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Archives [Intro] [2000] [2001] [2003]



Log for the week of January 7, 2002 Canberra, NSW by PS

It's my turn to do the "Best and Worst of 2001" but first, I'll do a recount of the past week.

On Monday we arrived at the quarantine station. We had made an appointment for 10:30 am, but got there late. The automatic gate was closed, so we tried calling on the intercom. No one answered. We saw a car enter a nearby gate and had the idea to follow them through before the gate closed, but thought better of it. After waiting a half-hour for someone to answer our call at main entrance, another car got in the other gate. This time I was ready and did a fast move with the car to get in. Unfortunately, we could only get as far as the dog kennels. With all the dogs barking, it wasn't long before someone came out to see what all the fuss was. They weren't happy about our "McGiver" maneuver. After escorting us out the dog kennel and up to the main office, we discovered no one was there. It seems we were out of luck. Hopefully Stew understood about Federal Holidays.

We arrived at Iwalani seven hours later to find a hot breeze blowing from the west. The temperature was 37c down below. 99f ! Ouch.. Things cooled off slowly during the night, while we watched a great fireworks display. I sat up in the crow's nest. Amy was not having any part of the better view. She stayed on deck smoking a delicious cigar.

Roadside Bush Fire.

New Years day was quiet. Just the two of us on Iwalani.

Wednesday morning we stopped at the local used car dealer and stuck a deal to by a car and sell it back in a few months. Now for those of you Ford car buffs that thought the Ford Falcon was dead, fear not. The Falcon is alive and well in Australia. I don't mean just the finned Falcon of the fifties. There are new models, which look a bit like Saturn's. We are buying a 1985 station wagon for $3,500 AUS ($1,750 US).

We took it for a drive on Thursday morning before we headed back to the quarantine station in the rental car. The car hadn't been started in a week, so I paid close attention to the color of the exhaust smoke. "No worries" as they say hear in Aussie land. There wasn't a hint of black. I looked under the car and didn't see any rivers of oil on the ground. Another good sign. Things looked OK under the hood, so we put down a $200 AUS deposit after we found out he didn't take credit cards. I still felt better dealing with the local used car salesman, then a private party. He said it would be ready in a week. He was going to have the oil changed and fix the AC for no extra charge. The price also included all the registration cost and liability insurance. It's no wonder there are so many cars on the road.

Before we headed to Eastern Creek, I called Telstra trying to get a phone line put down to the boat. When the operator said this was her second day on the job and she had to talk to her supervisor, I knew I was in trouble. After waiting on hold for 20 minutes, I hung up.

The Traffic was heavy on the way down to the quarantine station, so we were a bit late. They still let us in, which was very nice of them. All of our anxiety about quarantine was completely unfounded. The staff is very helpful. Stew was glad to see us, purring profusely. He ate the entire can of food we brought him. It's not that they weren't feeding him. He had a can of food the day before and it didn't stay down. They usually feed the cats dry food, so we chalked it up to a change in diet and the oppressive heat.

We settled into the Voyager Motel (we getting to be regulars) and I spent another 30 minutes with Telstra trying to get a phone line to the boat. Finally, we set a date for the installation and we now have a phone number. Next I signed up to Big Pond Internet service. Offered by Telstra, for $24 AUS per month, we have modem access anywhere in Australia with no long distance charges. We will have to pay extra if we surf more then 300 Megs worth of sites. After that, it costs us 20 cents per Meg.

After stopping to see Stew on Friday, we headed to Canberra, the capital of Australia. The drive down was through golden grassland, kind of like a hilly Kansas in the fall. We saw smoke as we approached the city and immediately thought there was a bush fire. As we drove though it, the smell of burning rubber filled our noses. There was a national gathering of automobiles, some of which were racing and losing rubber off their tires (tyres in AUS) at a great rate. There were cars of all types, from white Cadillac's to Opal GT's. The ones that weren't racing were cruising the streets, as people gawked from the sidewalks. While stopped at a traffic light we saw a bumper sticker that said, "Dogs have Masters-Cats have Staff."

Abandoned Brick House.

The city is very spread out and not intuitive to navigate. After rounding the same traffic circle twice, we finally found the Hotel Canberra. We chose it because it was within walking distance of the library and art gallery. It was billed as one of the oldest establishments in the city. (The city is only 100 years old) Unfortunately, most of the interior was re-done in a more modern style.

Saturday, we got to the library around 11am to see Captain Cooks Log. His log was on display, along with 150 other historic literary treasures. The exhibit was so popular, we had to take a number and wait about 2 hours. The library offered a CD with the log and additional information about Cook's trip, which we eagerly bought. It seems that technology hasn't caught on here in Australia. There was a computer set up for the public to review the CD, but no one was taking advantage of it. The same was true at the PowerHouse Museum in Sydney. There was a video about the history of the PC, where we were the only ones in the audience. The rest of the museum was packed. And the video stores are short on DVD selections. I better watch out. I'm getting negative here.

