Kevin ’Strings’ Slater

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

PORT Dou­glas farewelled one of their love­able lar­rikins, Kevin ‘‘Strings’’ Slater with a warm beer and a laugh on Tues­day.

Strings passed away on Mon­day, May 20 af­ter a long bat­tle with can­cer.

The for­mer Quick­sil­ver en­gi­neer was born in Hast­ings, New Zealand on Fe­bru­ary 26, 1953 and was the youngest marine en­gi­neer to sail out of New Zealand at 19 years of age.

Strings had a pas­sion for big ships and fish­ing and moved to Port Dou­glas in 1985 af­ter hear­ing about an en­gi­neer­ing job with Quick­sil­ver.

Hav­ing never been to the area be­fore, he jumped on a bus and never looked back, mak­ing Port Dou­glas his home.

Ac­cord­ing to those who knew him best, Strings could be stroppy, had a great sense of hu­mour, didn’t suf­fer fools and would ‘‘tell it like it is’’.

Strings lived on his boat Wind­song for many years and even had his own stool at the Port Dou­glas Yacht Club.

The stool was perched in what be­came known as ‘‘Strings’ Cor­ner’’ and if he wasn’t on his stool, a mon­key would be found there in­stead.

For an en­gi­neer and a bach­e­lor, he was ex­tremely clean, wak­ing up some morn­ings a lit­tle fuzzy from the rum from the night be­fore and get­ting stuck into the house­work.

Around five years ago Strings was di­ag­nosed with throat can­cer and could no longer eat solid food.

Not per­turbed, Strings would watch the cook­ing shows on tele­vi­sion ev­ery­day in­stead.

He would also joke about his liq­uid food, point­ing them out to friends and jok­ingly in­form­ing them that one jar would con­tain ba­con and eggs while an­other might be steak and mush­rooms.

His younger sis­ter Colleen Par­sons re­mem­bers him fondly.

‘‘He taught me ev­ery­thing I know, he was pretty spe­cial,’’ she said.

‘‘I stayed on his boat with him for a while. He drank warm beer, loved rum and al­ways told me, ‘Don’t ar­gue with a fool, be­cause then it’s just two fools ar­gu­ing’.

‘‘He drank his rum with lime to pre­vent scurvy.’’

He was known to be a stub­born and in­de­pen­dent man, who did not want help from nurses and in­sisted on car­ry­ing his own shop­ping.

When he asked his doc­tor what his op­tions were re­gard­ing his can­cer, the doc­tor told him he had ap­prox­i­mately six months left to live, to which Strings be­came an­gry and replied, ‘‘F*** off, that’s not an op­tion’’, and went on to live for sev­eral more years.

His niece Kylie Slater said he was her fa­ther fig­ure.

‘‘When I moved here when I was 17, Strings went around to the pubs and told the bounc­ers not to let me into the pubs be­cause I was un­der­age,’’ she said.

‘‘We had a great re­la­tion­ship, a lot more like a fa­ther­daugh­ter, than an un­cle-niece con­nec­tion.’’

Strings’ last wishes were to be cre­mated and com­mit­ted to the deep, a boat trip the fam­ily plan to carry out to scat­ter his ashes in his beloved ocean.

SORELY MISSED: Kevin ’Strings’ Slater

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