An Excerpt from “My Father’s Will”:
Edwin and Enid sailed north for a day, admiring the scenery of clear blue and turquoise water, thousands of green islands, some framed by bright white sandy beaches, others rising steeply up from the water. The weather was perfect. A breeze blew just strong enough to fill the sails and keep them moving slowly, unhurriedly, allowing them time to relax and breathe fresh air. Enid hardly wore anything but a bathing suit. No bikinis. Edwin’s mention of bikinis was just his personal figure of speech. He himself never bothered to put on a shirt. Round noon when it was hot, they stayed in the shade of the canopy or in the cabin, reading, chatting, watching TV or sleeping.
The second day they moved further from shore and closer to the reef and the islands. The lower the tide, the more islands emerged. During high tide they disappeared again. Enid liked to watch the many different species of fish playing among the coral. The water was so clear, one could see almost to the bottom in places. She took close to a thousand photographs and filled at least three memory cards. What a lovely time they had. No fighting, just relaxing. It was a pleasure to get away from home a bit. Together they decided to do it more often like in the beginning before the children grew up and claimed the boat.
By late afternoon Edwin made a routine check of the weather report. There was a warning of possible foul weather coming. Small boats were advised to watch out and stay close to shore. He turned the boat around and headed back to Brisbane. Before dawn the next morning, Enid woke up to the gentle pitching on a less than flat calm sea. Edwin was already on deck, tacking against a now fresh breeze of a few knots more than the previous day. He smiled at her as she handed him a mug of strong, hot coffee.
“Is there a storm coming?” she asked a little nervous.
“Yes, but it’s still far away and heading northwest. We’ll probably miss it.”
“What if it changes course?”
“We can still outrun it. We’ll be home before it hits, even if it comes straight at us, which it won’t.”
Reassured and satisfied with Edwin’s predictions, she went back down to shower and dress in shorts and sweatshirt. The wind on deck is too chilly to have much unnecessary skin exposed. Even Edwin was wearing a long sleeve tee-shirt.
“Want some breakfast?” she asked as he was coming down into the cabin.
“Yes please. And more coffee.” She poured him another cup and started preparing breakfast. They ate in silence. Enid did not feel like going home just yet, but the storm compelled them to head for Brisbane and do so without hesitation.
Edwin kept staring to his left to see if any storm clouds were coming crawling over the horizon towards them. By lunchtime white fluff on top of a long, dark-grey stroke of cloud appeared on the north-eastern horizon. The wind grew stronger by the hour and the sea choppier. The Great Barrier Reef took much hammering causing the sea to the west of it to be a little calmer. Yet it made little difference to the huge waves caused by the storm surge of a cyclone. What lies on the horizon might very easily become a full-blown cyclone.
Edwin is still confident that they will reach Brisbane before the storm hits. But just in case they don’t, he contacted the closer harbours at Bundaberg and Maryborough to let them know they might have to dock in. Gladstone is already behind them. During the next few hours the storm just lay there. It did not come closer. According to the report on the radio, it was wobbling and predicted to turn north-north-west and make landfall at Cairns. It has just been declared a category one cyclone and named Gregory.