Slow Sailing

25 February 2020
29 November 2019 | Vero Beach
09 October 2019 | Washington, NC
27 September 2019
06 September 2019 | Norfolk, VA
07 August 2019 | Washington, NC
07 July 2019 | Washington
10 June 2019 | Washington, NC
15 May 2019 | St Augustine
30 April 2019 | Black Point, Exuma
16 April 2019 | Bahamas
02 April 2019 | Washington, NC
15 March 2019 | Washington, NC
10 February 2019 | Washington, NC
22 January 2019 | Washington, NC
07 January 2019 | Washington, NC
15 December 2018 | Washington, NC
03 November 2018 | Thetford, VT
21 September 2018 | Bradford, VT
13 August 2018 | Thetford, VT

Looking Up

05 July 2015 | Cairns
Heather

There have been so many stops since the last time I made an update! For those following in our footsteps, I'll try to retrace our steps and I'll try not to make it too boring for the rest! From Keppel Island, we made it up to the Percy Isles which are one of many small island groups on the way up to the Whitsunday Islands. One in particular, Middle Percy, is known for good hiking and a now deceased generous soul who loved passing sailors. He made the trails, a couple of buildings for sailors to hang out in and over the years, this spot has become a ritual stop-over for many an international yacht. The only thing is, the anchorage stinks! Our day ashore to hike & visit all the memorabilia hanging in the cruiser hangout areas was spent biting our nails down to nubs worrying about the boat and our anchorage getting rough while we were away from it. The boat feels like it is our everything and I suppose it is the closest thing we've got to having a kid! Again, we saw a billion blue tiger butterflies. I read up on this and what happened is there was a drought, followed by a lot of rain this year that bolstered the reproduction & success of many types of insects including butterflies. Anyway, all ended up well (could've kept the nails) until that evening when the tide was nearing high and for whatever reason, waves started rolling in to our anchorage from around the corner. It was a beautiful sight- these rounded green waves coming in and starting to break and the wind blowing the white tops off of them just before they slapped our boat causing it to roll uncomfortably. All against a pink sunset. It felt like we were in the Galapagos again but these waves were bigger. We decided to sit it out for a little in hopes things would calm back down and we could depart in the AM as planned. We made it till morning, then set out for some boisterous sailing. Over the next 3 days, we made fast miles northward with little sail up and big seas, going from anchorage to anchorage with very little rest at night what for all the wind and roll. Wind "bullets" they call them in those parts- big gusts blasting down from the mountainous land into the anchorage causing strain on the anchor and on us. We tried in desperation to go ashore to stretch our legs over those few days but only ended up with new dings in the varnish from attempting to launch the dinghy. We were grumbling about all we heard about "sailing in flat seas behind the reef" having not experienced it but then had a look at the real continuity of the GBR and it doesn't get continuous until above Cairns so that idea of smooth sailing despite developed trade winds was premature!

But then things started looking up as we arrived in the Whitsundays and we found some solidly calm anchorages. We hopped around to several of them doing easy sails or motors to lots of great spots with loads of trails, beaches and good views from high places. Most of these islands are park- most of the places along this whole coast are park; its amazing. We restocked in Airlie Beach and headed out to the reefs to do some scuba diving. We did a snork on the top of Hook Island which is all marine park and there were some pretty nice corals there as well as lovely scenery above water. We also wanted to do Bait Reef, which is about 20 miles offshore and has a lagoon with park moorings. There's a dive site there called the Stepping Stones which are a line of bommies that you can dive on, hoping from one to the next. Since the weather was calm, we were able to do this from the boat on its mooring. Not too impressive- the best fish were hanging out under our boat. The reef was silted and there wasn't much color really. So we decided to pack up and do an overnight to Magnetic Island.

Magnetic Island is 8km off of Townsville and is a getaway destination for locals as well as a great anchorage for yachts. The famous Captain Cook named the island for some disturbance he noted on his compass. Used in WWII, several small forts were built and their remains are part of a.... PARK! I had been dying to get to Magnetic because it is home to one of the largest koala colonies in Queensland (over 800) and a great place to see them is on the Forts Trail. It meanders up around the old forts through koala territory and we saw 5 of them, two of which were cradling babies perched on branches doing what they do... which is not a whole lot! The sign describes how 18 koalas were placed on Magnetic many years ago to protect them from total decimation. There, they've lived out several generations looking down at us humans from the trees. They watched (through partially closed eyes no doubt) the goings-on of WWII activities and now many a camera lens being held up to get another priceless shot. We had our turn and it was so fun to walk around looking up into the trees to spot them. At one point, Jon was positioning himself for a picture and he bumped an adjacent tree to the koala but the branch was touching his/her tree so it jostled it a little. The expression on the koala's face as it peered down at Jon to see what was going on totally cracked me up. He seemed to ever so calmly communicate "hey, do you mind not bumping my tree; I'm trying to sleep the day away here". We went back again the following day to find some more. Great fun. It gets to be a pretty bad habit though- walking around looking up all the time. We're also supposed to be watching for snakes because we've seen a bunch of them!

