CLIENT: Gold Youth Fraser Island Voyage
VOYAGE NUMBER: 20230114
FROM: Manly to Manly
DATE: 20 January 2023
POSITION: Tangalooma, Moreton Is
REPORT: Skipper Angus
Command Day is an opportunity for the now battle-hardened crew to test their skills and show their development from barely being able to stand on the ship to being competent and safe sailors. This challenge is not easy, especially for those undertaking the Gold DOE award. Thus, our journey over the past two days have been fraught with danger, hardships, and lack of wind. You can’t describe two days of such an experience in a short summary and therefore it is my obligation and privilege as skipper to tell you the story of the first ever 24 Hour Command Crew.
Our fun and riveting story doesn’t start with hardship, it opens to a picturesque scene in Double Island Point Lagoon. We had the opportunity to stretch our legs and go for a swim in the crystal-clear waters before we set off. No seagull was safe from the crazed Bridie and Ned who boldly cleared the way along the beach. Our abilities with the footy as a group have grown leaps and bounds. We have grown such that it now lands in the general direction of its target. Though, as mature and respectable young adults, we knew once we saw a massive hill of sand next to the water that it would be only right to do the safe and reasonable thing and run down it as fast as humanly possible. Most remained on two feet, and crashed into the water with a thud or with an epic catch of the footy. Afterwards, we collected all our limbs and reattached those that got a bit loose, and made our way around the lagoon to a larger sand clearing. Top Gun Maverick was a massive movie this year and its effects were felt within the group. We couldn’t help ourselves and so, to the best of our Australian abilities, recreated the famous beach scene with a game of touch footy. Cooper got into character, guns out, intimidating the other team and his own alike. Ned, future Nudgee College First XV captain did his best to tear up on the loose sand with Xavier showing exceptional agility for a tighthead prop. Though, we aren’t the best at maths as a group; and, quickly lost track of the score. Despite this fact, the moment allowed us to really connect as a team before we began our voyage. We didn’t believe it to be the calm before a massive store; yet it was.
Filled with anticipation and excitement everyone hurriedly arrived at their stations for command day. Though the sail raising didn’t go smoothly as the boat seemed to have a neck infection, with the long time it took to inevitably raise the throat halyard. This led to a short mood amongst the crew as frustrations and tensions grew. However, eventually Dr. Skipper Chris came and cured the problem and once again the spirits rose. To onlookers, Xavier, the navigator, must have seemed confused as we headed North offshore trying to find any wind to carry us away from shore so that we could eventually turn around and head south without beaching ourselves. The Bureau of Meteorology’s forecast predicted 10-15kts yet despite this for the first two hours the main source of wind on the sails was the crew blowing into them. If only Cath made us burritos the night before, we would have got a lot more air. After Sail Master Aidan, Navigator Xavier, and myself turned the motor back on we made our way South into the night thinking we wouldn’t have too much to do in the night; until we did.
We trudged along on with the motor until Xavier, whom was in the charge at the time, decided to turn the motor off and we sailed slowly at 2kts until 10:30. I returned to the helm, a little dreary eyed, but keen to get moving. The wind had finally picked up, allowing us to open the sails and pick up a fair bit of speed, increasing to 7kts. But this came at a cost, 10 of our 20 questions we were allowed to ask were sacrificed to the Gamemaster Chris to learn the required technique to get us moving, to the disappointment of Blair who had appealed for the required action to take place but had since gone to sleep. Under the careful leadership of Cooper, Red Watch tore down the coast with no issue. Morale was at an all-time high, nothing could possibly ever in a million years go wrong; until it did.
In the early hours of Friday, we felt the wrath of Thor. White Watch in the trenches, held strong if not a bit soggy. They fought the forces of nature with bravery and true distinction. General Nicole’s epic governance lead them through. Her clear, concise and considered directions likely deserved a medal or knighthood so was the acclaim of the White Watch Leaders on staff; or, that’s what we tell her, shhhh! The conditions were the worst we have seen on the voyage. It did not just rain, the heavens fell. It was as if we had sailed through an hourlong waterfall, it seemed the ocean had turned upside down and descended upon us, it seemed as though there would be no end; until it did.
Silence. Silence is all that was heard for a few hours from the South Passage other than the soft pattering of the rain and the shivering of the freezing Blue Watch. The wind had died off quickly and sharply after the storm rolled on past. We were adrift, with no wind and little good ideas, Aiden desperately experimented with any sail configuration to try and get us going. In retrospect, and with the benefit of hindsight, we should have turned on the engine. Firstly, to keep us moving; and secondly, to get to Moreton Bay as the tide flowed in and not flowing out as we encountered in the afternoon. Some grew worried, fearing we would not reach the destination on time. They trembled at the idea that we would never surpass 3kts again; until we did.
A sprint, a race against time and the Jigsaw game that had ensnared us for the past 18 hours. The wind was no more cooperative for the rest of the morning, then overnight. We tried desperately to gain breeze in the sails, but to no avail. We got a very minor breeze and squeezed it for everything it had. Yet, Mother Nature gave us a measly 2kts, 3kts in the strongest of gusts. Her cruelty continued for the rest of the day with the wind never playing ball, forcing us into motoring towards Tangalooma against the current. Occasional Easterlies gave us hope for an arrival on time; however, it was too little too late, and we arrived 19 minutes and 1.39% behind schedule. Even with our belated arrival the crew felt an immense sense of satisfaction and pride as we crossed the line abreast the jetty at the resort.
Even if we didn’t get the gold award, I was proud of the immense effort from all crewmates especially in the varied and extreme conditions. Whilst I was only skipper for a day, it is an experience I will always remember and treasure. I feel honoured and privileged that the crew have put faith and belief in me that I can lead them, and I hope I have lived up to the expectations that have been placed on me from the crew, the staff and ultimately myself. I am thankful for everyone’s hard work and with that I am going to bed, being a skipper was harder than I thought.