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The NC2012 started with a week in Coffs Harbour with strong 30-40kt winds so we were confined to dockside activities. Towards the end of the week we were able to cruise around the harbour where we tried out using the joystick helm control. This was an immediate success and you could just see the look on the students faces to see how surprised they were to be able to helm a yacht while confined to a wheelchair.
This proved to be a favourite throughout the trip. Next we moved on to Rosslyn Bay for a week of perfect conditions. We even had a few opportunities to get the students to trim the mainsail as well as the heady. Mackay was next for 2 weeks with more perfect weather. We were lucky enough to get channel 7 news to come and visit us and the crew starred in that nights six o’clock news which made us all quite proud. The trip to Gladstone proved to be tricky with about 8 hours of less than 200m visibility fog which made watch keeping vitally important.
Gladstone Harbour was tricky as it was new to all the crew so we had to keep a lookout for the multitude of container ships and channel obstructions. I think the reception we had from the Gladstone schools was one of the best and we also got some media exposure in the local Gladstone Observer. At all ports we had people coming up to us asking about what we did and what a great idea it was.
My personal lasting memory will be of a girl in a wheelchair with minimal mental and physical capacity conjuring up all her energy to holler “Thankyou!!” at the end of the session. It caught the whole crew by surprise and epitomises why we do this important project. Overall it was clear that the NC2012 was a great success. Most carers and teachers were amazed at the way the students responded and I noted that we heard the phrase “I’ve never heard him/her laugh so much before” several times. All the guests are eager to return for NC2013 and I hope it is just as successful.
Read the story now watch the video on YouTube 2012 SWD Northern Campaign Highlights