The most famous and melancholy of all seafaring tragedies was remembered last week, when the Strawbridge Pointers observed the centenary of the RMS Titanic disaster.
100 years on... period attire was in evidence when 25 Pointers and a dog met dockside to wave bon voyage to the seven vessels partaking. The First Class passengers aboard Astoria, Raraku and Break Free were offered champagne by Penny Moon, attired as Titanic’s head steward. Scott McDonald was resplendent in his grandfather’s top hat, genuinely dated from 1911! Anne Hamlyn’s parasol was just the thing to ward off icebergs and Gaylene Booth was fitted out as Arthur Gordon MaCrae, the only Aussie passenger to perish in the disaster. Those remaining were steerage passengers and had to make do with Lipton’s tea and biscuit.
A steady northerly saw the fleet enjoying a brisk morning reach across the bay and back, before coming to anchorage in 4m near Rocky Point.
In a slap in the face for Global warming theorists, an iceberg had blundered in to Eastern Cove and was an obvious threat to shipping adjacent to Island Beach. Following a lavish luncheon for the first class folk and kippers for the plebs, an iceberg ramming competition commenced.
All boats were judged on their performance, with key indicators being a) Radio operator to do nothing, b) Lookout to also do nothing until the final seconds where he was to shout “iceberg ahead” and c) Skippers to send their craft along at the maximum possible speed and clip the ice with the starboard bow.
Astoria opened proceedings and looked irresistible with her White Star Ensign at the mast head and the Astor family in the cockpit. She is currently in New York, as she completely missed the berg and perfunctorily sailed on. All passengers reported safe.
Ann Tidd has seen her share of ice floating in a glass, so was unfazed as she bore down on the floe, her lookout even attaching more ice to the berg as they struck a glancing blow.
There was drama when Break Free, approaching the magical 22.5 knots, advanced to the berg. DiCaprio and Winslet were positioned at the bow, arms outstretched, music swelling and when all was lost Jane Evans (Winslet) leaped into the briny to save her soul. Yet another Academy award for this boat.
Solo yachtsmen Nick Pike and Henk Levering did their best to complete all three tasks on their respective vessels. Nick’s authoritative baritone (?) booming a warning across the bay, but surely Ruby’s (the wonder dog) incessant yapping must have warned Henk of impending doom. (Two dogs were saved in 1912, Ruby may not be as fortunate in 2012)
Erstwhile Rubicon Lookout, Roger Robert went aloft to ease navigation and the radio operators were actually awake and she managed to give the ice an almighty shunt, but the fleet was in for a treat when Raraku, after chipping ice off their foredeck with a reasonably large ball pein hammer, built a head of steam and clobbered the glacial remains. The lone figure of violinist David Churchill playing “Nearer My God to Thee” at the stern, a poignant image of the day.
Later, at the Board of Enquiry it was revealed that Astoria had won the “Titanic Quiz” in a tight finish and took home the liquorice allsorts, whilst Break Free cantered off with the “Iceberg Collision” prize of jelly beans. The American River Store, major victualler for the White Star Line is thanked for their sponsorship. Jane Evans held off a swag of nominees to pocket the “Porthole” for thespian excellence and navigational tomfoolery by mistaking Rubicon for an ice berg.