|RSYS Rendezvous at Store Beach|
Store Beach 1950's
|Club||Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron|
|Year Held From/To||1950's|
RSYS Rendezvous at Store Beach
From MHYC: The First 60 Years
Article by: Max Barnett
Store Beach, often used by Middle Harbour members, is a beach taken for granted by most boaties. It is not only historical, but is just as important as the yacht club's slipways, moorings and, yes, the boat. It is a Mecca for all boaties, locals and visitors from interstate and overseas and is probably the most tranquil, beautiful and safest mooring on the east coast of New South Wales.
Store Beach is one of three beaches within Spring Cove which is within the bay formed by Cannae Point (Flagstaff) and Little Manly Point (Gas Works Point). It boasts clean sand, clear and safe water for swimming, and is situated so that only Manly can be observed, without even a hint of a great metropolis of nearly 4 million people, out of sight around the point.
Spring Cove was named by Captain Arthur Phillip, because of the fresh water available from the springs, one at Quarantine Beach, two or sometimes three at Store Beach, and another larger spring with a waterfall at Collins Flat. Phillip regularly despatched a work party of convicts in longboats to collect water in barrels for the colony in early days.
It later became a quarantine station, and for many years landing was forbidden. (Eventually it was possible for yachties to obtain a permit to land. The fee was 5s per boat, annually.) After the Armistice in 1918, returning troopships spent some time there and some of the biggest two-up games ever seen were played on Store Beach. While a quarantine station, along, deep-water wharf was built at the northern end of the beach where stores were unloaded and hauled up the road, but this was demolished in about 1950.
During World War II the beach was meshed with barbed wire to hinder a possible Japanese landing. The barbed wire was staked to steel star posts embedded in the rocks and sand. The posts were cut back to rock level when the barbed wire was removed. Some of these can still be seen protruding from the rock.
Immediately after World War II, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron conducted an Annual Yacht Race, inviting all clubs, which concluded in a rendezvous ashore at Store Beach for the weekend. Almost every yacht on Sydney Harbour participated. On the Sunday, foot races and dinghy races provided much merriment, not to mention the other 'boat races', in which the starters competed to get the fastest time downing a bottle of beer each, straight from the bottle.
At one of these rendezvous, Vic Meyer of Solo fame, took a bucket about half full of shellite ashore to help start the fire. Vic used it carefully to light the fire, but several hours later, as the fire was dying, someone who thought it was kerosene decided to toss the shellite on to the embers. The result was an explosion that nearly blew Store Beach off the map.
At another, the sloop Betty was moored amongst the fleet. She must have been leaking petrol in the bilge. The owner, carrying a tilley lamp, stepped aboard - and BANG! The Betty's bilge was aflame from stem to stern. 'Fire!' cried the revellers who downed their drinking vessels and raced to get fire extinguishers off their own boats. (Other instant-firefighters arrived at short intervals with one-pint extinguishers, but these were usually exhausted long before extinguishing any flames.) The flagship for the meet was Bill Stuart's 65-foot schooner Ada. She despatched a two-gallon extinguisher which arrived just as the supply of small extinguishers ran out. Betty was saved.
Another incident occurred in which the writer was nearly an accomplice to a felony. As a guest, I was very appreciative of being invited to this ostentatious event, and just after dark I was approached by an impressive fellow with a huge handlebar moustache, which was a badge of rank among fighter pilots during the war. In a cultured voice he said 'Excuse me, young man, would you be good enough to help me carry down to my dinghy a case of beer'? It's for the flagship.'
Muggins, only too happy to oblige, picked up the bow-end of a four-dozen case of bottled beer, with Handlebars on the other end. It was heavy and we struggled in the sand, through drinkers who politely stood aside to clear a passage. We were nearly to the Water's edge when the bottom fell out of the case. Handlebars grabbed an armful of bottles and disappeared into the darkness at high speed. He had almost masterminded the perfect crime, but was let down by the case manufacturer.
It was earlier mentioned that Store Beach was probably the safest mooring on the East Coast. Well, one tranquil Sunday afternoon, the barometer began to fall fast. A very black cloud raced in from West-nor-West; blotted out the sun and began to dump hail and rain in bucketfuls on the moored boats. Then came the wind. A wind gust of 94 miles per hour was recorded at Sydney Observatory. The squall lasted only about five minutes, but Store Beach could easily have been named 'Wreck Bay'.
Seven yachts, three cruisers and several motor boats had been blown ashore and the rakish angles of the masts, some interlocked with others, and general disorder of the scene was unbelievable. Fortunately the tide was rising and everybody hopped into the massive task of refloating and sorting out the mess. This task was completed before high tide and luckily no boat had suffered hull damage.
Store Beach has now become part of Sydney Harbour National Park and is still virtually in the pristine state it Was when Captain Phillip sent his convicts along to collect water in the 1780's.
1957 MHYC Rendezvous