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Log for the week of February 3, 2002 Sydney by PS

Computers. Who needs them! Little did I realize that Arnold's power problems were just the beginning. Unfortunately, I'm the kind of person that doesn't give up easily. If some one says, "It can't be done." in my presence, watch out. This kind of mentality has gotten me thorough some tough problems, but reeked havoc on the people around me. Amy has been very patient. More then once I've been up till two o'clock in the morning. She'll wake up and say "Please give it a rest and come to bed." I'll continue trying to get something or other to work. If I don't, I'll just lay awake in bed trying to figure it out. Before I get into "Everything you never wanted to know about computers." section, I'll run down the other events of the week.

Monday was still part of the holiday. I spent the early part of the day in a foul mood. I couldn't really pin down any reason. Wrong time of month? Full moon? The constant scream of the wind in the rigging? (Not Iwalani's rigging, but those high strung, high tech modern boats.) I finally got up off my butt and put the bikes together so we could ride down to the local flying field. It's been almost two years since I've flown an airplane. The marina is directly under the base leg of the Coff's Harbour airport traffic pattern. Often, I would look up and picture myself in the pilot seat, lining up for a final approach.

It was a 5-minute bike ride to the local "Flying Club" (The Aussies have lots of "Clubs"). There was a small office and a bar (at a flying club?). The people were very helpful and the rates are comparable to the US. I decided I wasn't in the mood to go up for a spin (whoops, I mean a flight around the field) so I told them I'd call back another day. I'm not current, so I'll have to go up with an instructor to be checked out. I'll be curious to see just how rusty I've become.


Tuesday, we loaded the bikes into the back of Neville and headed for the used car dealer who sold us the car. I had asked him about the spare tire, I mean tyre, the day we bought the car. He said the tyre was fine. That may have been the case, but it wasn't in the car at the time. I discovered this over the weekend, when Amy and I went though a tyre changing routine in the marina parking lot. We didn't have a flat tyre, but I wanted to be sure we could do it. You know those cars with flats on the side of the road, waiting for assistance? Well, the problem usually is the fact that the last person who put on the tyres uses an air wrench set to "This will never come off" mode. Then when the little "missus" gets a flat and tries to use the poor excuse of a wrench supplied with most cars, there is no way she could get it off. Even if she had the arms of a gorilla! As it was, I had to re-bend the wrench supplied with our car before the lug nuts would budge. It was then that I discovered the missing spare tire.

I'm sure no used car dealer likes to see one of his "sales" returning to the lot. He greeted us with a smile though and when Amy told him about the lack of a spare, he when into the back room and rolled out one that would fit Neville. I don't think he was trying to pull one over on us. I just don't think he checked to see if there really was one in the car.

Then we were off to the air conditioning shop. The car dealer was true to his word about getting the AC working, at no cost to us.

We rode our bikes back to the marina via a scenic route we had never been on. The unfortunate thing was, the route went practically straight up. We hadn't seen this kind of exercise since Samoa. There were lots of stops to give our hearts a chance to catch up to us. The view was spectacular. We could see up and down the coast for miles. It also reminded me how close the horizon is (about 3 miles) when you are only 6 feet off the water. The downhill run sorely tested our brakes, but it was a nice payback.

I stopped at the local computer store, BMD, to see about ordering a new hard drive for Danzas ThinkPad. Mel said she could get one in by the end of the week. I was hoping to have it back on Thursday so I could work on it while Amy and I were in Sydney the following week. I crossed my fingers.

Newcastle Beach.

Wednesday, I rode my bike in the rain to get Neville. He was all fixed and ready to keep us cool. This is Australia after all. I picked up Amy at the Marina and we headed for Newcastle. We had seen advertisements for a play called "Puppetry of the Penis" and couldn't resist. Now before you conjure up your own images, let me say that there was full frontal male nudity, but there were no strings attached. They had nearly a full house and most of the audience was made up of middle to late aged women. Hummm.

Thursday, we had a full plate in front of us. We left Newcastle and headed for the Compaq warranty service center where Arnold's death was being investigated. We were told that he had a bad battery, despite the fact that the battery level indicator showed a full charge. I left with a light heart, as the death of Arnold and my hard drive installation were not related. We then headed to the marina so that we could load the anchor chain into Neville to get it galvanized. We arrived back around 2pm and rushed to get the job done while the tide was still high. First we had to remove the "guano" cover so we could launch our dinghy. Then we loaded the chain into the middle of it so it wouldn't capsize. It weighed over 450lbs. While I rowed to the fish wharf, Amy drove Neville down to the dock. The tide was falling and I had a bit of a problem getting up without a ladder. I found a rotten old line and made a stirrup to get myself up the 10 feet to the top. I had most of the chain on the dock when Amy arrived. We moved the 300 feet of chain into the car without too much trouble. The trick with moving chain is to just keep dragging it from one pile to the next.

