We had a public holiay at the beginning of the month, and this being North Queensland, it means that there were more men on the reef fishing in small tin boats than in the towns.
(Notes on the above: Women and children stay at home, it's not a holiday for THEM. When I say small tin boat think of something slightly larger than a canoe made of sheet metal filled with at least four men in short shorts, all their fishing tackle and food supplies for three days, and probably a large dog.)
The coastguard are understandably busy on these weekends. This year they were touring the reefs watching out for boats in trouble. They were also spot checking for where people were fishing (large areas are now protected), and whether they had taken appropriate safety measures and had the appropriate gear. They also check for licenses and drunkeness.
Today's newspaper reported the worrying results of their tour of duty. As they chatted to the fishermen they became aware that a lot, I mean a LOT, of the men on the various reefs had no idea where they were.
"Hi, We're from the coastguard, just doing a spot check."
"Hi, We've followed all the safety advice before we left. We told our wives where we were going and left the coastguard number with them in case we don't get back on time. We have enough life jackets, and a mobile phone with us. We have plenty of fresh water and have the radio on in the background in case of weather warnings. There is no alcohol on board, three of the four of us have a boat license, and look we've got a first aid kit." ( Can you sense the pride of the men as they recounted their preparations and safety precautions.)
After eyeing off the small plastic tub containing one soggy aspirin tablet, a bandage (used), a roll of sellotape and a tube of what may once have been sunscreen, or possibly toothpaste, the coastguard asked the question of the day. "And exactly where did you tell your wives you were going?"
"So, you know where you are now?"
"Arlington reef of course."
"Afraid not gentlemen, you are on Jorgenson patch, a small reef that is twenty miles from Arlington reef, if you had got into trouble we would have been looking in the wrong place. By the way do you know which way land is?"
Four men all point in different directions at once, look at each other, and promptly change the direction of their pointing, once again in four different directions.
"So....any plans to maybe buy some navigation aid or other before you come out again? Maybe a small compass so you can at least head West and find land? Eh?"
One step forward, ten back
7 years ago