31 July 2010

Day 206: Lindeman Island to Airlie Beach, Australia – 31/07/10

Again, it’s quite an early start but what a cloudy one.  There is a thick blanket of dense cloud over the whole sky and again, everything is dripping in condensation.

It’s only about 25 miles to Airlie Beach and we have heard and read a lot about it.  It is actually on the Australian mainland but so close to the Whitsundays that it is usually referred to as part of them.

After a couple of hours, the sun starts to break through the clouds, and as they part, small islands are revealed, looking eerie and mysterious as their tops and sometimes their middle slopes appear through the clouds.  We even get a bit of wind and are able to put the two genoas out, goose-winged, which offers a nice bit of shade once the sun actually gets hot, which it is by late morning.

P1020472 Photo:  Johanne and Isabella basking in the sun

P1020482 Photo:  Steve and Johanne

P1020489 Photo:  Me and Johanne

P1020473 Photo:  The islands gradually reveal themselves as the clouds burn away

P1020496 Photo:  Isabella in the shade of the genoas

There’s a bit of excitement when Mike shouts “shark"!”.  A flat head and large fin break through a wave and he estimates it’s about ten feet long.  I miss it completely.

He calls ahead to Abell Point Marina to book a berth for the night but they tell us that unless we have $10,000,000 Aussie worth of public liability insurance, we can’t come in.  We haven’t.  So we don’t bother.  The anchorage outside is comfortable and has good holding and it’s not that far to use the dinghy to go ashore.


 Photo:  ‘Mackeral’ sky over the anchorage at Abell Point, Airlie Beach

We eat lunch (exceedingly good Aussie beef sausages and salad) then go into town to sample the delights of Airlie Beach.

I have to say I am a bit disappointed.  After all the hype about the place, I expected it to be a bit more sophisticated and up market.  There are a few too many Irish bars, sports bars, burger joints and the like, and most of the shops are the usual grotty assortment of tourist tat.  Even the man-made lagoon, which I did have high hopes of, is to me, little more than a series of large paddling pools.  The photograph in the book definitely led me to expect more!

However, there is a nice boardwalk which links the marina and the town and we have a pleasant stroll past some lovely homes.

P1020501 Photo:  Bird of Paradise – I’ve never seen one of these outside of a florist’s!

We stop for a drink and wait for ages to be served.  Waitresses come and go but none attempt to serve us even though there are only about 6 occupied tables.  Eventually Steve calls one over and asks whether it is waitress service or should we order at the bar.  She replies that we can order at our table – then walks off without taking the order.  So we leave, without giving one.  Not quite what I would call service.

Having wasted time waiting for a drink, we haven’t got much time left to wander as we didn’t switch the boat lights on and have to get back before dark.

Camper vans are a big thing here.  One company – Wicked Campers I think it is called - has decorated them all with fantastic paint jobs.  They are really good although tiny and cramped on the inside.

P1020505 P1020506 Photos:  What fantastic campers!

Walking back we see a wedding party.  Everyone is dressed in black and white and it would look quite amazing if the guests didn’t look quite as pissed!  The bride and groom pose for pictures in the emerging sunset over the marina.  I take pictures of the sunset, but leave them to their photographer.

P1020515 P1020518 P1020524 Photos:  Sunset over the marina and anchorage at Airlie Beach

For the first time ever, when I take a sunset picture I actually manage to capture a star, well, a planet actually – Venus – the brightest thing in the sky and always the first to appear.  Whenever I take the trouble to register it I think of the people I miss, especially my daughter, Victoria, knowing that they can look up and see the very same star even though we are so far apart.

I can’t believe that we are already half way through the time that Johanne, Steve and Isabella will be spending with us.  If it hadn’t been for the bloody generator we would have had another two days, still not enough after all this time, but better than nothing.  I try not to let myself think about how I’ll feel when they’ve gone, but I’m never very good at this, and today is no exception.

As we had such a late lunch, no one is very hungry and we make do with nibbles in the evening.  Tomorrow we are off to Whitsunday Island and Whitehaven Beach and will try for another early start.

