Look, I know Jersey is small. 9 miles by 5 and I admit, I'd complain if the kids had a birthday party in the east of the island. I mean, it would take the best part of an hour if you took into consideration the 40 mph speed limit, the windy roads and rush hour.
And I knew that Cairns to Brisbane wasn't just a little jaunt. I think in total, the whole journey was going to be about 800nms, which would easily push us into our grand total of 20,000nms since Greece. BUT IT'S TAKING SO FREAKIN' LONG. Australia is SOOOO big! Even when we think about stopping over to break up the journey, we've come so far out (because the NE winds lasted 12 hours, then it was SE again) that it will take us 48 hours to get to any half decent anchorage.
Maybe my head wasn't into this particular trip. 800nms is nothing compared to some of our passages but I thought we'd just be island hopping our way south. For the past two days, our ETA in Brisbane has been showing 90 hours. Which was great two days ago, but just shows how slow we are going now that it hasn't changed!!
There have been some definite highlights of the trip....amazing sunrises and sunsets. A huge manta ray jumped out of the water chasing fish. A fleeting visit from dolphins. But due to the regular change in wind direction, we must have changed our course and plans about 5 times in the past 12 hours. So the latest, but don't quote me on this, is that we are heading to Bundaberg and going to then go inland of Fraser Island. And if anyone has any suggestions please feel free to fire away. All the information about passage planning I had researched and put on my ipad is not available without internet access. So if anyone knows any reason for us to go outside Fraser Island instead of inside, speak now or forever hold thy peace. All comments will be passed on to me via SSB.
When googling the Whitsundays, I saw that it was on the 'top ten sailing sites in the world' so it would be foolish not to have stopped off here, albeit briefly. I was interested to see that some of the other nine must-sail places were the Greek Islands, French Polynesia, the Bay of Islands, the Galápagos Islands, and I forget the others but that's not bad. However Mark reminded me of a quote we saw on a sailing forum on the Internet.....'world cruising.......fixing your boat in exotic locations.' Oh, how we laughed. Actually, I don't think Mark was laughing, he may have been crying. However, any cruiser will know that doing stuff to the boat is an ongoing project, and here in this exotic place, we have been servicing the heads, repairing the sailbag, re-roping the trampoline. None of them biggies, but all of them important so we can keep our little Pegasus in tip top condition.
By the way, the Whitsundays were lovely. Turquoise waters, white sandy beaches. A bit like the Greek islands, French Polynesia, the Bay of Islands. Come to think of it, Plemont on a sunny day. The only difference was that when Mark and the kids wanted to have a dip in the sea for a quick snorkel, it took them three quarters of an hour to get wetsuits, stinger suits, mitts, hoods, socks, snorkel and mask on. Maybe not like Plemont on the deadly jellyfish front.
We had a beautiful spinnaker sail down Westhaven beach and were all anchored ready for a quiet night's rest before setting off again. Alas, the scant Internet we managed to get showed us that the northerly winds we enjoyed today were only going to be around for another 24 hours, so we raised the hook and set off again, southbound for as long as the wind will take us, or we run out of provisions. At the speed we are doing at the moment it might not take us very long.....7 knots, lovely jubbly. Fish catching speed, methinks. Excuse me whilst I get Lochy's lucky lure ready.
I should perhaps follow up by saying that Mia was absolutely fine the next day and doesn't show any signs of confusion other than what is normal! I had to reassure the nurse that Mia not knowing what day of the week was normal!!
Well, we haven't dragged, which is always a relief! But we have been in a townsville longer than we intended, seeing more of the Townsville amenities than we might have liked! The kids have enjoyed almost full days at the swimming baths here, and have been happy to have a break for the odd bit of maths or postcard writing, but they've had such little opportunity to actually swim these past few weeks, that we've been happy for them to have some down time from school.
We were disappointed that the water park was cleaned for its weekly clean the day we went to visit but returned the next day for a fun filled afternoon. I think we were all pretty delighted that the winds were a little too strong on the nose for us to want to attempt the next leg (we've taken to enjoying sailing rather than enduring it, so have become more reluctant to go out in 25 knots from the South East. Back to the swimming baths again whilst Mark cracked on with the saloon cushions. We also enjoyed a full days visit to the Queensland Tropical Museum. A repeat visit to the water park and everyone was having great fun until Mia slipped and banged her head. Unfortunately no one saw what happened, but when I went to get her up, she seemed really dazed and confused. She still doesn't remember what happened. After a few minutes she seemed a bit better except for a cracking headache, so I thought the best thing to do was to get back to the boat where she could have a cold drink of water and a lie down. We'd had a busy day after all. When we got home though, she got worse and worse, still complaining of a headache and then throwing up. After a chat to the a and e nurse, we decided to take her back to land and head to the emergency department. By the time we had arrived, poor Mia had been sick another four times which put her in the category for having a CT scan. Thankfully, all was well, Mia pretty much slept through the whole four hours at the hospital after being given an antiemetic which knocked her out more than the bang on the head. There was no blood or stitches. In fact, we couldn't even tell where she had hit her head. I'm glad though that we went and had her checked out. And the emergency staff didn't make me out to be a paranoid mother which is a lasting memory of my only visit to a and e in Jersey when Mia was a couple of months old! Two visits to a and e in 9 years isn't that bad.
