Ordinarily, you’d think this was a tribute to dear ol’ Grandpa or a call to arms when preparing for racing. In a way, this is a bit of both. We’re paying homage to all those owners and crew who make the great migration, just like the whales, as well as a motivational speech for all the crews sailing towards Far North Queensland.
So with all that covered off, our first grand migrator is Michael Phillips with his Gibsea Master 44.2, which is actually called, Poppy. Michael and Poppy have just put down a healthy 2100nm to get the vessel from Adelaide to Magnetic Island. It was his first time taking her up himself, but he is no stranger to the ocean, having completed a lot of the East coast circuit over the years. Over the 13 years that he has owned Poppy they have done the Sydney to Gold Coast together and also the haul over to Adelaide from Sydney a few years ago.
They left the city of churches on June 8 and arrived all safe and well in the tropics on June 27. Phillips commented, 'We had a lovely time, with brief stops in Eden and Hamilton Island, but our major ones were Sydney and Southport for a few days, and to affect crew changes. Speaking of which, Evan Higgins and Bill Colman did the whole journey with us and it was also Bill’s first major delivery! Actually, when we were in Sydney, all tucked up nice and warm in from of the fire at the CYCA, Evan showed that he had not had enough at all and went out for a round of the Winter Series. It was wet, wet, wet, so he really must have needed yet more water time.'
'We had a good run, but did a bit more motoring than we may have preferred, as we were keen to stay in front of the bad weather. When we left Adelaide, I knew it was coming and got through to Rushcutters before it all, then left again on it’s tail and roared along doing 10 and 11 knots under a small headsail and one slab in the main. Nice and safe, yet powerful enough given the conditions – I’m a real believer in emphasizing that we’re not racing, but delivering, with the aim to get there in one piece and have our humans all intact, as well. Safety is paramount!'
The crew of Poppy delivering her to Magnetic Island Race Week. - Michael Phillips
'To that end, for the first time we used an AIS receiver, which was a real bonus. We had a many a very black, no-moon night and it was really advantageous', said Michael of one particular incident with a Yankee Foxtrot (ship).
'Saw lots of whales too, which is both a worry and a joy, for you don’t see them until they come up. One of the most spectacular sights of the trip was with the whales and rainbow one morning. We were enjoying breakfast when I looked aft and a whale breeched, right in the middle of rainbow!' One does not have to just take Michael’s word for it, however, for the entire five-person crew saw it, so there is corroborating evidence.
Poppy racing two-handed in 2011. - Michael Phillips
As for watches, they did two on and four off, with Michael splitting the middle on his own. This was fine for Michael who has many miles with both Poppy and his former craft, Redeemer, a Farr1020. Back in the day, there were numerous Pittwater to Coffs and Ocean Pointscores completed with these two vessels.
'Magnetic Island is the furthest North that Poppy has gone in the 13 years I have owned her. We have eight base crew from both SA and NSW, we all know each other and two locals, which includes Steve Lyneham, who knows the area very well from much experience. I suppose we are doing it because of Steve, but it certainly seemed like a good idea. I have done Magnetic Island Race Week three times previously on others boats, so just bit the bullet and got Poppy up there. We are competing in the Cruising with Spinnakers Division. It is a great regatta, it’s really easy to enjoy it and laid back, similar to the King’s Cup in Phuket.'
Phillips added, 'I suppose you could say that I’m returning to the fray, as I lived in Townsville in the 70’s. I’m a former ‘King of the Castle’, from 70-72 inclusive. It’s a race up Castle Hill. You leave from the bottom of the Strand and then head up, over and back down the other side and along the Strand again. I do have an affiliation with the area and when you have your own boat there it is more of a personal involvement.'
'After the wonderful Magnetic Island Race Week I am planning to leave the boat there for a while and go exploring and cruising. There have been some suggestions/eager volunteers indicating the need to go further North to even warmer climes and perhaps King’s Cup in 2015 on Poppy. We will see on that one, albeit a group of us are planning to participate again in that regatta next year.'
Sundowners being consumed on the beach at Lady Musgrave. - Paul Lindemann
Another of the great migrators is the Beneteau 50, Biddy Hu II, from Melbourne. They too are competing in Magnetic Island Race Week in the Cruising with Spinnakers Division. Speaking with Paul Lindemann whilst they were in Mackay, he said, 'In 2012 I had the boat delivered here and back and flew in for Hamilton Island. This time I have my wife and three kids on board, as well as some of the crew. We flew in to Sydney and then have been doing short hops all the way up, around 50nm or so. Overall, we have spent three weeks getting up to FNQ.'
'Mackay has a terrific marina and great staff, too. Diving has been a key component of what we’ve been up to. Lady Musgrove was simply terrific. The highlight was Fitzroy Reef, where I had an amazing experience seeing a Giant Trevally about three meters away, with visibility of about 25 meters, and no other boat in sight too. We have also seen sharks, turtles and millions of fish, which has been really awesome for the kids. Great Keppel Island has a fantastic bar, amazing sunsets, with wonderful staff.'
Turtle is just one species the crew of Biddy Hu II have been fortunate enough to see. - Paul Lindemann
'Coffs Harbour is a nice place and the Big Banana is GOOD FUN. We had a fire on the beach at Island Head Creek and wandered around the Middle Percy Island ‘museum’. We’re off to do Brampton Island, Butterfly Bay and then Hardy and Bait Reefs before the racing commences at Airley Beach', said Paul.
'The weather has not been as warm as you may be lead to believe, but 15kn Sou’easterlies has meant we've had a super run and given the kite a good airing too! We have also enjoyed the tour of the Bundy factory (OK, I really did) and the kids had a ball at Seaworld. The Southport Yacht Club was also a really great place to stop; hospitality plus.'
'Biddy Hu II is doing all three race weeks, so Magnetic is our final jaunt. We’ll be either fully honed in or totally exhausted by then. My family is staying up here, albeit ashore, during the race weeks and the crew are flying in. From there the boat will be delivered back to Melbourne in time for October and the commencement of all things serious down there', concluded Lindemann.
You can see much of Biddy Hu II’s voyage via www.facebook.com/biddyhuii
Underwater just as important to over the water for Biddy Hu II. - Paul Lindemann
The delivery is now completed for these grand migrators and so it is time for them to race in the Cruising with Spinnakers Division of Magnetic Island Race Week. One thing you get from speaking with them is that they are adhering to one of life’s great mantras. Namely, that is important to have an end to journey towards, but in the end, it is the journey that matters! So when you have that all said, perhaps it should not just be one for Poppy, but indeed, one for all.
Looking back at Biddy Hu II on anchor at Fitzroy Reef - note the flippers in the foreground. - Paul Lindemann