Richard Neale (Skipper) Interview

Thu, 18 Feb 2016

By Tangalooma Island Resort

Tangalooma Profiles - Richard Neale (Ferry/Boat Skipper)

What's your position at Tangalooma and how long have you been with the company?

I am the Marine Operations Manager, and been working for Tangalooma for 19 years - Since April 1997.

Tell us a little about yourself - have you always loved boats? Have you worked with boats before?

I basically grew up around boats so I was destined to work on them when I grew up. My parents always owned boats when I was a young boy and I spent a lot of my upbringing on them in New Zealand. As I got a little older I got into sailing dinghy racing and raced in the inter-school national championships in New Zealand before moving to Australia. After school I began working on some boats doing deliveries around Australia and one to Papua New Guinea. After being at Tangalooma for around 18 months I travelled overseas and worked on a 44m Private luxury Mega Yacht for around 8 months to get some more experience before coming back to work at Tangalooma again.

Describe what a day in the life of your role looks like?

My role these days is extremely varied and very busy. I spend some of time in the office to keep the operational side of the marine section up to date with legislation and daily operations. The next day I could be out on the barge delivering cargo and stock to the resort and then another day I could be transferring guests to the resort on one of the Catamarans or doing cruise ship passenger transfers when we have a cruise ship at the resort. When the boats come out of the water for re-fit and maintenance work, I am involved in those projects too. One of the biggest projects we have had over the past few years was the new main engines and water jets that were installed into the Jet. So my job is never mundane, I have a huge amount of variety and many challenges to keep me out of trouble.

What motivates you in your role each day? What are you most excited or passionate about?

I enjoying working in hospitality, meeting so many interesting people from around the world and hearing all about where they come from and what they think of Australia and particularly Tangalooma and Moreton Island.

I love Tangalooma and working for an Australian family owned and operated company. The resort has so much to offer. I put 100% into everything I do, and I am always looking for ways to improve the boats and the guest experience. I am extremely passionate about the Tangalooma brand and running the Marine department. I don't think I will ever get to a point when I think I have done enough, I will always strive to make things better.

And what is it about being on the water that you love, and in particular the water in this region?

I have always loved being on the water, my whole life from when I was a baby, even these days after working on the water for so many years, on my time off I take my wife and our children out on our own boat, and we often visit Tangalooma and other areas of Moreton Island, it is an extremely beautiful location with crystal clear waters and so many things to see. We are extremely lucky to have such a magnificent location so close to a major city.

My absolute favourite part of the region out on the water is the amazing view around Cape Moreton, honeymoon bay and Flinders reef, it is absolutely spectacular out there !

When people find out what you do as a job, how do they react?

When people ask me what I do for a job, and I say I get to cruise across Moreton Bay and take people to Tangalooma, I often show them a photo from my "office" in the wheelhouse with an amazing view across the bay, at Cape Moreton or Whale Watching photos etc... They always say "Man, you must have the best job in the world ..!!!", and I would have to agree with them. I get to go to a beautiful Island resort destination during the day and see the joy on people's faces when they step ashore and see the beautiful waters and white sandy beaches, and then I get to home to my family in the evening. There are not too many boating type jobs where you can experience that as most boat jobs would have you away from home and at sea for long periods of time.

We know how much boys love cars and boats...Which is your favourite Tangalooma catamaran and why?

Out of the whole fleet of boats, I do love being the Master on the "jet" because of the challenges it brings with the size and speed, you really have to be on the ball every second, there is a lot going on, but I would have to say my favourite boat would still have to be the good old "Flyer". She is such a trustworthy old girl, nice and simple, there is no technical electronics it is just a good straight forward boat, it has good visibility and it is very predictable to handle in all weather conditions, plus it is the boat that I spent many years crewing as a deckhand, so I know the entire boat inside and out, it is like a second home for me.

We know some pretty magical and interesting things happen out in Moreton Bay... Can you tell us about some of the amazing things you've seen whilst driving the boats for Tangalooma?

Over the many years of heading across the bay I have seen some very interesting things and encountered some adverse weather conditions. We have had thick fog with less than 50m visibility to probably the worst conditions I had ever seen in the bay when ex-tropical cyclone Oswald came through the area. I have come across some amazing marine life, often seeing dolphins and turtles, some dugongs and a few whales in the second half of each whale watching season, along with sights of Tuna chasing bait fish. Moreton bay has a huge amount of marine life.

Being a lover of boats, I have seen some amazing boats and ships come through the bay, from some of the largest cruise ships, aircraft carriers, submarines, research vessel and private luxury boats. Brisbane is becoming a more popular area for "Mega Yachts" to visit either as a stepping stone to the barrier reef or New Zealand and pacific Islands, or for re-fit type work so we are seeing more and more very large boats entering the port.

What are you excited for in the future at Tangalooma?

Tangalooma is an extremely unique destination with exceptionally beautiful surrounds. I am very excited for the future at Tangalooma, there are so many improvements happening all of the time. It is a big resort and there is still a long way to go, but it is great to see the progress and I must give full credit to the Osborne family for continually putting everything back into the resort to keep the improvements going on.

Future plans to continue with upgrading the facilities, rooms and guest experience is going to make Tangalooma Australia's leading Island resort destination and I am very excited to be a part of the business.

Want to see the views of Moreton Bay that Rich sees daily? Plan your next day trip to Tangalooma here

About the author

Tangalooma Island Resort

Take the world's 3rd largest sand island…add a splash of sunshine, balmy sea breezes, a dash of discovery and a handful of adventure, and you've got Tangalooma Island Resort. An island oasis, just a 75 minute cruise from Brisbane.

Book Now