LINKS FOR THE YEAR 2002
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Log for the week of June 2, 2002 Coff's Harbour NSW by APW
We are still here, but not for very much longer. The weather has not been very good to the North- high seas and forty knots of wind, so we are content waiting here between rain-showers getting the boat ready for sea. We've managed to get almost everything crossed off the big list- The biggest nightmare was buying and stowing Stewart's prescription cat food. I am in big trouble if he decides he doesn't like it after all...
He, by the way, is much better. He's back to cracking jokes and urging us to move North where it's not so cold. The brain tumor appears to have cured itself. OK, I admit it I am a hypochondriac where my cat is concerned. I always envision the worst. He is on Norvasc for hypertension, and seems to be able to see better. If anyone is interested- I drew a picture of his retina at www.worldvoyagers.com/eye.jpg. I am hoping my ex-classmate M.A. Salisbury D.V.M. /A.B.V.O will look at it- or anyone for that matter, who might know more than I. Which isn't too hard to do- heart and eyeballs were my two worst subjects in Vet. School and it figures Stew has both problems now- with me as his vet. We are assuming he has hypertensive retinal degeneration. (Editor's note:Blindness from high blood pressure)
We got the SEA HF radio back last week, from the second repair shop, hooked it back up, and were told by "Sydney radio" that we needed to get our radio fixed. Phil called back to say that we just got it back, but I don't think they understood him. We had 150 watts output, an improvement from the previous 20 watts. Lots of power, just unintelligible. I had a few restless nights and decided to bite the bullet and buy the new Icom from Country Wide. We were quoted $2800 or so, Australian and I figured that wasn't such a bad price and would have been equivalent to Stewart's brain surgery. It took a couple of nightmares, with me trying to "talk" to Durban during a storm with forty foot seas, trying to figure out where we could get in…and another dream with Iwalani getting a hole in her bow and because of the hundreds of cans of cat food stowed forward, the easiest way to repair the hole was with a piece of plywood and some nails from the outside- only I couldn't find the hammer and nails. So- the following morning I called up Countrywide and bought the Icom radio, (as well as a package of nails and my own hammer). It came two days later and Mark at Countrywide sheepishly said that the price he quoted didn't include the tuner- but he honored the quote anyway. Good on him.
In the process of installing the new Icom, we found a very corroded copper connection between the radio and the tuner. After replacing the powdery remains of the copper foil, with sheathing from coaxial cable, we decided to get the SEA out from under the bunk one last time. I had stowed it hoping never to see it again. Maybe the corroded copper was all that was wrong with the radio after all. This time, after we re-hooked it up, we reached Russell radio in New Zealand and were told we had a good signal but sounded like we were from Mars. Still, even though we were speaking Martian they could sort of understand us. Once again I held the new Icom in my hands, trying to decide whether to send it back and save some money, or keep it and maybe have it some day save our lives. This time, unlike two years ago, I decided we were not sending it back. The SEA radio may be easy to use, but something is still very wrong with its miniature microprocessor brain. Back it went under the bunk and if anyone wants it- its yours- although I may charge a small transport fee...
Phil wired up the Icom and after much knob spinning, cursing and manual rattling, managed to talk to Bob Ayer, in Maine (halfway around the world), with no problem. The M710 does do all ham frequencies even though the paperwork says it doesn't. We did not sound like Mickey Mouse, a Martian, or any of the other descriptive terms people in between great air wave guffaws and snickers would relate back to us, when using the Sea radio. The next morning I was fooling around spinning dials, trying to find a station that broadcasts weather continuously-(none in Australia) and came across one that sounded like Igor back in the US- the automated weather computer. Sure enough it was Igor, broadcasting from Miami. So don't let anyone tell you the brand of radio makes no difference- "it's the counterpose/ground plane/antenna"... I don't think so!
We hope to be unplugging Phil's Telstra umbilical cord in two days. It will be a very sad day indeed. The Australians have no idea how good their telecommunications system is. Its worth flying here for a few months just to make phone calls to the U.S!
