04 June, 2007

It’s been a long drink between blogs. Sorry about that, it’s just that as we have been retracing our steps there doesn’t seem much to report.

We are now back in Cairns having made stops after we left Sydney at Brisbane for a week, plus various other spots for a day or two. We have been in Cairns for two weeks, getting a few jobs done and antifouling the boat. We could have done it in Darwin but as there will be about 150 boats there heading to Indonesia on the same day we think it will be a mad-house so we are getting all set here. Yes 150 or so boats, there are 110 on the Darwin-Kupang rally plus another rally leaves for Ambon on the same day and we are pretty sure there will be some hangers on as well. It’s going to be crazy but we’re sure it will be loads of fun as well.

So, the adventures, getting to Brissy was the first one. If you remember “Finding Nemo”, you will know there is a very strong current running down the east coast of Australia called “The Eastern Australian current”. As it runs at up to three knots we were motoring up against it or we would have been going nowhere fast. About 10 pm I was watching a DVD with the headphones on while on watch, and I heard the motor stop. When I take off the headphones I also hear a lot of water sloshing around……….panic!!! So here we are, wind blowing us onto a rocky shore about a mile away, no motor and water sloshing about!! The water…… Our stern gland (that keeps the water out) has been leaking a bit (we got a new one here in Cairns). Water was always dribbling in which is fine because the automatic bilge pump takes it out – but the auto part had packed up. I turned on the manual switch, water gone, first panic over. Good thing about a yacht is the sails, so I hoisted them and sailed away from shore, not quite in the required direction due to the current and wind against us but to safety. Check the motor, no oil, what!! I just changed the oil in Sydney and couldn’t see 5 litres slopping about in the bilge. Go to other tack, boat leans the other way, the oil comes back. Yes I know, how could you trust such idiots to go to sea, well, we are learning. Check the fuel. Twin tanks, both empty, or close to it. According to our calculations, at 350L per tank we should do X miles. To cut a long story short - we carry two 20L drums for just such an occasion and so we motored happily to Southport (Surfers). When we filled up we found that our 350L tanks are actually 320L tanks of which we can’t get to the last four or so litres to use. Yes we learn a little more every day.

Anyway, a couple of days later we were back in the Brisbane River saying goodbye to friends. After a week we pottered off heading for the Whitsundays as our first stop. Due to lack of wind we decided to stop off at Lady Elliot Island, a small coral cay with the clearest water we’ve seen so far. It is the only time we have dropped anchor and seen it go all the way down and hit the bottom 50 feet below.

True to our mission of “Latte hopping around Aus” we wandered ashore for a coffee at the resort and saw they where having a “turtle hatching excursion” that evening. Unfortunately we discovered that it was at the end of the season for the hatchings but we tagged along with the resortees and managed to see three of the little mites dig their way out of the sand and head off in the direction of the light given off by the moon. Given there where about 10-15 of us taking flash photos they had a bit of trouble deciding which light to head to but did make it eventually.

That’s one thing we have seen an abundance of here, turtles. Lots of them around the Whitsundays and we have seen them snorkelling sometimes, us that is, not them, they don’t need snorkels.

Another stop on the way back was at Middle Percy Island. We visited last year when we were heading south and loved it so decided one more visit would be worthwhile. Went for another bit of a snorkel and for the first time I decided to lay the anchor face down instead of its edge. About 6am we woke up to the sound of a glass breaking and the boat was really rocking about. That wind must have really got up in the night we thought…... We were rocking and rolling and the tender was banging the back of the boat all the time. Got up to clean up the broken glass. Holly S…… where the hell are we. One mile out to sea as it turned out, fortunately beside another island and not on it. First time we have really dragged. Don’t think I will adjust the anchor again!!!! (See above ….”How can you trust such idiots” etc).

That’s most of the dramas. We spent a week at Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays catching up with Patrick and Elizabeth on LaBarque who we spent time with at Sydney and Brisbane. Heather managed a spectacular fall leaving a cafĂ© at Airlie and had the bruise to prove it for some days.

Had a lovely night at Fitzroy with Garth and Ruth – Garth was one of Heather’s old work colleagues. They are there working on the rebuild project for the place and every night move 20 feet from their caravan to the beach front and have a couple of sundowners and watch the sun go down behind the hills. Just magic. As they are working there they don’t need their car and so we had the use of it while in Cairns for a few days which was a godsend while we were in sandfly heaven, also know as the haul out yard.

And so to Cairns. While here we have managed to cross off most of our jobs to do and still catch up with some friends from our last visit here, and watch the All Blacks beat France last night. We watched the game on the big-screen at the casino. To celebrate we went to a really good restaurant on the Esplanade with Helen and Ian and a couple of their friends. They have stayed and worked here through the summer to get more cruising coupons and will head to The Philippines in August.

And that’s about it really. We will leave here Wednesday if the weather is OK and head off to Darwin for July and then we really begin the adventure of seeing the world from our mobile home.