The M.V. Eagle Star as it was when we arrived at Western Port Bay Victoria, prior to the move to Qld.
The following story concerning it, is like an episode out of Gilligan’s Island, enjoy the comedy of errors.
This will give you a few laughs, same as the boat trip. Please note: Each time we stopped to do some work it pelted down with rain!
Ok here goes: we left Brisbane in rain at about 12 midday Friday 3rd of April in an old commodore unregistered, but with all the legal paperwork towing a boat trailer with what was to become the tender for the Eagle Star with about 7 tons of gear in it.
First mishap, this was at Aratula: a little old lady had decided to stop, and turn right off the hi-way, of course the following car had to brake from the 100 limit to 0 and we happened to be following him. Of course a car towing a trailer full of gear is going to be able to pull up. NOT!
So Ralf swung to the left to avoid the car in front, and what is sitting on the side of the hi-way? A car with all its doors open, I thought “Oh shit, will we rip off both doors before going off the embankment or not?
And what does this idiot do? He stands on passenger side and watches us hurtle towards him, will he shut the doors? No, he just stands there and watches should have taken him out instead of trying to avoid him. Anyway down the embankment we go, and I hope like hell we survive. Which we did, and we finally stop, and get out to check everything, all is ok, everything is shaken but not stirred, and we carry on.
We get to the top of Cunningham’s Gap Three hours from Brisbane, and the car boils, so we pull up to fix it, out in the pouring rain again to get the water container off trailer, hang on “Where’s the spare wheels for trailer?” Oops! Must have fell off back at Aratula! With water in the car, and a servo down road, let’s get there and have a coffee while car cools
Two hours later all done, and on the road again! Good title for a song, half an hour later, just out of Warwick I’m sitting in the back, and say “Guys something doesn’t sound right better pull over.” Yikes! Two wheel nuts missing from rear wheel, Shit! Ok there’s a wreckers two kilometres away let’s see if they can help, and after replacing a whole rear axle, that old song again. By 6:30pm we’re over the border having dinner at Tenterfield and everything is cool so let’s carry on.
Driving between Tenterfield and Armidale, something didn’t sound right, so we pull up, oops rear starboard side of trailer rail is Broken, shit! We tie it up as best we can on side of hi-way in dark back into the car and as we’re going along we’re talking and surmising “What we need is a street sign pole tie it together and then weld it to trailer.” Then eureka! In the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, a truck parking area with a street pole with no sign on it. Hah got ya, I was so pissed off I went to the post and reefed it out of the ground, get back to the car with it, and Ralf, ever the smartass says “You forgot to get the cement off it” with that comment, I stared at him, grimaced, and I lifted the pole and smashed it down onto the tarmac, the cement fell away and I asked “That better? Rope it to the trailer we’ll fix it at the next fuel stop.”
Coonabarabran 3am: Driving down main street, a car pulls up beside us, so I roll down the window and ask, “Hey mate is there a servo open or one that takes cards here?” He replies “Nah don’t know of one.” Great, anyway around the corner we find Caltex servo that takes cards, we fill the car and take time out for something to eat and drink, while I consider the mentality of the bumpkin locals, that frigging inbred didn’t know what’s in his own town what a moron, and then Ralf and I use the cement bowser buffers to bend the street sign pipe and lash it into position. We‘re fed, we’ve drank, and now for that song again!
Peak Hill, down the road at 5:30am car boils again! We ponder why there was no indication? We let it cool down and find out fan belt has broken, so we ring the NRMA, and they send out a road patrol from Griffith and he tells us, “the alternator has seized and you need a new belt and alternator, funny, that’s what we told them on the phone. I’ll have to get the tow truck, because due to workplace health and safety we’re not allowed to do this on the side of the road.” About three hours later we arrive in Griffith at an auto electrician, who is not happy about being called out on a Saturday morning when all he wants to do is go to the football club, anyway two hours later there’s that song again.
Driving along next stop Wagga Wagga, and oops, what the hell was that? As the car lurched sideward, uh oh we’ve lost a wheel from the trailer. While Ralf & Leigh disconnect the trailer I walk back nearly a kilometre and a car pulls up, the driver asks “Did you lose a wheel mate? Hop in I’ll take you back to where we saw a wheel in a paddock and thought it strange to find one by itself.” After he dropped me with my thanks, from the side of road I’m thinking, ok how do I get into this paddock without getting fried on the electric fence, I finally work that out, and climb in and collect the wheel from out of the paddock and start rolling it down the hi-way.
Ralf comes racing up in the car, does a U turn, and pulls up with a smile, I put the wheel on the bonnet of the car, and back to the trailer we go, the wheel nuts had come adrift, so we take two nuts off the other wheel, and drive into the closest town to see if we can get a couple of wheel nuts, nearly mission impossible. Long story short we got a couple and away we go again, finally get into Wagga where we decide to overnight at Deb’s one of Ralf’s friends, anyway I decide I’d rather get to the boat so we plan to leave at midnight, which we do, and after no further mishap we arrive in Corinella on Sunday at 5:30am, we all have a one hour snooze, and then empty all the gear from the tender and launch it to go out to the boat.
So there’s the start of the story, hope you enjoyed the giggles along the way.
What started out as being a 2 week turn around ended up being the whole month, what with trouble on the way down to Melbourne, took three days as opposed to the one and a half that was planned.
Then when we finally arrived at Corinella in Western Port Bay and got our gear out to the boat, an Eighty foot ex ferry called the Eagle Star. We found out that the batteries weren’t charged; therefore we could not turn over the main motor. Why weren’t they charged? Someone in their infinite wisdom had been using 12v chargers on a 24v system so they were screwed.
