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Inspired by Poem 4 of Catullus
and the Islands of the Whitsunday Passage

The Voyage of the ‘Lady L’

Pz-avatarby Margaret Clark23 Nov 2014

Inspired by the Islands of the Whitsunday Passage

In Airlie Beach the boats, all glistening white

await our keen arrival at the quay

and Lady L, most elegant of cats,

will be our craft, our haven on the sea.

Provisions stowed and briefing underway,

we study charts and make ourselves at home.

Then safely round the rock walls,
out to sea,
the pilot’s gone and we are now alone.


We’ve waited long to find this time of year 

when Jove is kindly to a novice crew.

No timber now, but fibreglass and steel

to face the ocean’s hundred moods of blue.

We distance from the shore and set a course

with engines stilled and mainsail strained a’lee.

Then, moored and rested, toast the setting sun.

Stonehaven for the night, our first at sea.

Day one of our adventure so soon gone.

Our crew of four, we share a fine repast,

play cards, and read and talk the evening through;

a night beneath the stars, on darkness cast.

The sun arises misty with the dawn.

It warms and clears, reveals the brand new day.

Thank God for rest, for guidance as we sail

between the shoals and into Blue Pearl Bay.

All dressed in black, we masquerade as seals,

explore the alien world that ripples mask.

With silent gestures, share the wonders there.

Soft corals sway, as fish and turtles pass.

The Bay of Butterflies has earned its fame

for stunning coral bommies close to shore.

Below the water once again we slip
,
besotted with the beauty, seeking more.

The day is ageing fast, before our eyes,

we sail once more, to beat the evening light.

We’re heading north past Cateran and steer

to Saba Bay, to anchor for the night

At rest, our Lady dances with the swell.

The anchor chain is struggling and complains.

The light upon the mast head swings on stars.

Our cradle rocks and carries us on dreams.

Whitehaven beach, the priceless jew’l next day

appears in palest gold and sapphire blue.

Our photographs, her spirit compromise?

But no, her shifting sands sculpt each day new.


Next day we wake to raindrops on the hatch

and leave our sheltered bay for heavy seas.

The jib is furled, the hulls are lost in spray 

as dark waves rise to swamp the trampoline.

Hatches! Sheets! Trav’ller! Cleats! they yell.

The tell tales horizontal in the gale.

The men and Lady L are overjoyed

to have this opportunity to sail!

Apollo, she of Sydney Hobart fame,

sails past us, kevlar straining in the wind.

Through Solway Passage, where the current’s strong

until a shelter for the night we find.

Chance Bay, so peaceful after such a ride.

We celebrate with olives, wine and cheese.

We raise a glass to Flinders and to Cook,

give thanks for Lady L, for wind and seas.

The days go by, we talk, we swim, we sail

around the horn of Pentecost, past Molle.

Two whales, a mother and her calf, we sight

just south of Lindeman. We’ve done it all!

We’ve sailed our hundred magic miles; now home,

returning Lady L to Airlie’s shore.

But we’ll be back, by Jove. We’ll dream and plan,

for this cat’s crew are novices no more.