Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Funny, really.

There was a time, on the boat, when I could disappear for weeks at a time. Nobody bothered.

Had HF, VHF and 27Meg radio, but rarely bothered to "check in". Mostly due to the knowledge that if I did begin a "regular" check in procedure, some dickhead would consider it standard, and get worried if i missed a sched.

Can remember one night, long time ago. For some reason became uncharacteristically "responsible" and on one trip decided to check in to the local Coast Guard radio watch on the Great Sandy Straits in Queensland.

Religiously kept the morning and afternoon sched (schedule) [8am, 5pm] for about four days.

One day was out fishing in the dinghy. The day passed, still rowing around, forgot to get back to the radio. Sun lowered under horizon, still fishing.

Darkness came. Two blokes in a tinnie motor past, briefly shone a torch on me.
??, think i.

That was it, nothing more.

Still bothers me, that image.


GreenSmile said...

you mustn't be too hard on the coast guard. But if they get obnoxiously and officiously and intrusively concerned about your comings and goings, you could suggest they apply for work along our New England coast...good place for busybodies.

We have lost 3 or 4 small trawlers and lobstering boats this winter. One was in radio contact one minute and then gone the next...capsized because freezing rain overweighted the superstructure, it had inches of ice [or so said the crew in their last message] The storms on land have been few and struck glancing blows. The center of the low pressure has uncharacteristically tracked over open water just a hundred or two miles south of its usual haunts. Cold air spinning over the gulf stream picks up incredible amounts of moisture as it winds off shore and then eastward but on its next 180 degrees it runs back into more of the cold front and drops all its snow right back in the ocean.

Coast guard that bother you in good weather..we got those too but they are in Florida or Louisanna and they are looking for suspicious travel paterns and private landings...drugs.

Davo said...

Um, Greensmile, perhaps using the words "coast guard" was misleading. We have nothing whatsoever similar to the USA Coast Guard. Seafarers around Australia have a bunch of old blokes, all volunteers, in different states and also under different names .. coastal patrol, sea rescue etc .. who sit around the radio on weekends. "Dad's Army" perhaps.

Davo said...

. but that, also, is misleading. We have a very highly developed infrastructure for "sea rescue", is very informal, mostly .. until needed, then goes into high gear. Getting Tony Bullimore out of the Southern ocean some years ago, is one case in point.

Fleming said...

Apparently the sea rescue forces in England are more intensely organized than in Australia, which led to this embarrassing incident: When I was living in Brighton I raced a Mirror Dinghy in the sailing club there. Normally at the end of the racing we carried our dinghies into the enclosed storage area, reporting our return to officials so they'd be sure all were safe. One very foggy evening after the racing I decided I'd sail the dinghy out around the long east dock and about a quarter of a mile down the waterfront and pull it up on the beach in front of my flat until morning. So I asked the young lady who had sailed with me to report my plan to the race officials and be sure they knew that I was keeping the dinghy overnight.

During the evening, after coming home from dinner at a cafe, I kept hearing activity on the water -- including a helicopter which went up and down the shore using a spotlight. What could that be all about? I was about to go out to the beach to watch when the telephone rang and an extremely impatient voice told me that a search for me had been underway since my dinghy was reported missing when the club locked up.

I got the impression that the man didn't believe me when I said I'd been careful to have Helen report my plan.

He said, "We've had boats out for two hours looking for you. HERE we care about people."

I gather he thought that in America nobody would have bothered to hunt for me. Maybe he was right.

Anyway, I felt terrible.

Davo said...

Mmm, Fleming "clubs" have their own rules, I guess. Can remember one day some time ago, had the yacht out on Great Sandy Straits. Went across to the sand-flats in the dinghy to pump for yabbies. Not a soul about, was minding own business when I hear "Oy", from the shore. Some bloke from the suburb of Hervey Bay about 10 Klm away had decided to take his brand new, you beaut speedboat fer a run, nosed it onto the beach in the early morning at high tide and found himself stranded. Had enough sense to know that he was stuck there for 8 hours, but had no radio.

Took him back to my bus, had a chat and cup of coffee, called Hervey Bay on the VHF, asked them to ring his wife and say that he wouldn't be back 'til later .. then we spent the rest of the day fishing.

Ah, those were the days ..

Fleming said...

Davo, I love these boat stories.

That speedboat fellow was lucky you heard him. What happened to him reminds me of a story my father told. Before I was born he and my mother moved to St. Augustine, on the Atlantic, from a farm in inland Florida. He bought a small boat and outboard motor and tied the boat to the marina dock. When he came back later -- at low tide -- the boat was dangling in the air, its stern about a foot above the water.

I still feel bad about that incident at Brighton, but I trusted my racing mate to make sure the club knew I was taking the boat. Is there a lesson there?

I very much admire the actions the club took to rescue me.