From Magnetic, we hopped over to Townsville, the skin cancer capital of the world (so the sign says) for a couple of days to check out the town. We did a "city day" doing things like get a great burger & beer, go to the aquarium, see the visiting New Zealand Wearable Art Show that was on display and then we did another day on our "pushies". Like a mini Cairnes, Townsville had a lot to offer us and was spic n span. I liked the way the town was framed by Castle Hill- a big reddish rock monolith that you can climb for great views. When you get to the top, hot & sweaty, you not only have a refrigerated water fountain, but you've got a covered bench area complete with solar powered MISTERS to cool off! Then there's the kids playgrounds on the waterfront. We've decided that if we were kids again, we'd choose to live in AU because the playgrounds are the best we've ever seen. I remember standing in the playground at my elementary school under the big banyan tree which was the only thing we had since there was no playground equipment- too much liability. Not here!

And then from Townsville, we did an easy overnight under the stars to Cairns. It felt good to finally arrive at the rally start point and not have to worry about getting there on time- we were! Cairns turned out to be nothing like we expected. I don't know where we got the idea that it would be dry & dusty and rather small, but... it is completely the opposite. We loved it there. The waterfront esplanade is just beautiful with a seemingly endless pool that sits right at the shoreline. So original. I wanted to do laps in it one moring but it just didn't ever happen. A great running path too. Filled with locals, tourists, backpackers & sailors, the town had a serious daylife & nightlife. We can't say it was the quietest place to be, but we both thought it was a feel good city for sure and goes down as one of our favorites. Part of what makes it so great is Marlin Marina, where we all stayed, puts you right in the thick of things.

We couldn't help but take one last opportunity to split for a few days in a car because after this, this is it! Since Jan & Rich had just returned from the places we wanted to go, we just followed in their footsteps. We first went to the Atherton Tablelands which is a mountainous area that rose up a short distance from Cairns due to volcanic/plate activity forming essentially a table of land. You drive up into the mountains and then once on the table, it levels off to rolling rainforest and fields which reminded us a lot of New Zealand. We were in & out of the car hiking short trails that went to waterfalls & viewpoints, and meandered along rivers all the while looking up into the trees in hopes of seeing a tree kangaroo- and we did find one! It was raining much of the time we were in the rainforest and as I walked, I suddenly smelled a musky odor. We stopped, looked up and there he was looking down at us with his big, long tail and shiny black eyes. Hard to get pics in the rain but we got something anyway. We also searchd for the elusive platypus. Supposedly we were in areas ripe for seeing them but we've learned that doesn't mean anything! That night, we stayed in a grungy, historic hotel (because the one Jan & Rich stayed at was full) that made us sooo miss the low budget US ones.

Then we headed down off the tablelands to the Daintree Wet Tropics region along the east coast north of Cairns. Along the way, we passed the coffee growing area and ducked in out of the rain to a place for a great cup of coffee. We realized that the cheap stuff we drink on the boat is just that- cheap, not flavorful. The day before, we stopped at a cafe and got what seems like north Queensland's special dessert which is a waffle with ice cream covered in maple syrup or caramel sauce. At least we could sit inside for a bit and dry out. Our goal in the Daintree was to see a cassowary. Jan & Rich had seen a mom and 2 babies from the only road that travels through the area so we were really hopeful. Everyone had told us, you'll definitely see cassowaries in the Daintree! Well.... we drove up and down the road, hiked all the paths & boardwalks that were good for viewing them and only found piles of their favorite food and then piles with the remains of their favorite food. Jon was moping around like something seriously bad had happened and I had to remind him to get some perspective! The rain forest there was huge, lush and beautiful. I read that part of what makes it so unique is that the rainforest comes down to meet the sea. We stayed at a jungle campground in the tiniest cabin we've ever seen but the grounds and jungle sounds were great.

