|Aerial View of Resort Area|
|Preparations underway on the deck for the night's festivities. That's me in the black dress. Restaurant in the background.|
|A few of the yachties milling around on the deck|
|Me with a couple of my "girls" - from the left...Daina, Bronnie, Kylie and me; before the onslaught!|
|Bronnie with a couple of likely, yachtie lads!|
|"Lady" - One of the resort's friendly wallabies. I asked her to join my work team,. but she declined and hopped away with a smile - "How silly do you think I am?" Was Lady's reply.|
Flushed from the previous hours spent skimming the ocean’s surface; rolling with the waves, and sometimes not, under a star-filled sky, adrenaline flowed freely amongst the landed sailors. The saltwater spray remained caked white on their skin; their hair matted and dry; but it mattered not. Contagious excitement and laughter filled the air; personal appearances were of no concern at that early hour of the morning. Pushing a couple of the larger round dining tables together, the yachties soon fell into story-telling mode. Everyone had their own yarn to spin, and in most cases, without exaggeration. I’m sure that would come later, down the track a bit!
I was kept busy between attending to their thirst; joining them at the table when I could, and running down to the jetty greet the new arrivals every time another yacht anchored up. Some chose to remain on their boats until after sunrise; others, like the early birds already ensconced around the tables in the far, outer corner of the restaurant chose to come up to the resort and join in with the pre-dawn party that was well under way!
My day staff, which included the breakfast cook, my maintenance fellows, four in number, the housekeeping staff, usually two per shift, and whoever else chose to join them on any given morning started to come to life around 6 am. Normally by the time they started wandering down from the staff quarters ready for their hearty breakfasts before beginning their shifts, I’d have their work-sheets made out for them. The work-sheets listed out what chores needed their attention, in their particular fields, during their shifts. In the grid on the sheets were shown the cabins that needed complete make-overs in readiness for new, incoming guests; which cabins needed luggage to be taken down to the jetty in readiness to be taken out to the sea plane when it arrived around noon to drop off new arrivals and to take off holidaymakers at the end of their stay; or for those who would later in the afternoon depart from the island back to Cardwell on the mainland on the powered catamaran, “Reef Venture”. which cabins needed beds to be made along with a general spruce-up for the on-staying guests; laundry chores. My general maintenance staff knew pretty much what they had to do, and I mainly left them well enough alone. I trusted their abilities and knowledge. Their work-sheets, other than listing the transferring of luggage requirements etc., mainly were daily guidelines for them to follow. Maintaining the workings of generators, the septic-treatment plant, the dam, boat motors, carpentry, painting etc., etc., et al were their domain. They knew what they were doing; and I had complete faith in them. Fortunately, that faith was reciprocated.
The surprised looks on the faces of my staff as they entered the restaurant en route to the staff room situated off from the kitchen to have their breakfasts were hilarious; and remain embedded in my memory. Still bleary-eyed from not long getting out of bed, they soon woke up with a jolt when they saw the party going on around the tables in the corner of the restaurant nearest the pool deck; and it was still not yet 6.30 am! The yachties had built a pyramid out of empty beer cans...the pyramid of cans sat proudly in the middle of one of the tables
A long day and night lay ahead. I’d already been through a long night…without sleep; and yachts were still arriving by the boatloads.
More yachts meant more people; more people meant more greet-and-meets and socialising; more work; more food preparation; more socialising, and then some more non-stop socialising…more, more, more of everything. My existing resort guests, not those off the yachts, needed attending to, as well. They couldn’t be ignored. Some were leaving by sea plane around mid-day; with new guests being dropped off to the island simultaneously.
As soon as Johnno, my barman arrived for his breakfast, he saw what was going on, and without ado, he raced back up to his room to shower and change, ready to start his shift. His normal shift began at 4 pm, or thereabouts; but not that Saturday.
Gavin, who sometimes acted as a gofer for the maintenance guys, and also as barman on Johnno’s days off, or when otherwise and elsewhere needed, stepped up to be counted, too. All my staff put their hands up once they saw the droves of people arriving; more people than we’d ever seen at the resort before that day!
