Kevin ’Strings’ Slater
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