I also received an email from Robert, confirming that the two academics have accepted the offer to travel to Tasmania and spend a week on the luxury yacht, and present two lectures each during that time, so I was happy that it was coming together well.
I spoke to the headmaster of all six schools again twice more during the term, to finalise arrangements, and to get an idea on how the top students would be selected for this trip. Brad and Craig managed to complete the four courses that they needed to do, those being the STCW Basic Safety Training, which is mandatory, MCA Efficient Deckhand, VHF Operator and the MYA Tender Operator courses.
Three days before the cruise was about to start, I had Brad and Craig flown down to Strahan on a chartered flight, and Charles and I met them at the airport, in the business vehicle, that has fancy signage on both sides – Tas Adventure Cruises.
From the airport, Charles drove us through town and down to the end of Lowana Road, where the yacht’s tender was waiting for us. However, shortly after turning onto Lowana Road, Charles noticed that we were being followed. “Strap in tight please, we are going to have to take a back road to try and get rid of this tail we have acquired,” Charles announced to us.
Shortly after we made a sharp left turn, onto a track and for the next fifteen minutes we bumped along the track until we came onto a gravel road that leads back to the Esplanade. Turning right back towards town we were on there for about 300 metres before turning left on our property on the cove, and Charles drove around to the back of the shed and parked.
I had already pulled out the phone and dialled the number for the yacht. “Captain, this is Edwin, we possibly had the media tailing us, so we took a back track, and I think Charles has lost them, we are at our jetty on Risby Cove. We will come to the tender in the sports yacht, ask the tender to go around to the centre of Lettes Bay, to meet us there,” I said when the call was answered.
“Very well sir, I will arrange that right away,” the captain replied, and after the call ended, we headed to the sports yacht, moored at the jetty, and set of out of the cove and down Long Bay to where we would meet the yacht’s tender.
“Nothing like a bit of excitement before the big event, eh lads,” I said to my two friends, who just smiled, “Not exactly a good way to start it,” Brad responded, and I nodded in agreement. Brad and Craig would be sharing a crew cabin on the lower deck, and when we finally reached the yacht, I left it to the Bosun to show them around the yacht’s crew areas, that they had not seen before.
Meanwhile, with school exams now over, I was able to relax a bit and just concentrate on my businesses, and the fast approaching six-day cruise, with twelve students and four teachers, who would arrive in three days, plus the two academics from the UK and the two outdoor adventure specialists, who would arrive the day before.
Charles had arranged for the academics to land in Australia four days before the cruise, so to give them time to adjust to the time difference and the long distance travelling, so they would be arriving from Sydney then travelling to Hobart, Tasmania, before boarding a chartered seaplane flight to Pine Cove, where the yacht is currently anchored.
The Outdoor Adventure specialists would also be flown by seaplane to the yacht, from Strahan, while the teachers and students would firstly fly to Hobart, and then by seaplanes to the yacht. With the recent problems with the media, and after consulting with the captain, I had decided to amend the cruise, so it begins at Double Cove, and it will end at Hawks Nest Cove.
When I had received the list of the top three year-11 students from each school, as expected Lucas was top of the year, but what I was surprised, was the next student on the list from Launceston Church Grammar. It was Dale York, one of the junior members of the bully gang that have been giving me such a hard time earlier in the year.
I called the headmaster, and explained that this student’s behaviour to me was not acceptable and I deem him to be disqualified from winning the chance to be on the cruise, and so the next on the list was given the chance to be on the cruise.
Once the academics and outdoor adventure specialists have boarded, we would set sail for Double Cove, just two hours away, where we would wait for the arrival of the teachers and students the following afternoon, and after the overnight stay there, the cruise would begin.
I had decided that I would not participate in the hikes, but I would attend the academic lectures, during the cruise, and most of the time I would remain on the bridge deck in my private zone of the yacht. I also decided that on the second last night of the cruise, while anchored at Pine Cover, I would get Charles to come and collect me, just after dinner time, to take me home to the manor.
I enjoyed a delightful dinner with the visiting academics, and the two outdoor education specialists, on the night before the teachers and students arrived. When they did arrive, I was on the bridge with the Captain, doing final checks with the cruise, with the weather being good to us for the first few days of the cruise.
When the seaplanes had delivered the last load of students and their luggage, and they had boarded the yacht, the Captain gave the order for the deck crew to lock down for the night. With the yacht being anchored in a remote cove, a good 21 kilometres south of Strahan, he was no expecting any security issues.
However, with the recent activity of media being seen around Strahan, he was not taking any chances and ordered for a watchman to be posted for the whole night. I had decided to have dinner away from the guests for tonight, and so instead, I notified the chef, just before heading downstairs, that I would be dining with the crew on the lower deck tonight, which caught everyone by surprise.
“So, have you seen who the two winners are from your school?” I asked Brad and Craig when I sat down at the crew dining table with them. “Lucas had text me that he was coming, I am not sure about the other… err sir,” Brad responded and I smiled.
“If you are wondering why Brad hesitated just now, it is because I too attended their school, and these two scoundrels were the only ones outside of my family and staff who knew about my title, and they were my security detail at school,” I informed the rest of the crew that were present.
“Scoundrels eh sir, does that mean I can get them to swab the decks and walk the plank tomorrow?” the Bosun asked me, “Hey…!” Craig protested and I just laughed. “No, you do not have my permission to do that Bosun, just normal crew duties for junior deck crew, that is all,” I replied, which brought smiles from both Brad and Craig, “As you wish sir,” the Bosun responded, sounding a little disappointed.
