Mal the man in the middle

It has generated worldwide buzz with the advent of Google Earth, with suggestions he’s everything from a Google hoax to a Lego or Atari promotion. He is a landmark for those who zip across our waterways by seaplane or helicopter. After 12 years bobbing on the Broadwater, this Gold Coast icon, known as either Sam or Mal has just had a much-needed spruce up, and yet few Gold Coasters would even know he exists.

From the shore, he’s just a blob of yellow and blue and for kids and adults who splash about on his sturdy frame, he’s a safe pontoon. “Sam the Safe Swim Man”, or as its creators at Superior refer to him “Mal in the Middle”, was first put on the water as a swim platform in 2002.

As Councillor Dawn Crichlow of Division 6 recounts: “It was a Division 6 initiative for the residents and visitors to the Gold Coast to enjoy our beautiful foreshore and Broadwater. Sam the Safe Swim Man is a very practical swim platform within the swimming enclosure. He has provided many years of fun and safe play for many thousands of Gold Coasters and visitors.”

The Gold Coast’s own Superior Jetties custom-designed and built the water man, complete with a shirt and pants in the colours of the Gold Coast City Council, and a face welded into the modules in matching polyethylene colours. The system was completed with stainless steel swim ladders for ultimate safety and durability given the harsh marine and UV conditions he has to endure.

After 12 years immersed in the briny Broadwater, it was time for a clean, and as Superior CEO John Hogan explains, a few minor touch ups and Sam/Mal is as good as new.

“After 12 years of service, this year the Gold Coast City Council maintenance team asked for a few spare parts which would allow them to give the man a good clean. He was completely scrubbed over to remove algae, then reattached to his mooring ready to do another decade of providing lots of fun for the young and young at heart on the Gold Coast.”

Simon Hall GCCC Foreshore Supervisor said all the pontoon needed “was a good spring clean with a high-pressure water spray”.

“Nothing had deteriorated over the past 12 years, just a few stainless steel bolts. Apart from that, it was all good. It cops a hammering from all the kids jumping off it. It lasted bloody good for 12 years!”

Over summer and for the next six months, Surf Life Saving Queensland will be keeping the Broadwater beach and swimming enclosure safe, providing trained personnel to watch over that section of the Broadwater Parklands at no cost to rate payers.

“Surf Life Saving Queensland will be patrolling the swimming enclosure, and Sam, from September to February free of charge as a community service,” says Councillor Crichlow. “And people will have another good reason to come to the Broadwater Parklands and enjoy all it has to offer, and meet Sam/Mal.”

The aerial photo shows a close up from a chopper or find Sam/Mal on Google Earth.

For more on custom-designed and made rotomoulded products visit www.superiorjetties.com