Monday, April 27, 2009

Anzac Day, Picnics and Canoe Races

Wow, troops, things are livening up here!!!
During the last two weeks, Guy has been getting ready for the Inaugural First National Macleay Island Canoe Race on 26th April 2009... run by Lions International ... a proposed canoe race around the island ... some 15km. Lions not being very nautical, they had asked the Boat Club to assist on the water so Guy as Sailing Master had got a volunteer team together. Nine boats with eighteen crew, a dozen or so club members on shore in various roles ... it was a BIG ASK!!!

But first, it was Anzac Day and as firies, we had to attend the Dawn Service in our spekky yellow uniforms in the Big Red Truck. NO PHOTOS!!! We set the alarm for 4am (GROAN!!!) and got up in the dark to dress and be down at the Fire Station by 4.45am. There we found several sleepyheads drinking instant coffee and enjoying Chrissie's bacon and egg muffins (wow!!). Collecting the gang together, we set off for the top of the island at 5am.

Once there, we parked the trucks until the march was ready to commence, when we fell in behind the marchers. (Who was the person who let off a little beep on the siren as we followed the march?) Ross's little granddaughter did this incredible three steps in the air ... had to laugh!!!

The service was wonderful, attended by about 500 people. We stood in Pat's Park at the top of the island as the dawn came up over Stradbroke. There was a strong tide ripping down the Canaipa passage and the only sounds to be heard were Tom on his bagpipes and the morning birds. Very moving. After the service, the RSL handed out traditional tots of rum and milk ... and people actually drank it!!! Stunned, I am!! Yuk!!

We headed back to the trucks and drove to the Fire Station before returning home to pack for the Anzac Day Picnic. The Boat Club had managed to get 7 boats going over to Horseshoe Bay on Peel Island for the day. 5 yachts including ours and two power boats.

Perfect weather on the way over ... we sailed all the way. On our boat, we had Chas and Barbara, who both seemed to enjoy themselves.

Horseshoe Bay was absolutely perfect despite the enormous number of boats. I counted about 130 at one stage and that didn't include tinnies and tenders. For those interested, Peel Island used to be home to the last leper colony in Queensland.

We had a bbq on the beach and several glasses of vino. Some of us went for a swim whilst others lazed in the shade and chatted. It was a lovely day, over all too soon, as we decided to head back
to Macleay. The tide was well out by then and we could nearly wade out as far as the boat.

It was very rough on the way back. With the tide out, the many banks and shallows in the bay were a hazard and we were thanking our lucky stars that we had a retractable keel when the depth (or lack of depth) showed at 5.5 feet. If we had a fixed keel, we would have been well and truly aground like one other luckless member of the club.

But we didn't escape unscathed. First of all, Barbara was knocked off balance and grabbed our aerial. SNAP! Woops, didn't need the radio, did we? Then we did an accidental slam gybe and half a dozen slides on the mainsail snapped. Suddenly, the mainsail was loose from the mast and threatening to tear away.

Guy took control of the helm and shouted instructions for somebody to go up and take down the mast. Who could that be? Yup, you guessed it ... pick on the novice!!! "Alene, get up in the bow and get that mainsail down. NOW!!" (Thanks, Guy!)

So there I am, terrified, standing up by the mast trying to pull down this b..... sail in pitching seas and strong winds. Suffice to say I was very glad when it finally came down and I could crawl back to the cockpit, making a mental note to drink copious quantities of alcohol as soon as I could get ashore.

With the sails down, we had to motor back to Macleay, a slow process as we only have a very small motor. But we finally pulled into Dalpura to drop off Chas and Barbara. More troubles, of course, for it was still very rough. We couldn't pick up a mooring so had to drop anchor. Guy took Barbara and Chas in to shore on the dinghy (two trips) whilst Little Miss Worrywort sat and fretted in case the anchor slipped and she had to Save the Day.

Guy returned and gave me my next mission. "I will pull up the anchor whilst you start the motor, put it in gear and hold her steady until the anchor is up. Then steer us out of here." Yes, master!! The novice who has never started the engine, or put it in gear will hold the boat steady in these huge waves whilst you exhibit great strength and dexterity by hauling up tons of mud from the bottom of the bay. Then I will try to avoid several dozen large swinging craft of various shapes and sizes as I steer out of the mooring area ... another thing I have never done.


But it went well. We didn't hit anything. Guy didn't fall overboard and we finally got back to our own mooring. Almost dark. Now we have to get ashore ourselves. This entails throwing everything into the dinghy ... now it is dark ... and heading towards shore. We think we can see the Boat Club and we are now in 3 inches of water and probably 3 feet of mud. Someone has to go over the side to pull us ashore. WHO COULD THAT BE?

Sigh.'Nuff said.

Ashore, tired, bruised, muddy (very muddy) we toiled to put the dinghy away in the shed in the dark and headed for home ..... ah, home ... hot showers, large glasses of alcohol, sleep ..... to hear the phone ringing ... "Alene, can you come down to the Boat Club to help me set up for tomorrow?" .... "Guy, I need you to bring me my radio for tomorrow."



Guy rose at 5am to get started on his role as Safety Officer. I slept. And slept. Not rising till 7am when I staggered downstairs and started with a BIG cuppa coffee.

I got to the Boat Club around 9.30am to help make sandwiches for the afternoon function which followed the race. It looked pretty savage out there and I was exceptionally glad I was on dry land and not on a canoe. Quiet day for me ... nothing much to do until noon when I opened the bar and people started arriving for drinks and food.

Guy had a mad day organising all the safety boats and volunteers but there were no disasters and everything went well. The winner paddled round the island in one hour and ten minutes.

About fifty people turned up at the apres race function which lasted until about 6pm. Why so early? Our liquor licence only goes to 6pm on a Sunday. Simple really. But was I glad to close that bar!!! Looking forward to a quiet week!!!

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