Diary for Juliana ll SAILING Adventures


Gosford to Mooloolabar

2006-09-01 to 2006-09-06

Juliana’s voyage to the sun
We left the Sailing Club on the 1st September 2006 after a little farewell onboard party the night before. It was Bob Swan and myself onboard. Under the Rip Bridge at 9, which was low tide. No problem touching the bridge this time. Picked up Stig Ertner from the Booker Bay public wharf and we were off!! Juliana is a Beneteau Oceanic 430. Unfortunately, the first day offered only NW wind around
15 knots and we tacked north along the Central Coast. Stayed close to the coast to avoid the southerly setting current. Outside Newcastle, the first night offered some NW wind. Great to be able to ease the sheets and lay a course for Pt.
Stephen’s lighthouse. After the first 24 hours we found ourselves in line with Seal Rocks. A beautiful sunny morning. Light NW wind. We started the engine and motored for a while. The fridge, running off the engine, needed a charge down anyway. Dinner, in almost calm waters, offered nuts and beer for starters, meatballs and pasta for main, peaches and custard for dessert and coffee. Motorsailed all day with the light N winds. Midnight the second night saw us a few miles outside Port Macquarie. Outside Smokey Cape (near Trial Bay Gaol) the wind started to increase from the NE, and by midday we were down to double reef in the main, the headsail rolled up a
and the engine running. Tacked 4 miles out and the back to the coast a few times. Lots of crashing into waves and plenty of spray coming over the bow. The windgauge showed over 35 knots. However, by evening the weather abated a bit and we sailed into Coffs Harbour at 8pm. 3rd September.
Next day it was time to dry out a few things.
The forepeak hatch had not been tied down, so everything was wet therein. Spinnaker and other items were hung out to dry. The jetty was cluttered with Juliana’s gear. At 11am however, the itchy feet of 3 sailors, forced Juliana to “let go” the mooring lines and head out to sea again. The wind now from SE at a good 20 knots gave us a terrific run. Sometimes under spinnaker and sometimes headsail poled out, 24 hours later, we were abeam of Southport. A good run of 144 miles! The autopilot (Autohelm 6000) aptly named “Captain Jack” did a superb job, and really manage the steering under all conditions.

We had 2 hour watches each, with 2 hours “standby” and 2 hours sleep. “Standby” often meant sleep anyway, so sometimes 4 hours continuous sleep! Amazingly, I managed to sleep in the forward cabin while the boat was pitching and crashing, which shows that the need for sleep was severe. Bob and Stig slept in the aft cabins, where the motion was less violent, but where they had to put up with more noise from the cockpit. Bob in particular seemed to have little trouble sleeping, and you would know when he did. At one point in the middle of the night, the boat was speeding along, a lot of noise from waves and creaks and groans from Juliana. I thought I heard the engine going. “Better check that the fridge is cooling ok!” I thought. I lifted the lid of the fridge but it didn’t seem to cool at all. Went back to the engine and was going to check it, when I suddenly realized. The engine was not running at all, it was Bob’s snoring that I had heard!
We continued to sail north along Stradbroke and Morton Islands and rounded Cape Morton around 7pm that evening. We had a beautiful easterly wind 15-20 knots as we set course for Mooloolaba. Arrived at 1 am the morning of 5th September. Lots of ships and other commercial boats were criss-crossing outside the entrance to Morton Bay during the last night.
Over the last 2 days we had seen heaps of whales. Some coming up for air and some jumping clear of the water, and falling back with a spectacular splash. Since Seal Rocks I estimate that we have actually sighted 50 whales and one can only imagine how many more there must be.
(to be continued….)
Stefan Bjarne (skipper)


Sailing Mooloolaba to Yepoon 2005

2006-09-07 to 2005-09-12

Mooloolabar to Yeppoon

Wendy, my wife joined Juliana’s crew 7th September and we were off again, heading for Wide Bay bar. That’s the southern entrance to Great Sandy Straight. Had a strong westerly wind and with a reef in the main and headsail rolled up a bit, charged up the coast, past Noosa Head and Double Island Point. Arrived outside Wide Bay Bar at 6 pm.

Cruising Boat outside Noosa Head
This bar is located a couple of miles out to sea, and one has to observe the leads carefully, as there is no visible evidence of the bar itself. It started to get dark, we got inside on the first set of leads located on Fraser Island, which by now were lit, but the next set of leads to the south were no-were to be seen. However, with the aid of the depthsounder and the GPS we slowly motored in to “deeper waters”! Yes, it was actually deeper the further in we got. Safely inside we anchored up in 6 meters of water not far from “Tin Can Creek”. Next morning “anchor up” at 7 am. We were going to motor through the Great Sandy Straight, an 8 hours trip. Weather was cold, moderate wind from SW and sunny. After an hour we were confused. The channel suddenly got shallow.

Stig and Bob at Kingfisher Resort, Fraser Island
Down to 1 meter under the keel. We stopped the boat and started scratching our heads. After looking around, a red channel marker that should be on our starboard side, was spotted way out to the west. This is opposite to normal, as we were officially heading out to sea. (Harvey Bay). We now realize that we simply had missed a dogleg in the channel. However, the high tide had “saved” us and we slowly proceeded forwards until we found ourselves in the channel again. A few minutes later we passed a runabout “tinny” with 2 men waving violently to us. We slowed down and learned that they had run out of petrol. We exchange 5 liters of petrol for a giant mudcrab. On the way again, we continued motoring and dropped the anchor outside King Fisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island. Went ashore in the dinghy and walked along the beach. Saw a dingo casually walking past us some 10 meters away. The Resort was completely surrounded by a “Dingo” fence, as it appears the dingos are a real problem to them.

Back onboard it was time to make dinner. “Looking forward to some crab!” was the general consensus, except for Wendy who is a vegetarian. However, we could not find a pot big enough and even the Master Chef Bob did not know exactly how to cook a crab. So the fortunate crab was returned to its natural habitat, while the crew had to enroll in cooking classes in “crab a la mer”. Decided to leave as the weather would be favorable for a passage to Lady Musgrave Island. We uped anchor and motored through the channel that gradually leads out to Harvey Bay, open waters, yes but plenty of shoals!. We still had 4 hours of motoring ahead. There are plenty of sandbanks in a big area of water and in daytime its very hard to find channel markers. After some confusing moment when we did not know where the channel was, (We did not have a detailed chart) , it suddenly showed less than 3 meters on the depthsounder. It was getting dark, and we proceeded slowly. We couldn’t make out where the channel was, or more to the point, which shoal be were on. Luckily, it was high tide which meant that we should (theoretically) clear all shoals without touching, which we did. The night was quite windy, with gusts to 30 knots from the south. Then,. at sun rise, there was Lady Musgrave Island. This magic destination is a coral atoll some 3 km across. A narrow entrance allows boats to enter the lagoon. Inside is quite protected at low tide, but at high tide can be very uncomfortable if the weather is rough. We anchored in about 7 meters depth. The water was crystal clear. We could see the anchor chain all the way to the anchor itself. Went into the island and took a walk around it. Plenty of lower type trees and dense bush in the centre. The whole island is only 500 meters across. A group of scuba divers from Canberra were camping their. Set up with tents, diving gear and compressors, they were enjoying it.

Lady Musgrave. Charter and Boat Juliana
Went back to the boat, swam and generally lazed about. We all took turns in Wendy’s kayak, which was very enjoyable. Saw pleanty of turtles. They were not afraid, and sometimes swam within meters. The weather magically calmed. In fact, the first night in the lagoon it was so calm that you could almost see your own reflexion on the surface of the water. We had a good night’s sleep.

Bob "The Tarzan” Swan

Stig enjoying sunset at Lady Musgrave Isl.

Next day did more lazying about. Spoke to crew on other yachts that came over in their dinghies. Bill and Linda on “No More” on their way back to Pittwater. “Lindesferne” on their way north.
Left Lady Musgrave I. at 5pm after hearing on the weather report that it was going to turn nasty the next day. Didn’t want to be anchored up in the lagoon if big swell developed. At high tide it comes into the lagoon and makes the anchorage most uncomfortable. And there is always the danger of anchor dragging and the boat ending up on the reef.
At first we hade a nice 10 knot N breeze and sailed along beautifully at about 5-6 knots. We were heading for Pancake Creek some 35 miles to the west. Looming black clouds were appearing in the horizon in the SW. We could see lightning and it was getting closer. At about 8 o’clock the wind suddenly stopped and we knew the thunderstorm was going to hit us. Down with all the sails, and sure enough, within a minute it was pouring and gusting from the south. After 20 minutes the rain stopped and the wind was now blowing from the SW at about 25 knots. Cold and miserable! We reefed the main to 2nd reef, and rolled the genoa out one third. The wind increase to 25-30 knots and the going was rought, pounding through the waves. We decided to ease the course slightly to the north, which made the the motion more comfortable. At 11pm decided to abandon the plans to go to Pancake Creek. It was dark and windy and having to negotiate a few rocks outside Bustard Head, helped us to make the decision to head straight for Yeepoon, 50 miles to the NW. Had a good sail through the night, wind from S, on our port quarter, doing sometimes 8 knots. The sea was a bit rough with swell about 2 meter, but Juliana kept us dry in the cockpit. Double reef in main and genoa half rolled up. Arrived at 10 am on 11 September.
Wendy at Lady Musgrave Island


Juliana l, Yepoon to Airlie beach

2006-09-11 to 2006-09-16

 Monday 11 September. Booked a berth at the Kepple Bay Marina in Rosslyn Bay. Bob went to the marina office to book a ticket back to Gosford. His time off work was limited and we would not enter a port again for the next 8 to 10 days. Got a flight at 5.25pm the next day.
Tuesday 12 September. Bob left on a coach to Rockhampton at 9 am. He would spend the day sightseeing and fly our that afternoon. Stig, Wendy and I got to use the courtesy car that the marina provide, free of charge, and took a trip around the district. We had noticed that our fridge was taking longer and longer to charge down to the desired temperature, so I contacted a fridge company in the area to come and have a look. Very strong wind from the south 30-40 knots.

Wednesday 13 September. Lazed about for most of the day. Stig and I checked out the local yacht club which opened at 4pm. Half a dozen local yachtsmen and women plus the skipper from a dredger which operated in the harbour. A local fridge mechanic had a look at our cooling system and concluded that it needs a new TX valve. Wind strong from the S at about 25-30 knots.

Thursday 14 September. Stig and I worked with the batteries as they suddenly went down the night before. TV, computer, lights and a few other things probably was too much! Topped up the water and everything seemed to work ok. The solar cell (160 W max.) is a great provider of power, but there is a limit! Wendy went for a walk. Wind still howling from the south.

Friday 15 September. Fridge mechanic Tony arrived at 7am to replace the TX valve in the galley fridge. After an hour it seemed to be working ok again, and at 9.30 am we were off. As we were leaving, yacht: “Lindesfarne”, that we met at Lady Musgrave Island, was just coming in. Heading north, we hoisted main and genoa. Soon the wind increased and we rolled in the headsail a bit. A little later, it was blowing 25 knots, and more rolling in of the genoa. Pretty choppy swell at about 2.5 m. Arrived in Pearl Bay at 3.10pm, 45 NM in

North of Yeppoon


Pearl Bay looking northwest
5.5 hours. Average speed of 8.2 knots! Skipper happy! Found half a dozen yachts , mainly catamarans anchored up. Pretty surroundings, spectacular mountains. Wendy cooking “Pearl Bay Pasta Bake” for tea. Swell coming around the point and hitting beam on. Rolling heavily! Tried a system to anchor beam facing the wind- with the bow facing the swell. Works to a point, but needs refinement!

Saturday 16 September. Rowed ashore, went for walk along the beach. Beautiful surroundings! Not a soul anywhere! Got hit by a rain shower. Stig and I trying to cover our cameras. Stig got some moisture in his, which made it take all remaining pictures in one hit. He later managed to dry it out. Unusually cold, and it has been cold for a few days. Anchor up at 10am, as we put one reef in the main. Started with 10-15 knots wind from SE, but soon we had 20-25 knots. Great sail, headsail
poled out. Doing 9-10 knots surfing down waves. A little warmer today, as we sat in the cockpit lapping up the sun. Arrived South Percy Island at Resident of South Percy Island
5pm. Anchor down 5.15pm in 5 meters of water at Northeast Bay. Protected from the SE wind, but swell coming around the NE point and making Juliana rock and roll. Went to bed at 9. Seems we are going to bed earlier every day. No TV, no radio, just an intense skyline with thousands of stars. You can almost reach out and touch them.

Sunday 17 September. Rowed into shore. Although the island is uninhabited, we were going to try to walk to the top hill. Perhaps some goat tracks, but we could only find spider webs, mosquitoes and burrs. After ½ hour we gave up and walked along the beach instead. Very clean and deserted. 10 o,clock weighted anchor and sail the short distance to Middle Percy Island. After 50 minutes anchored in West Bay. Wind still 20+ knots. Rowed in to the beach and walked into the famous A-frame, a shed where yachtsmen over the last 40 years have left names and details of their yachts. Met Ron and Glen, the local residents on the island. Ron has lived here for the last 4 years. Walked up the 3 km track to their homestead, a building that was build by the White family that lived on this island from 1921 to 1964. Had a cup of coffee on their verandah, together with ducks, chooks, dogs, a cockatiel, an emu and a cow (not on the verandah). Then walked back to the boat via a different track, a very pleasant 45 minutes walk. Got swamped by a wave when launching the dinghy from the beach. Stig and my camera got wet, and I think Stig’s is in trouble. Watched the sunset while having tea. A couple of yachts arrived, probably on their way back from the races at Hamilton Island. Watched the stars for a while. Very impressive!

Monday 18 September. Decided to take the dinghy over to Pine Island, about 1 NM west of us. Left with the outboarder. Trip over there ok, but wind picked up and suddenly we were a bit worried ho


Airlie Beach to Airlie Beach

2006-09-23 to 2006-09-28

Saturday 23 September. Wendy woke up early and paddled off in the distance in her kayak. She meet up with the local outrigger canoe people, and managed to score a paddle session with them. Stig and I went to the waterfront markets, which was quite good, with country music band and many interesting stalls. I bought some more charts as we were planning to go further north. As Stig and I later came back in the dinghy to Juliana, that was anchored amongst many other boats on the bay, we found that she had dragged anchor. The bottom was very muddy and by now (midday) it was blowing a very fresh SE. Luckily, Juliana didn’t hit anything, but we got an earful from an old “live-on-board” salt the was standing in the side deck of his small gaff rigger with a fender in his hand. “Get that $%^&* anchor up, and get *&%$#@ out of here quick smart! If you *&$#@ don’t know how to anchor, go somewhere else!” I thought: “Maybe I should offer him a valium tablet or something to calm him down”, but on second thoughts I just ignored him. We pulled the anchor up without any further a due, and motored into Able Point Marina to top up water and fuel. Left 12.30 pm and picked Wendy up outside the Sailing Club. She had returned the key for the yacht club’s shower, and rejoined us in the kayak.


Whitsunday Sailing Club, Airlie Beach
Then we hoisted sail and spent the next 3 hours sailing north to Gloucester Passage in a nice SE 15 knot breeze. G. P. is a very scenic are with 400 meter mountains surrounding the area. Anchored up outside Monte’s resort, where they welcome yachties, and one can
Bowen Harbour, Juliana above the car
use their bar and pool facilities. Went ashore and had a couple of drinks in the open air bar. Quite nice, but a little cool in the fresh SE breeze. Had dinner in the boat, and went to bead early.

Bona Bay, Gloucester Island
Sunday 24th September. Started at 6am light wind SSE. Pleasant sail across a wide bay some 16 NM to Bowen. Arrived 9am motored into the harbor basin, which is quite congested with a mixture of yachts and fishing crafts. Bowen is not a tourist town, but quite charming typical country town. Wide streets, hotel on each corner, only one or two storey buildings. After checking out the town, we decided to move on. Discussed the pro and cons of going further north, and realized that apart from Magnetic Island, some 100 NM to the NW, it would be a lot more for quite a distance. So, we would not go any further now, and decided to start heading back. Wind from NE allowed us to close haul on port tack back to Gloucester Island, where we anchored up at sunset in the lee of the island. Beautiful environment!

25th and 26th September. Anchored up in Bona Bay on the western side of Gloucester Island. Saw a giant Manta Ray leisurely swimming around the boat. Thousand of smaller fish hovering near the boat. Occasionally, a larger fish would be looking for a meal and all the small fish jumped madly out of the water, trying to get away. Went for walks on the beach. Visted a 43’ ketch “Vanda” with Kay and Russell onboard. Discussed navigation equipment for hours over a cup of coffee. We swam around the boat and at the beach in 25 C water. The sun was quite strong during the day and it was nice to have the bimini to sit under. Turtles everywhere! There was about 10 other yachts in the bay every night, but not necessarily the same ones. Some yachts anchored up for the night only and continued their journey the next morning, others were in no hurry at all. One fellow in a 35’ yachts had sold his house and taken 2 years to get from Brisbane to here! He would probably stay in the bay for 1 or 2 weeks.

Going east from Gloucester Island
Wednesday 27th September. The wind seems lighter today, so decided to head east to Hook Island. We motored through Gloucester Passage but the wind soon was up to 20 knots on the nose. Decided to continue! Saw 2 giant turtles tided to each other turning in the water. They were either 2 males fighting or one male and one female doing other things! I couldn’t tell! Sailed close hauled on starboard tack across open water to Hayman Island, the most northern island in the Whitsundays. Full main and half headsail. Arrived in Butterfly Bay northern shore of Hook Island. There are many public moorings available, as normally you are not permitted to anchor near the coral. We found that most moorings were already taken- it is a popular area. So we drifted around a little looking for a vacant one. As soon as one became vacant another boat was ready to move in. A game of “musical boys” you could say. After half an hour Stig spotted one about ½ mile away. We headed for it and soon realized that 2 other boats were heading for the same mooring!! It is times like this you appreciate a fast boat!! I gunned it! Full bore, 4000 rpm, and we just won the race and got our reward- a mooring for the night. Hurray!

Thursday 28th September. Snorkeled on the fringe reef, which was spectacular. Crystal clear water and plenty of fish and fantastic coral. Saw a 2’ long barracuda, and some rather large gropers. Sailed the 7 NM to Border Island, to windward with 25 knots wind. At first the waves crashed over foredeck, but the closer we came to the island the smaller the chop became. Anchored in 6 meters of water, just out from the fringe reef. Long trip in to the beach in the dinghy, but thankfully the 18 hp outboard motor made the trip easy. Went for a walk up on a ridge, were we could see the other side of the island.

Fierce domino competition
Friday 29th September. Sailed the short distance SE direction to Whitehaven Beach. Good sailing in the 15-20 knot wind. Although it was to windward, normally a “no-no” when cruising, it was smooth water and good boat speed. Anchored up on southern end of world famous Whitehaven Beach. Some 20 other boats, large and small, were also anchored there. Turtles everywhere around the boat! Wendy went canoeing and walking as soon as we got there. Stig rowed in to the beach and I did some odd jobs on the boat.

Saturday 30th September. Left Whitehaven Beach and sailed the rather short distance to Hamilton Island. Anchored up outside the entrance to the harbour and took the dinghy in. Walked around for an hour or so. Thought about filling up water, but on tasting it thought it was too chlorinated. We still had 300 liters left, so we could wait till coming to Airlie.
Watched some pretty big “super yachts” both inside and outside the harbour. In the afternoon we sailed up to Cid Harbour, situated on the western side of Whitsunday Island, where we anchored for the night together with another 20 or 30 yachts. Calm anchorage, slept well!

Whitsunday Peak looking NW
Sunday 1 October. Wendy went for her regular morning paddle. Meet another couple in a dinghy. They spotted us and came up close. It was Ron and Robin from “Peregrine” that we meet in Gloucester Island. Chatted for a while and learned there was a walking track up to the highest peak on Whitsunday Island, 334 m high. Set off at 12.30 on a rather rough track, but the view from the top was fantastic. Back on the boat at 4pm. Next day Wendy paddled ashore to participate in Yoga classes conducted by a woman from another yacht. Said she would be back on the boat at 10am, but found interesting people on the beach, and arrived back much later. Turtles everywhere around the boat! Then sailed back to Airlie Beach to fill our water tanks and buy more food. Great sail in the strong SE wind! Picked up a mooring outside Able Point Marina at 4pm. Wendy and Stig took of in the dinghy to buy food at Cannonvale shopping centre, while I attended to some tasks onboard. Later that night we motored in to the marina to fill up aprox. 400 liters of water.
Sunset at Cid Harbour


Airlie Beach to Yeppoon

2006-10-04 to 2006-10-11

Tuesday 4th October. We walked back to the Cannonvale shopping centre, to buy a new pair of sandals for the skipper. Wendy walked back into Airlie for some last minute surveying of the shops while Stig attended to some postcards writing. Then we left in the afternoon for Nara Inlet on Hook Island, where we arrived around 3pm. Strong wind from SE but once anchored toward the northern end, it was calm and quite hot. Nara Inlet is narrow and long with steep mountains all around. In the afternoon we explored a track on the eastern side which led to an aboriginal cave with paintings, quite impressive!

Wednesday 4th October. Left Nara Inlet at 8 am. Good sailing, One reef in the main and ¾ headsail. Arrived South Molle Isl. at 10 am Rowed ashore to the resort, which was a little old, but quite cozy with a lot of atmosphere. Then, we walked 2.5 km up to the peak of “Spion Cop”, on the NE point of S. Molle. Nice easy bushtrack. Apart from the resort, the rest of the island is a National Park, as is most of the Whitsundays. Spent the afternoon swimming around the boat in 25 C water, before sailing to Hamilton Island, where we were some days earlier. Strong SE wind! Double reef in main and 2/3 of headsail which seemed to be a good setting. Juliana powered to windward without too much heel. Anchored in same spot as 5 days earlier, outside the harbour of Hamilton Island, close to Dent Island.


South Molle looking west
Thursday 5th October. Good anchorage (not too much rolling). Next to us was a super yacht of at least 130 ft lenght. When I suggested that we would make a straight swap, (as I was in a charitable mood), the owner, or whoever he was, did not agree, strange!!! He obviously didn’t know that Juliana had just won the winter series, div 2! Anyway, we left on a 15 knot SE wind sailing close hauled to Brampton Isl. where we arrived at 4pm. At times, the wind increased to 20-25 knots and we reefed accordingly. Brampton has quite large tidal range, 4-5 meters, and it is important to calculate the amount of anchor chain required. This can be a problem sometimes as it can be over 8 meters deep close to the fringe reef at low tide. To anchor safely, at least 45 meters of chain would then be required, which makes a large swing circle at low tide.

Went ashore and walked along an old railway track, which goes between the jetty and the resort. Suddenly we could hear the rumbling of the Brampton Island XPT flying past at an astonishing speed of 3 knots! “Shivers me timbers!” We dived to the side and narrowly avoided being run over! The resort doesn’t welcome yachties, (but this is ridiculous!) so we turned around just outside to resort’s pool, and walked back to the boat.

