Thursday, March 20, 2014


Mackay Harbour

Rimsky Lording It Over the Bar; and Me and Klaus, German backpacker sitting at table outside of bar/dining area

Time and light were running out.  Nightfall was nigh.  It was the enemy. Not a single moment could be wasted. 

After assuring Glen’s mate I’d do my utmost, while simultaneously trying to appease his concerns, I cut short our phone conversation so I could call the Air Sea Rescue, Mackay Squadron.   

Upon reaching them I explained in minute, precise detail what had happened from the moment Glen had left the safety of Newry Island; from my last sighting of him when he rounded the point. I told them about the scud that had gone through shortly after his departure; explaining it had been the final scud of the day; of the afternoon. After it had passed, that was it - there were no more. The weather had cleared.

The service informed me there was little they could do at that point in time because of the failing light; the lateness of the day, but they would send up a plane to do a quick scan of the area between Newry, Rabbit Island and St. Helens on the mainland before darkness took hold completely.

By the time all of this mayhem was occurring I was alone again on the island, of course, because Ivan and Doris had left for their mainland home around 2 pm, under their own steam in their boat. The wind had dropped, and the seas had becalmed to a gentle, inoffensive ripple early afternoon as the forecasts had correctly predicted. At that time the three of us were unaware of the turmoil going on in Glen's life.  He was completely on his own.

Ivan, Doris and I were in total ignorance when I bade them farewell.

I didn't want to appear to be a know-it-all because I wasn’t; but I felt I had to express my thoughts of where Glen most likely, in my humble opinion, could be found to the Air Sea Rescue people.

The waters behind my island and the waters north-west or further north of Newry Island were unfamiliar to me.  I’d never once travelled that part of the ocean.  My coverage, personal, hands-on knowledge of the sea surrounding Newry was between my island and Victor Creek on the mainland, four kilometres north of the small coastal village of Seaforth. 

I knew my route to and from the island like the back of my hand. It was imperative I had that knowledge down pat.  I had no reasons to venture further afield. I knew nothing beyond my own sphere. 

However, I’ve always considered myself to have a worthy amount of commonsense – the majority of times, at least!

I could sense I was being humoured by the person on the other end of the phone when I shared my opinion of where I thought Glen might be located; of how the winds could have picked him up and forced him northwards, where he’d then be carried further by the currents.

You know that feeling when you sense you’ve lost the attention of the person you’re talking with - they drift off as if in a vacuum of their own. Suddenly you become invisible; a lonely voice in the wilderness.

I didn’t allow the attitude at the other end of the phone faze me, however.  The matter at hand was far too important – and urgent. I made my position clear, confessing my lack of knowledge of the areas beyond my little world, but I also gave my reasons for thinking the way I did before I completed my phone alert.

Dusk was descending rapidly.  There was no time to lose.  I ran to where my dinghy was hitched; unhitched it and rowed as fast as I possibly could out to my boat at its mooring.  I knew I’d get little or no sleep that night; and I knew if I didn’t make an attempt, at least, of trying to find Glen it would haunt me through the night.

Unfortunately, I had been having trouble with my boat’s motor…a Johnson outboard, 175 horsepower.  I’d just gotten to the northern point of Newry; at the end of the main beach…hoping to spot the colourful sail of Glen’s craft up on the beach at Rabbit Island, when the motor on my boat started coughing and spluttering. 

“Great!” I thought. “That’s all I need!  Me - stranded out in the ocean as well! Not a clever, comforting scenario!”   I uttered a few expletives that I won't repeat here; I'll leave those to your imagination. Suffice to say they were worthy of a pirate!

What help would I be, floundering about at sea in the middle of the night?  Just another problem added to the already existing one.

Good sense prevailed. I limped back to my mooring; and then rowed ashore in my little tender. 

It was better that I stayed close by to the phone and to my two-way radio.

