30 December 2013 | Southport Gold Coast
There it was!!!! After many hours of sailing out of the Brisbane River headed for the Gold Coast for our Christmas break, finally I looked up and saw the vastness, the void, the place where you can see for miles and miles and barely make out where the horizon meets the sea. I LOVE IT. Yes, this is where the ocean is an indescribable blue. A beautiful deep blue, rich .... that on-trend colour of violet that suits everybody.
And along with that visual spectacular is the silence that reins except for the swoosh of the water rushing past the hull. The sails are set firmly in place, held by the powerful 25knot breeze blowing perfectly from the north-west as predicted. There was nothing that needed to be said. Comfort, pleasure, and concentration blend into one to set the mood on top deck. It is a mystery to me, this yearning for the motion and unmeasurable power of the water that somehow makes us feel complete.
Is it... like a hobby, is it a passion from a past life. Are you born with it and somehow directed to find it. I wonder about that mesmeric force that has drawn me in. Why I do not fear the pitch blackness of night when it is there to be feared. Why is my reaction never one peppered with terror or panic when moments of trouble come our way? To me, it always feels like there are a myriad of solutions to a problem. What the answers are I can’t tell you, but in those critical seconds it seems I am not left stranded. It is weird and I cannot explain it even to myself but calmness is there that normally shouldn’t be in these types of circumstances.
You see, no one ever wants to hear of a problem when approaching the Gold Coast seaway where there is surf on one side, a rock wall on the other and an evil undercurrent that is certain to defy the ways of the running tide in the sightless dark of night. Steering control is imperative, (as you can well imagine) as you stare into the black hole that is according to our calculations should be the entrance to the Gold Coast seaway. Diligently we all on our own silent lookout, continued to try to identify the safe path to take.
The beauty of the twinkling lights in the far distance marking the tourist strip of Surfers Paradise and beyond were instantly abolished in that decisive moment in time. He who’s hum was silenced - but I could see his mind moved into high res mode to analyse the dia circumstance. Think! – What to do before he announces what you suspect. We were literally one to two minutes from the entrance and we had the need to make the turn directly into the seaway in order to line-up the two bright blue marker lights that have only just become apparent and stand to lead the way. I support immediately, my brainwaves kicking in like an electrical current has paved the way to deliver a few valid questions. There is a saying that no question is a dumb one, but my recommendation in moments like these, is that you chose your words very wisely as I am positive there are questions that could have you bobbing hopelessly like a man overboard. Just seconds before this happened I remembered hearing the subtle dry groan of what I thought was the gear box letting us know that, Yes you got it, may need attention! The kind of ‘lift the hatch to the motor and add oil, scenario!’ OK that can happen.... but jeeze Murphy I immediately thought to myself - your timing stinks. Then he, the humless hummer at the helm asks for the autopilot button to be hit. I jump to action as it was a better option than my timewaster ideas. But I can’t read the buttons can I - (bloody failing night time eyesight) and turn for aid. Left or right red button? Got it left! The split second instruction ricochets back to me to, now return it to “standby mode” – right button ...yes ...right... firm push tick! I think to myself that he might just be onto something and less than half a minute has passed since dread hit him. Silently the rock wall, surf and narrow entrance are just there, a mere stone’s throw away. Just spying, hiding in the dark, awaiting one wrong move.
Not so. With the accurate button hitting it became apparent that he who can hum again was ‘steering-not-really’ prior to this. As the autopilot button was still ON. He who hums more in the sunlight hours thought he was the one guiding Condesa alongside of south Stradbroke Island for the past 15 minutes. After all, his hands were on the wheel. It was only when he went to action that turn did he note that the only response he was getting was from his heart hammering his chest instead of the boat turning to starboard.
However there we now were.... cautiously gliding through the notorious seaway. Right on target with those minimal blue marker lights that were vital and the blackness that was the way through to the Broadwater for us.
Although the flat seas around did not fool us like the autopilot did. The one thing we do know is that a seaway is always to be handled with the ultimate suspicion.
So back in that fleeting moment of concern, my thought was to just keep sailing in a straight line that would take us to the pretty twinkling distant lights of the Gold Coast. See that was one of those random easy solutions I had that was appealing and easy. It is one of those suggestions I spoke about before that you ever so wisely keep to yourself..... until all else has failed.
Love it, love it, love it the challenge we put ourselves through of all those “S” words...like Solving, Solutions, Surviving, Sailing, Submerging Sinking or Swimming. I think it is in all of us and we use it when we need to and surprise ourselves with what we are capable of when Murphy plays tricks on you when you least expect it.
If anyone has worked out how this happens feel free to respond so I can stop wondering. Thanks