From USA 2015
Greetings from the northern hemisphere. This blog has gotten away from me again but I can blame jet lag because we definitely had a case of it. We've been back in Vermont for nearly 2 weeks and even though it is touted to be a difficult time of year with mud and big swings in temperature, we are actually grateful for the extra daylight, warm sun, birdsong and the promise of summer. It's great to see my mom & dad and know that Jon's parents are on the way soon. Yesterday was a beautiful warm day with a high of 60 and we sat outside on a bench in the sun and ate ice cream but today it was 30 degrees and snowing!
It's nice to be back in the US for a bit and take in some of the things we don't usually get while traveling. Decent beer, full size Oreos with enough filling in the middle to hold the cookie together, salmon, fresh clams, not to mention the more important boat parts and supplies that we're ordering to take back with us. All the stores here just have this feeling of plenty- like overwhelming plenty. Trying to pick out a new cell phone took Jon a few days since there were so many to choose from and so many options for each one. When we bought our last phone in Vanuatu, it wasn't much of a choice, if you can imagine. It's funny how we never noticed products from Australia before but now we're frequently seeing them or references to them. Australian soaps at the checkout register, a coaster that must be from the Outback restaurant advertising Kookaburra wings.
From Australia 2015
The trip here went fine except it felt very long & we were exhausted. We were awake for 32 hours straight, which made me wish we were on passage because after a 6 hour watch you get to lie down and close your eyes, if not sleep. If we only had a billion points, we could recline in first class but... We had a significant bout of turbulence while over Denver, the worst we've ever experienced. I did think for few moments that our number was up. Poor Jon was sandwiched between me and the girl on his right side who had her head buried in his shoulder crying and I was not much better after seeing her. I now have a better understanding of the annoying seatbelt recommendation. We decided to land in Burlington, Vermont this time just to change things up. We hadn't been to that airport for over 20 years, since college. It was like walking out into LL Bean with all the wood paneling, carpeted floors, Adirondack chairs and northern decor. A far cry from LAX! Hitting the pillow at the hotel was wonderful! But then in subsequent days, we were wide awake at night. I think we might be done with those marathon travel days- need to break it up some.
From Australia 2015
It was a bit of a rush getting ready to leave the boat while also getting it ready for next season but we did manage to get a lot of what we wanted done. It was such a good deal to rent a car that we got one for the week before we left and just drove it to the airport on departure day. We were able to get the boat half provisioned with food and also get all the engine oils, varnishes and stuff. We got some funny looks while stocking up but we were so proud of ourselves last season when we never ran out of good cereal and similar items and we are both thinking that where we're headed this year we'll be even more thankful for anything we have so... goodbye waterline again! We also did a good stock-up on Aussie wine. It is the best deal we've ever had, ever! There's so much to choose from and it fits our budget. We got all of our medical care done and took another round of typhoid vaccine in preparation for next season. Got the big bottle of Pepto and the Cipro too, just in case! We signed up for the Sail2Indonesia rally because we liked the itinerary and since it departs from Thursday Island area rather then Darwin, we have more time on our already tight schedule to get to Cairns. It feels good to have a plan.
We tried really hard to get an AC in preparation for the heat of Asia but it seems everything in the AC dept in Australia is BIG. We didn't have any luck finding one and since it's autumn, there isn't much left to buy. The stainless steel chain we got for the dinghy anchor has provided us with so much satisfaction that we decided to replace the rusty stern anchor chain with the same (yes Mark, you can buy this too!). And speaking of chain, we decided to get the main anchor chain re-galvanized in Bundaberg- 4 hours away so we made a trip of it.
We biked in to Brisbane airport on our favorite path to pick up the car and then drove back to the marina to load up all the chain and our camping stuff for a road trip. Then we drove over to the Glass House Mountains which we can see in the distance from our marina, named by this guy I've never heard of... Cap'n James Cook! We did some short, steep climbs up a couple of them which were really pretty and then got a campsite for the night. The next morning we climbed another one quickly before continuing on to Bundaberg. It was then that I injured my knee which still hasn't healed itself. Getting too old for this stuff! As we were walking back from the trail, there were several cars lined up in the parking lot that looked like ours but only one of them was a serious low-rider in the back end. Well that's ours! 350 feet of chain will do that to a small car. Jon asked me why nothing we ever do is normal.
From Australia 2015
From Australia 2015
We dumped off the chain for an overnight job and proceeded to a lovely campground right on the water near the marina where we first checked in to Australia. It felt good to be back in the tent! We ordered up the same fantastic seafood platter for dinner that we had on arrival and then went to the Mon Repos Turtle Center at dusk with tickets to watch the hatchlings! When we first arrived in October, the turtles were just getting ready to start coming ashore to lay their eggs but we left 3 weeks too soon for them. Now they have been laying eggs all summer (often 3 clutches per turtle) on this protected beach at Mon Repos and the hatchlings are coming up out of the sand at night like an erupting volcano and the rangers take groups of people down to the beach to watch it all unfold. What a great experience, on a beautiful, clear, calm night. We saw about 100 hatchlings of leatherback turtles come from one nest, in 2 waves. We sat in a circle around the nest watching them come up & out from the sand and open their eyes for the first time, breathe the air and then make their way down to the beach. They use the glow of the surf line to guide them but the rangers also had flashlights to get them headed in the right direction sooner. They explained that this is when turtles get confused if they emerge on a brightly lit beach from civilization- they can't find the sea. We weren't able to take much of any pictures for this same reason. Afterward, the ranger dug the nest to make sure all of the hatchlings had gotten out and there were about 23 more that were caught in harder sand under a large root. Three didn't make it. It took the turtles a while to reach the sea and not be washed back in again with the surf. The ranger explained that these leatherbacks will now spend some 13 years at sea drifting in the Pacific current as far as S America and then return to that same area to establish a feeding ground for the next 17 years. The females will not be mature to breed until they are approx 30 years old and only then will they ever touch land to lay their eggs. The males will never come ashore again. They call those years of travel the "lost years" and it is amazing to contemplate that length of time for just drifting in the currents, then just feeding but that's what they do because they've tracked them with radio transmitters. So each time we see turtles coming up for a breath when we're way out to sea, we now know we're most likely looking at a juvenile who is on walkabout.... crazy. We found the whole experience to be so interesting and moving at the same time. I can't believe we actually got to see them since I figured we'd missed it all. People come from all over the world to witness this event. It really is a special place. The following day, we picked up our shiny chain and headed back to the boat.
From Australia 2015
Just after we left Newport Marina, practically every cruiser I know who's in Australia arrived. It's such a popular place to stop in. Jan & Rich are keeping an eye on our boat and we plan to meet up somewhere along the coast enroute to the rally which starts July 1st in Cairns. We're hoping to fit in some diving on the Gt Barrier Reef and a few of the must see spots along the way. Then in late July, it's off to Indonesia with the rally, then Malaysia, Singapore & Thailand. That's the plan anyway. I think this will be an interesting season to say the least and hopefully it will include some incredible diving and land based sights. From what I read, it'll be good to have those provisions!
Meanwhile, we're enjoying being back in Vermont and we've opened up a "store" on Ebay in hopes of getting rid of some of the stuff that's filling up our shed. I've already sold some Yanmar parts and a cruising guide and I've got a bunch of other items listed. I think one of the hardest parts about traveling around this way is the moment when you open up the place where you're storing all of your things from what seems like another life. And since ours is from 1997, when we first moved aboard, it's a wonder we keep any of it. And it doesn't help that every year we add a few more "valuable" items. It's full of junk! But that's a project that will take more time than we have- it always does. Its easier to just close the door again.