Any Harbour Masters Worst Nightmare
31 January 2013 | Brisbane Australia
Should you have closed your eyes you on that afternoon you would have thought you were standing near a landing jet but it was the roaring sounds of the wind that came from afar and bulleted the marina with such gusts that it pitched and pushed the concrete pontoons twisting joins like tussling over a toy, eventually wearing and breaking huge bolts that had withstood the 2011 floods. The sky had an eerie glow like it was gloating over it accomplishments. "Oswald" the cyclone as it was named snuffed out the Bundaberg structure like powder on a brush and did not even wait around to say sorry. He then made way down the Queensland coast and all the previously devastated South East corner residents feared another bout of the same 2011 destruction. Their heartbreak and long recovery has taken it's toll, with some still in the process of rebuilding and settling down 2 years on. What a mind game this one was as those scars don't ever heal easily. Their pain is just beneath the surface and their tears flowed as easily as the rivers filled. This was all new territory for us being water dwellers and our "home", although a floating device was at risk of washing down the river tied (or should I say strapped firmly to the concrete pontoon) should 'Oswald' choose. I looked around us and saw the millions of dollars that would be floating along with us should the marina break apart and shuddered that thought out of my mind and concentrate on surfing the pontoon as it rose and fell with no rhythm just fury. In the blackness of that afternoon "He who was silent" added heavier ropes and as the hours passed he and I both knew that with one belch from Oswald that shoelace would be snapped. But going through the safety motions and all the things we learnt our "Survival at sea" course was being played out in front of us. The reflective stripes on our jacket luminated in the flashlight and added to the seriousness of this moment as the rain came sideways. Self focused and absorbed in the wellbeing of this little boating community on A arm soon became a team effort but that army of people looked as insignificant to Oswald as the heavy lines. Hours of diligence passed and then to be instructed to evacuate the marina arm and take refuge in the offices made it all feel pointless. The energy level drop as there was nothing more to be done. We were lucky enough to have the boys houses to drive back to, but it was to stay dry not so much to gain any sleep. With the menagerie of pets in our care I had visions of the ark should we all have to make a dash. As we drove away from Condesa with ever blurry intersection of flashing lights, the noises eased giving us a false sense of the weather system fading. We both knew it was going to blow up a stink all night on the river as the pressure of opposing tide to wind was going to working away at the industrial strength hardware in place. Oswald even made a joke of the word 'Industrial' where it once meant the biggest and best you can have; it now gave you a temporary feeling in the wrath of his will.
The gloomy grey daylight hours revealed what he (Oswald) managed to achieve overnight and luckily for us the marina withstood the worst of the storm. Some pontoons twisted and loosened but the main structure and pylons where standing strong as was Condesa and her floating fleet on A Arm. So the following days were the hospice visits to see how she was fairing in the river of mud and rubbish logs and debris as 'watching' was all you could do with the conveyor belt of logs coming down stream and getting caught up next to us. Everyone was checking and replacing snapped lines whilst I was below decks where the dislodgment of some items made me understand how she had been knocked around since we had left. So I dutifully straightened and tidied like everything would be alright knowing the force of high tides were still a threat.
Once the Australia Day "holiday" was over the engineers could come and make judgment on what was best for us. The red and white tape blocking the marina gate was removed and the days looked to be returning to normal as then the NSW coast was dumped on heavily with the residual of Oswald's bad mood. We are damage free as are most of the boating community in a lot of ways it is better to float than to try to stand firm against the elements although not too many land-lovers would agree to this. I think I can hear a faint hum as he sees life returning to normal. And he thought the Pacific crossing had us on our guard. "Oswald" now is dead in the water but our respect for weather holds firm as does with the sea.