We're not much good at saying goodbye- but thanks to everyone in Coff's Harbour for making our stay so enjoyable. This is a wonderful, wonderful part of the world and we are looking forward to coming back. Everyone tells us that as nice as it is here- it's even nicer beyond the Gold Coast. We are certainly looking forward to heading North and checking it out for ourselves.APW
Log for the week of June 9, 2002 Coff's Harbour NSW by PS
That's right. We are still in Coff's Harbour. Well actually, it's Saturday night and the forecast is ideal. A strong trough has passed through and the winds are predicted to be fair, southwest to southeast for the next three days. We will finally cut our ties, literally with wire cutters, tomorrow morning. The phone service will be terminated and we will be back to phone cards, short conversations and Internet cafes.
The weather has co-operated nicely for the past few days. That is, strong headwinds for our trip north, providing guilt free time to complete "the list." If the weather had been good for heading to the Great Barrier Reef, I would have been hard to live with. We were in one of those situations where our list of things "to do" was getting longer and longer. My complaints of being bored have not been heard, even in a whisper.
The rigging took a bit longer then I planned. It seems I had forgotten how over 1,000 feet of running rigging should be arranged. It was a good chance for me to spend time aloft, checking things over. With the ratlines and the crow's nest, spending time aloft is actually fun. Great views and no bosons chair to cut off the circulation in your legs. I still can't get Amy to go up. Just as well. People afraid of heights are too distracted to remain safe for long. I'm not afraid of heights, but I do respect the consequences of a mistake.
Other items on the "List" were: fixing the compass light (corroded light socket) re-lining the gaff jaws with Teflon (instead of leather), re-arranging deck gear around the new Dog House, making a cushion for the nav station bench, backing up the info on the laptops, upgrading the web site, fixing spotlights (corroded switches and plugs) painting, provisioning, stowing, printing charts, getting a new logbook made at the copy shop (we designed our own) and selling our car.
Amy called Bret, the used car dealer who sold us Neville (and agreed to buy him back). "He hasn't worked here for three months" was the reply on the phone. Doh! Now what? Amy described the car and the fact that we wanted $500. "Not interested" she was told. She made up some "For Sale" signs and put them on the car, then headed to Bunnings Hardware to get some last minute things. She parked near some cars that were in worse shape then Neville, in hopes that someone would want to "Upgrade". It worked. A couple was waiting when she returned. They offered to buy him pending a visit to the state inspection station.
We got a call back from the prospective buyers and were told that we didn't have the proper paperwork. This was discovered during the inspection. We had purposely bought our car from a dealer so we wouldn't have this problem. No wonder Bret's not there any more. In the process of getting the paperwork straightened out, we discovered our $500 was whittled down by a $170 fine. And you wonder why used car dealers have a bad reputation?
Well, it's 6:30PM and time for me to cook supper. Homemade pizza dinner. I don't make those at sea. We will be heading as far north as we can in one passage. Perhaps a week if we are lucky. I'm not looking forward to 4 hours on 4 hours off and not seeing Amy, except in passing. But we are headed home and that thought keeps me upbeat. The Great Barrier Reef has always been a "must see" on this trip. Then it's across the Indian Ocean and down to Durban before Thanksgiving.
We will be doing our best to update our log every week. PS
Log for the week of June 16, 2002 Great Keppel Island, Queenstown, Australia, by APW
Log for the week of June 16, 2002 Great Keppel Island, Queenstown, Australia, by APW
Inch, by agonizing inch, we slowly groped and crawled our way Northward along the east coast of Australia. The South setting current was at times, so forceful that Iwalani was actually going backwards. Winds were light- 15 knots from the North or more favorable northwest, so at least the seas weren't too rough, since the wind was basically going in the same direction as the current. We could have done what everyone else did- head up a river and wait for the winds to change to a more Southerly direction. But Phil and I can be very stubborn and we were very anxious to keep moving, even if it was backwards, for a short time. The old Westerbeke huffed and puffed, trying to help push us uphill while heating up the aft cabin, where Stewart lay huddled sucking its warmth from under the engine room door. We kept the third reef in the mainsail, not because of strong winds, but because this configuration gave a flatter sail shape for doing windward motor-sailing.
