Chapter 110

1988 was the year all of the little things needed to be done or finished

This was the year all of the little things needed to be done or finished. It is easy to put off doing things because you are too busy, but they catch up with you in the end. Early retirement was coming in for those 55 years and over and I had decided to retire at the end of the year when I was 58 and begin my cruising life on Rebecca before Christmas and before I turned 59 on 6th January, 1989. Things were going to plan.

We had the usual Sunday trips over the Bay and shuttling between Manly and Kangaroo Point; while at Manly I met Roy Roach from Aloha, an American yacht. Roy had a good dinghy for sale and on measuring it I found it fitted over the skylights to the saloon, between the mast tabernacle and the forepeak sliding hatch and it still gave access through the hatch. It came with cover and teak chocks so I could not resist buying it for $450. Fitting the chocks such that the dinghy could be secured upside down when at sea and right way up in port was another job where I underestimated the time to get it right but it ended up working well whereby using the jockey pole as a jib boom, with one end pivoted to the mast and the other connected to a masthead halyard and winch and a double sheave pulley to a bridle on the dinghy, so taking all the hard work out of getting the dinghy in and out of the water. Then there were charts to buy, courtesy flags and some lead pigs to be set in the keel as trim ballast.
While at Manly I met a fascinating character UTZ from the yacht Frauken. He left his yacht at Whangerei N.Z. while he sailed with Rolf to get Rolf’s yacht Condor back to Norway. UTZ was one of those ageless characters – he built Frauken, made his own clothes, was a craftsman with rope work and sails. I took the opportunity of having him put a ‘turks head’ on the steering wheel which I had previously bound in shock cord. To have the ‘turks head’ at top dead centre with the rudder in line with the yacht’s centre line gave one a visual indication of where rudder is positioned and a non-slip grip when hand steering.
In July I bought a Le Walder boom brake from Sydney to control jibes that can bend the boom. This acts as a rope brake and makes it easy to control the boom. No more bent booms or hits on the head as experienced by Geoff off New Caledonia. I remained up the river in August while Expo 88 was on. Oscar and Lyndon were playing and busking there and were very good. Then it was time to do some work on the house at 9 Dauphin Terrace, Highgate Hill. Several stumps had rotted through just below ground level and others waisted through so it was a case for checking them out and reinstating them. Gravel was dropped on the footpath and shovelled to the fence alignment to ensure the footpath was not blocked to pedestrian traffic. Each post was excavated around to see the extent of work and then formwork and steel reinforcing placed to reinstate the lower end of the post before concrete was mixed and placed around the post. Gravel was shovelled into the mixed for a 6:1 mix , six of gravel and one of cement. This was then poured from the mixer to buckets, carried by hand to the posts and poured into place. It seemed to be a never ending job. Then there was the laundry to be built. The original set up was basically a set of concrete tubs, a gas hot water system and a skeletal framework of hardwood studs. Eventually this was cleared away and a concrete floor poured and provision made for a toilet and shower recess and outlets for the washing machine and a single laundry tub. This was fitted in between the other jobs so August passed quickly.
Everything seemed to be closing in on me around this time. The work in the office did not vanish and I appreciated the efforts of the section which seemed to run whether I was there or not. The conference organising was running to plan and bookings made for pre-conference drinks on the evening Monday, 24th October, then presentation of papers Tuesday, 25th with the Conference Dinner that evening. Wednesday, 26th morning presentation then a free afternoon for organised tours or an outing with WAGS, ‘Wednesday afternoon gentlemen sailors’ from RQYS Manly. About six came with me on Rebecca and several in other yachts. The conference closed Thursday, 27th October. My biggest worry was to find and arrange for a suitable guest speaker for the Conference dinner. A committee, such as ours, has a wealth of contacts and interests and it proved all Engineers are not dull automatons interested only in their work. The Department of Harbours and Marine were acting for the Harbours Corporation to have a coal loading facility at Hay Point near Mackay and MacDonald Wagner were the Consultants. Vic Pullar was the chief for this project. In 1948 I worked with Vic in the Arts Construction Section of Brisbane City Council where a Mr. Charles Tranberg was the Works Construction Engineer. Mr. Tranberg later left the council to form his own consulting firm and Vic went with him to be joined later by a Dr. Charles Tranberg. There was also a Dr. Bill Tranberg with the Port of Brisbane Authority and I renewed my contact with them through the Johnsonian Club. It so happened Charlie T. was involved with theatricals at the University of Queensland and was friends with Dr. Peter Swannell, also interested in the theatre and enjoyed public speaking and when approached by Charlie T. agreed to be the guest speaker, and that is basically how we found the Guest Speaker.
On 5th and 6th September there was a Harbour Board Engineers Conference I attended and then on Friday, 9th September, 1988 I put in my notice of retirement on close of business 18th November, 1988. On 29th September I was gazetted to special duties as the Conference was taking up more of my time. To ensure the papers to be presented were received on time and be available for inclusion in the conference papers it was necessary to chase their progress through each stage from synopsis to final and check their content and this checking was shared by the committee members.
On Monday 24th October I was in the office and attended the evening function for drinks for Conference members to get to know each other and settle in at the Hilton Hotel. This went off well and according to plan and afterwards several came with me to the Johnsonian Club. The conference started next the morning and was well attended. That evening the Conference Dinner went off well and Peter Swannell was excellent as guest speaker combining humour with technical excellence. Wednesday was a half day for presentation of papers with the afternoon for sight-seeing. A mini bus took those wishing to sail with WAGS to RQYS Manly and I took six participants on Rebecca. The conference was a success.