Brampton Isl. Peak looking east
Next morning Wendy and I walked up to the Hamilton peak, a pleasant walk along good paths. Beautiful views at a hight of 212 meters. Back at the jetty we waved to Stig to come and pick us up in the dinghy. As he motored slowly towards us, 3 jet skies came flying along in formation. At the same time a helicopter was skimming along the water. One of the jet skiers “driver”was looking at the helicopter and nearly ran into Stig, who had to take evasive action. Luckily, no collision occurred, and the helicopter continued to swoop low across the water. By now we realized there was a cameraman in the helicopter and it appeared they were making a movie of some sort. It continued with waterskiing and hobiecats . Maybe they were making the next 007 movie! Perhaps Juliana was included as well! Where can I collect my royalties? After that spectacle, we decided to sail the 8 NM to Keswick Island. A very light wind from S, SE and E frustrated our efforts, so we motor sails some of the way. Picked up a mooring in the Straight between St Bees Island and Keswick Isl. Here the tide runs quite hard, up to 4 knots at times. As a result, the boat swings around a lot, being affected by wind and current at once. This is a couple of very scenic island. Keswick has an airstrip and is being developed for housing. The airstrip is very short and surrounded by palm trees. It would be a challenge to land in cross wind, I recon! Some 20% of the island is privately owned, the rest is national park. At present there are some 10-20 housed there, but only 4 are permanently occupied. There are plans to house up to 3000 people. To buy a block today would cost some $300,000.- to $400000.-

Saturday 7th October. Left on an easterly wind of 10 knots. Nice sunny day, and we could steer almost SE which was great. When going south one has to take any opportunity available, ie wind from East, Northeast or North, which doesn’t happened often. We sailed all day past Prudhoe Island, and Digby Isl. At dusk we decided on going to Middle Percy Island and anchor up, some 20 NM to the East. I took some readings on the GPS and discovered that as we were sailing in a easterly direction, we actually were moving further west, straight into the dreaded Shoalwater Bay. It was full moon, the tides were big and the current moving west at 3 knots. We “kicked the dog in the guts” (started the engine), and motorsailed to Middle Percy, where we anchored up at 1 am amongst some 20 other boats. It was a very uncomfortable night despite the light wind. Juliana was rolling heavily with the swell coming around the northern side of the island. We didn’t sleep very much that night

Next morning left at 8.30am, after realizing most other boats had left earlier. Found to our delight that the wind was actually from the NE, 10 – 15 knots. However after a couple of hours, it died and we “woke the dog up again”. Motored the remaining 30 miles to Island Head Creek. Although there was no wind the sea was confused with waves coming from many directions. Also, as on many other occasions, the water was covered with a brown substance, which we believe was the so called “coral spawning”. At a certain time of the year this happens. I don’t know why, but it looks rather yucky. Before we talk about man cleaning up his pollution of the sea, how about someone has a word to the coral!!!!!

In entering Island Head Creek we had a shallow sandbar just inside the entrance of the bay to negotiate. It was almost dead on low tide. The chart said 1.5 meters and Juliana draws 1.65m Skipper thought: “Well, surelyit can’t be the absolute lowest tide and they probably put some margin in that measurement!” No prizes for anyone able to guess what happened. Yes, we touched. Luckily, we were only doing less than one knot and there was no real harm done. The water was smooth, and with the rising tide, we were off again after 10 minutes. Why do they make the charts so accurate?

Monday 9th October. The forecast on VHF 21 (which it the channel for every kind of traffic here: call channel, emergency, chit chat) was for a strong SE change to come through some time it the afternoon. We decided to stay put in Island Head Creek, a delightful, secure bay located in army training area (no bullets at present). It is very remote, with Yeppoon 40 NM to the south and Mackay some 100 NM to the north. Surrounded by high mountains, we were looking forward to a couple of days exploring and enjoying the scenery. First night we anchored just inside the

Island Head Creek, wind against tide at anchor
entrance with calm weather. Next day we motored southwest towards the innermost end of the bay, which would offer th best protection from the expected SE change later that day. Found a “hole” with 4 meters of depth, which would be just enough at low tide. Another 5 boats had also taken shelter in the same area. The creek was surrounded by thick mangrove and although we saw none, it was suggested that crocodiles had been found in the area. However, we saw plenty of turtles, fish of all sizes, eagles, oystercatchers and “kites”, Stig being the bird expert. When the change came (1am Tuesday morning) , it was up to 40 knots. No chance of leaving to go south for a few days!
It was not until the Thursday that we considered the conditions suitable to continue south. Motored out into the sea with 2 reefs in the main and headsail ½ rolled up. Wind 20 knots from SE (doe!!), and extremely lumpy sea. It didn’t help that the waves were bouncing on the nearby headland and coming back out again. I would describe it as a giant washing machine! We slowly sailed to windward, against sea and tide. After 4 hours we had advanced 4 NM! In the afternoon the tide turned in our favour and the wind swung to the east. We could now ease the sheets slightly and head straight for Rosslyn Bay. The sea was still very lumpy, and occasionally Juliana would take a wave over the bow and spray the occupants in the cockpit. Anyway, after a long day we tied up at Kepple Bay Marina in Rosslyn Bay at 8pm.
Friday was spent tidying up the boat and for the Skipper to attend to some business matters.


Yeppoon to Mooloolaba

2006-10-14 to 2006-10-19

Saturday 14th October. We used the free courtesy car provided by the marina to go grocery shopping in Yeppoon. Filled up fuel, water and gas. Left for Great Keppel Island at about 1pm. Although ESE wind and having to tack to windward, it was an enjoyable sail, about 8 NM to the island. Anchored in Svendsen Beach on the north side. Svendsens is a family who still lives at this beach and dates back several generations. Unfortunately, we didn,t meet them on the walk along the beach that evening, but with that name, who knows, Stig being of Danish origin, might be related!

"Catch of the day",(but only one day)
Great Keppel Island is a delightful place with plenty of well established bush tracks. It also has a resort, airstrip and daily ferry connections. Unfortunately, the weather was suitable to go south the next day (ie wind not from SE), so we decided to continue rather than exploring the island. We left in light E wind, in fact we motored the first few hours, it was so light. Our destination was “Yellowpatch”, a delightful anchorage some 20 NM south of Keppel. The name is derived from the colour of a huge sand dune on a headland called Cape Capricorn. Actually the colour is more orange than yellow. Arrived there about noon, after the (by now) normal sightings of dolphins, turtles and fish. However the entry required a high tide, and we found, by staying a few meters outside the “bar” and observing the depth sounder, that it was not deep enough for us to enter. So, being keen
Yellowpatch
on advancing further on our SW heading, we decided to continue rather than waiting around for 3-4 hours. Now afternoon, the wind finally came in from NE, Hurray! Hoisted our spinnaker and took off! Our destination was now Facing Island, a few miles east of Gladstone. Although not a recognized “cruising anchorage” it would offer a safe and secure anchorage for the night. However, the sailing was so good (we were gaining on a much larger ketch ahead) and the wind still blowing from NE, so by late afternoon we decided to keep going. The new destination was “Pancake Creek”, not far from the town called “Seventeenseventy”. The sun set in the west, we were 10 miles west of Pancake Creek. I said to the crew: “Not sure of the correct entrance to this anchorage and there are a few rocks outside. How about we continue sailing? There were some ineligible murmurs amongst the crew, but generally it appeared the decision was accepted. So we continued sailing on the 10-15 knot E-NE wind. The new destination was Bundaberg. Our ETA was the morning of the next day. We could not get any “VMR” (Volunteer Marine Rescue) on the VHF radio, so to get an update on the weather situation, I decided to call my good mate: Captain Brian on “Fleetwood”. Back in Berkeley Vale he looked up the weather report on the net and relayed it to us. Perfect! From that we learned that a southerly change was due the next day, and it was a matter of getting as far south as possible before the change. Night sailing is my favorite and this was one of the best. The stars were so bright against an incredible black sky. We layed on the cockpit seats and just stared straight up. Sometimes you could see a satellite slowly “blinking” its way across the sky.
In the morning we were close to Bundaberg, and the crew was looking forward to some R & R and to sample “the local product”! But, guess what happened, yes the wind was right, there was still enough time before the southerly change was due, so we decided to continue to Harvey Bay, where we would be protected from any weather from the south. However, the wind had now died, and we motored the last 5 hours to Urangan, a harbour at the northern end of Great Sandy Straight. As we entered the harbour, the southerly hit! Perfect timing!
Next day we took the local bus into Maryborough, some 60 minutes away. It was a typical county town with a lot of historical building, restored to original condition. We found Maryborough a very interesting and enjoyable town.
Next day we decided to leave at 3pm. The wind was still from SE at 20-25 knots. However, Fraser Island gave us the protection we needed. However, at first we had to get out of Urangan and advance to 5 NM south across vast waterways until we would enjoy the benefit of the lee of Fraser Isl. It was choppy to say the least, and Juliana poked her nose into the steep waves on a few occasions. Slowly, we advanced and the waves diminished. At 6 pm we were anchored up close to the shore of Fraser Isl. in 4 meters of water. After a calm night (apart from slapping halyard), we motored, and later sailed through the rest of Great Sandy Straight without any further issues. We arrived in Tin Can Bay at 2 pm. This is a sleepy (but probably not for long) fishing town at the southern end of Great Sand Straight. Being a little unfamiliar with the entrance to the harbour and being right on low tide, we managed to find a sandbank. As a result we had to wait some 30 minutes for the tide to come in. Most embarrassing, as we were in full view of the local sailing club, the Volunteer Marine Rescue tower and everyone in the harbour. It was with some relief when the tide came in and we could continue the 200 meters left into the anchorage. After a couple of hours walking up and down the peninsula based town, we hauled the anchor up and sailed north to “Pelican Bay” where we joined 5 other anchored yacht, ready to cross the Wide Bay Bar the next morning.

Sun rise west of Wide Bay Bar
Wide Bay Bar has a fearsome reputation, not because of the bar itself. The point were you cross the sandbar is 6 meters deep! However, what can be most unpleasant is the “swell against tide” that effects the area inside the bar. This area is called the “Mad Mile” and it can be like “a giant boiling kettle”. Indeed, on the next morning, when we crossed right on high tide, there was a 1.5 meter swell from northeast. I don’t think the tide was running out yet. Conditions were by no means severe, but still Juliana was pitching and rolling heavily. Not dangerous, but most unpleasant! It was a story going around that a 40 ft. catamaran had capsized there recently.

Tin Can Bay
Soon, we were in open waters again in the Pacific. The sea was different. The swell was longer, not so steep and in some ways the motion of the boat was more pleasant. We motorsailed for a couple of hours with little wind and therefore some rolling and pitching, but, the wind finally came in from NE. Up goes the spinnaker, and we took off. Fantastic sailing as the wind increased slowly and we surged down some of the waves. After 53 NM of going almost due south, we arrived in Mooloolaba at 5pm. Tied up in Harbour Marina, right near the centre of town. Wendy’s sister Coral and husband Bob came onboard and we had a good chat with nibbles and drinks.


Brazil, Part 1

2007-11-14 to 2007-11-23

After 30 hours, 7 hours stopover in Santiago we arrived in Rio 3am in the morning.  The flight was uneventful except for one time when Wendy kicked off her shoes so that she would be a little more confortable. When we were about to land she reached for her shoes under the seat. She found one which she tried to pull out. It was a little `stuck`under my seat but with a little jerking and pulling she got it out. That was good, except for the fact that the shoe belonged to the lady behind us, and Wendy had just removed it from her foot. Everyone had a good laugh as the shoe was returned by hand´delivery´.

In Rio we were greeted with a Wendy & Stefan sign. Because we were arriving at this early hour we got the hostel to organise a taxi. Rio is a huge airport but very bare of people at this time in the morning. We followed the taxi driver walking for a long way to his taxi. It is about a half hour drive to our hostel. We know now why Brazil creates such racing car drivers. This taxi driver thought he was on the circuit racing I think. He was clocking 130ks in 80k zones. He went straight through red lights. We found out later that they do this at this time in the morning because if they stop and a car comes up behind they can jump in and rob you. 

Driving to our hostel at this time of night was quite spectular. The lights of the city. The Christ statque on the hill lit up. The waterfront all lit up. We finally arrived and there was someone to show us to our room. We went to sleep and woke thinking it was about 9am in the morning and decided to go down to breakfast only to find out it was 3pm in the afternoon. We were sharing a room with two Brazilian boys. They got in about the same time as we arrived as they has been out on the town. They also woke up at a similar time. 

The first afternoon in Rio it was raining but quiet warm. We were staying in Ipanema, a couple of block from the beach and very central. A very buzzing place. We walked to the beach and around the area. Finally we found a nice bar to sit outside but under cover and watch the rain and the passing people. We had a meal at the same place. I tried a coctail a blue Hawaii.

Fri 16th November, still raining but warm. Went on bus & train into the centre of Rio with our roomates Paulo & Renate. Paulo was a computer professor at a university. In Rio doing a course. He spoke good English and was from Northern Brazil. We gained a lot of information about Brazil. He tried to teach us some of the Brazilian Language. We found our own way from there to Botanical Gardens, which were very impressive with a view of the Christ statue. We walked back around the Lake

17th Nov. Still raining but clearing we went on a city tour. The Christ Statue, Soccer stadium where the world cup is to be staged in 2014 etc. We had a good English speaking guide and learnt a lot. RIO with a population of 11 million, beautiful but a lot of slums.  

 

18 November. Took the local but to the main ´Bus Central´, which was huge. There we transfered to long distance bus (very comfortable) for the trip to Parity. Travelled through many shanty towns and then more counrty side. Very scenic with high peaks and and deep valleys. Lots of island, and many ships anchored here and there. At one point we went past a nuclear power station. At Parity we stayed at `Casa de Colonia` a nice colonial budget priced hotel. It even had hot water in the shower! This town has been preserved as it was in 1650-1750 and even the streets had rough stone pavement. Restuarants were rather expensive (a meal up to A$150.-). Went to bed at 7.30pm and woke up 7.30am. Great to catch up on some sleep  


Brazil, Part 2

2007-11-24

Mon 19th Nov.  The best fruit shake I have ever tasted for breakfast. Banana, mango and mellon all blended up. Was as creamy as a milk shake but all fruit. A photo of this place in paraty is in the last entry, the decore of this place was very interesting as was many of the hanging pictures showing the history of the area, colonial. We caught the local bus to Tindade. Again a photo in the last entry. a beautiful beach area. Unfortunately the weather was a little rainy but warm. We love catching local buses they are full of characters. It was a very scenic ride over the mountains. Guys were taking big piles of mats to sell on the beach. They heaped them on one seat and both sat on top of them holding on for dear life as we negotiated the bendy scenic road. Alcohol is sold everywhere supermarkets, petrol stations and is so cheap. A bottle of local rum costs $5 the coke you put with it costs not much less. We made some coctails that night.

Tues 20th Nov. Caught coach to Sao Paulo, population 17 million changed buses to Curitiba. Amazing when you  think the population of Australia 20 million. We spent about 14 hours on th bus that day but the scenery along the coast was again spectacular and the coaches in Brazil are very comfortable. We got to Curitiba about 11.30pm and made our way across the road to a hotel mentioned in Lonely Planet about $30 for a basic double room with breakfast. Handy to catch a  train billed as the most spectacular train ride in Brazil and it lived up to our expectations. CURITIBA WE LEFT FROM was 900metres. We went down to sea level. Sometimes we looked down and all we could see was a huge drop (see photo). How they got all the metal to make the track is unbelievable. The train went very slowly it was nearly like bushwalking in the mountains without walking. The trip took about 4 hours. We again found our way on local buses. We never thought we would get there but finally got to the place where the ferry left for what is billed as Brazil´s most enchanting island. Ilha-do-Mel.

We ahve found the people so friendly and helpful. The ferry ride took 30 min.  A man took our luggage on a hand drawn trolley along sand covered streets. We found a Pousade`` (bed and breakfast) . Ìn the next room was a young brazilian couple who had just come back from working in NZ. They were so helpful and friendly. There are no cars on this island. A very relaxing place after the big cities. We walked to the lighthouse, beautful beaches. We stayed 2 days on the island, lovely meals and sampling the local drink: `Caipirinha´ (lemon). Lovely, and quite potent. Made from sugarcane and lemon.

23rd November. Left the island and took a 3 hour coach ride back to Curitiba. The following day we spent 10 hours on a coach to Faz do Iguacu (Iguacu Falls). The coaches in Brazil are very comfortable and the scenery great. We are now staying in a very central place in town. The hotel is midrange and the double room A$26.- including a lovely buffet breakfast. We caught the local bus out to the falls (16km A$1.20). A lot of people on the bus, standing room only. We had backpacks and the umbrella was in Wendy´s pack. with the handle sticking out. When a girl was getting off she slipped past Wendy and got caught on the umbrella handle. Wendy thought her bag was being pinched and nearly got dragged off at the wrong busstop. Anyway, Stefan came to the rescue and unhooked the girls. No real harm done, but lots of laughter.


Leaving Brazil to Argentina

2007-11-30

IGUASSU FALLS I thought I was over waterfalls after my recent trip to the Kimberlies, which I thought were spectacular but the ones here are something else. Awesome is the word I will use. Photos do not do them justice. The sight,the sound, the volume of water. the rainbows formed, the birds using the up & down drafts, The heights, cannot be descibed in words either. We spent one full day at the waterfalls on the Brazil side and one full day waterfalls on the Argentina side. Did lots of bush walks. Both sides are beautiful National Park and well looked after. I went on a big rubber duckie style boat under a waterfall. Stefan thought it was too tame for him, but I question that. The boat operators are very skillfull. The falls they go under aren´t exactly small.  The water under the falls looks like inside a washing machine and they go straight under. It was a hot day and everyone gets drenched. They do fast turns like the ones in Sydney Harbour. It was certainly an experience not to be missed. 

On the Argentinian side of the falls we thought the names of the bush walks funny. The higher track was called the superior track. The lower track was called the inferior. There are also some funny signs inside hotel rooms. Stefan thought one was funny. It said " When you leave your room tell the girls to get it off" What it meant was to tell the girls to turn the air conditioner off when you leave your room as it needed to be turned off from a central control. 

I have not had too many problems as a vegetarian. They have some lovely buffets that you can choose from and pay by weight. If you are a little hungry you pay little. If you are very hungry you pay more.

Everywere we have gone so far the Brazilians and Argentinians have been so helpful and friendly we cannot believe it. If they don´t speak English they go out of their way to find someone who can. We actually had one guy come chasing after us as he realised he had given us the wrong directions. They are so like to talk and express themselves in an energetic way.  Every day or so we have a new home to come back to. We are mastering all the different local bus systems very well and so far have always got to where we wanted to go and returned. At first I was worried heading off. Now I am very relaxed. The locals have been very tolerent of us. The local buses are so cheap. Sometimes about 30c to go 10 klms. We are gradually getting used to siestas( resting in the heat of the day) having dinner at 9.30pm. It is different.

When we went to Italy and we were really hot we went into churches to cool down. Over here it is service stations when you are really hot and want somewhere cool. They´are modern with not much character but air conditioned with sit down food and drinks.

On the Brazil side of the falls we went to a recommended place for pizza and wine. It looked a fairly classy place. You could eat as much pizza, chicken & chips and dessert pizza as you could eat. Waiters kept coming around with trays of food and serving what you wanted. The funny thing was that when we ordered wine they opened the bottle in front of us and tipped it into a plastic jug. Then put ice in it. We still don´t know why. Maybe they were not licensed to sell wine. We had never had chocolate topped pizza before. You just learn to go with the flow. You go out and order a cocktail, One cocktail was called sex on the beach. I resisted the temptation of ordering this one from the waiter who was tall dark and handsome. I ordered a Pina Colardo instead. It costs about $1.60 all decorated as well. It is unbelievable. The surprising thing is that you never see drunk people they seem to be very responsible despite alcohol being so cheap and available everywhere.

We flew from Puerto Iguazu to Buenos Aires Argentina. 1 hour 40 Mins, over the falls and the big river systems. We were probably becoming too relaxed, Tania had told us it was a good idea to book accomodation in advance in the big cites but we had managed not booking in advance before. Don´t you hate it when you realise you should take notice of what your children say. We picked out a place to stay that we thought suited us and gave the address to the taxi driver to take us there only to find it was fully booked. Luckily the Lady spoke good English and she rang a lot of places before finding somewhere and we had to get another taxi. We are staying in the suburb however that Tania recommended and it is a good one. Very leafy, lots of restrautes, a little trendy. Argentina seems a very safe place and very cheap. We thought Brazil was cheap but Argentina it seems is cheaper. We meet a lot of girls travelling by themselves even saying they are having no problems.

When we first arrived in Buenos Aires we thought "Another big busselling city" but over the days it has grown on us. We are used to catching the No. 93 local bus into the city. There are a lot of relaxing big parks to stroll in. It has a very European, Melbourne even feel about it. The traffic however is something different. There can be 6 lanes of traffic going one way. Traffic doesn´t indicate or stay in one lane, they just snudge in wherever they can. A bit like Russian Rulete. Buses pull up to let you off at an angle across lanes sometimes you have to get off a couple of lanes from the side and weave in and out the traffic. When cars park they are touching. To get out they just snudge the car in front back and forward untill they can get out. It has so be seen to be believed.

Last night was definitely a highlight. We went to a Tango Show. The hostel organised it for us. We were the only non South Americans there. We were picked up at 9pm in a fancy car and taken through the lights of the city to this place. On arrival we were treated as famous people, had the car door opened for us by the doorman and were ushered to these box seats right at the front of the stage. It was a very intimate place with a stage and lots of character. We were served a first course, main course and lovely dessert, lovely wine and coffee. The show was first class. A quartet-bass, violin, piano & accordian. 4 solo singers & 3 couples doing the most amazing dancing I have ever seen. They introduced us as from Australia and everyone cheered. Wait for the photos. Wendy Tangos with a Brazilian Tango dancer. Oh! What a night ! He asked Stefans permission.


LEAVING BUENOS AIRES

2007-12-02 to 2007-12-03

A footnote to the Tango night was that everything included, private car pick up and back, very professional show, 3 course meal, wine and tip only cost us about $52 each. We had a bit of a problem finding accomodation the last night in Buenas Aires. We were starting to think we might have to sleep on the street. The lady at the hostel rang a lot of places that were all booked out. She then organised for us to stay at an apartment for about $28 for a double room. It was a nice private apartment. There were some Columbian students also living there. They didnt normally have people staying in the room and had to go out and buy some double sheets. They went to so much trouble for us. They didn t speak much English but were very kind and a friendly cat. We keep wishing we could speak spanish. We said we were going to Columbia. They said it was a safe good place these days.

2nd Dec flew from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, still in Argentina but about 3.5 hour flight .We went from summer clothes to heavy coats. When landing they searched Stefans luggage, AFTER the flight! strange, we still dont know why. El Calafate is a small insignifiant town that is being transfered to a modern tourist town. Reason being there is a very impressive glacier nearby. The landscape is barren, windswept hardly any trees. Got a nice room in a hostel in the attic. First we went to the local supermarket to get some food. Dogs everywhere in the streets. seemingly homeless but friendly. Second day we walked around town for a while in the cold wind. Then on the afternoon we took the bus to the Glacier. We were intending to take a boat in the lake, but didnt realize when the bus stopped quite a distance from the glacier that we should have caught our boat there. Anyway we still got very close. About 50 meters from the glacies face, and let me tell you it was awsome. 60-80 metres face about 4 km wide, 14 km long and it slides downhill 2 meters every day. Bits of ice, small and large falls from the face now and then. You can hear cracking sounds and groaning noises. it is like watching a gigantic monster. We returned on the bus at 8pm (at this latitude the sun is still up). We were the last bus back to town. It was cold and windy. Suddenly some people appeared that had missed a previous bus. They sat in the isle as there was no other seats. They were lucky, as it would have been a miserable night next to a glacier.

The next day we took the bus to Puerto Natales a bit further south. We crossed the border to Chile. Everyone had to go through customs. Stefan got though all right with his european passport without and fees.  Some other Australians on the bus said that all Australians had to pay $56.- fee cash in US dollars. We had no US dollars at all and Wendy started to get nervous. She started contemplate the prospect of working off the fee in an Chilean saltmine, while Stefan continued with the travels. Fortunately, the fee only applies if you arrive by air. Wendy was relieved!

On th 4th December we arrived in Puerto Natales. Got a very nice guesthouse called Hostel les Carretas. Wonderful service. Very homely. Decorated with santas and Teddies. Very clean roon with private bathroom, coffee on arrival. Full breakfast, cereal, Homemade cake, toast etc. $32 double per night. Interesting Parks in this town. Big Trees very neatly trimmed in round shapes.

