Ashmore Reef Whaels and Seabirds

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Ashmore Reef Whaels and Seabirds
From: Richard Baxter <>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2008 19:15:24 -0700 (PDT)
Hello all,
             I've been reading  with some interest some of the comments in 
relation to organising pelagic trips where the organiser goes for free.  As 
someone who has organised pelagic seabirding trips totally over 100 days at sea 
and over many years I would like to add another perspective to those already 
From the start, my opinion is that I don't and have never cared or asked if any 
organiser of any birding trip that I have gone on is paying, going for free or 
making a profit.  If they can organise a trip where they go for free, whoever 
they are, good luck to them.
What many people don't realise is that the organiser is the one that often pays 
MORE then the participants.  I've organised the Newcastle Pelagic trips with 
Phil Hansbro since 2000 and have NOT EVER had one free trip in that time.  The 
figures are fairly simple. $1000 for the boat for the day, thats 10 people at 
$100.  In addition to the $100, I also have to buy $30 worth of burley and $20 
worth of Tuna Oil.  So far thats $150 a trip, minimum EVERY trip.  Then people 
ring up and pull out the night before.  I've had two seperate people ring up 
the night before a pelagic trip and withdraw for medical reasons.  As I had 
people flying in from interstate I decided not to cancel the trip.  I paid the 
boat owner their part, plus mine and paid for the burley, all up $350 out of my 
own pocket so we could all have a day at sea and know one ever knew.  This has 
happened on at least 10 occasions on Newcastle trips where the organiser (me) 
has paid for a
 person that hasn't turned up out of his own pocket. I wonder how many people 
think I go on the Newcastle Pelagic trips for free?
The other point that no one has considered is that often the organiser goes for 
free but pays in other ways behind the scenes that participants never find out 
about.  I've organised trips where I've gone on a long pelagic for free but had 
to pay for equipment/permits etc to make the trip happen.  One trip I had to 
buy $3,500 worth of fridge freezer for the boat to keep the burley etc frozen 
for the length of the trip as the boat only had a tiny freezer which was 
required for food.  
As already has been mentioned by others, there's the time involved.  Each one 
day pelagic generates between 30-60 emails and there's no fuel compensation for 
having to drive across town to buy the burley.  
Finally,  what does the organiser do on these trips?  Have you ever seen the 
organisers of the Southport, Port Fairy etc pelagics inside doing crosswords 
and chatting about the footy?  No, of course you haven't, the organiser, rain, 
hail or shine is at the back of the boat all day, chumming and spotting birds 
for those on board.  
Then there's the cost of the free birding trip. A quick calculation of the 
number of hours taken organising, leading, writing the trip report etc 
multiplied by my hourly rate in my 'day job' reveals that I should be getting 
paid over $4,000 for the day and I'm sure the hours are the same for the 
organisers of all Australia's pelagic trips.  
Richard Baxter

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