The Shaolin is now owned and operated by Flynn Bickford and Kate Agrums a Brother Sister team, who have been locals for over 40 years.
They purchased Shaolin in Feb 2016 and have had a long relationship with the iconic Shaolin as they both frequently went day trips to the reef in the late 80’s as children, when the Shaolin first started operating in Port Douglas.
Kate’s first hostess job when she was 16 was aboard the Shaolin. Flynn is the vessels Skipper and Operations manager while Kate’s role as Sales and Marketing keeps the Shaolin a very popular tour to do when in Port Douglas.
The Shaolin operates along side its sister vessel The Lady Douglas River Cruise which is another popular Port Douglas icon and also owned by the family.
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.