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Train Whistle Blowing - 2. TWB Ch 2

I was now very curious on what was been said and why Jacob’s parents were calling us. “Yes that should be fine, what time do you want him to be there?” Mum said in response to some information, as I continued to listen to one side of the conversation.

“Very well, I will have him there at 7 am, goodbye till then,” Mum said before ending the call, and she took a sip of her tea before taking a seat at the kitchen bench.

“It appears that you have been invited to go sailing tomorrow morning, and we have to be at the yacht club by 7 am,” Mum informed me. For the rest of the day, I was excited about going sailing. I hadn’t done any before, so I was not sure if I would be prone to seasickness or not, and I received a text message from Jacob shortly after Mum had ended the call.

“Great to hear you are coming tomorrow. It will be awesome, see you tomorrow nice and early,” the text read, and I smiled after reading the message.

Jacob and I are on the swim team at school, and we are fairly equal in speed in both Freestyle and Breaststroke, while I am better at Butterfly, and he is better at Backstroke. When Mum woke me at 6.15 the next morning, I jumped out of bed, and headed for the bathroom for a quick shower, and I changed into long boardshorts, long sleeve short, and I grabbed my sunglasses, before heading to the kitchen, where Mum had made me a cooked breakfast.

“Not sure if I should eat all of that, what happens if I spew it all up again, I don’t know if I am prone to sea sickness or not,” I commented as I sat down at the breakfast bar. “I am fairly certain that you are not, when you were younger, and we did the ferry trip between the islands in New Zealand, it was a very rough crossing, and you loved every bit of it,” Mum replied.

After a cooked breakfast, plus a bowl of fresh fruit, including watermelon, grapes and pineapple, I brushed my teeth and was ready to go. Mum provided me with a flask of hot chicken soup, in case I get hungry, as well as some fruit, and she made sure that I covered my exposed skin with a good layer of sunscreen lotion, so I don’t get burnt, which hasn’t happened with my tanned skin.

When we arrived at the Yacht Club on Eyre Street, we saw a few yachts anchored just off shore, so I was not sure what sort of yacht that we would be going on, and a few minutes after arriving a dingy came to shore from a much larger trimaran yacht.

“Hey buddy, ready for a great day out?” Jacob asked me as he jumped off the dinghy before it landed, with a man I presumed to be his father, attending to the outboard motor, before stepping onto shore where he headed directly to Mum. “Mrs Mitchell, Elani?” he said as he held out his hand, and Mum shook his hand.

“That is right, I am Hunter’s mother, his father works away as a train engineer in the North West,” Mum replied. “I am Sam, we spoke on the phone yesterday,” Jacob’s father said before turning to me, “Hello Hunter, Jacob tells me that you are fierce competitors in the pool at school,” Mr Atkinson said to me.

“Yes sir. Is that the yacht we are sailing on? The trimaran yacht?” I asked, “Yes, that is correct, there will be four of us, as Jacob’s older brother Rick will be joining us,” Mr Atkinson replied. “Yes, we have met briefly a few times before,” I responded.

“Good, well lets us get on our way, we are all set to go now,” Mr Atkinson said and after a quick goodbye to Mum, I climbed into the dinghy and we made the short journey to the trimaran, which looked quite big up close, as we approached.

“Wow, this is huge,” I commented, “That she is, a Dragonfly 32 racing trimaran, 9.8 metres long and 8 metres wide when racing or 3.6 metres wide folded up,” Jacob responded, “What do you mean folded? Do those things fold in?” I asked sounding surprised, as we arrived at the aft of the yacht.

“Yes they do, makes it easy for transportation or storage, and I followed Jacob onboard, “Hello again Hunter, ready for a great day out?” Rick asked me, “Yes, but I wasn’t expecting a fancy yacht like this,” I replied, “It is our Dad’s big toy, helps him de-stress from work,” Jacob said to me.

With the dingy now attached to the mooring line, there was a flurry of activity on the deck before we were suddenly on our way, and it didn’t take long to be travelling at a cracking speed as we headed out into the Spencer Gulf, and we were heading in a north-easterly direction.

About five minutes later, Jacob came up to me, where I was standing next to Mr Atkinson at the helm, “Follow me, and I will show you around,” Jacob said and I followed him down the steep steps to the inside of the yacht. “Wow, this looks nice,” I commented.