The exhibit was well worth the wait. Not only was Cook's log on view, but there were other writings as well. Einstein, Darwin and Bell to name a few. It was interesting to note the different writing styles and their authors. Darwin wrote his sentences in an arc with widely spaced words, while Einstein wrote very small and meticulously. You could easily picture the authors dipping their pen and putting ink to paper. I'm afraid that word processors will put an end to capturing the spirit of the writer. Looking at a computer screen with words is just not the same. As if to make that point, on display was the latest hardware for viewing e-books called HiEBook. It was rather cold and without character.

During our two-hour wait, we visited the nearby National Art Museum. They had works of Rodin, along with a great collection of Australian artists. Australia is quite proud of what they create. While some of the artists spent a good deal of their lives living in other countries, their work was labeled "Born in Australia and/or Died in Australia". I've never seen artwork labeled with the artist's country of death before.

DSS 43.

On Sunday, we drove down to see the radio telescope in Tidbinbilla. For those of you who have seen the movie "The Dish" this was the radio telescope the story was about. As we approached the station, it came into view over the rolling hillside. It was quite impressive, even from a kilometer away. The station has a very well done display about the history of space exploration. We even learned a few new things, which we hadn't while visiting the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. One was the management of fuel without gravity. To get the fuel (for the main engines of the lunar module) to gather at the bottom of the tank (where the pickup was) the computer fired a short, upward burst from the thrusters. This pushed the fuel to the bottom of the tank. Because the spacecraft began to slow, the de-acceleration continued to hold it there. Fuel management, without gravity, was something I hadn't thought about before.

Hollywood TV telescope

While reading the displays, we discovered that even "Australian Hollywood" is not above taking some "License" with things. The GIANT radio telescope used in the movie was NOT the one that received the famous TV signal from the moon. The telescope (DSS 44 or Deep Space Station 44) used for the TV transmission was about half the size of DSS 43, which was used in the movie. Not only that, but DSS 44 was located in Honeysuckle Creek, not Tidbinbilla. It was subsequently moved to Tidbinbilla and enlarged a few meters and got it's name changed to DSS 46. It has an open base and is not nearly as impressive. "Negative" alert, "negative" alert. Whew, that was close.

The Real TV telescope

That's it for the log. Now onto "The Best and Worst of 2001."

Top Five Equipment Performers on Iwalani that have yet to give us any trouble at all. And we wouldn't leave home without.

1) Furuno Radar

2) Lee Sails

3) Maxwell Windless

4) Russian C-Map Program

5) Nautix Bottom Paint

5a) Gelataio Ice Cream Maker

Five worst

  1. Micron CSC Bottom Paint (before the Nautix was put on)
  2. Wilcox Crittenden Skipper Head-The arm on the pump mechanism is so worn that you can't pump full strokes
  3. Man Overboard Pole-Fiberglass gives us splinters. I'm going to cover it with plastic tubing.
  4. Ships Compass- Card jammed due to card tilt in the Southern Hemisphere.
  5. SEA 235 SSB- If people can hear us (we don't always get through, when everyone else can) they say we sound like Mickey Mouse. I've tried everything I can think of to cure the problem.It started sometime after leaving the Galapagos.

Best Movie

"Oh Brother Where Art Thou?"

Worst Movie


Best Restaurant

Kia Ora on Rangiroa

Worst Restaurant

Crab and Gravy dinner on Moorea

Best Anchorage

East Side of Bora Bora

Worst Anchorage

Namena, Fiji

That's all for me. I'm sure Amy will have a few things to add on her log. PS

Log for the week of January 13, 2001 Coff's Harbour NSW Australia by APW

So begins a New Year with a fresh positive outlook. I got myself so worked up when it came to writing the log yesterday that I ended up with a migraine. The attendant plumbing difficulties, which come with that condition, prevented me from doing a lick of work. I could not seem to write a word without offending someone somewhere. I came up with the idea that when I get into negative territory I will give multiple choice statements, so that the reader may chose whichever phrase best suits their individual parameters.

There comes a time in any person's marriage when you must back down and say "yes dear" in order to keep the other half happy and the marriage intact. This whole "marina thing" was a case in point. I was perfectly happy to arrive in Australia and move up some river where we would remain anchored for six months, sneaking Stewart to shore illegally whenever we had to go somewhere. Phil would have nothing to do with that. He wanted to be at a marina where we could work on Iwalani, get a phone, hook up to the Internet and we could travel inland and he could re-group. He was not about to do anything illegal. In short, he was ready to become a marina rat.

