Sailing At Last

This is the tale of our journey to fulfill a passion of learning to sail and a dream to circumnavigate. Welcome Aboard At Last!

Profile of At Last and the Gorrell's

Who: Mark & Janet Gorrell
Port: Wickford, RI USA

Our Current Position

19 December 2013 | Westerly, RI
17 July 2013 | Mystic Shipyard, Mystic, CT
14 June 2013 | Summit North Marina, Bear, Delaware
04 June 2013 | Point Lookout Marina, Ridge, Maryland
21 May 2013 | Dunedin Municipal Marina, Dunedin, Florida
05 May 2013 | Bahia Mar Yachting Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
27 April 2013 | 22 56.8'N:073 02.0'W, Nearing the Exumas & Bahamas
23 April 2013 | 18 25'N:064 50'W, The BVI
13 April 2013 | Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
08 April 2013 | Admiralty Bay, Port Elizabeth, Bequia
04 April 2013 | Tobago Cays and Mustique, Grenadines
29 March 2013 | Port Louis Marina, St. George, Grenada
15 March 2013 | Port Louis Marina, St. George, Grenada
06 March 2013 | Between Salvador, Brazil and St. George, Grenada
05 March 2013 | Port Louis Marina, St. George's Harbor, Grenada
17 February 2013 | Terminal Nautico, Salvador, Brazil
04 February 2013 | 153 miles from Salvador Brazil, Atlantic Ocean
30 January 2013 | Island of St. Helena, Atlantic Ocean
29 January 2013 | 14 36.9'S:22 37.3'W, On the way to Brazil
20 January 2013 | 15 55.55'S:005 43.58'W, Jamestown, St. Helena

A Few Miscellaneous Observations About Australia

06 September 2012 | Australia
(sorry no pictures, just observations)

I preface these remarks with the understanding that they are observations based on our experience of a small part of a big country; only from Mackay to Darwin or the state of Queensland and the Northern Territory.

First and foremost is that the people we encountered were all very nice and helpful. We have countless stories of people going out of their way to help us in any way they could.

The county side and vegetation reminds me of the hill country in Central Texas, but more exotic and tropical with some unique and beautiful sites.

Australia is a very expensive place. The cost of living there must exceed NY, CA, or most any other location. A few examples, in the US one does not pay for a small packet of ketchup for your French fries at a fast food restaurant like MacDonald's. However, in Australia, you are charged from $.50 to $2.00 for the same size small packet of "tomato sauce". And yes, I said tomato sauce. They don't have ketchup in Australia. They use a very sweet tomato sauce instead of ketchup.

The rest of the retail goods and services in Australia are equally expensive. Most anything we wanted to buy cost 2-3 times the price for the same product or service in the US. Some explain that the high cost of living here is due to an economic boom (aka bubble) spawned by huge mining export revenues. Australia has abundant mineral and coal fields and is exporting these resources to China and other countries in a major way. At one of the smaller ports we passed, more than 100 cargo ships per day where filled with coal bound for places like China. And that was just one of many such ports around the country. Because of the demand for people to support the mining and related industries, salaries are substantially higher than the US for many blue collar jobs. The starting salary for a miner is $150,000/year. The wait staffs in restaurants are paid $20+/hour base salary. People in engineering and other skilled trades are very respected for their skills and make very comfortable wages compared to the US. The high wages apparently fuel the high prices and high cost of living. So high in fact, that they have eliminated the use of the penny. A nickel is the lowest monetary denomination and the total cost of your bill is rounded up to the nearest nickel. Purchase anything with a credit card and a 1.5% surcharged is added on top of a foreign currency exchange fee added by your credit card company. This can be as much as 10%.

In Australia, you can buy many mixed drinks in a can in the mini market. The even have a Dark and Stormy in a can.