It continued to rain on the third day but we were headed out of the rainforest and down to the river to see the CROCS! By the time we got there it had stopped, thankfully. We took a little tour boat called the Solar Whisper up the Daintree River for a little over an hour. The boat was really quiet and the guide would take us right up to the shoreline such that the trees would sometimes rub on the canopy. We got up close and personal with a tree frog, tree snake (they love tree frogs), various birds and of course crocs. The biggest one was the male, Scarface was his name, and he was up a little creek waiting for the local female named Dusty to come home. But she was hauled out on the bank around the corner with a leaf on her head. As the tide came in and we came back to see her again at the end of the cruise, the leaf had floated away and the water was pretty much over her head but the rest of her was still in the same spot on the bank. The guide said she'll stay like that until she practically floats off. Seems they have the energy of koalas! Dusty was 30 years old. We also saw some 2 year olds and some juveniles. We learned that the males have a territory and cruise up & down taking care of all their females, who generally live in the same spot most of their lives. It was a really interesting tour and it was nice to have someone else pointing things out for a change instead of us having to stumble around finding them for ourselves.

When we returned the car the next morning, the guy told us that the dirt that was in the front seats was more than "daily dirt" and if he wanted to, he could charge us an extra fee for cleaning. Huh? We decided that the only reason this happened was because we had just had a conversation about how when you rent a car, you have to scrutinize the outside of it for every little dimple and then no one ever asks anything about the inside. When we rented the car in Tasmania, we drove off the lot and went straight to the grocery store. By the time we came back out, the ants, who were living in the car, had attacked our stuff. It took a few days of applying ant poison all in the car to get rid of them. Anyway... it really gave us a laugh. Now we have a new term- "daily dirt" to use whenever we want. And the man was really nice about it.

And that brings us almost up to date because the rally meetings started the same day we returned the car. There are 53 boats in the Sail2Indonesia Rally that we're doing. It is simply a way to see Indonesia in the company of others and to ease the stress of the government paperwork hassles that Indonesia is know for. It isn't a race, and we're free to go wherever we choose, but the rally has 20 planned stops and the people of those islands are expecting us and special events and festivities are planned. We've never met anyone who hasn't said that this experience was a highlight of their world cruise. And so we're in and we're excited about it (but still a little nervous too!)

We've met a lot of really nice people on other boats and are glad too that we already know Jan & Rich and Fruit de Mer because we do have a lot of fun together. I think everyone has reservations about doing a rally & all that goes with it as well as what it will feel like to be herded around but after the second day when the Indonesian representatives gave their carefully planned presentation of all that they've done to plan the stops for us, we were impressed & sort of relieved. We got the flags, t-shirts, sim cards, hats and free drinks & food, but what really mattered were the written materials detailing the places we will visit and the commentary from Raymond Lesmana who is our official guide. His delivery was funny and inspiring and our first real glimpse of what lies ahead. We both know that things will not be totally rosy and we'll get out share of red tape despite the rally, but I do know that doing things together with friends can almost make some of those times humorous because you're all in it together. Here's hoping I'm right.

The docks were busy with everyone bustling around doing last minute rigging checks and overstuffing their boats with food. It is psychologically difficult to be doing this final stock-up. You get the boat all stocked, then don't want to eat anything since you'll be using it up! We were able to get our lifelines replaced with all the parts we'd brought back from the US which felt really good and Jon made a custom variable speed companionway fan for us so that we would be better prepared for anchorages where there might be mosquitoes. We're headed back in to malaria area and we will need to be careful. We mixed in boat projects with exercise, happy hours and rally meetings and then a couple of days ago, the fleet started trickling out of the marina northward toward the tip of Australia. Tonight we're in Cooktown. We pulled in here yesterday, intending to anchor but it is really difficult here because it is small, full of shoals and there's a lot of current. So we're back on a wharf! And there are 2 boats rafted up to us. We had a great day exploring the town and we hiked up Mt Cook too. Then we followed it up with a nice happy hour with our dock mates. Cooktown is where Capt Cook came in to repair his ship the Endeavor after grounding nearby on the GBR. There is a lot of history here in the form of museums, monuments and lookouts. Tomorrow we're departing for Lizard Island in what seems like will be plenty of wind. But phew, we are behind the reef now!

We have about 2 weeks to get to Thursday Island, where we'll check out of AU. Then it is across the Torres Straights to Indonesia. We need to get there to stop the drain on our bank account. Plus, we need to start eating the provisions....


From Australia 2015

From Australia 2015

From Australia 2015

From Australia 2015

From Australia 2015

From Australia 2015

From Australia 2015

From Australia 2015

From Australia 2015

From Australia 2015

From Australia 2015
Comments
Vessel Name: EVERGREEN
Vessel Make/Model: Tashiba 40 Hull #158
Hailing Port: E. Thetford Vermont
Crew: Heather and Jon Turgeon
Extra:
Hello! We are Heather & Jon Turgeon of S/V Evergreen. We started sailing in 1994 on our first boat, a Cape Dory 31, then sought out a Tashiba 40 that could take us around the globe. It has been our home for 19 years. We've thoroughly cruised the East coast and Caribbean and just completed our [...]
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