The resort was alive; in constant motion. People were coming and going. They moved around like ants on an anthill. Some milled together in groups on the deck around the pool; some moved onto another cluster; heads of others bobbed up and down in the pool, while some slothful souls hung leisurely on its sides. Couples and groups lazed down on the beach, absorbing the harmony of their surrounds, a little removed from the madding crowd up above around the pool. A few sat around tables in the restaurant, sipping on beverages, alcoholic or not. All the tables were occupied. Guests and yachties helped themselves to the coffee and tea set up on a side bench; and to the buffet breakfast. Others sat on stools at the bar; and a few leaned on the bar. Anywhere an unoccupied space was found, a body or two took up residence.
Throughout the day, the resident locals...our friendly wallabies - hopped around the restaurant building and the deck to take a look at what was going on. They enjoyed the "oohhs and aaahhs!" briefly; they were politely accommodating before hopping away to watch from afar.
Amongst all the pleasant, happy, somewhat controlled mayhem, our normal day-to-day chores had to be done. Time didn’t stand still; and work didn’t disappear.
A barbecue out on the deck was planned for the evening. It was a much easier proposition than attempting to feed the hordes, individually, a la carte-style. A barbecue and buffet table bearing a broad variety of salads, vegetables, desserts and various other delectable accompaniments was the better option for all concerned; staff, resort guests and visiting yachties.
My guests who’d come to the island for a quiet get-away weren’t at all disturbed by the influx of people. For twenty-four hours or so, they were very happy to forego “the only footprints you’ll see on the beach will be your own” – and “maximum population 30”! It was all very new and different to what they were accustomed to in their normal day-to-day lives, wherever those lives were lived. They soon fell under the spell, and were more than keen to join in with the fun.
Electric energy floated through the air. It engulfed all around, making it impossible to ignore or escape. Nobody wanted to escape its stimulating clutches once it wafted their way. Without reservations, the holidaymakers welcomed the yachties into “their” island paradise, firing questions at them from all angles; keen to hear stories of their many adventures at sea, and of their sailing expertise.
With barely a spare moment, if any, to catch my breath the day sped by at a rapid rate of knots (Pun definitely intended).
The sea plane arrived as scheduled, dropping off new arrivals from afar. As they were picked up from the Grumman Mallard by the island punt skippered by a couple of my staff, the newcomers eyes widened larger than saucers, in amazement at the sight of the myriad yachts anchored in the waters off from the island; an awesomely beautiful sight.
The Cape Richards’ end of Missionary Bay, between the resort and Garden and Goold Islands, a very short distance away to the north, was a vision; one filled with sailing craft. So many yachts, in fact, it gave the appearance a crew from one boat could just step across onto the neighbouring yacht and keep walking, stepping from yacht to yacht without the help of their tender.
Yachts straggled in until around mid-afternoon. The late-comers cared less that they’d not won; not won by quite a few nautical miles – that wasn’t the point. The joy of being out on the ocean; under the moon, the stars, and then the clear, blue sky and sunshine; sailing, enjoying the elements; loving Nature at its best, was what it was all about.
By that stage of the day, I’d given up knowing who the yachties were; who my holidaying guests were; and which of the happy faces belonged to the crews staying overnight or for a couple of nights in the cabins. I’d work all of that out later…or maybe not. Perhaps it would be easier to let the “Gods-of-Working-Things-Out-Their-Own-Way” be in charge. I decided to take that route. Everything would fall into its rightful place….eventually. I had no time to worry about something so minor. I was far too busy. I was enjoying myself much too much to be concerned with lesser details….a mere bagatelle!
Realising the existing resort bar wasn’t big enough to cater to the needs of the crowd, a second, temporary bar was set up out on the pool deck to assist with liquor service. Having access to another outlet took a lot of pressure off the inside bar. They were a thirsty, but well-behaved crowd. Everyone realised there was no chance that the island’s supply of beverages would run out, so they drank at a leisurely pace while enjoying the relaxing ambience of their surrounds. There was no hurry; not place to go; no better place, that's for sure!
Even though my staff and I were kept very busy, we, too, couldn’t escape the atmosphere. It was infections, and it was more fun to go with the flow, than to fight against it; there was no fun in doing that...foolish!
I’d given my staff new outfits to wear for the evening; white t-Shirts, shorts, slacks or Capris with the resort logo on them; from the resort’s shop. The shop was a small room off from my office, a little bigger than the size of the office. The store stocked t-shirts, shorts, peddle-pushers (Capris), casual slacks, minor toiletries, and not much else.
