The cruise of the Francois 1928 Planning the cruise from Brisbane to Cairns leading up to 3rd May 1928 When Mac decided to take Francois to North Queensland in 1928, he wanted his schooner to be in skilled hands, so he approached the master mariner, Captain Kerr, a 78 year old pilot who was knowledgeable in the northern Australian waters. Captain Kerr had been involved in the pearling industry and had been Master of a government vessel at Thursday Island off the tip of North Queensland for many years. The route along the Great Barrier Reef coast involved negotiating shifting bars and shallow channels, so a competent sea captain was crucial for a safe journey. Captain Kerr’s wife was also included on the voyage.   For a trip that would last six weeks, Mac also needed an assistant Sailing Master so he invited Duncan McRae who just happened to be an engineer – and a very elderly but agile Scotsman. For an extra backup, Mac added another engineer, James Dodd. And of course, communication while they were at sea was a necessity so another of Mac’s friends from Bulimba, George Wardle, a telegraphist, was invited along with his wife Ivy. Francois was the first yacht in Brisbane to be fitted with a wireless installation. Three more men were added as passengers and crew - Norman Hazel, a clerk from Wynnum who loved sailing, Bill Rathbone from Bulimba who was a clerk, and Cyril Mohr (called ‘Steve’ on the voyage) a ‘handyman’. Of course no cruise would be complete without entertainment, so Mac added that extra touch with the presence of Barrington (Barrie) Waters who was not only the manager for the legendary, vaudeville Fullers Theatre in Brisbane, [1] but also a writer for the Brisbane Telegraph newspaper.  One additional passenger, albeit a very tiny one, was Mac’s singing magpie, Jacko. What a theatrical, entertaining trip this would be! Mac kept a detailed ship’s log that provides an outline for an adventurous and eventful journey. Upon his return, Barrie’s narrative of the trip appeared as a four part series in the Evening Telegraph 11th to 14th July 1928.  These valuable notes fill in many details omitted from the ship’s log to make the story of the cruise of the Francois so much more interesting. Many photos were taken during the voyage with a box Brownie camera and these old images also serve as a record of the trip. [2] Mac chose the winter season for the voyage, avoiding the North Queensland’s wet, hot and cyclonic weather. Cairns had suffered extensive damage in February 1927 when a cyclone crossed the coast. Francois moored at Kangaroo Point in the Brisbane River. Williams Collection. Right: Crew and passengers before Francois left on her northern voyage to Cairns. Rear from left: Cyril Mohr, Harry Williams (not on voyage), George Wardle, Barrington Waters. Middle from left: Norman Hazel, John (Mac) Williams, Bill Rathbone, Duncan McRae, George Kerr. Front from left: unidentified wife, Francis Ann Williams, unidentified wife, Mrs Kerr. © Copyright 2011  Julianne Dodds Did You Know? Cyclones The eastern coast of Queensland is renown for destructive cyclones. Over the past 40 years - 1970 - ADA (Category 4) 1971 - ALTHEA (Category 4) 1972 - EMILY (Category 2) 1986 - WINIFRED (Category 3) 1997 - JUSTIN (Category 3) 2005 -INGRID (Category 4/5) 2006 - LARRY (Category 4) 2011 - YASI (Category 5) Australian Geographic also Bureau of Meteorology