Ok, so the next day I travelled over half of Victoria trying to buy at least two batteries and a 24v charger, and didn’t get back to the boat until 6:30pm that night. Therefore we lost another day, at least while I was speeding all over the state, the injectors and filters were being cleaned by Ralf and Leigh, so in the morning we should have been able to start the motor. Well you know what they say about the best laid plans…..we turned over the engine, but it would not fire! Leigh informed us the glow plugs needed replacing, another day down whilst problems were sorted out. We decided at this point to have boat towed into the jetty to tie up instead of being on a swing mooring two hundred yards offshore.
Next problem….the fuel line return bolts, one out of the twelve was broken. We couldn’t buy one anywhere, and had to get one machined in a town sixty kilometres away. Anyway what was supposed to be only a few days tied up before leaving, ended up being 10 days and one of the weekends was over Easter, therefore no parts, and no shops open for 4 days.
Ok so after about ten days we leave Corinella and head to San Remo about twenty kilometres south where we will top up all the fuel, water oil, and food. On the way there we decided to do some sea trials and get used to how the boat handled and so on, so we decided to go into the main shipping channel out of Western Port Bay, we went all the way down to the bay entrance and then it got really rough. So we headed back towards San Remo, and while we headed there we decided to stay overnight, and hope the current gale warning would ease, which it did, and we only had strong wind warning easing during the morning for the next day.
We slipped out of San Remo at 6am the next morning, and we had wind shelter all the way down the coast until we rounded the corner into Bass Strait, where we encountered four to five metre waves on a four metre swell. After battling this all day and most of the night, when we did a fuel dip and after the calculations were done it was decided we wouldn’t have enough fuel to go straight to Eden. Therefore we changed course towards Lakes Entrance to refuel.
After that the fun really began, we had eight to ten metre waves on an eight metre swell hitting us on the aft starboard beam, and switching to a following sea. When we finally made the turn around the corner we were struck by a storm front coming up from Tasmania, so we really took a hammering. When we finally made Eden we were getting concerned about the amount of travel in the rudder, and sure enough the rudder tube had broken around the keyway, therefore we spent two days in Eden doing repairs. I was going to make it three, but after we heard that stronger winds were following the storm front which had passed over us by this time, we decided to leave Eden on the midnight high tide.
The next refuel point we decided on was at Pittwater just north of Sydney, we could then reach Coffs Harbour without stopping. I will mention one thing all the time we spent steaming north we were only just in front of all the storm and high wind fronts, if we had of delayed leaving Eden we could very well still have been there. Anyway around 630pm on Friday 24th of April, we surfed the boat across the Coffs Harbour bar, tied up at the refueling wharf, and then Leanne joined us and we all went to dinner, and we had a well-earned night off.
The next day at 9am, we left Coffs with an extra crew person, and also for the first time in weeks we had blue sky. After showing Leanne how to handle and maintain a course and telling her what shift rotation she was on, I left the wheel and started doing some more fuel calculations, while we were in the heavy seas the boat had used thirty litres of diesel an hour, but whilst in calmer running we were only using twenty four litres an hour. Which had a lot of bearing on the next decision, which was to head direct for Brisbane without stops, and if our calculations were right we would reach Brisbane with fifty litres left in the tank, it was cutting it fine, but the proposal was accepted. Shouldn’t have a problem should we???????
8am Sunday 26th April approximately three nautical miles north of south passage bar, and five nautical miles east of Moreton Island I was out on deck having a cuppa when a bang reverberated throughout the boat more felt than heard, I immediately ran to the stern thinking we’d hit something, but I didn’t see anything, and wondered what was going on?
Then we did an immediate safety inspection, which drew a blank, there was nothing to report, curious wouldn’t you say? Thirty minutes later during a routine inspection Leigh found that the engine room was flooded, so we left Leanne on the wheel and went below to find out what was going on. Because the bilge pumps couldn’t handle the water intake, Ralf cut the engine intake pipe and had the flow go out through the engine and this was able to stem the water intake. After thirty minutes of just hanging on, and stabilizing I called VMR on the radio to bring us a high flow pump, they arrived about 40mins later, and then we were able to keep in front of the water intake.
It was decided between us and marine rescue; to continue steaming into Brisbane under our own steam, with the VMR rescue boat as an escort, just in case. We tried to arrange somewhere to get the boat out of the water not easy finding a ship lift that could lift eighty footer weighing 55 ton on a Sunday, but we did manage it using government marine contacts. At 8:30pm the boat was lifted from the water in Brisbane, one thousand and sixty nautical miles from where we started in Victoria.
After seeing the hull out of the water was that one of the planks in the rudder post had sustained more damage that we thought during the battering we got, and had finally given way and sprung; luckily insurance is covering all the repair bills.
So I finally got home to the Sunshine Coast on Monday 27, after being away for25 days and most of the way I had my game rod in the water and didn’t even get one strike!!!!!!!
Now after all repairs have been done up on the hard she was finally launched back into the drink, and is now sitting in its new home of Doboy Creek and undergoing a complete refit. Once completed she will spend the rest of her days cruising around the Barrier Reef. The following photos are impressions of what she becomes.
To conclude the story, the refit was completed, and we took it out sailing on Moreton Bay a few times. Ralf and Leanne lived on it until Christmas Eve 2014. We think that a possum chewed through some wiring, which created a fire on board, and the Eagle Star burned and exploded into a fireball. It was completely destroyed, but luckily Ralf and Leanne survived and got off just in time, but I’m afraid the boat is now only a memory.