Alongside Harrigan’s Irish Pub
Position: 27 47.195 S 153 27.61 E
After a good little sleep in, I arose, sorted the boat out, got Kate a cup of tea, had breakfast, checked the weather, installed the new AIS B system, and then … after a cup of coffee … at 1215, I started the engine, weighed anchor, and began heading north through the labyrinthine channels of the inner passage to Moreton Bay.
And then, at 12.47 ...
we ran aground.
Despite having been this way a few times before, indeed perhaps because Sylph and I had been this way a few times before, I, not Sylph, managed to get lost. I had a starboard hand beacon to the right of us and was following my planned track on the GPS when I saw a west cardinal mark close by. Hmm, I had best pass to the west of that, I thought, and, as things were not quite aligning with my chart, I slowed down and altered course to pass to the west of the west cardinal buoy as seemed the only sensible thing to do. And a few moments later Sylph struck bottom. I looked around, looked at the plotter (we should have been in four meters of water), then … well, I went in reverse, I twisted the rudder about a bit, and then … well, to be brutally honest, I lost my cool. I was ready to blame all Queenslanders for a completely crazy buoyage system designed to draw unsuspecting mariners on to uncharted sand bars. A completely perfect and malevolently evil conspiracy against law-abiding card-carrying democratic socialists everywhere!
In the meantime, Kate, God bless her, managed to remain cool and collected. She suggested a few reasonable options. However, I, the skipper of some forty years sailing experience, would have none of it. Bloody banana benders!
At 1257, more by good luck (and a rising tide), than superior seamanship (though sailing though shallow waters on a rising tide is always a sensible move), Sylph broke free of the earth’s foul grip. We cautiously continued on our way.
The rest of the day continued uneventful and we docked alongside the courtesy berth at Harrigan’s Irish Pub at 1510. All settled, Kate went to visit the pub to check that we were okay alongside and to confirm our booking for the restaurant in the evening. She was concerned that Oli might want to explore the green pastures and chirping birds ashore and left me with strict instructions to keep a weather eye on him. At the time he was asleep on the settee and I assured Kate that I would take good care of him.
Some twenty minutes later, I hear from ashore Kate’s unmistakeable cry, “Oli!”.
I rush on deck to find Kate with one very bedraggled and wet cat in her arms. “What happened?”, I ask, incredulous and a little sheepishly.
Kate explains that she heard Oli’s collar bell as she was returning on board over the pontoon’s gangway and on investigating the sound found Oli swimming alongside the pontoon. It remains a bit of a mystery as to what exactly happened but what is clear is that the skipper had failed miserably in his promise to keep an eye on the ASC (yes, still ‘Acting’ – it’s a tough gig getting to the full-time ship’s cat on board old Sylph, but Oli is certainly earning his stripes).
Well, since then Oli has had the salt water rinsed out of his coat, had a thorough towel down, and been fed a full tin of cat food, I have made profuse apologies to Kate, and Kate and I have enjoyed a very nice meal at the Harrigan Irish Pub.
All is well (I think).