30 July 2010

Day 205: Brampton Island to Lindeman Island, Australia - 30/07/10

We all get up early – unheard of in Isabella’s case.  Is it a case of the invasion of the body snatchers?  The boat is disgustingly wet everywhere.  Every fabric surface feels clammy and wet.  There is condensation dripping down every window and covering every hatch, inside and out, so that when you open the hatch covers, water pours off them leaving puddles on the floor.  This is driving me crazy.

Bringing up the anchor, we head off straight after breakfast.  It’s another easy sail (who am I kidding – we motor) to Lindeman Island and on the way a couple of whales pass us going in the opposite direction.  We are unable to identify them as they don’t come up out of the water, but they are probably humpbacks.  They are far enough away for us not to be worried about sitting on the back of the boat and dangling our feet in the decidedly icy water.

P1020413 P1020414 Photos:  Gossiping and dangling feet

In the shade it is cold, and in the sun it’s burning.  The two photos below were taken one straight after the other, Johanne sunbathing on the starboard side, and Mike huddled up in the shade on the port side.

P1020410 P1020409 Photos:  Fifteen feet separate Johanne and Mike in distance, and probably the same number of degrees!

We arrive after lunch and decide to go ashore to the Club Med resort.  It seems strange to have one of these in Australia.  It’s decidedly shabby around the edges and in need of a bit of TLC.  The average age group is a lot higher than the norm too and Isabella takes a picture of an old guy sound asleep (we don’t think he’s dead) on a lounger with his socks hanging off the side.  Not a pretty picture.  Steve says that it should be renamed Club Medicare!  There is some pretty amazing bird life around though, of the feathered variety, that is.

P1020440 P1020442 Photos:  Some beautiful birds around Club Med and not the sort you would normally expect

 P1020443  P1020435

Photos:  Scenery around Club Med, Lindeman Island

We go for a dinghy ride across the bay to see if there is anywhere nicer to anchor, deciding that it is such a lousy day that it not worth moving the boat.  We’ve just got back when Steve shouts “whale” and we all race out.  About a quarter of a mile away, a humpback whale proceeds to put on a display for us, thrashing its tail up and down and raising its enormous flippers in the air, bringing them crashing down with a huge splash – we can hear it all really clearly.

P102456f P102456i P102456d Photos:  Water aerobics – courtesy of the whale

P1020449 Photo:  Whale watchers

Eventually the whale swims too far away to film although we can still see him/her, and amazingly hear the antics.

P1020454 Photo:  Johanne serving tea

Johanne makes a lovely meal of meatballs and pasta then we try to watch “There’s Something About Mary” but in the middle of the zipper scene the film zonks out and we have to settle for “Captain Ron” instead.  We send Steve to bed when he starts snoring, although Johanne starts almost immediately and we let her stay!

29 July 2010

Day 204: Mackay to Brampton Island, Australia – 29/07/10

Mike goes to check that the generator is ordered and confirmed for delivery and arranges to be back in Mackay to have it fitted.

No generator means no air conditioning and the humidity is high.  Basically, this means very wet boat, which will only get worse.  Having five people on board (all with nice hot breath) and a low sea temperature means that the boat is filled with condensation even before we set off.  Even though we were able to use the shore power to attempt to dry the boat out last night, it didn’t really work, so this does not bode well for a comfortable boat over the next week.  Ah well.  Nothing we can do about it.

By 9 am we are ready to move from the dock but have to wait just a short time for Liza to refill with water before we can move as they are berthed behind them.  We wave goodbye as we pull away and head round to the fuel dock, Liza going before us.

There is no one to take our lines so as we approach, I jump off and take the lines myself, tying them on at the the stern and the bow.  Pressing a button on the dock, I talk to a disembodied Aussie voice and give her our boat name so that the pump can be switched on. and we can buy our 300 litres of lovely diesel.

Luka finishes refuelling first and comes over with his uncle to say goodbye.  It’s so weird to know that realistically we will never see people again.  They are sailing down to Sydney then Luka is flying home.  I have no idea what is happening to Liza, the boat.

As we leave the marina, which is bathed in sunshine under a blue sky, we look out to sea and can that the clouds are really low, obscuring the tops of the cranes and tanks at the oil storage depot but they don’t affect visibility as we can see clearly beneath them.

