Irony is a strange thing. Have you ever wondered why ‘abbreviate’ is such a long word or why ‘phonetic’ begins with a ‘PH’ spoken as an ‘F’? Irony came to visit me over the weekend. After my last newsletter paying out on news reporters I found it a little ironic to be contacted by the producer of a national news network to appear on the weather reports during the Sunday morning news. I would like to think I was chosen for my chiselled good looks and sparkling personality but I think it was just that I was the only person they asked who was prepared to get up at 3 am on a Sunday morning. Yes 3am! This I found a little surprising since the first weather ‘cross’ (note my quick grasp of media lingo!) wasn’t until 6am. I gather these weather presenters needed the time to log onto weather stations, download global forecast models, stare at the clouds and run their hands through a sheep’s entrails to build as accurate a forecast as possible. Then they can tell you that it will be ‘sunny and windy’ in Hobart today! But no I was wrong. Most weather presenters think a cold front is caused by spilling champagne down your shirt. At 3.30 am a giant truck appeared with aerials everywhere and a huge satellite dish on the roof. It looked like something the Americans would use in the Middle East to spy on bad guys. No sign of the host (talent), camera guy or sound dude. The truck guy started setting up and told me the rest of them would be there after 5.30. One of the cornerstones of the media world is playing ‘hurry up and wait’ so I went and ‘scouted locations’ (I am all over this) until they arrived.

As the schools’ team racing championships were on at RQ on Sunday, I saw this as a great opportunity to promote junior sailing so I had really driven this aspect of the morning’s activities in my emails to them beforehand. Unfortunately typing is not one of my strong points and I did not read what I had typed before sending the email to the 7 network. I had meant to write ‘We cannot plug junior sailing hard enough’ but what I actually wrote was ‘We cannot plug junior hard enough sailing’ which did not perhaps cast the sport in the best light! I spent the morning waiting to be arrested on national television. Duly the host and his entourage arrived and we planned each ‘cross’ – there was one every ½ hour so there was little time to prepare. Now I am sure that these guys are very good at what they do but television is theatre of the mind so, believe it or not, some things are staged for the cameras. Sorry to shock you all with that news. One of the earlier crosses was onboard ‘Oceans’. Because of the need to stay within sight of the ‘outside broadcast mobile satellite relay asset’ (the truck) we had to work in a fairly tight area. They came up with this scenario. The host was to do his opening spiel, crack a few jokes, read out the forecasts for all of the country and then he would pull out the headsail and crack a few more jokes as well as having some witty repartee with the people back in the studio. To get a good background of boats behind us they came up with the idea of doing all this whilst the boat sailed across the gap between 2 marina fingers – a distance of about 80 feet. I explained the difficulty in doing this but they assured me it would look great! This was achieved by running the engine in reverse to slow the boat down to about .7 of a knot. This is all ‘live’ remember, so any cock-ups can not be cut out later. What could possibly go wrong? So away we went, heading straight at someone’s pride and joy (a wealthy lawyer’s pride and joy in fact). 30 feet of the available 80 was gone in his introduction, another 20 gone reading the weather, just leaving 30 feet for the witty banter bit.

Remember the jib was now out and we were sailing downwind and, naturally the wind started to gust. Chuckle chuckle, 20 feet to go. A discussion about his ‘nautical’ footwear took another 10 feet. As he bantered on the lawyer’s pride and joy approached – now only 5 feet away. As the host was facing back towards me he was oblivious to the danger panning out in front of the boat as I increased the revs astern. With inches to spare the camera guy said cut and I gave the boat hard astern pulling up about 5 mm from the stern of Rumpole’s boat.

So if any of you actually watch TV early Sunday morning and caught this, the look on my face was not stage fright, but abject horror at the scene unfolding in front of me! I thought I would be safe from ridicule as few of my mates would be likely to be up that early on a Sunday morning. However I forgot about the ones just getting home.

The offshore sailing season is fast upon us and we still have places available on our Gladstone to Brisbane trip 11 – 15 April 2012. This is an ideal opportunity for people to complete offshore qualifying passages for their Yachtmaster exams. This 5 day trip includes the Sandy Straits and the Wide Bay Bar and some 250 miles of offshore sailing. As you can see there is lots happening at Southern Cross Yachting this week so until next time keep smiling

Mike Job.

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