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The Rock-itt : December 2011
Welcome to our Christmas instalment of “Hobart to Hollywood” and the epic exploits of our own swashbuckling hero, Errol Flynn. In our last instalment, Sirocco was in the Coral Sea being mauled by a vicious storm which is threatening to tear her apart and send her and Errol and the crew to Davey Jones’ Locker. They have sighted land in the distance, but getting away from the clutches of the storm is another thing. Sirocco’s bow dove into the foaming green swell, washing her decks, sending water below and threatening to fill the bilges and above. They had to ride it out and then try to regain their course and turn Sirocco’s bow in the direction of the land mass off their starboard beam. They fought with the helm, bringing Sirocco gradually closer to a direct course nor-east and finally after holding her steady the land mass began to grow larger as they steadily got closer. Soon they could see the breakers washing up the beach and for the first time in days they could sigh with relief, “W e’ve made it, we’ve beaten the storm.” They had no idea where they were but they were still alive and good old Sirocco was still afloat. Exhausted after the m ercurial battle with nature, they dropped anchor not too far from the beach and collapsed where they stood, into a deep sleep which continued through the night until sunrise the following day. Errol awoke to the sea lapping against Sirocco’s hull and gingerly made his way up the ladder and onto the deck. He was surprised to see canoes manned by fuzzy haired natives sitting motionless fifty yards off Sirocco’s beam. He imagined the scene 200 years earlier, perhaps in Hawaii or Tahiti when Captain Cook arrived. Cook and his crew and the natives would have been sceptical and somewhat apprehensive as to whether they would be on friendly terms. But on this occasion the ice melted quickly as Errol tried different tribal tongues which he had picked up before on his previous time spent in New Guinea. The rest of the crew joined Errol on deck and after some persuasion the canoes manoeuvred alongside Sirocco. Once the natives found that the white m en were friendly and likewise with Sirocco’s crew, they began trading. They traded clothes for fruit and seafood and when they had satisfied their hunger Errol tried verbally once more to find out where they were. In conversation he mentioned the town of Port Moresby to which finally a reply cam e. One of the grey haired older natives sitting in the stern of one of the canoes finally acknowledged and pointed to the easterly direction. With sign language Errol managed to find that the sun would cross the sky ten times indicating ten days travel to reach Moresby. Eventually Errol and two of the crew went ashore and did some more trading, buying a small pig which the natives cooked for them and which they enjoyed like they would a Christmas feast. Sirocco under full sail Captain Cook visits the Haida people