Before and after, spot the difference

Dick and Irene Craig
Sat 24 Jul 2010 07:41
The crossing from Vanuatu to Queensland was a little like going back to northern Europe, as far as the weather is concerned We have been experiencing cloud, rain, squalls, strong winds with lumpy, moderate seas making it necessary for us to wear not just our wet-weather gear but also a middle layer as well as balaclavas. Day six, the sun shone and made us all feel so much better.
One morning I had risen at 5.30 having woken quite naturally. When the sea is big and noisy, its not easy to sleep very well. Also, by the time one has donned all the clothes for the watch, it is almost 6am and time to go on duty. I had hardly managed to get to the flybridge and sit down to discuss the handover when WHOOSH! A huge wave broke over the flybridge and soaked us.
We really do miss not using the parasailors. Sailing downwind with wind strength 20-30 knots, it is a struggle with just a mainsail and genoa. The wind is very variable and we are constantly adjusting our course to keep us in the right direction. This isn't really a big deal as we just turn a knob on the autopilot and it adjusts the angle on which we are "sailing to wind".
It has been getting light around 6.30 and although dawn is a little earlier it isn't really light before 7am. The day is not long as it is gets dark about 7pm.
Last night Bev and I saw a green flash as the sun set over the horizon. We were expecting it to happen as there wasn't a cloud nearby and the sun was very bright, right up until the moment it disappeared.
Having seen very few ships on this trip, yesterday Bev had a conversation with the pilot of a tanker which passed us by. He had, at Bev's request, changed his course in order to give us sea room. Today, before 9am, Wednesday 21st July, our 7th day at sea, we saw three huge ships within four miles of us, one passed in front of us, the other two passed behind us.
We are eating like there is no tomorrow as we attempt to consume all the meat, dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Rather than throw away an unopened jar of jolly expensive honey, I used it to make fruit and nut caramel. I also added more fruit and nuts to the muesli but there is no way we can consume all the dried apricots, raisins, sultanas, almonds, hazel nuts and peanuts.
It is incredible how many recipes one can utilize without actually using any of the stated ingredients, in order to use up produce that we will not be able to take into Australia. Amazingly, the result has so far been great.
One evening at dusk, after we had been at sea for 5 or 6 days, a large black bird kept flying in front of the foresail, obviously fascinated by the air flow altered by the sail, reminiscent of those birds we encountered in the Tuomotus, a lifetime ago.
At 2 minutes to 5pm on the 21st, the wind suddenly increased from 17-20knots to 22-33knots and the sea became moderate. This was how it stayed until we reached the pass through the Great Barrier Reef and into Hydrographers passage. The discomfort then became greater as we made our way southwards into headwinds with a current of up to 5.6knots against us. About 8pm we turned about 30º to the west and were able to sail on a close reach, finally entering the marina at Mackay and tying up alongside just after 7.30am.
What a trip and to make matters worse, it feels really cold, only 19º at 8.30am. I understand that it is winter in Australia but I never thought that it actually got cold in Queensland but then I never realized that you can ski in the Victoria Mountains here either.
Its not usually like this, apparently the cold weather is due to the southerly winds which usually tend to blow only in the summer months. That's what they all say!
The Customs and Quarantine inspection was not as daunting as had been expected. First of all, there was no dog in dainty shoes though had we been planning to stay in Australian waters for over a year then there would have been a dog aboard to sniff out potential termites. It seems that we have an excessive amount of wooden fixtures on our boat. Other than that non-event, I had selected only two of our enormous stock as being prescription drugs and they were locked in the safe so that took the pressure off the rest of the medicines.
I had overlooked a pork chop so that was confiscated as was a frozen, home-made fish pie because of the cheese content. Also taken was a 500g unopened packet of almonds as well as an unopened jar of mayonnaise.
The officials checked out by telephone, whether the packets of sardines, tuna and mixed fish and were permitted to remain on board.
I had made a shepherds pie for lunch, to be served with carrots and christophenes, expecting to arrive later in the morning than we did. This had to be consumed while the quarantine officials were still on board so we ate lunch soon after 11am. Amazingly, the four of us consumed the lot but we had been up since before we went to bed and what little sleep we managed to get was quite minimal due to the excessive noise and discomfort sailing through such strong winds and big seas.
Dick went ashore and returned with a huge cardboard box containing gigantic rubber compensators sent from Sweden by Forsheda, to replace those which were defective.
He had also collected the mast fitting sent by Lagoon, so that once the parasailors, which went to the sailmakers this morning, have been repaired, we will be back in business.
That night was barbecue night at the yacht club and most of the participants that had arrived in Mackay, attended. A great night was enjoyed by all.
Saturday afternoon I went to the hairdressers to have my hair cut and highlighted. It is a year since I was last in a hair salon. The advert in the pack provided by the marina had stated that a special offer was available to us. Imagine my surprise when having checked the price on arrival, I found that the cost had increased by 375% on that advertised. I canceled the appointment. I had planned to provide photos of before and after my visit.

JPEG image