When plans fail: sailor on the lam from cyclone

Rodney Smith settles in at an evacuation centre in Gladstone, after sailing from Darwin to avoid cyclones.
Rodney Smith settles in at an evacuation centre in Gladstone, after sailing from Darwin to avoid cyclones. Mike Richards

RODNEY Smith sailed from Darwin to Gladstone to seek shelter from tropical cyclones.

But on Friday he was taking shelter in the Gladstone Entertainment and Convention Centre after he and 20 other boat owners were told to batten down ahead of Cyclone Marcia.

"Mine and the other boats less than 17m were told it was policy to tie down our vessel and seek land," he said.

Mr Smith arrived on Thursday after the mayor issued an evacuation warning.

"When I called in to the shelter there was no one around, and (as of yesterday midday) there has to be 70-100 people," he said.

"I did what I was told and by Friday morning I was back in the centre."

Once the reality of the cyclone set in, Mr Smith said he was worried about his boat at the time but knew he had done the best he could.

"It's down in the marina. I put in a lot of effort into tying it down with massive amounts of rope for the wind pressure and the tidal surges," he said.

The former army sergeant said he did feel rather helpless in the situation.

"I want to be able to help others," he said. "But all you can do is ride it out."

Mr Smith chose to sail into Gladstone Port after trying to escape Tropical Cyclone Lam.

"It took me 25 days to sail from Darwin to Gladstone and my plan was to get some repairs done," he said.

"Now I guess I'll have to wait until the weather passes to move on."

Topics:  cyclone marcia editors picks gladstone marina sailing wildweather

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