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By Greg Canning







Every year, a devoted group of fun-loving people gather in the beautiful Gloucester Passage for an annual event that has grown from the idea of four sailors who found themselves sitting watching the sunset across the water. But this isn’t just a story of a great party. A side effect of this event is that every year, the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club (SICYC) raises considerable funds which are donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA).

This year, despite the impacts of a global pandemic, the SICYC Vice Commodores’ Rendezvous was held as a scaled back event, and by all accounts was a resounding success. Four days of perfect weather, great people, and Whitsundays magic at the magnificent Cape Gloucester Beach Resort are always hard to beat at this time of year. But I think this year was just that little bit more special. For the first time in some time there was no lavish event on the Saturday, and the schedule was very laid back giving the 200 or so attendees a chance to really enjoy the surroundings and each other’s company.

The Thursday “Meet and Greet” saw a frenzy of activity at the Merchandise tent with absolutely everyone wanting to get their hands on the limited-edition Rendezvous shirts and other SICYC branded items, and many new members signing up on the day. We kicked off the party with our regular “pirate” of the airwaves playing his own special mix of tropical themed drinking and singalong tunes for not only those onshore, but on FM radio for the cruisers on their boats. We also broadcasted via audio livestream, so Shaggers around the world could feel like they were part of the action.

Friday presented with another sensational day, very light winds, and the most perfect tides for our annual pilgrimage to Shag Islet. Our blue army arrived with each group bringing everything they needed for the event, from food, to drinks, ice, tables, chairs, kites, and a desire to live it up on the thin iconic strip of sand. This year, Gold Coast City Marina and Fish D’Vine joined forces to provide a special treat – an abundant supply of fresh prawns and chilled champagne for all. As I’m sure you can imagine, this very generous “thank you” to our members was very well received. Another new addition to the day was the impromptu “Jam Session”. Everyone was invited to bring along whatever musical instruments they could lay their hands on. Many took the opportunity to bring their favourites from guitars to ukuleles, triangles, harmonicas, and tambourines. There were even some maracas and a set of spoons. Whether joining in to play, singing along, or just having a laugh, it was a great addition to the day. Back on the mainland for the afternoon and evening, watching day slowly roll into night over dinner and drinks with friends, we all looked towards a relaxed Saturday.

Once more, the sun rose over the Shaggers and some took the opportunity of our “Lay Day” to point their boats toward Bona Bay on Gloucester Island for a short sail and a picnic lunch. Many relaxed aboard simply enjoying the serenity, while others ventured onshore to Monte’s Reef Resort, and Cape Gloucester for a few quiet ones all with the knowledge that tomorrow was the Rendezvous’ last day for 2021.

Sunday – the infamous and much-loved pirate party! Shaggers arrived at the event to another perfect day in their most spectacular pirate attire. All were welcomed by the familiar sounds of some Pirate Rock from the radio tent interspersed with another new twist, “Bribe the DJ” requests. Let me tell you, some of the “bribes” were quite impressive, and of course, as with all funds raised throughout the weekend, these bribes were added to the donation kitty for the PCFA. As the numbers grew into the early afternoon, the atmosphere was sensational with 200 or so pirates enjoying every moment. After lunch, there were several auctions that raised several thousand dollars for the PCFA. These – combined with over $1600 from Tiana’s beach hair salon, almost $300 from “Port and Starboard” toe nail painting, $160+ in DJ Bribes, and of course the now famous Walk the Plank fundraiser that raised around $650 – proved that our 2021 Back to Paradise Rendezvous was the perfect reset for this iconic annual Whitsundays event.

We’ll be back in 2022 and with the prospect of no more lockdowns or border closures. By that time, the annual Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club Vice Commodores’ Rendezvous will surely be an event not to miss!



Published in print October-December 2021

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