This is because world cruising on a sailboat is

a.) An incredibly enjoyable experience where you can meet new people and learn about new cultures, yet still carry forty-four thousand pounds of baggage with you, (which if not cared for could leave you treading water thousands of miles out to sea.)

b.) A continuous challenge where you are implementing novel ways of problem solving in order to carry out ordinary day to day repairs- as in the case of using the hood of an abandoned car to make a new self steering gear.

c.) A selfish personal quest, forsaking familial and community obligations in favor of personal enrichment and a sense of global achievement.

d.) All of the above

e.) None of the above

Up to this point I had spent probably one week all together in marinas and I had come to the conclusion that there are nicer places in the world to hang out.

I am not really happy unless

a.)there is at least one mile between me and my neighbor

b.)I can hear the muffled arguments and bathroom habits of my fellow man.

c.)I can walk a half-mile each time I need to use the bathroom, thereby accomplishing two feats at once- exercise and a cleaner harbor.

d.)I can hear the staccato symphony of thousands of halyards slapping against hundreds of aluminum masts.

e.)I can wake up to the marina wildlife- the sights and smells of dozens of bored cormorants playing guano darts on our deck.

This past week was spent getting Phil and Iwalani towards Phil's dream of Internet on the boat coupled with enough electricity to surf the net while eating homemade ice cream.

We left Canberra, the Nation's capital, after a quick visit to the AQIS headquarters.pretty schnazzy bunker I waited patiently for the receptionist to finish her banana before she gave me the correct numbers so I could dial upstairs and announce my arrival to the authorities on the floors above. The tinsel tousled Christmas decorations strewn on chairs, desks, floors and boxes gave the offices a homey touch and the impression that they don't get many outside visitors. I actually had a pleasant conversation with Sue Bruce from AQIS. She told me that the AFFA people had just completed their risk assessment analysis for the Australian government. No one has been able to read the report yet, or if they have, everyone is keeping quiet about it. Two thousand dogs and cats a year come through Eastern Creek. There are still three other quarantine stations in Australia. Never, in the history of all the quarantine stations has a case of rabies shown up in any animal. There are of course several ways of looking at this:

a.)The Australians are doing a good job of screening out animals at risk of bringing rabies in.

b.)The quarantine system is possibly redundant for visiting yachts.

c.)As all the AQIS vehicles state, they are "protecting our way of life."

d.)Australia has its own version of rabies called Lyssa virus, a virus in the same Rhabdovirus family as dog and cat rabies. It is found in bats and has killed a few humans near Brisbane. Those humans had symptoms identical to classical rabies.

e.)All of the above

Stay tuned for the final verdict on cruising the Pacific with pets.

Lots of copper

We spent the first part of the week visiting Stewart and more museums in Sydney. The Australian museum had lots of great skeletons and stuffed animals. I could have spent a week poking around looking at body parts. Did you know that there are paired pouch bones in most marsupials? They even had one stuffed estuarine crocodile almost as long as Iwalani.

Midweek we left Sydney for the return car trip to Coff's Harbor.Along the way we stopped in Hornsby to purchase a transformer in order to get the Australian 240 volts stepped down to 110 for our American boat. Phil had found a place near Sydney that supplied step-down transformers but they wanted $900 Australian. The chief financial officer vetoed that. Eventually we found a company in Hornsby where we spent around $380 Australian. Now we had a way to plug in our icebox using the marina power. Phase one of Phil's marina nirvana was near at hand.

These guys have been winding wire too long

We arrived back at Iwalani late that afternoon, only to find her drenched in bird poop. We had only been gone five days, but it was long enough for the birds to think we were gone for good. After a long drive we weren't expecting to wash and scrub the entire boat for evening entertainment. The positive side of that, since now it is 2002 and I am no longer Ms. Negativity- we became motivated to get the awning made. It has only been a year since we had been talking about making one! The sewing machine came out and between the two of us we had the boat covered in a day.

Between sewing and scissoring, I hauled Phil up and down the mast so he could sand and varnish the bare spots of wood near the top, where the gaff jaws wore through the varnish. It was just too hot and dry to leave bare wood exposed like that for long. You can't ask for a better climate than Australia for painting and varnishing. In three days Phil got eight coats on.

Olympic Bird Games

Friday was the big day for Telstra, the Australian Phone Company, to come in and hook up our phone line. We moved Iwalani to her assigned slip just moments ahead of the Phone Company. The crew arrived at Iwalani's slip near the outermost pier and amidst much head scratching and jaw rubbing, announced to Phil and I, that we would need to hire a private contractor to get the phone wire out to Iwalani. I could see the crestfallen look on Phil as his hopes of marina nirvana were becoming dashed.

