Bob Wonders feels at ease on the shores of Moreton Bay, home base of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron is far more than ‘just a yacht club’; it’s a Queensland icon, an institution.
Having been established in 1885, the squadron is now in its third century.
The club gained its Royal Charter in 1902 and was known as the Queensland Yacht Club.
In 1961, Queen Elizabeth II approved the change of name to the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron.
Commodore Kevin Miller, Vice Commodore Keith Anderson, Rear Commodore Russell McCart and Powerboat Committee Chairman Hugh Bletchly head a club now comprising more than 3000 members and boasting one of the finest marina facilities on the east coast.
The marina offers 464 berths and can accommodate vessels up to 25.0-metres (82’); it actually owned and operated by the squadron, which holds leases from the Port of Brisbane Corporation.
These leases cover approximately half of the Manly Boat Harbour, Australia’s largest boat harbour and rated second largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Those owners occupying the berths do so under sub leases.
In addition to the marina, the club also own and operates boat maintenance and slipping facilities, including a 35-tonne Travel Lift, extensive nard stand areas and associated machinery and equipment.
Real estate agents often talk about the value of ‘location, location, location.’
The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron can bask in the glory of its stunning location, at Manly, on the southern sector of Moreton Bay.
It is just 30 minutes by car from Brisbane, a 5-minute walk from the Cityrail station, one hour from the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and adjacent to some of the finest swimming, surfing, diving, fishing and boating waters on the eastern seaboard.
To rate the squadron’s attitude to water sports as ‘professional’ would be a classic understatement.
The squadron has been represented at either yachting competitor or management level at every Olympic Games since 1956, while its members have an outstanding record as champions in numerous classes at State, National and International competition.
To its credit, the squadron’s Sailing School offers private one-on-one tuition for both sail and powered craft and conducts Recreational Ship Master’s licence, Certificate of Proficiency for Marine Radio Operators, Coastal Navigation courses and a specialist course for Assistant Instructors.
The RQYS Committee vessel is a Steber 34R -
The squadron’s Powerboat section caters for a wide range of competitive and recreational interests for its members, among them highly competitive navigation events demanding skill with the compass, through to enjoyable bay outings.
Four log events are conducted annually by the Powerboat Committee, with each event attracting points towards the squadron’s Champion Award and other perpetual trophies.
Powerboat competition, sensibly, is divided into two sectors, Displacement Division and Planing Division.
The premier event of the squadron’s Powerboat Championship program is the Goodwill Cup, which has been staged every year since 1933 and, since 1962, has involved competition with the Gold Coast’s Southport Yacht Club.
Usually held in the vicinity of Peel Island and with an overnight anchorage at Deanbilla Bay, the traditions of the Goodwill Cup involve and afternoon ‘raft-up’ with hospitality on hand from the Commodore and the Powerboat Committee chairman.
Another event, which attracts strong father and son participation, is the Myora Cup, which follows a similar format to the Goodwill Cup.
The event starts from the Myora Light and heads on a southward course to the squadron’s facility at Canaipa where ‘good fellowship’ is enjoyed by all.
Another of the squadron’s highlights is participation in the Southport Yacht Club’s Commodore’s Invitation Navigation, staged in the waters surrounding Russell, Karragarra and Macleay Islands.
One navigation event, the Volvo Penta-sponsored National Navigation, is scheduled for July and is open to members from squadrons and clubs Australia-wide.
The winners of the previous year act as host club for the event, staged on the waters between Peel and Russell Islands.
While some may view hard-fought log events as bordering on hard work, the squadron still has time for those who simply want to go ‘messing around in boats.’
The squadron’s Power Cruising Group has monthly cruises to interesting destinations around Moreton Bay and beyond, while every year there’s the Interclub Bay Cruise.
This was initiated by late Past Commodore John Hattrick and promotes family boating on the bay, regularly attracting more than 160 craft.
Not adventurous enough?
How about the Bunker Group Reef Flotilla?
This comprises and annual two to four week cruise north, via Mooloolaba and the Great Sandy Straits and Burnett Heads, visiting Lady Musgrave and Fitzroy Islands before venturing out to the Great Barrier Reef.
As I stated earlier, the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron could never be termed ‘just another yacht club.’
Its superb fully licensed premises overlooking the bay and the marina, has it all, bars and restaurant, fabulous views, entertainment and gourmet dinners.
Members of the squadron also enjoy reciprocal rights to visit other prominent Brisbane clubs, such as the Brisbane Turf Club, Queensland Cricketers’ Club and the Queensland Rugby Union Club.
Incidentally, once a member, always a member, it seems; more than 400 can claim greater than 21-years membership, while many families are now in their fourth generation of squadron members.
One such member is Graham Sneesey, 65, a former Commodore (’88-’90) and Life Member with more than 30-years service to the club.
On the day we spoke Graham was celebrating 32-years marriage to wife, Sylvia.
'I know,' he added quickly, 'you’re only expected to service 12 years for murder!
'But I’m not complaining.'
A former printer turned real estate salesman, Graham describes himself as semi-retired and lives at, where else, Manly.
'Just above the club, I look over my boat, a 31’ Bertram, the genuine Yankee model,' he said.
A former judge in the Boats of the Year competition when it was staged by the publication Modern Boating, Graham has tried all styles, various sail classes and several power boats, owning 11 in all.
'I even had a share in Apollo III, which we bought from one Mr Bond,' he added.
Graham’s wife and three children all enjoy club membership and family days aboard the Bertram are a common thread.
One son, 33-year-old Brett, is more closely involved than most; he works at the club on the hardstand area.
I spoke with Graham just after he had returned from a trip around the bay, showing some new members the best parts of the Moreton Bay scenery.
'Just generally doing it tough,' he said.
Graham’s bay cruise to show new members the area was typical of the club’s outlook.
Everyone is welcome to join in the various powerboat cruises and courses, but if one feels inexperience a problem, a member is always on hand to help tutor a newcomer.
Membership is open and is rated at various levels, from $600 per year for full membership with other rates, including Senior, Country, Crew, Social, Young Adult, Junior and Associate available on request.
For those enjoying membership, my compliments – anyone would be proud to be a member of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron.