veteran boater, Casey- Kirschling recommends boomers conduct extensive research before dipping their toes in the boating waters. From choosing the right boat for a particular lifestyle, to understanding costs, she underscores the importance of doing homework to ensure an enjoyable boating experience.

‘With the help of unbiased resources… boomers can find the advice they need to make smart decisions in their boat buying process,’ said Casey-Kirschling. ‘Many find boating to be an extremely accessible activity for people of every age, income and lifestyle. But, I always stress the real value of boating is time spent with family and friends – that’s priceless.’

Boating is also more convenient. With airport travel costly, and road trips getting more delayed on our nation’s highways, boating allows families to make the most of their leisure time together, make new friends and create new experiences in their own backyards.

“Boating is at the heart of what boomers, like myself, love – an active hobby that provides an opportunity to explore the world while bonding with family and friends,” said Thom Dammrich, an avid boater, boomer and president of Discover Boating. “Boating resonates with boomers because it’s a lifestyle that speaks to their independent spirit, desire for social experiences and travel, while being attainable when it comes to affordability.”

“Boating is at the heart of what boomers, like myself, love – an active hobby that provides an opportunity to explore…”


Covering just about everything there is to know about recreational boating in Australia, My Boating Life has been designed for boaters of all levels – from children and newcomers right through to old salts.

In fact, if there’s something about boating that’s not on this website, it probably means the only way to find out about it is to get out on the water! With all the essentials available at a click, is a massive information portal that will continue to grow – with news updates, videos, destination reviews, events and other information being added on a regular basis.

Winter Rock Fishing – Top 10 Tips


Like all forms of angling, rock fishing isn’t getting any easier. Through the winter, however, most of the NSW coastline can offer the keen rock hopper a chance to tangle with a number of hard-fighting species, writes Jamie Robley.


People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. So the very first step towards success is in the planning – what type of fish would you like to catch or what sort of methods would you prefer to use.

One of the key preparations you make should be your clothing. Layer-dress to combat the cold and add a windproof, waterproof outer shell jacket or raincoat to shed salt spray and rain. Wear warm headgear because up to 30% of body heat is lost through the head.

Never wear heavy waders on the rocks, they’ll drag you straight down if you’re washed in. If you wear rain pants, make sure they can be slipped off easily if you fall in. Neoprene waders are more buoyant and warmer – if you can afford them.


Once you’ve got an idea of which fish you hope to catch and the types of areas you’ll be fishing, it’s then a matter of assembling the appropriate tackle.

The first piece of advice I can offer is to keep it simple. The next is to keep it light.

If the majority of fish you’ll be catching from the rocks average a kilo or less, there’s no point in using really thick line or giant rods. For the majority of my Winter rock fishing I take one rod which is designed primarily as a blackfish stick but is capable of handling bream, most drummer, can be used for tossing lures at tailor and salmon and if the rocks aren’t producing the goods this rod also works well at the beach.

When selecting one, go for something around three metres or slightly longer with a nice ‘whippy’ tip and a bit of stiff strength in the lower third of the rod. A sensitive tip is great for feeling the bites and tossing light baits and the stiffer butt is there to help land stubborn fish like drummer and salmon.

Although sidecast reels are popular and durable, I prefer the versatility of a threadline reel spooled up with 6lb, 8lb or 10 lb Berkley Fireline. If drummer are the main target I may opt for 14lb but if bream or blackfish are more likely I’ll stick with 6lb or 8lb Fireline or sometimes 4kg mono.

If you want to chase big drummer, blue groper or ‘real’ snapper a heavier outfit will be required. In this case a strong sidecast or overhead reel spooled up with 8kg to 15kg mono such as Schneider is appropriate. The rod must be capable of dealing with big fish and thick line.


Taking the time to learn to read the rocks will help you catch fish and it may save your life. Keen rockhoppers like me tend to forget that a majority of people don’t truly understand the power of the ocean and when to stay clear of the rocks. It’s important to check weather and boating forecasts the night before you intend to go fishing. If a swell of two metres or more is predicted it may be wise to reconsider your rock-fishing plans.