"No wait" Phil cried, while being dragged along the dock, clutching onto the bosses leg, "Don't go! Look! Follow this cable, this is phone line." Sure enough Phil showed the Telstra guy, the phone cable which did go all the way out to Iwalani, but landed a few feet short of the junction box in a murky barnacle covered jumble of phone wires under the dock. They hauled the wires out of the water and the Telstra-guy tested the wires with a sound wave oscillator and found that they were still good. "Well I'll be mate" he said, "Looks like a bit o' luck" No, not really, just Phil.

He was surfing the net and phoning his kids just a few minutes later. We overheard other cruisers further down the pier complaining to the poor Telstra fellows as they tried to leave for the day, that they had been trying to get a phone out to their boat for years. "You guys told me it couldn't be done." Was heard over and over again.

One of the advantages of Australian telecommunications is that the Internet and phone calls are unbelievably inexpensive. In fact I am waiting for our phone bill before I go completely crazy calling people, I can't believe it is only $5.00Aus to call the US for the first 30 minutes and the second thirty minutes are free...

We went later that afternoon to pick up our new car. It still wasn't ready and the salesman said to come back on Monday.

"No worries mate" Phil said. He had the phone on the boat and the rental car until Monday. There was no rain on his parade.

Now honestly, you have been reading my logs for how many years and you really think things can go that easily for us? I am after all, the consummate whingeing pom. Every cloud must bring its downpour.

One of those horrible jobs on my list to do when I got to Australia, right up there with cleaning out the hoses to the head, (I do mean marine toilet in this case) was to back up all the books articles, photos and artwork I had been working on since we had installed Arnold's* temporary brain in the Marquise's from Ken on Sunbow. Thanks Ken, if you ever read this, for your timely intervention with a brain transplant. But, the time has come to reinstall Arnold's new brain and put him back up to full power. I spent an entire day writing all my stuff to a CD. It amazed me that 1's and 0's can create art, music, and written thoughts. It also amazed me how much cat hair had gummed up my computer keys. (One of the big disadvantages to allowing your cat full use of your computer.)

Phil and I spent Friday night surfing the Internet, finding information about cruising down the African coast. Then we decided to check on the American stock market...

When I was a kid, my Dad, constantly frustrated at my sisters and my requests- "Can you read to us, Dad please?" -would read from the Wall Street journal, more as a way of getting us to shut up and leave him alone. Far from leaving us bored and disinterested, it did get us to shut up, as we listened to the up and down prices of IBM, Gillette, GE, AT&T, and others. It gave us a fondness for the stock market, and for good books. It only goes to show it doesn't matter what you read to kids- it's reading to kids that's important. I am sure the nutritional analysis on the back of cereal boxes works well too.

Just as Phil was beginning his rendition of the Wall Street wrap up, an unidentified pop up window came on the computer screen. It was from "buddy0" and it said "Hi Amy, how are you doing?"

'That was weird' Phil and I said, looking at one another. But we ignored it in favor of Paul Kangas. Then it popped up again- this time it said, "Amy P. Wood I am talking to you". We quickly shut down the computer. Now think about this for one moment. Here you are right now, reading this boring old log off the Internet. Imagine if all of a sudden the same pop up window came up on your computer. At first you would think 'that's weird'... Perhaps you'd even be tempted to write a few sentences back.

I also thought "buddy0" was associated with our web page and was another "dissatisfied reader" writing to complain about my complaining. A friend would have identified him or herself. Buddy0 didn't appear to be a friend. Later, we found the scripting FTP program that buddy0 put on my computer while we were on Internet explorer. For a full half hour he/she was sniffing around my computer, opening files, looking at all the drives for anything that might be pinched, while Phil and I had no idea they were even there. Think about this for a moment more. I was incredibly lucky to have just cleaned up this particular hard drive. I have letters to my banker written in Microsoft word stored in a folder, which have my account names, numbers, credit card info- everything on them. The CD with all the important stuff was luckily sitting benignly in its case, not in the computer. It was sheer luck that nothing was available for buddy0 to find. Phil and I both knew that you are at risk for a "cracker" (that's a criminal hacker) each time we connect to the Internet. We just never thought it could happen to us. We thought a cracker would never bother with a home computer. My recommendation to anyone reading this is- immediately get some type of personal firewall for your computer. They are free for home use. This will prevent a cracker from stealing all your documents while you are checking your email. If it can happen to us, it can happen to you too because you are reading this while surfing the net. Phil and I even found a bunch of websites on how to crack into a home computer. We also found a website listing innocent people's screen names and passwords posted for other crackers to use! So while all these ones and zeros are really great for listening to music, viewing a painting, or finding out about visa requirements for foreign countries, they are also incredibly easy for people to use to do pretty awful things. It is a lot easier than you would think! There are more than two ports open on your computer each time you check the Internet. Buddy0's mucking around also left Arnold a little confused- his num-lock keeps going on which makes typing this a pain. But, his head transplant should happen sometime this week. So, buddy0 if you are reading this, which you may well be doing if you are really that bored that you need to crack home computers, first of all thanks for showing us how vulnerable we were, and secondly I dare you to try it again.

