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    quokka
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

New Frontier - 4. NF Ch 4

For the next two weeks, I remained either at home or in the office, assisting Sarah with running the business, which was doing very well, with at least two cruises each week, giving the crew between one and three days off between cruises, with the southern cruise been altered to include the Abrolhos Islands, but still remaining as a two day cruise.

Emma and her puggles are still living at the zoo, and according to reports from Rachel, they have settled into their new home very nicely, so I decided that it would be best if they stay there. With the first term school holidays, which include Easter fast approaching, I had arranged to take a holiday with my brothers to Europe, so the boys can see a bit of the bigger world, and I also wanted to inspect some of the river ships that were on offer for sale.

With 18 days in total, we would have one stop in Singapore, before continuing on to Frankfurt, Germany, where two sister river ships are listed available for sale in Hamburg. At just over 74 metres long and 15 metres wide, they have just three decks, plus the sundeck, they have 51 passenger cabins and 30 crew cabins, and would be more suitable than the ship currently stranded on an island in the Abrolhos Islands.

With everything running smoothly with the business, and still no news in regards to the ship at the Abrolhos Islands, the boys and I set off on our holiday, with only Simon knowing our travel itinerary, and both boys were very excited to be going on this holiday.

Leaving Perth at 1730 hours on the Friday afternoon, having driven to Perth just hours after the boys had finished school on Thursday afternoon, and staying overnight at a hotel in the city, we arrived in Frankfurt at 0620 hours the following day, after 21 hours of flying, and we were all fairly tired from all the travelling.

Once at the hotel, we checked into our adjoining rooms, with the boys sharing one room, and I suggested that they have a bit of a snooze to try and recover from the jet lag of travelling halfway around the world, and when I checked on them half and hour later, they were both on their beds fast asleep.

After setting my alarm, I too lay down and was soon fell asleep, only to be woken four hours later by the sound of my alarm. I woke the boys up and asked them to shower and change, so we can go and have some lunch, followed by some sight seeing.

After two and a half days of sight seeing, at breakfast on our fourth day in Germany, I informed the boys that the trip also involves me doing some business research, and that for the next two days we would be inspecting floating vessels that can accommodate large numbers of people.

Although the boys were not too keen on the idea, they soon were joining me as we inspected one of the sister river cruise ships, and I asked the boys to take mental notes of what they see, and we would discuss it over lunch at a café, as I had brought my I-Pad with me to take photos and to make notes.

After seeing the first river ship on my list, we headed off to a different location in the same city, where other river ships are available for sale that is being retired due to their age. After seeing one of them, I knew right away that it would not be suitable, and we headed to a café for an early lunch.

Both Neale and Jedd informed me that the first river ship that we saw was quite good, and that the second one was too old and looked rundown, which I agreed to, and after getting their views, we chatted about what else we could do for the rest of the holidays, with it being early spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

“Hey Anton, could we maybe try going on one of those?” Jedd asked me, as he pointed out to the river, where a very fancy looking river ship was passing by. “We can always try and see if there are places available. By the way, do you know what APT means?” I responded, as I pointed out the lettering on the side of the river ship.

“No idea, what does it mean?” Neale asked in reply. “Australian Pacific Touring” I replied smiling, “Wow, an Australian company doing cruises here, that is awesome,” Jedd said. “Yes I have to agree on that, now let me do some searching while we have internet coverage here at the café, to see if we can go on a river cruise,” I responded as the boys continued to eat their meals.

About an hour later, I had failed to find any cabins available of the European Cruise ships, but I did manage to come up with an interesting alternative. “Bad new and good news lads,” I announced to my brothers who were watching television in their hotel room.

“Ok, hit us with the bad news first,” Jedd responded, “There are no cabins available for any of the River Cruise companies in Europe, but I do have a suggestion of something a little different,” I replied. “Ok bro; tell us, what is this good news?” Neale said to me, as he switched off the television so they were both listening to me.

I thought we may give a canal boat tour in the UK a go,” I replied, “Is that those long narrow boats that you have to go through those canal gates?” Jedd asked.