As soon as the “Reef Venture” pulled out from the jetty around 4 pm on its return to the mainland most of the staff raced off to the staff quarters for a quick shower and change. They certainly moved quickly that afternoon because within a blink of an eye, they returned all fresh and spruced in their new sparkling white outfits…with smiles to match. I, also, grabbed the opportunity to run back to my abode for a quick, refreshing shower before changing into my evening attire; and to feed Ruska, my ginger cat, making sure he was comfortably set up for the night. Ruska was an “indoors” cat; one who had a very nice view of the ocean, Garden and Goold Islands.
There was a lull amongst the crowd when I returned to the restaurant/pool area. Most, other than a few stragglers who’d remained sitting at couple of tables around the pool, quietly conversing, had returned to their respective cabins or yachts to ready themselves for the night’s festivities and hi-jinks.
The “calm before the storm” suited my staff and me. It gave us time, not only to catch our breath, but also to make sure any details we’d overlooked were taken care of; and to finish setting up the long buffet table, the bar etc., out on the deck, as well as a million other things. The kitchen was a hive of energy. Spirits were high, and I don't mean those in the bars!
Before returning to the fray after showering and changing, I’d grabbed a bundle of music cassettes to add to the existing selection in the restaurant. Johnno had directed the outside speakers strategically to carry the music across the deck. There were speakers inside the restaurant, as well.
A rockin’ good night lay ahead – and we were prepared and ready for it – every base was covered!
My two chefs, David and Ken were both on roster, and had been all day from breakfast through; as had the kitchen-hand/dessert cook, Graham. The housekeeping staff changed “hats”; assisting in the kitchen area where and when needed; helping Johnno and Gavin run the bars; turning their hands to food service, and wherever else their talents were useful. Same applied to my maintenance guys – Ted, Graham (my brother who worked on the island with me for period) and Burnie; along with Maurice, Brett and “Skirt” aka Steve who were the general dogsbodies We were an adaptable, capable mob; or at least were capable of giving a good performance/show at being so!
I’ll relate the story of how Steve got christened the name “Skirt” at another time.
Somewhere, somehow, a silent whistle, or perhaps a silent siren alerted everyone that “Happy Hour” had begun.
Once again, as if by magic, there was movement at the station. People started drifting down from the cabins; and others meandered up from the jetty, after securing their dinghies. Cheerful chatter filled the late afternoon air, bidding a happy farewell to the sun as it descended over the mainland’s western horizon.
The time had come to get serious about having fun!
No prisoners were taken that night! Pirates had taken control!
Everyone kicked up their heels, and let their hair down.
Across Missionary Bay to Cardwell on the mainland I’m sure the music kept the townsfolk awake until early Sunday morning; or, perhaps, it kept the Torres Strait Pigeons awake out on the Brook Islands – depending on which way the wind blew. Even further north, the Family Group of Island that consist of Dunk, Bedarra, Timana, Wheeler, Coombe, Smith, Bowden and Hudson Islands and Mission Beach on the mainland could've been kept awake, too! Who knew? Who cared? We party-people at Cape Richards couldn’t have cared less as we danced the night long.
Even “Sly”, the 600lb (272kg) groper who lived around the rocks of the Cape, and who hovered around the jetty every morning looking for a free feed flicked his tail in time to the music while the other fish were flirtatiously contented to be his back-up dancers.
It was around midnight when someone decided a dip in the pool was a good idea. Like lemmings, many others followed, all fully-clothed. At one point there were so many bodies in the pool, it was nigh impossible to see any water!
I class myself as being a fairly alert person. My antenna is just about always vigilant and in good working order. I knew what was coming next just through the glint in the eyes of a few of the pirates (yachties).
I noted their plan was to grab me and throw me into the pool; but they hadn't counted on my determination for self-preservation. Before anyone had a chance to lay a hand on me, I stepped out, as if into nowhere…off the edge of a cliff, untethered…off the side of the pool, spearing into the water as gracefully as I could - feet and legs first. The black voluminous, tiered-cotton dress I wore floated out around me making me look like gigantic black moth floating in the pool with its head above the water!
I laughed, and, even more so, when I saw the shocked, disappointed looks on the faces of my would-be assailants. I’d spoiled their plan. My plan was a better plan than theirs!
After a few minutes of shared joviality, I raced across to my house to change out of my wet clothes. I changed into a knee-length, light-woolen, brightly-coloured jumper/sweater; and soon I was back partying, as if nothing had occurred.
Chapter Three to follow...