If a three- or four-metre swell is predicted, don’t go near the rocks – simple. Once on the rocks it pays to keep an eye on the water at all times. If at any time you feel that the waves are building or could become dangerous, move to a higher ledge or pack up and leave.

Overall, I believe the best fishing is to be had with the swell around a metre.  This generally provides enough white wash around points, gutters and ledges to keep the fish happy. A small swell is also safe to fish but still it’s always important to watch the seas while you fish.


Rather than turning up at a spot and hoping for the best, successful rock fishos plan each trip with a specific type of fish in mind. This could mean an individual species such as bream or groper or it may mean a style of fishing like spinning with metal lures for tailor and salmon or soaking green cabbage baits for blackfish and drummer.

If the seas are a bit rough and washy, perhaps drummer are the best bet. If you’ve heard along the grapevine that bream are biting well at a certain spot then maybe you should focus on bream.

If in doubt, I reckon blackfish would be about the most reliable Winter species so grab your floats and gather up some green cabbage baits.


Top-quality baits are a basic requirement if you want good results from the rocks. Frozen baits you buy from the corner store or petrol station are rarely good enough these days.

Really, the only bait that I actually buy for rock fishing is white bread. It works very well on bream and drummer and at times it’s also great for blackfish and silver trevally.

A few different types of brown and green weed also work well for blackfish and as for crabs, the best are the larger red crabs found close to the water – by far the most effective groper bait.

You must check at your rock location to see whether it comes within any  marine park, protected area or other conservation zoning before harvesting any bait from the rocks.

And always take only enough bait to suit your immediate needs, there’s nothing worse than wasting a heap of fresh bait and finding there’s none there next time.


Nine times out of 10 the use of berley will make a difference to your catch rate. Nine times out of 10 the best berley is white bread soaked in some seawater and mashed to a fine pulp.

A golden rule when using berley on the rocks is to throw in small amounts at regular intervals, rather than a heap all at once. Too much berley may only feed the fish and then drift away, taking them with it.


Although it’s possible to catch fish at any time from the rocks, some species are easier to catch during what are often referred to as ‘peak periods’. Early morning from half an hour before sunrise through to about two hours after sunrise is one of the most productive times to be on the rocks. Yes, it’s cold during Winter, but do you really want to catch fish?

Perhaps a more pleasurable time to fish is in the afternoon from about 3 pm up to sunset, when temperatures aren’t so hostile. I rate the mornings as better but I also prefer to avoid the cold if possible. These low-light periods are best for tailor, salmon, bream and mulloway and these fish tend to go off the bite as the sun gains enough strength to warm your body and return to feed as the afternoon shadows creep across the water.

Two species that bite more freely through the middle of the day are blackfish and groper, particularly if the sky is overcast. In most cases a rising tide produces better results than a falling tide. When fishing for drummer, bream or blackfish I like to start fishing about two hours after dead low tide and fish up to an hour before the tide peaks.


What I mean by finesse fishing is to use sly techniques to fool wary fish. The first step here is to downsize the terminal tackle. Smaller, sharper hooks, light line, small sinkers and floats and even smaller swivels help overcome a fish’s shyness.

Bait fishing techniques used in many parts of Europe and Asia are a lot more refined than in Australia and I think we can learn from them. When it comes to rock fishing there has long been a tendency to use big baits on big hooks and hurl the lot out with the aid of a big fat sinker. That’s a good way not to catch fish!

If you must use lead, keep it to a minimum – just enough to cast out and sink the bait down a little. Sinkers that are too big will have you snagged up on rocks or kelp in no time and make the bait appear unnatural to the fish.

Floats are another thing to look at. Generally a small float is better than a big float, although it should be able to support enough lead to hold the bait down where a fish may find it. Overall, keep everything light and don’t worry about losing the odd fish; it’s better to hook more fish in the first place and then deal with them on the end of your line than to not catch any.


While it’s all well and good to be specific, things don’t always go to plan. When  your desired target species doesn’t come out to play, having a back-up plan may just save the day.

Some simple, yet reliable back-ups are to always carry a few small metal lures and a few tiny hooks and floats. With these you can spin for tailor or salmon should these fish suddenly show up or swap over to trying for the ever-reliable blackfish.


