From the Archives, 1973: Warana sails from Melbourne to fight the bomb

From the Archives, 1973: Warana sails from Melbourne to fight the bomb

May 21, 2023

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First published in The Age on May 23, 1973

Flying 4 flags, Warana sets off to face the bomb

The Australian protest ketch Warana slipped out of Melbourne at dusk yesterday on an 11,000-mile mission to try to halt the French nuclear tests.

The crew of the Warana in Williamstown.Credit: The Age Archives

She was carrying a crew of five men and a woman as she motored from her moorings at Williamstown into rough weather.

Warana – which flies the flags of four countries—expects to rendezvous with other protest ships at the test site Mururoa Atoll late next month.

The young woman was a last-minute inclusion in the crew. She is attractive Kathy Bradley, 23-year-old daughter of a Gippsland farmer.

Warana — a 40-foot twin-masted yacht built of tough Huon pine —was expected to try to sail through the Port Phillip Bay heads early today.

Her owner-skipper is Mr Peter Sturgess, 49, a retired businessman.

The crew celebrates before departing.Credit: The Age Archives

The rest of the multinational crew is: Frank Cafarella, 53, an Italian-born electronics engineer, who lives in Montrose; Norman Fraser, 24, of Croydon, a merchant navy officer; Gordon Wearing-Smith, 40, of Mooroolbark, photographer; Velettin Bultan, 39, a Turkish-born engineer from Carlton.

Warana left flying the Australian red ensign and the flags of Turkey, Italy and Holland.

First published in The Age on June 19, 1973

Bomb protest yacht sails for Mururoa

The Australian nuclear protest yacht Warana plans to leave New Zealand this week on the second leg of her 5000-mile voyage to Mururoa Atoll.

Warana, battered by a series of storms in the Tasman Sea, has been tied up in New Zealand for a week for repairs.

Three of her crew of six have pulled out of the voyage — two because of injury and sickness. They flew back to Melbourne at the weekend.

Warana’s skipper, retired Melbourne businessman Mr Peter Sturgess, said from New Zealand yesterday: “We have had a series of problems, but we are still determined to push on”.

Warana, a 40-foot twin-masted ketch, left Melbourne on May 22 to join a fleet of New Zealand boats sailing to Mururoa to pro-test against France’s planned series of atomic tests.

She was hit by storms while crossing the Tasman, and limped into harbor 20 days later with her main diesel engine out of action, several sails ripped, and a small leak.

The crewmen who left are the sailing master, Gordon Wearing-Smith, radio operator Frank Cafarella, and Warana’s Turkish-born engineer, Velettin Bultan.

Cafarella became sick during the crossing, and Wearing-Smith was thrown across the deck during a storm and fractured several ribs.

One replacement crew-man is flying from Melbourne tomorrow.

Sturgess and the rest of the crew are hoping to leave on Wednesday for the 3000-mile haul across the Pacific.

“We have taken on all the supplies we need for a trip of at least two months. Our big hope is to get there before the French decide to let off their bomb,” he said.

The other two crew-members are navigator Norman Fraser, a merchant seaman and qualified mate, and Kathy Bradley, a 23-year-old Melbourne secretary.

First published in The Age on June 23, 1973

The Australian nuclear protest yacht Warana is on her way to Mururoa Atoll after a 12-day holdup.

Warana slipped quietly out of the New Zealand North Island fishing port of Whangaroa at 3 p.m. AEST yesterday for her 3000-mile second leg across the Pacific.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald on July 27, 1973

Australian protest yacht, the Warana, has arrived in Suva for repairs to a leaking hull and equipment which the crew installed to wash the decks clean of nuclear fallout.

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