Itchy feet is a terminal condition

12 November 2014 | Mooloolaba, Queensland
27 July 2014 | Vava'u Tonga
27 July 2014 | Vava'u Tonga
30 June 2014 | Nuku'alofa, Tonga
24 May 2014 | Tahiti
16 April 2014
15 April 2014
10 April 2014
06 April 2014
17 March 2014 | Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos.
13 January 2014 | East Lemon Cays, San Blas, Panama
27 December 2013 | San Andres, Columbia
25 December 2013 | San Andres, Columbia
26 October 2013 | San Blas, Panama
21 October 2013 | Portobello, Panama
12 October 2013 | Back at Turtle Cay
04 October 2013 | Gree Island, San Blas
25 September 2013 | Turtle Cay, Panama
25 August 2013 | Turtle Cay, Panama

Ooroo to Ooroo

12 November 2014 | Mooloolaba, Queensland
Grandpa
I have been requested to write a last blog. The ooroo to Ooroo blog. The one where "that big fish" "the awesome passage" and "the great people" are spoken about in a past tense.

So anyway, I was online the other day and zeroed in on a Frontaine Pajot Salina 48 in the Med. It just may fit our budget and certainly fits where we want to be in a year. Jules and I should be house and kid free and can go sailing again....but this time with the intension of eventually setting up home (and maybe business) in the Caribbean (maybe Panama).

While looking forward with excitement....I will just this once multi-task by summarising the immediate past.

I had a wonderful time in Port Vila with old mates, Terry and Charmaine. The sail to Oz was a perfectly fitting end....lovely wind, phosphorescence and a couple of good mates on board.

Customs and Immigrating into Bundaberg was a breeze.

My golf game has not improved, my mates appear to be in the exact the same condition I left them in several years ago. I haven't forgotten how to mow a lawn, walk a dog or put the garbage out.

Did you know that one in 11 people employed in Australia are employed to manage " compliance"? So needless to say, we still have more rules and "do this" and "don't do that" signs than anywhere I have had the pleasure to visit. I'm struggling to comply.

I became a grandpa, had a 50th birthday and serviced my chainsaw.
Ooroo, being the wonderful boat she is attracted the eye of a great couple who snapped her up and moved straight on board.

And the kids..... My son, Oli met my lovely new daughter in law Jen when we went out celebrating the purchase of Ooroo in Saint Augustine, Florida. They had a wonderful home birth, with little Luca landing on planet earth on the day Ooroo sold. My daughter Charlotte and her partner Luke are travelling in Australia at the moment but have the intention of living back in the UK or Malta in a year. Jules daughter Sarah will finish school in a year.....and will go travelling in Italy and Eastern Europe. Her son, Tom is chasing a girl who has a scholarship in a Chicago College. All but Tom spent more than 6 months on Ooroo. Adopted son and 8 month crew member, Jeff is completing his dive instructors in Thailand. There is a very good chance that we will have four kids in four different countries. So a floating home is probably the ideal family home. And I won't need my chainsaw.

Many of our sailing mates have drifted into Australia over the past month. We are lucky to have the Swiss family from "Dragonfly ANJU" moving into our downstairs apartment for a few months. We had a lovely few days with "Tulu". Im looking forward to seeing a few other mates as they sail past. I may actually have to drive to see some others.

I am becoming a EBay groupie, having accumulated too much stuff over the years. There will be no room for storage when we finally leave. Nothing will slow us down.....except the lack of wind.

It took me so long to write this last blog because I didn't want there to be a "last". This is a final paragraph in the first edition. Stay tuned for "The Adventures of Ooroo Two"

