An Avalon couple have started a unique on water delivery service for boat owners.
Having moved to Avalon in 2018 with their three children, Mel and David Moss took a family trip to West Head last year and were sitting at Resolute Beach when the idea for on water delivery came to them.
“February last year, we went bushwalking at West Head and walked down to the beach. We were sitting there and I thought, ‘How nice would a couple of beers be right now?’
“We had brought snacks for the kids and some water. I thought someone must be doing this but when I looked into it, there was nobody doing packaged liquor delivery to water,” said Mrs Moss.
That is when Mel was inspired with the idea for Cellar By Sea, delivering packaged liquor to boats moored in Pittwater. Her vision was to provide a service to boat owners and take the hassle out of having to leave a mooring and travel to shore for additional supplies.
Husband David, who is a qualified accountant, said the concept was attractive as both a lifestyle and business opportunity.
“Doing what I do, you see people kick off businesses all the time and fail. Unless you do something unique or with a competitive advantage, chances are it will be a struggle. Of all the different ideas we kicked around over the years, this one was not easy but delivery on water was unique. Mel found something that had a competitive advantage, so it made sense,” said Mr Moss.
Moving to the Northern Beaches has proved to be a literal sea change for the Moss family. Mel grew up in country NSW and David is from the Blue Mountains.
“I grew up out near Wee Jasper. Dave grew up in the lower Blue Mountains. We met at University and moved to the city. I love the country but I’m not a country girl. I’m a salt water spirit, I have to be near the ocean. It just took years to find it. There wasn’t a place in the city that was like here so I was never satisfied.
“We moved up here 2018. We have been in Sydney 20 years. I am quite a nomad, which is why the water life suits me, I could never settle. We’ve lived everywhere in Sydney except the Shire and Middle Harbour.
“No-one tells you about up here. You don’t know how amazing it is. I remember driving down from Mona Vale and getting the shivers. My entire body realised I had found my home. I will never make the mistake of leaving again. I get itchy if I’m away for even one night. I have to be here.
“My kids are Avalon kids. We went out for dinner on Mother’s Day and they didn’t have shoes on. I said, ‘You have to put shoes on!’ As soon as we moved here it was like we had planted them and they grew and flourished.
“We know that this incredible utopia that we live in is only enjoyable if you give back. So I got on the P&C and they were looking for fundraising ideas. I said let’s do a picnic on the Avalon golf course, create a vintage kids and family day with music, which was Avalon on the Green . I had to get a liquor licence, permission from Council. All the things I learned from that I brought to the business,” said Mrs Moss.
The challenge of starting an on water liquor delivery business became clear as Mel learned how many times the idea had previously been unsuccessfully raised with the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA).
“Liquor licences are public, so you can see who has applied before to do this sort of thing. It was like seeing dead wagons on the side of the road. So many people had given up. It spurred me on. It took so long and we spent so much money.
“This is a specific on water delivery packaged liquor licence. There is no licence in Australia specifically made for delivering on water. When we went to Liquor & Gaming NSW, they had never done it before. We have to deal with their high up people because we are so new and unusual.
“It took us eight months to get this liquor licence. The IGLA meets once a month to hear unusual cases. It took them three meetings over three months to come to a decision about our business. It was basically a character assessment over a year.
“We finally got through and then the Northern Beaches lockdown happened, we lost the boating season. Then the floods came and nobody wanted to be out on the water. We wondered what the universe was telling us. This winter now is about doing what we can to be ready for summer,” said Mrs Moss.
After a tough start, with their savings invested in the new business, Mel said encouragement from the boating community keeps them positive and motivated to continue.
“People are going out of their way to support us so we can keep the lights on through winter. We are doing everything we can, it’s an immense sacrifice, Dave’s working two jobs. Our relationship with our customers gets me up in the morning. There’s nothing unpleasant about what we do, which is unusual in a service business.
“Everyone says to us we are trailblazers. There is no-one else we can look at to see what boats they are using and how they are doing things. So we are doing the trial and error for the future. We have to make all the mistakes to learn from.
“People will go out for the day, and it will be one of those cracking Pittwater afternoon’s and they’ll decide to stay for the sunset. All they want is some cocktails and cheese. We can bring that. People are really loving what we are offering, that spurs us on,” said Mrs Moss.
Cellar By Sea operates their delivery barge out of Sirsi Marina at Newport, servicing Pittwater from 10.00am – 5.00pm, Friday to Sunday or at other times via pre-order.
Images: Northern Beaches Advocate