Though Australians speak English, in some parts of the country, one needs an interpreter to translate. Not just because the strong accents found in the northern part of the country can sound like a language unlike anything you have ever heard, but also because many items have different names than the US. They generally do not pronounce R's, much like a Bostonian accent. For example, the town of Cairns is pronounced "Cans" and here is pronounce "hea". Well "hea" is one for you... Wangi Falls, a place w visited, is pronounced "One Guy Falls". No matter what you are trying to communicate, there are very common, almost standard statements and words for every conversation. "G'day mate. How ya going? Ya, ya, ya. I reckon so. No worries. Cheers mate!" Say these words in every conversation and do it with a smile and you are speaking Australian pretty well. At least until you have to ask about an item with different name, for example, a crescent wrench is a "shifter". A silly person is a "Dag". Friends seeing a lot of each other are said to be "in each other's pockets". Raisins are called "Saltanas". A small bottle of beer is called a "stubby".

By the way, Australians don't drink Fosters beer. At least the Australians I encountered didn't like it. Once I was in a grocery store and picked up a 6 pack of Fosters and an Australian came over and suggested that I put the Fosters away and suggested several other brands that he called "real Australian beers for real Australians". I get the sense that Australians like their beer and take pride in it.

Australia has 20 million people and about the size of US. 90% of the people live within 100 km of the coast. I did not see a major highway that spanned the middle of the continent from east to west. The Northern Territory (NT) is not yet a state. Many in the territory seem to oppose statehood. NT and other locations are remote from the major metropolitan areas in the south east part of the country where most products are made or imported. It is typical for a store in Queensland or NT to be out of items and have to order them from Sydney and delivery usually takes a week. Everyone is used to that level of availability of goods.

Of all the countries we have visited, Australia is the country most like the States. The differences are special and fun. The best part is the friendliness and hospitality of the Australians. And it is hard to find a better cruising destination in the world than the Whitsunday Islands.

The Joys of Having Extra Crew!

05 September 2012 | Tipperary Waters Marina, Darwin, Australia
We have arrived safely in Darwin and are amazed at the difference having two extra crew members makes. Britt and Shadow are still honing their sailing skills so we ended up with two people for each shift. Britt and Janet were team one. Mark and Shadow were team two. Both Britt and Shadow were keen on learning everything about the boat while also helping with the cooking and cleaning. It was a joy. Having an extra set of eyes on each shift was a huge help. Although the seas were quite flat being inside the reef (and the shipping lane) along the way, we did have many cargo ships and fishing boats to negotiate around. There were also many small reefs along the way to avoid. We were able to sail for much of the trip and by the end of the trip both Britt and Shadow had learned so much about sailing our boat. One morning I was cooking breakfast and suddenly I saw that the spinnaker was raised. I didn't even have to get involved. What a nice team we made.

Once in Darwin, we had quite an interesting trip into Tipperary Waters Marina. Because the tide changes in the area can be up to 30 feet, you have go through a lock in order to enter the marina. Given our experience with the Panama Canal, we were somewhat familiar with the method but the lock we went through could only fit one boat and it was quite a tight fit. It was so tight a fit that the catamarans in the fleet were too big to go through the lock and needed to stay at a different marina.

We were able to visit Litchfield National Park while we stayed in Darwin which was one several national parks in the area. Our first stop on the trip was a visit to see termite mounds. There were two types of mounds, cathedral and magnetic. The mounds are basically termite excrement and can become about thirty feet tall. The queen termite lays about 3,000 eggs per day and lives to be about 150 years old. The magnetic mounds all face magnetic north and are flat like a tombstone. They face magnetic north to keep the sun consistently on them throughout the day. This seems quite amazing since the termites are blind and generally come out at night. Ants tend to like to eat the termites and we saw many of the mounds covered with them.

We also visited several watering holes while in Litchfield Park. They were beautiful and the water was clear, cool, and refreshing. It has again gotten quite hot here in Darwin compared to the sweater weather we were experiencing in MacKay. It was a little odd to go swimming in Wangi (pronounced one guy) Falls where there were crocodile warnings but we were assured that it was safe to do so.