Kingdom Come

27 July 2014 | Vava'u Tonga
Tonga is refreshingly different. It is the Southern Hemispheres only Kingdom were He-She's can blend in with community as one and churches outnumber convenience stores. Where tourists are expected not to flaunt their bikinis clad bodies and yachties not to fix their boats on a Sunday. It's a proud nation, having never been colonised but one that has colonised many far flung nations itself.
Captain Cook called Tonga the friendly Isles and so it should remain.
We arrived in the Southern Group of Islands, Tongatapu (Nuku' alofa) on a Saturday knowing that we couldn't check in until Monday . We had family coming and didn't want to leave anything to chance. We anchor off Big Mummas Bar (Pangaimotu Island), a mile away to wait. Legally we are not allowed to go ashore. Try telling that three thirsty sailors after a challenging seven days at sea. "We are anchored off a bar, its a Saturday, lets go".
And so Big Mummas' became our base for the next two weeks. Big Mumma and family became our friends to the point where we took her adult kids for their first ever sail and Big Mumma cracked a bottle of French Champaign...a gift from the Queen no less, for Jules' birthday. We played darts with one dart and volleyball with no rules. Big Mummas is all about having no rules...its one of the only places that you can get a beer on Sunday....so we backed up a big Saturday with an even bigger Sunday. The family where the highlight of Sarah and Tahli's school holidays, that was otherwise shrouded in rain and high winds.
The Check In.
Slightly hung over we weighed anchor Monday at 9am, hoisted the quarantine flag and motored to the customs dock. Too late. Two yachts had already squeezed onto the dock leaving us to drop anchor just off the harbour entrance (it's a very small harbour). We called the harbour master as required... twice. So had the other vessels on the dock...no answer.
Leaving Jeff on board, Jules and I headed in to see what's up. Nothing it seemed. I radioed the harbour master again at 10am and told him we had three boats checking in....his response "you should have called sooner to let me know" Three Captains in unison rolled their eyes. A big smiling chap with a fluro shirt saying "Australian Customs" arrives 20 minutes later. Nimble , not being the word, he clambers on the first yacht, accepts a coffee and then spills it all over the newly filled out customs forms. His only set. Back to the office with him. I did however ask him to bring extras as there are three yachts here?
When Customs boarded the second yacht I asked for a set of docs so that we could get a head start filling them in...always thinking I am. I asked whether I had to come to the dock he said yes because Health, Immigration and Quarantine all have to inspect the boat.
Two beautiful women turned up, complete with a driver. Both mid twenties, black pencil skirts down to their ankles, bright smiles. Fittingly they were "Health". Boarding a boat in that gear may change my assumption. I offered to take them to mine in the dingy now floundering 1.5meters below the dock. I pointed, they smiled and handed me the forms collected $100 panga ($65) and with that we all passed our health exam. Immigration arrived. He also had a skirt....a traditional one this time around. I did the same pointing and he handed me the forms and we filled then out on the bonnet of his wagon. When it came to filling in Jeff's, he allowed us to sign him into Tonga, sight unseen. Passports now stamped all we had to do was get a copy of the docs from his office latter that day.
Quarantine arrived. I pointed again at the dingy and then Ooroo. Low and behold she said yes...then thinking, screwed up her face and then just handed me a form. It cost us another $20 panga and with that she took away our garbage.
Three hours later the two other yachts departed, leaving Jules and I on the dock still without Customs having cleared us in. I radioed him and despite my best efforts to do otherwise I had to bring Ooroo to the dock. He boarded. Forgetting myself I offered coffee and then passed on the neatly filled out forms which he without checking , put them in his bag saying "come and get them before you depart to Vava'u". Then he sat, drank his coffee slowly in silence, smiled and left.
NOTE. The other boats did have a cursory quarantine inspection below. The girls in the pencil skits managed to board those vessels quite elegantly. The docs where indeed waiting at Immigration when we wondered pass latter in the day and the Customs guy did hand us back the forms before we departed to Vava'u but not before we paid 49.68 panga in fees to the Harbour master (this included stern too anchoring in the harbour for a month.. we tied up there for a few days).
