After buying our first boat 'Festivity', a Top Hat 25 in 1993, we thought we should join a club to learn the skills we so sadly lacked. We eventually joined the Palm Beach Yacht Club because of its friendly, laid-back atmosphere, and that no protests were allowed in racing. The idea was to be a family-oriented club without the pomp, ceremony, braided Commodores of the other clubs.
Apart from racing around the buoys, PBYC also has a cruising division. Most of these cruises are in Pittwater, Cowan Creek or the Hawkesbury River. For the 1993 Christmas Cruise, the destination was Port Stephens. About 7 boats made the journey, 'Festivity' being the smallest. On the way up, we were hit by a 40kt gale which was quite a test for us on our first trip outside. We eventually made it into Nelson Bay, long after the others. That trip bonded us as a group and we have remained in contact ever since. We have been particularly close to Larry and Alison from 'Autumn Leaves' and have spent a lot of time on each others boats.
Another Christmas cruise to Camden Haven saw most of the same group heading off. We decided that 'Festivity' would be too slow, and accepted a ride on 'Autumn Leaves'.
'Autumn Leaves' was sold in 1999 and another cruising boat soon replaced her. 'Spring Fever' is a Robert Perry-designed Cheoy Lee 35. Larry and Alison took her on their first cruise north just after Easter 2000. We were in Southport buying 'Meridian' when they arrived, so we were able to welcome them as they came through the Seaway. They proceeded up the Queensland coast while we had some work done on the boat in Southport.
We caught up with them on Brampton Island, then returned with them to Mackay. Larry had tickets for some of the Olympic events so returned to Sydney for a couple of weeks while Alison waited on the boat. After Larry returned with daughter Jackie, we set off from Mackay to Port Newry and Goldsmith Island. We bade them farewell there, as they returned to Sydney while we headed north for the Whitsundays.
Our next meeting was in Cairns, a year later in October 2001 when they joined us for two weeks travelling via Port Douglas, Fitzroy Is, Dunk Is, Magnetic Is to Townsville.
Two months later, we were moored outside their house in Lovett Bay, Pittwater. We were then joined a week later by Derek & Colleen on 'Wyena'.
Larry and Alison cruised to Far North Queensland, reaching Lizard Island before returning home in 2002.
In 2005 Larry had a serious motor-cycle accident which caused major injuries to his spine. While in John Hunter Hospital (Newcastle) A & E, he suffered a heart attack as well. He recovered from all these traumas, but had a long, long rehabilitation period.
Later, 'Spring Fever' was sold, and Larry and Alison moved to Hobart. While on holiday in the US in 20008, Larry suffered a fatal heart attack. Alison continues to live in Hobart, close to our great mutual friends, Colleen and Derek.
Photo Collection at Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/29237886@N00/sets/72157611816818307/