Toeing the Line

Toeing the Line
Retirement Living

Retirement living resident, Brian, shares the fascinating stories behind his 40 years at sea!

5th June 2024

When you’re a genuine boatie, the sea runs through your veins, and that is certainly true for SwanCare retirement living resident Brian Simmons. His life has revolved around water, boats never being far away from his next adventure. Recently we had the privilege of taking a deep dive into Brian’s life! 

A Nautical Love Story 

Brian’s always loved the water ever since he was a young boy. However, the love affair truly began later in life when Brian was on a working holiday in New Zealand, where he met some yachters who invited him to sail around Auckland. That was it and Brian was hooked, line and sinker! 

“I thought, well this is the life!” laughed Brian, “Lying there on a boat with a stubbie, relaxing but always having something fun to do. I thought, this is what I want!” 

Since Brian had discovered his sea legs, he knew he wanted a boat of his own. The only problem was that he couldn’t afford one. So, he rolled up his sleeves and got building! 

Embarking on a New Career 

Brian’s talent derived from his previous experience as an apprentice boiler maker. It involved a lot of plate work, and he was confident working with steel, which provided great skills for shaping a boat. 

“But the money ran out,” said Brian, “Fortunately, another fellow who was walking around the shipyard saw my boat and said he’d pay me to build him a boat. My boat wasn’t finished, but I agreed because it would then fund the rest of it! 

I finished with our 40-footer in the old shipyard in Maylands. It was lovely, an old classic design boat.” 

Once Brian’s boat was ship-shape and Bristol fashion, he travelled to Bunbury to build a boat for another young couple. 

“At the time, the plan was to sail to Canada and Alaska, so me and my wife took off sailing North. 

We worked along the way, I built some boats in Geraldton too, but then things took a turn in Darwin when my wife and I split up. I stayed there and lived on the boat for a bit.” 

While Brian didn’t make it to Alaska, he did go to sunny Queensland. 

“It seemed like a good option, cruising around,” he said, “I worked repairing boats for a couple of years, also repairing old timber houses. The plan then was to eventually sail out to the Pacific Islands, I was always dreaming that I would do it.” 

It’s safe to say Brian is happiest on the water, calling his boat home for 40 years. Over the time seasickness had never been an issue, although he did come close once. 

“The wind was blowing from the south in Fremantle,” he recalls, “I was lying on the settee with my son on my chest, who was 12 months old at the time. There was a big swell and it made him sick on me, which made me very queasy!” 

From Sea to SwanCare 

Like all good things, it eventually came to an end, with Brian selling his boat only a few years ago. 

“I didn’t like land so much; a boat is much more fun than a house! It’s challenging work though in that you haven’t got much space to make a mess. 

Overall, boating has been a great life for me. I’ve met a lot of good people, especially with sailboats. There’s nothing like it, the feeling of the wind, sailing by the seat of your pants!” 

But when the time came to disembark, choosing Bentley Park to retire in was an easy decision for Brian. 

“Moving to SwanCare was a no-brainer for me. I wanted to come back to WA anyway, and my parents were at SwanCare for 12 years or so, so I knew it well. It’s got all the facilities here; I like to use the gym to keep active, and I’ve got great neighbours!” 

Brian shares what life looks like nowadays. 

“I don’t often go out on the water; boating is not an option anymore because my knees are not up to it. So, I’m into old cars now! 

Twelve months ago, I saw one. An old Jaguar, 1976 model. It’s what I wanted for the last 40 years. It’s kept me busy, and poor! Now it’s all done and sorted… it’s very nice to drive!” 

So, if you spot a fancy Jaguar rolling around SwanCare, you know who it might be. 

Thank you for sharing your life at sea with us, Brian. We feel so lucky you’ve chosen to plant your feet at SwanCare! 

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