Omnipresent gummy tree

So while Phil has been blissfully tackling this new computer problem in between calls to the states, I sat back and thought to myself that the marina life may not be quite so bad- in small doses. I began day dreaming about my ideal marina neighbors. One would be a French woman that loved cats and had a teaching background. On our opposite side would be an aboriginal artist. I, like the rest of the world, have become quite taken with aboriginal art. The fine detail and pointillist style is fascinating, but I feel like I only understand half the picture.

The next morning, I found both fine ladies living on either side of us. Alison is an incredible aboriginal artist who not only had to teach herself English, but also mastered the iMac and PhotoShop in just three years. Her artwork is outstanding. On our other side is Jeri, a French speaking cat lover. I kid you not. Maybe this marina life could turn out to be really fun and what's more, Stewart will be home in just a few days!! APW



*Compaq Armada 7800 laptop

Log for the week of January 20, 2002 by PS

Well, he's finally back on board. After what seemed like an eternity to Amy, (and Stewart I'm sure) Stewart's 30-day jail term has finally ended. I'll give a rundown for the week, then close with "What works, what doesn't" to give some nuts and bolts information to those planning a long passage.

Monday we stopped at the used car dealer to pick up our new (used) 1985 Ford Falcon station wagon. The car was nowhere in site. Not a good sign. The dealer came out and told us there were some problems with the car. The mechanic had found that the power steering pump leaked and the steering box was loose. The car wouldn't be ready for another week. We weren't pleased about spending more money on a rental car and he wasn't happy eating the cost of the repair. We were even.

We headed to the rental place and extended our time for another week. Because we had been renting for such a long period (36 days) they discounted the total time to $40 a day ($20 US). Good news! (Think positive right?)

The reason we had to rent the car was to get to the ear specialist in Sydney to check out my ear problems. This had been hanging over us like a gray cloud. I have had my left ear operated on before. The chances of my insurance covering this "pre- existing condition" were about the same as us winning the lottery without buying a ticket. Who knows what the cost would be to perform a tympanoplasty, $10,000, $20,000? Despite all our efforts to be positive, a costly medical condition was not exactly in the budget.

Tuesday, we made our regular pilgrimage to see the prisoner. He was doing fine and probably couldn't understand our large smiles anticipating his imminent release. We tried to explain the situation, but he wasn't impressed.

Sydney skyline.

Wednesday, we went to see the ear doctor. After waiting the usual time (30 minutes past the appointment time) we braced ourselves for the bad news. He looked at my eardrum and said it had healed! Talk about miracles. We were in disbelief. After doing some hearing tests, he told us to come back in May for a re-check.

We celebrated by buying ourselves a new digital camera. We had been talking about getting one for over a year. Heading into a large discount store we started asking about digital cameras. A salesman, 50 years old or so, answered some of our questions. He said the camera rep was busy, so he would help us as much as he could. After about 5 minutes he ran out of answers and introduced us to the techno whiz. I was glad to see he was not even 20 years old. Not that I'm prejudice. But when it comes to new fangled electronics, the younger the person is, the better. We spent about an hour going over all the ins and outs of digital cameras. The bottom line was a Nikon camera with a 3x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom and 3 megapixals of image size. What this means is that we can get much higher resolution and a telephoto capability that we didn't have before. It also meant I have to get the larger hard drive set up in Arnold, because the image files are huge.

We decided to head out to the Blue Mountains, on the outskirts of Sydney, and kill some time before we picked up Stew on Saturday.

Amy located the Eagle View Resort on the Internet. With its video view from the cabin, she was hooked. Our hopes of hearing the sounds of the bush animals and seeing a live kangaroo in the wild were rewarded. Just before dark, we drove slowly down the road looking for the wild roo's. We gave up after a mile or so and turned around. It was then that we saw our first kangaroo. He/she was barely discernable from a large tussock of grass.

Amy was beside herself. Squealing with delight and grabbing my arm, she was more excited at seeing the kangaroo than seeing landfall after 30 days at sea! We watched the roo bound off at our approach and wondered how such a strange animal came into being.

Eagle View Cabin

The night was very quiet. Much quieter then the city hotels or even the Marina. It was nice leaving the sounds of civilization behind.

