Visit to Sussex Inlet St George Basin Yacht Club

April 2005

Timpenny Touchdown

The idea of this trip was born out of a conversation with Harry Phillips when we met at the Mokoan Interclub event. Harry is from Albury/Wodonga Yacht Club and worked and sailed with John Aney in the real growth period of that twin city in the 70s and 80s. He spoke of Johns passion for sailing, the restoration of his Timpenny Fun since moving to the coast and the way he has helped to establish a vibrant sailing group on St Georges Basin in the Shoalhaven area of New South Wales- just across from Jervis Bay.

So a letter to John, the Sussex Inlet Basin Yacht Club secretary, soon received a reply outlining all the necessary information about the club, the basin, racing times and dates, points to launch and retrieve and spots to overnight and investigate while cruising. Further emails gave me extra reassurance, so the proposed cruise was then added to the Timpenny website as contacts were made to muster a team of Timps together to meet, play and compete with our northern cousins.

It was ultimately left to Rob and Beppie Milner, (Aussie Action) and Ian and Margaret Grant (Down to Zero) to represent Victoria. The Milners left from Melbourne and followed the Princes Highway with the rain following them around the coast, while the Grants took two days to travel up and back and favoured the drier route via the Hume, as they were coming from Bedigo in Central Victoria.

When packed and secured on her trailer, Down to Zero follows along beautifully. With her low profile and sloping hull she is much easier to tow than a caravan. The only problem experienced was a blow out on the passenger side trailer tyre just before Tarcutta. This was replaced next morning in Gundagai, after a rather noisy overnight stop in the Tourist Park, just next to the freeway.

Travelling on the next day, Wednesday April 13, had its own challenges and memories. As we passed Yass then on to Canberra, the yacht seemed to become restless on crossing Lake Burley Griffin on our approach to Parliament House.

The hills seemed to become steeper and the roads windier prior to reaching Braidwood, where we stopped for fuel. Marg. took over the driving at this point and, as we snaked down the side of the range, the road was even steeper and twistier than anything experienced previously. Two trucks in front crawled their way down around the hairpin bends, stressing the need for utmost care on such a descent. Perhaps we could have saved time by flying, taking off at an easterly-facing bend only to touch down at Batemans Bay a few minutes later. In reality, however, Margs slow and steady approach was a much safer option, and she handled that segment of the trip really well.

We found that dusk comes early and swiftly on the east of the range, as we launched at Sussex Inlet. Fortunately we made contact with a family in a foreshore caravan and we were assured that we could use the parks jetty overnight and its coin-in-the-slot showers in the morning. This provided a perfect start to our stay.

During the evening we were able to make contact with Ern and Diana Davidson, from whose home, situated on the shores of St Georges Basin, the racing is conducted. Directions and times were confirmed for Thursdays race, and all that remained for us to do was to get the boat packed and rigged in time to motor across the Basin.

Ernst & Di Davidson Place 1

On our arrival on Thursday our contact, John Aney, was there in the water to greet us and show us how to secure our boat in the shallow water near the Davidsons. We were able to meet the mid-week sailors over a cuppa as we all prepared for a 1300-hour handicap start.

Over the next four days Marg and I had a wonderfully relaxing time racing with the club on the Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, with plenty of competition on the water and fellowship afterwards, and then cruising off to explore the area at other times.

For the Regatta there were 24 entries and ten of these were Timpennys. In the Timps. Greg Brown on Fly Navy pipped John Aneys Fun on the countback for first, while Rob Milner upheld Victorian end with a solid third. On Saturday Rob was pleased to be able to sail with Jon Simonds, a past National Champion in Timpennys, who travelled down from Sydney to sail with him.

Jon Simonds 1

The Finlayson family, sailing Serendipity, (fairly recently acquired from Andrew Groves, when it was called Croc), showed good improvement throughout the series to take out the Personal Boat Handicap award. Down to Zero finished mid field, but with the extra clobber for cruising aboard, she did appreciate the heavier winds.

Ernst Davidson and Ian Grant at BBQ 1

With two nights in One Tree Bay, diagonally across the basin from the Davidsons, and another night hiding in Tullarwalla Lagoon, the cruising experience was brilliant. The basin has plenty of places to discover and explore, and yet facilities are not far away. On Friday morning we experienced some drizzle, but after staying undercover and reading for the morning, it became clear after lunch and there was time to get fuel and ice at Basin View then find our way up to the lagoon. As we sat by the open fire that night, the only people on the lagoon, we could just hear the traffic on the Princes Highway in the distance.

It was the section of highway on which we started our drive north on early Monday morning, for, on our return, we crossed the divide by heading for Moss Vale, via Nowra and Kangaroo Valley. A very pleasant journey in still and sunny conditions, with no take-off or touch downs.

Marg and I have wonderful memories of this eight-day adventure north. Even through our stays in the caravan parks of Sussex Inlet on Sunday night and Holbrook on Monday night we have thoughts of friendly co-operative people. When on Sunday night we left our mainsail on the public jetty at Sussex Inlet the whole experience of locating it and arranging for its return was also one of thoughtful consideration and helpfulness. We confidently anticipate the sails return by courier this week.

But our strongest thoughts go back to the Yacht Club and the people we met there. Let us hope that the kinship of Timpenny sailors is a little stronger as a result of the visit.

Ian and Marg. Grant

Down to Zero No. 3075