While we were in Darwin we also went to a movie theater called Deck Chair Cinemas and saw the Pixar animated film Brave. The seating was outdoors in lawn chairs. We popped an incredible amount of popcorn on the boat and brought it with us. We also went to the Mindil Beach Evening Market. It was open on Sunday and Thursday evenings. You are able to watch the sunset on the beach, visit endless numbers of food vendors, buy all sorts of local handicrafts, and enjoy all sorts of entertainment. We listened to a few bands and also saw a show with a man who had fire torches that he twirled like batons.

Britt and Shadow have worked out so well on the boat that we have invited them to continue with us through to South Africa. The next leg of the trip (the Indian Ocean) can be one of the more difficult ones of the entire circumnavigation. They have happily agreed to join us and we are thrilled.

We are off for a five day sail to Bali, Indonesia. We are all very excited. Britt has been to Bali before so she has many ideas about where to go and what we should see. Unfortunately our stay there will be quick - about five or six days. Alas, the problem with completing a circumnavigation in 16 months!!!

It Is A Very Small World

02 August 2012 | Marlin Marina, Cairns, Australia
We arrived in Cairns and Tony jumped off the boat to get to the airport. We had timed things quite well having to wait about two hours for daylight to enter the marina. We decided that we would not go in at night given that Cairns is a rather large shipping center. We were quite excited to see so many World Arc boats at the marina. We also were approached quite quickly by a man asking if we were really from Wickford, RI. We indeed confirmed that we were and he told us that Wickford was his home port. We were amazed that half way around the world we would meet someone from Wickford. Then, it got even better. He asked us what marina we were from and we soon discovered we were from the same marina. We actually took Michael's slip at Wickford Marina when he left to sail around the world. We told him that several of our mutual acquaintances at the marina told us that it must be the slip because Michael and we had occupied the slip and then left to sail around the world. How amazing is that!!!!!

While at Marlin Marina, we also ran into another Island Packet boat. I don't think we had seen another Island Packet since the Caribbean. Dimitry and Artie are on an Island Packet 485 called Artimus V. We quite enjoyed talking with them as they were beginning their around the world adventure, being from Sydney. We discussed some of the joys and frustrations of our boats. It was great to compare notes.

We spent much of our time in Cairns working on the boat. Having taken almost two weeks off to sail the Whit Sundays we had a bit of work to do. We also were thrilled to have Britt and Shadow (S/V Zoe) join us in Cairns. They were traveling inland visiting friends for several weeks and the timing worked out for them to have us take them to Darwin as Zoe had already left Cairns. We are leaving Cairns a bit later than the rest of the fleet but two other boats, Brizo and Bronwyn, are also leaving at the same time. We will skip the stopover in Thursday Island and proceeded directly to Darwin. It should be about an eight day sail there. We will be going on the inside of the reef and will often be in the shipping lane. It should be another interesting trip.

Sailing the Whit Sundays

02 August 2012 | Hamilton Island Marina, Hamilton Island, Australia
Amazingly enough, we walked five minutes from the marina in Hamilton Island to the airport to meet Eileen, Tony and Jake. We were also surprised, once again, that despite traveling half way around the world, they were right on time. It was Jake's first time on the boat so we began by giving him the tour. We were teaching him the names for the different things on the boat and trying to answer such questions as why the boat has hatches not windows. As the tour ended, Jake stated that the boat was really just like a house and it should be called a bouse (boat/house). Tony later used this same reasoning to call a rather large boat we were passing a yansion (yacht/mansion).

As in St. Lucia, the visit began by Tony unloading all of the items we had shipped to him or that he had gathered from our families. I got clothes from my mother, mail from my brother, and a new Kindle while Mark got some much needed items for the boat. Tony was also kind enough to give us a hard drive with 205 movies on it. Yes, I counted them. He also gave us a typed out spreadsheet of all of the movies by category and by title. We are in heaven.