The next day we left our main luggage at the guest house. We set out by bus to start our 4 day 3 night bush walk in Torres del Paine National Park Chile. We planned to do the walk they call the W walk. You basically walk over this time to form a W. We had booked lodges for the 3 nights so only needed our personal things for that time. We could have meals at the lodges but took a bit of our own food as well. After the 3 hour bus trip we caught a boat to start our walk. A guy working on the boat was an Australian who had worked on this boat for 3 years.

This is the reflection I wrote sitting in the lodge on the 3rd night of bushwalking these mountains:  Everyone says a picture tells the story but I question this. No photo stefan & I take could capture the beauty of this area so I will try my best in words to descibe it as I sit looking out the window of the lodge which is a typical wooden syle chalet. Glass panel wooden windows the fire roaring and warm outside a freezing wind. A bushwalker paradise. I have to pinch myself to make sure it is real. The Chile flag blows outside the lodge to remind me it is real. It is a dream I have had to come here for a long while. 200,000 bush walkers from all over the world come here every year. It is not for the faint hearted. The Nationial Park is called Torres Del Paine. It is for a reason. I remember names by association. The way I remember the name of this park is Tourists in pain. They are all hobbling around me. Most stiff in some part of their body after many days of walking or in many places climbing the mountains.. Our experience has been of Exileration? awe, pain and tiedness. A experience we will never forget.

At times the wind was so strong.The wind blew the door of the lodge open at one stage. It at times was whipping water out of the lake into the air. I have never experienced wind like this before that blew you from side to side as you were walking. Luckly most of the time we had good weather, the sun was out but there was also rain and we were going with the wind. Snow dusted dagger shaped granite mountains, Glaciers, lakes and rivers. Bush flowers of every colour, I have never seen so many. At one stage in a protected spot we sunbaked on a stoney beach of the lake. The conditions changed by the minute. Every minute the view is different with the different weather.

Along the track horses passed. Beautiful horses, about 8 of them with 2 riders dressed in Chilian atire. Horses are the only way of getting supplies up to the lodges. Each lodge sleeps a minimum of 4 to a room.

In the lodge I look around. People leave personal belongings around. There is a bond between everyone and trust. Black people, white people. People from all parts of the earth come to bushwalk this special area. Everyone coming in with backpacks very weary but satisfied. A french couple beside me are playing chess. I love to listen to the French lanuage being spoken. A young couple from Perth heading back within a week after 8 months around South America with a lot of good adviice for us. The french couple we shared a room with. They spoke very good English. We did most of our walking with a very nice young English bloke who has lived in Sydney for 5 years. There are many well educated, well travelled interesting people you meet.

I just love to sit here in the lodge, tired absorbing the changing view and the people inside. Popular English Music is being played and Ricky Martin style as well. WHAT A LIFELONG EXPERIENCE WE ARE LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE HAVING!

 

 


Southern Chile

2007-12-04 to 2007-12-11

I always seem to start with a footnote. I guess I have never thought much about Glaciers and what they are but they are weird things! Amazing! Their height, their length and width. The noises they make and break off into the icy water. The bloating bits in the water, small icebergs. Anyway we survived the tourists in pain challenge and made it back to our nice home in Puertos Natales with the santas & teddies and the rest of our luggage. There was actually a bath at this place & I had one. The water was not quite as hot as I was used to but it was good. There was a common kitchen at this place. We actually went to the supermarket and cooked a meal that ended up being what we expected. In restautres we never seem to get what we expect when we order. There is always that surpise element when something completely different arrives but we learn to go with the flow.

From here we flew down to Punta Arenas. This must be one of the coldest place on earth and this is summer. We went to see a pengin colony. They were cute! This latitude is approx 500klms south of the most southern part of New Zealand. It is really south. Good for an experience but how people live here all year round with this being summer we cannot understand. VERY BLEAK! The wind nearly blew you over and rain also. An experience if how other people live  and adapt. A city with a very European feel. Lots of lovely roses, big roses and a lovely central Park. A city with lots of statues. Again we stayed in a very homely bed & breakfast place about $40 per night. Nice & warm inside.

After 2 nights in the most southern part of our trip we caught our flight to Puerto Montt.


Lakes District, Chile

2007-12-11 to 2007-12-13

I usually start with a footnote. I am now starting with where we are now in San Pedro, Northern Chile in the dessert, it is hot, moonlike in places, with the most amazing coloured salt lakes. More of that later.

We caught a mini bus to the airport Puntas Arenas. It was pouring rain but the driver didn´t use the wipers. We can only assume they didn´t work and how he could see to drive we don´t know but we have this saying just go with the flow. We luckily arrived at the air port  safely on route to Puerto Monitt.  The flight was amazing again over snow capped huge mountains. Once in Puerto Monitt we caught the shuttle bus to the city. We never know where we are going to spend the night. We have our Lonely Planet book as a guide but somethings have changed since they printed the book and we never really know wether we will will have to sleep on the street tonight especially with our limited spanish vocabulary. It is amazing how good one gets at sign language. We were heading for a nice area we had been told about half an hour by micro bus outside the city, Puerto Varas. This relaxing lakeside town was originally a German settlement so has a German, Swiss feel about it by a beautiful lake. Puerto Monitt on the other hand is a busy port town.

The Bus Terminal was incredibly busy. Absolutely packed with people of all kinds. We couldn´t understand why the bus drivers, sitting in their seats, were lightly pipping their horn all the time. In the end we thought they must be calling for business. Many bus companies were competing, and this was their waÿ of saying: ¨Here I am! Come traveling with me! 

The first day we didn´t know what to do, so we jumped on a bus thinking we were going to a particular town. As it turned our this bus was not going where we though, but it did go to a nice National Park called Pedrohue, and we were not dissapointed. A massive  river  thundering down from the mountains with spectacular waterfalls. We spend all day walking around the park and returned exhausted back to our hostel at night. The hostel was one of the first that we stayed at with a common kitchen., This we enjoyed, as we got to meet many other travellers from all over the world.

 


Lakes district part 2 Chile

2007-12-13 to 2007-12-15

Whilst  in Puerto Varas we meet a guy about Stefan`s age riding a push bike around South America,with all the mountains, pack and all. He will spend six months. He was an amazing man to talk to. He has done a similar trip in South Africa by bike. We also here ,visited a island  called Chiloe a 2 hour bus ride. The bus then continued over on the Ferry to the island.We got on late and didn`t get a seat. Men always offer you a seat, even if it means them standing for hours. I felt so guilty but they are offended if you refuse their offer. It is so wierd this Hearing songs like Bye Bye American Pie on the radio on the bus with all these non English speaking people. Everyone is so patient of each other on these crowded buses. You get used to getting something completely different drom what you think you are ordering at restrautes. It is always a surprise. After visiting this very scenic area we caught a flight to Santiago. A very scenic flight over the snow capped Andes mountains ,volcanoes.

A very helpful bus driver helped us find the hostel we had in mind. We got off too early and he called us back on the bus which was lucky. We had a double room in a big old Spanish colonial style mansion turned into a a hostel. $28 a night. It was full of antique furniture, High ceilings and big windows. Cobble stones. It took you back though the ages


Santiago Chile

2007-12-15 to 2007-12-18

Santiago has a colonial feel about it. Lots of nice parks. At night it is a very lively place especially in the main square. A huge lit up Christmas tree sponsored by Coca Cola. Some things you cannot get away from. Nice warm barmy nights at last.The square was full of markets and buskers. Stefan couldn´t believe one busker got Stefan to give him his pocket of change, which would have been quite a bit of money for a busker in Santiago. He was clever and a good talker and Stefan had to except he had been outdone and ended up saying "good on him" Stefan hasn´t been near buskers after this. He gives them a wide berth. 

Some wonderful walking to be done in Santiago. We walked upto a fortress with lovely gardens and over the river through  Bella Visa, a leafy surburb. lots of bars at night and restaurtes. We sat outside and had a nice meal here before taking a steep quite long walk up to a virgin statue overlooking Santiago. A good view and some amazing lifesized wooden carved figures of the nativity scene. Also a very impressive huge openair church overlooking the city. 

Santiago has a very effective Metro which we got used to. We were walking in Santiago one afternoon when a group of people passed us. To us they looked like sporting supporters whose team had won. All of a sudden police cars with sirens came from everywhere. Over 10 police cars, parking in the middle of a main road and chasing these people with battons etc. We didn´t hang around, were not sure what it was all about but maybe they had nothing better to do as these people to us seemed very peaceful.

From Santiago we caught a bus, taking a couple of hours to Vallpariso for the day, through a pretty wine growing area. Vallpariso is a old port city with a lot of charm. We caught a cable car type thing up the hill to a quaint area with a wonderful view over the city and the pacific ocean. We also caught a train to the next city along the coast Vinar Del Mar, a beach area. A mini Surfers Paradise. We walked back along a coastal walk. We had sunbake and I went in for a surf even through the water was a bit cold with a cold current always present.. I have swum in every South American country we have been to I am proud to say. 

We had paid for a plane ticket from Santiago to La Paz in Bolivia. Everyone we spoke to was saying not to miss the salt lakes in the S.W. corner of Bolivia as it was a highlight of their South American trip. We couldn´t change our flight or get our money back. It was a big decision to make forfeiting our flight plushaving to spend 24hours on a bus to get there. We went to the salt lakes and It proved to be the right decision. WOW what an experience.

Buses are the most common form of transport in South America. Bus terminals huge. We were on this bus for 24 hours. What a bus!!! We paid about $70 each. I can never sleep on buses or planes but I slept like a baby. It was like travelling 1st class on a plane. The seats were very wide & lay back horizonal with a horizonal leg rest, blanket & pillow. Meals and drinks included. Toilet on board. In 24 hours it only stopped a couple of times.It is certainly the most comfortable bus ride Stefan or I have ever had. Buses are of all types from the above mentioned to very smelly and crowded local buses. We have certainly experienced both ends of the scale which has been very interesting.


San Pedro to UYUNI salt lake desert, Bolivia

2007-12-19 to 2007-12-23

Completing our 24 hour bus trip into the start of the salt lake desert we passed a landscape that could only be likened to the moon. San Pedro is a small town, an oasis in this barren landscape. Our hostel was mudbrick with hammocks hanging outside. It was very hot in the middle of the day and a very sleepy place at this time of the day. The guy that owned the hostel spoke good English that he said he had only learned from tourists. He was a lovely person with long black hair and very friendly. This little town caters for people starting their salt lake desert trips. We only stayed 1 night here and booked our 3 day trip. There are a lot of cafes and bars.

We were picked up by a mini bus the next day to take us to the Bolivian border about an hour away. We started feeling light headed and a little breathless because of the attitude. Once clearing immigration, a small mudbrick hut out in the middle of nowhere, we were met by our driver with 4 wheel drive landrover and met the others on our trip. One Irish guy Dony 29, Julie Canadian 29, a Korean guy 23 and Stefan & I. What a lot of fun we have had with these folks. After a day, with the experience we were having, it was like we had known them a lifetime. The main problem on the trip was that our driver only spoke Spanish. It was funny and we had a lot of laughs and sign lanuage. None of our group spoke spanish. Luckly the best part of the trip was visual. Luggage on top together with petrol drums and spare wheel, and off we went! The first day we saw the ¨white lake¨. The lake was only 0.5 metres deep and flamingos walked about. It was windy and cold. First night we stayed in a very basic mud brick house at an altitude of almost 5000 meters. Because of this, we developed a severe headache and after a basic dinner (soup) served by local woman dressed in traditional clothes, Wendy and I went to bed.

Altitude sickness can be serious, with breathlessness, headache and vomiting, but in most cases the body adjusts after 2-7 days.

The second day we set off again after the driver had to repair a punctured tyre. There was ice on the ground, so the night temperature must have been below  0 C. Everything done by hand, as there is no power available. Driving along very rough roads for hours, we then came to the blue, red and finally yellow lakes. Every lake had flamingoes and Lamas around them. We also came across mud holes where hot volcanic gas bubbled through. After a while we stopped at a hot spring, about 30 C, where everyone swam except the driver and Stefan (who had a cold). One could feel the hot water coming through natural holes in the ground below.

We drove through the desert on non-exsisting roads with no vegetation at all, strange shaped rocks, colourful hills. After a while we came to a town with a few mud bricks houses. Here we had lunch, again prepared by the local people. Soup for entre and chicken for main and watermellon. Not bad! the driver repaired the 2nd flat tyre while we ate. There was a railway track through the town, but we saw no train. We were told this was the track to Chile. It had water filling facilites as if they were still using steamtrains.

Then we continued through a very remote valley where people farmed lamas and sheep. They lived in caves permanently and the only source of water was a small river running through the valley.  Finally we arrived a the night stop for the second night. Relatively, this was quite upmarket, hot water and electricity! But only between 7pm and 9pm.

Our last day on the trip was on the salt lake. At some times of the year it is under water, but we spent the day driving on it flat chat. Very smooth after all the bumpy roads on the previous days. One could understand speed reccords being made on this type of lake. The salt flats area is 12,000 sq klms. Other vehicles in the distance formed mirages. Surreal is becoming a boring word. See pictures.We came to an island of cactus after a long time and later a salt hotel. Everything made of salt, building, furniture etc.We finished this trip in Uyuni.


Uyuni to La Paz Bolivia

2007-12-22 to 2007-12-23

We finished our salt lake trip around midday. We had to again catch an overnight bus at 8pm from Uyuni to La Paz. It was a rainy afternoon with thunder storms so our group stuck together found a nice cafe. It was all decorated with Christmas lights and decorations. Hard to believe Christmas was only a couple of days away. We had a meal and spent the afternoon listening to Irish jokes. Dony the Irish guy was certainly a character and living up to his Irish heritage. It is common in Bolivia for the power to go off for hours on end. They had to turn on battery operated music and candles. A little boy came around lighting the candles. It was so cute.

The overnight bus looked ok, but as soon as we started driving the road proved to be similar to an outback goat track. We were bumping along at 10 km/h sometimes and it sounded like the wheels would fall off any moment. After a few hours however the road must have improved a little cause I (Stefan) fell asleep. Every now and then there was a roadblock where the police was checking every vehicle. We arrived in La Paz at 4am. We were told the trip would take 11 hours but it only took 8.5 hours. Must have been some communication breakdown. It was dark, cold, and we had no hostel to go to. After some consultation of the ¨Lonely Planet¨ guide book, we decided to catch a taxi to a recommended hostel. Everything in La Paz was shut and bolted up, but we managed to wake someone by ringing a bell. It was good to get a few more hours of sleep that morning. Again our group stuck together sharing a room the 5 of us.

La Paz, 1,5 million people, located in a valley 3600 m above sea level. It is a bustling city, traffic without (western style) rules. They drive like it was a car race, but amazingly actual contact between vehicles is rare. Unfortunately, there is a lot of poverty and it is common to see the local selling things on the footpaths or just begging. Bolivia is the poorest country in S.A., but it is also very cheap to live here. A double room is about A$10.-/night and that often includes breakfast. Petrol is about A$45 cents/litre, obviously subsidised by the government.

23 Dec. we spent walking around town. The whole town is located in a steep valley and as the valley slopes down, all streets goes either uphill or downhill. But it is a very scenic city with snowcapped mountains in the background. Walking around is quite an effort in the thin air, and we had to stop now and then to catch our breath.

In one part of town there was a lot of movement in the crowd. We decided to check it out. It was the nations main stadium and we thought: ¨Great, we will be able to see our first South American soccer match. But after lining up in a long que for a while, we were turned away. It was a Christmas gala day for all school children in the La Paz area and for some strange reason the guards didn´t think we looked like local children. 

One thing that stood out was the 6-8 seater vans that operated as mini buses. Each van had a usher (ofter a 10-15 year old boy) that was hanging out of the opened sliding door, calling out the suburbs that they were going to. If someone put their hand up, the van would stop in whatever lane it was in at the time, and the new passenger had to try to reach the van without being run over. It was not unusual to fit 20 or more people in such a van. The police, of which there were plenty, did not care at all about the overloading, but was more concerned about holding up the traffic.


Christmas in Copacabana

2007-12-24 to 2007-12-28

The day before Christmas we said good bye to La Paz and took a 2 hour ride on a local bus to Copacabana, a pretty town on Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. We had organised to stay at the same hotel as Julie & Dony our Irish & Canadian friends to celebrate Christmas. It seems that like in Sweden they have Christmas celebrations more on Christmas eve. We booked in for a Christmas meal at La Cupula hotel where we were staying. We had gone slightly upmarket in accomodation for Christmas, still only $20 for a double room overlooking the lake.

The four of us had a lovely Christmas Dinner, again with a view over the lake. The meal Included a lovely coctail, Turkey dinner, I had vegetarian Lazana, a glass of red wine, followed by flaming bananas. Bananas walnuts & rasins in Liquior set alight. It was a wonderful night. Julie & Dony had written us a poem about salt desert trip. It was very good. We will frame it. It is a wonderful memory. On boxing day Stefan & I caught a boat to Isla del Sol, which means Island in the Sun. The boat ride took a couple of hours. It is said that this is where the first Inca orginated. There are a lot of Inca ruins on this island on lake Titicaca. We walked on this island. Nice water views, donkeys, pigs and green crops, mudbrick houses. It was a lovely relaxing way to spend Boxing day.

The next day we said goodbye to Julie & Dony. We crossed the Peru boarder to Puno by bus. We agreed to catch up with them in Cusco. We hadn´t booked accomodation in Puno. Puno is a fairly big city and strangely enough we ended up finding out we were next door in the hotel to them without either of us planning it. Weird!!!!! So again we had dinner with them and another couple of New Zealanders we meet along the way. In Puno we went on a boat to see the floating islands on Lake Titicaca, but on the Peru side this time. It is a huge lake. People have maintained and lived on these islands the same way for hundreds of years. There are 42 islands. The islands and boats are made from reeds. They are called the forgotten Incas. They were driven from the mainland to build these islands hundreds of years ago. It was a fascinating experience to see how these people live with their animals and relying on fishing etc. They have to anchor these islands so they don´t float away. Puno has a wonderful coffee shop with a lovely choice of cakes which we enjoyed.

It was then about a 7 hour bus ride to Cusco. Very scenic, green, snow capped mountains and fast flowing rivers, with people washing their clothes in the river in many places.


New year´s Eve in Cusco

2007-12-28 to 2008-01-01

Cusco (pop. 330000) in Peru is the main city for the Inca ruins. It is 3500m above sea and is a high speed tourist town. People come from all over the world to see Inca ruins and in particular Machu Picchu. The inca´s rules this area until 1550, when Spain took control.

28-29 jan: arrived and went to our hotel which was about $15.-/night. We had booked this room beforehand, but due to communication breakdown, the hotel had not got the message. But they had a spare room in the basement which had no lock and the common bathroom had no lock either. But it was virtually booked out all over town, so we simply had to accept. Slept ok and went walking around  town in the morning. Very cold and rainy.  Tried to find a booking for the trip to the famous Machu Picchu, but found that the train that takes 3-4 hours was booked out for a few days. After talking to a few agents, who knew how to ramp up the price, we decided on a US$165.- package over 2 days. This included: bus/train return, overnight stay in hotel at Aguas Calientes and entry to the site. We were originally going to do the 4 day hike, but Wendy had developed a bad back, so she was barely able to walk at all.

Wendy now continues: Yes I was so disappointed to not be able to walk the 4 day Inca Trail, something I have looked forward to doing for a long time but looking back I am satisfied with what I saw out of Cusco. I had pulled a mussel in my back and had to take it easy for a couple of days or risk making it worse and not being able to do the rest of our trip.

We got up at 2.30am 30th December and were picked up by a taxi at 3am and taken to a bus which took us to the wonderful train ride and up to a town called Agas Calientes. Then another short windy bus ride to Machu Piccu. The towering mountains around here are so majestic, again impossible to explain with the mist in early morning. One feels so small, like an ant.You understand why it is one of the worlds most popular destinations. It is a shame it is so popular. Stefan has given it a new name "Mucha prico" They get money out of you left right & centre. It is a shame it is basically  a factory processing of people,money machine, but at the end of the day with so many people wanting to go there and nowhere else in the world like it one has to except this.

We had an English speaking guide take us around the ruins for a couple of hours then we walked backwards the last day of the Inca trail if this makes sense. From Intipunku, "the sungate" on the Inca trail the view of the Machu Piccu ruins are spectacular. We then walked back to the ruins and back down the mountains to Agas Calientes nested in the valley below where we stayed the night. A very touristy town but full of character and lots of colourful markets and a fast flowing river through it. The next morning we relaxed in the hot springs and caught the train, bus etc back to Cusco. We took a brief rest before getting ready for New Years eve which we spent in an Irish pub with friends, The pub at midnight exploded into the main square. In Peru fireworks aren´t regulated. They were sold on every street corner and weré t some BIG boys(men) enjoying letting off their rockets. The square was packed with fireworks being let off everywhere, IT WAS CRAZY! Luckily we survived New year in Cusco IT WAS DANGEROUS BUT FUN:

 

 


Columbia here we come! updated

2008-01-01 to 2008-01-07

The sad thing about heading to Columbia is saying goodbye to Julie 29 Canadian & Dony 29 Irish. They are heading home to Canada & Ireland. We have constantly crossed paths with them since the salt lake trip in Bolivia. On Christmas eve they wrote us a lovely poem. In case the piece of paper it was written on gets lost in our travels I wish to put it on our blog.

Wendy & Stefan on our trek we did meet,

They called themselves old but we thought they were neat,

We met on a bus in San Pedra in Chile,

Bound for high alitude which made us all feel silly,

Arriving at hot springs, we all took a dip,

But Stef had a cold and decided to skip,

Wendy got sicker the higher we rose,

And immediately her intake of alcohol froze,

On though the lagoons of red, white & blue,

Gwan Ho with no camera didn´t know what to do,

Next came salt flats and an island of cacti,

Both of which Stef could never of sailed by,

We arrived at La Paz at a half hour past four,

Found us a hostel with a prison like door,

Despite Wendy´s bad back, we walked all around,

And failed to enter La Paz footfall ground,

We met again at Lake Titicaca,

We enjoyed turkey dinner & Wendy Lasagna,

We will soon part ways as we head  towards Peru,

Its been quite an adventure having met you.

After this we also bumped into them again in Puno & Cusco where we celebrated New year with this crazy Irish guy & Julie.

Continuing on: Today is 10TH January. My daughter Tania & I have done a all day trekk in a Columbian jungle but lets go back to Cusco Peru,2nd January our daughter Tania joined us to celebrate her birthday. The following day we caught a local bus to The Sacred Valley. Pisac. The most beautiful valley with towering mountains.

4th January Stefan leaves Tania & I to go to the Carrabean Virgin islands to look at a 54ft Sailing boat he has been looking at on the internet before he left Australia. They have finally agreed to his price and conditions after many months. It is complicated to get there as he has to fly to Miami & back again but the owner has agreed to pay his fare if he goes ahead and buys the boat. He has to check that everything is as stated, ownership etc. One of the conditions is a 10 percent deposit and balance on taking delivery of the boat there in April.

Meanwhile Tania and I live it up in Cusco. Listening to this really good peruian band, disco ing to all hours. Horse riding in the Andies seeing prominent Inca ruins and good views over Cusco. Having Massages, then 7th January we fly from Cusco to Bogata Columbia via Lima. It is good having Tania with us especially in Columbia where not as much English is spoken . She speaks Spanish a lot better than us. Bogata is nothing what I imagined. We found it to be a safe, nice modern City. Parts of it could easily be Sydney except for a lot of police presence everywhere. We did stand out a bit. We saw very few blond people.  We got a lot of stares but everyone was helpful. We stayed at a nice hostel. We went walking around the old part of town looking at all the lovely old buildings. We went up in a cable car for a lovely view over Bogata. Tania and I had a lovely lunch at a very reasonable price. When we got back there was an email from Stefan that he had bought the boat.