Still at the dock and still being a thinker I asked a taxi driver the price of a pickup as Sarah and Tahli arrived early the next morning . Ninety panga was quoted. I said I will get a hire car. With that said he rented me his taxi for two days at 90 panga a day. Words of caution where added "this taxi is my life, without it my family will die". Thank goodness all I broke was his radio. Most of everything else didn't work anyway.
So we explored the island via the taxi stopping at beautiful caves and monuments to Captain Cook and Able Tasman. We saw some whales breach out to sea. Nuku' alofa itself was a sleepy town that came alive for the Kings Birthday. Chinese owned hole in the wall shops and bars made a killing that night. Everyone was decked out in Flashing LED crowns, glow sticks and thousands of other variations of battery driven sparkly things. And all they seemed to do was attract a growing number of drunken blokes to Sarah and Tahli and the He-She's to Jeff.
After two weeks, the girls left and we sailed to Vava'u. A place that is up there with San Blas and the Bahamas in the cruising and beauty stakes. Once again arriving on a Saturday we had to hang on another island to await office hours in Neiafu. But whales kept us company. We were lucky enough to see two adults breach in unison at our bow and then tail and fin slap to their and our hearts content.
We renewed our friendship with Dragonfly ANJU and are ensured that they will be one of our first cruising guests to come visit us when home in Mooloolaba. It was also Jeff's birthday. We spent it seeing the island in Go Karts. With Jules laughing uncontrollable as she steered into muddy pot holes and Jeff barely surviving the spray. Then thanks to Laurie at the Bounty Bar and his free vodka shots and homemade rum, Jeff managed to fall out of the dingy twice on the way back to the boat.
I could live here.
The Check Out
Being a thinker we docked at the wharf on a Monday afternoon for a Tuesday check out. Don't do it. It was loud. Boat builders and fisherman went about their business until midnight. At nine we went to customs and found the guy quite cold. He slowly thawed as we chatted about our wonderful stay, filled out documents and got our duty free fuel order. Then our instructions were.. 1, Go to the harbour master and pay your fees. 2, Go to Immigration, 3, get your fuel (which I had booked to be delivered by tanker to the dock) and 4, come back to Customs for your final Clearance certificate. Unfortunately no pretty girls from Heath this time around.
The Customs guy is now fully thawed (or recovered from a night on the Kava) explained where the Harbour Masters office is. "You leave the Harbour (I scratch my head), Head to town, turn left at the Westpac Bank, head out of town ( I scratch again) go about four streets up and turn right....It somewhere around there?" Then he said "You're not going to walk it are you?...do you want a taxi"
Yes please. So he yelled some instructions to the office, walked us through a gate to a beat up old car that had taxi written on it in dripping pink spray paint. To our surprise he jumped into the driver's seat and it actually started. Once in the country side we talked about fishing and his up and coming pension, that his boss was Australian and again about fishing. We arrived at what looked like a lock up for heavy machinery. Inside was ram shackle office that was actually the Ports Authority. Not a boat or the sea in view....which is a hard thing to find on such a small Island. Knowing exactly why we came (the taxi was the giveaway), a large woman sat down without a word and started smacking the calculator. What took a minute to add up was to my relief only a bill for Harbour Dues and Tax 5.18 panga. With the taxi engine still working we headed to town and Immigration. I paid the Customs guy 10 panga for the ride, shook hands like long lost buddies and walked into an large office with a beautiful view of the harbour. And with room for the Ports Authority should they wish to share. A man in a skirt stamped our passports including Jeff's who again wasn't present (we could have dumped him at sea and gotten away with it). Back at the dock we refuelled, and armed with the fuel receipt finally got customs clearance to head to Fiji.
But we didn't leave. We squeezed in one more day at one more bay.