“It is, as you see we have the main saloon, which includes the kitchen and dining table which folds up to allow easy access to the rest of inside. Forward of here we have very small bathroom with shower and toilet, and ahead of that is a double cabin.

The seats on the portside folds out to a single bed, and there is a double cabins in the aft, so it can sleep five people in total, but we won’t be using those, as it is just a day trip today.

I see you have a flask, and some fruit, put them in the fridge to keep cold, and you can eat them later, we are stocked up for meals for today, and we will be out for about 9 hours in total,” Jacob said to me.

“Where exactly are we going?” I asked, “Franklin Harbour and Cowell, were we will spend about an hour before we set off back home again,” Jacob announced, “Wow, that is a fair distance, will we get there and back in that time?” I asked. “You bet we will, this is a very fast yacht, and averages 18 knots in good winds, which we are forecasted to have today, and it is only 87 nautical miles there, or 160 kilometres,” Jacob replied.

“That is very impressive; will you show me more about how this yacht runs?” I asked, “Sure, but Rick and Dad are the best ones to teach you all of that, but I can start by teaching you some of the terms used on the yacht,” Jacob replied.

I spent the next hour learning all about the yacht, and also some of the knots that are used in sailing, before Jacob got to work to boil the kettle and serve morning tea to the crew first then me and himself. Once morning tea was over, Mr Atkinson asked me to join him at the helm, and he showed me all of the displays at the helm, giving wind speed and direction, compass bearing, current speed the yacht was travelling at, which was 21 knots, and there was also a HF radio, and a number of switches too.

Once I was shown how the sail flutters, if it doesn’t have enough wind in the sail, I was asked to take the helm, and to keep a close eye one the sail as well as where the yacht is going, with our current heading of 42 degrees, which is just slightly east of north-east.

“Ok. we are heading for Franklin Harbour, so you need to adjust you’re heading to 28 degrees, and trim the sail,” Mr Atkinson said to me, and Jacob was at my side, and he did the trimming, while I turned the huge wheel to adjust our course heading.

As we were getting very close to the harbour entrance, Rick arrived beside me, “ I need to take over now, as we have a few tricky course changes ahead of us,” Rick announced, as I stepped away from the helm and he took over, and I saw Jacob motion to me to come to him on the foredeck.

“How long has your family been sailing this Trimaran?” I asked, “It has been about three years now, and I will be sad to see the old girl gone. Dad is selling her to get an even bigger Dragonfly 40, which is one model up, which is 12.4 metres long, and 8.4 metres wide, and can sleep six people,” Jacob said to me.

Once we were inside the harbour, the wind softened a fair amount, and we cruised towards the town of Cowell, before anchoring just a few metres offshore, with the aft of the yacht facing shore.

Stepping into the water, we waded to shore, getting wet to as far as our waist, which didn’t really matter at all, and Rick handed us some towels to dry off, before putting on shoes and we headed into town, where I was informed there is a great bakery just two blocks away.

After an early lunch, we wondered around town for about half an hour, before we headed back to the yacht, and we were soon on our way again bound for Port Lincoln, and Mr Atkinson said we would arrive there at about 4 pm, so I sent a text message to Mum.

“Just leaving Cowell now, we will be back at Port Lincoln at about 4 pm. Love Hunter.” A few minutes later, I received a reply from Mum. “Ok, hope you are having a great time, see you when you get back. Mum.”

Once out of the Harbour, I was asked to take over at the helm, and Jacob stood next to me as we chatted, and showed me how to keep the yacht running smoothly at the best speed possible.

When Mr Atkinson took over about 90 minutes later, I asked him what would be happening to this yacht when he sells it. “It is going to a good home, the new owners have finalised the deal and will collect it from Port Lincoln, where they will sail her to Devonport, which is about a 1 ½ day sail.

After restocking, she will sail to Wellington in New Zealand, which will take about three days,” Mr Atkinson replied.

“Wow; that is quite some trip, so the new owners are New Zealander’s?” I responded, “No, I believe they are from the Cook Islands,” Mr Atkinson replied, “Interesting, that is where Mum’s family is from,” I stated, “Really, that would explain the very nice first name that your Mum has,” Mr Atkinson replied.

“Elani is actually short for Noelani, the shortened name is what Dad has called Mum from the moment they met, my brother and I also have Cook Islander middle names,” I said. “Oh? What would they be then?” Jacob asked me, I smiled and shook my head, “Sorry but only family know what they are,” I replied.