Communication and the availability of same with the outside world were vital.  I would be of no use if I, too, was stuck out in the ocean overnight.  By the time I reached the safety of my sandy surrounds the curtain of darkness had been drawn.  Night had descended.

Not long after my own minor misadventure I received a call from the Air-Sea Rescuers informing me they’d ceased the search operation because of the failing light, but they would be out again at the crack of dawn to pick up where they’d left off.   

There was nothing else to be done, but worry.

All through the sleepless night I kept hoping I’d hear Glen’s voice echoing up from the beach; calling out to me, telling me he’d made it back to the safety of Newry Island 

It was a vain hope, I knew; but I had to hold onto something in an attempt to retain my sanity!

At first light I was informed by Air-Sea Rescue they’d resumed their search.

Again, I expressed my feelings about where I thought Glen most likely would be. My feelings had strengthened overnight.  That corridor; that avenue had to be pursued, I believed; but, clearly, I was alone in my belief.

It didn’t make sense to me that Glen would’ve ended up over towards St. Helens Beach where Air-Sea Rescue were directing the search.  They had set their minds upon that area and wouldn't be swayed. No matter how much I insisted I believed the wind would have picked Glen up and pushed his tiny craft directly north; and then the currents would have carried him towards Midge Point; that I believed they were looking in the wrong area, my pleas were ignored. 

My thoughts about where Glen could be made sense to me, even though I didn’t know the currents etc; in that area, but it seemed logical to me. 

He had just rounded the northern point of Newry when the scud hit.  In my mind’s eye, I imagined him being picked up by the strong wind and forced in a northerly direction towards Midge Point.  It just didn’t sit right with me that the scud would have pushed him between Newry and Rabbit Island.  It didn’t make sense to me.  If Glen was at the northern point on Newry - in my reckoning the wind would’ve driven him northwards, not around a corner!

Anyway, no amount of talking convinced the searchers to consider my thoughts on the matter. I was beating my head against a brick wall. I felt like pounding, not only a brick wall, but the Air-Sea Rescue men, as well.  By the second I was becoming more frustrated; and very angry.  They’d put me in a hopeless, helpless situation; and wanted to keep me there!  

And what really annoyed me - I believed I wasn’t being listened to because I was a woman!

Hell!  If I was capable of living alone on an island; if I was capable of running the whole show single-handedly from driving the boat; operating the generators; handling the gardening; cooking; cleaning; running the bar - everything - surely I deserved a hearing!

As it was, I could’ve talked until I was purple in the face, if not black in the face, and my words would have kept going over their heads; in one ear and out the other.  They were probably laughing at me.  But I wasn’t going to give up!  I wasn’t going to give up on Glen.  They could keep searching the waters between Rabbit Island and St. Helens on the mainland until the fish came home; but they could be WRONG!  It was a strong possibility they were wrong!

I intended to keep harping on the matter until I grew hoarse. I had all the time in the world; but Glen didn't! I intended to keep being as annoying as I possibly could be until someone was prepared to listen to me!  I’m a true Scorpio!  I’m unyielding!

Between 11 am and 11.30 am that Monday I saw a trawler arrive in the channel between my island and Outer Newry.  It set anchor a little north of my mooring…a few metres away from my boat.  The skipper, “Rolly” Rollinson never came ashore whenever he anchored up in the channel before heading out to sea or on his return trip to Mackay Harbour. 

I’d never met the man face to face. I wouldn’t have recognised him if I’d fallen over him, but I had spoken with him via two-way radio and phone a couple of times. For various reasons “Rolly” wasn’t liked by many of his fellow-trawler skippers; a lot of whom, with their crews, were regular customers of mine on the island. Most of them were good blokes, and I had no reasons to doubt their words or opinions.

 “Rolly” was a fairly arrogant fellow.  Years before he’d had a falling out with Willie Litz, the lessee of the resort area on Newry; but that was none of my business.  Willi didn’t live on the island; I did.   “Rolly” had fallen out with lots of people, I’d been told; but that was the least of my worries that day.

