Home' Afloat : August 2013 Contents 62 AFLOAT.com.au August 2013
Ifirst met Geoffrey Blok in 1978 at the
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. He
was then the proud new owner of a
yacht called Mary Blair. Gathering around
him a crew of entertaining rapscallions he
finished the mighty Hobart race in 38th
place in a fleet of 108.
'Blokky' as he was affectionately
referred was bitten by the thrill of offshore
sailing.He wantedtobetterthis resultand
so he went in search of a boat that would
deliver him the best.
After selling Mary Blair to Graham
'Shirley' Strachan of Skyhooks fame he
purchased the successful third Ragamuffin
naming her Mary Muffin and calling on the
services of a young rigger and talented
ocean racing sailor, Greg 'Grogo' Gilliam.
He set himself on a learning curve that
would introduce him to many great
personalities and yachting adventures.
With Greg's guidance and tuition
he became an adept sailor and again
with a regular crew of proven sailors, all
scallywags with outgoing personalities,
he embarked on a two year campaign of
serious sailing. When asked if I'd like to
join the crew I jumped at the opportunity.
This would be the beginning of my foray
into the fabulous business and sport of
Geoffrey Blok (sitting on table) celebrates line honours on the lawns of Royal Suva Yacht Club.
Mary Muffin entered the Sydney to
Suva race along with Sweet Caroline, Satin
Sheets and many other yachts which were
using the race as a leg of the passage to
Hawaii for the Pan Am Clipper Cup series
With 'Grogo' as sailing master our crew
of nine included Col O'Connor, Ian Dodds,
the late John Tavener (who tragically
lost his life when the yacht Waikikamukau
sank during a race to Botany Bay one
stormy Friday night), Dennis Patterson,
Peter Epstein, Geoffrey Blok, and Afloat's
esteemed editor Robin Copeland as
navigator. A great bunch of blokes.
StartinginMiddleHarbour we carried
spinnakers for three hours before the
breeze went to the nor'east and the sky
turned grey. For the next twelve days we
belted into angry, dubious seas and black
skies until Kadavu Passage when, three
hours from the finish, we launched the
spinnaker underneath a clear blue sky.
We took line honours from Lou
Abrahams' Challenge and Marshall Phillips'
Sweet Caroline. Weary but jubilant we
celebrated on the lawns of Royal Suva
Mary Muffin went onto Hawaii to
compete in the Clipper Cup Series and
later that year 'Blokky' finished in 17th
place in the Sydney to Hobart. Regretfully,
Geoff sold Mary Muffin in 1982.
Blokky was an outgoing generous
fellow who approached everything in life
with great enthusiasm. Always positive,
he had a good word for all who came to
Bruce Stannard recalls an incident
on a solo passage when his diesel engine
failed without warning and he called
Marine Rescue on Channel 16, "Blok's
cool-headed seamanship, not only saved
my boat from possible destruction, but
also quite probably saved my life.
"Snug on his mooring in Watson's
Bay, Captain Geoffrey Block, was at that
moment making himself a cup of coffee
aboard his magnificent motor yacht John
Oxley. Capt. Blok was also listening to the
emergency channel and immediately came
on the radio to offer assistance.
"Just as the ebb tide took hold of my
boat and edged her in toward the rocks
he came flying out of Watsons Bay. I don't
think I've ever been more pleased to see a
fellow human being. Capt. Block was calm,
cool and collected and within minutes he
had a long towline attached to my bow and
was easing me in toward the temporary
safety of the Customs Buoy.
"I won't forget his selfless generosity
nor his seamanship."
Geoff Blok passed away after a long
illness on 9 April this year following a
battle with the dreaded 'Spanish Dancer'
A life cut short but a life that was lived
so with a smile on his face knowing that
he gave it his best shot. Blokky enjoyed
a rich life. He would've been, I'm sure,
pleased with his run.
Now when I see his beautiful motor
yacht, John Oxley, swinging peacefully on
her mooring in Watsons Bay I will always
be reminded not only of Geoff Blok but
also of the wonderful years sailing and
racing Mary Muffin.
THE MUSEUM THAT GOES TO SEA
join us for a
SQUARE-RIG SAILING ADVENTURE!
EXPERIENCE HISTORY IN ACTION
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