The boat owner across from Iwalani offered the use of his cart when he saw us putting the chain into the dinghy. I kindly refused, as I didn't want to break his cart or try and wheel 450lbs of chain up the dock ramp!

Neville was protesting his load though. He went from looking like a jacked up drag racer to one of those Los Angeles low riders. The Maine humorist, Marshall Dodge, tells a story of seeing his mother in-law drive up in her car, which was leaned over on the driver's side. He intimated that she was rather large and went on to say that the car leaned over, even after she got out. I hope the same fate doesn't await Neville.

With our chores out of the way, I proceeded to get Arnold back up and running. Doh! The power cord was nowhere to be found. I racked my brain trying to remember where it might be. I didn't remember getting it from the service center. Amy insisted that it must be on the boat. "Why would you send a power cord, which can't be used in Australia, with the computer?" she asked. I said that it must still be at the service center. Luckily, we were planning to drive past Newcastle on our way to the galvanizers.

We were on the road by 6:30 am on Friday. After a good bit of navigating on Amy's part (I had lost the good map we had of Newcastle) we arrived at Compaq. "Do you have the power cord?" I asked. "No." was the reply. Aggggg. He began looking in drawers and finally looked in the shipping box. Voila! There it was.

Hyde Park.

Next we headed down to Kirrawee to get to the galvanizers before they closed. We just made it. By 3:20 we had the chain, anchor and belaying pins (we decided to do them as well) on a pallet so it could by moved with a forklift. It was then that we were told the cost would be $2.30 a kilo. "But " I protested, "Your main office in Newcastle told me it would be $1.30." "Well, we have a different overhead down here." was Leo's reply. After a moment or two, he turned to his foreman and they had a quick chat. "I guess we could do it for $1.30" he said. Another good turn of fate. (How am I doing on the negative meter?) Amy says it was Neville, but I think it was the "jellies" on our feet. We certainly didn't have the look of 'Rich American Yachtsmen'.

We asked Leo where there might be a good place to spend the night. He gave us directions to a backpackers hostel in Cronulla. He was definitely getting the picture! We headed into town and found a nice little motel. Amy went in to get us a room. They said it was usually $180 but for her it would be $120. We are still not sure if it was Neville or the jellies. For me, the best part of this town was finding "The Right Stuff" on DVD. I've been looking for it since Pago Pago.

We headed for Manly, north of Sydney, on Saturday, to see more of the area and kill some time before checking into the Marriott Hotel in Sydney. Manly wasn't what we expected. Amy was hoping for the North Shore look, large fancy houses with nice landscaping. What we found was a very crowded tourist town. Oh well..

After arriving at the Marriott I began the process of formatting the hard drive and installing Windows 98 on Arnold. Things went well until I tried to use the internal modem. After fooling around with the settings, I still couldn't get on-line. I was so frustrated that I re-formatted the hard drive a second time! "Take that. We'll see who's in control!" I said. By 7pm I had the OS installed and it was time to go to the Opera House. Amy had booked tickets to a concert, which included some of our favorite classics including "Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams". After a 20minute walk through Hyde Park and down Macquarie Street, we arrived amongst the crowds. There was a full house in the concert hall, with people dressed in gowns and tuxedos alongside others in shorts and t-shirts. The music was excellent. How someone can write a piece of music has always amazed me. When I think of all the instruments working together to project such feeling and emotion, I'm reminded of how great it is to be alive. It also gives me a chance to forget my troubles with computers!

When we arrived back to our room, I tried to keep up my spirits as I returned to reality.

Arnold was just not going to connect with the modem. I abandoned the dial-up idea and resorted to the Ethernet card. It worked fine and I was able to back up the entire site (all 20 Megs worth) in 30minutes. Ten times faster then a dial-up connection! I finally went to bed at 2am feeling pretty good.

Stone Entrance.