The Whit Sunday Islands were absolutely striking, starting with Hamilton Island. We stayed for a couple of nights on Hamilton to acclimate Jake to the boat. We planned on returning to Hamilton at the end of their stay to do some more activities there. Most of the land on Hamilton Island is a national park and it is a relatively small island. Most of the transportation on the island is by golf carts (called buggies). The entire island is focused on tourism with about 900 people living there at a time, increasing to 1200 during the peak season. With an airport, two huge resorts, and a small downtown filled with restaurants and shops it is heaven for anyone visiting. It is an incredibly well manicured island and also had a very significant recycling program. They had seven bins for different types of recycling - glass, cans, milk bottles, other plastics, cardboard, paper and organics. I consider myself a very conscientious recycler but I cannot say that I was prepared for such a robust program!

We left Hamilton and sailed to White Haven Beach which we were told by all the locals that it was the must see beach in the Whit Sundays. It was not a disappointment. This beach has the finest white sand we had ever seen. When you walked on the sand it actually made a squeaking noise. Unfortunately, it was still a little too cold to get into the water so we just got in to about our knees. One of the nice things about all of the islands that we visited in the Whit Sundays is that they have incredible hiking trails that are very well maintained. We hiked on a trail off of White Haven Beach and ended up on a beach on the other side of the island that was deserted. Along the trail, we saw some large lizards which were a type of iguana. The views from the hike were spectacular.

We continued on our tour of the Whit Sundays with visits to Nara Islet, South Molle Island, Arlie Beach and a small bay off of Whit Sunday Island. South Molle was very interesting in that the resort was closed for the season but there were about 15 people living there as caretakers for the property. It was like a ghost town. The hike on South Molle was the best yet with a 360 degree panoramic view of the Whit Sundays.

Once back on Hamilton Island, we booked a trip to the Great Barrier Reef on a fast ferry for the day. The ferry takes you out to a floating pontoon where you can snorkel, go on an underwater viewing boat, view the reef from a viewing area below the pontoon, and even get a massage. Something for everyone really. We also learned on the way to the pontoon that you could scuba dive the reef even if you have never been scuba diving before. Mark has always wanted to try it so he took the form to fill out right away. I hesitantly asked him if he wanted me to do it with him and he said yes. Yikes! I still was able to get a massage and go on the underwater viewing boat before we went for the scuba dive in the afternoon. They staff spent about fifteen minutes on the ferry trip giving us some information about scuba diving and then we spent about twenty minutes in a pool under the pontoon learning how to clear the mask, breathe, what hand signals to use, etc. Then we were off. Mark and I had an instructor in between us who held onto us quite tightly the entire time. I was a little bit nervous at first in the pool when they had us kneel on the floor and just breathe there. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it. One of the hardest things was that it was incredibly cold even with a long suit and a short suit to keep us warm. I was shivering and grateful to start the scuba diving. The fish were amazing and quite large. The coral was incredible but we are becoming quite spoiled with the amount of snorkeling we have done and the great places we have been. There was lively discussion by the fleet about whether this was the best snorkeling spot that we have been to yet or whether others were even more incredible.

Another very interesting experience on Hamilton Island was a visit to the wild life center. We were able to hold snakes (Jake was the only one brave enough), hold a koala bear and learn about so many other indigenous species of Australia. There was a very interesting cockatoo named Freddie and an adorable parrot named Rose. We fed kangaroos and saw a ½ ton crocodile. He was not yet full grown and will weigh one ton when he is full grown. They had several tours each day at the center and we returned several times because they were so well done and educational. Did you know that many lizards, giraffes and other animals that stick out their tongues to eat have blue tongues? The blue color of the tongue stops the tongue from getting sun burnt. Also a crocodile does not eat during the colder season in Australia. During the warmer season, they only eat about as much meat as the size of their head each month. This means that if they catch a large water buffalo they would not have to eat for months afterwards.

We were very sad to say good bye to Jake and Eileen who left us to visit friends in Melbourne. The visit with the Rizzo clan was a much needed to help us treat our home sickness. We are lucky to have such good friends. Tony stayed on with us to try the passage to Cairns so we set sail for the 48 hour sail. Unfortunately, the sail to Cairns was all about motoring - just not enough wind. On the way there, we were lucky to have four dolphins join us one afternoon. They had to be about eight to ten feet long which were the largest we have seen. They swam so close to the bow of the boat we thought they were hitting it at times. The jumped out of the water, showed us their bellies and seemed to be watching us watch them. They were beautiful and quite playful with us. They were so close we got squirted by the water coming out their blow holes! As soon as we went to go eat lunch they left us - I think they missed having the entertainment of us watching them.

Janet Finds a Mall!

27 July 2012 | Caneland Mall, Mackay, Australia
Corinne (s/v Brizo) quickly informed me upon arrival to Mackay that she had found a mall. She was going the day after we arrived and I begged Mark to go. I did get up at 6:00 a.m. that morning to help Mark take down the main sail that needed repair and pack it up before I left for the mall. Yes, I wanted to go that badly that I was willing to get up at 6:00 am. I renamed the mall Candyland given that we had not seen a mall since Panama. I also quickly found out that the mall had a Target. I was in heaven. We had also quickly discovered on our arrival in Mackay that it was quite a bit colder than we were used to. I had only brought one sweater with me while Mark seemed to pack a whole slew of warmer clothes. I was not the only one who hadn't thought through the fact that we would be in Australia during their winter time. Many of the women were quickly sharing information on where to get the best deals on some warmer clothes.

I think Corinne and I were completely overwhelmed by the mall. We spent about a half an hour in a store which had just pajamas. I am not sure why. We got a pedicure, ate lunch and kept wondering around in amazement. I ended up buying a purse and a very cute pair of open toe boots. I needed neither of these items and neither was very practical for the boating life. I also quickly ruined my new pedicure trying on the cute boots. Regardless, we had a fantastic time at the mall and vowed to return to purchase some things we actually needed.

One word on the malls in Australia - now that I have visited two. They have absolutely everything from doctor's offices, pharmacies, spas, banks, small police stations, grocery stores, butchers, and your typical mall stores. Very convenient.

Much of the rest of the time in Mackay was spent fixing things on the boat and spending time with the fleet. The boat services in Mackay were exceptional. The workers were very skilled and punctual. We found workers able to fix things that we had been unable to fix over the past six months. Mark was thrilled to get so much done and I was thrilled to make several more trips back to the mall. I was much more focused on things we actually needed for the boat and could not find since leaving Panama. It was odd to be thrilled by buying new pillowcases for the boat at Target. It was also odd when I discovered that shopping wasn't as much fun as at home because you really can only purchase things you need. We went into a great home goods store where I found a gorgeous set of stone foo dogs (I have quite a collection at home). I really, really liked them but quickly figured out that Mark would kill me if I bought them and I would never find a place on the boat to store them until we returned home. They were really cute though.

We also did have a brush with fame when we were interviewed and photographed for the local paper in Mackay. They were very interested in our travels and extremely welcoming. Here is the link to the article on the World Cruising Club web site:

