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HUBERT NOTTER EULOGY

posted Mar 27, 2012, 8:07 PM by Mark Tobin
For the information of members below is a copy of the eulogy given at Huberts funeral in September, 2010 by Peter Cowman.
 
HUBERT NOTTER EULOGY

 

 

We are gathered here today to celebrate the life, and mourn the passing, of Hubert Notter.  Hubert was a member of the JBCYC from 1989 – a period of 20 years during which he became a much loved personality amongst the sailing community.

In 1989, Hubert did not have a boat and crewed for Jim Dallaway and John Jordan for several years.  Hubert was keen to learn, fit and strong as an ox.  He was always assured of a berth in those early years.

By 1993, Hubert thought he’d served his apprenticeship and it was time to buy a boat.  An Endeavour 24, “Teco”, was for sale at Huskisson and entered Hubert’s life.  They quickly became inseparable.  Teco was part of Hubert and Hubert was part of Teco.  Although enjoying Club racing on Jervis Bay, Teco and Hubert ranged further afield with cruises up and down the coast.

A feature of the sailing, whether racing or cruising was that Hubert often sailed singlehanded.  Hubert always welcomed crew but if they were not available, then he would sail.  While the other skippers in the Club were fretting over getting crew, or the quality of the crew, Hubert simply sailed.  If you wanted to sail with him, that was fine, but if you didn’t turn up, or were late, then it was of no consequence.  Hubert sailed. 

Hubert decided to enter Teco in the E24 National Championships at Drummoyne in January 2001.

His logbook reads:

Xmas Eve                                        Jervis Bay – Wollongong

Xmas Day                                        Wollongong – Sydney Harbour

Boxing Day                                      Join the spectator fleet for Sydney – Hobart

27th December                                To Brisbane Waters

28/29th December                           Hawkesbury River

30th December                                Pittwater

31st December                                 To Sydney Harbour to New Years Eve fireworks

2nd January                                      Drummoyne

Hubert sailed further than any other E24 to the event, and after the racing, he simply sailed home.

In 1998, Hubert set off on a cruise down the South Coast with Col Blewitt, another Club member.

Col wrote a story for our newsletter and I’d like to read you part of it.

 

Titled “It’s only a Breeze”

Hubert was doing his impressions of a trapeze artist as he swung from the boom with one hand and tried to thread the reefing pennant through the cringles with the other, while the boat was pitching and rolling beneath him like crazy.  In the end he gave up in frustration and dropped the main altogether, deciding to go on the number one headsail alone.

All around us early morning pleasure craft and fishing boats were heeding the strong wind warnings coming over the radio and bolting for home.  Now in view of these warnings being put out by the Coastal Patrol, I wondered if it was really necessary for us to leave that day, when you consider we were not able to put a reef in the main, despite pointing into the wind.  When I voiced my thoughts to the skipper he laughed and said “This is a sailing ship.  We need wind to sail.  Anyway, this is just a breeze.”

The sky was almost devoid of cloud.  The wind from the north-east, was pushing in around twenty knots, filling the big number one and driving Teco south towards Montague Island.  The sunlight sparkled and danced across the crests as I sat with my back to the cabin and kept one eye on the following seas and the other on the fish lure we were trailing.

Near Tuross Head the big number one was proving too much for Teco to handle, forcing us to put up the ‘storm sail’ – the number two headsail.  This was the extent of Teco’s sail wardrobe.

The radio crackled into life.  It was an update on the weather coming from Montague Island and being relayed through Narooma Coastal Patrol.  The Island was reporting wind over thirty knots and seas of one and half metres on a swell of three and a half metres.

Hubert reckoned it was time we got out of there and called up Narooma with the idea of getting shelter for the night.  When he gave them our boat and engine size, twenty four feet with a six horse outboard, there was a pregnant silence before they answered with an emphatic “No way”.  The seas were already breaking across the bar.  They suggested we lie in the lee of Montague Island overnight and hope the gale blows out by morning.

I looked back at Montague, lying about three miles astern, when we could see it above the swells that was.  It looked silent and foreboding, a lonely and desolate place.  I shivered and concluded we had two chances of getting back there – Slim and None!  Hubert must have been sharing similar thoughts for he called back Narooma and told them we would try for Bermagui which lay about twelve miles further south.  As I put the helm over I heard Hubert begin a low tuneless whistle.  I tell you, dear reader, the man is fearless.

I was finding it very disconcerting when, being overtaken by a particularly bad swell, Teco would slide to the bottom, momentarily pause, before the next monster began to pick the stern up and try to slew the boat around into its path.  Hubert was always looking around to check the height of these monsters.  Me, I never did.  If you are going to shoot me, please, give me a blindfold!

As we neared Wallaga Lake the sea took on a darker shade of grey and little waves began to appear on the larger waves, and for a moment we thought the wind seemed to ease, but after a moment it came on stronger than ever.  Now it was really blowing – forming the crests into spindrift and flinging it away before it.  Its only redeeming feature was that it tended to flatten the waves, and given half a chance it would flatten us as well.

About a mile out from the entrance to Bermagui we started to make plans for our assault on the bar.  I would go to the bow to be ready to haul down the headsail once we were safely across.  Hubert would start the mighty six horses, open the throttle and, we would motor sail in and over … “Yeah, and pigs might fly” I thought to myself.

My time had come.  With Hubert’s “Be careful” ringing in my ears – I crabbed my way out to the mast, sorted the halyards, took a death grip and clung on like a limpet mine.  I hadn’t bothered to clip on.  The last place I wanted to be, was tied to the deck if we rolled over onto the breakwater wall that was rushing to meet us.

“My God!  I must be mad.  What am I doing here?”  The waves I could see that were charging across the entrance looked as big as houses.  Streaked with sand they were picking up from the shallow bottom, they curled across the rocks and thumped down onto the nearby beach.

Hubert, having made peace with his God, began a tuneless whistle and opened the throttle.

Let us pray …

With the number two straining at its seams, the wind drove us like a dart into the swirling cauldron.  Hubert fought the tiller as the boat slew this way and that, the wild seas trying to fling us onto the rocks.

When I next opened my eyes we were in calmer water and I was mechanically hauling down the headsail.  I noticed a woman standing on the wall staring open mouthed at me and she was making circular motions about her head.  Mad?  Tell me about it.

We were tied up and trying to get some semblance of order back into the boat when there was a gentle knock on the hull.  We looked out to find a man who had just walked all the way around from the headland to congratulate Hubert on the remarkable job he had done in getting the boat safely across the bar.  He told us he was a veteran of eight Sydney – Hobart’s and, with a smile and a “Well done”, he walked away.

I’m not certain mind you, but I think I noticed a certain swagger in my Skipper’s gait after this encounter.

 

I hope these words have told you a little bit of our friend, Hubert Notter.

In the end, Hubert never fell victim to the sea – it was ill-health which claimed him.

As a Club we acknowledge Hubert, and send our sincere sympathies to Flo and his family and friends.

 

 

                                                                                                             Peter Cowman

                                                                                                             Club Secretary

                                                                                                             3rd September 2010

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