Please select your home edition
Southern Spars

For Sale- The one and only, Flamingo Bay Adventure Ship

by Jeni Bone on 19 Jun 2012
Flamingo Bay .. ©
Casting a dignified shadow over the marina at its superyacht berth at Southport Yacht Club, Flamingo Bay is 36m and 56 years of history and adventure, with the solid construction and spirit to delivery another 50+ years of service.

According to her Skipper and owner, Capt David Tomlinson, who has lived aboard Flaming Bay Research for the past nine years, 'she is as stable as land' but much more exciting.

Built by Belliard Creighton for the Belgian government in 1956, the product of two years planning and designing and two years construction to the highest specifications, she is '56 years young', says David.

'She was originally built for coastal patrols and rescues on the treacherous North Sea. They didn’t scrimp with any of the construction. Most ice-breaker steel is 8mm thick, ours is 12mm.'

For over 29 years, her reputation has been for exploring our planet’s more isolated zones in extraordinary style, comfort and safety. Fully air conditioned, she boasts diesel/electric power, water maker, plenty of electricity, diving compressor, crane and helipad facilities on board.

And now Flamingo Bay is for sale by expressions of interest.

Bought some 12 years ago, David began modernizing her to become one of Australia’s finest charter explorers. She is a mixture of old world charm and modern technology, big, tough, stable and a stand out where ever she goes.

'She has the original Flemish features, timber panelling, teak decks, beautiful finishes and attention to detail, with all the modern features. I have added AC electricity throughout, generators, high-tech navigational equipment, water systems, air-conditioning and TVs and entertainment systems.'

Run by two massive diesel electric engines, known as a ‘Siamese gearbox’, and a single shaft, she is power personified, but rarely uses both engines. In fact, as David reveals, when there's a technical issue with the engines, he is more likely to consult Queensland Rail than the local marine engineer!

The perfect mother-ship, dive platform, scientific platform, research, training, resupply, surfing safaris, exploration, eco charters, TV and Film productions or your own maritime office, the editing suite also doubles as a surveying room for geographical projects. There are laundry facilities, commercial galley/kitchen plus cool room and freezers. She is in Australian USL survey 2B for 12 passengers and 8 crew totally 20 all up, cruising at 9-10 knots and a sprint of 13 knots.

'We hold 35,000 Litres of fuel, which can take us 5,000 miles without slowing down,' says David. We also carry 18,00 Litres of water and can produce 6,000 per day with two desalinators.'

According to Ian Swan Director at Swan Super Lines, his company will manage the world tender system which will be completed 31st July. 'This will go through our associates in Europe and Asia as well as direct to Australia market,' he explains.

The reasons for buying an ice breaker of this calibre are many and varied. One thing for certain, she is unique. 'There was only one ever constructed. She is as tough as they come and capable of exploring the world in safety and comfort. She’s one of the classiest little ships you will ever find, in full USL 2B survey for 12 passengers and up to eight crew, a total of 20 all up.'

Flamingo Bay has 11 cabins, with 20 berths total. Each cabin has its own air conditioning system, bedside reading lamps, externally sullied fresh air, intercom, and remote controlled TV- an audio /video network circulates the ship. There are four showers and two heads.

These days, she has been run as a research and exploration vessel, also popular with tourists as a whale watching boat, and in demand for her striking stature, taking a starring role in Sea Patrol, creating the wake in Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader and looming impressively in other film and TV productions.

She operated as the sea platform for NOAA’S leatherback turtle satellite tagging program, in the Solomon Islands. Helicopter support vessel/ home for filming coastline from Darwin to Broome from 500ft via helicopter. In 2005 because of her abilities to maintain slow consistent speeds in rough seas she was contracted to assist in the survey of Nautilus’s Deep Water mining site outside of Rabaul. She acted as the support resupply ship for Willis Island, numerous reef trips, filmed numerous whales plus visited a myriad of dive sites.

Her Captain’s story is even more fascinating, a journey that has taken him criss-crossing the planet from his birthplace of Canada, to Queensland’s Gold Coast today, working on research, documentary filming, shipwreck exploration, salvage, coral reef regeneration and even a close call while diving in the waters around submerged volcanos in the Solomon Islands. He and his partner were left behind and ended up swimming 30kms to the nearest land through shark-infested water, earning them a segment on the series 'I Shouldn’t Be Alive'.

David has lovingly restored and refitted Flamingo Bay, without destroying the exquisite 1950s timber work and refined elegance of each of its common rooms, quarters and helm. In fact, he has over-equipped her with the latest navigational technology and systems for self-sufficiency, ensuring she’s up to the unlimited usage her new owner may have in mind.

'Of course I will miss her,' he admits, 'But I am ready for the next challenge, which I have located and need to sell the boat to embrace these new horizons.'

All enquiries should be directed to Ian Swan, Tel: (07) 5538 1857 or 0416 110 466 email: ian (at)

More at

Southern Spars - 100Bakewell-White Yacht DesignT Clewring AC72

Related Articles

Gladwell's Line -The America's Cup settlement deal
The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the Arbitration Panel is not news The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the America's Cup Arbitration Panel is not new - Sail-World reported the same story in the first and second weeks of September. The Hearing on the amount of compensation to be paid is yet to be held. So far we have been unable to discover a date if indeed one has been set. Maybe next year?
Posted on 11 Oct
Debriefing the 2016 J/70 Worlds with Winning Skipper Joel Ronning
I talked with Joel Ronning after the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds to learn about his team’s win at this high-level regatta. Since its inception in 2012, the J/70 has become the most popular One Design boat in decades, with 1,100+ boats sailing in myriad countries. Some 68 boats from 15 countries arrived on San Francisco Bay last week to determine bragging rights at the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds. I caught up with Joel Ronning to learn more about the Catapult team’s road to becoming the 2016 J/70 World Champions.
Posted on 5 Oct
Rio 2016 - America's Cup champ says Paralympic racing is closest ever
Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar keelboat class at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The regatta is being held in Guanabara Bay on three of the courses used for the Olympic Sailing Regatta in August.
Posted on 13 Sep
Debriefing the Rio 2016 Olympics with Team USA’s Helena Scutt
I talked with Team USA’s Helena Scutt to hear about her Olympic experience, and to learn more about her post-Rio plans. The 49erFX was introduced to Olympic circles when it replaced the Women’s Match Racing event following the 2012 Games. Not surprisingly, it drew high-performance sailors for the Rio 2016 Olympics, including Team USA’s Paris Henken and Helena Scutt. While Henken and Scutt were Olympic first-timers, they put on a strong show. I caught up with Scutt to hear more about her Olympic experience.
Posted on 8 Sep
A Q&A with Peter Bresnan ONE Palma’s founder and director
Sail-World interviewed ONE Palma’s founder Peter Bresnan to learn about the company’s partnership with McConaghy Boats For the past eight years, ONE Palma (formerly OneSails Spain) has been building a strong name, first as a sailmaker and later with refit work. Recently, ONE Palma and McConaghy Boats-legendary boatbuilders who have crafted some of the planet’s fastest sailboats-entered a business partnership. I caught up with Peter Bresnan, ONE Palma’s founder and director, to learn more about this new direction.
Posted on 2 Sep
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ train late on the Waitemata Harbour
Emirates Team NZ were out for a training session that ran into the early Thursday evening. Emirates Team NZ were out for a training session that ran into the early Thursday evening. The team were sailing their recently launched AC45 Surrogate test boat which features an articulated rudder gantry - taking the AC45 close to the geometry of the AC50 to be used in the 2017 America's Cup.
Posted on 1 Sep
Dateline Rio - Sailing Olympics review - as good as it gets?
The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The weather was better than Weymouth and Qingdao, the courses more varied, but from a working media perspective, it was the people running the Rio regatta who really made the difference.
Posted on 26 Aug
Rio 2016 - Plain speaking by triple-medalist on Olympic sailing moves
Triple Olympic medalist, Santiago Lange has been on the sharp end of changes made to Olympic classes and formats Santiago Lange, a six-time Olympian and Bronze medallist in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, won his third medal – Gold sailing in the Nacra 17 class. With that length of experience at an Olympic level, having sailed the Laser, Tornado and now Nacra 17 classes his comments on the future shape of the Olympic regatta was one of the highlights of the Medallists Media Conferences.
Posted on 25 Aug
An Q&A with Steve and Heidi Benjamin about the NYYC’s 2016 Queen’s Cup
Sail-World caught up with Steve and Heidi Benjamin to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup. When it comes to U.S. Grand Prix sailing, it’s hard not to encounter the names of Steve and Heidi Benjamin. The two highly polished sailors have been successfully campaigning their series of yachts, named SPOOKIE, for years, starting first with a Carkeek 40 and progressing to their TP52. I caught up with Steve and Heidi to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup
Posted on 19 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images of the penultimate race in the Finns - Scott wins
Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn, in what potentially could have been Giles Scott's (GBR) Gold medal winning race. In the end, the current world champion won in style.
Posted on 15 Aug