P1020400 Photo:  Blue skies over Mackay and the marina

P1020404 P1020405 Photos:  Low clouds over the sea as we exit the marina

Once we are out to sea, the clouds start to lift, and we are once again greeted with patchy blue skies, although there is no wind to speak of and we end up having to motor.  Mike does try to put the genoa out, but it just flaps pathetically so he winds it away again.

P1020407 Photo:  Isabella adapts to lounging around on deck very easily

It only takes a few hours to motor to Brampton Island and we finish off yesterday’s bargain hors d’heuvre platter en route, along with a bottle of sparkling wine.  Three other World Arc boats are already in the bay when we anchor, which is to be expected as this island is one of the nearest to Mackay.  We all have an afternoon nap, emerging from our cabins one by one to drink tea.  Afternoon naps are not something I want to really get into this week – time is too precious this week to waste it on sleep.

I put a garlic loaf on for tomorrow and cook a curry for our evening meal.  The quality of chicken is excellent - the best I have had since leaving the UK.  Everywhere else it has been tough (if it is breast) or full of bone and fat and covered with skin (if it is thigh meat).  I am going to enjoy provisioning in Darwin!

It turns very chilly in the evening and we all take to wearing fleeces.  Soon the decks are wet and slippery and the steam from the cooking creates a warm fug inside.  It’s like being in a caravan in the Lake District (not that I’ve done this).  Yuk.  Johanne and I share a bottle – one of Mike Browns recommendations – it’s good.

28 July 2010

Day 203: Mackay, Australia – 28/07/10

I am sitting up in bed writing my blog when Johanne crawls in with me and we sit and have our cups of tea together, just like old times.  In the end though, I have to kick her out because our usual inane chatter stops me getting it done.

For the first part of the morning the Suttons settle themselves in, and we teach Isabella important things like using the toilet - she was only 12 when she was last aboard.  We have so much more stuff ourselves now that finding room for everything is pretty difficult but eventually most of it is stowed away.

We catch the midday bus to the mall, leaving Mike and Steve to do some jobs around the boat.  As usual, the clothes shops and the jewellers are the major attraction, and we spend a lot of time in both.  Several Pandora items later, we attack the supermarket and get our supplies for the next week.

Leaving Isabella in charge of the trolley, Johanne and I go to buy the beer and wine supplies, purchasing the recommendations that Mike from Skylark gave me.  The lady who has helped me with the wines goes off to phone us a taxi, and while Johanne waits with the trolley outside, I walk back to the mall to keep Isabella company. 

Half an hour, there is no sign of Johanne or the taxi and I begin to worry.  I walk back to the booze shop and find the lady who ordered it.  She phones the taxi company again and discovers that they dispatched one five minutes after she had phoned but it would appear that someone else had nabbed it.  They send another one which arrives a few minutes later and we pile everything in and then go and get Isabella and our food mountain.

While she was waiting, Johanne had been approached by some local guys offering help (?).  They said they would take her in the back of their pickup but if she had gone, she and the booze would probably be in the outback by now!

We arrive back at the marina and I go searching for trolleys to get everything back to the boat.  We can only find two so Isabella and I load up and take the stuff down, sending Mike and Steve back up to Johanne.  How we find space for all the stuff I don’t know (and whether I will be able to lay my hands on some of again is even less certain).

We tuck into a huge tray of salami, cheese and antipasti, then leaving Johanne and Steve behind, Mike and I go for a drink with Luka as he is leaving tomorrow. 

P1020397 Photo:  Luka and I – bye bye!

One drink turns into three then we go in search of some other company for him as we need to get back to Johanne and Steve on the boat.  I wander up to Wild Tigres just to say bye, leaving Mike at Jeannius and promising not to get on the other boat, but I give into the others and clamber on – just for a short while you understand.  Shortly after, I spot Mike stomping down the pontoon looking for me.  I quickly shove my drink back on the table and jump off the boat.  I am so scared of my husband – not – more scared of the fact that I have left Johanne without alcohol and am now in the dog house.  I scuttle back to Jeannius and redeem myself by producing Sauvignon Blanc and macadamia nuts.  Phew!

