• Bill Manning

Cyan Adventures - The Purchase

In 1988 we purchased Cyan which was located in Brisbane. We eventually sold it to Craig Brown at the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria 19 years later. These are some anecdotes about our adventures in the yacht we very much enjoyed over those years.


Bill Manning Blog - Cyan sailing with its present owner Craig Brown
Cyan sailing with its present owner Craig Brown

To take delivery of the yacht from the Royal Yacht Squadron of Queensland, Manly we assembled a crew of six which consisted of myself and Paul Kerrigan (the new co-owner) , Malcolm Levy, Mark Ross, Michael Dawson and Leon Cremer. We arrived from Sydney in the late afternoon and quickly started to survey the yacht. Our offer was to purchase the boat as is (from when we inspected the boat 2 weeks earlier) and included a certification of category 2 safety equipment. What we found was the boat stripped of all the equipment, life jackets, cutlery, safety equipment etc.


The following morning we went immediately the ships chandlery,Tickles and purchased all the missing equipment, I then contacted the ANZ Bank where the manager, John Freedman was waiting in Sydney to draw a bank cheque for the purchase of Cyan. The amount paid was purchase price less out deposit and the cost of all the equipment we had just bought. We the met with the seller who was not happy about the equipment cost and threatened not to sell. I then explained that we would sue him for all the airfares plus an amount for the inconvenience. He took the bank cheque for the purchase of Cyan.The amount paid was the purchase price less our deposit and the cost of all the equipment we had just purchased. We then met with the seller who was not happy about the equipment cost and threatened not to sell. I then explained that we would sue him for all the airfares plus an amount for the inconvenience. He took the bank cheque and left at speed in his Porsche. So much speed indeed, that the car’s muffler scraped and fell off at the speed bump on the road leading our of the Club.


The agent who sold us the boat offered to guide us down the inside passage to the Southport Yacht Club, which should have saved us 12 hours sailing time to Sydney. He turned out to be a Jonah.

After purchasing all the provisions and drink for the trip to Sydney we set off under motor for Surfers Paradise. All went well until we reached the shallow spots. We firstly hit a sand bank on a rising tide and took about 1 hour to get off. That was not good but we pressed on. It was now dark and our guide was pointing out all the shallows to be avoided. Bang we hit a sand bank. Unfortunately we hit at the top of the 12 foot tide at midnight. We were in trouble. We had the boom out with the crew on the outboard end and hanging out over the side. We were rather rude to our so called guide. We looked up the tide chart and found the 12 noon tide the next day was only 9 feet.


We were so long tipping the boat on its side that Michael Dawson actually fell asleep on the outboard end of the boom. By this time we had imbibed somewhat. Rum was the favoured drink with most of the crew except Mark Ross who was allergic to rum, so he drank gin. Down below Mark was concerned that we could not see the on deck situation, we might miss the opportunity to get off the sandbank. I sat next to Mark and went to the gin to keep him company. I explained to him that the meniscus of the gin on the bottle label is a very reliable indicator of the state of our predicament. As the boat levelled the meniscus would tell us we were off the sandbank. Unfortunately we did not see the meniscus level with the label as we grounded the gin in a very short space of time. In the morning Malcom Levy fell out of the forward bunk as the boat was hard aground and on its ear. He could have walked half a kilometre across the sand to Tipplers and had breakfast there.


Our saviour was the coast guard who turned up at midday with two boats having outboard motors of 150 horse power each. We attached the spinnaker halyard to one boat and sent him off abeam and the second boat attached to a tow rope at the bow. Cyan came off the sandbank in an instant, but as soon as it was in deep water and floating level it sped swiftly to the other side of the channel and went aground again. Having got Cyan off this second grounding on board our guide indicated where to go to get to the Southport Yacht Club. The coast guard overheard this instruction and advised us to turn left not right to get to the Club. We dismissed the guide and told him not to say another word for as long he was on Cyan. When we got to the Club we found we had drunk all the drinks we had purchased for the trip to Sydney. It turned out to be an expensive trip to Sydney.



Off to Lord Howe Island


In 1989 we were off to Lord Howe Island about 420 nautical miles (779 kms) from Sydney, about 3 days sailing. The crew were Deirdre, Michael Dawson, the co-owner of Cyan Paul Kerrigan and myself. We went in company with 5 other yachts. My son William flew to the island. With him on the aeroplane was Geoff Linley and Miss Latvia 1935 (refer to Oct 2019 blog Shenanigans in Hobart).