I radioed “Rolly”. Not wasting words I told him of the frustrating position in which I’d found myself.  I explained what had occurred over the past 24 hours; and I told him where I thought the missing Glen was most likely could be found…up towards Midge Point somewhere; not where the search was presently being conducted. Precious time was being wasted!

To my surprise, “Rolly” agreed with my assessment.  I asked him if he was prepared to get in touch with the Air-Sea Rescue people and tell them of his thoughts; but to leave my name out of it.  They’d take more notice of him – he who had been sailing those waters for years – than they were of me – a mere female! They'd made it very obvious they were taking no notice of me!

What the hell would I know?

The rest of the afternoon I spent anxiously by the phone and two-way radio.  There was little else I could do, but wait…and wait.  Daylight was running out again with no positive results to hand. Night was just around the corner. 

My phone rang.  It was shortly after 5 pm. 

On their final fly-over for the day before pulling the plug on the search, intending to recommence the search again the following morning, the pilot spotted something on the beach, on the southern end of Midge Point.

It was Glen’s small sailing boat, with Glen standing beside it waving like a crazed lunatic!

Oh! God!  It was the best news I’d heard in years!  Tears of joy and of relief flooded down my cheeks.  I cheered loudly with no one within reach to hear other than Pushkin and Rimsky.  They didn’t mind being disturbed from their naps!  They barely moved a whisker.

Glen had been found where I had thought all along he could be. 

The wind from the scud had picked him up and carried him northwards. He didn’t turn the corner, nor was he forced towards St. Helens. His passage was taken completely out of his control.  He’d spent the Sunday night and the Monday in the open sea, holding onto to his small craft in sheer desperation. At one point it had flipped over.  In desperation he managed to right it.  

Finally, the currents nudged him to shore about an hour before the search plane spotted him – on their last fly-over for the day!

I felt extremely grateful to the faceless “Rolly” for insisting the search be extended to that area. 

After I learned Glen was safe, I made contact with "Rolly" Rollison to give him my heartfelt appreciation for his most important role in the play.  I never did meet him face to face, but I was very grateful for his actions that day.  I still am.

The following afternoon Glen rang me from Mackay to thank me for alerting the authorities etc.  He’d spent the previous evening in hospital where he'd been kept under observation overnight. Fortunately he had suffered no injuries from his adventures at sea.  He was calm and collected when we spoke. It was who he was. 

I never saw Glen again.  I think he’d had his fill of the ocean to last him for a while.  Who could blame him?

About three years later I was the cook/chef at the Town & Country Hotel Motel in Collinsville; back on dry land.

One evening after service I chatted with a young fellow at the lounge bar. He had the Hastings Deering insignia on his shirt; that’s what drew me to him. He was a motel guest, and he’d dined in the restaurant that night. 

I told him the above story. 

Looking at me, the young fellow said: “So you’re the one! You're the "Lee"! Glen told me about you! He’s told the whole crew!  I know of the story you’ve just told me! You have no idea how grateful he was for what you did.  He speaks often about that time. Everyone at work knows about it.”

I was taken aback to discover the story I’d just finished relating was familiar to the young bloke I'd not met before until that night.

At the time, Glen was still employed by Hastings Deering.  I asked the fellow sitting beside me at the bar in Collinsville to pass on my very best wishes to him the next time their paths crossed.  I often wonder how Glen’s life has panned out.  I hope he met a fine girl to spend it with; he was a fine fellow.

It is a small world after all….,Midge+Point+QLD&gl=au&ei=XnIrU9jOEIquiAf_8oCwDA&ved=0CCoQ8gEwAA

If you go into the above site...just click on the "South" arrow...and the right arrow...and you will see the distance between Midge Point and Newry/Rabbit Island etc.