Friday, we awoke to the sounds of a kookaburra. Now if you ever watched Tarzan, you know the sound of this bird. It actually sounds like a monkey. If you have Microsoft MediaPlayer you can listen to this audio (.wav) clip. Pretty neat huh? All thanks to 1's and 0's.

Saturday, we arrived at the quarantine station at 10am and were greeted to the sight of owners reunited with their pets. There were plenty of smiles to go around. From the animals as well as their owners. Stewart was released after Amy signed a few forms. I opened his cage as soon as we cleared the door. He seemed a bit confused. Clearly he spent too much time in the slammer. Perhaps he though we were taking him to the gallows. Only he knows for sure.

Once back at the Marina, Amy carried him to Iwalani. There were lots of comments from passersby. It's as if they hadn't seen a cat before. Well, to tell you the truth, cats are a rare sight. If you don't think Aussies hate cats, try typing in the key words " ferral cats australia" on the search engine. (Be sure to spell ferral incorrectly) This is the first site on the list: Check it out. Need I say more? Update: This site is no longer up as of 2007 :(

Prisoner News

Anyway, Stew is safe on board and we will be guarding him with our lives.

Here's my update on "What works and what doesn't".

After sailing half way around the world, we have a few opinions on what we should have on board and how things should be run. First, you need to decide what kind of cruiser you are. Are you the type who would take 90 days to get from California to Tahiti because you would rather drift than use your engine? If so, please disregard my recommendations. Engines are tied directly to energy usage. While I personally know cruisers who have sailed around the world without an engine, they have my sympathy. I did the "back to the land thing" in the mid 70's, so I know what I'm talking about. No electricity, phone or running water for 5 years makes you appreciate what the industrial era has done for mankind.

Back to the matter at hand. Your engine should be powerful. Most boats are equipped with "auxiliary" power. Big mistake. When we had to claw off of the lee shore at Nemena, the 60hp Westerbeke was worth every penny. You also need to carry enough fuel to motor for at least 5 days. If we didn't have that capability, we would still be off the coast of Ecuador dreaming about the Galapagos. Our fuel costs per hour, at the worst prices, were still only$1.00 U.S. (1/2 gallon per hour @ 5 knots) the best prices were less than .30c. Even less if we are motor sailing.

You also should have a large amperage alternator. At least 100 amps. Many manufactures don't tell you the rated output is quite a bit less at the idling speeds your batteries are charged at. You also need a good regulator, one that will charge the batteries quickly. The batteries should be AGM (absorbed glass mat). The battery bank should be large enough to handle your usage. A small bank means you have to charge more often. It's not good to run the bank below 50% of its capacity. A large bank means longer times between charging and a large alternator means you can charge over a shorter amount of time. Which leads us to engine usage. "Use it or loose it" as the saying goes. I believe engine trouble is directly related to lack of maintenance (read hard to access) and lack of use. We run our engine for about 30 minutes, once a day, while on passage. This allows us to charge the fridge, charge the batteries and make hot water. Our large power usage is the RADAR. We would not dream of sailing at night without it turned on. Not only does it allow us to see ships at least 12 miles out, it helps in making a landfall (day or night), and it is vital in telling us of approaching storm passages. You can see an approaching front, coming at you at 40 miles per hour, at night. It has definitely saved our butts. We also use our running lights. It's surprisingly scary how many cruisers don't. Besides, it's illegal.

If you have a computer on board, be sure to have the full version CD of the operating system and CDs of ALL the programs. I made the mistake of purchasing a program on line and had to get the CD shipped to me in the Marquises. Also, it's a worthwhile investment to learn how to re-format your hard drive. If nothing else, you might be able to help another cruiser.

You should have least two GPS systems and a good SSB radio. A ham license is nice, but you need a reciprocal license for every country you visit. Plus, you can't talk business. As Amy has found out, you are pretty well limited to talking about the weather or the height of your antenna.

You should buy all the charts for your entire trip. We listened to a not to be named supplier in the US, who said to buy them as we go. BIG mistake. Not only could we NOT find the charts we needed in Tahiti, but the time and cost of shipping (along with mistakes in the orders), dealing with customs, etc. can take the fun out of cruising. We are now in Australia, facing the task of having to get the charts we need shipped from the US or the UK. Duh!

If you are from the US and have any 110 volt equipment on board, you should buy a step-down transformer. Even if you think you are not going to spend much time in a marina, you'll need it. The US and Canada are the only countries in the world with 110 volt systems. The transformers were not easy to come by in Australia.