Sunday morning I started Arnold to check our e-mail and he was once again dead. I removed the battery and he came back to life. I can't believe that the new battery was shot. It seems to me that there is a serious problem with the power supply/ charging system. Now if I could only get Compaq to fix it... We made arrangements to meet up with Garth and Sue and their friends. By 11:30am we were in the back of a mini van getting the insiders tour of east Sydney. Lindsey was driving at breakneck speed, as only someone familiar with the city can do. We saw some great houses, one of which had been built by Sue's grandfather. We also saw the first lighthouse built in Australia. This was by order of Lachlan Macquarie. Amy is still researching her ancient ancestor, but has yet to discover why he left under a cloud.

Macquarie Lighthouse.

We ending our tour around 2pm and then headed out to the University Motel, where we would be staying. Amy made arrangements to take a seminar offered by the Vet school, to keep up with her continuing education. I once again spent another frustrating evening trying to get the modem on Arnold to work. (There were no Ethernet connections at this hotel.) I finally gave up and hooked Danny to the phone line. He didn't work either! Whoa. I had just been using him at the Marriott and everything worked fine. I tried dialing the ISP number on the phone itself and heard the familiar screech of the ISP's modem on the other end. At least I knew the problem was with my modem, not theirs. I read the manual from the PCMCIA modem card and came up with the idea of placing a "," between the dial out 0 and the ISP phone number, which causes a pause in the dialing. I had done a similar thing when we were in England, so we could use our US calling card. Bingo! It worked. Seems that the phone system in this motel is a bit antiquated. I once again found myself going to bed at 2:30am. I should be able to write a book on international travel and connecting to the Internet. I wish it weren't so.

Best eats in Sydney.

That's all for this week. Thanks to those of you who e-mail us from time to time. I really enjoy answering your questions and taking my mind off of computer problems!


Log for the week of February 10, 2002 Sydney and Coff's Harbour Australia by APW

And we thought we had some weird expressions.This past week, for me anyway, was the best I have had in a long time. It rained and it poured, and at one point the dismal gray clouds started chucking out hail stones, but I sat safely soaking up knowledge at the University of Sydney Post Graduate Foundation lecture hall. I had been worried that disuse had allowed leakage from my Vet. neurons somewhere out in the South Pacific. Fortunately my synapses were rusty but not totally discharged. I also managed to break my previous record held since 1982, of not falling asleep during a lecture for an entire week. I had perfected the art of sleeping in Veterinary school, with my pen poised ready for note taking; my eyes open; for all intents and purposes looking alert, but with all systems shut down. The only flaw in my system was not being able to control the eventual small waterfall of saliva that flowed from the corner of my mouth, pooling onto my lecture notes. I eventually learned to use waterproof ink. At this stage in my life, I was so starved for spoon-fed knowledge in Sydney that I even read the notes after the lecture. It was a lot of fun sharing views on Veterinary medicine in a room where the entire population actually loved cats.

Veterinarians in Australia are trained a little differently than the US. For me, their system would have been a lot better. In Australia, students get to go directly to Vet. school from high school. Operating theater.It then takes them five years to get a degree. In the US, the traditional route is four years of college, then four years of Veterinary school. Since I wanted to be a vet from the age of three, I could have saved "heaps" of money as they say here in Australia, by cutting out three years of unnecessary college. I was twenty-five when I graduated from vet. School, the second youngest in my class and anxious to move to Maine. Had I been a bit younger I probably would have gone for board certification, something I recommend to all Vet students nowadays. Some of the Vet. schools in the U.S. now offer this same system to high school graduates, so it might be worth looking in to if anyone is interested in by-passing the college route. I think you would have to be a pretty exceptional student-, which I certainly wasn't in high school...

Even though the main lecturers were from the US, I still picked up some valuable information on treating Australian diseases. I think it is really important for American Vets and MD's to recognize 'exotic' or tropical diseases. The world is shrinking and with no quarantine system in America, bizarre diseases can walk right into the average animal or human hospital. Recognizing, or at least knowing about these diseases is important. Knowing how other countries treat them and what drugs are available, even if they aren't available in the US, I think is also important. It also gave me an excuse to go book shopping.

Its funny, but Phil and I have both found that our favorite reading material at sea has been either textbooks, or biographies. We chew through novels sometimes in just one watch and feel very dissatisfied afterwards. Empty calories, even with the supposed good books. I do have one exception however- I really like Clive Cussler. His books are so awful that they are terrific. I am not ashamed to admit it. Yes, I like Twinkies too. So I went a little crazy at the Vet. conference buying Australian Veterinary textbooks. We are amassing a big pile of books to read at sea and it is taking all my will power not to start reading them now... Reading is so much more fun than writing.