27 July 2010

Day 202: Mackay, Australia – 27/07/10

Johanne, Steve and Isabella are due to arrive this afternoon and after my complete lack of activity yesterday, I have 101 things to do to get the boat in some way ready for them. 

However, first things first.  The generator.  Or as Victoria would call it, “the generator of evilness”!  I hate the bloody thing, and no more so than right now.  Rick turns up early and starts the process of removing it – no mean feat as it’s a heavy bastard.  Mike pulls the boom over so that Rick can use it as a lifting mechanism, and gradually the horrible bit of equipment is winched out.

P1020375 Photo:  Removing the bloody generator

Rick then takes it back to the workshop and we await the news.

In the meantime, I go off to the hairdressers for a well overdue hair cut.  I have now been cutting my own hair for nearly 8 months and although it sort of looks OK, it needs some reshaping.  The resultant shape from my new cut is very good but is the shortest I have ever had.  Urchin it isn’t.  At Stephen teased, it is more like a concentration camp cut.  Still it will grow – hopefully very quickly as I now look like a boy and will have to resort to wearing lots of makeup and sticking my chest out to show that I’m not.

Back on the boat,I start to clean up.  I remove as much as I can from the two port cabins and store it in the starboard stern cabin then clean the heads and make the beds up.  After washing the floors it starts to look a bit more respectable. 

Rick turns back up at the boat and gives us the worst possible news.  The crankshaft in the generator engine is cracked and Mike goes back to the workshop with Rick to have a look at it. 

P1020376 Photo:  Cracks in the crankshaft

It really is bad.  The split is so bad that no one can understand how it managed to turn.  The decision is now out of our hands.  We need a new generator and the bill is $11500 Aussie!  F***!  That’s the rest of the budget blown.  I’ll have to sell my body on the street now, and it could be a long year!

Then, as if that isn’t enough, the holding tank still needs looking at.  This has refused to empty for a while now and we are not sure if the problem is the pump or whether it is a blockage.  Yuk!  Rick disconnects the pipes on either side of the pump which makes a bit of a mess and a smell (no details but use your imagination), then, using a long tube, he blows down and nothing happens.  So, blockage it is then.  We connect the water hose and attempt to blast it through.  At first nothing happens, then there is a gurgling and ‘things’ start shifting.  Some of what comes out goes into a bucket and then overboard (nothing to do with my body!).  When it is all reconnected, we try the pump again and it works.  We have to switch it off quickly as we can’t pump raw sewage into the marina but at least we know it will be OK when we get out to sea.  At least there is one success today.

We manage to quickly eat the rest of the kangaroo steak and salad and get the washing up done, then I get a text from Johanne to say they are in the taxi heading for the marina.  The boat is as good as it’s going to get so I head up to wait for them all, finding some trolleys on the way for the luggage (Johanne is never known to travel light!!)

Matt is waiting near the taxi stop and I drag him in to be our official photographer.  When the taxi pulls up, narrowly missing reversing into another taxi, there are lots of tears and hugs, all photographed.  Unfortunately I had left the camera on the wrong setting so all the photos as over exposed but never mind.

P1020380 Photo:  With my mate at last

P1020393 Photo:  Even Mike and Steve have ‘man hugs’

P1020394 Photo:  Mike and I with Isabella

After loading them all into the boat, Johanne and I crack open a bottle of wine.  I can’t believe they are actually here.  It’s wonderful.

They settle themselves in and we go for a meal.  As it was Isabella’s birthday yesterday, we give her the choice of restaurants.  She chooses Italian but when we try to get in they are full so we go to the hotel where we have a lovely meal.  Even at the table there are some teary-eyed moments.  Its so good to be back with our friends again.

DSCF1976 DSCF1979 Photos:  Back together at last

26 July 2010

Day 201: Mackay, Australia – 26/07/10

What a waste of a day, and it’s all my own fault.  Thankfully, throwing up last night means that I don’t suffer the acute hangover that I actually deserve, but when I wake up I still feel somewhat under the influence of all the wine and decide that staying in bed is the best option for me.

So I do!

Rick, the engineer turns up to look at our generator.  It’s not good news.  Mike had hoped that it was just a loose fly wheel that is causing the problem, but this turns up not to be the case.  This means that it is the diesel part of the generator that is causing the problem, Mike’s worst fear.  To establish this, the whole thing needs to come out and Rick needs help to do this, do he will return tomorrow.  Obviously it means that there is no way we are going to leave here with Johanne and Steve with a working generator.  Bugger.

