Monday, March 28, 2016

Orpheus Easter 2016

What are you doing for Easter? Going out Friday, coming back Monday. Same as Jesus.
Orpheus Anchorage. 18 yachts
The Townsville Yacht Club held a Bluewater Race to Orpheus Island which was then followed by a two day party on the Island over the Easter break. Notice of this event was given months before and I did put it the question to everyone, “Do we want to do this, or indeed anything over the holiday?”
 In true Dreamagic tradition I got no reply.  Sarah, a friend of mine from Cairns asked if she could come down with a couple of Easter Orphan friends for a sail. Absolutely! Then Jo, who is part Malaysian and the only Banana allowed on this boat found herself with time on her hands. (Before anyone criticises, Banana is Jo’s description of herself. Yellow on the outside, white inside. I think it’s very clever). Could she come down for a few days? Absolutely! So on the Thursday before Easter Jo drove the 3.5 hours down to arrive about 7 pm. Sarah had to work until 6 so that group were scheduled to arrive about 11pm. Jo and I did some provisioning as all shops would be closed Good Friday, bought copious quantities of wine and returned back to DM to attempt to stow it all. My first lesson that morning was early, my last lesson didn’t finish until late and by the time I had swapped cars, collected Bob, met Jo, shopped, stowed, I was pretty stuffed. It was 10.30 so I suggested I have a quick nap before Sarah got here. Unfortunately there was a disconnect in communication, Jo also went to bed, complete with earplugs and I was woken up at 2.30 am to Bob barking. Climbing out of bed I then heard the not very happy voice of Sarah.  Seems due to another communication breakdown I had neglected to tell Sarah which marina the boat was in. She had gone to TYC, finally got through the security gate, searched all the fingers looking for Dreamagic, and, as only Sarah could, got caught up in a Police siege with armed officers surrounding a yacht and trying to remove a dangerous nutter. Not satisfied with the level of excitement she had then come to Bluewater Marina, and scaled not one but two security fences to search the fingers for Dreamagic. Bob’s barking had located us. I then met Drew and Megan. You know how first impressions are important. Well I though these guys were delightful, fun and would be good travelling companions. Their impression of me as someone who has irresponsibly made them temporarily homeless, at that moment….well best get their stuff on the boat, and everyone bedded down.

Good Friday dawned a beautiful day. We left about 7.30 am, went to the fuel wharf to pick up diesel, and set off in a flat sea to make the 45 nms to Orpheus. Someone was definitely smiling at us. The wind filled and we put our kite up. Sailing with Spinnaker only we reached 7.5 knts and then a spotted mackerel committed suicide on our line. Reeling him in while the boat was still moving was challenging but successful. It seems Drew worked on a trawler and filleted the fish with the precision of a surgeon. Frame and head over the side, one fillet in the freezer, one in small chunks and marinading in lemon juice in record time. This holiday may have had an unfortunate start but sailing does not get better than this.

We made Orpheus at the same time as the leading race yachts. I was hoping to pick up a public mooring but alas, some yachts had obviously come out the day before and bagged those. We anchored in 10 meters of water, initially alone but soon surrounded by the rest of the boats from the TYC fleet. We were rewarded with the spectacle of the last yachts crossing the line with a setting sun behind them. It’s one day past full moon and the rise was equally impressive. The night was spent eating, drinking and telling jokes. The guitar came out and Jo and I took turns in murdering songs as, at least in my case, I found red wine appears to affect both my fingers ability to form chords, and my ability to memorize words.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Should crew be asked to contribute to the cost of sailing?

Boats are expensive toys. They are expensive to buy, and they are expensive to maintain. Just tying Dreamagic to a berth in Cairns is $350 a week, then there is the cost of wear and tear, fuel and damage. This whole cost falls to the boat owner, but should the crew contribute?

 The law says that a private boat cannot be used for charter. In Queensland it falls to Maritime Services Queensland to enforce this, and quite rightly they do. However, I asked them about whether making a contribution to costs is OK, and it is, providing it is reasonable. Insurance is another consideration and Dreamagic is not insured unless being used privately. I called my insurers regarding crew making contributions to cost and they are quite happy with that, under the same provision as MSQ.

So it becomes a moral decision. Some skippers want to shoulder the costs themselves, and that is their prerogative. Whether they feel some nobility in this action, or whether they feel that gives them more control over their crew I don’t know but it is their generous choice.

Some boat owners find the financial burden hard to carry, or feel it is unfair.  I admit I am one of these. I know how much boats cost and have no problem in contributing on the odd times I am a guest on someone else’s boat. I think the last time I did that was at the CYC Ladies Day Race in 2014, I was on an Adams 10 and I think it cost me $25. On DM I charge between $10 and $25 per day depending on what is happening, where we are going, how much fuel we will burn, and what provisions Dreamagic is expected to provide.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with this but some skippers, some crew and some clubs find this offensive. Some crew feel that they should not be asked to contribute either financially or in terms of time to prepare the boat. If your name is Dennis Connor, Jessica Watson or James Spithill I can probably see your point. If it isn’t, then another boat will probably suit you better. Some skippers get quite irate at the thought of someone collecting some money from their crew to use the boat. My view is simple. The boat cost $200,000. The weekly maintenance and parking of it is about $650 a week, so if I get $100 back, so what? Everyone has had a good time, and my crew are not complaining because they know I am still heavily subsidizing their day out. So try as I might, I do not understand the venom spat by other boat owners. Surely we all run our boats as we individually think fit.
And if you are a boat owner and reading this, and you think that some financial help would be handy, make sure you check with your Yacht Club before implementing it. With an attitude that would be the envy of Malcom Turnbull, some Yacht Clubs feel that while they have the right to charge people to sail on your boat. You don’t.  And for some clubs it’s serious. Very serious actually. More serious than say, starting a fight in a resort owned by your biggest sponsor. Even more serious than say, starting a fight in another Yacht Club that is having a Charity event. They are misdemeanours compared to breaking this unspoken law. And the penalty is harsh. Firstly, you will not be allowed to use the club wharf for 6 months UNLESS you are picking up and dropping off people who have paid the club to sail on a boat you have provided for free. That clearly has come straight out of the Liberal Party room, but if that is the punishment, then so be it. Suck it up.

 But wait there is more.

Additionally, you will not be allowed to use the amenities block for 3 months and must surrender your key immediately, (presumably to replace the 8 lost in the past three months). Now you see how serious this transgression is? The most serious penalty that can be handed down bar hanging, (and actually that may have been kinder). You will not be allowed to go to the toilet for three months. Now that is hard to suck up. Its inhumane.  Even the Nazis didn’t think of that.  And I am 62. I don’t think I can still hold it that long.

So, you have been warned.

This script is copyright, all rights reserved. John Cleese is currently considering using it for his sequel to Fawlty Towers.