Clos­ing the loop

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

LIKE the rest of the na­tion, Trevor Rees sat glued to the tele­vi­sion when for­eign cor­re­spon­dent Peter Greste landed on Aus­tralian soil af­ter spend­ing 400 days in an Egyp­tian jail for the “crime” of sim­ply re­port­ing the news.

As Mr Greste faced the me­dia, he spoke about what had kept him go­ing through his dark­est hours – a bare­boat char­ter around the Whit­sun­days in 2013.

Mr Rees, who co-owns bare­boat com­pany Whit­sun­day Es­cape told his of­fice staff, Christina Un­ter­wurzacher and Alita De Brin­cat, who de­cided “it was a bit of a long shot, but let’s send him an in­vite to come up to the Whit­sun­days”. When the Grestes ac­cepted the in­vi­ta­tion, the Whit­sun­day Es­cape and neigh­bour­ing Char­ter Yachts Aus­tralia teams were thrilled.

THE boat Peter Greste had char­tered two years ago, was Sa­tori, in the Char­ter Yachts Aus­tralia fleet. Char­ter Yachts Aus­tralia co-owner An­nie Judd was only too happy to part­ner with Whit­sun­day Es­cape and be­tween the two com­pa­nies they were able to host Peter Greste, his par­ents Lois and Juris, broth­ers Michael and An­drew, sis­tersin-law Kylie and Nikki and nieces So­phie and Kate.

To­gether and away from pry­ing eyes, the fam­ily could fi­nally “close the loop” on 400 days no hu­mans should have to en­dure.

“There are two things about it,” Mr Greste said, af­ter ar­riv­ing back on dry land.

“Ob­vi­ously com­ing back to that ex­pe­ri­ence – the thing that I’d done be­fore I went to prison – to sort of book-end that was really quite pro­found, quite mov­ing.

“But there is the other thing and that’s the gen­eros­ity of the peo­ple that helped us get there in both Whit­sun­day Es­cape and Char­ter Yachts Aus­tralia, and in a way that’s as im­por­tant as any­thing else.”

Mr Greste said of­ten while he was stuck in the cell mea­sur­ing three by four me­tres, along with his col­leagues Mo­hamed Fahmy and Ba­her Mo­hamed, he would take his mind back to tack­ing up

the Whit­sun­day Pas­sage in Sa­tori.

“It was an ex­pe­ri­ence that al­ways for me epit­o­mised free­dom – the power of the sail, the wind, the sea, the sky – ev­ery­thing about it was just so ex­traor­di­nar­ily free and lib­er­at­ing and it was about as far as I could pos­si­bly get in my own mind from the sit­u­a­tion I was in at that point,” he said.

Brother An­drew Greste said the trip to the Whit­sun­days was the first time the fam­ily had been able to prop­erly “de-brief” with no dis­trac­tions at all.

“We could just sit down, have a beer, watch the sun go down and talk,” he said.

Ms Judd said this was ex­actly what bare­boat­ing was about and some­thing she and the Char­ter Yachts Aus­tralia team had found plea­sure in giv­ing the Grestes.

“We were in awe of his courage and ded­i­ca­tion to telling the truth and pay­ing a very heavy price in his pur­suit of free­dom of speech,” she said.

As for Mr Rees: “Af­ter meet­ing Peter and his fam­ily, it was just a really lovely, warm feel­ing to give some­thing back to an Aus­tralian who’s been through so much,” he said.

ACT OF GEN­EROS­ITY: Peter Greste (cen­tre) with his brother An­drew and bare­boat op­er­a­tors An­nie Judd (Char­ter Yachts Aus­tralia) and Trevor Rees (Whit­sun­day Es­cape) who gave the Greste fam­ily a Whit­sun­day trip.

Photo Sharon Small­wood

FREE AT LAST: Peter Greste was able to “close the loop” on 400 days in an Egyp­tian jail by bring­ing his fam­ily on a bare­boat hol­i­day to the Whit­sun­days.

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