Kingdom Come

27 July 2014 | Vava'u Tonga
Richard
Tonga is refreshingly different. It is the Southern Hemispheres only Kingdom were He-She's can blend in with community as one and churches outnumber convenience stores. Where tourists are expected not to flaunt their bikinis clad bodies and yachties not to fix their boats on a Sunday. It's a proud nation, having never been colonised but one that has colonised many far flung nations itself.
Captain Cook called Tonga the friendly Isles and so it should remain.
We arrived in the Southern Group of Islands, Tongatapu (Nuku' alofa) on a Saturday knowing that we couldn't check in until Monday . We had family coming and didn't want to leave anything to chance. We anchor off Big Mummas Bar (Pangaimotu Island), a mile away to wait. Legally we are not allowed to go ashore. Try telling that three thirsty sailors after a challenging seven days at sea. "We are anchored off a bar, its a Saturday, lets go".
And so Big Mummas' became our base for the next two weeks. Big Mumma and family became our friends to the point where we took her adult kids for their first ever sail and Big Mumma cracked a bottle of French Champaign...a gift from the Queen no less, for Jules' birthday. We played darts with one dart and volleyball with no rules. Big Mummas is all about having no rules...its one of the only places that you can get a beer on Sunday....so we backed up a big Saturday with an even bigger Sunday. The family where the highlight of Sarah and Tahli's school holidays, that was otherwise shrouded in rain and high winds.
The Check In.
Slightly hung over we weighed anchor Monday at 9am, hoisted the quarantine flag and motored to the customs dock. Too late. Two yachts had already squeezed onto the dock leaving us to drop anchor just off the harbour entrance (it's a very small harbour). We called the harbour master as required... twice. So had the other vessels on the dock...no answer.
Leaving Jeff on board, Jules and I headed in to see what's up. Nothing it seemed. I radioed the harbour master again at 10am and told him we had three boats checking in....his response "you should have called sooner to let me know" Three Captains in unison rolled their eyes. A big smiling chap with a fluro shirt saying "Australian Customs" arrives 20 minutes later. Nimble , not being the word, he clambers on the first yacht, accepts a coffee and then spills it all over the newly filled out customs forms. His only set. Back to the office with him. I did however ask him to bring extras as there are three yachts here?
When Customs boarded the second yacht I asked for a set of docs so that we could get a head start filling them in...always thinking I am. I asked whether I had to come to the dock he said yes because Health, Immigration and Quarantine all have to inspect the boat.
Two beautiful women turned up, complete with a driver. Both mid twenties, black pencil skirts down to their ankles, bright smiles. Fittingly they were "Health". Boarding a boat in that gear may change my assumption. I offered to take them to mine in the dingy now floundering 1.5meters below the dock. I pointed, they smiled and handed me the forms collected $100 panga ($65) and with that we all passed our health exam. Immigration arrived. He also had a skirt....a traditional one this time around. I did the same pointing and he handed me the forms and we filled then out on the bonnet of his wagon. When it came to filling in Jeff's, he allowed us to sign him into Tonga, sight unseen. Passports now stamped all we had to do was get a copy of the docs from his office latter that day.
Quarantine arrived. I pointed again at the dingy and then Ooroo. Low and behold she said yes...then thinking, screwed up her face and then just handed me a form. It cost us another $20 panga and with that she took away our garbage.
Three hours later the two other yachts departed, leaving Jules and I on the dock still without Customs having cleared us in. I radioed him and despite my best efforts to do otherwise I had to bring Ooroo to the dock. He boarded. Forgetting myself I offered coffee and then passed on the neatly filled out forms which he without checking , put them in his bag saying "come and get them before you depart to Vava'u". Then he sat, drank his coffee slowly in silence, smiled and left.
NOTE. The other boats did have a cursory quarantine inspection below. The girls in the pencil skits managed to board those vessels quite elegantly. The docs where indeed waiting at Immigration when we wondered pass latter in the day and the Customs guy did hand us back the forms before we departed to Vava'u but not before we paid 49.68 panga in fees to the Harbour master (this included stern too anchoring in the harbour for a month.. we tied up there for a few days).
