Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Voyage of the Camargue

Dudley and Billie have bought a new sailboat ... Camargue, a 21' steel-hulled gaff rig. It had just been on the hard at Manly having a hull scrape and paint and a few staunch Tingira members were requested to sail it back to the island.
Unfortunately, Dudley had to return to work on the mine the morning the boat was ready to sail, so Billie enlisted the help of Ole and Irene to collect Camargue.
Ole rustled up a crew aboard his boat Nepenthe to sail to Manly ... enough for half of us to decamp to the Camargue for the return trip.

We all groaned a little at having to get out of bed and be on the beach and Dalpura by 7am but we made it nonetheless. Peter was first crew on board, Ole and Irene having spent the night on Nepenthe. Birgitta, Arend, Guy, Billie and I all managed to squeeze onto the tender for one trip out to Nepenthe, with all our gear piled around us. (Why are you buying a smaller tender, Ole? We only just made it on this one!)

It was cold on the water and there was barely enough wind to fill the large sails of Nepenthe. Ole cheated a little and started the motor whilst keeping the sails up and we were soon in the marina at Manly. We found Camargue was still on the hard and would be for another hour before it could be returned to the water so we walked into town for a coffee and a browse of the ship's chandlery.

Our merry band ... Irene, Birgitta, Arend, Billie, Alene, Guy and Ole (Peter took the shot)

When we returned, complete with champagne to launch Camargue, it was already in the water.

Then the fun began. Nobody had sailed a gaff rig before and certainly nobody knew how to rig the sails. The jib was easy but two booms on the mainsail? Hmm! Ole, Guy and Peter spent some time in a huddle before they finally raised the sail in triumph.

All set and we popped the champagne. We cheated a little and drank most of it before Billie poured the last few drops over the bow of the boat.

Peter, Guy and Alene were to sail Camargue back to Macleay, whilst the others relaxed in luxury aboard Nepenthe. Even Billie, the new owner, took one look at the tiny Camargue and opted for the 38' Hans Christian. Tut tut, Billie!!

We waved farewell and started off out of the marina. It is HUGE! Takes half an hour to clear at least!! But we finally got out to sea, having already been overtaken by Ole, whose motor was much larger. Did I say much larger? We only had a 4hp!!

And that proved a problem because there was totally no wind whatsoever. I have never seen Moreton Bay so calm.

Remember the line from The Ancient Mariner? "As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean"? Well, that was us.

We pottered, we tottered, we meandered until Ole lost patience and came back for us.

"You will never get to the island at that rate" he called. "I will have to tow you." So he threw out a tow rope which we ashamedly tied to the bow and off we went, still keeping our little outboard thrashing away to help a little bit.

Nearing Macleay at last, we threw off the shameful tow and pretended to come into harbour under our own steam. A long trip, uneventful but a satisfactory ending. The boat is at Dalpura on its mooring and ready for Dudley to take out sailing on his return from the mine.

Another triumph for Tingira!!

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