For the first few hundred miles, the landscape varied little from Coff's Harbour. Long stretches of deserted sandy white beaches, undulating hills, with an occasional jagged peak punctuating the landscape. Few houses on shore, except every once in awhile, clusters of lights indicating a small coastal town. Of the eighteen million people living in Australia, most of them live within one hundred miles of the coast and most of those live near the larger cities. For a social misfit like me, it's my kind of place. It is possible to go about one's business for months without seeing another human being.
At Coolangatta, South of Brisbane, the mountains began to disappear and were replaced by high rises and condos, similar to Florida. Because of our seven foot draft we opted for going on the outside of the barrier coastal islands and avoid the pitfalls of threading our way through shallow water and the tide flows of the inside bays.
Our trip North coincided with the annual Northward migration of the humpback whales. We saw none. I also dragged my fishing lure, for hundreds of miles, hoping for just one fish- I didn't even get so much as a nibble. While reading a book during the 8 to midnight shift, I was once again hit by a flying fish- which I chopped up and fed to Stewart in the morning. So much for my great fishing skills.
After six days of four hours on, four hours off, Phil and the Westerbeke were anxious for a break, so we decided to stop at Great Keppel Island. The weather was due to go downhill with a trough forming and headwinds of 20 knots. According to the book, "Cruising the Coral Coast", by Alan Lucas, Great Keppel was supposedly the loftiest island around, difficult to miss. As soon as it got light out, I began earnestly looking for the island. I had it on radar and on the c-map, but I sure couldn't see it anywhere ahead. Finally I saw it- not the island but a big heap of grey low lying scud. It can't possibly be? I thought to myself. Sure enough, it was fog, totally obscuring the island.
As soon as we were anchored we went ashore to explore. A resort is on the west side, but it seems very low key, in fact we've seen no evidence of it at all. Australia to me, looks like a very old country. Its face is scarred with the beatings of wind, sun and torrential rains. Hills, Rocks and mountains are crumbly and tired looking. Great Keppel is no exception. Steep cliff sides have crunched there way down to form four enclosed bays, each at different points of the compass. If the wind doesn't suit, you can just pick up anchor and move around the corner. Kookaburras call to one another from the scrub growth in the interior. No palm trees, just pandanus, iron wood and other bonsai looking shrubs. We are now at the start of the Great barrier reef, the world's largest living organism and the snorkeling looks like it may be very good in towards the beach.
The best part about being so weather worn, is that it provides for some of the best beaches in the world. We are not yet in salt water crocodile territory and the water is too cold for the poisonous jelly fish- the newest one I've just heard of, is smaller than the box jelly fish, is completely invisible and will kill you more quickly and hard to believe, more painfully than the box jellyfish. Part of Australia's charm is that there are so many lethal things around- it makes you appreciate life a whole lot more, if you realize that the next step or stroke you take could be your last. You learn to tread delicately in the bush.
We planned to get the Spectra Watermaker up and running at the first island we came to. We had "pickled" it as soon as we arrived in Australia so were not expecting any problems, getting it functional. After running it without pressure, for the required time to flush the pickling solution out of the membrane, it began spraying salt water all over the engine room. Both block ends on either side of the membrane tube were badly cracked. Out of all the equipment on Iwalani, this de-salinator is the most expensive and gives us the most amount of trouble. In fact it seems, for all the equipment on board, with the exception of the Maxwell windlass and Furuno radar, that the price is directly proportional to the aggravation. This latest problem looks like a major design flaw- the watermaker works by creating a huge pressure gradient across a semi- permeable membrane. There is about 900 psi of water forced through a 2inch plastic block. By boring the outlet hole on the side and not on the end, it seems to have structurally weakened the plastic. We had stress cracks running through both blocks. Phil surgically excised the cracked portions, but to no avail, the cracks went all the way through the plastic. Our SCUBA tanks are also under very high pressure, they are dealing with the pressures of compressed air, not water, and they seem to be built of heavy aluminum, stainless steel- certainly not plastic. But, what do I know, I am not an engineer, maybe plastic is fine.