“Yes that is correct, although the canal gates as you call them are called lochs, and yes depending on where we go, and for how long, will depend on how many of those we pass through,” I replied. Over the next two hours we looked at the alternatives to where we could go, with canals located in Scotland, Wales and England, and we elected to take the one week canal cruise that includes Wales and the famous Pontcysyllt Aqueduct, and we chose the Shakespeare 4 Narrow boat, which is 58 feet long, and it had one double and two single beds on it.

After checking out of our hotel in Germany, we flew to Manchester, and then caught a bus to our starting point of our boat holiday, in the town of Chirk. After we were given a full briefing, after explaining that we have our own yacht charter company home in Western Australia, we were given the go ahead to start our seven day journey, with a total distance of 88 miles with a total of 42 locks to pass through.

It took us over a day to settle into our rather cramped quarters, often having to shuffle our way around each other, to get to the kitchen, bathroom or our beds, and the boys elected to spend most of the time in the stern or forward outdoor seating areas, since we had fine weather forecast for the whole week.

While having our dinner at a pub on our second night out on the canal, Jedd stopped eating and looked up at me. “Why is there nothing like this in Australia?” he asked me, and I thought about the question for a moment. “That is a good point, I guess because we just have large rivers everywhere, and there had been no call for any?” I responded.

“Could we possibly look into trying to establish a canal boat business, but with wider boats,” Neale asked me, “Yes, I guess we can look into it, and maybe instead of importing a narrow boat from the UK, we can have them built here in Australia and maybe out of Aluminium, which would make it a lot more sturdier,” I answered, just as my mobile began to ring.

The screen read locked international call, and I nearly ignored the call, but it the answer button at the last moment, “Hello, Anton speaking,” I said and I noticed a slight delay in the call. “Please hold for…”, “No I will not hold, I am not in Australia at the moment, call me back in two weeks when I have returned from overseas, or if urgent, send me a email,” I said interrupting the lady, and ended the call.

When the mobile called again, I ended it and turned the phone off, and placed the phone back in my pocket. “That didn’t sound too good bro?” Neale said to me, “Well tough titties, I am on holidays so it can wait,” I said in response, and both of my brothers smiled.

During breakfast the next day, I checked my emails on my I-Pad, and there was an email from the Minister of Environment and I groaned in annoyance. “Dear Mr Hamilton, after not being able to get through to you earlier today, I telephoned your head office in Jurien Bay, and was informed that you were on holidays in the UK and would not be back for nearly two weeks.

I wanted to discuss with you a few matters regarding the cruise ship which had been stuck on a small Island on the Abrolhos Islands, which the owners of the ship have now at their own effort, dragged off the island and sailed away from Australia.

The State Government is not too happy about this happening without our consultation, as there was significant dragging damage done to the island, reef and sea grasses that surround that island, but now the ship is out of Australian waters, believed to be heading to Singapore, and there is not much we can do about it.

In the mean time, the original idea of your company establishing a number of smaller vessels, that would be able to replace the shacks that cover 22 of the islands in the Abrolhos Island Group, is a viable option, which has been discussed in Cabinet, and agreed on to look into this option.

We would appreciate that you get in contact with us as soon as possible so we can start looking into this option, so it can be in place for the start of the new season in October. Kind Regards…” I decided to ignore the email for now, until we are on our way back to Australia.

I sent an email to the office, “Hello everyone, the lads and I are currently on a narrow boat canal cruise in Wales and England, which has been very relaxing with the slow pace that we are travelling. Please inform anyone that calls or emails that I will respond to all messages once I am back in Australia. Regards, Anton.”

For the rest of the trip we spent every second night having dinner at a pub, near the banks of the canal, and it was very sad to arrive back at our starting point and hand the boat back. Going over the aqueduct was one memory that I would not ever forget, as we crossed over the bridge, so far above the river.

After an overnight stay at a hotel in Wales, we headed to London, and caught a flight back to Frankfurt, which is where we would be departing from Europe to return to Australia in three days time, and we spent those last few days exploring more of Germany, before we boarded out flight for home via Singapore, where we had a 24 hour layover, which gave us a chance to have a look around the city of Singapore.

