Chapter 108

Brisbane to Gladstone 1988

I became a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia on 4th February, 1988. This was of immense importance to me as I was always conscious that I had not finished the degree course and this was an acknowledgement by my peer group that I had reached the required standard and experience and complimented my appointment when I was registered as a Professional Engineer on 27th January, 1987.

Easter was approaching and I again entered Rebecca in the Brisbane/Gladstone race, this time in the Cruising Division. The safety check was done by Jeff Turner at Manly and all of our equipment complied with what was specified in the ‘Blur Book’. The crew was: myself, Geoff, Ron, George and Bruce and Geoff again did the provisioning. There was the compulsory briefing at QCYC Shorncliffe the night before the race started and for the sake of convenience we left Manly early and motored to Shorncliffe. There was no wind so it was a slow start. There was another steel multi chine yacht in the race Thurloo, an Alan Payne design owned by Pappy Doig. We were matching it well and then I realised Pappy Doig was the tug skipper I had met in Moresby and went down the coast with him to haul a fishing boat off the reef, so it goes to show you never know who will turn up next.
The wind was variable and we crossed each other’s course while looking for better winds, especially Blue Nose and Fortitude and Thurloo. We ended up motoring to South Trees wharf and then sailed to the finish line to finish with the tide at 17.35 hrs. rather than push the tide all the way up the harbour and take another day. We rafted up with other yachts at O’Connell Wharf and were presented with a carton of Four X beer and a plaque for the boat from the Mayor. No matter what time a yacht arrived there was someone there to welcome them in and this was reminiscent of the welcomes in Noumea. Next morning we moved to the marina where a berth was allocated. The marina was an excellent development with plenty of room and good facilities. At the presentation in the afternoon we found that Rebecca came second in the Cruising division and won an Esky wine cooler. George and Bruce left for Brisbane in the afternoon and the rest of us partied on.
Brisbane Radio advised a strong wind warning resulting from a 1000mb low near Fraser Island, moving north with 20-30 knot NE-SE winds so we left Gladstone 0930 hours Tuesday, 5th April and anchored in Pancake Creek at 1500 hours with Thurloo, War Canoe and Dreamtime. The weather eased overnight so we left early morning and motor sailed to Hervey Bay, anchoring off Big Woody Island at 22.30 hrs. The next morning the weather was perfect so we proceeded to Inky’s Point and at 1400 hours we followed a trawler through the bar, but when he got in line with the leads it was a different picture and he turned back, and so did we, and we anchored over-night off the SE end of Fraser Island. Blue Nose arrived and we had a few drinks on board. We left early, the next morning but met a ‘rogue’ wave just at the turn point and worse than yesterday, so used discretion and turned back passing Blue Nose on the way out. Blue Nose crossed the bar with no trouble so we turned around again and crossed over with no problems. It was a totally different sea this time. There was a heavy down pour of rain mid- afternoon and we met the oil tanker Leonard and two bulk carriers in the Main Channel. This time I came back through the East Channel to Manly and could not pick out the Green Island beacons because of the background lights and tiredness showing; even in one’s home territory you can have problems. 0300 hrs. Saturday we tied up to Marina berth. Blue Nose arrived 0330 hours…and so ended another Brisbane/Gladstone event. Due to a couple of uncontrolled jibes off Breaksea Spit, because the preventer was set too tight, we ended up with a bent boom and had it replaced and had some patches on chafe strips sewn on the mainsail. There is a need for constant vigilance and learning from mistakes.