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Lord Howe Island - New Year 1993
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One of the last days we were there I was on the boat keeping a watch for Colin. He had stayed on the island the previous night and I knew he was running out of money. I threw the hard dinghy in the water grabbed the oars and started to climb in to row across. I climbed into the dinghy and threw off the rope. Now the wind was blowing solidly from the North and by the time I had the oars positioned correctly I was well on my way to the bottom end of the lagoon, which was a long way away. I rowed like all hell and only just managed to keep position. I was in trouble. It just so happened that a dude in a big dinghy with a good motor off one of the other yachts was going in to shore. As he came past he asked me if I wanted a tow. Gratefully I accepted. He dropped me off just near where Col was waiting.

Now getting back was going to be just as exciting. We towed the dinghy through the water all the way along the beach into the wind. We then climbed in and started to row back to the boat. Basically the wind blew us in a direct path back to the yacht. On the way we took a sidetrack to a little island called Rabbit Island. We stopped for a look see before going back to the boat. When we got there I was wet, sunburned and absolutely stuffed.

There came the day when we decided to sail out. We had run out of new things to do. The wind was from the right direction and so we headed off. We had tossed up the idea for quite a few days of going to Elizabeth Reef on the way home. It was about 100 miles north of Lord Howe but in the end it was the direction of the wind that stopped us. A good wind for going home was a bad wind for going to Elizabeth Reef.

We weighed anchor and got Clive to direct us out of the lagoon and said goodbye to Lord Howe Island. We’d all had a truly wonderful holiday but it was time to get back to the real world.

We left the island with only four of our original 6 crew. It quickly settled down to Col and I on one watch with Ivan and Ros on the other with us sticking to 4 hour watches.

That afternoon Col decided to hold his own private celebration and proceeded to sink about half a dozen cans before falling asleep in one of the cabins for the rest of the day. That night when he was woken for our watch he was not the healthy person he should have been. He had turned out to be quite a good helmsman and took his turn at steering, however a few times he yelled out to take the wheel and ran to the side to shout something loud and wet at the water. This appealed to my sense of humour immensely. I kidded him about it heaps.

By nightfall we were out of sight of the island. While I was asleep Ivan and Ros were treated to a visit by a heap of dolphins at about dusk. They stayed with the boat for quite some time. I was sorry they didn’t wake me so I could see them as well. During the first night while Ivan and Ros were on watch the wind dropped and when it was Col and my turn we took over with no wind at all. We still had to steer but it was pointless. The sea was confused and we were getting waves hitting us up the back all the time. After a while I got sick of this and locked the wheel off with the locking screw on the pedestal. That was OK for the next could of hours. When Ivan and Ros came back up it was still locked off. Ivan unlocked the wheel to see if we could make any gain by steering only to find we had no steering at all. He told me this and I thought he was joking, at least I hoped he was joking. We went down below to check the steering linkages and sure enough one of the arms on the steering box had broken on a weld. It was no comfort to think that we had looked at this before we had set out on the trip and talked about it being a weak point. We had no effective way of putting a jury-rigged tiller arm on it even though we had discussed it before we left. I felt sick at the though of the situation we were in, particularly because it was me who had locked the wheel off. By locking the wheel of when a wave had slapped us from behind it had put stress on the rudder and broken the linkage. The fact that this particular bit of the rudder was amateurishly built was not going to help us fix it.


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