This is one of the first major steps I made to improve my rock-fishing results. If you’re not having any luck by casting your bait in the same spot, simply try another spot.

This could just mean casting in a different direction or walking to another rock ledge, point or gutter. If you keep placing your bait in different spots you’re bound to run into a few fish eventually. It’s a good line of thought – try it!

The Great Outdoors Caravanning

Pic - generic A Class motorhome

“A top-end RV might be as big as a tour bus and have a workshop, laundry and garage…”

Size, Cost and Comfort – Consider your needs before purchasing your RV.

 So you’ve decided to embark on the open road and get amongst the great outdoors. You’ve got the time, the enthusiasm and the GPS. The next thing you need is the right RV, and the choices are endless, says Australia’s peak body for the RV manufacturing industry, RVM Australia.

With almost a hundred RV manufacturers in Australia, the hardest thing when choosing an RV is developing a short list from the massive variety on offer. Two-berth vans are an increasingly large part of the market, according to RVM Australia, the peak body for Australia’s RV manufacturing industry.

RVM Australia CEO David Duncan said travelling couples – as opposed to families – had become a massive part of the RV scene since the 1990s. “A two-berth RV can be any size and type, whether the budget is less than $10,000 or something in the hundreds of thousands,” he said.

“A top-end RV might be as big as a tour bus and have a workshop, laundry and garage as well as the more expected bedroom, bathroom and living areas – but still have two berths. But it’s amazing how much of this gear you might also get in a modestly priced camper trailer, pop-top or conventional caravan, all with the choice of either double or twin beds.”

Mr Duncan said RV buyers should start by weighing up their needs and wants, their budget, and how they planned to use their RV. “Start by choosing between a motorised RV and a towed one, and then consider where you plan to go and how much comfort you want,” he said.

“Conventional caravans account for half the RVs built in Australia, but camper trailers and pop-tops are also popular with people wanting something smaller, lighter or easier to fit in the carport, and motorised RVs also have a devoted following.”


Tent Trailers typically comprise a box trailer, used to store cooking and camping equipment, plus a lift-out tent for sleeping and living space. Often light and small enough to be towed by small vehicles, there are also off-road  versions for rugged terrain.

Camper Trailers are a step up from tent trailers, usually more comfortable and convenient, but still easily towed by smaller vehicles. They are generally easy to set up, and provide generous room and equipment, usually including gas cooker, refrigerator, table and sink.

Pop-top Caravans are similar to fully equipped caravans, sometimes even with en suite, but with a pop-up roof providing up to half a metre of the headroom. Their low profile reduces wind resistance when towing and facilitates storage in a garage or carport.

Caravans vary greatly in size and format, anything up to 10 metres long with up to three axles. They are often equipped with two comfortable berths, but can have up to six or more berths. Fit-out can be basic or luxurious, and some have slide-outs for extra space.

Slide-on Campers are designed to sit on the back of a ute, pick-up or light truck and can have features similar to a caravan or camper trailer. They allow for towing a separate trailer and can be parked on built-in jacks to enable separate use of the ute.

Fifth-wheelers are towed by a truck or pick-up via a hitch similar to that in a semi-trailer – the “fifth wheel” – fitted  to the bed of the tow vehicle. Usually large and luxurious, they normally feature a raised master suite above the hitch.

Campervans – or Class B Motorhomes – have a compact fit-out in a high roof or pop-top van. They can be driven on a car licence and used as a passenger vehicle. Equipment usually includes kitchen, eating and sleeping, with en suites in larger models.

Class A Motorhomes are typically top-end RVs, 7-12 metres long and 7-14 tonnes, with custom bodywork on a specialised RV chassis or adapted truck chassis. Usually fitted with all luxury amenities, they can cost up to half a million dollars, even more.

Class C Motorhomes range from economy to luxury models built on a cab-chassis with a caravan-style body. Weighing 4.5-7 tonnes, and measuring 6-13 metres, they retain the donor vehicle’s cabin, often with an overhead bunk. Slide-outs are increasingly common.

About the author

Alana Lowes

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