Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Norfolk Island receives many visitors, but none more unusual or unexpected than this object that was seen bobbing in the ocean to the north of the island in December last year.
A group of enterprising local fellows, including our son John, headed out in a boat and secured a rope to the abandoned craft, and hired the government launch to help them tow it back to shore. After pumping out the hulls (which contained quite a few large and healthy Kingfish), they organised a crane to lift it onto the wharf, and a hastily constructed cradle. This operation earned them the right to call themselves the official "salvage team."
A large number of kids and adults rallied round with waterblasters, scotchbrite, scrapers and all manner of things to move an enormous accumulation of barnacles, and after a few hours, the name "Incinerator" was revealed. This confirmed what some initial enquiries had suggested, that this was a 14 metre catamaran that had been at sea for nearly 6 months, since it had overturned and its crew had been rescued just outside Sydney Heads in the previous July. At some stage, after what were extensive travels around the Tasman, it had mysteriously righted itself, and had been spied and photographed by a passing freighter about 170 miles SW of Norfolk a few weeks before.
After the initial cleaning up, the Catamaran was moved (with centimetres to spare) up the narrow Cascade Road to Geek's paddock up country, until more could be discovered about the past and future of this incredibly lucky vessel.
The designer of the Cat, Robin Chamberlin, was immediately relieved and delighted to learn of the rescue of his pride and joy. It may have been the victim of some bad luck and poor had actually been in a big shed fire when it was close to completion, thus the name. But the yacht had also shown itself to be very fast, winning the Three Peaks Race in Tasmania the previous year. Rob made plans to visit the island as soon as possible. At this stage, Incinerator had become the property of NRMA Insurance, who had paid out the owners. Negotiations continued, and Rob Chamberlin's friend Terry Travers eventually became the new owner, and was very keen to repair the vessel, which had actually suffered fairly minimal structural damage.
For the past 6 weeks, Rob and young Adam Travers, who is the new owner's son, have been hard at work making Incinerator seaworthy again.
Yesterday afternoon she was finally returned to the water, with a new name "Norfolk Incinerator", and plenty of evidence of her strong Norfolk Island connection firmly imprinted all over her hulls. Three members of the salvage team have joined Rob and Adam to crew her back to New South Wales...our John, Byron Adams and "Bunting" (Kerry Douran.) There were plenty there to see them off, and to load them up with supplies for a voyage of uncertain length...that is because they are only using two outboard motors, with a rudimentary sail. After reaching Sydney, "Incinerator" will continue on to Tasmania for a complete restoration and refurbishment. Much of this has been made possible by the incredible skills and resourcefulness of our wonderful Norfolk fellows, something that Rob and Terry have been keen to acknowledge.
Among the supplies put aboard was a big bunch of bananas. It was suggested that if they did not want to eat them, they may be able to recoup some of their expenses by selling them back in banana starved Aussie!!
Just before their departure, our Chaplain Rod said a prayer for their success and safety. The latest news via satellite phone, is that they are making good progress towards Lord Howe Island, and the sea is like a millpond. Praise the Lord!

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