 

 

 


Side trip to the Caribbean

2008-01-04 to 2008-01-10

(Stefan) Suddenly I got a message from a yacht broker in the British Virgin Island. He said that a particular yacht that I have been interested to buy, had been sold some months before, but the sale fell through. So, would I still be interested in purchasing it! I was! So, without any prior planning I flew from Cusco to Lima on the 4th January to see if I could get another flight to Miami in Florida. It was harder than I thought. I had to wait for 14 hours until I could get ONE seat. There were plenty of flights, but they were all booked out. The ticket I got was to fly to Mexico via Miami. The travel agent said: ¨Just get off in Miami and don´t worry about the second part¨. It sounded a little dodgey and what if my luggage would end up in  Mexico? But it worked out and I found myself in Miami the next day after flying all night. Next the shuttle train inside Miami airport broke down underground. We were stuck for a good hour without airconditioning or lights. There were about 150 people. Finally a maintenance man came and was more concerned about a safety switch on the door than the 150 people that were slowly dying from oxygen depletion. Anyway, they did let us out after a while through a emergency  door although we had not passed through the proper security station. Customs arranged a makeshift checking station in the corridor. Next problem was the luggage. We waited at the carusell for an additional hour and our luggage did not turn up. Then words came through that the luggage container had got stuck inside the plane and they had problems getting it out. After 2 hours waiting we finally got our luggage.

Then I flew to Puerto Rico, where I changed to a smaller plane to Virgin Island. The last flight was only 35 minutes. On the 5th january I arrived. I the spent the next 4 days checking the boat and taking it for a test sail. I will not go into those details here, suffice to say that it was wonderful tropical weather and Steve , the seller was a good host and let me stay on the boat. The boat by the way, is a Jeanneau 54DS. A 54 ft sailing sloop with 10 bunks in 5 cabins.

On the 8th and 9th I returned to South America. This time I flew to Cartagena in northern Columbia. This is where I was to meet Tania and Wendy the 10th January. However, they did not turn up until many days later. (See Wendy´s account)


Two girls in the Columbian Countryside

2008-01-08 to 2008-01-11

With Stefan flying from the Virgin Islands to Cartagena in Northern Columbia where we were to meet up, Tania and I started our journey north to link up with him. This was after checking out the nightlife, a quaint coffee shop we got to like and a nice ice cream palour in Bogata.

We caught a bus to a lovely little town called Villa de Leyva about 4 hours north of Bogata. Luckily it was midweek and it was easy to get a booking. In the weekend it gets crowded & booked out as it is a popular place with people coming from Bogata for the weekend. A really quaint relaxed place with whitewashed houses with green windowframes with a big town square and cobblestone streets. All towns & cities in South America have a big town square it seems where people congregate. The small guest house where we stayed had a central courtyard with  lovely roses and was very colonial and yesteryear. A lovely homely atmoshere. We had a lovely meal sitting outside at a restraute facing the square.

The following day we decided to do some hiking in a nearby national Park. We had a very steep climb to get to the top but the countryside was beautiful. It was a rough but well marked track. We didn´t see one other person on this track. It was so quiet at times it was deafening. We kept thinking where we were on the world map and pinching ourselves to believe we were by ourselves in jungle the middle of Columbia. We were safe however as it was a National Park and we did have to sign in & out of the Park and they would have come looking for us if we were not back by 5pm.

We were very stiff the following day as we sat on a bus for 7 hours climbing up to dizzy heights crossing the Andies. A tiny windy road through the mountains with lots of traffic, many trucks and shear drops over the side. Vehicles don´t worry about double lines. It was a very scenic but a hairy 7 hours, but we finally arrived in Bucaramanga. We met a New Zealand girl on the bus. We have only seen or met a handfull of non South Americians since being in Columbia.

We then made the decision to really get off the beaten track recommended in our Lonely planet book. You can do a 12 hour bus trip to Cartagena where you have to backtrack a little. The most direct way however there is no through road. Our Instructions were to catch a bus for 7 hours then a boat then a jeep and stay in a riverside town overnight before travelling on to Cartagena the following day. This Ended up being such a highlight of the whole South Americian trip. Sometimes there is a fine line between adventure and safety but most of the time we felt safe and were so happy we made the decision to get really and truly off the beaten track.

Stay tuned to hear the details.  


Two girls get off the beaten track in Columbia

2008-01-12

Tania & I were meant to meet up with Stefan in Cartagena on 12th January but emailed him that we would be one day late as we had decided to do a 2 day off the beaten track trip recommended in Lonely Planet  staying overnight at Mompos. If you take the main road you have to backtrack. This way is the most direct, however there is no through road and the book said you have to go by bus, jeep and riverboat. The Loney Planet´s description of Mompos was interesting. A small colonial town on a river,where the residents rock calmly in their rocking chairs and the bats flutter through the eaves, you may feel like you´ve stepped into the pages of Huckleberry Fin or gone with wind and may feel more like Mississippi.

We went by mini bus for about 5 hours to where we were due to catch the riverboat. The road came to an end. There were only locals here. Grabbing at us and our bags before we could think. Trying to get us to go on their particular boat. We decided on a boat we hoped was going to where we wanted to go. Getting into the boat was another thing. It was down a steep river bank. Tania slipped kneedeep into mud. I managed to rescue her laptop and we were off down the river going very fast. After about 20 mins we reached a town called Banco. Again the locals were all grabbing us and our luggage even fighting over us. Luckily Tania talks a bit of Spanish. Our information was that we had to change boats to get to Mompos. They were saying there was no boat and they could take us on their motorbikes 2 hours to Mompos. We said no no, our luggage wouldn´t fit on motor bikes. They kept saying no problems.

I was very dubious. I had seen how locals weave in and out of traffic on their motor bikes. They didn´t have helmets and what if they took our stuff and dumped us in the middle of nowhere. What if they didn´t take us to where we wanted to go.Tania negotiated a price and said we should go on the motor bikes and I reluctantly agreed. Tania on the back of one motor bike with her luggage tied on the back. Me on another bike in the middle of nowhere for 2 hours. It was crazy! The road was dirt and they had to weave in and out to go on the best parts of the road.  The scenery was surreal. All these wetlands with birds and wildlife. These guys proved very safe and honourable riders and gave us a ride we will never forget . Each town we came through the locals cheered us. All along the way were people on the road, pigs and cows, hens, dogs, that didn´t move, we had to go around them.We came into Mompos as the Sun was setting.

When we were getting on the motorbikes the guy Tania was riding with wanted to put her backpack in front of him where he said it would be safe. Because Tania had her passport, credit card etc she insisted on having it on her back. Halfway along when the bike I was on overtook the bike she was on I noticed her backpack had worked itself open. It was so windy that she hadn´t noticed her coat and camera had blown out of her open backpack.

I at this stage didn´t know this. I thought they had just stopped while Tania did up her backpack. The bike I was on kept going while the guy on Tania´s bike backtracked to try and find her camera. I consequently didn¨t see Tania for a hour. They gave looking for the camera after a while and we both ended up being dropped off at our Mompos hotel  safely. Tania was however quite upset about her camera.

The next morning we came downstairs to find a message that the camera had been found and was still working with a number to ring.

Another interesting story to be continued. For those of you worrying whether we ever linked up with Stefan safely the news is good.

 


Tania negotiates with locals

2008-01-13

We arrived in Mompos, obviously a grand town in its time but now a bit run down. We arrived off the beaten track on the back of motorbikes, dust from head to toe. We just burst into fits looking at each other. Unfortunately Tania´s packpack came open on the way and her coat and camera were missing. She sadly thought that was the end of her camera & photo card. The camera was only on the top as she had been taking photos disceetly trying not to show locals she had a camera. Luckily her purse and passport were till there she took comfort in. 

The two men that brought us on the motorbikes were the only locals who would have known where we were staying. It would have been dark on their way back to their town 2 hours away, where the camera was somewhere lying on a dirt, big pot holed road. They were clearly upset when it was discovered Tania`s camera and coat where missing and must have put out the word on the bush telegraph. Amazingly the next morning when we came downstairs the hotel man came rushing up to us saying the camera had been found on the road and still worked. It was in the town 2 hours away. He could only speak spanish. Luckily Tania speaks some spanish enough to get her by. This man had a phone number to ring. There are no landlines and mobile phone connection is limited so the first challenge was to find someone with a mobile phone  that had contact and negotiate a cost to use their phone. Tania managed to contact the man who had found her phone. Again he spoke no English. He wanted a reward for finding her camera. He started at equal to A$100. He said he would bring it to her. It was 9am. He would meet her at our hotel at 11am as it would take him 2 hours on his motorbike to get there if he left now. 

We were already one day late meeting Stefan and planned to leave early that day to meet him in Cartagena, but we had to try and get the camera back. Tania agreed to A$50 reward and for him to bring the camera to her.  The time was set 11am the place our hotel. The next problem was that the two ATM´s in town didn´t work. Even between us we didn´t have an extra $50 on us. Luckily Tania had some American dollars in cash.

The setting: A foyer in a grand but rundown hotel. High ceilings, tiled walls, Big plants inside with big talking parrots,  lots of wooden rocking chairs. A VERY SURREAL SETTING.  This set you would usually only see on TV or in books.

The scene: On the dot of 11am this guy arrives on his motorbike. It is not one of the guys that brought us on the motorbikes. We are waiting in the foyer rocking nerviously on rocking chairs not sure if he will show. He pulls out Tania´s camera out of his pocket and hands it to Tania. It doesn´t work but he assures her it is  only the battery that is flat. She gets her key and goes to get her charger out of her room. She determines the camera works. There are all these extra pictures of this guy and his home on it.Tania tells him about the problem of getting money from the ATM and asks if he will accept America dollars. Before he can say anything the hotel man whistles out the door and an elderly man with thick glasses and a stash of cash arrives on the scene. He is now in on the act and offers Tania a very bad exchange rate. 

I am sitting back in the rocking chair looking on . Tania with her blond hair is in the middle of these dark local men trying to get the best outcome with her limited spanish. Not one of these men spoke any English. There are a few extras in on the action for extra measure.She finally negotiated a bad exchange rate rather than a very bad one, only to find the guy wants an extra $25 for bringing the camera to her. She agrees to pay half. The final outcome was that she paid about US$70 to get her camera back. To replace her memory card not to mention the photos would have cost her that so at the end of  the day and given the wonderful experience we had had the previous day she would do it all over again. Unfortunately amidst all the extra events photos were only taken before the camera went missing and are still on Tania´s camera still to be put on the blog. Her favorite coat never turned up which is strange as they don´t need coats in this climate. Hopefully she will claim it on insurance and won´t need it for the rest of the trip. Unfortunately she couldn´t have got her photos on the photo card back on insurance.

Still to come. We meet up with stefan but Tania goes missing. The Australia Embassy gets an SOS. 


In Cartagena, Columbia

2008-01-14

(Stefan) 10 jan I arrived in Cartagena. Not having booked any accomodation, I caught a taxi to the Old Historical Town. I was quite proud having beaten the price down from 20000 pesos to 12000 (about $6) but found out later that it should have been 5-6000 pesos.

The town dates back to early 1500 when Spain colonised this area. At first the town didn´t have a wall. It was often attacked by pirates included 3 times by Sir Francis Drake in the 1600. Then a wall was erected around the town. This took nearly 200 years. Nowaday the town has a delighted feel about it with narrow streets and flowerclad balconies. It is declared historic site and has been restored and upgraded. This town is rapidly becoming a major tourist cenre and prices are escalating at a rapid rate. A lot of people still live here, but the town has also expanded well beyond the old walls. 

At first I found a simple hotel room for 80000 pesos ($40,-) . Mattress as hard a sheet of plywood, toilet without seat and cold shower only. But you get used to all that. Got woken up at 5am by strange rattling noises from the street below. Looking out the shutter, i found the noice coming from trolley fitted with old ball bearings as wheels. Yes, just bearings, no wheels. Some streets were rough concrete or cobblestones, which produced the loud noise.

For a few days I checked out the town. Every day I got an email from Tania and Wendy saying they will be delayed one more day. The second night I found a much better hotel for only 35000 pesos ($18.-)  a night. Here I stayed for the remaining of the time.

13 january. Tania and Wendy finally arrived. We caught up with all the stories (see other chapter). Went out for a meal on the main town square. As we sit there talking, all kinds of sales people come up trying to sell you anything from orange juice to paintings. A 3 piece folk music group comes up and start playing standing by the table. They then expect to be paid for this and although you don´t mind paying a few 1000´s pesos, it sometimes becomes annoying with the constant ¨¨attacks´ of all the sales people. But in a country where there is no dole, this might be the  only way some people get food for the day.

One day Wendy and I decided to take a boat to Islas del Rosario and Playa Blanca. We arrived at the ticket office by the harbour. When within 100 meters we got approched by ticket sellers. ¨öne ticket, 50000pesos! ¨ We hesitated cause we didn´t understand what we were paying for. As we hesitated, the price started coming down..45000......40000 pesos. At 35000 we finally said yes, and paid up. With the ticket in our hand we walked down the jetty to board the boat, only to see that the boat already had left. Disappointed, we tried to claim our money back. No luck with that, but they offered to take us on the faster but smaller speedboat instead, which had not yet left. The only condition was that we paid 15000 pesos more.! No way, we said. Let us go for the same price or give us our money back! Finally they gave us a seat on the last boat and off we went.

The trip took 45 min and was uneventful. Arriving to one of 27 islands we snorkled and swam in the 30 C water for a while. Then on to a aquarium where we did not go in as there was too big a crowd. Instead we sat on the jetty eating an ice cream, when we suddenly discovered that our boat had left! After panicing for a while, Wendy had her clothes on the boat, someone managed to tell us that they were only picking up some snorklers and would soon come back. This they did, and we were soon off to a beach called Playa Blanca on the mainland. This was a beatiful beach, everyway the Carribean Beach you alwas dream about. The only problem, there were other tourists there too. Lots of them! We had bbq fish for lunch on the beach. (Included in the tour). Spent a couple of hours sunbaking and swimming. The trip home to Cartagena was exiting as by now we had a 20 knot breeze agaist us and it was quite choppy. The speedboat, powered by 2 x 200 hp outboarders, sometimes leaped into the air. it felt as if it got airborned sometimes. The driver had to cut back on the throttle sometimes. However, we got back safely. 

  


Tania missing in Columbia

2008-01-17 to 2008-01-23

After getting Tania`s camera back in Mompos and after a  20 minute boat and 4 hour bus ride where Tania´s seat on the bus was a milk crate with a cushion on, practising her spanish with the locals on the bus, we finally linked up with Stefan. Stefan has described Cartagena. Tania enjoyed the social life in Cartagena as finally there were other packpackers to socialize with and go out partying with. She met some English friends she had a lot in common with.

Stefan had been waiting in Cartagena a while and was keen to move on. Tania decided to stay one more day and said she would catch up with us the following day at a particular hostel in Taganga outside Santa Marta. We caught a bus that we thought would take us there. On the way we met this very friendly columbian, Andres, from Bogata. He said he was going to Tayrona. We got the name of the town we had planned to go to confused and told we were going there also. He was travelling by himself and liked to practise his English and offered to help us find our way. So we followed him. We were expecting to go to this hostel but instead ended up in a National Park, be it very beautiful where you could only camp. We had all our Luggage, most people take only the essentials. We were not prepared for camping, were 40 klms from where we thought we were going and evening was coming on.

The Columbian guy felt really bad when the misunderstanding was realised but it was completely our fault. Luckily we could hire a tent and stayed in this wonderful Carrabean beach, tropical jungle National Park area for 2 nights. Andres spoke really good English and was a great Embassitor for his country.We learnt  so much about Columbia before he had to go back to Bogata. We fly out of Bogata so hope to catch up with him again.

Needless to say we were out of email contact in the Park and we were worried Tania would wonder where we were as we thought she would be at the hostel where we had planned to meet her a day after we left Cartagena. When she wasn´t we didn´t worry at first as we simply thought she had decided to stay extra time in Cartagena. We tryed to email her. Four days passed and she didn´t respond when we know she checks her emails regularly. We rang the hostel  where we were in Cartagena. They told us she had left the hostel the day we had with a male fellow traveller who hadn´t been staying at the hostel. Tania has always let us know when she changes her plans so we couldn´t understand.

We asked advice at our hostel and they told us to contact the immigration office in Cartagena as there was no Australian consult there. Next the British Consult from Cartagena rang us as they work in with the Australian consult here. A search was started for her. We couldn´t sleep and started to come to terms with the fact that we may never see her again as the days went by and wondered what more we could do. We emailed her friends in Australia who we knew she emailed on a daily basis but they also had not heard from her for the same period. The people here gave us faith that it is very unusual for tourists to go missing due to fowl play and she was probably all right, but we were beside ourselves.

One day we came back to our hostel. I went straight to our room. Stefan went to check on any news of Tania at reception. He came back screaming. Guess who I found? Tania is here. I just burst into out of control tears and hugged her in front of an audience who all knew how worried we had been.

Tania wondered what all the fuss was about. I am 28yo she said.  She had also ended up in the National Park with friends she had met and was out of email contact. She realised she should have let us know before going to the Park, but didn´t expect to stay as long but extended as she was having fun.

Needless to say the search was happily called off.


Peninsula de Guajira

2008-01-24 to 2008-01-25

(Stefan) We joined a tour bus on the 24th january together with 14 other tourists (all Columbians) in a small bus. Nobody spoke english except for a retired Plastic Surgeon and his niece. We were off to Peninsula de Guajira, which is the northernmost part of Columbia. We left Santa Marta at 4.30am and travelled east along the coast. This coastline has the Carribean Sea on one side and mountains on the other. It is very scenic with lots of palmtree covered headlands and beaches in between.

After a couple of hours we stopped for breakfast, which was coffee and a fried ricecake. As we continued, the landscape got flatter and it started to look more like a desert with lots of cactuses everywhere. The road turned into a corrugated, potholie dirt road. I thought the bus was going to shake into pieces. We were stopped by military men with mashinegun. They checked our passports and searched the bus. Only a couple of years ago, this area was unsafe with lots of guerilla activities. But it is now safe, but the military is still present. The other Columbians on the bus said: ¨This is the first time we have been here as it has been too dangerous to travel here before.¨ 

After another couple of hours of travel, we came to a salt evaporation area and had a look at the production facilities there.

We continued further north and arrived where the desert meets the sea.In the afternoon we went for a swim at a beach on the western side of the peninsula near the northern tip. Here we found some huts made from cactus wood. One of them was a restaurant and later that night we hade dinner there. It was the local fish of course, but I can´t remember the name. I thought it was fried too much, and tasted like shoe soles. In the afternoon we drove a short distance to some headlands where we climbed up to the top and had a look at the sunset. Beautiful!

We slept in hammocks, which was a new experience for both of us. It was not too bad, I thought. All night we had a strong wind whistling through, but it wasn´t too cold.

Next day we started our journey back. We were supposed to go pretty much straight back to Santa Marta, but there was a vote on the bus, as some people wanted to visit Maicao on the way back. Maicao is on the border to Venezuela and used to be a smugglers town. You could buy anything from whiskey to washing mashines there, really cheap. But nowadays the government has clamped down in this. They want their piece of the cake as well! Anyway, we went to Maicao and stopped for 2 hour in the main square. The town was dirty and unexciting. It had plenty of market stalls everywhere, but hardly any tourists. We walked around a little, but soon got tired and sat down on a parkbench. As we sat there, we noticed some middleaged men some 10 meters away. It was about 6 of them and they sat at small desks in the park with a telephone on the desk. They had big bundles of money in their hand and appeared to be counting it. But as they were flicking through the bundles of money, their eyes were scanning the crowed around them. We were puzzled by this and wondered what they were up to. After a few minutes I noticed one man with a sizable stomach slowly walk up to our bench and take a position just behind the bench. I felt a little uneasy about this, but didn´t say anything to Wendy. A minute or so later another man approched us and took a position also just behind us. I didn´t look directly at this man, but Wendy suddenly said:; ¨That man has a gun sticking out of his pocket! Let´s get out of here quickly!¨ We stood up and quickly walked away, over to the opposit side of the square. There we found some of the other tourists from the bus and we felt safe. To this day we do not know what these people were up to, but we were both happy to get out of this town.

The trip back to Santa Marta was uneventful. We stopped in Riohacha for a nice dinner. Wendy had fruit sallad (which we think the tour guide prepared himself. They don´t cater for vegetarians at all in this area). I had a nice steak. Arrived back about 6pm.


Australia Day in Santa Marta Columbia

2008-01-26

Going hi tech!  Check out our  movie site button. Busy Ants in Columbia! Quite a strange sight. We have also updated photos from some time back.

I know I am jumping ahead but will go back.Today is 26th January . We are in Santa Marta. A big port city in Columbia,on the Carrabean coast, lovely beaches, pretty with a lot of charm but very contrasting and bustling in parts. The longer we stay here the more we like it. We have ended up spending more time in this  area than we expected.

Our original plan was to spend 2 weeks in Columbia and 2 weeks in Venezuela  however everyone that we have met,  who has  recently  been there couldn´t get out of there quick enough even through the countryside is beautiful  they say. Maybe  if we spoke spanish a little better. Maybe if it  was earlier in the trip we would be a little more  adventureous. We have decided   to take the easier option even Tania who is more adventureous than us has come to the same conclusion. She has even had to change her flight as she was flying home out of Venezuela.From what we hear going to Venezuela would take more patience than we have, even though we have learnt to be very patient people on this trip. Columbia  has cleaned up it act for  tourists quite a bit as it realizes  there  is money to be made from this industry but Venezuela it seems still has a lot of corruption even in  the police force that can effect tourists. Even if you book on a tour it apparently never leaves when it says it will leave and  never includes what it says it includes. Everything is very very uncertain.Because of the bad official exchange rate you have to take all the money you will spend in Venezuela in Cash in American dollars  to exchange into local currency on the black market. This is the excepted and talked about way. When you are carrying all  this cash on you it seems to us you would be a sitting duck. Also when you are exchanging money you have to know the currency before hand as you can be taken for a ride, also with fake money. Venezuela it seems does not cater for backpackers much at all with very few hostels even. Unless  you wish to stay in expensive Hotels you stay in love hotels the closest to catering  for backpackers but you might run into a prostitute if you venture to the bathroom in the middle of the night. 

 We are currently staying at a nice pieceful hostel with  a lovely view  over scenic bay,scattered  with lots of quaint local fishing boats, 5klms  out at Taganga. It is owned by a Frenchman and his Columbian wife so has the right mix of some of the comforts that you realise you miss as well as the Columbian experience, lay back style  with lots of inviting outside hammocks that swing in the breeze, colourful plants, boganvillas etc. This type of hostel is great when you have been roughing it for a while. It is like a refuge to chill out for a while. It is great trying all the local food but sometimes it is great to have a breakfast served like a hostel like this. Juice, scrambled eggs with tomato & onion with french toasted bread, Filtered coffee with milk. Columbians have short black sickly sweet coffee that you have to drink to be polite. You would think we would be used to it by now but we aren´t.

It costs 50c  to come into Santa Marta on the local mini bus, which is  such a cultural experience in its own right. It is hard to believe that is less than 2 weeks we will be home in Gosford. We have seen so much and experienced so much in 3 months it seems like we have been away a year.  As we came from Taganga this morning on the bus I started thinking again how can anyone capture this experience in photos and words . It is so surreal. There is that word again. I am again  going to attempt to write  the experience in words but I get so frustrated  it makes me think I want to learn to do it better,  do a  descriptive writing course or something.

We  walk outside our hostel  at 8.30am. The day is already warming up, a balmy breeze blowing a little dust around from the dirt road. You never have to wait very long for the local mini bus going into Santa Marta. We wait only a few minutes. If  you are thirsty or hungry on every street corner  even in this small town there are makeshift outside stands with tropical fruit displayed in baskets where they will make you a fruit smoothie from whatever tropical fruit you  tell them while you wait. We haven´t  experienced any problem eating from these stands so far when we can see they are making them in front of our eyes. They also are cooking fresh local food on street stoves over fire. One particular local food we like from these stalls is a fried egg cooked inside maize bread. It ends up tasting like a egg fried inside a potato scallop.

There are no bus stops you hail them from whereever. They often go different routes  for no apparent reason but you usually leave and end up roughly the same place as long  as you recognise the area  you are going to and where to get off. We are nearly feeling like locals on the bus now. They like playing music loud. Every local bus has South American music blareing from it, and most  outside restrautes have the big old fashioned speakers. It is such a happy atmoshere. People singing, whistling, chatting. Someone  gets on the bus moves to the back and sends up their money for the fare by person chain. The first time  I wondered why this man behind me was giving he money. The bus is like one big happy family. Everyone helps each other getting things, children etc on & off the bus.Sometimes it stops outside a house and pips the horn, and again. After the  bus with passengers waiting for sometime someone casually strolls out and joins the bus. No one seems to mind.  The  bus door stays open the whole way as it weaves over this steep mountain over the bay.

Most Columbians are very poor money wise but very happy friendly people. You are very cautious at first thinking they are going to try and sell you something but most times they just want to be friendly. In Cusco Peru, we  had little children maybe about 7yo by themselves come up to you and ask you in English where you come from. When you say Australia, he said Kanagaroos, Canberra your Capital, John Howard your prime minister. He needs a slight  update now to Kevin Rudd. If you said another country they would tell you details of that country. They are good for their age and you cannot help being impressed they then try to sell you post cards. We were impressed with their sense of humour when you tryed to resist buying post cards from them. They really knew how to win you over. Another interesting experience was on a long distance bus watching an English Hugh Grant Movie where Hugh Grant spoke in Spanish with a spanish acsent   it was so funny!


Back from the lost city

2008-01-27 to 2008-01-31

Prior to going to Taganga outside Santa Marta we accidently went to the Tayrona National Park by mistake with a columbian we met. We only stayed 2 nights on that occasion, as we were not properly prepared and thought Tania may have wondered what had happened to us. It is a beautiful area so we decided to go back and see some more of it.

It is only 35klms outside Santa Marta. We of course caught the local bus. This time we left most of our luggage at the hostel and decided to sleep the columbian way in hammocks. We are getting to quite like hammocks and it is easier and cheaper than putting up a tent. This time we walked to the most further away beach, Cabo de la Vela, which was about a 2 hour walk from the road where the bus dropped us off. The beaches are beautiful with white sand and coconut trees. One beautiful beach after another. The temperature warm. The jungle lush and tropical with really cute little white faced monkeys swinging in the trees. It is exactly what you amagine the carrabean to be. I had a columbian guy open a coconut for me with his big slashing knife. I had seen it fall off the tree. It was delicious. I have also got to really like pineapple here, they are so sweet. Finishing off our South American trip being here then Carnival in Barranquilla, recognised as having the best Carnival outside Rio commencing 2nd Feb isn´t a bad way to end. It will be funny coming back to Australia putting toilet paper in the toilet rather than a bin. In Columbia they don´t have hot showers, only cold. Luckily with the warm weather cold showers are always refreshing.

Last Saturday night in Santa Marta we witnessed a pre Carnival festival, parade. If that was anything to go by Barranquilla Carnival will be great. The costumes and dancing where amazing. Columbians really know how to let their hair down. I paint mostly a happy picture but a couple of sad things about South America, not so much in the National Parks but everywhere else is the rubbish strewn everywhere. They seem to have had no education on this. Whereever they finish with rubbish is where it stays. Going along in the bus even the conductor when he has finished a drink simpily throws his can out the window. Many times in beautiful countryside you see all this rubbish threwn beside the road. The other thing I feel sorry for is all the stray skinny animals. They don´t seem to have animal organisations and desexing, not to mention the people begging on street. Columbia has the worlds third largest amount of landmines, so it is not a good idea to go out wandering in parts that haven´t been wandered on recently.

Whilst in the Tayrona national Park we took a walk up to a lost city where indigenous people still live in traditional dress and live the traditional way with donkeys, chooks etc.. The walk was beautiful in its own right,  beautiful lush jungle. The remains of the lost city interesting.To see most lost cities there always seems to be a steep climb. This particular one a lot of bolder hopping. Donkeys do great work in these areas, not over the bolders though. There are no roads and everything is bought in by donkeys even the beer for the thirsty packpackers. You often pass teams of donkeys all loaded up in a line with a man at the end of the line moving them along the trail. Obviously they know where to go as there is no one up front.

We spent 2 nights in the National Park then headed north for 20 mins on the bus to a place called Cascades Valencia. This is slightly inland away from the beach so a slightly different landscape with lots of colourful jungle flowers. You walk along a stream. You finally come to a cascade of waterfalls and deep pools to swim in on different levels.We had a great day here before heading back to our French, Columbian hostel which we have got to like so much.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to this hostel that we have had as our base for some weeks and where we have met some great people. Stefan, Tania & I are off to Carnival in Barraquilla. Hopefully you will hear from us again. We haven´t seen to much of Tania lately, she is having a good time with new found friends but is safe.

 


Party time Carnaval in Columbia

2008-02-01 to 2008-02-03

Barraquilla- a big ugly port city in Northern Columbia, a couple of hours on the bus from Santa Marta. Carnaval turns it into such a colourful lively city for four days of the year. Carnaval in Barraquilla is recognised as the largest carnaval outside Rio. A colourful combination of floats,costume, dance, theatre,singing,bands.

Tania, Stefan & I shared a taxi from the bus to our hotel with 2 Mexican brothers. They spoke English & Spanish so well. People like this you learn a lot from and are great to help out as translaters. Most of the people staying in this budget hotel were backpackers, come to celebrate Carnaval. It was a great atmosphere of expectation, English, South Africians, Australians. There is a lot of pre carnaval fever, people getting in the mood. On TV , I suppose you could liken it a little to the Melbourne cup leadup. Interviewing people preparing for carnaval and getting a early position  to view the parade. Tania, Stefan & I shared a triple bedroom with a bathroom and air conditioning . About $60 American dollars for the room. We booked the room a few weeks in advance because the city gets booked out at this time.

On the morning of the first of Carnaval we went out into the markets shopping. Getting together our carnaval outfits.Tania made friends with really friendly Columbian guy Mauriscia who spoke really good English.

We caught a taxi, very cheap, at about 3pm Sat 2nd Feb to the area of the Carnaval Parade, Stefan & I, Mauriscia and Tania. Mauruscia knew where to go. It was like having a guide. Columbians are so musical. They all seem to be able to sing, dance and play instruments and have natural rhythm. There were crowds of people. The parade had started but at this stage we wouldn`t see it, there  were too many people in front of us. We gradually made our way forward. Everyone was in party overload and singing and dancing as the parade went past. As we got closer people had chairs and were standing on them so as to see. They offered us their chair to stand on so we could see. They offered us cans of beer. They were so friendly. Speaking very little English they asked us where we were from. We did stand out in the crowd being blond, in our Carnaval Outfits. You will see photos.  When we said we were from Australia, they said " Welcome to Columbia my friend"  It was a very happy atmoshere. These strangers who didn`t even speak the same language were so friendly. Tania`s Columbian friend helped with translation. We were gradually ushered to the front where we had a great view of the parade. They had been waiting all day for this position.  We have learnt to accept and feel honoured, rather than bad when they kindly offer you something. It did take some getting used to.

Months of work must have gone into the presentation of the floats of singers, dancers, musicians, actors. There were also groups not on floats and "boy" couldn`t they shake their tail feathers. They stopped, did a performance and moved on and it just kept coming. It was entertainment overload and so professional.  We got there at about 3pm and by about 8pm the parade was coming to an end. By the way this goes on over 4 days. This was just the first parade and only goes through once except for the grand parade. We were ushered inside the fence of the parade to become part of the parade. The dancing performers danced with us and made us part of their act. Everyone in the stands cheered. Tania and I were really in the mood and started clapping to the audience as we went by chanting "Columbia! Columbia! They are really proud of their country and really liked that we liked their country. Even Stefan lightened up and joined in. Tania`s Columbian friend was also with us. It was so much fun. Everyone wanted pictures with us. It will probably be a while before we will be treated as royally again so we might as well sieze this moment we thought. It was just so much fun.

After the parade the all night street parties start. You walk along the street singing and dancing from one location to the next. Private houses have big speakers out in the street with South Americian music blaring and you are welcome to join in. We got offered quite a few free dance lessons as we weren`t quite up to scratch they could obviously see. One Columbian man told Stefan & I we needed to get closer and be more romantic when we dance and tried to coach us. They are very passionate people and I think they think we need to lighten up a bit and get more in the mood more. Unfortunately we didn`t last all night. Tania did through. THE FRIENDLY COLUMBIANS AND CARNAVAL WE WILL NEVER FORGET!

 

 


Home in Gosford not without drama

2008-02-10

After 2 nights in Barranquilla at Carnaval we started heading back towards Bogata by bus. After 14 hours we arrived in Medellin. Medellin used to have the reputation as the drug capital of the world, but like much of Columbia has been cleaned up. It is now what appears to be a very forward thinking modern city, or the people behind the city are.It has a very efficient Metro system which includes a cable car system as part of their public transport system which allows poorer communities on the hillside easy access to the city. In this city they have also spent a lot of money helping the community speak English with a view towards tourism. Especially around Medellin is very pretty and mountainess
countryside. Columbia is on the verge of becoming a very popular  tourist  destination.  The word is gradually getting out that it is no longer a dangerous destination but a very diverse scenic  friendly country. We stayed in a hostel called "The black Sheep" owned  by a New Zealander. We arrived there at about  11.30pm after a  14 hour bus trip. 

The following day we caught the metro into city square then up on the cable car high above the city. It was pretty amazing. The day we were here there was a big city march  all dressed in white against the Guerrillas. It is all happening. Good is standing up again bad.

After Medellin it was into the coffee district of Armenia. We ventured out a little more to a very special little town of Salento where their life is like we lived 100 years ago, very villiage like. We saw coffee plants up close and personal. The countryside was beautiful and interesting. After 7 hours on the bus over huge  scenic mountains which is very  common in Columbian we arrived in Bogata. We spent the night  here before heading off on our 34 hour epic journey to Australia where our  South Americian journey comes to a end. In about 6 weeks time our next adventure starts so keep tuned. In the meantime when we recover we will catch up with you all. I am waiting for Stefan to update the photos. Please be patient.

 

We made it home safely. We were 2 hours into our last leg back to Australia from Chile. Stefan was watching our planes progress on the in flight monitor. I was dozing.He had had a couple of glasses of wine & a whiskey. He noticed on the monitor the plane had done an about turn and was heading back to South America. He watched the monitor for an hour before saying anything to me. He was starting to think he had maybe had too much to drink. He decided to ask the air hostess why the monitor was showing we where heading back to South America. She said she would check but never came back. I started getting concerned. I got up and asked the staff what was going on. Shortly after that the captain spoke of the PA saying the plane had developed a technical problem and after talking to ground staff they had decided to turn back. Everything seemed to be working as it should and we would be landing in Chile in an hour.  After a worrying hour we landed safely in Chile. We were not meant to leave South America.  By the time another plane was organised and we got back to Australia we spent  34 hours on planes and in airports.

 

 


Tortola, British Virgin Island

2008-03-27 to 2008-04-29

TORTOLA ISLAND IN THE SUN 27/3 to 30/4Beef Island is a small island where you land and where the airport is. Only a bridge separates it from Tortola the biggest Island in the British Virgin Islands. We landed at about 10.30pm and found one bag was missing. The one with Stefan’s clothes and tools. It was a relatively small airport and by the time we realized that we wouldn’t get our missing bag today the airport was basically bare. We had to pay $20 which should only have cost $10 as there were few taxis left. They told us our missing bag would be brought to hotel in the morning. We had booked one night in a hotel near the boat as we were getting there late. It cost about $225 for the night. We wanted to check the boat was there before we paid the balance of the money for it. Then we wanted the money to be transferred as soon as possible as we couldn’t move onto the boat till the balance was paid and would have to pay $225 per night. We arrived at the hotel and Marina at 11pm. It was still a barmy temperature. Luckily the reception was still waiting for us. Stefan had organized Tania to transfer the money for the boat as soon as he gave her the OK. We sighted the boat and rang her as it was still business hours in Australia and she had to go into the bank. Luckily there were no hitches with the money being transferred and we moved onto the boat the next day after a good sleep. 

 It took us 3 days and a lot of perseverance on Stefan’s part to get them to find his bag that had gone missing, but it finally was found. They are very laid back, the people of Tortola. They kept telling us it would be on the next plane but it never was. Stefan finally caught a taxi to the airport and jumped up and down till they followed up properly and it was found and delivered. We were relieved. 

Tortola has a population of about 20,000 people mainly black who service the tourist industry especially the big cruise ships that come in majestically every day. The population is very religious and everywhere you go you hear gospel music even in supermarkets. We liked it at first but soon tied of it. They do not seem to grow or produce anything on the island. Everything is shipped in and very expensive, particularly fresh meat and produce. Grocery shopping is a real ordeal. A lot of the thing in the supermarket has prices on it and even when there are prices you get to the check out to find it is a different price. It is very disorganized. Stefan went to buy a screw in a hardware shop. He took it to the checkout to pay for it and they asked him if he  had the barcode. How to you expect me to to know the price to charge you if you don`t have the barcode they said. Can I have a lend of a pen. Stefan said. No you have to bring your own pen they said. Stefan walked out without the screw! Can you believe this because it is true!     

The area where the boat was was unfortunately in the industrial/commercial side of the island near Road Town. From the Marina we had to catch a taxi that cost about four dollars each way, there and four dollars back. It had other people in it as well. The drivers always tried to charge you more but when you refused they asked you how much you wanted to pay. The ride was sometimes a bit wild as it is very windy & hilly but with lovely ocean views. All the nice beaches were on the other side of the island. The first few days were very busy starting to check out things on the boat that might need fixing.English Friends David & Jill who we met in South America and who were on the way home met up with us for a few days and stayed on the boat. It was great to catch up with them again, we had some great dinners on deck with the lovely evening temperature. In the middle of the day it got very hot. A 14ft dinghy with a 50hp engine and middle console came with the boat. We went to town in it across the open sea and did water ski ing while they were here. Stefan started opening and investigating every little nook and cranny on the boat. I started making trips to town to the hardware shop with a list of items Stefan deeded. The yacht broker Bob & son Josh were very good to us. He let us use their internet. They received things that we deeded for the boat that were being sent from America and helped us with a lot of local knowledge. We had to sell the big dinghy as we would have to store it on deck to go across the Atlantic and it wouldn’t fit. We sold it to two English guys, Alex and friend who had a business at the marina. They were very friendly and helpful also and left us use our laptop on their internet. They also helped us get a discount of getting a new smaller 10’ dinghy. We met a very friendly German couple Julie & Ricco who have a boat similar to ours. They had sailed across the Atlantic from Germany 6 months earlier and had a rough crossing. The boat had some problems and they were waiting to ship it back on a Freighter. It is very expensive but quite common for people to ship sailing boats back on Freighters. They are put up on deck with a crane complete with mast, strapped on well in a cradle and off they go. We saw quite a few boats being loaded onto ships in Road Town.

In the weeks that followed our two crew members joined us, First Gilles a Frenchman 46, who has lived in Austraila/Perth for 17 years and Rene, 49,  a French Canadian. Rene is a retired airline pilot with Air Canada.

Unfortunately we only got to sail around the British Virgin Islands for about 4 days but what we saw of them we loved. The  snorkling was great and the islands very close, A bit like the Whitsundays in Australia.


Tortola to Bermuda

2008-04-30 to 2008-05-07

 Sailing from British Virgin Island Tortola to BermudaIt took us exactly 7 days in which we experienced all different weather conditions. We didn’t see land in this time. I had very mixed feelings about doing the passage. There would be this first leg that took a week to Bermuda, then a leg that would take at least two weeks to Azores then about 9 days to Spain. In the beginning I was going to fly and meet Stefan and crew in Europe after they sailed our recently purchased 54ft Jeanneau sailing boat across . However I decided that if I didn’t do it I would never know what it was like. I wanted a tee shirt that said I had sailed across the Atlantic I decided. I had never been this far from land before and I had very mixed feelings about how I would go. I had experienced rough seas and weather but not the remote situation I would find myself in.

We set sail out of Tortola with our 2 crew members Rene & Gilles at 5.45pm Wednesday 30th April, after clearing out of Immigration & Customs, filling up fuel & water and groceries. Grocery shopping was always a challenge. Stefan & my food choice is always very simple especially when sailing. Quite different to our two connoisseur Frenchmen. Keeping connoisseur  food in tact in a small boat fridge was another feat . I hate throwing food away but had to get used to it. I have learnt the French are very fussy about their food and in the places we have had to shop even some basic food is hard to find and very expensive but somehow we worked through it. It is all about getting to know other cultures and I suppose if we have a French boat we have to learn the French food culture.  

We started off with a good wind from behind and were doing 8 knots. Stefan had been studying the weather systems and we should have a reasonable passage. Some hours later with the same wind we slowed down to 3 knots and we couldn’t understand why. After investigating we realized we had in the dark sailed over a fishing trap. In the dark leaning over the back the fishing trap was cut free, we thought and the speed increased. The next issue we had was the furling main sail got caught up the mast. We took down the other sail and in the dark Stefan had to be winched up the mast to sort it out. The four of us did 2 hour shifts. I did 8pm to 10pm then 4amto 6am. It was a nice night and a lovely sunrise. A few freighters came & went in the night which you have to look out for. We also saw some aircrafts in the sky. Each day we rotate shifts. If you need extra help on your shift the next person due to do a shift you call on. Overnight we noticed there was a knocking noise under the boat. We realized that there were still the buoys from the fishing nets caught underneath the boat. We pulled the sails down again and Gilles dived down and managed to cut the buoys and lines free. We had done the right thing not starting the engine as the buoy lines were caught around the propeller.

We had got a new long distance radio in Tortola. We seemed to be able to receive weather reports but we could not be heard. There is a man called Herb in Canada who monitors and offers advice with the latest weather reports to boats crossing the Atlantic. It is very useful and he does it voluntarily as a service. We feel he is a retired weather reporter who enjoys communicating with sailing boats. Normally you radio in before 4pm with your position. He goes through all the boats that radio in so you know where they are. There are many boats spread around. He offers each one personal advice about staying away from bad weather. Stefan fiddled with some wires Herb finally heard us. It is a good feeling to be in touch with land once a day. It is your only contact with the outside world. Sometimes it seems like you are in the big brother house in your own little world. A highlight of our day is not contact with Gretal but Herb . He has a lot of boats to get through so only talks about the weather with you. You have to entertain yourself. We had a little sparrow land on our boat and travel with us the last stage of our trip to Bermuda. It was very tame and flew inside and out our boat. It sat on our arm, our hat. It was amazing that such a small thing could provide so much entertainment for a day. It disappeared when land was in sight. We took so many photos of it.

We started off with what could only be described as champagne sailing. Day 3 the wind picked up and the sea rose. Stefan again had to be winched up the mast as a topping lift that helps hold up the mast came free. As we were crashing into the waves with the boat rocking madly I was concerned. The problem was sorted out and we sailed on. It was good to have a one week sail first to sort out the bugs. We could hear the water pump pumping but after checking all the taps it was a mystery. It ended up being the last one we hadn’t thought about in a forward little cabin that you can only get to from the outside of the boat. The waves were crashing over the front of the boat and Gilles made a dash in between waves. A fender had fallen and turned the tap on slightly. Gilles in the confined area turned the tap off and got back to the cockpit safely.  Stefan had fitted four solar panels in Tortola and they seemed to be working well. We still had to start the engine twice a day for an hour to generate enough power. We have a fridge and a freezer, electric water pump, lights etc. The stove & 4 hotplates are gas. There were quite a lot of flying fish. A couple smaller ones landed on deck. Rene is a keen fisherman but hasn’t been having much luck. The water is too deep and we are sailing too fast for catching fish.  I tried not to think about the fact that at one stage the ocean underneath us was 7kilometres deep, most of the time about 5.

Day 5 we were becalmed. We all of a sudden saw whales in front of us around a rope. At first we thought they must be caught in the rope but as we approached they swam away. There was this rope floating out in the middle of nowhere with fish sheltering under it. We had whales all around us. We were not sure what type they were. They seemed to have humps but weren’t surfacing out of the water as we had seen whales do before. Shortly after passing the whales it was so calm we decided to have a swim around the boat for exercise careful all the time that we stayed close to the boat. We had a freshwater shower at the back of the boat so took advantage of having a shower, washing our hair etc afterwards. It was a calm evening. We had a nice meal and red wine outside with a lovely sunset over the Atlantic. The calm before the storm!

Day 6 we saw the first other sailing boat in daylight and not far away. After motoring most of the day it was on my shift at midnight that a storm hit. We watched it brewing, very dark. There was loud thunder, lightning that lit up the whole sky, heavy rain and strong wind. We got most of the sails down and turned the engine on and waited it out. It was very scary! Winds over 40knots and big seas. We didn’t sleep much this night. At least 2 of us on deck at one time in wet weather gear. Waves crashed over the deck at times. By 2am the storm had passed ,  the sails were put up again & engine off. Sunrise presented a lovely clear day. WE HAD SURVIVED! After a lovely day sailing, birds started appearing as we approached land. We sited land, Bermuda at about 4pm Wednesday 7th May. We sailed into Bermuda as the sun set. We called up Bermuda radio and proceeded to the quarantine area. Customs & Immigration had finished for the day so we had to wait still the morning to check in. We put up our little yellow flag as required that let all know that we were awaiting customs & immigration clearance. We were not allowed ashore that this stage but were happy to retire and have a full night sleep.  


BERMUDA - A Disneyland style Island!

2008-05-08 to 2008-05-13

BERMUDA - A Disneyland style Island!Haven’t found the triangle yet! We entered Bermuda via the St George side of the island through a man made cutout of the rocks. Surprising enough huge cruise ships come in and out all the time through the same entry. It was a very strange sight. They look to only just scrape through. Bermuda has a population 63,000 and is only 20sq miles in area. It is hard having to adjust back to inches, feet,miles, pints & gallons, weight in pounds etc. which is all over here. ,  Bermuda is like one big garden, very manicured, lovely sandy beaches.  Many of the houses look like they are out of Disneyland. Every house has a white roof. The houses,  all match each other in pastel colours on the outside. I have never seen anything like it before. The closest being Monaco in Europe. Bermuda has a lot of money available from offshore banking .  A lot of fancy houses and boats. The parks are beautiful. There are about 50/50 black and white people. A bit of a change to see more white people around after Tortola which was mainly black. We had left the Gospel music behind.

After arriving in the evening to a fairyland of lights and having a good sleep we were ready to proceed over to the customs dock. Stefan stepped ashore in his role as Captain of the ship with our passports to seek permission to arrive in the country. It was very straightforward. We then anchored up with the other cruising boats and went ashore. St George is the second largest town in Bermuda and where all the cruise ships come in so is very expensive. It has been restored like “The rocks” in Sydney. It is a nice place to walk around. It has English influence, was originally settled by the English but now independent. Many business men and others wear shorts and long socks sometimes coloured which looked funny we thought.

We met one of the boats we had been sailing near from Tortola. A lady captain Tina, a seasoned sailor was made of hard stuff, very friendly. She had a small dog aboard. Tina had one male crew member. It was a fairly small sailing boat. She was sailing back to America.

After a day looking around St George we sailed around to the other side of the island to the largest town, Hamilton, a very modern city. We stayed in Bermuda exactly a week waiting for the right weather system to leave and looking around. The public bus system was very good to visit different parts of the island. The island has 10 scenic 18 hole golf courses. We did some good bush walking and walked around Botanical Gardens. The last 2 days were bad weather, rain, strong wind. We were happy to be in port and waited for it to pass before setting off again, this time to Azores which would take us at least 2 weeks without seeing land across the Atlantic. We cleared out of Customs.  A number of boats headed out shortly before us. They had also been waiting for better weather. We left Wednesday 14th May about 2.30pm.


Bermuda to the Azores

2008-05-14 to 2008-05-28

BERMUDA TO AZORES   14/5/08I am starting to write this on day 6. We have been trucking along so well that there is not much to report which is good. Hope it continues this way! Juliana ll certainly sails well. Stefan is extremely happy with the way she sails and is so well balanced .The sails do not need changing very often. Moderate winds up to about 20 knots  from behind , surfing down the waves which have sometimes been quite big, coming from the north. We have been averaging about 6 knots and should reach the halfway point tonight. There is currently a full moon which lights up the sky. The sunrises & sunsets over the ocean are wonderful, as are the stars.

Every day we radio into Herb in Canada and he gives us an up to date report of the weather and advises us the best course to take in his opinion. We have just started keeping regular contact with another sailing boat heading for Azores who is only about 20 miles behind  us and the closest boat to us as far as we are aware. Some of the boats to the north of us have had very strong winds which so far we have avoided which is good. We have prepared for storms but luckily they have gone around us.  We had spoken to quite a few people who had crossed the Atlantic sailing, many saying it got very rough at times so we feared the worst.  So far we have been surprised being in the middle of the Atlantic hundreds of miles from everywhere doing our daily things.  Writing this account on the laptop. Taking our shifts night & day. I have been having a sunbaking and exercise session every day, making bread, muffins, biscuits etc.  Haven’t done much reading yet. I have been watching what I eat and feel and hope I have lost weight. We could just as easily we just out of sight of land off Gosford. 

I was worried I would start freaking out at being so remote but have surprised myself.  There seems to be little bird or fish life out here even, occasionally a flying fish lands on deck and we see a few birds gliding over the waves. Still haven’t caught a fish. Sometimes you get sick of the boat bumping around especially when you are cooking or trying to sleep. The boat seems to shake its tail feathers sometimes when coming down a wave.  None of us have been sea sick. The boat has self steering which has worked very well. Mainly the only time we need to steer manually is in the harbour.

Day 7 onwards Bermuda to Azores-Monday 26th May-Day 12. We cannot believe what a smooth sail we have had. Mum & Dad have been praying for us maybe that is what it is. Everything has been in our favour.This is the leg I was most worried about but the wind and waves from behind often doing 8 knots.If anything we would like the wind to be a little stronger. We are only one day out of Azores and we are having to motor sometimes as the wind is too light. We talk to another boat nearby every night at 8pm. They are sailing back to Europe after sailing across last December. They cannot believe what a wonderful passage it has been this time. Sailing across in December they had terrible weather rough seas and high winds. They cannot believe it is the same ocean. I guess we have been lucky but be still have Azores to Spain that will  take about 9 days before we get to Europe. Maybe the weather is saving it us for us.There has not been one moment the nearly 2 weeks when I have been scared. We will probably spend about 4 days in the Azores Islands. I have actually read and enjoyed reading a full book. The first for a long time. I have not been as bored as I thought I would or scared about the remoteness.We have seen a lot of whales, one huge one surfacing only metres from our boat with a huge breath, dolphins and a turtle together with birds. Our constant companions by the hundreds are called "Portegese Men of War" They are like huge blue bottles with sails.They are like little wind surfers, blue with a bright pink stipe on top.We see Freighters come and go and the lights of planes in the sky at night so we are not alone. Unfortunately my hardest challenge has been getting on with Gilles. At first we got on but it soon wore thin.You have to be with people you like when you are at such close quarters for this time I realise. Rene and Stefan are fine. It will be good to get to Azores and have some female company. I am looking forward to meeting Harriette the lady on the other boat I have been talking to on the radio.She is Dutch and also on board with 2 males.In the sailing world this is about the ratio. Sometimes it is not so good though!Day 7 onwards Bermuda to Azores-Monday


The Azores Islands

2008-05-27 to 2008-06-03

Meeting place for Yachties

 Day 13 after leaving Bermuda as the sun rose we saw land for the first time, a high mountain rising out of the ocean. It had cloud cover and looked like a scene out of South Pacific. The Song “Bali High” came to mind. The morning before, I had seen and spoken to two other sailing boats on the short band radio when I was on my shift. One was heading for Flores the same island as us. It was behind us. The other sailing boat was heading for Canada the opposite way. It had a long way to go. It was good to be heading towards land and seeing other boats finally. 

Flores is a very green, mountainous Island, lots of happy cows, and friendly people. It has a number of unusual lava lakes. There are lots of small villages, houses all with red roofs. It is very scenic, well maintained lookouts overlooking valleys, waterfalls and mountains that look like pipe organs. Around the island there are many jagged rocks jutting out of the sea. The island belongs to Portugal and has a very European feel to it. In fact we were now officially in Europe. The island is about 20sq km and has a population of 4,000. We went around the island one day in a mini bus. The most western town in Europe is located on this island.

We anchored up in the harbor with our yellow flag up letting customs know we were awaiting clearance. It is always good to be in harbor and not have to wake up in the middle of the night to do your watch. There were about 17 other cruising sailing boats anchored up from all other countries. The other sailing boat that we left Bermuda with us came in a few hours after us. It was great to finally meet the people we had been talking to every night on the radio at 8pm out in the middle of the Atlantic. They are Dutch. Paul, a solicitor and his wife ,Hariette and Chris, a friend  who produced documentaries. They were such friendly people. We had dinner with them at a restaurant that night. I think we will keep in contact with these lovely people for some time.  The harbor had a small town with restaurants, supermarket, a bank etc. We were told by other yachties , who are always very helpful and friendly, to go ashore to check in. We had reached Europe, Portugal officially. As soon as we launched the dingy and were ashore a customs man came up in a car. His customs office was the boot of his car, very layback and friendly.

We often have problems finding an internet that works properly which is why we haven’t been able to reply many times to emails. Thank you so much we really appreciate knowing what is going on in Australia. Usually by the time we have checked the latest weather report for where we are heading, copied the blog from the laptop to the website and read our emails, the internet has dropped out and you cannot seem to get it back. It is very hit and miss. Internet places also don’t seem to open the hours that are posted on the door. It has been very frustrating.  

After 2 days and one night on this lovely island at 4pm 28th May, we set sail with the other Dutch boat “Calliste” for Horta on the Azores island of Faial. It was only supposed to take 24 hours but it took longer. The sea and the wind were from the wrong direction so we had to motor a lot of the way. We started seeing the island as it went dark and then  lights till we arrived to the fairy light lit harbor. “Calliste” the Dutch boat had also arrived.  We arrived at midnight so were told to tie up at the customs dock overnight as we had to check in again with customs in the morning at 8am.    Horta is supposedly the second largest port in the world, when it comes to the coming and going of cruising boats and is certainly an interesting place. Every cruising yacht crossing the Atlantic from America to Europe calls in here. Not to mention the yachts that sail from Europe to Horta and back again. There are always over 100 cruising sailing yachts like us tied up at any time in this Port. To fit them all in 4 boats have to raft up next to each other against the jetty wall which gets quite cosy. Whilst we were there we were the 3rd boat out so only had one lot of people walked over our boat to get off. Naturally we got to know all the people on the other 3 boats which was quite nice. On the next boat to us was an English family of 3 returning home to England after cruising for 7.5 years. Their daughter was 8 months old when they left England. They are returning to England so she can attend school for a while.  On the other side a Swedish boat returning to Sweden after 12 months cruising. They consisted of a young couple, their uncle and an English friend of the uncle. They were very friendly people and spoke English well but Stefan also spoke to them in Swedish.

It was good to have a social life again. Horta has a world famous bar with Yachties called “ Peters” where all the yachties meet up to compare stories of the crossing etc. You could spend months here just talking to interesting people from all walks of life on boats and where they had been. You could never get lonely here, everyone is so friendly.  There are hundreds of names of yachts painted on the rocks, some having circumnavigating the world showing the route they had followed. We stayed 4 days in Horta. We hired a car one day to drive around the island which was a similar size to Flores. Again it was very scenic and green with some interesting volcano craters and landscapes. Did some bushwalking. We then filled up with fuel, water and groceries and headed off again. This time to mainland Europe at 9.30am Tues 3rd June


Azores to England

2008-06-03 to 2008-06-14

 ATLANTIC CROSSING COMPLETE “ ENGLAND ,Plymouth“ 3RD June-14th June

We have arrived safely in Plymouth ,England escorted into harbor by the friendly British water police. We arrived in on a Saturday morning, parts of the harbor were closed for a big power boat race that only happens once a year. The Harbor was buzzing but cold. We were all rugged up. IS THIS SUMMER? We weren’t expecting to come here so didn’t have a chart of the area and were helped by these friendly chaps.

It is good to see land and be in contact with civilization again, just as it is great at sea for a time. It will be great to get a full night of sleep. We are in the English Channel now and this is where we say goodbye to our crew members Rene and Gilles and a new chapter starts.I have tried to write this account of the way I have felt as we went while it was fresh in my mind, warts and all. Our day to day life on a sailing boat! MY REFLECTIONS ON COMPLETION! The last leg took 11 days HORTA to PLYMOUTH!  HOW LUCKY AM I!  I’ve done it. We’ve done it. HOPEFULLY I WILL GET MY T-SHIRT. Who would have thought in days gone by that I would one day cross the Atlantic in a sailing boat.

ON BEHALF OF THE CREW ON BOARD JULIANA ll,  I WOULD LIKE TO THANK OUR CONSTANT WILDLIFE COMPANIONS. ESPECIALLY YOU HUGE, UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL, FRIENDLY WHALES, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, WHO CAME UP CLOSE BUT NEVER MANAGED TO COLLIDE WITH US. THE DOLPHINS WHO CONSTANTLY PLAYED AROUND THE BOAT! THE BIRDS THAT MILES AWAY FROM ANYWHERE, WE WATCHED IN AWE AS THEY GLIDED EFFORTLESSLY UP AND DOWN THE DRAFTS FROM THE WAVES WITH SUCH GRACE! THE NEVERENDING CLOUD PATTERNS! THE OCEAN THAT CHANGED BY THE MOMENT AND WE NEVER GOT SICK OF WATCHING SOMETIMES FOR HOURS ON END! THE FANTASTIC COLOURFUL SUNSETS AND SUNRISES! THE MOON AND STARS!

What an amazing experience! It is interesting!  If I had been asked before I left what did I think would be my biggest challenge I would have said the remoteness of a vast ocean, strong winds and storms, big waves, boredom. As it happened my biggest challenge was something completely different. When sailing at sea for days on end the boat became a world of its own. It was a huge challenge for me to live at such close quarters with Gilles. If it was the Big brother house I would give him my 2 points to be evicted out of the house. My reasons being that I found him often arrogant, selfish, inconsiderate and lazy.  Stefan shared my feelings but was able to bit his tongue and cope with the situation a lot better than me. Though I didn’t have a terrible lot in common with Rene we got on just fine. I think this time has made me appreciate Stefan’s good qualities more and after 32 years of being about sailing boats with Stefan I have finally decided I want to learn the technical side of sailing. Stefan is still enjoying his honeymoon with Juliana ll. At least she comes complete with manuals! He is occupied a lot of the time with his role as captain.

HURRAY!  WIND AT LAST! and the sun has come out!  IT IS NOW 10th June,  EIGHT DAYS SINCE WE HAVE SEEN LAND.  I have become a bookworm. I have read 3 medium novels since leaving Australia. A lot for me who at home never can sit long enough to read a novel. It was good to have had a social life again other people to talk to, being able to walk around, but now we were off again. STILL THE SAME FOUR OF US?????  We had motored out of Horta until the wind picked up. Azores is made up of nine islands out in the Atlantic. We passed another three of these islands on the way out. It was a lovely sunny day ! Rene had his fishing line out the back. STILL NO FISH! I did my sunbaking session. The wind picked UP AND WE WERE OFF! THE DOLPHINS OUR CONSTANT COMPANIONS FOR HALF AN HOUR AT A TIME.

The second day we sailed all day with a good wind from behind. We left at a similar time to another French boat. Our Dutch friends on “Calliste” set sail for Portugal 3 days earlier. At night we talk to both boats and Herb in Canada on our long distance radio to get up to date weather advice. I looked forward to talking to Harriet each night but now they are in Portugal. We will be keeping in contact by email when we are on land from now on. STEFAN IS GRADUALLY LEARNING HOW TO RECEIVE UP TO DATE WEATHER system FAXES and how to read them. Our laptop has a program which allows it to receive these faxes through our long distance radio. Evenings there is less in interference and they are clearer. WE WERE HEADING FURTHER NORTH THAN MOST BOATS. WE WANTED TO HEAD TOWARDS SWEDEN.THE LONG RANGE   WEATHER FORECAST INDICATED IT WAS BEST for us TO HEAD FOR NORTHERN FRANCE.At one stage the wind picked up to 25 knots in the night and we had to reef the sails.

The shift I hate the most when the wind is up, no stars or moon is 12 midnight to 2am, when you are by yourself on deck rugged up, everyone else asleep. If it is a nice night with not too much wind, with moon and stars, it is  completely different. I can get Stefan up to help me if I am really concerned but he needs his sleep. The four of us are still doing rotating shifts on watch day and night. Two hours on, 6 hours off. My favourite shift is 10pm to midnight. You get to sleep six hours if you are lucky, then are on again 6am to 8am. Most early mornings at sea are magic. The two hours of watch usually goes fairly quickly even though you are by yourself. You have to check the course and that the auto pilot doesn’t spit the dummy. Most of the time the sails are set for the night and need little adjustment but this is not always the case. One of the most important duties is to look out for ships, which can be hard if it is misty for raining.  

The waves were coming from the side now which made the boat roll. It was tricky having a shower, washing my hair.. We have 5 heads (bathrooms) on board, four of which have a shower, toilet and wash basin in a compact area. The four of us have the luxury of our own bathroom, be it small. Stefan & I share one and use the other one as a laundry/storage. Washing is done in a bucket and hung on deck. We have lost lots of pegs overboard but no clothes yet. The water is heated by the engine, so you time a shower after or when the engine is running if you want a warm one. The water from the shower goes under the floor with a button to electric pump the water out after you have a shower. It is amazing how little water you use even when washing your hair when you must conserve water. We have 900 litres of water when full, but this may have to last some time on an ocean passage. Using the pump out toilet at sea can be another challenge if the boat is rocking and rolling. We have a salt water tap in the galley so rinse with salt water. You never have lights on that don’t need to be on otherwise the solar panels are not enough and we have to start the engine unnecessarily simply to generate power. The auto pilot is on 24 hours a day and is fairly energy hungry unfortunately. We also need navigation lights on at night. 

During the day we all get our own food. Rene, Gilles and I rotate cooking dinner each night, so we cook every third night. We make bread, muffins or biscuits every day.I have set up personal challenges for myself to stay sane. The weight reduction one is going well. It would be easy to eat because you are bored at times. A lot of the time at home I eat on the run and don’t seem to have the time to plan what I eat. I do have the time now and just need willpower. My exercise one is going well, also again at home often I don’t seem to get the time. I have turned the boat into a gym and especially when I am alone, early in the morning I do my set exercise program which I increase. It is amazing what a bit of improvisation can do. Finding on area to do stomach crunches doing them in time with the rolling of the boat. Skipping without a rope to the rolling.

After the first few days out the weather turned wintery and drizzly and there was no wind. We noted the water temperature was 16 degrees. WELCOME TO NORTHERN EUROPE! This was supposed to be summer. WE MOTORED AND MOTORED AND MOTORED. The long range forecast said if we stayed north of a current high we would have good wind. Unfortunately as we went north the high weather pressure followed us higher than it was supposed to go. We kept heading north in search of wind but to no avail. We started thinking we would end up at the North Pole. In the middle of the Atlantic, no wind or waves, who would have thought. The only thing I enjoyed at this stage sometimes was lying snug in my bunk warm and relaxing with the gentle rock of the boat, sometimes reading. It was certainly chilly on deck. Freighters came and went from time to time.

We became worried if we had no wind and had to motor all the way, we would not have enough fuel. We decided to motor for the nearest land which was Ireland.  At one stage on early morning shift I saw a huge whale crossing our path only meters ahead of the boat. I thought of cutting the engine but in perfect time it moved out of the way. At the same time there was another huge one behind and on our starboard side. I am gradually getting used of them coming up so close. They seem to just be curious. Dolphins and birds were curious of us as well. Often birds would follow us sawing up and down the waves after us. They would then land in the water for a rest then fly to catch up with us again.I started this diary with day 8 when after about 3 days of motoring towards Ireland on a flat sea there was wind again and the sun came out we were now heading for England. Our spirits were lifted! A big fishing trawler crossed our path only about 500 metres ahead. Another sign that we were getting closer to land. It is now getting light at 3am.

Today is Friday 13th so I hope everything goes well. We are currently motoring but we have had good sailing conditions lately and Falmouth England we should reach within a day. Even if we have to motor all the way we now will have enough fuel to get us there.   

 

 

 


SAILING through the ENGLISH CHANNEL to DOVER

2008-06-14 to 2008-06-20

SAILING   THROUGH  the  ENGLISH  CHANNEL to  DOVER  14th June- 20th June

It was great to see land. First the Scilly Islands off England, then Lands End. The sun was rising. There were lots of huge shipping around. After being escorted to a Plymouth Marina by the friendly British water police we set foot on land. After 11 days at sea it is quite strange. Marina fees were going to be about $100 per night. Needless to say we decided to anchor up as there was a protected bay nearby near National Park. The police had indicated we could anchor up there. We had to fill up with fuel which was expensive enough and water.

Rene & Gilles packed up their things and stayed  ashore while we were on the marina as this was easier than taking their luggage across the bay in the dingy. Rene was catching the train to Heathrow and then to Canada.  Gilles to France. We sadly said goodbye to Rene who had been a very accommodating and great crew member. I gave him a proper French farewell kiss on both sides of the face. After about 8 weeks away from his wife I think he was looking forward to seeing her again and his family. Rene had brought us as a gift from Canada, 2 rubber backed rugs for the boat that matched so well and will be part of Juliana ll for a long time I think, so there will be memories of him. Hopefully Stefan & I will get to meet with Rene and his wife in the future. Rene met his wife before he was an airline captain for Air Canada. Rene’s wife worked as a nurse on a remote Eskimo outpost. Rene was a pilot, flying in supplies on a regular basis to this area in a smaller plane.

Stefan and I anchored up in the bay. I was in charge of putting down the anchor. There were 2 other sailing boats anchored up. As it was Saturday we could see a lot of people in the National Park, a couple of children even swimming and it was freezing. We have our dingy stored on deck and motor in the forepeak. There was only 2 of us now to get the dingy and motor from the deck into the water. It was not that hard. We winched the engine out, put it on the dingy and winched the dingy over the side. We will have it stored overhanging the back when we have a chance to get the bars made up. This will make it easier. To go into town was about 10mins in the dingy. It was a bit of a cold trip.  

We went ashore to another Marina to enquire about internet access. It seems not a lot of sailing boats come in there having sailed from the Caribbean, especially Australians. They asked us to wait some minutes and came back with a bottle of Jacobs Creek Australian wine as a” welcome to England” gift. They wanted to take pictures and details of our sail for their Marina news. They were very friendly. We have found the English very friendly and helpful, especially when they find out we are Australian. England has so much charm. I had forgotten. It is a shame about the cold weather. The flowers are so much brighter than the ones in Australia, roses etc. Just like I suppose the tropical flowers up north in Australia are so vibrant. It was great to have normal supermarkets and shops again.

The next day, Sunday 15thJune was Fathers Day in England. It was great to have music on the radio and being Fathers day there were a lot of good songs. We were sick of our CDs on the boat. We will have to get help setting up an iPod with a variety of music, to plug into the radio. That night we listened to music on the radio hosted by Jason Donavan{ ex neighbours} who also talked to Dame Edna. I guess he hasn’t made it as far as Kylie. I think he got onto drugs at one stage, from memory.From the boat we could see the power boats racing. It was amazing how low down the helicopters were flying to film them. Plymouth has an area like THE ROCKS in Sydney which was good to walk round as well as the modern part of town with lots of normal shops. We were amazed how many English people walked around in summer clothes when it was freezing. I guess they are tough! I went a walk in the National Park which was top class. There was a castle on the hill with harbor views and beautiful gardens. All the hedges neatly trimmed. I saw quite a few squirrels. They are so cute. Stefan managed to get the TV working and surprise! Surprise! Watched soccer.

We left Plymouth Tuesday morning 17th June as we listened to breakfast radio with people stuck in traffic on the way to work. We had a nice day sailing to Portland, wind moderate from behind. We followed the scenic coastline. We had been told Portland was a nice place but as we were only anchoring overnight in the commercial area with the fishing boats etc. We didn’t see much but got a good night’s sleep. The following day we sailed inside the Isle of Wight. We had a strong wind 25 to 30 knots. Our sails were all reefed down and we were still doing 10 knots at times. It was very fresh.  Lots of sailing boats sailing off the Isle of Wight and a very pretty coastline.

We sailed into Portsmouth ,with its big sail statue , visible for miles, as the sun went down. We tied up to a mooring at a place called Gosport. We had a good night’s sleep and went ashore. Stefan went to look around Admiral Nelson’s ship VICTORY. Admiral Nelson won the “battle of Trafalgar” against the combined forces of France & Spain in 1806. Stefan was very impressed. There were a number of these old ships in Portsmouth. There were lots of markets to look around and I found a Library with internet so did some emailing. Normally when we find an internet that works Stefan is busy looking up weather etc, so this was a treat for me. Portsmouth is a very busy Port.  Ferries going to France etc.  The English are so polite. When we got back to the boat and were downstairs we heard the name Juliana being called. I AM SORRY TO DISTURB YOU BUT WE NEED TO PUT OUR BOAT ON OUR MOORING, WHEN YOU ARE READY. He was so polite about it, a true Englishman! We had thought it was a public mooring and moved promptly.We left Portsmouth at 2.30pm and had a good overnight sail doing about 8 knots most of the time, to Dover. We arrived at about 7am the following day. We were sailing most of the night with another sailing boat going the same way. Being in the English Channel there was a lot of Ships to look out for. We talked to him when we got in. He was a German, a lone sailor returning home to work after 12 months sailing. We meet a lot of people sailing alone. I would not like this!    


SURVIVING the NORTH SEA

2008-06-21 to 2008-06-24

SURVIVING the NORTH SEA-Winds up to 50knots Waves up to 25ft. 20th June-27th June.Unfortunately Stefan’s camera’s battery has packed it in. I am taking the old fashion photos on my camera but cannot put them on the blog. Hoping to get a new battery soon but maybe not till Sweden as it is apparently an unusual battery. The photos he has taken he cannot put on either until he gets his camera sorted. We may have to get a new one. It always happens when the best photos could be taken.

DOVER is a place with a lot of charm with surprise! Surprise! A big castle up on the hill, which I walked up to. It has lots of pubs and fish & chip shops. We stayed on a Marina and got friendly with a couple of English couples with boats there. They leave their boats in Dover, then when they get time off, sail or motor over to France, only 18 miles away by sea. Lots of Ferries and Freighters are going back and forward. Our first day in Dover was Surprise! Surprise! Freezing, fog & rain. The second day, a little warmer. I kept asking if this was summer. They said “Yes” The Parks are big and beautiful and well maintained. A special charm! The buildings all have such charm as well.