Yea sure I know, whinge, whinge about the two year life span of all the electronics on board. Most people don't have the luxury of a watermaker and have to jerry jug gallons of water from shore to the boat. Then they must add Clorox or iodine into the water so they don't get horrible diseases- and yet through the very addition of antibacterials they are subjecting themselves to unknown and hidden dangers. A watermaker affords people freedom from a tap, water is the most important thing on board and if you aren't forced to find a water source every month, or so, you can go to some pretty unspoiled places. We justified the expense of the watermaker for the African and Madagascar coasts. A few years ago, people were turned away from Madagascar because of a cholera epidemic. This is a waterborne organism, we figured making our own water would be the best precaution. So, it figures that the watermaker packs it up just in time for its most important performance. But, if I were to do it again, I would still have a watermaker, but I might opt for a less expensive system. We looked at others and dismissed them because they seemed to "Rube Goldberg"- too many pulleys, belts, bits and pieces- right now Rube Goldberg would be nice- as it could be something we can fix. Hopefully, Spectra's customer service will justify the expense of their system. I am not looking forward to the phone calls ahead.
Sunday, we were anchored in the South anchorage, while strong northerly winds whipped over the top of the island. For most of the day Phil worked on the watermaker while I worked on the computer. At about four oclock we decided to row in for a walk on the beach. The sun was setting on the other side of the island and low rain clouds were passing over head. We lay on the long stretch of sandy beach, completely out of the wind, in the lee of the island. Steep cliffs surrounded all three sides of the beach, isolating it from the rest of the island. Looking out to sea was like looking at the inside of a mother of pearl shell, the clouds and fog were soft violet gray, reflecting in the turquoise water. For a short time, a break appeared in the clouds. A rainbow appeared, with golden clouds lit up behind, and at the bottom of the rainbow lay Iwalani, sleeping at anchor. Its amazing how such simple things can make you not worry about money, (or lack thereof!), homesickness, ailing cat's, aging parents, broken gear and the other woes of living in a wet, gypsy lifestyle. APW
Log for the week of June 30, 2002 Whitsundays and beyond, Queensland Australia, by APW
Gurgling into the Hamilton Island Passage like an autumn leaf destined for the curbside drain, we whooshed our way into the marina entrance. I wasn't happy about staying at a marina, especially a resort marina, but, was content in knowing that it was only for one night- while we picked up the watermaker part mailed to us from AMI, washed a boat load of rather stinky laundry and found an internet café where we could finally update the webpage. We had been two weeks from "civilization" and the ship's supply of fresh food was also running low. We tied Iwalani up at the end of the second pier amidst several "Moorings" and "Sunsail" charter boats- all gleaming, and with banner's fluttering benignly awaiting the next charter booking. Despite Iwalani's freshly painted and glittering topsides, she looked strangely out of place.
I had been told by several people that we would love the Whitsundays. Ever the skeptic, I remained cautiously pessimistic. However, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised, they are every bit as beautiful as we had read and been told. In some ways faintly reminiscent of Penobscot bay back in Maine. Not quite as tame though, sort of like the difference between a flamenco dance and a waltz. Creamy turquoise water, dark brown sandstone and white sand beach shores. A mountainous mainland to the west from which it is possible, on a western island anchorage, to watch the sun slip behind. I have always been a believer that a sunset scene is vastly improved with the addition of a smattering of high islands or mountains. Sea eagles fly over head, and at dusk, the last calls from the kookaburra and dinosaur-like screeching of the cockatoo, come from deep within the crusty pine covered hills.
The great barrier reef lies to the east and keeps the seas to a somewhat reasonable height- usually no more than two meters in even the biggest blows, yet not as tame as the one meter height found in the Gulf of Maine. In Australia, the winds seem to average 20-30 knots, for this reason Aussie and kiwi sailors are not as whoosified as us Americans. I can remember being scared taking my own boat Petrel out in 20 knots of wind. Now 20 knots just means a slightly higher noise level. We should pretty much right off the America's cup as a total loss, it's never going to make it over the equator again. Sailing down here is a life threatening sport. Not a gentle afternoon recreation.