Still at the dock and still being a thinker I asked a taxi driver the price of a pickup as Sarah and Tahli arrived early the next morning . Ninety panga was quoted. I said I will get a hire car. With that said he rented me his taxi for two days at 90 panga a day. Words of caution where added "this taxi is my life, without it my family will die". Thank goodness all I broke was his radio. Most of everything else didn't work anyway.
So we explored the island via the taxi stopping at beautiful caves and monuments to Captain Cook and Able Tasman. We saw some whales breach out to sea. Nuku' alofa itself was a sleepy town that came alive for the Kings Birthday. Chinese owned hole in the wall shops and bars made a killing that night. Everyone was decked out in Flashing LED crowns, glow sticks and thousands of other variations of battery driven sparkly things. And all they seemed to do was attract a growing number of drunken blokes to Sarah and Tahli and the He-She's to Jeff.
After two weeks, the girls left and we sailed to Vava'u. A place that is up there with San Blas and the Bahamas in the cruising and beauty stakes. Once again arriving on a Saturday we had to hang on another island to await office hours in Neiafu. But whales kept us company. We were lucky enough to see two adults breach in unison at our bow and then tail and fin slap to their and our hearts content.
We renewed our friendship with Dragonfly ANJU and are ensured that they will be one of our first cruising guests to come visit us when home in Mooloolaba. It was also Jeff's birthday. We spent it seeing the island in Go Karts. With Jules laughing uncontrollable as she steered into muddy pot holes and Jeff barely surviving the spray. Then thanks to Laurie at the Bounty Bar and his free vodka shots and homemade rum, Jeff managed to fall out of the dingy twice on the way back to the boat.
I could live here.
The Check Out
Being a thinker we docked at the wharf on a Monday afternoon for a Tuesday check out. Don't do it. It was loud. Boat builders and fisherman went about their business until midnight. At nine we went to customs and found the guy quite cold. He slowly thawed as we chatted about our wonderful stay, filled out documents and got our duty free fuel order. Then our instructions were.. 1, Go to the harbour master and pay your fees. 2, Go to Immigration, 3, get your fuel (which I had booked to be delivered by tanker to the dock) and 4, come back to Customs for your final Clearance certificate. Unfortunately no pretty girls from Heath this time around.
The Customs guy is now fully thawed (or recovered from a night on the Kava) explained where the Harbour Masters office is. "You leave the Harbour (I scratch my head), Head to town, turn left at the Westpac Bank, head out of town ( I scratch again) go about four streets up and turn right....It somewhere around there?" Then he said "You're not going to walk it are you?...do you want a taxi"
Yes please. So he yelled some instructions to the office, walked us through a gate to a beat up old car that had taxi written on it in dripping pink spray paint. To our surprise he jumped into the driver's seat and it actually started. Once in the country side we talked about fishing and his up and coming pension, that his boss was Australian and again about fishing. We arrived at what looked like a lock up for heavy machinery. Inside was ram shackle office that was actually the Ports Authority. Not a boat or the sea in view....which is a hard thing to find on such a small Island. Knowing exactly why we came (the taxi was the giveaway), a large woman sat down without a word and started smacking the calculator. What took a minute to add up was to my relief only a bill for Harbour Dues and Tax 5.18 panga. With the taxi engine still working we headed to town and Immigration. I paid the Customs guy 10 panga for the ride, shook hands like long lost buddies and walked into an large office with a beautiful view of the harbour. And with room for the Ports Authority should they wish to share. A man in a skirt stamped our passports including Jeff's who again wasn't present (we could have dumped him at sea and gotten away with it). Back at the dock we refuelled, and armed with the fuel receipt finally got customs clearance to head to Fiji.
But we didn't leave. We squeezed in one more day at one more bay.

