24 Feb 2007
|Today began like any other day but could so easily have ended in tragedy as I will report in due course.
The ship docked at Fisherman's Island alongside the Brisbane Grain Terminal at about 5.30am.
Lesley and I had an early breakfast at 7am where we met Tommy and helped him resolve his problems with his international telephone calls. We loaned him a mobile phone and bid him and Sandy good day. The trip to the Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise took approximately one and half hours. The town is modern, full of young surfers and cosmopolitan with Italians, Germans, East Europeans, Asians and of course Australians filling the bars and cafes.
In spite of this being a Saturday the town was relatively quiet.
The white sandy beech which stretched for miles into the distance was populated with young, bronzed and semi naked people surfing, playing volley ball and resting in the sand.
The beach in turn was overlooked by seafront apartments which in spite of their magnificent location were retailing for 550k. We had been joined by Jim and Pat from Ohio and spent a pleasant morning in the sea and scorching hot sun [90 degrees in the shade]. At about 11.30 a lifeguard asked Jim and I if we would relocate further up the beach as sea conditions were changing. This we did and asked him if he would give the same instruction to our wives who were swimming some distance away from us and closer to the rescue station.
By the time the lifeguard had walked up the beach and was parallel with Lesley and Pat they were already in trouble and a young 17 year old surfer was attempting to rescue them.
He was quickly joined by six lifeguards resplendent in red and yellow hats and red shorts together with inflatable power boat, jet rescue launch and four track beach buggy. The rescue took about half an hour in quite brutal breaking surf.
Those involved were amazingly brave and skilled at their craft and we will always be in their debt for saving Lesley and Pat's lives. They are both in no doubt if the rescue had not been enacted they would have surely drowned. [Pamela Anderson was on the wrong shift]
In spite of L & P's stoic humour there were a few tears of relief and gratitude.
We later took lunch in a delightful Malayan air conditioned restaurant where we ate sweet and sour pork and rice with a few strong Australian Crown beers. The alcohol helped untangle a few jangled nerves and we later visited the Simmonet vineyards, where we tasted chardonnay, merlot, and rose sparkling wine with the pinot noir grape.
By this time news of the rescue had reached fellow passengers who were delightfully understanding and sympathetic. In addition light and welcome relief was provided by intoxicated birds who had eaten the red berries from the Umbrella tree and the small Wallabies chasing one another in and out of the rows of vines. We arrived back at the ship where we saw hundreds of jelly fish swimming alongside the ship.
After supper Lesley and I reflected on how fragile the thread of life truly is.