In the evening I am feeling much better and we decide to have a quiet night in with the TV.  We cook the kangaroo steaks and eat them with salad.  They are absolutely delicious.  No fat, really tender and full of flavour.  I must buy more.

Then it’s an early night.  I have loads to do tomorrow given that I have wasted today.

25 July 2010

Day 200: Mackay, Australia – 25/07/10

Mike and I decide to take the Mackay Explorer bus around town – he hasn’t been out of the marina yet and it’s about time he saw something else.

The bus goes out around the various sights but we don’t fancy the botanic gardens or the lagoon, so we get off in town and walk the short distance to the mall.  We walk around hoping that the sight of different kinds of shops will jog our memories – there are a couple of things we need but can’t remember what they are.  Walking around doesn’t help though.  Let’s hope they aren’t important.

We walk back to where we got off the bus as there is one every hour back to the marina, but after waiting for nearly 45 minutes, the bus hasn’t arrived.  When one comes in the opposite direction, I run across the road and flag it down.  What a lovely driver.  He is just finishing – his bus is now out of service – but he offers to turn round and take us back because he can’t leave us stranded – and he returns ten minutes later and does just that.  What a gentleman!

Although it’s very windy, it’s still warm enough to go for a walk along the beach, so after dumping our stuff and having a quick drink, we set off.  It’s a beautiful stretch of wide open beach and once we get past the gaggle of kite surfers and boarders, we have it to ourselves.

P1020308 P1020313 P1020315 Photos:  Beach at Mackay

We walk for ages along the beach then head back to the yacht club where a talk is being given on sailing around the Whitsundays.  I stay for a while then leave as Mike is taking notes anyway.  As there’s no hot water I use the shore facilities – it’s wonderful to be able to stand under a hot shower for ages.  None of this turning the water on, then off in sudden, short bursts.  Luxury!

Before we go out I give both Mike and JB a quick haircut.  JB is off to meet Carole tomorrow and I need to spruce him up for her!

Tonight is the prize giving for the leg to Australia.  As it’s the half way point (psychologically rather than in time or miles), the WCC staff decide that every boat should win a prize, so there are some strange ones awarded just to make sure that this happens.  The hotel put on a really good buffet, although there’s not quite enough tables to go around and we end up sitting on sofas leaning over the coffee table.  Jutta just sits on the floor eating off a stool.  It’s the first time I have been able to talk to Miew Ling, Stephen’s wife, as she is only here for a week.

After the prize giving, people slowly start to drift off.  Mike goes back to the boat but I stay on later for a few drinks with JB and ‘the kids’.  As the evening wears on, things get more and more silly.

P1020336 P1020334 P1020346 Photos:  Whatever it was, it was hilarious at the time!

Already somewhat the worse for wear, we make (for me anyway) the bad decision of going over to Chessie to join Jutta and Jochem for a drink.  The photos continue to be taken but to be honest, I am far too vain to reveal exactly how drunk I look – so they will not appear here.  Suddenly I realise that I have had one too many glasses of wine and shooting off to the loo, that last one gently makes its reappearance and I realise I need to go home.  Matt helps me to get off the boat and onto Jeannius.  Oh dear.  Bad girl.  I’ll pay for this tomorrow!

24 July 2010

Day 199: Mackay, Australia – 24/07/10

It’s a bit warmer today and less windy.  I know it is winter here but even so.  The marina staff say it is unusually cold and it only got like this a few days ago.  Typical.

I go back to the mall today, this time with Jutta and Anna.  They have limited time to shop as they have other things to do as well, and when we part company I wander around a bit more, revelling in the civilization of a mall.  Actually, it’s a bit on the rough side here, people-wise.  They are very friendly, but Mackay is a mining town and it shows.  Money but no class.  How snobby am I?

I manage to get the bus back to the marina this time – there’s only one on Saturdays so I make sure I am nice and early for it.