Best Kept Secret

30 June 2014 | Nuku'alofa, Tonga
colder than I can remember
A yachty on his second voyage across the Pacific enlightened me..."do you know what the best kept secret in Polynesia is?" said in his smoky old Australian accent. "Well let me tell you.....its the SHIT weather"
And he has a point. While the sail to Galapagos, the Marquesas and then to the Tuamotus was to my limited experience, perfect. Since then it's ranged from patchy to a bloody challenging.
Take right now for example. Jules is sick, Jeff's exhausted and I'm sitting here in the salon after about 2hrs sleep. I'm watching the first light of day illuminate six meter waves that are content on pushing Ooroo at speed in the wrong direction. Winds hit 44kts (that I noticed) and haven't gone below 30 since mid-night. Just prior to that we dropped the sails because we had NO wind. We now are motoring with "bare sticks"....I even had to take the bimini sides down and stow the cushions as all and sundry no longer seem to have that thing called gravity binding them to earth .
This is a cruisers life and so was not completely unexpected. We knew a weather system was passing south of us and that we should really be holed up in a Cook Islands bar watching Ooroo gently sway at anchor.
Let me fill you in about the last month first. We sailed into Tahiti with but a few whiffs of wind to be greeted by early morning surfers carving up the reef break that was our entrance to a protected lagoon. We anchored outside Marina Taine, a short bus ride from Papeete and so we soon took advantage of the largest town we will see this side of Oz. Of course we fixed stuff (fridge, traveller and windless), partied (with birthdays with both Outsider and Tulu) and made plans for the sail to Tonga to pick up Jules' daughter Sarah in a little over a month's time and with over 1500 miles of sea.
In sailing terms that means we now have to rush. So we choose Bora Bora and Aitutaki (Cook Islands) to spend most of our time. We loved Moorea, Huahini and Raiatea en-route to Bora Bora even though the weather was over cast and dare I say cold (25c is cold to me now). In Moorea we anchored close to a lagoon full of sharks and rays, spending hours swimming with them and even feeding them our dinner left over's. Jeff and I dove in Bora Bora seeing Grey, White Tip, Black Tip, Lemon and Nurse sharks. Jules and I dinned extravagantly, purchased pearls and anchored in glorious lagoons neighbouring bungalows costing a thousand dollars a night. Our view was 360 degrees...there's just 180. Spending money didn't make the sun want to shine.
I'm looking at the weather daily trying to manufacture a way forward. We are now in a weather zone called the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) that spreads from Tahiti to the Solomon Islands. It should be fairly benign in June and as such has frustrated me with low fluky winds. Every seven to ten days you can expect a front and use that to add a little speed and excitement to the trip.
The first front happened much like the one we are in now. Between Bora Bora and Aitutaki we limped along with 10 to 15 knots right on the bum. The front then started with some wispy rain, then the wind drops. On this occasion the front generated a satisfying 20 knot....which in seconds hit 40 and the rain bucketed down. It was back to 30 quite fast so instead of dropping all sails we triple reefed the main and head and sailed at a fast 10 knots the last 12 hrs to Aitutaki. This sail was topped off with us not being able to find the entrance into the atoll. We radioed the only yacht we could see inside "Dragonfly ANJU" who told us to look north were a clearly marked but very shallow channel sat. If we had believed both the Garman and Navionics charts we would have wrecked Ooroo on a reef. The channel was 300m from its charted position. We later saw the damage done to a previous boat that did hit the reef. We scrapped into the small harbour, backed Ooroo to shore Med style and with the assistance of our new Swiss mates on Dragonfly tied our stern lines to a coconut tree and the rusted hull of a barge. Beer time.
Jules liked Aitutaki more than Bora Bora. Its arguably as beautiful, very laid back and can be explored in just hours on a rented scooter....even in the rain. It doesn't have baguettes but nor does it have 1000 jet skis.
And that brings us to the here and now.
Our strategy was to call into Niue on the way to Tonga or at least stay as far north as Niue to allow the forecasted front to pass below us. The fickle winds and subsequent blow rules out a visit as we now only have 6 days to pick up Sarah. The winds are expected to die yet again and we are still three or four days away from Tonga.
The winds abated somewhat, sails went up after breakfast in 25 knots, seas stayed high. The sun came out along with the cushions and bimini sides. The foul weather gear is drying and Jeff and I have our shirts off....Jules is however still sick....so I'm not at this point sure if her shirt is on or off. That's another 'best kept secret" worth exposing.
PS The wind came back and blew 25-30 for another 24hrs and then stopped dead. It looks like we will be motoring across the Date Line into tomorrow.