One of my favorite questions to ask an Australian is their opinion of the monarchy. Believe it or not Australia really isn't its own country. They may think they have their own government, but they also have a governmental position called the "governor general" or some such fancy title, who is appointed as liaison to the queen. Few people realize it, but the laws are such that this non-elected person has the power to overthrow the Prime Minister. Which, given the recent events in Japan, I think I would take note of. We have also unearthed a lot of closet monarchists, husbands mostly, who would be very upset to lose their connection with the queen mother. June 10th is also a public holiday in Australia. Any guesses what they are celebrating? The birth of Helen Caldicott? One of my all time heroines? She is actually an Australian, though many Australians don't know who she is. For the record she is a physician who alerted the world to the fact that the French were blasting the Tuomotos with nuclear bombs. She also founded the Physicians for Social Responsibility. I can't think of a single person in the twentieth century that did more to help save the Earth. Nope they aren't celebrating Helen Caldicott. If you guessed the queen's birthday, you are entirely correct. An entire day off from work to celebrate the birthday of the queen. I just don't get it. But I am American.

Australia is like a college graduate that still lives at home. I think if they cut the antipodean umbilical cord they might be a much stronger nation. Or would they? I might be too negative once again. On the positive side I have to say that despite Australia's position geographically, its citizens are more global and know far more about the world than the average US citizen. So maybe the antipodean connection is actually good. Most of the Australians I have met, not only know where Maine is, but have actually been there. That is more than I can say for the average Californian. I have to admit that I had to look up the word antipodean in my handy Maquarie dictionary. It is the adjective for the noun antipode, which are the points on the earth diametrically opposite each other. None of my dictionaries touch the pronunciation of antipodean. But if you can pronounce Antigone, you are off to a good start.

Lots of people from other countries are trying to move into Australia. Afghan refuges are hung up in Indonesia waiting to get approval to move here. It will probably never happen. Not because the Australians don't want them, or don't have room for them, but because they have "jumped the queue". There are many forms and proper channels one must go through in order to immigrate. Those refuges literally jumped to the head of the line and that behavior is very much frowned upon in Australia. I wish that would happen in my country. It's always the people with money or those that cut in front, that make it in America. Or so I used to think until last Sunday.

How 'bout them Patriots? Talk about an underdog team. It took me two days to finally find out who won. Despite the fact we had hotel TV's to watch, the Aussies were more interested in showing the TV ad's played at the Superbowl than the actual players of the Superbowl. I HATE football, but the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots are the only football teams I can name- so I am practically an expert where those two teams are concerned.

How many of you Americans have been following the Cricket Nationals? I am proud to say I finally figured out the point of the game. The fellow that is trying to throw the ball at the other fellow with the bat-isn't really trying to kill him- he is trying to knock the little blocks off the wicket behind the guy with the bat. The guy with the bat is standing in the way, trying to prevent the guy throwing the ball from hitting the wicket and maybe also smack the ball away, to one of the guys standing around in the field watching the birds fly by. Although how New Zealand managed to beat Australia and go on to the finals because of the "Bonus point" (despite the fact that Australia had a higher score) is still beyond me. For months, or a least a century, Australia was playing South Africa, not in a match but a test. Then it all boiled down to just one game played in Sydney between South Africa and New Zealand and I believe that South Africa finally won. They deserved to win just on the basis of sheer perseverance alone.

There are two things that I have to say Australians are hands down winners for. The first is wine. (Sorry France, you win for all other pastries, veggies and fruit that are grown for taste, not gargantuan size, architecture and jelly sandals.) Australian wine is very, very good. The Aussie toilets are impressive too. It took me awhile and a few flash floodings of pant legs and shoes, to figure out that you don't have to push BOTH buttons down at once. The left hand one is for delicate flushing, the right hand one for Industrial flushes. Both pushed together, deplete the National water supply. It's no wonder Cliff from Maloka III complained to Phil and me(I?) about the American toilets.

I am happy to report the Aussie water supply has been replenished, despite by double button pushing, after the rains of the past week. Interestingly enough, after the rain we noticed no squashed mammals along the roadsides- only turtles. The rain also made the bird watching in Sydney a little less interesting. I guess many more species were coming to Sydney to drink out of ornamental pools.