“That would explain the tanned skin that you have, at first I thought that you just always seem to be well tanned, but now I know it’s because of your Pacific Islander heritage,” Jacob said to me.

“Yep, except I was born near Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand, but I have lived in Australia since the age of three, and although my parents insist that I keep sunscreen lotion on, it is hard for me to get sunburnt,” I said smiling.

“That is some interesting mixture of heritage, so your father is Australia, correct?” Jacob asked me, “Yes he is, so I have dual citizenship in Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands, but I haven’t been there yet. I do hope so soon, when my Dad isn’t working all the time,” I replied.

When we arrived back at Port Lincoln, we anchored at the mooring line, and while I helped Jacob and Rick to pack away the sails and clean up, Mr Atkinson headed to shore to speak to my Mum, who was standing near the Yacht Club building. I watched as they were talking, and it appeared to be a serious discussion, before Mum and Mr Atkinson returned to the yacht.

It was only then that I saw that something was not right, as Mum looked like she had been crying. “Mama, he aha te he kei hea a Fraser?” (Mama, what is wrong and where is Fraser) I asked in Maori, and it took a few moments for Mum to reply.

“Fraser is fine, he is with the neighbours. I got word from your Dad’s work about two hours ago, informing me that your father was killed, while at the engineering workshop in Port Hedland, where he was based,” Mum replied in English, so everyone understood what was going on.

It took me a few moments for the news to sink in, before Mum wrapped me in a tight hug, and I burst into tears, I am not sure how long it was that I was crying, but when Mum let go of me, Jacob and Rick immediately hugged me.

“We are sorry for your loss little brother, we are here for you. Anything you need, just ask,” Rick whispered to me, as I continued to cry softly for a bit longer, and when we broke off the hug, I found Mum sitting in the saloon, with a cup of tea in hand, and Mr Atkinson softly talking to her.

Leaving them to chat, I stepped into the dinghy, released the rope, and pushed it away from the yacht, so I could have some time to myself to absorb this terrible news, and I noticed Rick and Jacob keep a close eye on me, as the dingy continued to drift away from the yacht and the shore.

When I heard a splash and looked up, I was just a few metres away from the end of Brennan’s Wharf, and Rick was swimming towards me from the end of the wharf, and he soon climbed into the dinghy. “We don’t want you drifting out to Spencer’s Gulf, so I thought I better come and help get you back to the yacht,” Rick said to me wish a slight smile, before getting the outboard motor started.

I just nodded my head in understanding, and continued to stare out at the water, as we made our way back to the yacht, where Mum and Mr Atkinson were waiting for us. “Are you ok honey?” Mum asked me, and I just nodded my head slightly, as Mum was assisted into the Dinghy, and Rick took us back to shore.

“We will come and visit soon, take care now buddy,” Ricky said to me as we climbed out of the dinghy and headed to the car park, where Mum parked the family car. “What now Mum, what happens to us now that Dad is gone?” I asked as we headed home.

“Well, it turns out that it is my brother, your Uncle who has bought that fancy yacht from Mr Atkinson, and he was planning to come and collect the yacht next week, but he has brought forward his plans and will be here in a few days time,” Mum replied.

“Wow, really, that is awesome, it is a great yacht to sail on, and so fast too. I even got to steer it for about three hours, on the way up to Cowell and back, and Jacob taught me some of the yacht terms used for sailing,” I replied. “That is nice to hear, I am glad that you had a great time today.

Now, when your Uncle Rangi arrives, he and I will be busy organising the funeral and other business. Your Grandmother Puretu has already suggested that we sell up and move to Cook Island, so as to be closer to family, which I am considering.

As you may know, your father has no family still alive, it is just him left, so if we do decide to move to the Cook Islands, we will have to sell up most of our belongings, and take just the essentials, maybe have some stuff shipped over later,” Mum said to me. “Do you think Fraser will understand that dad has gone forever?” I asked.

Copyright © 2021 Preston Wigglesworth; All Rights Reserved.
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A fantastic chapter, but tinged with sadness. Hunter had a great day out sailing with Jacob and his family, but when he arrived back his Mum informed him that his father had been killed. 

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Good start to what will be a very good story, I look forward to see what comes next feel sad for the family over their loss.

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