Black Pearls and Atom Bombs

24 May 2014 | Tahiti
Outsider and Ooroo upped anchor from Ua Pou, leaving in our wake the majestic landscape of volcanic spires and craggy mountain tops that crown most islands in the Marquesas . Lush green turns to hazy blue as we sail at speed towards the Archipelago of Tuamotu, 450nm to our SW.
Our Marquesas anchorages have been challenging. Stern anchors, crowded anchorages, swells and fast moving water. It's all an education. We have been shadowed or have shadowed Outsider since we met on Australia day in San Blas four months and almost 6000nm ago. Its owners, Wendy and Ian organised that Australia day celebration and like us, hadn't socialised with many Aussie boats in the previous year or so. But from then onwards we have moved as a posse of about 10 boats. Some we haven't seen in a month. Others we seem to drop anchor abreast of, often...like Outsider.
We are in the heart of Polynesian heritage. The Marquesas were a launching pad for the discovery of Hawaii and Easter island...in canoes what's more. I can see how they had the strength to do it. We often watch as huge tattooed blokes scoot past us in their outrigger canoes sometimes yelling "Oro?" as they pass. They say it with a question mark that was explained when we discovered that our Ooroo evokes some confusion here. Their "Oro" is the "God of War".
Jules joined us here and Birthe left. Jeff and I have had a chance to do some diving.
But these relatively new islands lack the white sandy beaches we are now craving. The Tuamotu's are somewhat older volcanic islands that have sunk into the sea. Thus creating atolls of volcanic craters fringed by beaches and reefs. They have proved to be ideal for Black Pearl farming and atomic bomb testing. The craters are lagoons that are entered by narrow passages which must be entered and exited on the tidal change. We arrived at our first atoll, Takaroa 6 hours behind Outsider (and with a large Tuna onboard). By luck and not good management we hit the tide perfectly and so tied up behind Outsider on the town dock just as the tide started flowing at pace. Crystal clear water invited Jeff and I for a swim...one done by hanging on to Ooroo's swim steps to avoid being washed back out to sea. Four reef sharks effortlessly sat in the current right below us...a moray ell was hung with them.
Locals gathered to party this Sunday afternoon. Ian offered a few rum shots and before we knew it we had done some swift pearl for alcohol exchanges. Wendy and Jules were crowned with Pearl encrusted woven fascinators. Unfortunately the reward for all this frivolity was me catching a local trying to steal my fishing rods at one the next morning. I felt like a parent admonishing the thief by pointing to the dock like I would a kid to his bedroom , saying belligerently "off ".
That morning we waited for the tide to change so we could enter the lagoon. After a quick wonder around the small village, the purchase of fresh baguettes and a fortuitous meeting with pearl farmer Rick, we went in. We anchored stern to an awesome coral wall and swam and drank cold beer.
Who would have thought it, Rick invites us to come check out his farm. His instructions...follow the reef around the lagoon, avoid the bommies and pearl farms and drop your anchor when you see the Aussie flag?? Rick's girlfriend is from Byron Bay and she sells most of his pearls at the markets there. He has a daughter there, surfs there and if it wasn't for the Polynesian skin and slight French accent he would be as Aussie as Ian and I. His farm opens to the lagoon in front and the open ocean is his back yard. Apart from pearls he also cultivates figs, coconuts and a variety of exotic fruits that I had not heard of before. His office is a shack on the end of a jetty that also houses an aquarium stocked with shark, cod, remora etc.
Rick took Jeff, Ian and I spear fishing on a perfect reef, which is his equivalent to a trip to the shops. I shot 7 snapper and had a close encounters with three sharks looking for a free feed. I considered handing one of my fish to them as they were at arm's length....but figured that a lesson in taking food from the hands of a spearfisherman may be tempting fate somewhat.
Content with this new part of the world, we sail onwards, past some whales and dolphins to another atoll and another story.

The Invisible Midget

16 April 2014
All boats have them. Have you ever been walking across the deck when someone shoulders you in the side, sending you on a wild side stepping pirate jig....madly grabbing for a rail that doesn't exist? Or sworn blue murder when that well deserved cuppa gets smacked from underneath, upending it on the first dry clothes you have worn all day? Have you ever gone to stick your folk in the bolognese only to discover it's airborne and heading for the galley floor?
It's that bloody stowaway midget.
The one I hate most (and I'm sure its his hands down favourite) is when you reach for a tool....and it inexplicably rolls out of reach, you learn over further only to see it happen once again. Then when your most unbalanced, that sick little bastard sticks his hand in you back, sending you sprawling face first into the cockpit.
He moved my dingy once... and I wasn't in the mood for swim. He hid my reading glasses in the bilge, chucked my sunglasses overboard and dropped my tooth brush into the head. Once he even spilt my beer (god fucking forbid).
Have you ever had that one of a kind nut or bolt. Your day of fixing stuff is almost over...it's in your hand and your just about to insert it...then the little wanka smacks your elbow sending it into the darkest and dirtiest recesses of the engine room?
Of course you have.
Vessel Name: OOROO
Vessel Make/Model: Fontaine Pajot - Venezia 42
Hailing Port: Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia
Crew: Richard McLeod
About: Jules and Sarah Hunt.....mother and daughter. I have the job of makin sailors out of them while trying to do the same with myself.
Extra: My crew will be an ever changing structure. I'm the constant because I have time. Other than that I expect to have family, friends and hitchhikers to sail with me back home to Oz. yes....it will be a management and HR challenge.
OOROO's Photos - The Crew
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The Serengeti
Added 3 November 2011

Ooroo - see you latter

Who: Richard McLeod
Port: Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia