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Old 16-01-2010, 04:47   #1
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The Boats that Ate Percy

So I land on this Coral Sea island and the male leaseholder is at a hut adjacent the anchorage waiting to greet me. He tells me how the place is suffering a bad case of “The Man Who Came to Dinner” and of how he would love to see the offender removed from the island. I was also told a bit of the history of the place and about the struggle that was happening to retain the lease against a National Parks resumption plan. Furthermost, I was informed that yachtsmen have always been welcome in this “paradise”.

I again met the leaseholder at the lagoon which he explains is a safe mooring with an old but useable wharf and some mooring poles. My curiosity about this place was growing and I decided to go for a walk to the homestead. All along the track are happy signs welcoming visitors. On arriving at the homestead I am greeted with some hospitality and offered warm clothes and a drink. Despite being greeted by such hospitality especially by the lady leas holder after her partner had earlier explained about how their hanger-on was infringing on their privacy I cut my visit short (noting this was also encouraged by the leaseholder banging something around).

My next stop was to drop in and say hello to the ‘Man Who Came to Dinner”. He turned out to be a semi-harmless “nutter” (his word) who like me also enjoyed some surfing and mountaineering. Due the fact my auto pilot had been playing up I decided it might be handy to have him aboard for the next leg of my journey. Nevertheless, he still seemed to want to spend most of our first meeting talking about his fights and injuries which was the kind of thing I had set to sea to escape.

The next day we set off in my lovely little boat. I let him take the helm as I run about checking bits and pieces. When I politely asked him to stay a bit wider from shore I was told by this extraordinary character how he was an A-grade kayaker who could pick rocks and bottom contours at ease. All good till we got to the first nights anchorage where he was happy to man the bow neglecting to pick the knee deep coral heads I was lucky enough to notice from the helm. Despite the fact we had been sailing across a trough at the tail end of a cyclone I also felt he was a bit disappointed that I was reluctant to proceed to our ultimate destination that night so he could go out partying the next day that just happened to be New Years Eve.

The next morning things did not get much better. I went to change a worn alternator belt only to find the spare someone had left on the boat was far too small to be of any use. Man Who Came to Dinner’s response was that we should sail back to the island where he assured me there would be many belts to pick from. After he somehow dropped the hatch cover to the anchor well overboard I turned into Captain Bligh and he decided it was definitely time to return to the island. I could tell this by the way he spent about twenty minutes trying to contact the leaseholder on the VHF pleading for someone to come and rescue him. His effort was in vain as we were well out of range of radio help.

Little had he listened to me about how out to sea you are basically all alone until things get so bad you need to pull the pin on the 406 epirb. This was obviously not that serious a moment as I had isolated the starter battery an knew it was nearly fully charged and would get me to the original destination. Similarly, I was not going anywhere without that hatch and waited for the water to clear on the low tide, put on my diving gear and jumped over and found the thing. The four or so hours had given my new companion a bit of time to think things over and I conferred it was no use to go back over old issues and agreed to drop him back where I had found him.

We get back to the island after dark and my friend freaks when he realises I am going to navigate into the lagoon by moonlight. My reaction was to tell him to go below and not come out till I say so! Soon we are moored and he is off the boat assuring me he would get the leaseholder to bring the belts down the next morning.

Next morning comes and the male leaseholder is nothing but helpful. We decided the best plan of attack is if I anchor back out in the bay and row the batteries in so he could assist by re-charging them. All good until I attempt to leave the wharf and a rope dangling from the maze securing his tender gets wrapped around my prop ripping the engine from its mounts and causing oil to spew from the same into my bilge. It was enough to make a grown man cry and the leaseholder responded by jumping in the water to attempt to release the rope. I handed him a knife and he tried to cut the rope free. His efforts where hampered by his shortness of breath. Still, after I suggested that due the fact I am a keen spearfisherman and breath hold diver that I should be doing the cutting he still kept going like a man on a mission till the rope was released.

After he had towed me back to the wharf he said something like “well you are not going anywhere now” and assured me he would help repair my boat. The repairs in fact took a lot longer than I expected and the leaseholder worked diligently till the boat was near ready to leave. This took about ten days and I told him and his wife that if I knew it was going to be that complicated I would have simply sailed downwind to the nearest port on the next favourable winds after notifying my insurance company and arranging a tow into the harbour.

However, I honestly feel a public liability claim of this nature would not have been in the best interest of the leaseholder especially where the National Parks might be looking for any excuse to cease their residency. The leaseholders aversion to me making a claim was confirmed when his finished repair left my engine alignment slightly mutilated and dripping oil. When I notified him I would have to make a claim in order to get my boat back into good sea-going condition I was told I was basically an unappreciative “moron” (exact word)before being order off the island.

So I left the island that night straight into a three and a half day up-wind sail into atrocious weather conditions. A few shredded sails later I made it to a port where I could pursue professional repairs. From the first qualified assessment it looks like the boat needs a lot of work and will be spending some time on the hardstand. This did seem to contradict with the leaseholder’s opinion that I simply needed to find a wreaked engine and get myself another engine plate due the old one being fractured and still leaking oil despite and emergency weld and refit.

I know some people are going to read this little black comedy and pick the players involved. The point is I am not being unappreciative and do respect the effort the leaseholder and the welder put into the repair. The real issue though is that it was my boat and I should have every right to rely on insurance and professionals doing a proper repair of the damage. As I told the leaseholder I need to take the boat to sea and have to be confident of its reliability. It was also like I told the leaseholder that my time was valuable and I have a family so did not have an indefinite amount of time to spend on his island toying with repairs and repaying the debt working on his property. Again, it is not I am unappreciative; just I keep my boat in survey and pay my premiums knowing if anything like this eventuates I will be covered. So when the day comes why shouldn’t I make a claim?


(Yes the experience was very much reminiscent of the film “The Cars That Ate Paris”!)
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Old 16-01-2010, 04:52   #2
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Sorry I could not read but about 1/4 of this...seemed like your writing a fiction story-forgive me - no offence intended -
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Old 16-01-2010, 05:03   #3
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Sorry I could not read but about 1/4 of this...seemed like your writing a fiction story-forgive me - no offence intended -
Buddy – all is cool – I can assure you it is factual. However, at the time it felt like I was trapped in some kind of bizarre Aussie movie (hence the title) and I still really don’t think I have recovered!

The other sad thing is that these are just the bare facts – to protect those involved I have tried to turn it into a bit of a black comedy rather than a personal slur. Maybe too I need a bloody good laugh?
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Old 16-01-2010, 05:15   #4
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Holy moley
Is this an excerpt from a wacky novel or a slice of real life madness? If it is true,

Why let a fruitloop on your boat?
Why let him stay on your boat?
Why get involved in such bizarre situations?

Amazing!!!
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Old 16-01-2010, 05:28   #5
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Holy moley
Is this an excerpt from a wacky novel or a slice of real life madness? If it is true,

Why let a fruitloop on your boat?
Why let him stay on your boat?
Why get involved in such bizarre situations?

Amazing!!!
Mate - it is as real as the damage and repair bill! Likewise, I feel like taking a valium and getting some sleep as I need to pack tomorrow before I leave what is left of my boat and get a plane home.

I also note that the lady leaseholder is a relative of one of the past leaseholders. Both these individuals have done a lot to support and welcome yachtsmen to this secluded location. Maybe I thought I was doing the right thing by these people and ended up having a really bad run? Still before I made the choice to sail away I was really starting to feel uncomfortable about my situation.
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Old 16-01-2010, 05:33   #6
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You silly boy
Cant you see trouble when its happening to you?

I was shaking my head in disbelief but now im laughing about it.

Learn the lesson.
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Old 16-01-2010, 15:50   #7
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You silly boy
Cant you see trouble when its happening to you?

I was shaking my head in disbelief but now im laughing about it.

Learn the lesson.
Unfortunately I have to agree and I am gald you had a good laugh. The best thing I did was to make a runner (albeit slowly against the wind) to the mainland to have things sorted out properly. Like you also suggest this is one experience I am really going to learn a few lessons from.

Point One: some people are a liability on boats
Point two: we pay insurance for a reason
Point three: it is my boat, I am the skipper and I make the ultimate call
Point four: in case of engine failure always remember those sails are there for a reason and will eventually get you to the nearest port or even your planned destination.

I am sure I can make it to at lest ten easy little lessons!

(Better have my morning cuppa and start packing)
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Old 16-01-2010, 15:53   #8
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We get back to the island after dark and my friend freaks when he realises I am going to navigate into the lagoon by moonlight.
What lagoon at Percy?

http://maps.google.com.au/maps?f=q&s...27874&t=h&z=16
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Old 16-01-2010, 16:01   #9
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What lagoon at Percy?

middle percy island - Google Maps
Like I state I was sure someone would eventually pick the location and don’t want this all to reflect too harshly on the Island, hence the comical slant. At first I was enthralled by the history of this place and it is a useful stop-over for people navigating the area. Regardless, the drama started at the A-frame hut and the damage occurred in the lagoon (mozzie and sandfly infested mud hole?) behind the same anchorage/bay.
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Old 16-01-2010, 18:46   #10
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Quote:
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Holy moley
Is this an excerpt from a wacky novel or a slice of real life madness? If it is true,

<snip>

Why get involved in such bizarre situations?

Amazing!!!
Um...people who live in glass houses shouldn't lob thermonuclear warheads.

SurferShane, maybe you made a mistake but I think it's worth pursuing.
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Old 19-01-2010, 02:15   #11
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The good news is that I finally got home (by plane) with the puppy I had onboard for my daughter for Christmas. Both have grown a bit during the delay, but both are now very happy.

The insurance company is also processing the claim and hopefully I will be heading back to finish the voyage somewhere in the near future on a boat that is as mechanically sound as when I sailed away a month ago.
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Old 19-01-2010, 03:58   #12
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Sad story Shane, hope it has'nt put you off cruising. Mate if you want surf you gotta get down this way.
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Old 19-01-2010, 04:17   #13
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Sad story Shane, hope it has'nt put you off cruising. Mate if you want surf you gotta get down this way.
Thanks Mate

From what I have heard there has not been many waves around Newcastle and I have been lucky enough to arrive home to a healthy bit of southerly swell. Just before I left I was getting that desperate I nearly went surfing in one foot North Queensland wind slop in a howling onshore with stingers.

On the cruising side, I spent a bit of today getting quotes on new sails, looking at some up-grades and checking I am doing everything kosher with the MSB. Thinking about how the boat will be when I get it all together I am keen to get back to work and put some dollars away. I know a lot of people complain about how much boats cost, but I am really looking forward to getting mine up to standard.
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Old 19-01-2010, 08:07   #14
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Sounds misserable.

If it was an inboard engine, with a V belt did you think about tieing a rope around the pullies, and keep going?

Works great for v belts, and "OK" for splined belts. Worst case, the engine throws the line off, and you get to put another one on.

Then, again, your there, and I'm in an office. Clearly we know who's getting the better trade!
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Old 19-01-2010, 12:14   #15
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