I think it's time to get back out to sea. It's a dangerous place on land.
I really enjoyed our sail from Ellison Reef down to Townsville. It was one of those rare sails, where the wind was just the right windiness, the swell was nearly negligible and the sun was shining the whole time. OK, so the wind was a little further forward than we would have liked, but it was a beautiful sail. I know I am harping on about it, but do you know how many days of perfect sailing you get when you are going round the world. I'm sure the vast majority of world cruisers would agree with me that it's difficult to get perfect weather conditions. Too strong or motoring seems to sum up our sailing experiences. Look back over the blog and I am sure "a beautiful day's sail" doesn't come up as much as no wind, read as "but at least we got some important jobs done" (always the positive spin!) or too much wind, read as "bumpety bumpety bump" or "Pegasus was really galloping today" as opposed to "terrible swell, strong winds leave us all throwing up and wishing we were on land."
We arrived in Townsville after a little detour, when I noticed no entry symbols all over the chart where our intended route was. A call to Townsville coastguard confirmed, yes, the military would be using that area today for low flying shooting practice, so I'm quite glad we radioed them! A couple of hours detour but we still made it by sunset, being advised by another boat at anchor to put out all the chain we've got and expect to drag. Great! Another Cairns re-run. 100 metres of chain in 1.5m of water did seem a little excessive, but we have got out 40m. And with the anchor watch set on our computer (thanks Pete for showing us introducing us to that 2 years in to our trip!!) we haven't dragged overnight. I just have to remember to clear the anchor watch now before we leave as it gets quite noisy when we sail out of it and I haven't worked out how to clear it without crashing the programme! We'll be here a couple of days and then moving on towards the Whitsundays and Brisbane. 200Nms down 600 or so to go!!
I can't believe we have been in Cairns so long. We've really loved our time there, but it's time to move on. Things we will miss about Cairns;
-the free fitness classes; from yoga to volleyball, from pilates to bootcamp, we tried just about all of them and enjoyed them all too. A huge thumbs up to the Cairns city council for an amazing initiative that has so many takers.
-the lagoon. The kids because they will miss cooling off free from jellies and crocs, the parents because they probably won't get such eye candy for a while, with all the young fit backpackers in various states of skimpy swimsuits!
-the library. We loved Cairns library. We have probably never read so much in a 6 week period, visiting almost daily for book renewal and sanity renewal in the air conditioning as summer kicks in.
-the marina (especially the showers!!) and the other marina dwellers. Especially Meg and Dave from Karma. I think I've mentioned them already but they made our stay in Cairns so worthwhile, so a huge goodbye to them :-(
-the visits from other boatie friends, Luna and Samba. Such a joy to meet up with some boat families after a long period of not seeing them. A mutual understanding of why we are doing this goes a long way sometimes....
- the eclipse. OK, so that didn't have much to do with Cairns except the fact that it happened here, Don't visit Cairns hoping to see an eclipse every day, but wow! A memorable experience.
-the free BBQs in the park. We became BBQ connoisseurs by the end, making bread, stir fries, you name it. It was great not to have to rush back to the boat for dinner each night.
-the 80c icecreams at MacDonalds introduced to us by Luna. Why didn't we know about this before?!
-dinghy sailing for the kids. A Saturday treat, well for Mia anyway. Lochy suffered under duress!
So you can see now why it was hard to leave. But leave we have. No northerly winds to speak of, but we enjoyed a motor sail round the corner to Fitzroy Is, then on to Kent Is and now we are on an overnighter to Townsville, enjoying a close reach and not having had our engines on all day. We first motored out to Ellison Reef so we could test drive our new stinger suits that we bought in Cairns. Not the best reef in the world, but we still got to see a white tipped reef shark and a plethora of fish, beche de mer and truly giant clams.
It's back to sailmail for the time being as we are out of signal on the phone/internet. I wonder if I will remember how to do it!!