The rain has also brought the fish out, which has brought the sharks out. A kayaker almost became a shark snack up a local river. He managed to swim to a navigation pole, shimmy up it where he clung for hours before being rescued. They identified the shark as a bull shark, common in fresh water, from a tooth left in the kayak. Here I am gearing up for our river trip, out of crocodile territory. I thought that would be a relatively safe way of experiencing bush animals without getting bitten by a snake, stung by a spider or chomped by a croc. Guess again.

The weather has also prevented flotilla's of boats from heading South.Alison at work. Alison, next door, needs to get paintings down to galleries in Sydney. But the Southerly winds have kept her here, which is OK by me. I discovered the secret to the dots used in aboriginal paintings. Yup, it's a stick.

We also had a visit from an American friend, Sarah Hammond, who is one of those people that has no qualms about speaking her mind or doing oddball things in life. She also likes cats. She used to be a journalist but became discouraged with the profession, because editors have their storylines in mind, laid out and illustrated even before the "grey goo" as they call the copy, gets written.

My research into my great, great, great (I don't really know how many greats), grandpop, has led me down many different avenues. Amy and Alison.There seem to be many reasons why ol' Lachlan Macquarie had such a tough time here, despite naming every possible unnamed object after himself. He was most remembered for using convict labor to build the city of Sydney. He believed that hard work could lead to rehabilitation. That supposedly was what villified him in the eyes of the fellow noblemen. Or so everyone thinks. I also found out a few more interesting "laws" he implemented, which had far more impact on the average Australian. First of all, he made it illegal to shoot an aborigine, unless they were in groups of six or more. Shooting aborigines used to be big sport in Australia. He also thought there were way too many pubs and drinking establishments. He made it mandatory for all pubs to hold a license and illegal for them to be open on Sunday morning. Anyone that was found wandering the streets on Sunday morning and wasn't in church was fined. This ended up in the closure of several fine drinking establishments. It's no wonder everyone hated him. He went back to Scotland a sad and poor man, as the English government owed him back pay. He also funded many projects from his own pocket. He had contracted dysentary in India, which is what he eventually died from, while trying to negotiate with the British for money he was owed. Now I know where my stress related problems come from.

Well that's about it for this week. I guess this is enough grey goo, or I suppose more acurately blue goo. I have managed to waste several moments of everyone's valuable time talking negatively and yes once again back to bathroom talk. So much for New Year's resolutions. Perhaps Phil will report on boat stuff. APW

Log for the week of February 17, 2002, Australia by PS

Well, it's been another busy week here at Coff's Harbour. I know some of you think we are killing time laying around on the beach. I won't mention any names though. While at first, it seemed that our six-month stay would be more than enough time to re-group, we are already thinking about leaving.

Computers are still taking up a lot of my time. The new hard drive was installed on Danza's computer on Monday, but the computer store was having trouble formatting it. I discovered they were using the wrong restore CD and they didn't have the computer plugged into an AC outlet. Trying to format and restore a computer on battery power is a bad idea. Power interruptions raise havoc with installations. I decided the best thing was to do the work myself. I was in a bit of a pickle because the formatting the shop had done split the new drive into two seperate drives. The long and short of the story was that I couldn't seem to get anything accomplished on Monday re-formatting the drive. I finally came up with a solution, while trying to sleep that night. I hand wrote a boot disk, with the correct code, to allow me to format the drive. I'm learning more about DOS than I ever wanted to know.

After finally getting Danza's computer fixed, our Hewlett Packard CD re-writer went south. We had backed up all our data onto CD re-write discs before putting Arnold's new hard drive in. BIG MISTAKE! Be WARNED, if you have your data backed up on a CD RW disc, write it to a CD R disc ASAP! CD RW discs have a tendency to not be read by Any Other Drive. Period. We discovered this after our re-writer died. We couldn't retrieve our data using any of the three CD DVD drives we had at our disposal. Without getting too technical, the reflectivity of CD RW discs is a lot less then CD R discs, hence they are harder to read. After trying all the drives at the local computer store without any luck, we tried the drive in Garth's laptop and hit pay dirt. His drive could read almost all the data on our RW discs. I copied the data to his hard drive and made CD R disc's using his internal CD writer. No more CD RW disc's for us!