We are off to Hamilton Island in the Whit Sunday Islands to pick up Eileen, Tony and their son Jake who is six. They will be staying with us for the next week and an half to sail the Whit Sundays. We are thrilled.
Vessel Name: At Last
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet 465-02
Hailing Port: Wickford, RI USA
Crew: Mark & Janet Gorrell
Hi, We have been sailing for more than twelve years, chartering in the BVI, Leeward Islands, Chesapeake, and Florida. We completed many US Sailing certifications. We have been saling At Last for the last four years in New England between Nantucket and NYC. Mark has crewed on deliveries to St. [...]
For those of you who know Mark, you would agree that he is a very conservative and risk adverse person and one who suffers terribly from motion sickness. So, you must be wondering how he could give up the security of a wonderful job to sail around the world, especially in this economy. Well, [...]
Home Page:
At Last's Photos - Main
Back in the US and heading home
1 Photo | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 3 June 2013
Our time in Marigot Bay, Rodney Bay and other photo albums commemorating our trip
1 Photo | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 19 April 2013
Stops in Grenada and the Grenadines
1 Photo | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 28 March 2013
Carnival and Old Town in Salvador
25 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 17 February 2013
Photos of this unique and friendly island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
18 Photos
Created 16 February 2013
The pictures from our stops in Richard's Bay, Durban, St. Francis and Cape Town.
1 Photo | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 14 December 2012
Halloween party and a visit to a volcano
21 Photos
Created 23 November 2012
Our time in Mauritius
46 Photos
Created 23 November 2012
Our visit to the atoll of Cocos Keeling, Australia
23 Photos
Created 21 October 2012
35 Photos
Created 18 September 2012
Our time in Mackay, Cairns and Darwin Australia
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 5 September 2012
Our time in Port Resolution, Dillon's Bay and Port Vila
43 Photos
Created 17 July 2012
Our time in Denarau and Musket Cove, Fiji
20 Photos
Created 6 July 2012
Our visit to Vava'u Tonga
56 Photos
Created 21 June 2012
The Islands of Suwarrow and American Samoa
27 Photos
Created 8 June 2012
1 Photo | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 29 April 2012
26 Photos
Created 29 April 2012
This gallery include the passage from the Galapagos and photos from Hiva-Oa, Oa-Pou and Nuku Hiva
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 11 April 2012
These are pictures of the passage to the Galapagos and our experience on the islands of San Cristobal, Isabella and Santa Cruz
2 Photos | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 2 March 2012
Here are photos of the passage to Panama, the San Blas Islands, the transit through the canal and events yet to come.
11 Photos | 6 Sub-Albums
Created 22 January 2012
A compendium of pix of our various excursions around St Lucia
5 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 6 January 2012
These are pictures from the last of the Leeward Islands.
25 Photos
Created 19 December 2011
Photos of Terre-De-Haut, an island part of Les Saintes southeast of Guadeloupe.
13 Photos
Created 18 December 2011
Here are more photos of English Harbour taken form At Last as we left Antigua for Guadeloupe
10 Photos
Created 16 December 2011
These are the pictures of our passage from Antigua through our stay on Guadeloupe
28 Photos
Created 16 December 2011
These are photos of Admiral Nelson's Dockyard and our trek to the top of Shirley Heights overlooking English Harbor
42 Photos
Created 13 December 2011
Here are some photos of the islands as we were leaving Nevis, passing Montserrat and arriving at Antigua. A pleasant 50 mile motor sail into 10 knot head winds. I took a nap for 90 minutes. Blogging keeps me up late at night.
15 Photos
Created 13 December 2011
Pictures of Nevis
14 Photos
Created 11 December 2011
These are pix of Saba, Statia and St Kitts as we passed by them to sail to Nevis
18 Photos
Created 11 December 2011
Pictures of his homes and yacht on the island as we passed headed for Anguilla
11 Photos
Created 5 December 2011
7 Photos
Created 2 December 2011
Some of the photos of the passage that hit the cutting room floor
27 Photos
Created 22 November 2011
These are pictures of some of the results of the recent outfitting for the trip
8 Photos
Created 19 October 2011
These were taken last year sailing in Long Island Sound by Yacht-Shots. My colleagues at Baystate Health were kind enough to have three copies of one these photos printed and framed for me as a going away gift. A large one for home, one for the boat and one for my desk. Very Special!
7 Photos
Created 19 October 2011
This is a compilation of photos taken over the first four years of cruising on At Last in Naragansett Bay and Long Island Sound with close friends, family and the Cruising Club of New England, a wonderful group of sailors.
55 Photos
Created 1 October 2011
At Last is painted in January of 2008
4 Photos
Created 1 October 2011
At last is delivered, commissioned and has its maiden voyage just in time to be in the 2007 Newport Boat Show
6 Photos
Created 1 October 2011
These are pictures of the layout of the IP 465 and the interior of At Last
12 Photos
Created 1 October 2011

Profile of At Last and the Gorrell's

Who: Mark & Janet Gorrell
Port: Wickford, RI USA

Our Current Position