Before I get to the list of spares to have on board, I'd like to address crew knowledge. Cross training is a must. Too many women are stuck in the galley. Each crewmember should have a basic knowledge of EVERY system on board. Time and again I have seen the male (read: captain) taken to their bunk. (Myself included) This leaves the "little women" not only single-hand the boat, but taking care of the injured crew member. Do they know how to use the radio? Do they know what frequencies to use? Can they plot a position from the GPS? Can they launch the life raft? (One captain sent the crew to launch the life raft and watched it drift away. No one tied it to the boat first!) Can they start the engine? Manage the fuel system? Can they sail the boat? You get the idea. Sharing knowledge is vital.

Spares to have on board (other than the basics):

Raw water pump (replaced twice)

Alternator (the first one is still going)

Regulator (replaced once)

GPS (Tripmate receiver corroded)

Saltwater wash-down pump for washing off anchor chain (replaced once)

All moving parts for the head, not just the rebuild kit (ours is about to go)

Don't bother to bring:

Paint (unless you put all of it in plastic containers that don't leak)

That's enough for this week. PS

Log for the week of January 27, 2002 Coff's Harbor Australia by APW

There are three types of people in the world- those that spend inordinate amounts of time cleaning and polishing, those that could care less that there boat is painted with peeling housepaint, at least all the systems work and are safe- and those that fit somewhere in between. It's the same age old battle between form and function. Our new car-"Neville Mariner" named after the symphony conductor because he makes such an orchestral assortment of sounds as he clatters down the road, was bought from the former type of used car dealer. We passed by other less expensive cars for sale by individuals, which Phil declined to look at, saying we might have more recourse getting a car from a dealer should something go wrong. Neville fit all of our criteria, according to the white soap-written advertisements all over his windows. He was a car whose parts were easy to come by (Ford), a station wagon for hauling the dinghy, camping gear and all of Stewart's stuff and an important plus in the boiling "Sunburnt country"-air conditioning.

A nice working harbor.

When we went to pick him up on Monday, his bumpers and tyres (not tires in Oz, that's a verb), were getting their fifth and final coat of Armour-all. He had finally been looked at by the dealer's mechanic and had had an oil and filter change, or so we thought. When it came time to drive him out of the polishing bay, he refused to start. A quick jump to the battery and a sip of gas to the carburator and off we went. The dealer told us to go straight to the gas station and fill up without shutting the engine off, something he said he did all the time! We still had to return the rental car so I followed at a safe pace behind Neville and Phil. We gassed up and decided to stop at Garth's clinic to deliver my completed application for Australian Veterinary licensure. We left Neville running but he decided to die on his own and not restart. Fortunately we still had the rental car, so we bought a new battery from a very nice guy at Banana Coast Batteries. He told us to swing by any time and he would check out Neville's alternator, as I had misgivings over that piece of equipment also. Neville didn't exactly jump back to life after the installation of the new battery. But at least he was running.

The following day we took him to have the air conditioning looked at, as that didn't appear to work either. The dealer had assured us he would take care of it when we had first test driven the car. The compressor was shot, so we will still have to return to have a new one put in.

We discovered that the oil filter hadn't been replaced either. The radiator coolant reservoir was bone dry. But boy, didn't those black bumpers glisten in the sun! In fact, I got black horizontal lines on my legs after leaning up against the front bumper while poking around under the hood.


The next day we took Neville to the Banana Coast battery store and they checked out the alternator using a machine that could put a load on the battery and on the charging system.They found out that the alternator was working fine but the brand new battery was flat. They repaired a corroded inline connection between the alternator and the battery using a nifty little butane powered pocket soldering gun, which Phil and I both began to covet. Neville was like a new car after that. We checked out the tyre changing capabilites and discovered that there was no spare. Phil had asked about the spare and the dealer assured him it was fine. Lesson number one, even if you are buying a used auto from a car dealer, check out the car as if you are buying it from a used camel salesman.

cartoon of Phil with wires connecting him to computer.For weeks now Phil has been puttering around trying to get the IBM Thinkpad belonging to SV "Danza" to work. He had ordered a new key board from the US, which he assured the CFO would cost "about a hundred dollars". By the time it arrived in Australia, it all of a sudden became four hundred Australian dollars. The cost to ship it to Australia was fifty US dollars. Customs charged $47 dollars to open it up and check it out. Then my buddies at AQIS had to check it for foot and mouth disease- their fee was only $7. No signs of foot and mouth. After all these various fees and costs and the original value of the keyboard were added up- we were charged a ten percent GST tax on the whole thing. I don't mind paying a tax in a country which is allowing us to stay for six months- don't get me wrong. I actually think the system other countries have of exempting yachts from tariffs because they are in transit, isn't quite right. I just think a tax on a tax, as my father puts it- is wrong. Tax the value of the keyboard and the shipping costs, but don't tax the customs and quarantine fees too. That's almost grounds for a Boston tea party! The end result is that the most cost effective method for shipping to Australia is the good old snail mail. Gifts are treated just the same as the keyboard if they are valued at more than $100 U.S.