We left Dover at 6pm Sat 21st June. Stefan checked the weather forecast. He felt it was good to sail direct to Sweden. It would take about 3-4days. The forecast was that at one stage the wind to reach 25-30 knots but we could handle that. As we sailed out of Dover and its white cliffs we counted 18 ships around us. It was like a highway! This included Ferries. The ships move very fast and you always have to be looking out. Most sailing boats in Europe have radar reflectors which we don’t have yet. The ships however, always seemed to change course to be a safe distance away from us before we did so they must pick us up on their radar anyway. Sunday was a great day’s sailing. We were making good progress. We Sailed into the North Sea section where all the oil rigs are. We were then dodging oil rigs not ships. At one stage we could see 16 oil rigs. It was sunset and their lights were starting to come on. It was a weird sight. The oil rigs all had a crane hanging over the side and an aerial on top. We went quite close to some for a look.

Stefan & I were doing about 3-4hours on watch at a time. At 2am Monday 23rd June after a short sleep I woke up to notice there was a strong wind blowing and big waves. I dressed and went on deck to see Stefan looking very worried. The wind that was predicted to peak at 25-30knots was actually gusting to 50 knots but most of the time about 45knots. This is serious wind and it had whipped up serious waves to about 25ft. The main problem was the waves. They were huge, steep ,breaking and close together. I was amazed how the boat could get over them at all. I preferred not to look at them, they were so frightening. At this stage Stefan was in the cockpit with his safety harness on in case a wave came over. The waves were splashing on the deck but not going over completely. Stefan had his wet weather gear on and was getting drenched. I was downstairs with the hatch half closed to stop water getting inside. At this stage Stefan wasn’t telling me what the wind strength was and I wasn’t asking as I knew it was better that way. 

To those of you that say we are lucky to be living our dream. Sometimes the dream is a nightmare and this was. Stefan had to make a decision. Whether to take all the sails down and put the boat side on to the waves so it didn’t drift , go downstairs and wait the bad weather out at sea The original forecast was that the 25-30 knot winds would drop that afternoon. If the wind stayed like this the waves would build to an even more dangerous state.The other option was to head into a big harbor like Hamburg that he knew we could get into in these extreme conditions. This would take about 15 hours and was not the route we were taking to get to Sweden.

To make a decision we tried to get the latest forecast on our long distance radio but to no avail. As we had also been avoiding shipping in the area as well we called “all all ships” on our short distance radio. We had been told ships normally only answer if it is a MAY DAY and this wasn’t yet. Luckily a nearby freighter answered us. He was able to contact the coast guard for us who couldn’t give us anything else but the report we had that said this weather shouldn’t be happening. The coastguard through the helpful freighter captain advised us of a nearer safe German port for us to enter in these extreme conditions about 5 hours sail away. It meant backtracking but safety was an issue here. Stefan didn’t want to go backwards to a port and not be able to go in because of the conditions and have to go back out to sea against the waves. The coastguard got our details etc.It was about 7am by now , the wind and waves still the same with no sign of dropping and very uncomfortable. Stefan was exhausted with lack of sleep and the conditions. We decided to take all the sails down and heave to for an hour’s rest. Maybe the wind would also drop by then as the barometer was rising. We tried to contact the freighter again to contact the coastguard to let them know our plans but to no avail. I was downstairs but watching out while Stefan rested. A trawler passed nearby thrashing around in the huge waves as well but there was really no more information we could get.  Just a matter of making a decision. In this weather sometimes it is safer to wait it out at sea rather than try to approach land. Juliana seemed to be handling the current conditions amazingly well, but what was to come if conditions worsened? This was the question.

After an hour’s rest, the wind and waves showing no sign of changing Stefan decided we would backtrack to the German port the coastguard had suggested. They had suggested a Dutch port as well, a similar distance. We were just hoping they were right and that it would be safe to enter under these conditions. Luckily the wind and waves were from behind. Stefan got out the chart for the port we were heading for. We headed towards land with one tiny sail up still doing 9 knots. A bimney zipper had broken with all the flapping. The solar panels had survived. A bottle of mustard had splattered in the fridge and made a terrible mess. That was about the amount of damage which was amazing. Juliana ll certainly came through with flying colours. Stefan seems to think that these are the most extreme circumstances she will ever encounter. It was close to force 10 conditions. Stefan proved himself as a captain.

The entry to the Port was safe and straight forward. It was good to be in smaller waves and the wind had dropped somewhat.  Freighters go into this Port. As we were entering a huge coastguard boat came aside us to check we were OK. We had tried to contact them as we got closer without success. It was like heaven when we tied up to a lovely little Marina on a small German island of Borkum. The lovely places you get to see that you don’t expect when you are on a boat.Every time I have a scarey incident on the boat. I think this is it! No more! Then I have a good nights sleep and think about the good things that you get to do with a boat. It seems that if you want to experience the best moments you have to put up with some bad moments OR HOURS!   


VENTURING INTO NORTH SEA AGAIN TO SWEDEN

2008-06-24 to 2008-06-27

VENTURING OUT INTO NORTH SEA AGAIN TO SWEDEN    24th June to 27th June 

Heaven on earth is how we describe the German island of Borkum , after our ordeal. Stefan & I were by ourselves when the strong wind came,  but even if we had crew ,it would not have been any easier as Stefan would have had to have been on duty all the time in those conditions, making decisions etc. It was great to be inside in a quaint marina on still water.  Shortly after we arrived at about 5pm I was talking to Stefan and he went to sleep sitting on the lounge. He woke up some time later and went to bed. We could finally relax.  There were lots of well maintained interesting traditional boats here. When we went out the next morning we noticed the marina had hoisted the Australian flag on their flagpole. It was great to see.  I don’t know where they got it from. I don’t think too many Australian boats come to this small port. It was full of character. We decided to catch the bus into town about 7klms away. We looked at the timetable and wouldn’t understand why the bus didn’t come. This was Germany after all. We then discovered that we had to turn our watches on an hour to German time.

It was finally warm and sunny. We were finally in summer clothes again and able touch up our tans which were fading. We found an internet we could use for a limited time, in a council building. As usual  there was no internet café. We walked along the beach with lots of people but only a few in the water.  Good live music entertainment was being performed on an outdoor stage.  Along the beach were lots of colourful, little change room huts and many  portable double chairs with roofs and sides for protection from the wind. In the middle of town was a big lighthouse which we walked around. There are not many cars on this island. As it is flat and the price of petrol expensive, everyone seems to ride push bikes with baskets, even for grocery shopping. The island has a lovely feel about it, an old fashion traditional European feel. The following morning I walked into town along an interesting National Park track. I am getting a lot of walking in which I enjoy. My shoes are getting very worn. We bought some groceries and wine from a big supermarket that looked like Aldi in Australia. It was good to be paying what we now consider reasonable prices for groceries, though in Australia it would still be considered very expensive.

We went to leave , to venture into the North sea again at about 9am 25th June but found we couldn’t move from the Marina berth as we were touching the bottom. Luckily it was only soft mud. We had come in with no problem when we came in but we were the biggest boat at this Marina. At 2pm when the tide was higher we were able to leave. We motored out until we picked up good wind. What a different sea to two days ago. Perfect sailing conditions, small swell and a good wind. We averaged about 8 knots over the next 24 hours. The weather however was freezing. We saw lots of big freighters and fishing trawlers. We sailed along the coast of Denmark. We could see lots of wind generators.  

We arrived into the harbor of Kollerod Sweden where Stefan’s sailing days had started about 4pm Friday 27th June. We both had our wet weather gear on as it was raining and cold. We had told Stefan’s mother we would be arriving at the end of the week. She had a view of the harbor from the summer house which is the same summer house here as when Stefan was a child. She had been looking out for us for days and saw us come in and was there to welcome us in her car when we tied up. Stefan’s mother is 85 and still very active. She looked no different from when I had seen her last 3 years ago. We went up with her by car to the summer house.


WE MAKE THE NEWS IN SWEDEN

2008-06-28 to 2008-07-11

Today we have been in Sweden two weeks. We have been treated as celebritaries and heros. Last Wednesday the Swedish West Coast newspaper came to our boat to interview us and take photos. Today the article was published. A good big colour photo of Stefan & I at the helm of Juliana with the Australian Flag as the background. We will have to get it on the blog somehow. Maybe translated as it is in Swedish. Stefan also has a new camera so photos will be appearing soon again. The article was about Stefan sailing interest starting in this area. Stefan going to Australia, building a boat, marrying an Australian, sailing in Australia. Backpacking around South America, buying a boat in the Carribean and sailing it home to Sweden across the Atlantic & North Sea and the adventures along the way.

The weather here has been very mixed. We had 4 days of 28 degrees. I have been swimming and sunbaking on the beach 3 times. The water temperature about 19 degrees. The rest of the time has been cool. Many people have invited us to their parties. It has been a busy time. Most Swedish people speak good English so I have not been left out. We have taken friends out sailing in Juliana amongst the islands here a couple of times. Juliana is tied up to a mooring in the habour near Stefan`s family`s summer house. There are a number of wind generators (Windmills) It is lovely at sunset in the harbour where our boat is.There are a number of German campervans parked by the harbour making the most of it as well. The sun at the moment doesn`t set till about 10pm and rises about again at about 3am.We have had friend for dinner on board Juliana also.

Luckily Agnes my sister in law is a dentist as I had had a filling come out which she attended to. We travelled to her surgery about an hour away and where they live, Trollhattan. A pretty city with lots of water locks. We have also visited some quaint fishing villages. It was Agnes`s birthday last Wednesday and we had a great shrimp party with 13 people coming. My favourite alcoholic drink over here is pear cider. I have never had it before and it is wonderful. I am at Trollhattan tonight Friday night and Agnes and I have come back to her home to attend to a few things. We have just had a girls evening out which was very enjoyable.Gunilla, Stefan`s sister is coming from Stockholm to see us tomorrow for a couple of days. We are going to a 50th birthday on Saturday night. After that next Monday we plan to start sailing south. Einar & Agnes will sail with us for about a week , then a neighbour, a doctor who is an experienced sailor. We plan to sail through the Kiel Canal, Germany, to France.

We now have wheels. We have bought 2 folding push bikes to have on the boat which will be handy.

 


Into the Baltic Sea

2008-07-14 to 2008-07-20

INTO THE BALTIC SEA     14thJuly-20th July  

Stig is a Danish friend of ours who lives in Australia and is in the Gosford sailing club. He has his own sailing boat in Gosford but came sailing with us for 8 weeks when we went sailing to the Whitsundays a few years ago on our 1st Juliana. He was going to come with us on the Atlantic crossing but his doctor advised him against it due to some medication he is on.  He was very disappointed and has been following our adventures closely. We had the honor of visiting his home sailing club at Dragor of which his brother Rolf has been president for some time. We got a fantastic reception. Stig is known as Uffe to his family but I guess Stig is an easier Australian name.Stig had written a message on our blog when he knew we had left Sweden and would be passing nearby. The only instructions of how to find his brother was go to Dragor which is south of Copenhagen airport and the big bridge. He gave us the name of his brother & sister and told us to ask anyone in town how to find them. As you may be aware we are completely controlled by the weather. We emailed him back saying we would do our best to visit them.We arrived at Dragor at about 11pm Friday 18 July.

We attempted to go into the south harbor where all the yachts appeared to be but, found it was too shallow. We followed the leads into the old harbor and tied us next to an old school ship sailing boat. There are lots of these around Scandinavia. The kids have a great time which earns income to keep them restored. The old sailing boats are restored by interest groups and the kids get to learn to sail on them. The following morning the kids about 10 of them about 12 years old were keen to come on board and see our boat. They ,as most people were fascinated that we had sailed it from the Carrabean and were Australians.We were also interested to see their restored old boat.

 Dragor has a lot of history as a fishing village and most of the houses and buildings have been kept in their original state by heritage orders. Many of the houses have thatched like roofs and the streets cobblestones which makes for a great village like feel. It is very popular with visitors. There was also a vintage car club in town when we were there. We went into the village centre and asked for Stig’s brother. The first shop we asked didn’t know the name but sent us across the road to a men’s cloth shop. This man knew the name straight away. He said Rolf’s wife had just been in his shop. He rang Rolf and Rolf turned up on his push bike 5 mins later. Bikes are the mode of transport here, all with baskets.Rolf took us to the Dragor sailing club. It was closed but he opened it and showed us around. The building was small but with a lot of atmosphere from times gone by with a nice outdoor area. We sat outside talking and he opened a bottle of red wine followed later by a beer.  One of his friends sat with us also. They spoke good English. They were interesting and very welcoming. Rolf showed us his boat.We expected to spend some days in Dragor as the wind direction and weather was not forecasted to be good for a couple of days.

We planned to meet Stig’s sister the following day and caught a bus into Copenhagen. What a beautiful city, the buildings, the harbor. If only the weather was warmer. It was raining also but still people were sitting outside under umbrellas, dining. Restaurant’s have blankets on each chair that can be used by patrons to put around them. This is very common. Practical but funny I thought.   We caught the bus back. Dragor is only 12 klms from Copenhagen. It is always interesting catching the local bus, seeing a bit more of the surroundings and people. Copenhagen of course is a very cosmopolitan place. We had a Danish ice cream of course. We were glad to get back to the boat and out of the rain. Rolf’s friend dropped around on his bike shortly after for a look at our boat and a chat and kindly offered to come in his car the following day and take us sightseeing, which we looked forward to. As happens sometimes, when we woke the next morning, the weather  forecast was wrong, the wind was perfect for heading forwards Germany, the Baltic sea. When we spoke the previous day to Rolf and friend we did say that we had to leave as soon as the wind was right, so unfortunately we had to leave them with a note thanking them for their kindness and hoping that as sailors they would understand and not meeting Stig’s sister.

We had set sail from Stefan’s family summer house 14th July with Stefan’s brother and sister in law sailing with us for the week. It was sad saying goodbye to Stefan’s mother and sister after having such a good time. On Saturday night we had gone to a 50th birthday at a well decorated hall. It was walking distance from the summer house luckily. Marianne was a family friend. It was such a fun party with about 60 people. There were lots of lovely food and drinks. Stefan’s sister and friend had written a song for her and together with Stefan & his brother they performed it to much applause, Stefan’s sister playing the guitar. All the tables where mixed up so people got to meet other people and there were funny games to break the ice. People spoke very good English to me and were very interesting. There was a live band and dancing. All guests were introduced. We really enjoyed the night. Stefan was not used to drinking snaps though and entertained us as we walked home.

We headed south past many small typical Swedish islands with summerhouses on. Sometimes we went through narrow passages between islands which were amazingly deep. It was raining as we passed the Swedish Mecca of sailors Marstrand with a huge castle overlooking the town. We did a sail past with our Aussie flag flying attracting lots of waves(the hand type). People over here cannot understand why we would want to sail from the Carribean to this cold climate. In Stenungsund, we got our gas bottles filled which we filled last in the Carribean. It was the only place we could find that filled American gas bottles as they produce it here. Einar & Agnes took the push bike with the two gas bottles tied on the back as it was some klms to go to have them refilled. We tried to find a sail maker as some of the sail stitching was coming undone. Everything in Sweden closes in the summer holidays even sail makers. We had to have a day of sewing sails.

We had some good but cool days sailing south with Einar & Agnes. They were good company! They left us on Friday 18th July in Helsingborg, Sweden a big port for shipping. It was SURPRISE !SURPRISE! raining as they caught the train and bus back home after taking a 20min ferry ride over to Denmark  to buy things that were cheaper in Denmark. This was when we carried on to Dragor arriving late.


Across the Baltic Sea to Germany

2008-07-19 to 2008-07-25

CROSSING THE BALTIC SEA TO GERMANY   19th July to 25th JulyStefan has just worked out we have clocked up approximately 3,000 nautical miles since we left Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, nearly 3 months ago. One nautical mile is 1.852 klms, so that is 5,556 Klms. Not a bad distance to move your home, meet new friends and see things along the way. We must say through, we  miss and appreciate our old friends and family at home and enjoy hearing from them. 

Shortly before we had sailed into Dragor, Denmark, there is a very long bridge and tunnel that connects Sweden and Denmark. As we sailed we had cars going under us in the tunnel under the water. Copenhagen airport was on our Starboard side, a busy airport with planes coming in above us to land and big Freighters all around us with a backdrop of a row of wind generating windmills towering over the water. It was at sunset, all action and quite a sight.We sadly said goodbye Dragor at about 7.30am 19th July and had a great days sail with about 20 knots of wind from the side, most of the day doing 7-8 knots. The last few hours we sailed only with the main sail as other seams in the headsail were coming undone and we took it down. We anchored up at about 3pm on Mon headland, Denmark . It had a very interesting backdrop with steep hills with white sand dunes. There were only 2 other boats anchored up here.

We had to get the headsail down to sew it. Through necessity we are becoming experienced sail sewers now. The seams we did last time are lasting well. The thread having been sun damaged over time and then strong wind. These are the original sails, four years old. Seams are coming undone. If only we had been able to find a sail maker to sew these seams on a machine, it would have been a lot easier.  We got the sail off the furling system. By the time we repaired it, it was late. We decided to put it up the following morning and get an early start.An early start we did not get. We got the headsail two thirds up on the furling system and it got stuck and would not go up or down. The wind was picking up. It is amazing the strength in a sail when it is not tied up as we wouldn’t do at anchor. It was flapping like crazy. Stefan managed to tie a rope around it to reduce the flapping and SURPRISE! SURPRISE ! I had to winch Stefan up the mast. He had to hang over with the sail still flapping. I HATE THESE SITUATIONS AND THIS IS WHERE I USUALLY SAY TO MYSELF! WHAT AM I GOING HERE! It was looking like he couldn’t get the flapping sail up or down with the wind increasing. He had to break a part of the furling system to finally get the sail down, then repair it. 

Needless to say we finally set sail to cross the Baltic sea to Germany at about 11.30am. Not the early start we had planned and an uncomfortable wave motion coming from the side. But “Hey” life isn’t always clear sailing. At least the wind was good and we anchored in the lee of an headland off Darss, Northern Germany  at about 8pm.The following day is what sailing is all about. All the frustrations of the previous day were forgotten. The sun was out. The wind and waves were from behind and we were doing about 8 knots. All the washing of clothes was done and they all dried quickly. 

Our destination was KUELUNGSBORN, Germany. The month we were in the British Virgin Island of Tortola our boat was tied up next to a very friendly young German couple Julianne and Rico. They have a boat similar to ours. They were very helpful to us preparing to sail the Atlantic as they had sailed across the previous September from Germany. They had had a bad weather crossing. They had problems with their boat when we met them and were waiting to have their boat shipped back across the Atlantic. When we left we sadly said goodbye but kept in contact. KUELUNGSBORN is Julianne and Rico’s home port.Kuelungsborn is a very popular resort town on the coast. We could see a ferris wheel from a long way off. Julianne & Rico had been expecting us the previous weekend but this was Tuesday. We had their phone number and knew they owned a hotel in town. We tied up at the marina at 1pm. The sun was out, summer clothes again. Lots of people on the beach in beach chairs with sides, others swimming. People were sitting in outside cafes eating, WITHOUT blankets wrapped around them. 

We looked for Julianne and Rico’s boat but couldn’t see it. We found a public phone and tried ringing Julianne, but had no luck. The Marina office was now open. They knew Rico and gave us directions to his Hotel. Our bikes are really useful and fold up easily to store on the boat. We can get around in half the time. Here through you nearly need a license to ride a bike. There are so many people riding bikes and bikeways. You have to treat it like a car, keeping on the right side, giving way and so on.We found the hotel and staff told us that Julianne & Rico were sailing in Denmark. We found a hotspot at a hotel and read our emails. One was from them saying that they were not sure when we were coming and due to the good weather went for a sail to Denmark and would be home the following weekend. We had literally crossed paths. We emailed them saying we would have to leave Thursday as we had to be in Amsterdam by Monday to pick up a friend who was sailing with us. We told them it was sad we had missed them but we loved their town. Sometime later a man, a friend of theirs came knocking on our boat. He said that Julianne wanted to talk to us on his mobile. We talked to her and she asked if we could stay one more day. They would sail back from Denmark to see us. We stayed one more day and saw them and it was great.

They are such kind people.When Stefan sailed our last Juliana down from Airlie beach to Gosford over 3 years ago, he had 2 crew members. One was a German backpacker called Anscar. We have kept contact with him over the years. It is a problem that we never know exactly where we end up and when, when sailing. Complicated by the fact that our only contact, email, is often hard for us to access.  Stefan wasn’t sure where he lived in Germany as we had corresponded by email. It was only when we arrived in DARSS Germany that Stefan realized Anscar must live nearby as he had often talked about sailing on inland lakes that he noticed on the charts. We emailed him as we didn’t have his phone number, saying we were in Kuelungsborn and leaving on Thursday. After we had been to Rostock on the Thursday we had an email from him saying he was coming down to Rostock on Friday as his Dad & Stepmother were getting married after 18 years on that day. We missed him by one day. He is keen to crew with us again at some stage, so no doubt we will catch up with him again. He is nearly finished his university studies.  

On that Thursday  24th July we caught a bus to Rostock about 25 klms away while Julianne & Rico sailed back. It is a big city on a river with a lot of history. We walked through the older part of town into a huge church and along the river. In the modern part of town Stefan bought a modem for his laptop for wireless connection. Hopefully from now on we can buy a sim card in each country and have an internet  connection on our boat when there is contact. Finding places to use internet so far has been difficult. We have found very few internet cafes. Hot spots are often unreliable and in noisy pubs. When we were waiting to catch the bus home from Rostock we noticed about 20 police vehicles and an Ambulance, outside the station. Police got out with bulletproof vests, batons and the like. We were not sure what it was all about, maybe a demonstration as there were a lot of unusual looking people about. Anyway the funny thing was that the 20 police vehicles had been parked in a colour co ordinated way. One blue, one green etc. We wondered how they had had time to do this in what seemed to be a serious situation. The good thing about Germany is that they are very organized and it is good from a tourist’s point of view.

Stefan had been looking for waterproof material to make a bench in his workshop, he is making inside at the rear of the boat. He cannot manage without one of course. We noticed an Ikea shop on the way so got off on the way home. Getting a work bench back to the boat via a bus and a bike isn’t that easy but we managed it . When we got back exhausted. I went to have a shower. We had paid Marina fees. We had a card to get inside the shower block. I got undressed ready to have a shower and wouldn’t turn the tap on. I realized you had to put the card in the slot to get the shower to work. In some places we had been to you had to put a coin in to have a hot shower but this one even the cold water wouldn’t go on. I was happy to have a cold shower rather than have to get dressed and go right back to the boat without having one. I ended up going back to the boat and having one. There were hoses beside our boat. Stefan tried to hose our bikes off. Again he couldn’t get the hose to work. Again there was a slot for our Marina card but when we put it in it still didn’t work. We found out afterwards that you pay the Marina fee which isn’t cheap about $ 40 to $50  per night, you get a card to get you into shower block etc. You have to top up your card with money to use water, showers and anything else.

Julianne & Rico were back when we got back from Rostock and invited us to dinner at their hotel , Hotel Strandperle, right near town and the beach. They have a lovely restaurant as well as the hotel to manage. It was fully booked and very busy. They have done a lovely job of renovating it with beautiful furniture and a wonderful outdoor area, where we sat.  After enjoying a lovely meal of our choice and the best red wine we have ever tasted and dessert we went out for drinks. We had a lot to talk about. We had such a lovely time. We meet a lot of good people in our travels but these two are pearls. The same could be said about Rolf and friend in Dragor and Stefan’s family of course.  


