A PROCESSION of more than 30 boats came gliding down the Myall River on the long weekend in honour of the recently-retired owners of the Independence barge.
Twenty five years ago Bede Bright established the pump-out service for the boating community on the Myall which he has been operating since with his wife Jacqui.
Vessels of all shapes and sizes packed with cheerful passengers turned out for the sail-past, some with tongue in cheek banners and farewell signs. Mr Bright described the sail-past organised largely by the Myall Lakes Aquatic Club and new barge owners Kerry and Linda MacIntosh on the long weekend as "magic". He said one of the best parts of his job was the strong friendships made which he was able to reflect on during the sail-past. He said operating the barge had exhilarating and exciting aspects, particularly conducting "late night rescues".
"The rescues weren't part of the job but if you're there you do it," he said.
One lady from Port Macquarie came down for the water parade because Mr Bright saved her two boys who had been knocked off their canoes in bad weather. A plaque for their 25 years of service was presented to Mr and Mrs Bright on the day by Hunter regional manager of NSW Roads and Maritime Sonia McKay. Peter Chappelow, a former waterways officer spoke at the event, describing the way the Bright's had acted as "eyes and ears on the lake". Linda and Kerry McIntosh have taken over operation of the Independence barge and will continue to service the boating community on the Myall.