The Shaolin is now owned and operated by the Bickford Family who have been locals for over 30 years.
They purchased Shaolin in Feb 2016 and have had great feedback from guests, they ran charters out of Port Douglas for 2 years and now have relocated to Cairns Harbour with all new Cruises operating 4 tours a day.
Flynn is operations manager, host and deckhand, while Skye takes care of bookings, accounts and marketing.
With 3 boys that all love the water and they are junior skipper’s in training!
A day on the Junk is like a day out with friends the happy laid back vibe of the tropics is what we are all about where laughter and fun is infectious !
The Junk’s colourful history has many an old sea tale to tell, during her years on the high seas.
We have compiled a condensed version of her life thus far.
The Early days
The Shaolin was built in 1969 and was named The ‘Gloria Maris’ which means glory of the Sea (after a Cone shell).
She was created in Hip Cheong Ship yard Hong Kong, and was designed as a modified replica of famous ship Da Fu of Ming dynasty.
The vessel was built for a retired US Naval Fire Dept Captain Delmar Stone and his wife Joyce Stone; a librarian.
Based in Guam, exploring the Marianas Islands, they travelled around the world collecting rare seashells and parts of shipwrecks.
Gloria Maris was used as their private vessel and as a radio relay vessel. They travelled around the world twice and survived 2 cyclones while visiting many islands for the purpose of rare and valuable shell collecting.
It was rumoured she was once pirated and also used as a spy boat which worked with the CIA, relaying radio messages. (Fact or fiction?)
Around 1983 Captain Stone passed away from late stage melanoma skin cancer in Australia, his wife returned to Los Angeles. She would now be in her mid 90’s.
Her New Life
The Gloria Maris was purchased by a long time Port Douglas local, Mr Broomhall in 1985 he then sailed the very run down vessel from Guam to Port Douglas.
He used her for his own private use. It took many years for Mr Broomhall to repair her, along the way he enjoyed many extended charters with friends. In 1988 he re-surveyed her for commercial charters and changed her name to “Shaolin” (derived from the Chinese martial arts developed by the monks of the Shaolin Temple, a Buddhist monastery in China.)
The Shaolin started as a charter operation in late 80’s the same year the Marina Mirage and Sheraton Mirage was first built in Port Douglas by Christopher Skase.
The Shaolin had many admirers over the years with many celebrations on her decks by locals and stars alike, the late Peter Allen “The Boy from Oz” even gave her a mention in his book, reminiscing the nights of late sing-along and elaborate parties aboard.
She had several local owners over the years who continued to operate her to Low Isles with great success until a disaster in 2011, when cyclone Yasi threatened the coast.
The Shaolin was moored in a difficult position in Dickson’s Inlet for protection, and subsequently lent over in soft mud, took on water as the tide came in, she sunk. The town was spared from any major damage however there was much dismay amongst locals of Port Douglas when the news got around of the old junk that sunk in the inlet.
The Shaolin was floated again days later and sold on. A complete refit was done restoring her to her majestic former self, she was then sent to operate on lease as a Charter Vessel in NSW for a short period before she was brought back to her home in Port Douglas.
In Feb 2016, Flynn and Skye Bickford purchased her and put her back on the Low Isles charter. Shaolin also offers daily Sunset Sails, Private charters for parties, weddings and birthdays.