Hamilton Island is a "feel good" kind of resort catering to the "Twinkie" tastes of people. Now for those of you not familiar with the gustatory delights of Twinkies, they are not unlike "whoopie pies" (see May 2002). Only they are even more taste-less and definitely more fluffy. Kind of like a dessert "pasty". Now for you Americans, a "pasty" is a slightly more nutritious version of a "Twinkie", not something to wear on your nipple. It is a flaky piecrust surrounding a rather grayish tasteless paste, I presume to be some sort of ground up animal flesh. Pasty's are an Australian icon, so I better not knock them too much. Unfortunatley, the marina didn't carry the "Twinkie" pricetag.
Bars, nightclubs, restaurants, clothing stores, souvenir shops, line the immaculate street. The sole mode of transportation- quiet buzzing golf carts instead of automobiles. No bookstores, movie theaters, museums or lecture series. If you are totally bored, as I would be after about five minutes of resort living, you can glide from a wire hung hang glider, shoot some guns at a shooting range, or chase a little white ball around a well manicured course. Strategically placed at various points around the harbor, are middle aged men whose sole resort job is to whistle at the paunchy middle aged women who walk by, to make them "feel good". It worked.
The second best thing about Hamilton Island was the almost New Caledonia quality bakery. I had been apprehensive about approaching the Bakery, presuming it to be full of pasty's and other assorted tasteless puffs, but was quite pleased to find French style fruit tarts, croissants, (including chocolate filled) and some pretty good looking chocolate cake. The Marina-life just went up a notch. The resort whistlers would really be earning their money if I stayed here too long.
Also on the island- an artist named, Foot, whose dolphin and mermaid sculptures are made from epoxy resin and marble dust or bronze powder. A very intriguing concept for Phil and I who are graduates of the "cirre perdue" (Lost wax) school of bronze casting. The "Foot" creative process was actually more interesting than the actual sculptures. Opening up whole worlds of possibilities for us when we return home.
The very best thing about Hamilton Island were the great flocks of tame sulfur crested cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets and at dusk, the dark brown overhead swirls of fruit bats.
I was not the only fan of the bakery. The cockatoos and lorikeets have learned that the best things in life, come in white paper bags and despite signs urging people not to do feed them, the birds have discovered that acting cute gets food rewards. If you decide to dine outside you will soon be covered with curious, begging avian plumage. Iwalani was a huge disappointment, despite the flocks seeing a white paper bag disappearing below decks, I offered up sliced apple to the avian hordes who dismissed this "treat" as totally offensive.
Throughout all this human contact, was the ever-present background noise of an excavator equipped with a denervating jackhammer. The harbor was enlarging with each earth piercing staccato pulse. The following morning, after repairing the watermaker, Phil announced he was not ready to leave-he needed to balance the blades on the wind generator. Ever since Jamaica, our once whisper quiet wind generator was becoming increasingly noisy. At times with real gusts it shivered the timbers of Iwalani. We had been using it less and less as a result. We removed the blades and took them to a fish market posessing a very accurate scale. One blade was overweight by 8 grams (one percent of the weight of the entire blade). It had a small nick in the paint surface where water must have gotten in. The nick looked like it occured when the spring broke on the way to Jamaica. To re-balance it, we weighed coins until we found the right combination- two Australian 5 cent pieces, which Phil "glued" on to the flat side of the blade, with silicone. He sealed the chipped blade also, with a small blob of silicone. To determine the center of gravity (where the weight should added), he balanced the blades lengthwise on a pencil. We reattached the blades and to my sheer disbelief- it worked. The wind generator ran just as smoothly as when we first installed it. Phil's experience balancing model helicopter blades paid off.
I worked on uploading the web page- simultaneously with Ben, who was getting around to putting the Inmarsat week-old web page on. I had forgotten about teenager time- where one day is roughly equal to one week. We were having antipodean upload wars- I am not sure who won in the end. Thanks for all the email from Brittany, Ma, my sister and many other's who emailed us (and I can't write back, because that information is stuck in Arnold's dead brain- more on that later)... It's nice to know that people were worried about us. We're fine, but updating the web page every week looks like it will be getting harder. I am not sure, but I think if people want to know if we are dead or alive, you might be able to go to the Inmarsat web site- and type in the status of Iwalani. I am probably giving misinformation here- but oh well. They are supposed to have the up to date info on our Inmarsat terminal.
