Cairns…or Cans. Whatever.
03 August 2012 | Marlin Marina, Cairns, Australia
Gary & Tara
Cairns (pronounced "cans") is certainly a great little city. It definitely is the launching point for the Great Barrier Reef and all the biggest, best and busiest reef tours anywhere on the coast. The city is built around tourists. They arrive to the marina early every morning (waking us up in the process), board their boats, and return around 5 PM sunburned and a little ragged looking. What fun!
It was great to learn we could clear out of Australia here in Cairns instead of Thursday Island, at the top of Australia. Now the pressure of having to get to the top of Australia buy Aug 18th, when our visas expire, is off. It will now allow us to take our time sailing up the coast. According to the powers that be (Customs), we can anchor along the way just as long as we don't go ashore. This works out just fine for us. Everything that we want to see and do now, is reef based, and we don't need to go ashore anyway. [TRL: Unfortunately everywhere north of Cairns is Saltwater Crocodile territory. Add this to the cool water and I doubt either of us will be taking a dip.] So it's time to provision for Indonesia with the things that we hear are hard to find, such as parts, filters, fresh vegetables and, well, let's be honest...booze [TRL: and chips, lots and lots of chips] too. Indonesia has a mostly Muslim population, and Muslins don't drink, so we figure it's better to load up on beer here. They're going to love me!
We have a lot of things to do while in the marina, such as fill up fuel tanks, clean the boat, check over all mechanical/sailing systems to make sure everything looks good and is ready for a lot of sailing for the next few weeks. We also received our Indonesian visas and got our passports back from the Indonesian embassy in Canberra. There are so many other little things too, that can be far easier to prepare and deal with now, while we are tied to a calm dock, instead of in 4 metre seas and 40-knot winds. [TRL: everyone pray this is not the weather we are in for] Boiling water at a marina, good. Boiling water at sea, bad. [TRL: as if he cooks while underway, ha!]
It's also going to start to become harder to do any overnight passages until we get to the end of the Great Barrier Reef. It's because of how dense the reef becomes, how close it gets to shore in some areas, and the fact that there are major shipping lanes taking up every inch of navigable water, that we have to be careful. Sometimes, it's just far safer to do it like Captain Cook did it when he first explored the coast. Just anchor every night! [TRL: clearly he needs a history lesson - google HMS Endeavour and you'll find out what happened to them while exploring Australia]
We will have spent a little over a week in the marina by the time we finally get checked out by Customs. We also have to wait for Australian Customs to return my taser/stun gun, before we can check out. It should arrive here by the middle of the week. The marina is in a really nice spot, right in the heart of it all, and right next to the Reef Casino. Handy! Thanks to the local poker players for picking-up our tab for everything while we were here. Tara and I especially enjoyed the Gold Service scenic train/tramway trip to Kuranda.
We have enjoyed a lot of the scenery and wildlife while here in Australia. The koalas, cockatoos and kangaroos are really fun to see in the wild. Well, fun may not be the right word when it comes to koalas. They really just sit in the trees and sleep most of the time. Some think that they get stoned from eating all the eucalyptus leaves, and that is why they are always just laying around, but with a diet high in gum tree leaves, their digestive system has to work overtime to process it. This leads to them having to sleep 18-20 hours a day, so you generally just see them sleeping up there. We were lucky enough to see a mother and her baby playing one day. The baby koala was like a little animated stuffed toy. The birds are very colourful here in Australia too, and such a variety. The magpies can be a little crazy though. They turn into little kamikazes during breeding season. They dive bomb, squawk and attack should someone get to close for their comfort. Even walking down the road when one is nesting can invoke an intense raid. I wish I could of had a video camera on Tara, as she's running down the road, swatting and yelling to scare away random bird attacks from above while jogging.
Our friend Kirstin joined us for a couple of weeks, unfortunately we had a lot of rain and wind while she was here (see previous blog post), but it cleared the day after she left and we have had nothing but clear skies since. Always the way...
I uploaded a bunch of new photos also of some of what we've seen along the way. Hope you enjoy.