We may take up surfing yet.

Uh oh, I could be entering negative territory. While I am dancing dangerously close to whingeing, I might describe what has been happening with my Vet license. Because of the foot and mouth outbreak in England, the British, the Australians and the Canadians have all agreed to recognize each others licenses. The French unfortunately, despite their incredible Vet. skills have not been included. In order to get an Australian license, I gave them a copy of my Maine license, a letter from the Maine board stating that I am a Veterinarian in good standing, a passport, the licensing fees, my Maine state accreditation, which also has my Vet school name and year of graduation on it, an autographed photo and a letter from the governor of Maine stating that I may not be such a bad person after all. I heard back from Garth, almost apologetically, that they also want a copy of my vet school diploma. Funnily enough when we were packing up Iwalani, before we left, I actually came across that ancient relic at the bottom of my desk still in its fancy pouch. I debated about bringing it, but declined because I thought "who on earth was going to want to see that fossil? For fifteen years it had remained at the bottom of the drawer, not on our office wall, so I figured it could stay there. Besides its not exactly a wallet sized document. But thanks to the internet, I had my school faxing off a letter stating that yes indeed they had the misfortune of educating Dr. Wood many years ago.

So by the time you read this I should be ultrasounding koalas and taking care of exotic parrots.

Phil will still be working on computers. He finally got up the nerve to re-install Arnold's 12 gig hard drive. He had been really weird about it for weeks- very unlike him. When it came time to actually put the new drive in Arnold just died. Nothing. No power, no lights, no pulse. He tried a few things like changing power cords, batteries and such, but Arnold was quite gone. Phil called Compaq- Australia and while Arnold is still under warranty in the US, the warranty didn't include problems overseas. The fellows at Compaq Australia were nice enough to honor the US warranty and sent a courier up from Newcastle to fetch the patient. How's that for service?

So now we are Arnold-less. You can't see any new photos taken from our snazzy new camera and I am back to doing art the old fashioned way with pen and ink and brushes.

Phil has gotten the keyboard on Danza's Thinkpad to work, but it looks like they need a hardrive too. An unscrupulous computer person in Fiji had replaced theirs, actually stolen might be a more accurate term. (They had a 10 gig drive, which was swapped for a 1 gig drive (which was dead) without their knowledge) Just as we were emailing the Danza crew about their laptop patient, they showed up for a visit. We were very excited to see them and their twenty minute visit expanded into a few hours and they treated us to lunch at the seafood snackbar on the jetty. It seems really bizarre to me, that we are like family "from the old country" as Judy puts it, even though we lived on adjacent islands back in Maine, we never knew each other and barely got time to visit after we first met in New Caledonia. Their four children keep them well occupied, or as Judy says "it's like herding cats." They are off by car and ferry to Tasmania. The kids post a web page for Sports Illustrated

Not my fault

I also want to take this opportunity to formally apologize to any people that I sent Vegemite to for a Christmas present. It really wasn't intended to be a mean spirited thing. Those of you from away, may not have heard of Vegemite. It is:

  1. an Australian spread high in B vitamins
  2. a delicious snack similar to "Nutella" in flavor
  3. a curiously piquant spread whose flavor is biliously repugnant
  4. an important source of income for the Australian economy
  5. Both a and c above

This weekend marked the celebration of Australia day, the commemoration of the landing of Governor Philip and presumably the convicts, in Sydney cove in 1788. The indigenous population call it "Invasion day" and the rest of the Aussies don't give it a lot of hoorah either. The most excitement we could find was a lawnmower race up in Moonee. It almost has the flavor of Labor day back home, as it marks the end of summer vacation. Kids are going back to school tomorrow. So the festive atmosphere in Coff's Harbour which began over Christmas, will be drawing to a close. The midway, with its antique Victorian merry-go-rounds, rides and arcades, has already started to pack up. We went the first night it was open, weeks ago and I must say, and I won a very cool stuffed Kermit the frog after shooting a small cork at a crayon which was holding up the lid of a trash barrel. (I only spent 3.50$US in tickets, to attempt this great feat) It seems a shame that kids must go back to school, as the weather seems like it is finally settling down here. The winds are still either from a Southerly direction or from the North; but they stay constant for about three days now instead of three hours. No more dramatic changes marked by rapidly moving fronts and tornadoes. The boiling hot west winds carrying the smoke of bushfires seem to be gone too.

That's about it for this week. No boat stuff to report, maybe next week. APW