We spent Tuesday going over charts for the remainder of the trip. Boat Books, in Crow's Nest, NSW was kind enough to send us (over-night I might add) a British Admiralty Chart list that we could use. We came up with a list of about 20 charts. Between the Russian C-Map program and the BA charts, we should be covered. At $35 US each, the charts are a pretty big investment. Thank god for the Russian's! We chose BA charts for areas that C-Map didn't cover very well, mostly the East Coast of Africa. And yes, we will be making paper copies of approach and harbor charts, from the C-Map program, before we leave.

Besides the charts, we are gathering needed boat supplies like oil, oil filters, spare water pump parts, paint for the bottom, new halyard line etc.

We've also been working on up-grading the web site pages. It's been over three years since I hand wrote the code and edited the images and it looks like it. Don't worry, we are not going to change the layout. Just up-date the look of the pages, make things a little easier to navigate and add more information. Stay tuned.

Stew in the engine room.

Stewart has been spending his time trying to stay warm. In the tropics no less. I'm not sure what he is going to do when we get back to Maine. Amy is not too concerned, but it seems like a change of behavior to me.

"Neville" is still going strong, even after hauling our anchor chain over 1,000 Kilometers. His next adventure will be a camping trip to the wilds. Believe it or not, Amy says that she has never been camping. Pitching a tent and living off the land, you know that sort of thing. Hopefully, next week we will be waking up to the sounds of wild animals and not diesel powered fishing boats!

Neville the Workhorse.

Our ship batteries seemed to be having some trouble getting fully charged from our occasional engine runs, according to the Heart Link 20 battery monitor. Our amp hours were steadily decreasing. Bank 1 was also apparently self-discharging about .5 amps. I called LifeLine and asked about using a 6amp AC charger (from shore power). They said it would be fine. I went to the local "Dick Smith" store and bought the charger. 24 hours later, bank 1 (at rest, no load voltage) is holding steady at 12.65 volts. It appears that the Link 20 is not working properly. You may re-call that it was not working when I first installed it. I sent it back to be repaired once; I don't plan on sending it back to Washington State a second time. If we just keep track of the "at rest" voltage, we'll be fine. This business of keeping track of the amp-hours isn't a reliable way of judging battery health.

I've also been working on the local vets web page. I'm on a steep (read frustrating) up-hill learning curve trying to add animations and rollovers. You know, those annoying pop-up messages and blinking stuff. My only real frustration is finally getting something to work, then forgetting how I did it! Maybe I really am too old for this stuff. My son Ben has been working on his own web page. He's collaborating with a friend to produce animated music videos.

Galah Cockatoo.

I have had time to try out the new telephoto lens on the Nikon digital camera. The Cockatoo picture came out blue, but thanks to PhotoShop, I was able to fix it. I really must read the directions for the camera someday.

That's all for this week. PS


Log for the week of February 24, 2002 Coff's Harbor, Australia by APW

Pretty quiet week here along the coast. The weather can't seem to make up its mind whether to be hot and sunny or cloudy and drizzly. Somehow it manages to do both at once. We made the decision to hold off on snazzing up Iwalani until the last month we are here. After waking up a few days ago to a deck covered in soot coughed out of a fishing boat engine, it seems pointless to get everything ship shape on the outside, too far in advance from our departure. I'm getting used to the inside of the boat so I haven't nagged Phil about the four-letter T-R-I-M word in over a year. I did come across the curved pieces of cherry while rifling through the aft lazarrete- it does seem a shame that no one else will see them... We did manage to strip all the cushions and pillows and get them to a dry cleaner, and I've gone Rambo armed with a scrubby and bleach on a few lockers. But pretty much we've either been working on WebPages, (not necessarily ours,) writing, and sitting on hold on the telephone while we try to organize our over-land excursions. I must clarify something that Phil wrote last week- he said I had never been camping before. That's not exactly true, I've spent plenty of nights in tents, but it's always been on land owned by my family. He said that doesn't count.

One night while Phil was going to the bathroom I was sitting below writing. All of a sudden the lights went off and then came back on flickering, a few seconds later. I thought Phil was outside fiddling with the power supply to the boat and started to yell out at him to quit monkeying around. He came back on board and said the power went out across the town. The end result was that our Australian made transformer (Harbuck Electronics Hornsby NSW (61)-(02)-9476-5854) was dead. Phil's nirvana and the marina rat lifestyle had the power cord pulled. I called Harbucks and they said there were no electricians worth their salt who could repair the unit in Coff's Harbor. The next morning we packed up the transformer and made the six-hour drive down to Sydney, again. We arrived just before the shops closing time, but one of the fellows stayed long enough to open it up and report that the ceramic resister had exploded. "Lightening" he said which seemed odd as it had been a clear night over us. He replaced the resister and didn't charge us anything, which was very nice of him. He also said that they rarely have problems with these transformers, but that we should probably get a surge protector to prevent this from happening in the future.


