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Lord Howe Island - New Year 1993
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Bird view of Lord Howe IslandWRITTEN 26/1/95 by Rod Flannery, Australia

This really starts sometime around mid 1993. Sandra and I were on our boat one night and we were talking to my friend Ivan. We were all having a few drinks and discussing things at random.

Out of the blue he said that there was a yacht race to Lord Howe Island. It was sometime in October and that we should take his boat. I said that it was a great idea, even though I didn’t really know exactly where it was, and asked him what we would need to do to prepare. It was at this point that Sandra put the skids down and said that perhaps it was not a good time, and I realised that she was referring to the fact that she was pregnant and due in October. Silly of me to forget. Ivan counter offered and suggested that we go later in the year, perhaps some time around Christmas. I cleared it with Sandra and said that I would check my holiday situation at work.

A few days later I told Ivan I could have about 3 weeks off starting Boxing Day. He seemed to think that this was OK and that was that.

The weeks past and nothing was said until one day I asked him what we would need to do to prepare for the trip to Lord Howe Island. Ivan gave me a funny look and said, ‘was I still serious about that’. I said, of course I was, and he seemed surprised. We sat down then and made some plans of things we would need to get, work we would need to do to the boat and possible crew that we could ask.

There were quite a few things we needed to do to his boat. They included building a dodger over the cockpit, putting up a frame on the stern to mount antennas and solar panels on. Redoing his hand rails, two furling headsails, reefing lines for his mainsail, acquiring a GPS to navigate with and work inside the boat to make it more comfortable for a crew. This was not all the things but it was a good start.

A few more weeks went by and again I asked him when we would start to get things ready and again he seemed surprised that I hadn’t forgotten about the trip.  I said to him that I had put my holidays down, and yes I was serious and I thought that he was to. To this he responded, ‘well I guess we are going then’.  I don’t think it was until that point that he was really committed.  A bit more time went by and I pressed him about getting things done and he said he had no money, but some was due later in the year and when he got that we get the stuff done all at once. I wasn’t entirely happy about that as it seemed as though we may leave it until it was too late but I had no other choice. I busied myself doing some reading on Lord Howe and some navigation and occasionally keeping Ivan focussed on the trip.

With only about 6 or 8 weeks to go we began trying to organise crew. Ivan said he had a few people lined up but no real commitments. It seemed that there was only going to be Ivan, Rosalin (his girl friend) and me. I suggested that I could organise someone and had my brother Philip in mind. I though he might be interested, however when I asked him he was less than enthusiastic, besides he had to work. I asked him if he thought Colin or Jason would be interested and he said that Jason was working far too hard to have time and would probably not be interested, although Colin might be.
Colin was between jobs so had the time. As well as that he had spent 3 months working on a long line tuna boat a few years earlier so the open ocean was no mystery to him. I asked him and he was all for it.

It all came down to the last few weeks. We started the work on the boat, Ivan got enough money together to buy the equipment and we booked a mooring at Lord Howe. The only thing not finalised was the crew. We wanted about 6 people so we would have three watches on for four hours at a time. There was still the original three of us as well as Col.

Ivan was still not overly convinced about the suitability of Colin. I think that because he was only 18 and a farm kid Ivan didn’t expect him to be an asset. One weekend when I was going down to our boat I arranged for Colin to come down with me and meet Ivan. It didn’t take long for Ivan to see that Col was going to be alright, an asset and not a passenger, and expressed his approval at my choice.

It is a pity that some of the choices for the rest of the crew weren’t as good. Rosalin had organised a girl named Jodi that she knew of and Ivan had arranged his business partner Ian. Ian had arranged a girl he knew to go with us which made 7.

Christmas day rolled around, Sandra and I spent the morning at her parents. During the morning I rang Ivan and found out that there was still a heap of stuff to be done. After lunch Sandy took me down to Toronto and I got into helping to finalise our preparations. About 9:00 pm that night Rosalin, Ivan and Glenn went to pick up Ian and his woman and to do a car shuffle.

While they were away Jodi arrived driven up from Sydney by her mother. I was a bit surprised, she was not really what I would have expected Rosalin to pick for an ocean crossing. Jodi was young and very over weight. Not that these things would normally exclude her from being an asset to the trip, but she just didn’t seem like she was cut out for the type of trip we were planning. Time would tell. The fact is I think her mum would have been a better choice.

The other lot arrived back and things got interesting indeed. I was introduced to Ian and Ian’s girl. I had only met Ian briefly, twice before. While we were packing Ian’s things on Ivan took me aside and said that he didn’t think Ian’s girl was going to work out. On the trip down from Thornton in the car she had expressed discontent that she was not going to get her own personal cabin and seemed to have no sense of humour. She seemed to have the attitude that she was doing us an immense favour by adding to the crew numbers. He didn’t think she was a team player.

Being a team player was going to be essential. Before the end of the trip we would all have had to depend on the each other, as well as living in their pockets for three weeks. Someone who was going to be aloof and miserable all the time definitely wasn’t needed. This was a decision that Ian finally came to all by himself. He marched this girl up the pier and chatted to her for a while and ended up coming back by himself. It turned out that he told her that she wasn’t coming as we didn’t need the numbers made up that badly that we needed a burden. She apparently changed her tune at that point when she realised her position. She said that she would change her attitude if she could still go. However it was to late, she was out. Then there were six.

Ian went home and was due back at 5:00 the next morning.

Glenn, Ivan, Rosalin and I finished the last few things. It was 2:00 am in the morning on 26/12/93 when we were getting ice from the marina. We were all due to be awake at 5:00 in the morning to make a 6:00 start. The bridge at Swansea was booked for 7:00.


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