by David Salter
This November will see the eleventh annual cruise-in-company to Lord Howe Island, taking the unique event into its second decade. The dockside wags have already dubbed it 'Ocean’s Eleven'.
Lord Howe Island - who WOULDN’T want to sail there...?
Seventeen yachts have already indicated their interest in joining the cruise and the Island’s capacity to provide appropriate moorings for the week is likely to be tested to the limit.
The event is an entirely informal with no rules or organizing authority. Its only fixed point is that participating yachts should get to the island in time for the fund-raising BBQ at Ned’s Beach on a nominated date. This year that falls on November 19.
All proceeds go to the Island’s public school. The visiting yachties have raised more than $30,000 for the school’s Parents and Friends group over the past decade.
Traditionally, the BBQ has been held on the first Tuesday after the Melbourne Cup. It has now been moved back a week to avoid clashing with Lord Howe’s annual golf tournament, which always puts pressure on the Island’s limited accommodation.
Up to 16 yachts will join the cruise to Lord Howe Island this year - LHI BBQ Cruise
Nigel Stoke, skipper of Fidelis (the only yacht to have participated in every cruise since it began in 2003), believes the event has become a permanent fixture on the East Coast offshore calendar.
'We certainly didn’t intend it that way', he said. 'Originally it was just a small group of skippers and crew who loved sailing over to Lord Howe but had fallen out of love with full-on competitive ocean racing.
'Now there are more boats putting their hands up for the cruise than the race.'
Yachts who’ve registered their intention to make the 830nm round trip into the Tasman this November include Midnight Magic, Polaris of Belmont, Fidelis, The Indefensible, Morning Bird, Sextant, Maris, EZ Street and Kadimah, a 32-foot gaffer.
Two additional deep draft moorings have recently been laid in the South Passage and Stoke is hopeful that everyone who completes the crossing will secure an anchorage.
'There’s no doubt demand is now beginning to outstrip supply when it comes to moorings during the BBQ week, but it always seems to work out in the end. The Island and its people have been very good to us over the years.'
Clubs and interested individuals who may wish to help promote the event can obtain posters from Tom Moult by contacting him at tom(@)walkermoult.com.au. Tom will also be able to steer you in the right direction to connect with the other sailors who are going.