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Peter Greste: tasting true freedom on the open sea

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.
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. Sharon Smallwood

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, sisters-in-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.

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. 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. Photo Sharon Smallwood

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.

Topics:  editors picks peter greste whitsundays


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