Fai Tira blog
Friday 15th October
On the way to Kupang 11:19.12S
Unsurprisingly, the leaving of Australia turned out to
feel like quite a significant event. When we arrived, all of six weeks ago, it
felt like a step back to a familiar culture and had all the modern Western
conveniences that most of us had grown up with and become accustomed to. However, it also
turned out to offer much more, and in such a wide variety.
It took quite a while just to get our minds around the
sheer scale of this place. For me it only became really apparent during the long
hours of my flight back from Sydney, across a time zone and vast open areas of
featureless arid wilderness, occasionally scarred by the straight red line of a
bush highway. Sometimes these torrid outback areas were just beyond the placid
but spectacular tree-lined mountainous ranges that fringed the coast, providing
many with a vast wild adventure playground right in their back
Our initial introduction to Australia, back in Mackay,
was low key and somewhat anti-climactic. However, our Whitsunday cruising was
often spectacular and it will always be difficult to forget the magical
Hinchinbrook Passage and its enchanting beauty.
All of the fantastic sailing and destinations were given
the added edge, perceived or otherwise, of the prospect of encountering some of
the spectacular and potentially dangerous wildlife (no, we didn’t go to any
Our main stopovers of Cairns, Port Douglas and Darwin,
were every bit as good as predicted and the cosmopolitan mixture of people
welcoming, friendly and funny; and
all the time that great Pom/Aussie rivalry was lurking just below the surface
(can’t wait to take home the Ashes).
Surprisingly, some of the sailing inside the Reef was
tough and Dee didn’t always have an easy time, but what we saw as we progressed
north more than made up for it. It’s difficult to do it complete justice,
but for us, that was Australia.
Big thanks from all on Fai Tira for a lot of
Now it was behind us and we were moving off into
unfamiliar territory again. And in a relatively short period would find
ourselves in a new and exciting continent, surrounded by people with entirely
different values, religions, needs and - in many cases - still suffering the
effects, and feeling the resentment of recent political turmoil, international
exploitation and violence. With many living, by most standards, lives dominated
by deprivation and poverty.
It would seem that European visitors are still a rarity,
generating quite a novelty value.
This is a stage of the trip that I’ve always looked
forward to. However, now that it’s arrived, I’m aware of a background sensation
displaying a slight sense of apprehension.
The last few days spent in Australia, following the
return from Sydney, were again hot and sultry (what a place of contrasts), and
included some fairly intense last minute journey preparation, admin and
I think that I’ve at last fixed the port side main
winch. We cleared out, got our passports stamped (beginning to look impressive
now), and at the same time acquired our Indonesian visas. Then finished it all
off with a trip to Woolworths (such fun)
We all ended up with our own agendas for our last few
hours in Darwin.
Jeremy was trying to include a few cultural visits in
his foray to locate some fuel cleaner,
Pete made provisions to eat at the Yacht Club, where he
eventually met up with J, and I, feeling financially flush with my last 46
dollars in my pocket, just had to pay a visit to the quirky deckchair cinema. It
was a film society venue showing some main stream, but mainly off-the-wall local
productions. Dee and I had walked there earlier in the week without actually
What a good choice it turned out to
A cosy and intimate atmosphere prevailed right from the
start, with a friendly and relaxed conversation with the receptionist in the
tiny kiosk. It continued inside with a cheap buffet meal eaten out of a small
plastic container, sat on plastic chairs at a plastic table in the company of
two affable visiting natives.
The auditorium consisted of lines of deckchairs linked
by concrete paths on gravel flooring in front of a gigantic screen with a roof
of sky. It was surrounded by trees and sat on the edge of the sea. I grabbed a
couple of cushions from the rapidly diminishing pile, threw them into a
conveniently positioned deckchair and settled down for an evening’s
entertainment to the accompaniment of lightning flashing away out at sea, huge
fruit bats leaving their roost for their night’s activity, flying insects, that
when caught up in reflected light looked like miniature shooting stars and the
occasional lost small marsupial scurrying as it ran across the screen. All this
combined with “Boy” an enchanting Kiwi film, having the effect of making it a
memorable last evening in Aus.
Our departure, the next day, was dictated by our
allocated lock passage time of 8.30am. It was a busy time with most of the BWR
boats leaving in the morning. The forecast for the next few days wasn’t good.
Light winds and the occasional squalls. Pretty soon we found ourselves as part
of a small convoy, with a token set of sails up, mostly motoring. And apart from
the predicted isolated squall, that’s just how it stayed, and with nothing
happening to disperse it, the convoy remained intact throughout the first
The hours of darkness were completely uneventful and the
peace, despite the overwhelming heat, provided the chance of at least some sleep
for all of us.
Most of the convoy were still in place as the light
filtered through to reveal the start of a day already gasping in the heat of the
early sun, and with the ominous stillness there was the promise of much more to
The promise fulfilled its potential and the day
sweltered with the boat gliding along under gentle engine power on flat mirrored
seas. Excitement was restricted, in the evening, to the arrival of what we think
was a Brown Booby, its white face looking like Marcel Marceau, seeking out a
spot for a night’s roost. Initially it plonked itself not feet away on the aft
deck before deciding that Pete and his camera were too near, heading for the safety of the bowsprit
where it spent the night.
That’s the journey so far then. We have had some dolphin
displays and stopped the boat to go for a swim, diving off the bow, swimming to
the stern and catching the buoyed lifeline, beautiful clear warm sea and not a
shark in sight!
Two days to Kupang now, looking forward to it,,,,,, I
Pete, John and