  1. How WONDERFUL, that it turned out so well when it could have been a complete tragedy. And how incredibly frustrating that the opinion that women speak and think with their ovaries continues.

  2. Your frustration at not being listened to came through so clearly i began to worry myself that Glen would never be found!
    So glad he was discovered and safe.
    And it's very nice to see a proper use of "faze"; too many people use "phase".

  3. Yes...It surely was a great relief, EC for both Glen and me! It was very worrying.

    And sometimes still, as you say, we have to shout loudly and persistently to be heard

  4. Hi there River. All my feelings of frustration were coming back as I wrote about that time!

    Thanks for coming by. It's always nice to hear from you. :)

  5. Damn straight they should have listened to you! I'm glad Rolly did.

    (You don't have to bleep the expletives for us, my dear.)

  6. Hey there, RK...I'm being gentle on my readers. I've not yet been granted "R" rating! ;)

    Never you fear, however...I'm quite adept in descriptive prose! ;)

  7. Wow, I've had a lot of reading to do to catch up with you, girlie! I'm sticking my head out from The Winter That Will Not End just high enough to say hello -- and hurry up Spring. Wonderful stories, as always! You have the gift, my friend.

  8. Oh! Serena! How wonderful to see you! I keep hoping you'll hurry up and come out from hibernation! :)

    Thanks for your comment. I'm glad you've enjoyed what you've read.

    Don't stay away so long next time! :)

  9. Glad he survived and you were his heroine. Often times, the world is very small. Peace

  10. Howdy Lady Di....

    I wasn't a heroine...I was a nagger and I was going to continue nagging until my voice was heard, one way or the other.

    It certainly is a very small world at times.

  11. I was waiting for the punch (quite literally) line, but it would seem that Glen was at least smart enough to just fade away instead taking you beating him about his head and shoulders for putting you through such anguish. Of course, a real manly man would have showed back up at your door and wondered what all of the fuss was about. I really miss those days....sigh.

  12. No...he acted correctly; gentlemanly and politely, Jerry. Glen rang me the very next day after his rescue.

    When one lives on an island it can be difficult for another just to turn upon on the doorstep, so to speak! lol

    I wasn't expecting any medals for my part in the play. All I wanted was Glen be found safe and sound; and he was.

    He was a lovely young man; and his words were gratitude enough for me.

  13. Well, thank God it all ended well! I know what you mean when you're treated as a "mere woman". It's happened to me too, and I've taken unholy delight when I've been proven to know what I was talking about, much to the chauvinist's discomfort! It's a great feeling!

  14. I read this and was certain I had commented - it must have been one of the times I was reading blogs at work and got interrupted for work. :) Don't you hate when someone doesn't listen like that? So glad that Glen was safe in the end.

  15. Hi, Robyn.

    Yes, I was getting very frustrated that my words were floating over their heads. It wasn't the time for that kind of attitude...thank goodness Rolly agreed with my assessment of the situation.

    Thanks for reading my story. :)

  16. Hey there, worries! I do similar...often! ;)

    Thanks for coming by; it's always nice to see you.

  17. What a GREAT Story! And the frustration of no one taking what you had to say, seriously....Crazy Making! Thank God for Rolly....And how wonderful that you ran into someone who knew Glen and could tell you that he was alive and well and always knew you saved his life and how grateful he was!!!!

  18. G'day Naomi...Yes...I was very happy to see Rolly's trawler pull in that day; and very grateful he listened to me and was of a similar opinion.

    I was surprised when the fellow at the bar said he knew the story...that was the least thing I expected!

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  19. So glad it ended well and once again I am awed by your presence of mind under pressure, Lee.

  20. Hi there, Pat. Thanks for popping in.

    I think I learned a long time ago not to crack under pressure, Pat. But we never know how we're going to react at certain times, I guess...when we come face to face with adversity. We can only hope panic doesn't win the day! ;)

  21. I would have trusted you implicitly!

  22. Thank you, Adullamite!