Time: 4 AM every Saturday morning.
Place: Newfarm Brisbane (or you-name-it).
Scene: Several police cars, sometimes an ambulance or two, several hundred kids, many boys shirtless, often shoeless, falling about among the broken bottles and wall to wall food wrappers, girls shoeless or tottering on high heels, throwing up, not necessarily in gutters. Many are lying unconscious or sitting against walls, too out of it to stand as coppers move amongst them, checking they are OK and carrying the worst of them to ambulances or cars while preventing serious injuries or death by breaking up brawls.
Place: Between Roadwork signs, 80, 60, 40 KPH areas.
Scene: Cars, buses, trucks all ignoring roadwork speed limits.
Time: 9 AM today, 28th February 2010
Place: Sunshine Beach, Queensland
Scene: Hundreds of people on the beach to see the tsunami.
What do all these events have in common?
OK, let’s take today. This is me. Up at 3, on the road with IXL on the way to Noosa Markets. We turn on the radio and hear the 4 AM news.
‘Warning. An earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale has hit Chile, devastating Conception and destroyed buildings in Santiago. Many killed and hundreds missing.
A tsunami generated by the earthquake has battered coastal Chile killing many more and is travelling across the Pacific at nearly 1,000 KPH.
‘It will hit the Southern Qld coast between 8 and 9AM. Although coastal inundation is not expected, stay off beaches. All beaches are closed. Boat owners should make port and secure their craft, then leave the waterfront. Craft at sea should stay in deep water until further notice. Some coastal flooding is expected.’
So, what to do? Tiziana is uninsured at the moment due to bad timing, insurance company wanting an out-of-the-water survey before renewal, a month after being lifted for antifouling! Two lifts-out in one year are just not affordable, so she remains seaworthy but unsurveyed and uninsured. Not good with a tsunami on the way!
I can imagine what twenty six tons of steel boat could do to ranks of plastic racing craft if she got away and went for a caper through the harbour. I would be sued for everything I own outside my wrinkly skin!
So, I hurry to set IXL up at the market then high tail it back to Tiz. Arrived at 7.45, still fifteen minutes before the fist wave is due, to find the tide so high I almost needed a ladder to climb aboard.
“If this is the tide before the tsunami hits”, says the old brain. “Her tethers will come off the piles and she will be away,” dramatically illustrated by images of a pointy heavy battering ram bisecting many millions of dollars worth of wealthy folk’s playthings.
What to do? Clear the decks for action, set up instruments, warm up motor ready for the big one that is due to come up the harbour any minute.
After an hour of nothing but anxiety, tide drops, so off goes the motor. I relax a little and check for mail.
Two from QwkDrw, with good wishes for my survival (thank you) and several more from rellies who also heard the news. Answered them all, checked tide again, made tea and sat watching on deck while monitoring marine radio, expecting a ‘mayday’ any minute. But nothing happened. At 12.30 EST, went to collect IXL, then arrived back to find tide so low Tiz sitting in on the bottom, still tethered, upright and OK.
Now, I don’t really blame the BOM (Bureau of Met) for overstating the case this time. Tsunamis travel so fast and once at sea, their destructive force is difficult to estimate. But when a driver enters a roadwork zone and reduces speed, only to finds there are no workers, the road is no worse than patches just negotiated where there were no speed signs, one is either slightly angry or very angry depending on personality and time available to be wasted. Next time, unlikely to fully comply.
The crowds on Sunshine Beach were not washed out to sea like the thousands of poor wretches on Boxing Day in Indonesia and must have been disappointed that nothing happened. They were lucky this time. But, why did they stand in the path of a 1,000 KPH wave that had the potential to batter and drown them all, despite being warned to stay away? Easy.
We all know that Nanny State will look after us. She continually passes laws to protect people who are negligent, put themselves in danger intentionally, don’t take care not to drink/drop/inject too much, drive too fast for the conditions, jump into flooded creeks, swim outside patrolled areas and if someone gets hurt, pursue the authority that ‘allowed’ it to happen! Caveat Emptor is dead!
Wyong Council in Central Coast NSW was sued successfully by a man who dived off rocks into shallow water and broke his neck. The court ruled that there should have been a sign, right there where it happened, far removed from any patrolled beach, to warn against diving into shallow water!
No wonder, when kids get absolutely legless every Friday night under conditions that are not safe with people they do not know, they assume their safety is ultimately the responsibility of the Queensland Police Service!
I bet you have similar stories, or maybe you think individuals should be protected from themselves in even more ways. Then again, maybe you think it’s time to bring back the ‘wallopers’! I tend to go for number three. How about you?