Last weekend was somewhat of a landmark in our lives, as for the first time in 18 years Jenny and I were ‘child free’.

‘The King’ was snowboarding in Japan, catching a few late season runs as you do when you are 15. Prince William, about to turn 18 now lives in that parallel universe that first year uni students occupy. He is vaguely aware of the days of the week, because the weekends are when the birthday parties are held, and it appears that he has been invited to attend the birthday celebrations for every 18 year old in the western world. His own soiree is fast approaching and it has grown from a ‘gathering’ to a ‘party’. Only parents of teenagers will understand the difference. I am still struggling with the subtleties but a ‘gathering’ seems to involve no formal invitations and ‘duff duff’ music, where as a ‘party’ seems to involve a better standard of dress, security guards and ‘duff duff’ music.

So for the first time since 1997 we had no responsibilities for a whole weekend. So what to do? Go out on the boat of course. And how weird it is on the boat without the lads. First of all the loading of the food only took one trip. Normally stowing the boat for a group of teenage boys for a couple of days is more like loading a ship’s cargo. Great pallets of stores are loaded by cranes and every locker on the boat is bursting with cereal packets, 2 minute noodles and biscuits. The layout of the boat is completely different. Towels aren’t strewn about the deck, no piles of wet clothes in the cabins and the dinghy is always there AND it never runs out of fuel. One can walk from one end of the saloon to the other without asking at least 3 people to move their legs and you don’t have to make a booking to use the phone charger. The sink isn’t piled high with cereal bowls and you can walk into the galley anytime you like. Like I said it was weird.

We also got away just after 5pm on Friday afternoon, again unheard of, as there was no volleyball/basketball/party or gathering to stop us. A very pleasant trip to Horseshoe Bay passed with pizza and wine and there was no flickering of screens from down below. As we approached Southwest Rocks I could see that we weren’t the only ones who thought it would be a nice night there with the anchorage looking like a small city. As we passed close by the second green beacon (I always like to say g’day to the Brahminy Kite family that reside there) I noticed that there was a new East cardinal beacon established (predictably) on the eastern side of the reef. There it was flashing away, shining through the darkness like a, well, beacon. Now I lead a fairly insular life and a new aid to navigation is cause for much excitement and celebration. Yes I should get out more I know, but never the less it gave me much enjoyment. I stared at it in admiration. Now this is a great example of our taxpayer’s money at work. For many years the edge of the reef was guarded by a small, unlit beacon that was in more recent times replaced by an even smaller green lateral buoy. It was the size and shape of a road cone and looked more like a crab pot than a navigation aid. It seemed to disappear from time to time, either getting a good cleaning by someone’s propeller or being ‘borrowed’ to do service making someone’s crab pot in another part of the bay. The key to its disappearing was its lack of a light. It could disappear under the bow of the unwary, or be ‘browed’ under the cover of darkness.

But not this new magnificent erection. It is a proper full size beacon, complete with shiny black top mark, so far unannointed by the local sea birds. I often wonder what the birds sat on before there were beacons in the Bay. So well done Marine Safety Queensland – a fine bit of beaconing. This new beacon not only replaces the previous green laterals, but also the boats that so many owners had kindly parked on the reef to mark the edge over the years. I must admit to not spotting the official notice to mariners on the interweb about this (why don’t they send Facebook notifications?) for if I had I would have immediately put to sea to try and be the first person to ’use’ the beacon. Like the dive fraternity on a new wreck, us sailing instructors like to be claiming to be the first to stay east of a new east cardinal. Like I said we don’t get out much.

As this won’t find its way onto your chart platter until you next update here is the gist of NtM 110 OF 2015.

Issued by Brisbane Maritime Region on 16 April 2015

Area: Brisbane pilotage area

Locality: Horseshoe Bay – Peel Island

Activity: East Cardinal Beacon Established

Mariners are advised that a lit east cardinal beacon Q (3) 10s has been established at Horseshoe Bay, Peel Island in position latitude 27° 30.8900’S, longitude 153° 21.4020’E.

Of course all of you who have attended a RYA theory course with Southern Cross Yachting would know all this but for those of you that the process of navigation remains a mystery are in luck! We still have places available on the Day Skipper shorebased course running from Monday 11th May to the Friday 15th May and the Coastal Skipper shorebased course running from Monday 25th May to the Friday 29th May.

For those who are time poor we offer the Online Essential Navigation course at only $350. And you can complete each module at your own speed.

That’s all for this week, until next time bone up on those cardinal marks.

Cheers Mike Job.

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