With flashbacks to East Coast Marina, August 2009

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We are currently safely tied up in Gladstone Marina, about 500 km north of Brisbane. Many people have a low opinion of Gladstone because of all the industry in the town – a coal loading facility, an aluminium smelter and a power station. Truth is, there is a lot to like about the place from our point of view.


The foreshore parkland opposite Masala is delightful, with shady trees and free electric BBQs, scrupulously cleaned every day. A footpath meanders through the park, over the Auckland Creek Bridge and straight into town where we fill up our hiking packs with fresh food to carry back to the boat. The town is hilly, unlike the swampy expanses of many Queensland coastal towns, and is dotted with quaint cottages and some stunning new homes, making the most of the views and catching the cooling breeze from the harbour.


But enough of Gladstone – we need to pick up our story from where we left off in the first Epistle, namely back in East Coast Marina in August this year, still getting ready to set off on our cruise.



This story is one of our favourites. In the berth opposite Masala there was an American-registered Beneteau 46 – not the bad Beneteau 40 of hitting Masala fame. This was a well behaved Beneteau owned by a delightful American couple, Pat and Jim.


Jim had been head-hunted and brought out to Australia by a marine company. He and Pat liked Australia so had started the process of becoming permanent residents. And that is where our story begins. Whilst they were telling us about the arduous process, including medical checkups, I casually asked whether they’d been told about the operation they had to have before they could become Aussies.


“No,” they chorused, with mounting expressions of alarm, “No one said anything about that.”


I slipped into the joke without batting an eyelid. There was this Englishman who wanted to become an Irishman. So he went to his local GP, who referred him to a brain surgeon. The surgeon informed the Englishman that in order to become Irish, he’d have to remove half his brain. “Are you sure you want to do this,” the surgeon asked. “Yes, yes,” the Englishman replied, “I don’t care what it takes, I just want to be Irish.”


So the surgeon booked the Englishman into his clinic, and a week later he woke up after the operation to find the surgeon standing at his bedside with a very worried expression on his face. As soon as he could see that his patient was conscious, the surgeon said, “I’m truly sorry, but there’s been a terrible mistake. Instead of removing 50% of your brain, I accidentally removed 75%. I’m so sorry.” The patient replied, “No worries, she’ll be right, mate.”

Now Pat and Jim thought this was very funny, but it did have unexpected consequences. A week went by, and we saw them again the following weekend (they only came to the boat on weekends due to work commitments). Pat immediately rushed up to us.


 “You got me into trouble big time,” Pat shrieked, with laughter.


 “Why?” we asked, wondering what on earth she was talking about.