A true fishing tale – The story of Will Fransen
BY JOHN FREER OF COROMANDEL’S CFM
If the story of Will Fransen spending nearly 24 hours treading water off the Coromandel’s east coast after parting company with his boat is not enough, then add two more components.
The first was the recovery of the 12-metre Betty G, off the East Cape coastline 200 kilometres away from where Will went overboard while tagging a marlin.
Locals from the Waihau Sport Fishing Club cheered as the Betty G was dragged back into the sea and headed off, under tow, for inspection in Tauranga.
The next part was back on the Coromandel Peninsula.
Those cheers could not be heard in Tairua, but within 15 minutes of the extraction, Betty G’s birth parents, Russell and Betty George, heard the news in their town and joined the celebrations.
Around this same time talking to Betty George, obviously after who the boat was named, the emotion was very evident in her voice.
Betty told of being relieved that the boat was again sailing, it was in good condition, it had been saved and Will had survived with his life and his great love.
Many Tairua residents shared an affection for the Betty G, having watched Russell build the boat in the couple’s driveway – it took 13-years.
Being a perfectionist was one of the reasons the construction took this length of time, Betty saying that Russell made sure every detail in the boat construction was taken care of and he did this in his perfectionist way.
When completed, the boat was finally launched in Whitianga and the couple got to enjoy Russell’s labour of love for a couple of years.
Declining health for the couple saw their days of using the Betty G come to an end and the launch was put up for sale.
“Will purchased her and he never quibbled about anything. He loves the boat as much as we do,” said Betty.
“We still consider it our boat even though we don’t own it which Will does not mind.
“He often tells us that when anything happened on that boat he would think now, what would Russell do.”
The connection between the three was evident when Will fronted to face Russell after the accident.
Betty explains: “It was a very emotional time. Will expected Russell to go off his tree about it – they both just went off and had a good cry.”
Now despite both struggling with their health, Betty and Russell are looking forward to one thing, that being to see the Betty G again sail into the Tairua Harbour.
Caption: Photo by CFM Christine Ilmiger