I go looking for Maggie to check out her haircut as I am booked for the same place on Tuesday.  Her hair looks great so I should be fine.  Stephen from A Lady invites us over for a drink later to celebrate Bill’s birthday and also to say goodbye to John, who is leaving in the early hours of Monday morning, to join Carole in Cairns where they are picking up a camper van and going travelling for a while before flying to Sydney then back to Scotland. 

I decide to pay Crazy Horse a visit to give Bill a birthday kiss.  He must be getting used to me now – he doesn’t even go pink!

Just before we go over to A Lady, the heavens open and it absolutely throws it down, and doesn’t look like it is going to stop any time soon.  We could wait all night for it to stop so instead we put our wet weather gear on and head over.  Stephen has invited all the boats that are in and gradually it gets very steamy as more and more wet bodies are squeezed into A Lady’s salon.  Obviously, when the invitations had been issued, it had been presumed that the party would be held on deck.

Aileen produces a wonderful chocolate cake that she made in the afternoon, and Stephen makes sure that the wine keeps flowing, with Bev and I lending a helping hand.

P1020290 Photo:  It’s starting to get crowded

P1020293 Photo:  Me and Bev

P1020295 Photo:  Nick, Bob and I

P1020299 Photo:  Jutta, Mike, me and Jochem

P1020302 Photo:  Maggie, me and Jutta

Eventually people start to drift off for dinner – thankfully it has stopped raining, so my trip back to Jeannius is not a wet one.

23 July 2010

Day 198: Mackay, Australia – 23/07/10

The generator guys turn up to have a look at it and I leave them in Mike’s company and go off instead with Maggie to have a look at the delights of Mackay. 

We get a taxi to the local mall, the first one we have seen since Panama.  Neither of us can get our heads around the fact that we are actually in Australia.  It’s weird.  It’s almost like being home after all the islands we have been to recently.  They seem a million miles away.  Maggie only has a limited time, so she does some grocery shopping then heads back to the marina.  I carry on, like a kid in a sweetie shop.  Shops!  With things I might actually like to buy!!  Ecstasy!

I buy a few tops (one of them a sort of sweat shirt jacket for warmth) and a dress – I am so bored wearing the same things week in, week out.  I bump into Aileen from A Lady and we go for a cup of tea and a bun, then John joins us.

I do a bit of grocery shopping and can’t resist buying kangaroo steaks – I might not get to see any kangaroos so I may as well eat one.  When John and I go to get the bus back we realise that we have just missed one and will have to wait another two and a half hours for the next one.  We decide to get a taxi instead - the queue is horrendous though and we end up waiting 45 minutes.  Still, eventually we get back to the marina.  The quarantine guy has been and it’s good news - my baskets have been released from their plastic bag.

Unfortunately it’s not good news about the generator.  The two guys are not sure about the cause of the noise.  One agrees with Mike that it could be a flywheel coming loose but the other thinks it may be the engine part of the generator which is causing the problem.  They leave without doing anything but arrange to come back on Monday.

Loads more boats arrive during the day, and the evening barbecue is a packed affair albeit a very cold one as we are not allowed to bring our food back into the bar to eat and the wind is ferocious.  Mike is so cold he can only last long enough to eat his meal before heading back to the boat.  I last a bit longer but am eventually defeated too by the cold.

P1020285 Photo:  Bev and I huddle for warmth on the way back

Back on the boat I dig out yet another blanket.  We now have two on the bed – unbelievable!

22 July 2010

Day 197: Vanuatu to Mackay, Australia – 22/07/10

Getting up at midnight, I have only had about two hours sleep – and that was broken.

I look out over the sea which is lit up by the moon and a tanker field.  Literally, loads of huge tankers lit up like Christmas trees on mooring balls.  Such a strange sight, and indicative of impending ‘civilisation’.

A trawler passes us by, all his lights on.  He calls us on the radio and wants to know our intention as far as route.  Most of the commercial vessels here have AIS, an information system that sends out details like the name of the vessel, the size, heading and speed.  We don’t have that system so can neither transmit or receive the information.  We tell him we are heading to Mackay and he’s happy that we won’t cross his path.

Ocean Jasper, Crazy Horse and A Lady have all passed us now, and we are Billy-no-mates sailing away on our own, if you can call sharing the sea with all these commercial vessels being alone.

