No 1 port of call
By GREG CHAPMAN
THIS weekend's Port to Port Regatta will cap off a record year for the Bundaberg Port, with quarantine and customs officers reporting a 50% increase in the number of vessels dropping anchor.
In the past two calendar years, the port has cleared more international cruising yachts than any other Australian port.
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service Bundaberg district manager Denis O'Brien said the Port to Port regatta would see the total number of vessels through the port soar by 50% on last year.
"I've got three inspectors on the track and they've been very busy,'' Mr O'Brien said.
"They started off on Monday and cleared nine vessels, (Tuesday) we had 22 and (yesterday) we've had two or three.
"By the end of November (alone) the inspectors will see 50 or 60 vessels.''
Mr O'Brien said while Port to Port numbers were slightly down on last year, overall recreational vessels had increased.
"(Bundaberg Port) is the biggest port in Australia (for recreational vessels) and we are ahead of the rest of them, even prior to the Port to Port regatta,'' he said.
Bundaberg Port Authority chairman Glen Toll was confident the Port to Port Regatta from Port Vila in Vanuatu to Bundaberg Port would help the port retain its status in 2005 and bring more tourist dollars into the city.
"All conditions considered we've had a very good year,'' Mr Toll said.