The Black Hole of Point Sturt 
Where whole fleets disappear beyond the event horizon!
Being the Strange and Cautionary Tale of the 1996 Goolwa-Milang
(c) Flying Tadpole (TJ Fatchen) 2000
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I.    Prologuey

Come gather round, you spotted crakes,
You moorhens, geese and rails
You water rats and tiger snakes,
You mussels, yabbies, snails,

And hear again the racing tale,
Of havoc and dismay:
Though many sailed with hearts afire—
A cockroach won the day. 

gather round!


II.    In which calumnies cruel and cold are touted

cruelty to Scooners day
The schooner Flying Tadpole sailed
From Goolwa in the morning.
Revenge she sought for honour smirched
By uncouth sailboats’ scorning.

For all throughout the previous night
While her crew loudly slumbered,
Surrounding vessels sneered and laughed
And vowed her days were numbered.

Those leg-of-muttoneers proclaimed
“It’s on the nose tomorrer!
And Scooner sailing on the wind
Brings nowt but pain and sorrer!

“She won’t win this race, that’s fer sure.
At last, retaliation!
So raise a beer, and let’s all jeer,
At Tad’s humiliation!”


III.    In which Tadpole wins the start! (huzzah, huzzah!)

Off Laffin Point, her anchor free,
Did Tadpole lie in wait,
And sniff the foul nor-easter blowing 
Through the starting gate.

There came the start, the gun was fired,
The fleet in solid masses
On port tack through the line did sail—
Near two score stupid asses.

For ‘cross their bows, in line astern,
On starboard tack a-winging,
Came Flying Tadpole, and two more,
Their Racing Rules a-swinging.

the start
Boats rounded up, boats bore away,
Boats tangled, bunched and crashed.
Strange tongues their skippers bayed in
While their crews with boathooks clashed.

“Curse you, Red Tadpole!” was the call,
“You wooden cockroach boat!
But now the wind’s dead foul for you…
It’s our turn next to gloat!” 


IV …to be but trapped in foul winds (hiss, boo!)

'Twas true indeed, the northeast wind
No willingness to brook
Nor sympathy to Tadpole showed 
(The sea-breeze read a book).

Poor Tadpole bravely struggled,
And tacked and tacked and tacked.
But all the time, the fleet forged on
And Tad fell further back.

Until at last the moment came
That one prays ne’er to meet:
Over the horizon went,
(Save only three),  the fleet...

Far over the horizon too,
The northeaster did flee.
“Gone with the wind”, indeed, to add
Insult to injury.



V.    In which Flying Tadpole’s cut-throat crew stirs, but her skipper rescues the situation (of course)

Happy schoonermen
So now the schooner’s motley crew,
Enraged, turned on their skipper:
“You spangled drongo, you galah,
You half-digested kipper!

“Look at what you’ve gone and done,
You tiller-hugging freak,
You’ve let the fleet get clear away
And left us up the creek!”

The skipper sneered “You scurvy dogs!”
And, brandishing the kedge,
“Have you no faith in Tadpole here
That you now walk the edge

“Of rank and noxious mutiny??
And all because you feel
That as the fleet’s five miles ahead
They’ll not be brought to heel!

“Oh ye of microscopic faith,
We’ll win this race, you’ll see!
We’ve still got steerage way right now,
And two boats’ company.

“And over there, hard alongshore
A tiny zephyr’s blowing.
The three boats here can catch that fleet,
Without resort to rowing.

The seer
the druid
“All we need do is bribe some sprite
To steal the race fleet’s air,
And make them wait in durance vile,
At least, ‘till we get there.”

So there, aboard the leading boat,
‘Midst mistletoe and song,
They sacrificed a virgin
(They’d passengers along).

And then the three boats, free from doubt,
Along the shoreline crept,
Tacked in and out, and round about
And over fishnets leapt.


VI.    In which the spell work’d on the race fleet rises to its brutal conclusion

The soft north-easter slips away
To sleep, despite the racers’ pleading.
At Point Sturt, all motion dies,
A deathly stillness round it lies;
The only sounds, the race fleet’s sighs,
And drips from pummelled fists a-bleeding.

dali knew!

The noonday summer sun beats down
On fibreglass osmosing, crumbling.
Bendy masts all come astray,
Poaching crewmen welts display
As mozzies gladly come, and stay
To partake of the hot-shots’ humbling.
The sunblock’s slapped on by the ton
To meet the prophecy
That slimy things with legs would walk
Upon the slimy sea.

But to their boats they stick, and stick,
Their boats stick through and through 
A mirrored sheet of aspic brown,
A curdling lake of glue.

drink up
Oh, "water, water everywhere
Nor any drop to drink".
(This is, of course, Lake Alex,
The Murray’s kitchen sink,

Where each glass, drunk, gives one a meal
Of cotton pesticide,
Of citrus mould and vintage must
And dairy cattle hide,

Of rice farms, hemp crops, flyblown sheep,
And blue-green algal mire,
With half a pound of salt to boot,
To pickle you entire.)

It’s there they sit, and sit, and sit,
And sit, the long noonday
And still stay sitting, as the sun
Wends westering its way.

And all the while, back down the river,
Creeping past the rocky shore,
Through the boxthorn fringes hacking,
Out of little baylets backing,
The tail-end, ne’er-say-die flotilla
Comes, with Tadpole to the fore.


VII.    In which persistence is nobly rewarded, or at least nobbled…

The noble schooner skipper now
Adjures his mongrel crew:
“Behold! Look thou! Beyond the bow!
The fleet’s trapped in a stew!

“Oh, it’s a welcome sight indeed
On th’ horizon limned!
The whole dam’ race fleet, sitting tight,
A-waiting for a wind!

“Come now, you Flying Tadpole!
Lift up your skirts and run!
I’ve whistled up the seabreeze—
You rustle up the fun!”


Flying Tadpole flying

So Tadpole spread her wings and flew
And through the fleet she tore,
Around the Black Hole turning buoy,
And to the further shore.

(Another of the trio brave
For home with Tadpole bolted.
But the virgin-sacrificing boat
The water-coppers halted…)


VIII.    In which both Justice and Good Taste prevail!

disbelief A sad miasma cloaked that night
The foreshores of Milangk*.
In vain the rocking band blared forth—
The looks they drew were blank.

The beer went flat, untasted,
The barbecue likewise,
As yachties all tried to deny
The witness of their eyes.

[Aboriginal name/pronunciation]
For when the jury finally placed
The race results on tap,
There stood the Flying Tadpole II,
First on handicap!

The crowd stood numb and silent
(A few groans stirred the air),
As Tadpole’s crew stepped forth to nick
The trophy silverware.

Revenge! A meal best taken cold,
It’s said, but that’s just rot.
For Flying Tadpole chose that day
To take it piping hot!

well-deserved, of course

© Flying Tadpole (TJ Fatchen) October, 2000

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