We Are Sailing....
With the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race well under way, I have had cause to remember and reflect upon my first experience with the Townsville to Hinchinbrook Island Yacht Race while I was managing the resort.
The resort, at Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island, catered for 30 guests, 45 maximum, if more than two guests occupied a cabin. Fifteen free-standing cabins dotted in amongst the tropical growth bordered the foreshore along Orchid Beach. Our advertising logo showed lone footprints along a deserted beach (something that has since been adopted by others many times)..."a million miles from everywhere". The only telephone on the island was in my office with an extension to my home. No televisions graced the cabins or the restaurant area.
The air throbbed with excitement as the commencement of the race drew near. The yachts set sail from Townsville late on the Friday afternoon. All night long I remained close to the radio in my office, receiving regular updates of their whereabouts. I received word the first yacht was due to arrive around 2.30am. With much fanfare and elation, I greeted the winning yacht, inviting the crew to join me in the restaurant. Offering them refreshments, of course, they all chose beer or rum over coffee or tea. One by one further boats arrived. I spent the early hours of the morning greeting, meeting and attending to their avid thirsts. Around 7am, the first of my staff wandered down bleary-eyed. Soon their eyes popped open wide when they saw the crowds of happy sailors and the 'dead-marines' (aka 'empties'). At one table, empty cans of beer were piled high in a pyramid of proud glory.
We fired up the large barbecue on the deck to serve a welcome hot breakfast to both my guests and to the yachtsmen and women. The contracted boat from Cardwell docked around 9am with further guests. The seaplane arrived at mid-day bearing more. The island was swaying under its buoyant, lively load!
Boats kept arriving throughout the day. I lost count of the numbers of both boats, crew and resort guests. A huge celebration was planned for the evening. My resort guests were warned about the abnormal crowd and none were upset. Ripples of excitement flowed contagiously amongst everyone, guests and staff alike. My staff prepared themselves for the long day and night ahead. At that stage, I probably had 12-14 staff only! Everyone was on 'board' that weekend. Those not normally utilized as bar people quickly became in tune with serving behind a bar! They had no other choice! Laughter and much noise filled the air. The island wallabies viewed the unusual proceedings from afar wondering what the hell was happening to their normally peaceful surroundings.
Late afternoon everyone, yachties and guests alike, congregated on the large deck surrounding the pool, spilled out from the restaurant/bar area and hugged the gardens to the side of the main building.
Presentations were made to the winners of the race and to the handicappers before a barbecue feast was laid out. A festive mood heightened rapidly as the music grew louder and the merry-go-round of liquid refreshments flowed freely. The high-spirited crowd, of which I estimated around 250-300, were flushed with good cheer. The night was alive with rollicking, playful antics.
Around midnight the pool tempted many, of course. I could see by the looks on the faces of others, mischief was planned with me to be their chosen victim. That night I wore an off-the-shoulder, flowing black cotton dress. I had had three of similar style made especially as part of my restaurant wardrobe....one in black, one white and one a sunny yellow. The design suited the tropics as it was cool, loose and tiered down to my ankles.
Always liking to be 'one step ahead' I went to the pool's edge and jumped in, feet first, much to the dismay of the good-natured conspirators! My black dress went up in the air, floating on the pool's surface like a huge black butterfly or moth! I swam across the pool amidst cheering and applause, satisfied I had short-circuited their evil plan! I raced back to my house and changed into dry clothes, re-emerging to continue on with the motley!
The party continued until dawn and thereafter. A champagne breafast/brunch followed. People were coming and going, some looking the worse for wear! I had had no sleep since the Thursday night. I knew none was coming my way until that night, Sunday. I survived on adrenalin and had no time to even think about sleep.
I had no idea who were my resort guests or who were off the yachts. So, I decided the best thing to do was just wait until the yachts left, as the majority of them were leaving sometime during the Sunday, whomever was left over were my resort guests! To add to the mayhem, the sea plane made its normal delivery, depositing further guests around mid-day. Somehow, it all worked out...don't ask me how, but it did. I think it was a bit like that night at "Scaramouche" restaurant I described to you in a previous post when we were over-booked to the hilt. I don't believe in panicking in such situations as that only makes matters worse. Things work out...one way or the other and if done with good humour and a touch of insanity, all the better! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
It was a great weekend full of hilarious, memorable moments. And through it all, there was not one hassle, not one unhappy, complaining soul.