Bill Manning Blog - Cyan in the lagoon at Lord Howe Island
Cyan in the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

It turns out that Geoff used to court Miss Latvia 1935. He got quite a shock when he boarded the aeroplane with Miss Latvia 1935 who was by then Paul Kerrigan’s partner. We arrived safely at Lord Howe and we had a BBQ at Ned’s Beach on the first evening where we all attended on our rented bicycles. Geoff had quite a bit to drink and was riding home with William and going down hill past the island diesel generator when he hit a large pothole. William described to me that Geoff hit the hole and was doing a hand stand on the handlebars of his bicycle immediately prior to crashing to the roadway. Unfortunately he spent the week bedridden in his room at Pinetrees.


Going home to Sydney we left in a 15 knot easterly. The wind soon blew into a good 30 knot storm on day two. Running before the wind we were attempting to shorten sail by rolling the number one genoa onto the forestay. However the twin track on the forestay parted midway up the forstay thereby preventing a rollup. Paul Kerrigan got out the bosun’s chair, the electric drill, a screwdriver and some self tapping screws. Mike and Deirdre then winched him to the top of the mast, in what was now a 30 plus knot wind, and then eased him down the forestay. Paul then proceeded to mend the parting of the track, drilling a hole and screwing the whole thing together. A magnificent effort.

While Paul was fixing the track Deirdre was tailing the halyard at the mast winch. She was hanging on to that halyard as if her life depended on it and getting tired. I shouted from the wheel that she should take a step backwards and sit on the coachhouse. Mike Dawson ever the theorist then said

"don’t worry there is enough friction of the rope on the winch so Kerro will not fall if you let go."

This brought a very loud hale from Paul half way up the forestay. I did not blame him for some choice words which were uttered.


On arrival back in Sydney Harbour at about 1am Paul called Mis Latvia. Now in those days before mobiles the radio telephone allowed everybody within earshot to hear what was being said. The phone rang and it was answered by a male with a very deep voice.

"Hello".

Paul turned to us and said that is the man downstairs. To which Mike said

"he does not sound as if he was downstairs to me."


The Sydney Southport Race 1991


Bill Manning Blog - Cyan on way to Southport
Cyan on way to Southport

We decided to compete in the Sydney to Southport race. In the crew were Paul Kerrigan, Jim Dunstan, Malcolm Levy, Mark Ross, Leon Cremer, Bruce Dickson, Deirdre’s son Sean aged about 20 years of age and myself.


The only thing we can report about the way north was that Sean kept on saying that he would be last in the bunk on the first night in Southport.


He then suffered sea sickness for most of the trip so was not heard from for the last 2 days.


On the first morning in Southport Sean said to me Bruce is missing. I said he is not missing, he has not come back yet and you have lost your bet about being last into the bunk.



“Where did you last see him?”

I said to Sean.

“At the casino.”

said Sean.

“Well go back and find him”

was my reply.


So Sean went back to the casino and found Bruce still in the two-up game tossing heads with a very large and aged aboriginal woman dressed in a wafer thin printed cotton dress and thongs. He then brought Bruce back to the boat.


Coming back south to Sydney was another story. We set off in a soft westerly but going into the night the wind went into the south-west and came in at about 25 to 30 knots. I was on the helm and called for a sail change down to the number 3 headsail. While Malcolm, Paul Kerrigan and Leon Cremer were on the foredeck I decided to give them a hand by started the motor and holding the boat into the wind. Very soon after the motor started it stopped ‘Clunk’. The tail on the vang (it is attached to the boom) was just long enough to reach the propellor and get caught sufficiently well enough to stop the motor. Coming back after the sail change Malcolm asked about the engine which was now not going. I said “The vang rope has wrapped itself around the propeller, stopped the motor and someone has to go over and cut it off”. Malcolm then noticed that I held the helm very tightly and my knuckles were bleached white. He persuaded me to go into Iluka and fix it there.


Getting into the Clarence River was nerve wracking, it was low tide and there was white water (surf) across the entrance. Fortunately a sail boat came into view and sailed outside the white water to the extreme south entrance and entered the river going around the breakwater. We followed the sail boat into Iluka where we tied up along-side the Fishermans co-op. I then dived in to cut the vang from the propellor. Malcolm the said that was where the sharks were but I was not in the very cold water long enough to worry.


After overnighting there we set off for Sydney the following morning. It was blowing about 15 knots from the south-east. Deirdre was preparing breakfast of eggs and bacon for all the crew and it was delicious, that except when she was preparing it for herself. She just got the eggs onto the plate and it all got too much for her, she was very seasick and did not get to enjoy her eggs and bacon.


There will be more of the blog out soon...


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