“The other one from our school is Jimmy Foster, who was third, but was bumped up to second, because the boy who came second, I disqualified because of his behaviour earlier in the year,” I said to Craig and Brad. “You don’t mean Yorkie, do you sir?” Craig asked.
“Yes I do, it is his own fault, for him hanging around the wrong crowd, and doing what they did, but that is for you to know only, I don’t want you gossiping around school about that, understand,” I said to my friends. ‘Yes Sir, Understood,” the lads chorused.
I had breakfast with the guests the next morning, with a lot of the students and teachers not sure what to do or say in my presence, although Lucas did, as he stood as soon as I entered the dining room, and eventually everyone followed suit.
“Thankyou, you may sit,” I said to everyone, as I arrived at my seat at the head of the table, and I smiled and nodded to Lucas, who smiled in return, and from then on, everyone stood every time I entered a room.
As I finished my breakfast I tapped my glass a few times with the back of the knife, and everyone went silent. “Good morning and welcome to my annual award of excellence fro Year 11 students of Independent schools in Northern Tasmania.
I look forward to hearing how you are going over the next six days of this adventure cruise, which officially starts today, as we set off up the spectacular Gordon River. I will be posting an itinerary of the cruise on the notice board in the main foyer on this deck, so you have an idea what we will be doing.
I hope that you get to enjoy the activities that we have arranged for you, that will include some hikes, white water rafting down the Franklin River, watching the Wilderness Railway pass by, as we anchor near the first river bridge that it crosses over. Also hiking to the Cape Sorell Lighthouse at Macquarie Heads, and see a lot of amazing Tasmanian forests, as we pass through them by foot and boat.
We also have with us two distinguished University lecturers from the United Kingdom who specialise in Environmental Sciences, and they will be giving us short lectures on different parts of the area that we will be travelling in.
I won’t be joining you on the hikes as I have other business to attend to, but I have already experienced what you are about to do, as we did a trial run of this cruise earlier, during the last holidays. Good luck and I hope to speak to you soon,” I said, and with that said, I stood up and left the dining room.
For the next five days everything was going great, and I was even getting a written report from Lucas via email every night, on how he and the other students where enjoying the trip, which I found useful. After receiving the second one, I sent a quick text to Lucas.
“Hi mate, I really appreciate the daily reports, keep them up if you can, regards your friend, Edwin,” and a quick reply came back “Not a problem, Sir Mate,” and I laughed at this. On the second last night of the cruise, while anchored in Pine Cove, just before dinner, I sent a text message to Lucas.
“Leaving the yacht tonight, as I have a feeling that there may be media trouble ahead, keep this to yourself, and I will speak to you very soon, Regards Sir Mate,” and a few moments later I received a reply. “LOL. Stay safe, and thanks for this trip, it has been great. Was surprised to see Brad and Craig as crewmembers. I guess another little secret surprise of yours. Lucas,” was the reply.
As I entered the dining room, everyone stood up as they have been before, but what caught me by surprise this time, was that everyone bowed their heads as I walked to my seat, and I sawa Lucas turn his head and smile to me, and I nodded in response.
Straight after dinner, taking just my small suitcase, I headed to the aft of the main deck, where Charles was waiting in the sports yacht, and once onboard, we quietly moved away from the yacht, and headed for home at the manor.
“Anything to report on the media in town?” I asked during the short journey, “plenty of media around sir, but they haven’t caught on that this small yacht is linked with you or the cruise business, which is good.
I have heard rumours, that some of the media are taking the trip on the wilderness train tomorrow morning, hoping to see you on your yacht, some how they have found out that the yacht will be watching the train go past near the bridge,” Charles replied.
Enjoying a restful seep in my own bed at the manor, I slept in to about 8.30 and had breakfast on the patio, as I like to do when the weather is clear and fine.
With the yacht stopping at the bridge 5.3 kilometres downstream, it blew its horn once, as I had requested, once it had anchored in the river, to let me know that it had arrived. About half an hour later the sound of the train whistle echoed through the valley, and it wasn’t long before I could hear it approaching, just as I received a text message from Lucas.
Media photographers on the train, hanging out the windows while taking heaps of photos of the yacht, Lucas.” I wasn’t too happy about this, but it was too late now, thankfully, I was not on the yacht, so there would be no photographs of me.
Before the train reached Camp Spur, I made sure that the manor is at its lowest level, to stay out of sight of the train and the media photographers.
The following day, when Charles and Elizabeth returned from shopping in town, they carried a local newspaper with them, which they handed to me.
“Local Baronet rewards top year 11 students” was the main headline, “The two top students of all six independent schools in Northern Tasmania, were rewarded with a six day cruise in the Macquarie Harbour region, this week. It is understood that Baronet Crawford, was on the yacht – pictured below, for the majority of the cruise, but was not onboard, when the yacht was anchored on the King River near the Teepookana Bridge, when the Wilderness railway passed by.
Reports by travellers, have stated that the teenagers were seen hiking a number of walking tracks, in the Gordon-Franklin River, plus the Kelly Basin regions and the Macquarie Heads region to Cape Sorell. It is believed that amongst the passengers on the cruise, included two local outdoor adventure specialists, and two university academics from the UK.
It is believed that Baronet Crawford has a hideaway retreat in the region, as he has been sighted a number of times, but where this retreat is anyone’s guess, when surrounded by so much Tasmania Wilderness Forest,” the newspaper report stated, and happily I just leaned back and smiled.
Copyright Preston Wigglesworth All Rights Reserved July 2020