Phil stayed awake the first night at the marina trying to figure out how we were going to get Iwalani away from the dock. We had twenty-five knots of wind pinning us to the side and no insurance to repair the fancy boats that surrounded us, when we ricocheted our way off. I think that was the real reason we stayed another night, (though he will never admit it) He was hoping the winds would drop down the next day. Which they did. While gapers and gawkers were watching a spectacular crash of a charted catamaran, captained and crewed by a half dozen screaming Chinese, left pontoon piercing into the end of the piling; we made a quick unnoticed get away with the assistance of an outboard "tug" pulling Iwalani's bow out to windward.
We sailed passed Whitsunday Island, a beautiful high island designated as National park so no development, to Cid Habour where we were going to anchor for the night. Too many boats- it was still early afternoon so we headed over to Hook Island and Nara Inlet which is as close as you can get to a fiord in Australia. I still had the urge to keep going, so we pushed on and anchored at Stonehaven, on the western shore of Hook Island. Finally, we were relatively alone. The snorkeling here, was the best so far, in Australia. But, by the time we got out of the water Phil was a tooth chattering stainless steel-blueish color. So much for our thick Maine blood. I thawed him out back at the boat with cocoa and a hot shower.
I heated up the cabin with a delicious roast chicken dinner, but right as we were about to sit down and eat, Phil came back to life and announced that he was going to check the gap on the valves of the Westerbeke engine- a five minute job, (or so he said anyway). After a lot of cabin heating words escaped from the engine room, he said it might be a little longer as the refrigeration compressor had to come off first. I put the chicken back in the oven. A half hour later, the very worst sounds started coming from the engine room. I went to have a look and Phil showed me what the problem was. Six out of eight valve springs were broken. Now for those of you who have never taken an engine apart, the springs keep the valve closed. After the piston fires, the rocker arm compresses the spring and pushes the valve open. "Whoa!" I said when I saw what he was pointing to. "How long have they been like that?" Now that's a very good question. After Stewart, this is the most babied piece of equipment on board. It gets an oil change every one hundred hours, no matter where we might be. And no, we don't dump the old oil overboard, no matter how tempting that may be thousands of miles out to sea.
Our next mission was to find a telephone to order new springs. To the North was another resort island called Hayman and the nearest real town was Ayrlie Beach or Shute Harbor on the mainland, a half day's sail away. We decided to take take our chances with the resort. We anchored on the west side amongst more charter and cruise boats and took the dinghy into the Hayman Island Marina, via the most direct route over the reef. I thought maybe a shmancy lunch ashore might cheer Phil up, so we put on our Sunday best. No sooner did we arrive near the end of the first pier when a young gentleman with plenty of muscles, bleached, spiked, blonde hair, StarTrek style dark glasses, wearing a monogrammed Hayman Island golf shirt, came zooming over to our dinghy in an outboard. He looked like the bad guy in an Arnold Schwartzeneger movie- he just didn't have the oozie, or at least I couldn't see it.
"Did you radio ahead?" he asked.
"Uh, no" we replied meekly
"Did you see the sign?"
Now this could have been a trick question, as there were lots of signs poking up all over the island- "don't anchor, 22,000 volts, Private beach, private ramp..."
"Uh, sign?" I can play dumb American without too much effort.
"This is a private marina, for the Hayman Island Resort."
"Yes I know," I said. "We had hoped to come ashore and use the telephone, if that is possible."
"Well you need to radio ahead."
"Fine" I said, "No problem, we'll just head on back to the mothership and radio in."
I was hoping that would give the impression that we had landed from another planet.
He looked at me as if to say, 'oh brother, another smart aleck American'.
"Don't bother, just go in to the dinghy dock and I'll radio the head office."
No sooner did we tie up, when another resort bouncer came down to escort us to the head office.
"Boy did we land in a communist block country?" Phil and I looked at one another and meekly followed Igor. We were escorted in to the head office where lots of people were running around with starched white uniforms and lots of epaulets. We explained our problem and they all expressed a bit of disbelief that we didn't have a cell phone.
