Radiance at 56 degrees north. Well, only the crew
22 March 2009 | Denmark via Thailand
Steen and Angela
We are in Denmark.
About boats: some say that if three smaller incidents/breakdowns happen at the same time, then you might be in a critical situation.
We have been lucky over the last two years, (yes, some luck is involved), not to have experienced any critical situations with the boat. We have had a pretty good record regarding the sailing, anchoring, dinghying, mechanical... boat stuff. We have also always kept Radiance in good mechanical condition. So far, knock on wood, Radiance has given us no reason to doubt her ability to continue for many more miles, which we plan to do again in the future.
But, we have not kept ourselves in as good condition. We have left small issues unattended. So three little incidents that separately would have been manageable to fix, all happened at the same time; nothing critical, but issues that needed to be addressed. Our initial plan was to address them while in Australia, but with the current global financial situation, getting work permits in Australia proved to be nearly impossible. We decided to head to the US to work and rejuvenate, but alas, it was not to be...
The US Department of Homeland Security informed us there would be a nine to twelve month processing time for Steen to get his work visa back, not to mention how long it might take to get his official green card back. (We had written in an earlier posting that Steen had lost his green card because we had been out of the US for more than twelve months). For some reason, as cruisers on an American boat with an American address, we hadn't thought his green card would have been in jeapardy.
Anyway, we have chosen to travel to Denmark to work, (hopefully), and live and to have access to all those little important things like healthcare, dental care and child care, along with a close proximity to friends and family. So, here we are.
Concerning the boat, we were lucky that Radiance was in Australia, which was not only a good and safe place to leave Radiance, but also that Australian Customs actually allowed us to leave the boat there for three years without any import fees. So it turned out to be a perfect place to leave Radiance while we took care of ourselves.
We left the piles in downtown Brisbane 3 days before flying out of Australia for Denmark. The trip took us back down the river and 15 miles north, through Moreton Bay, up to the small town of Scarborough. We had the opportunity to re-learn an old lesson. 'Do not sail out of a river mouth into open water at max ebb tide; especially if there is a good onshore breeze.' It gets really choppy and steep.
We anchored in Deception Bay for a few days before hauing the boat out. The bay was okay but very shallow. We anchored in 8ft of water which was quite uncomfortable when the sea breeze picked up in the afternoon. And don't go swimming in that bay; a good-size shark cruised by Radiance the day after we got there. I am glad I saw it before deciding whether or not to jump in. There's nothing like murky water and shark dorsal fins to curtail any thoughts of leisure swimming; not that we really had time for such activities anyway.
Scarborough Marina is a nice place to haul out. They are quick and professional. The place is clean and well kept. We hauled out the day before we flew out of Brisbane. It turned out that we had under-estimated the time it would take to pack down everything on Radiance. Steen had to go back the next day for the last few things, but that wasn't really a big deal since our plane for Denmark left at midnight. The hotel was kind enough to store our bags for the afternoon, and let Angela and Malou hang out by the pool, without charging us an extra day. So, we all got through the day and were in a good mood when we got into the taxi heading for the airport.
The trip from Australia to Thailand and then to Denmark went great. The service and food on Thai air was good. The tiny beautifully dressed Asian attendants took good care of you with good food and drink.
Malou did a great job. She slept most of the way to Bangkok. In Bangkok, where we had an eighteen- hour layover, we decided to venture out of the airport to see something. Luckily, we could leave our bags at the airport at a storage place - for only five dollars a bag. That wouldn't have been possible at LAX; there is no onsite bag storage at LAX, and if there were, it would have been a lot more than five dollars a bag.
At the Bangkok airport, we were approached by a taxi driver who spoke very little English but wanted to take us to a crocodile wrestling and elephant show, about 30 minutes from the airport. We weren't sure what our plans were. There wasn't a train from the airport, only buses and taxis. Downtown was so far away, he told us we would be stuck in traffic too long to see much. So, we went with him, and the crocodile place turned out to be a kind of zoo. It was one of those old fashioned zoos where all the animals are in small concrete enclosures. The zoo claimed to have the best crocodile conservation and breeding program in Thailand, but by modern zoo standards, their treatment of the other wild animals, (many held on short chains for photo purposes), was pretty horrid.
The surrounding neighborhood was really poor and dustier than we had expected. We thought it looked more like Mexico than a Southeast Asian county. We were expecting green and humid, but it was more of a light brown with a temperate climate.
The taxi driver arranged to pick us up at the zoo after two hours, which he did. Then he drove us to a place called The Ancient City, a 300-acre area where they have reconstructed ancient Hindu temples and built some newer ones to look authentic. It's landscaped and is supposed to be an overview of what you might see if you traveled throughout Thailand. We took a golf cart around the grounds on our own tour, (Steen driving), and it was really nice. Again, the cab driver waited for us and then took us back to the airport. We spent about 4 hours on his time and he charged us the equivalent of 30 US$ total. They must not make very much normally. It sounded quite cheap to us. I read somewhere that the average daily income for Thai people is about the equiv. of 5 US dollars.
It is cold here in Denmark, and it was quite a shock to walk out of the airport into the March weather after 2-1/2 years in the tropics, (says Steen; Angela, however thought it was refreshing, and she generally loves the cold weather). We stayed the first few days with Jorgen, Steen's friend, (as it has become our custom when we arrive in Denmark). After a few days we went to see Bedstemor and Bedstefar (Malou's grandparents). That is where we are now. We actually have the place to ourselves since Steen's parents left for Africa 2 days after we got here.
So, now we are looking for a job and a place to live...(update: we've just found a great place to live). Neither is as easy as we could have hoped for, but we will get it done.
That's the news for now. Upcoming: photos of our awaiting rental place attached to a beautiful traditional thatched-roof farm house in Farum, Denmark.