A Unique Yacht Club

Yacht Clubs live in many different shapes and forms, some are exclusive with a certain amount of prestige for their members .. which is fine .. many have bars, restaurants and dress rules .. yet there are other Clubs which live outside those parameters, and here is the story of one.

It was born and lives on an isolated Queensland Island called Middle Percy.

Islander

Percy itself has the most amazing history; Aboriginal visitors; murdered botanists; escaped convicts from Tassie and New Caledonia; a hermit with buried gold; early pioneers who tried timber and coffee; and a tough as teak family who ran sheep and built their own yacht from pit sawn timber on top of the hill.

  .. until fate fetched up on these shores a former British Pentathlon Champion, Andy Martin. 

Andy

He enjoyed the company of visiting vessels, (rare in those days), so decided to create a large A Frame building where all visitors, regardless of financial status or nationality, could get together, and share good times. This was soon dubbed “The Percy Hilton” and many a great night, with all the guitars playing, was enjoyed there by cruising folk from every corner of our earth.

West Bay on Middle Percy became internationally famous. Then time, as is it’s want, went ever forward.

Andy found two exceptional young people to help him, (Jon and Lys Hickling), and Middle Percy really hit her straps .. with pure honey, mead, and fresh organic vegies for sale .. plus ever so many Yachties walking up the hill to share lunch.

Their Island experience was, well it was truly memorable.

Then came a big glitch .. Andy passed on – the lease went to someone else – Jon and Lys had to leave – and the new leaseholder struggled to keep the Island going.

Finally, after a long legal battle, Andy’s cousin, Cate Radclyffe, took on the massive task of keeping Percy alive and running .. and that’s not an easy thing. Cate. her colleague John, plus resident volunteers Steve J and Earnst, have to work very hard.

Cate, John, and friends

While the big thing is they do it all for free .. just so any passing Mariners can come ashore, and experience the special atmosphere of Middle Percy.

Anyway, in 2012 much of Middle Percy became National Park, while the remainder was allocated as a Special Conservation Park, with Cate as the Grantee. Yet the big option given her was if to include, or exclude West Bay in the Conservation Park ?

That may seem straight forward, but it wasn’t. To include the bay meant something early pioneers never dreamed of .. public liability insurance, at a cost of $4,000 per annum ! Plus of course other expenses such as establishing and maintaining a water pipeline from a source 4km away through thick scrub. Now they are not affluent .. the island has to scratch along from sales of pure natural honey, and home made marmalade jam etc to survive .. so this option would be a major financial burden.

However including West Bay in the Nat Park would result in Parks burning the unique and wonderful A Frame – burning the beautiful little Tree house – burning the old wool shed, plus cutting down all the Coconut trees ! To give Parks their due, they did not want to do this, but under current laws would have no choice.

(By the way, just as an aside .. I think most folk in Parks are terrific, capable and well meaning people .. but like all groups, have zealots in their midst. These ones were hell bent on chopping down every Coconut Tree on our coast, simply because Captain Cook didn’t mention them !   Hullo hullo, he didn’t mention dozens of other plants and trees, so if you submitted that as the basis of any thesis, even in grade six, you’d be failed. However after much public outcry they did ease off, and guess what ?  The Australian Flora Society have now proven Coconut Trees are not only indigenous, but in fact are one of Australia’s oldest species of flora.)

How-some-ever, back to our story.

Big hearted Cate could not bear to see West Bay wiped out, so she shouldered the costs of keeping it open for all visitors to freely enjoy.

Then a group of Yachties got together one day in 2013, and said “Hey, we’re the ones using and enjoying this special place .. how about finding a way we can help ?”

Ideas were bounced around, till Rob Gallehawk came up with a beauty. “Let’s create a Yacht Club. We will all join and invite new Members. The cost will be $150 for lifetime membership:, every member will receive a club burgee: a nice boat plaque and special dog tag. These, plus postage, cost $50, leaving $100 to go straight into “The Friends Of Percy Foundation”. 50 new Members a year could relieve Cate and John from a financial burden they make nothing back from, while keeping West Bay open and free for everyone to visit, especially our future generations.”

So several regular visitors joined, (sail and power boats), and soon the newest Yacht Club on the coast was up and running. Many of the most renowned vessels put their hands up, and when we erected an honour board with their boat names on it, heaps of folks said, “Hey, if they are in this Club, we want to be in it too.“

So the long and short of it is, after 6 years of keeping West Bay free and open for all visitors, regardless of status in life or Nationality ..the PIYC now has 360 Members, while the A Frame, is established as their Clubhouse.

PIYC Clubhouse

             .. and what a special ambiance it has

No fees to step ashore, doormen asking for membership cards; ATM’s; Pokies; and closing times. Just 1,000 signs from 20 different nationalities; and an open fire to share meals, yarns, or a few drinks with old and new friends. This oft times evolves into home made music, with mariners who haven’t sung for years remembering their old favorite songs.

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So folks, that’s the story of a rather unique Yacht Club.

Please call in and feel at home if you are passing by.

.                                                                                .oOo..

ps     If you would like to join the PIYC, please email percyisland@gmail.com

pps   There are also a History book and video available.

May you have fair skies and favoring winds,

best wishes,
                        Steve Kenyon  (Secretary)