Diving into retirement after Steber refit

Diving into retirement after Steber refit

Spending the winter, based in Cairns and diving the Great Barrier Reef may seem a dream to some but it’s a refreshing reality for Newcastle couple Doug and Chris Olding.

Retired after over 30 years in the marine industry, the couple refer to their newly refurbished and re-named, Steber 41 as their “grey nomad machine of the seas”.

The couple, based at Lake Macquarie, NSW, purchased the Steber 41 in Brisbane late last year. Unreliable engines led to major refit at Steber’s Taree factory complex.

“The best seagoing hull in Australia”, is how Doug describes the boat, which explains why the couple decided on a refit rather than purchasing another vessel.

The refit involved installing two state-of-the-art Yanmar engines, replacing a suspect aluminium fuel tank and rewiring.

Vinyl and carpet interiors were refurbished, the hull cleaned and even the anchor received a fresh lick of paint.

The boat was originally launched in 1989 and under previous owners was named Freedom Machine and Marlin, before its final name change, to Wyuna.

Chris and Doug spent some time mulling over the new name, before settling on Wyuna, Aboriginal for “clear water”. Being keen divers it seemed more than appropriate, and as they both said: “it’s easy to say and distinctive over the radio”.

Wyuna was renamed during the relaunch of the vessel on the Manning River by civil celebrant, Debbie Steber, who coincidentally is the wife of Steber managing director, Alan.

The couple plan to split their time between Cairns in the winter (both keen divers) and their home port of Newcastle CYC.

The Wyuna is setup for 5-10 day diving trips and is largely self-sufficient with solar power and water maker, an extended deck and plenty of comfortable cabin space.

To say that Doug and Chris have saltwater in their veins is both cliched and an understatement. The couple have owned 15-20 boats over the years, ranging from various timber and fibreglass trailer boats and tinnies up to a Steber 34 they used for charter work out of Yeppon.

On the business front, Doug worked for Teleflex Morse, a manufacturer of boat controls, for over 30 years, finishing with a 20 year term at the helm as managing director.

Doug also gave back to the marine industry in an honorary capacity, serving 14 years as treasurer and five years as president of the Boating Industry Association of NSW.

During the mid 70’s, Chris and Doug “circumnavigated” Australia in a campervan. Towing behind was a 16′ Quintrex and the couple went scuba diving at every opportunity.

“And why have we become boating nomads? To see the land from the sea and not the sea from the land”, says Doug.

Following extensive sea trials, the Steber 41, MV Wyuna heads north to warmer waters, providing a great platform for Doug and Chris on their future diving adventures.


Photo 1: (above) The Wyuna is launched onto the Manning River at Taree following an extensive refit at Steber’s Elizabeth Avenue factory.

Photo 2: New Yanmar diesels are put through their paces during sea trials.

Photo 3: Debbie Steber conducting the naming ceremony with owners Doug and Chris Olding.

Wyuna running shot

Doug Chris Debbie