Phil and I had been prepared to spend the night down there, but decided to return home that evening. After driving the whole way down, Phil began driving on the return trip with me writing. We switched half way and I drove the last three hours. It was a nerve wracking experience as the highway periodically reverts to a two way single lane rutted road, with huge "lorries" that like to drive 130 K downhill and 75 K uphill, passing you like you don't even exist. The outside white line has grooves cut into it, which make a low rumble if you stray too far to the left. Phil spent the better part of the drive back yelling at me for driving down the rumble strip. With oncoming trucks straying too far to the right, it seemed the much safer, though perhaps a tad noisier, route. I had been driving eyes glued to the road, both hands on the wheel, "Trying to stay between the lines" in order to avoid the spousal abuse coming from the left hand passenger seat, when I saw what looked like an angus bull lying in the road ahead. I swerved around it and back into the lane with no moment to hesitate. It was not a cow, but a big male Eastern Grey kangaroo, with a tree trunk for a tail. It's funny but I can't find any information on why it was black. Eastern Grey's are supposed to be a mousey color, weigh about 130 lbs. and stand about 5 feet tall. It was too dangerous once again to double back and investigate. It's just wickedly awesome to me, to be in a country where all the animals carry their young in pouches, where cockatoos are as common as crows, and koalas wander around suburban areas like lost tourists.

 Control-line flyer

Ever since we were half way to the Marquises and Phil watched countless hours of blue flat tedium float by, he has been lamenting the fact that he didn't bring any of his "toys" on Iwalani. It wasn't because we didn't have room, we just thought radio controlled helicopters, planes and control line planes, might not stand up very well to a marine environment. When we arrived in Australia Phil had to seek out the local hobbyists. Phil's friend Rick, from the U.S., emailed us the name of a man in Coff's Harbour who does a lot of competitive control line flying. Phil phoned him and we arranged to meet at his house. I tagged along because the game plan was to drive westward into the bush; any excuse to be out of the marina is ok by me. We met up with Dave and his flying mate Steve, and were treated to an afternoon aerial display. I'm afraid that the sound and smell of model airplanes only made Phil more anxious to get back to model flying.

Me on the other hand, my hobbies have always been food, food, growing food, cooking food, and eating food. So, because I don't have anything more to write, I thought I'd start writing some of my favorite recipes, stolen from restaurants around the world. 'Oh no'... I can hear all the male readers groaning, tough it up guys, this might actually be interesting, at least it's not poetry.

Iwalani's Smoked Salmon Egg's Benedict

I'm not sure how much of this I actually have to get into, so I will pretend that it is Stewart that's at the galley controls.


Enough for 2 Americans or 4 French people.

English muffins: 2 cut in half

Juice of 1 lemon

one half cup butter melted

Kettle of boiling water

1 package smoked salmon

4 egg yolks (save whites for later recipe down the road)

4 large eggs for poaching

-Toast 2 English muffins, spread with a touch of butter, or not if you are on a diet.

-Lay thin strips of salmon on muffins.

Make hollandaise sauce

This is no big deal Stew, boil water first, set kettle aside.

-take a small saucepan and using a wire whisk that fits the saucepan,

-whisk the 4 egg yolks, then turn heat to low.

-Keep whisking yolks, scraping all the little bits that fit in the nook of the saucepan, for ten seconds or so

-Add a bit of boiling water, a teaspoon or two, egg yolks should start to thicken

-Then add juice of 1 lemon, keep whisking, (yes that's right, ONE lemon, this is not one of those whimpy French sauces)

Add a teaspoon more of boiling water if things look a bit curdly

-Add the melted butter in a thin stream to thickened egg yolks, whisking all the time.

I don't usually add salt to hollandaise, I figure the cholesterol will kill you as it is.

Poach the four eggs.

This means crack them open (gently) into a pan of boiling water. I like mine done, i.e. no runny yolk, so that's about three minutes of poaching. Fish them out with a slotted spoon and place on top of the salmon fillets.

Cover all with hollandaise sauce.

Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika, cayenne pepper or parsley flakes. Stew likes Bonker's, but that to me, is a bit much.