I spend some of my watch going through my food supplies and putting aside things that I think the quarantine officer will want to destroy.

Mike wakes up just before 4 am and takes over.  Although I go to bed, I don’t sleep, just nod off every few minutes only to be woken with a start by a particularly loud slap of a wave on the side or underneath of the boat.  I can’t believe it when Mike comes to get me at 6 am and says we are just about the enter the harbour and I need to get dressed and get the fenders and lines ready.

Even just outside the harbour wall, the sea is still rough but once within the wall’s protection it is flat calm.  The wind is strong and the sky is clear, the sun just rising.


 Photo:  Sunrise over a very cold Mackay Marina

We are directed to tie up at the fuel dock until we have been visited by customs, immigration and quarantine.  There’s no one to take our lines so I climb over the side and leap when we get close.  It’s a long way down and my landing isn’t exactly gentle, but I am unharmed, and tie the boat onto the pontoon.

P1020283 Photo:  Mike puts the Australian courtesy flag up

It is freezing.  We put the temperature gauge outside and it registers 17 degrees but the cold wind makes it feel much lower.  We have only come south about 200 miles – I can’t work out why it is so much colder here.  I’m going to have to go shopping!

The officials take quite a while arriving as they have three boats before us to deal with.  Eventually though, it is our turn.  Four of them turn up together and stand on the pontoon next to us asking us if any of us have been ill during the last passage.  Apparently sea sickness doesn’t count so they board, the women having a little difficulty and I have to help haul them over the side.

The two customs officials deal with Mike and the paperwork.  I get the quarantine guy.  We go through the fridge, freezer, food cupboards and my plastic boxes.  I have already got rid of (or eaten) everything that I am sure I couldn’t bring in, but they relieve me of some other stuff too.  All my painstakingly peeled frozen cloves of garlic and pieces of ginger are removed along with unopened jars of mayonnaise and some butter.  My tapa, which I bought in Tonga, is taken away when I reveal that it is made from the mulberry bark . I should have kept my mouth shut about this as he had no idea what it was made from and I find out subsequently that no one else lost theirs as they described them differently.  Ah well.

They have a good look around, opening cupboards and boxes occasionally then he happens to tap one of my woven baskets bought in Tonga, on the worktop and a tiny ant drops out and trundles across the worktop.  I had previously kept all the fresh garlic in in and know that the ants were around there – nothing to do with the basket at all – but he puts all my basketware and woven things into a big plastic bag, sprays it with insecticide and seals it.  He will be back tomorrow to see if anything has dropped out and died!

P1020284 Photo:  Our ‘contaminated’ basketware

Once we are given the seal of approval, we leave the fuel dock and head for our berth in the marina.  It’s a bit of a bugger getting in because the we are mooring stern to and as Mike backs in the wind tries to blow us onto A Lady.  As we only have four fenders now and need those against the dock, John has to race out and put a couple on A Lady just in case we get pushed onto them, but we don’t and we are soon tied up.

There’s nothing in the fridge to eat, and neither Mike for I feel like cooking anything anyway, so we go for a wander around, mainly to touch base with the mechanics who are booked to come and look at the generator tomorrow.  When we have finished we walk along the marina and look at the choice of restaurants, ending up in a burger joint and sharing one of the largest burger and chips I have ever seen.  Thank god we didn’t order one each.

When we get back to the boat Mike attaches the shore power and decides to put the air conditioning on in order to dry it out.  He is most surprised when hot air starts coming out, and for a moment he almost panics before he realises what has happened – the sensor has found the boat to be so cold that it has switched the heating on instead of the air conditioning to warm the boat up to the temperature that we usually cool it down to.  This has never happened before but at least now we know the heating works!

We have an early night as we are both so tired, having had virtually no sleep last night.  We are so cold that for only the second time since we bought the boat, we put a blanket on the bed.

As I lie in bed, I mentally congratulate myself on crossing my first ocean – the whole of the Pacific.  For someone who is such a fair weather sailor and is as nautically inept as myself, this is no mean feat.  I am very proud – and knackered!  Just the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic to do now.


Our position is:  21 deg 06 min S, 149 deg 13 min E

Distance so far:  10457 nautical miles