One month later launch day arrived, and with it a crowd of spectators and a fresh northerly wind. Don and his team
inched the boat, stern first, out into the shallows. But they had underestimated the strength of the surf. For a
moment it looked hopeless - the surf was too strong - the boat was in danger of being swung broadside on and rolled
But suddenly the spectators sensed the danger and together rushed forward. With much pushing and grunting they
helped muscle the boat through the line of breakers. "That was one of the most heart-warming things I ever saw,"
Three bancas, small trimarans with bamboo floats, towed the Saigon Queen to the entrance of the San Fabian River.
"With no rudder that boat had a mind of its own," recalls Don. "We sometimes wondered which boat was doing the
towing. It was like dragging a tree trunk all over the Lingayen Gulf."
Arriving at the river the crews were dismayed to find surf breaking over the bar, but the thought of a night at sea
wrestling with a boat that resisted every inch of the way was more daunting than attempting the crossing. Once
again their luck held as they zigzagged through the entrance and up the river to the Saigon Queen's final resting
place, a shady spot under an aratiles tree on the western bank.
But enthusiasm, once kindled, is not easily dampened, and before long the group were talking of bigger and better
plans for the Saigon Queen. She would become the centre piece of a proper club: a club with staff, a kitchen,
perhaps an office, and maybe even a library - a proper yacht club with its own pennant flying from its own flag
Using house jacks they raised the Saigon Queen above the river, inch by inch, shoring at each stage. "It was slow,
thirsty work," says Don. "Even on three crates of beer a day. But we eventually bullied her into position."