Now this brings up a touchy subject. While we were in Coff's we had no need of a cell phone. We did rent a Vodaphone in New Zealand and we were both very impressed with it. Not only did it have good reception everywhere, but, with a roaming number you can use it in other countries- except the U.S. Not only that, but it was cheap. I even bought some Vodaphone stock, which promptly started to plummet to an even lower level. Ouch. Just as I was about to buy a Vodaphone from the Coff's Harbor office-it closed permanently. So all you stock buying American's bail me out... This was a great company... We are hoping to find a Vodaphone office before we leave Australia so we can reprogram our Qual Com, useless U.S. cell phone into a Vodaphone. Then when we get to South Africa we can telephone for the latest weather information.
The Hayman Island marina office graciously let us use their phone- we found out there are no springs in all of Australia. They are only available from the U.S. But, for a ninetyfive dollar landing fee, we could have gone to the resort for lunch- we decided that the view was a little better from Iwalani after all, and we headed back to email our friend Rick in Maine and have a less expensive lunch. Rick came to the rescue, ordering the spares, in between making arrangements for his mother's funeral. Hopefully we'll meet the springs in Cairns. There are friends in this world and then there are Friends... It also pays to have a friend that stays up really late on the computer.
After lunch, we pulled up the anchor and sailed overnight to Cape Upstart. We anchored in the lee of the Upstart headland in fifteen feet of water with a very muddy bottom. We were in the middle of a very wide calm bay, three kilometers from any land. Turtles came over to see what we were all about. Phil was anxious to do some river exploring so we launched the dinghy, put the outboard on and headed off.
"Better grab the hand held VHF." Phil said to me. "In case we have problems."
"You know there might be salt water crocodiles?" I asked him.
"Yea I know, that's why the radio."
"Is that so other crocs, monitoring 16, can come grab a bite?"
Who was around to hear the radio?
My knowledge of estuarine crocs, came from watching an Animal planet show at my in-laws just before we left. Salt water crocodiles live in rivers and cloudy water, can launch themselves six feet out of the water, consider an outboard engine as a threat, as it makes the same sound apparently, as another male and it's the only thing that Aussies are truly afraid of. This latter bit of information came from Bill Bryson- I think.
I kept my head below the gunwales and so it wouldn't get eaten off. No crocs. I still think we are too far south, however, "Concrete Bob"
Back in Coff's said he saw one in this area.
To add to my nervousness about heading North into croc territory- is the possibilty of pirates. Supposedly they are no where near the Torres straights. But, I still made camouflage suits for all the computer equipment on board, so they blend in to the rest of the "cottage décor" on Iwalani. What a complete waste of time. Arnold decided that he would have a relapse of the disease that sent him to the Newcastle Compaq hospital in January. Phil has sworn off working on him, so I must try to repair him. I don't think my tears are helping the keyboard either . Phil very nicely offered me "Danza" to write this log, but it just isn't the same. Danza is now the only working computer on the boat. Which makes me very nervous, but that's the way it is. We have not got the funds for a reliable spare. We still haven't settled with the boat Danza about buying the computer from them. Yes, we have joined the ranks of the penny pinching cruiser. I have even taken to looking under low tide rocks for edible critters. It won't be long before we are out there with the rest of them, murdering fish with spear guns and pounding bark into useable toilet paper. All it took was one year, with not a single penny for income, to reduce us to this interesting new level. Unfortunately, because of Iwalani's deep keel, we are required to stay in marinas, if we go to any towns. Anchoring off isn't an option. It's all very interesting, but I gather from our house sitters, who are fairing worse than us, that things are not much better in the U.S. The falling U.S. dollar has no longer made Australia a half priced sale.
We have been contacted by several magazines to write cruising articles. This has flattered both Phil and I, but has made us wonder about this webpage. Our writings are of the kitchen and coffee cup conversational kind. Would we become liable for what we write? Getting money for writing takes us out of our sweatshirts and the kitchen and into ties, tails and the front parlor. We would have to be polite and not say what we really think. Grammar and spelling, would replace piracy and crocs as our number one enemies. The magazines assure us that this isn't a get rich quick, kind of deal. Still, it might be something to think about. Our most favorite cruising magazine has been the only one not to contact us. What does that tell you? Yea don't say it, I already have an inferiority complex. That's it for this week. APW