Thank God for Stabilisers!

Thu 29 Apr 2010 04:34

2309.61S 15057.169E

Now that we've crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, I guess it's time for our first blog of the season. We're not quite sure how long this season will be, given that that our destination is Thailand via Darwin, Indonesia and Malaysia.
We are due depart Darwin with the Sail Indonesia Rally on 24 July, and in many ways the most daunting part of the trip is getting to Darwin. Once we reach the Banda Islands in Indonesia (previously the Dutch Spice Islands) the distances become quite manageable.

Although it's only 10 days since we left Oceanus Marina next to the Mirage at the Gold Coast, we are already at Great Keppel Island where many years ago we sheltered for three days from a nasty southerly blow--memorable because our dinghy overturned leaving us with an outboard motor that never recovered from its dunking.

On leaving the Gold Coast we were very anxious to see what difference our newly fitted stabilisers would make--and the improvement is dramatic, with the horrible rolling in a rough sea now eliminated. We're also delighted with the clear windows we've had installed on the top deck which cut out the wind and rain. John was finally nagged into fitting insect screens that mean we really can hunker down at dusk with a gin and tonic unmolested by the invasions of sand flies and mosquitoes that ruin many anchorages.

One of the highlights of the trip so far has been catching up with old friends along the way. John spent several days staying with Jim and Rosemary Macfarlane while the stabilisers were being fitted at Gold Coast City Marina, then we took a trip up to Binna Burra Lodge with Michael and Jackie from Lady Kaye, and Anne and Don from Harmonie. A few days later we arrived at Mooloolaba where we were greeted by a welcoming committee of friends and neighbours of Barry and Robyn Costa whose riverside dock we tied up to. We first met the Costas in Gibraltar on their catamaran, Shamara, and we spent many enjoyable times with them from the Canaries to Vanuatu. We had some great times with the Costas and their many friends, including some jeunes filles from France who joined us for a breakfast of crepes one morning. We all took a trip to the famous Spirit House at Yandina near Buderim which is one of the loveliest restaurants we have ever been to. We were amazed to see how that whole Mooloolaba-Buderim area has grown since we were last there--I guess about 10 years ago.

As we travel north we are reading the journals of Cook and Flinders and marvelling at their skill in navigating these waters which are plagued with shoals, reefs and huge tidal flows. We are also trying to get our minds around stone fish, box jellyfish and saltwater crocs. We're off for a walk with Anne and Don who are anchored beside us, and believe me, we will all be wearing shoes as we get in and out of their dinghy.
1. John and Sue looking suitably grim for a picture in
the Gold Coast Bulletin for an article following up a letter
we wrote complaining about the lack of dredging in the channels between
Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

2. Jackie and Sue at Binna Burra in the Gold Coast hinterland.

3. Les jeunes filles francaises.

4. Harmonie in the Great Sandy Straits

5. Crayfish in a stream at Binna Burra. The first of many creepy crwlies
to freak out our English and American friends.