Booking into a hotel for eighteen hours of our stay, I had a chance to check my emails, and there was an email from the WA Minister of Environment. “Dear Mr Hamilton, I just wanted to update you on what is happening regarding the ship that was stuck on the Abrolhos Islands recently.

The owners of the ship have contacted us, after inspecting the ship for any damage, which was minimal and they are now reconsidering the offer for the ship to be sold to the WA government for use as a floating hotel for the fishing community in the Abrolhos Islands region.

Since receiving that initial email, we have contacted the owners of the ship, to inform them that we would be prosecuting them for the ship been stuck on an island in the Abrolhos Islands, and also for the damage caused by dragging the ship off the island and the surrounding reef without authorisation.

To ensure that the company does actually pay up the costs, the WA government has confiscated two of its other company ships that transport shipping containers from Australia to all parts of Asia. Most of the crew has been sent home and the two most senior officers of both ships have being detained.

We would like to get your opinion on the situation, and if the ship is in a good enough condition to return to the Abrolhos, where the best location would be to have it based. Can you please arrange an appointment to come and see me in Perth, as soon as you get back to Australia?”

Checking to see what the time is and seeing that it was too late to contact the Minister’s office, I opened up an email and wrote an message to the Minister, to informed him that I would be arriving in Perth the following day, and that I would only be available between 1 pm and 3 pm for an appointment.

When we arrived at Perth Airport the following day, and having just passed through Customs shortly before 11 am, we entered the arrivals hall and I almost right away saw a man in a neat suit holding a sign with my name on it, and since I didn’t recognise the man, I whispered to my brothers to ignore the man with the sign and keep walking outside.

Catching a taxi, we travelled to the long term parking area about two kilometres away, where we had left my vehicle just over two weeks ago, and once all our luggage was stowed away, we set off to the city and Kings Park, where we would have some lunch before setting off home.

I still had my phone on Aircraft Flight mode, so I knew that I would not get interrupted during lunch, as we relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful parklands, and the views of the city and the Swan River. When we arrived back at the vehicle, I retrieved my laptop and logged into my emails, and as expected there was an email waiting for me.

“Mr Hamilton, I sent a car to collect you and your brothers from the airport, but you must not have seen the driver with his sign with your name on it. I am not available at the time you suggested, as I must attend a sitting in parliament, can you please contact my office to arrange another time too meet.”

I groaned with annoyance, and decided to ignore the email for now and get on our way back home, with luck we will be out of Perth before peak hour traffic begins. Two and a half hours later, we arrived home, with the boys falling asleep for at least half of the journey.

Still half asleep, they dragged their luggage up to the house, and left the luggage downstairs, while they headed upstairs to see their grandfather, and by the time I arrived up there, the boys were in their rooms and fast asleep again.

I just relaxed for the rest of the day, feeling a little tired from all of the travelling, and with it being a Friday, I had all weekend to recover, before getting back to work in the office, although Sarah appeared to have everything under control.

Although the deal didn’t go ahead in regards to the yacht offered for sale, I decided to go ahead with selling the property out of town as it was just laying empty, now that Jasper, Anita and family are no long using the place, with Mathew, Sarah and Oscar well settled into the staff house down the road, and the crew living onboard the yacht.

Before selling the yacht, I decided to lave the three demountable cabins relocated to the single block of land located on the corner opposite the wildlife reserve, so that the crew had somewhere on land to be based if need be, that I had bought along with the extra land for the wildlife reserve extension.

Once they had been relocated and connected to all of the services required, I had the property out of town put on the market, and the real estate agent suggested putting it up for auction to see if there is any real interest in the property.

I agreed, but I insisted in having a set reserve price, and a starting bid price, which he reluctantly agreed to, even when he suggested that it was a bit of a steep starting bid price.

Copyright Feb 2021 All Rights Reserved, Preston Wigglesworth
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Awesome chapter. Great holiday for the family. I loved the canal boat trip. He's gonna be kept busy with the island project it seems.

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