DRAMA ENTERING THE KIEL CANAL GERMANY

2008-07-25 to 2008-07-26

DRAMA ENTERING THE KIEL CANAL, GERMANY  25thto 26th July, 2008

We sadly said goodbye to Julianne & Rico in Kuelungsborn, Germany and set sail for, the one hundred kilometer long , Kiel Canal. A short cut across the BIG BAD NORTH SEA. We had a good day’s sail averaging about 8 knots. We arrived at the entrance at about 5pm. Julianne had given us a book, which we now treasure, a yachtie’s bible with lots of useful information about entering harbors. There was good information about entering the canal. I was fairly nervous as I had never been in a lock in a yacht before and I was Stefans’s only assistant. We called the lock master on our radio. He advised us to proceed to the entrance and wait for the right light. There were different light combinations meaning different things. It was a bit overwhelming to me.There were also quite a few yachts hovering around waiting. It was like the start of a race with boats wanting to get close but not too close to the entry and having trouble staying out of other boats way with wind and current.  We decided to stay back. Consequently we were the last boat into the lock.

 As we were entering the lock, a catamaran decided to change sides and tie up where we were heading.  Boats tied up on either side of the lock. We had to stop motoring to work out what it was doing. There is no mucking around. The gate on the lock was already closing, with us only half inside. There was anxious yelling and shouting in German from the lock staff that we didn’t understand. We managed just, to reposition ourselves on the other side of the lock. We had to tie up to the side of the lock as you would to a jetty with fenders and ropes that had to be changed to the other side. After the panic, in the rush to jump off the boat to tie on the ropes , which was from a height, I slipped on moss. Needless to say I landed on my LITTLE bottom, receiving  a few more bruises.  All part of living OUR dream!  We gave a sigh of relief, being tied up safely inside the lock, the gate closed, as it filled up with water. XXXXXXX

I also have burn marks, another occupational hazard, from getting food out of the oven , whilst cooking , while bouncing around in the sea. Stefan doesn’t have these burns marks! Strange! Still I don’t complain after the French experience. Life cooking on the boat these days and certainly supermarket shopping is a more relaxed, even through a lot of the time we still have people on the boat sharing the galley and shopping with no complaints. I have come to think that the Australian-Scandinavian food experience and the French one are quite different. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with a balance of French cooking. It is a bit more complicated on a boat. In fact I am sure they have influenced my cooking. I am using more spices these days. It is all good, different experiences, through at the time,it is not always easy, to look at it in such a way. XXXXXXXXX

The rest of the passage through the canal was plain motoring. To go through the Kiel Canal cost us 30 Euro. You must have the motor on. We did have the front sail up with a bit of wind at times to help us along. We were the last boat out of the lock and travelled in a little convoy with about 8 other boats that came through the lock at the same time. There was one lock at either end of the canal. You cannot pass through or enter the canal after dark. We anchored up in a protected bay in a town called Rendsburg, just off the canal for the night at about 8.30pm. We were nearly half way along at this stage. We got an early start in the morning. The Canal is fairly narrow in parts and about 10metres deep. Big freighters go through this canal. It is an amazing sight when they pass each other going different ways. These are the same big freighters that we see out in the ocean but are going a little slower and a bit more up very close and personal . If you haven’t overcome them before,  it called coming to terms with your fears of how big they are and how small you are  The crew of these ships however, were all having a good look at our Australian flag which is quite rare in this neck of the woods.  XXXXXXXXX

The scenery along the canal was green, scenic and very flat. We passed under a number of big bridges. We tied up at a Marina for about an hour and went for a walk, before going through the lock to go out of the canal. There was no hurry as the current would be against us. We had no problems going in and out of the lock this time. We were experts now after all. I didn’t even panic and slip. This time we were first in with no one in front of us to change their minds. We had to motor most of the way to Cuxhaven as the current was still against us following the leads. Navigating takes quite a bit of concentration. Staying out of shipping lanes and shallow areas. Cuxhaven is a busy German shipping port. We tied up at a Marina to get an early morning start.  


WHAT A DIFFERENT NORTH SEA

2008-07-27 to 2008-08-03

BECALMED  IN THE NORTH SEA  27th July to 3rd August.

After leaving Cuxhaven, we were into the notorious North Sea again. As we passed nearby Borkum Germany, where we had encountered the 50 knot wind and 25 foot waves it was hard to believe it was the same place. We were becalmed and the sea flat. We had to motor all day. The wind this time was 5 knots. CAN YOU REALLY BELIEVE THIS! In fact we motored most of the way overnight through the North Sea to Ijmuiden, a port nearest to the sea as you go into the channel to Amsterdam in Holland. It was here we picked up a crew member. Harvard is a Norwegian , Swede, a semi retired specialist doctor, a few years older than Stefan. He and his wife Gerd , are  wonderful  neighbors at Stefan’s family summer house. Harvard is great company and a great sailor. We were lucky to have him join us for ten days. He   was great to help us get across the notorious BAY of Biscay, France. Holland has always been known for lots of windmills. These days it probably has more modern big electricity generating windmills than the old fashioned ones you associate Holland with. There are so many of these in Northern Europe. XXXXX

Ijmuiden was a great place for riding our push bikes with lots of bikeways that blend into the roads and become part of the normal traffic. It is taking time but I am gradually learning bike rules, when the cars have to give way to me. How to go around a round about, in the bike lane, without hesitating and so on. Stefan got some prices for having davits made up for the back of the boat to carry the dingy. The quotes were for about $6,000. He made the ones for our last boat. Stefan was able to get a good deal buying some stainless steel here to start making these davits. He was expecting to pay over $500 for it. The man seemed impressed with Stefan as a battling Aussie and his plans and only charged him about $80. For this price he also cut it to the lengths Stefan wanted . We found the Dutch spoke very good English and were very helpful.   Stefan again got these heavy bars back to the boat strapped onto the bike as he walked. He has now installed his workbench in his workshop on the boat, so all well. I always know now when he is missing where to find him. DOWN HIS HOLE! Next thing he is going to buy is a lightweight welder. XXXXXXXX

While Stefan was wheeling and dealing stainless steel,  I went off on my bike with a big box on the back and found an Aldi style supermarket not too far away to boost the grocery supplies. I also found a library to check the emails. We are seeing so much more of places and feel  that we are more part of the local scene since we have had our bikes. Doing it as the locals do it. We settled in our new crew member Harvard refueled and filled up water and we were off again, about 3pm 30th July. XXXXXX

We sailed overnight crossing the busiest shipping channel in Europe, Europort which is in Holland and is the entrance to the Rhine River. This shipping channel is about a mile across. We had to radio the channel master for permission to cross. It reminded me of a game we played when we were little. Crocodile! Crocodile! Can we cross your river? Not unless you have a certain colour! What is it! If you didn’t have the certain colour you had to rush across so you didn’t get caught.  SERIOUSLY NOW!  It was dark. We got permission to cross and had to stay on the radio as the channel master instructed us to pass quickly across, astern of a certain ship. Luckily we got safety across. It is like an airport with a constant stream of ships, you have to get across . Maybe more like attempting to cross a busy road with no allowances for mistakes. I AM SO GLAD NOT YO BE CAPTAIN OF JULIANA.  At night sometimes I find the lights on ships can be very  confusing, to work out which direction they are coming or going from, especially when there are many of them  coming and going from all directions and  you are by myself on my shift. I can always wake Stefan up if I am unsure but try not to. XXXXXXX

At first there was no wind, then it picked up to be quite strong throughout the day. The temporary repair Stefan had done to a small tear in the main sail tore more. Stefan had tore the sail while doing  one of his stints up the mast trying to get the sail out of the mast with his foot when it was stuck. We had to take it down. We were passing Dunkerque, France and decided to pull into a Marina there. Dunkerque, France is where the famous battle occurred. This time though not to battle but to finally find a sail repairer to repair the tear properly. We were in luck this time. The sailmaker was walking distance. We dropped the sail off at 9am the following morning and it was ready by 3pm the same day. In the meantime we took a look around town and the French beach with lots of people. The French people here were very friendly. XXXXXX

 Havard bought a small plastic pot of fresh growing basil to use in a starter he made for us. Basil, as we have called the pot is now an official crew member. If we can’t find something we can always blame Basil. He is very demanding, requires water, sun and his hair trimmed sometimes which we eat. He is lazy and hangs out in the vegetable hammock all day doing bugger all and gets away with it. You may think we have been at sea too long but don’t worry too much. Laughter is the best stress release we have found and we have lots of it. Those who have visited our boat know we have a buzzer that we hit  “THAT WAS EASY” that we press when a situation goes well. A reassuring stress release! It is a constant source of entertainment for some reason. There are times it doesn’t  get hit for some time. STRANGE THAT! XXXXXXX

The following day we set sail early. By the time we were outside Calais we had a strong current against us and wind a bit on the nose and uncomfortable. We decided to pull in and wait till the tide changed. Calais is a very busy ferry terminal between Dover and France. We tied up to a buoy. The weather turned nasty and we decided to stay the night and get an early start. Unfortunately it was a rolly place at high tide and we didn’t get a lot of sleep. We did get an early start the wind on the nose again very fresh and uncomfortable as well as cold and rainy. The forecast was for this weather to continue for a couple of days. We decided to sail across to Dover and wait out. It was difficult getting into Dover harbor with the waves and current but it was like coming home again. Everyone speaking English and familiar things even though the weather wasn’t that great. Today was my father’s 85th birthday. I hoped he had had a good day. By the time we got in he would be asleep in Australia but I had previously sent an email which I hope he got. XXXXXXX


ACROSS NOTORIOUS BAY OF BISCAY

2008-08-04 to 2008-08-10

ACROSS NOTORIOUS BAY of BISCAY  4thth Aug- 10th Aug

The Sunday we arrived in Dover there was a lot of action on the beach. There was a regatta. All sorts of racing, from dinghies to swimming across the bay and lots of market stalls. The weather was not exactly tropical! The following day I stocked up on groceries. This would be the last opportunity to get things like self raising flour and read the labels and instructions on what I was buying in English. XXXXXXXX

Havard our Swedish crew member had been walking in the bush and had found a goldmine of blackberries growing wild and bought back a kilo or so that he had picked. I made a blackberry crumble which we had for dessert with ice cream. It was so popular that we decided to go back to the spot not far away and pick some more. Besides I needed to be able to tell you all that I had been berry picking in the hills of Dover. I came back with lots of scratches. They are not very friendly bushes and one has to have a lot of patience. The best ones are always in the most difficult places. We picked a couple more kilos of them. As Stefan didn’t  participate ,he will miss out on the next blackberry pie. We also had lots of laughs that night when Havard was washing up, Stefan drying and they managed to wash and dry the saucepans twice before they realized. XXXXX

After 2 nights in Dover the wind was still on the nose but had dropped in strength so we decided to soldier on.  We got an early start again. We were thumping into the waves and having to tack. Gradually we were able to hold our course. We were making steady headway. Sometimes we had 3 knots of current with us then against us. The three of us took shifts, 2 hours on, 4 off. I did the 12 to 2am, then 6 to 8. I had a busy time watching out, outside Portsmouth with Ferries coming and going to France.  The wind dropped off from time to time and we had to motor. This time we went outside the Isle of Wight. We headed across the channel to France. Finally as predicted the wind we were waiting for came from the North West. XXXXXXX

As we started across the Bay of Biscay the wind freshened to 30 knots. It was dark and the waves were still coming from the front slightly to the side and splashing over the boat. It was uncomfortable and scary. In these conditions when it is so wet on deck, I didn’t mind being the galley slave. I seem always to be the one who is least effected downstairs by the motion, which is good. It is a lot dryer and warmer downstairs. The sails were reefed right down. In a six hour period Stefan calculated we averaged 8.6 knots. Being galley slave didn’t get me out of doing a shift at night by myself and was glad when it was over. By morning thankfully it had calmed down, the sun was shining and life goes on. Sailing across the Bay of Biscay was roses except for the first and the last night got a bit nasty again. It was great to be out in the Atlantic again with the familiar long waves and our friends the whales and dolphins. xxxxxxx

When I was on night shift half way across the bay I saw all these red flashing lights. I couldn’t figure out what they were as we were way out to sea so they couldn’t be markers. I saw them from a long distance away. They ended up being working fishing trawlers a long way from home. Quite big ones up to 100ft long. We dodged them for hours. There must have been at least 50 of them. We have never seen so many in one spot or the flashing lights. You see some funny things at sea. Before we crossed Biscay we saw a huge tug towing a huge dry dock platform out quite a long way to sea. When you see things like this from a distance you wonder what on earth they are. MAYBE A SPACESHIP FROM MARS!  

We sailed non stop from Dover to Northern Spain which took us 5 days. It was time for Harvard to fly back to Sweden. It had been so good to have Harvard with us. Especially helping us across Biscay. He was such great company for 10 days and a great sailor. We are so grateful to Gerd, his wife who lent him to us, despite the fact that it was their 34th wedding anniversary and she was on annual holiday while he was with us. Gerd, if Havard says funny things in his sleep like  ‘It will all be revealed” ‘So here we are” It’s not exactly tropical” It’s a hard life”  be understanding of him, it is Juliana boat talk.  TODAY 10th August is my sister Coral’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CORAL.  Hopefully I will find internet access when we go ashore.


THE FUN, THE FUNNY and NOT SO FUNNY

2008-08-11

THE FUN, THE FUNNY and NOT SO FUNNY     11th August

THE FUN-   Half way across the Bay of Biscay it was a lovely sunny morning, we were sailing along nicely. We hadn’t seen another boat for ages. A twin engine plane flew down about 50 meters over us, really low and dipped its wings from side to side to say hello! I thought it was really cool. It didn’t seem to be an official plane. It was just after that that the whales also came to say hello! Quite a day!

THE FUNNY-   a funny thing that has cropped up a couple of times! When we first arrived in Sweden, Stefan ‘s brother kindly invited us to go sailing on his wonderful 30ft sailing boat for the afternoon. They all thought it was so funny when I said” I am on holiday! I don’t sail when I am on holiday! ” Stefan went off sailing with him, he sails also when on holiday. Sometimes when we go to a tourist office they ask us if we want to go on a boat trip. 

We called this boat Juliana ll because the Australian shipping register would not let us call the boat Juliana as there was another Australian boat, the one we sold, registered under that name. Stefan was surprised to find when we got to Sweden his brother’s boat called Juliana lll. Stefan at first thought his brother was trying to be funny and outdo him. When Stefan & his brother, Einar were young their first little sailing boat was called Juliana. Einar had simply called his next 2 boats Juliana ll and lll. I always tell people Stefan called the boat after his first girlfriend. People think I am good to accept this until I tell them that his first girlfriend was this little sailing boat, Juliana which has a lot to answer for and now has many offspring.

THE NOT SO FUNNY-    This happened in Helsingborg Sweden. I feel Stefan is a good navigator and goes overboard (ha Ha) to follow the rules. After being through the English Channel, which many yachts avoid because of all the shipping and the North Sea and sailing for 50 odd years he certainly knows more than most about rules and has always done his best to follow them. Sorry the Swedes that are reading this but this is an example of IT COULD ONLY HAPPEN IN SWEDEN with someone who obviously had a bee in his bonnet about something else or was bored.

This happened when Stefan’s Swedish brother and sister in law were sailing with us and they, who have sailed quite a bit in Sweden wouldn’t believe it and had never heard of it happening even with people who were lax with boat rules.We were approaching Helsingborg looking out for different markers which can be hard to see and work out sometimes from the chart. Stefan realized something was not quite right and went down to check the chart. Einar was steering. We went slightly into the shipping channel without realizing it before Stefan came back. There was not a ship in sight but apparently a Swedish coastguard noticed us and next minute was following us saying we had done a serious preach and to follow him into harbor to receive a fine. After being told at great length we were very naughty people he gave us a $200 fine.

We have spoken to a lot of cruising people and others that are not nearly as cautious of shipping lanes and they cannot believe this fine without a warning. Everyone says we should write in and complain about this unfriendly treatment of visitors but I haven’t yet. There was not a ship in sight and even if there was there was no danger as we would have stayed right away from it, as another rule comes into play. Pleasure boats have to give way to a working boat. We would also have come off second best if we didn’t stay away from it. When you are sailing in so many different places all the time you occasionally make mistakes even when you are trying to do the right thing.

All other coastguards and authorities in all the other countries we have been to have been so friendly and helpful. Once in Bermuda we accidently anchored up somewhere we weren’t supposed to. The coastguard realizing we were a visiting boat that might not know told us in a friendly manner that it might be in our interest to anchor in another place he advised us of. We kindly thanked him moved and all was well. He could have fined us but why! The Swedish coastguard knew we were a visiting boat from Australia. The weather was bad enough when we were in Sweden without this. It left a really bad taste in our mouths. It was not just the money but the attitude. We could tell he decided he was going to fine us even before he spoke to us. I might add that Stefan’s family and friends in Sweden were so kind to us.


OFF TO SUNNY SPAIN!

2008-08-12 to 2008-08-18

OFF TO SUNNY SPAIN!                               12th - 18th August .  

Ria De Vivero was the first port we visited in Northern Spain. A pretty place with quaint narrow cobblestone streets. I instantly fell in love with the bright red fishing boats here! We anchored up. At one stage the anchor dragged as it was very windy and sunny at times but not exactly warm much. There were nice beaches here. We went ashore in the dinghy to take Havard to the bus ,which would go to a plane to take him home. We found an internet café which are rare. Later a hotspot inside the Library. It is hard trying to talk on skype in a library, quietly. While we were waiting our turn at the internet café, we listened to some locals singing. They were such good singers in perfect harmony having a good time. It made us feel relaxed.

After a few days we were off around the most northern point of Spain, marked by some very jagged rock outcrops. The northern coastline was very mountainous, quite different from Holland, Germany and the like. They must have had a harder time here getting the wind generators on the mountains here, but there were still lots of them .We still had the wind and lumpy waves on the nose. I WAS GETTING REALLY SICK OF IT! The uncomfortable motion and making slow progress. Being bored and fed up I decided to make an IMPOSSIBLE PIE. It is called this I think because it is supposed to be impossible to muck it up. It was liquid and in the middle of putting it into the gimble oven we hit a big lumpy wave. Egg, coconut and milk spilled everywhere inside the oven and then caught on fire. Luckily I turned the gas off quickly and the spill burnt itself out. Once we got to port the oven got a good clean which was well overdue .There is a positive side to everything as Stefan keeps telling me.

That night we anchored up overnight in Ria de Cederra and were off the next morning to La Caruna . A beautiful old city with lots of magnificent buildings. There was a holiday with folk dancing in the streets and lots of exploding fireworks.In La Caruna there were quite a few boats that had just sailed across the Atlantic from Azores. We talked to some English guys on an English boat, who were very friendly. It was an expensive Marina, about $78 per night for us to tie up with power and water . They charge per foot. I keep telling Stefan we didn’t need such a big boat just the two of us. He doesn’t agree! Gille, the Frenchman, I didn’t get on with across the Atlantic always said it is all about who has the biggest stick! Mast! I am not sure this is what it is about with Stefan! The showers were very basic and no internet.

Stefan found a good ship chandler here which are rare. A woman was running it that was probably why! He came back with a bag of goodies like a boy from a toy shop. He told this lady he would get in trouble for spending too much money. She said” Your wife is probably out doing the same”. Needness to say I wasn’t. He told me he would be a half hour and ended up being about three hours. Once I ended up meeting some friends I wasn’t expecting to meet and similarly it took longer than expected. I got such a serve when I got home. Stefan said he was about to call in the police as he was concerned for my safety. These were different circumstances he said even though they were both in daylight hours. Anyway moving right along! He is making up davits for the back of the boat, to store the dingy and got some parts he had been looking for, for a while. Everyone is always fascinated with Stefan and his projects and how focused he is in them. He pops in and out of his workshop at the back like a Jack in the Box. 

The second night in La Caruna we anchored up. It was warm & sunny . Stefan decided to clean Juliana’s bottom . It was getting a bit furry. The water was cold he said. It is unusual for Stefan to be in the water before me. I was happy to sunbake and look on!There was a good radio station playing lots of baby boomer songs many we had not heard for a long time .We enjoyed this as our evening entertainment. I finally listened to all the lyrics of songs I knew well!

We sailed on, rounding the most western point of Spain to Ria de Camarinas, a pretty little fishing village anchoring up for the night. It was then on to Sanxenxo, a very touristy place, very pretty by night especially with a full moon but an amusement park nearby played music till all hours. We anchored up and it ended up being a very rolly anchorage as well as the noise and was a very ugly city by day from the water. We did go ashore for a walk after going to a jetty where they let us stay for an hour or two. We bought some nice hot fresh bread. We tried to find internet access but as quite often happens were not successful. The hotspot we were told about wasn’t working.Sanxenxo is in a big waterway, a cruising paradise. We would have liked to spend a lot longer in this area.

The next morning we went over to a more remote part of the bay. It was very pretty. I went for a kayak into the beach and went for a swim. The water was finally a nice temperature. In the afternoon we sailed on to Isla de Faro, a national park Island. There were no cars or houses on this island, only campers who came on a ferry. Lots of tents. Again I went ashore in the kayak and went for a walk. A lifeguard came up and told me I should have entered the beach in a different area with a kayak. There were lots of people swimming and on the beach , many topless .I went for a bushwalk amongst lots of gum trees. Past a nudest beach that wasn’t very pretty. The swell was very big and in one spot was breaking over an area where people normally walked. You had to make a dash when there was a break of waves. Unfortunately I didn’t have the camera as I had kayaked over but it was a very pretty island. We anchored off this island overnight. The next day we sailed out of Spain into Portugal.


PORTUGAL WELCOMES US with a four day festival.

2008-08-19 to 2008-08-23

PORTUGAL WELCOMES US with a four day festival.    19 -23rd Aug

After backpacking around South America for 3 months last year, our daughter was disgusted with the amount of the Spanish language we knew when we got back. She was amused when I said it was like coming home to a language I knew, be it very basic words.Our first port in Portugal was Viana de Castelo. We had a good day sail, 25 knots of wind towards the end and a big swell. In Northern Spain most of the ports are via bays however in Northern Portugal most of the ports are via river entrances that can be closed if weather conditions are not suitable. We were hoping this port would not be closed. Luckily we had a smooth entry. There were lots of para surfers as we entered enjoying the strong wind conditions. xxx

We were greeted by a very friendly marina guy in a small motor boat who spoke very good English. He  told us to tie up on the outside pontoon. The main part of the marina was under a fancy pedestrian bridge that had to be opened to let boats under. We were then greeted by a very friendly Danish couple, Dorothe and Jesper, about our age, who told us there was a big festival on over the next for days. We thought it was to celebrate our arrival into Portugal but we found out it was to celebrate the town’s  750th year anniversary. The town was decorated big time with lots of banners and characters and big flowers that were lit up at night. There were lots of bands playing and people dressed in traditional dress.  There were competitions with groups of extrovert drummers to see which group could outstage the others. They were very entertaining  , dressed up and walking around as they were drumming .The fishing boats were also all decorated with flowers. xxx

It was in Viana de Castelo that we decided to slow down a bit and see a bit more now that the climate was warmer. Our daughter was flying from Australia to meet us on 10th September for ten days. We were originally going to meet her, somewhere like Sicily, then Southern Spain. The final decision was Faro in Southern Portugal. This meant we could slow down a bit. xxx

Viana de Castelo has a big church or temple as they call it on a mountain overlooking the town, a bit of a change from castles.  The next morning, after we arrived, Stefan talked me into riding up it on our bikes which was really hard work. I would rather have walked up the steps, as the road was very narrow with lots of cars and cobblestoned in places. The view was spectacular and the temple impressive. The ice cream we had at the top wasn’t bad either. It was a bit hair raising riding down. The following morning we rode to a nice beach. There were often, particularly in the mornings, big explosions from fireworks , that went on for a long while. We never knew why. Maybe to make sure everyone was awake! This happened in Spain as well.  We think they must just really like things that go off with a bang. xxx

Viana de Castelo has a big fancy library with free internet which was good for us. Portugal is the country that has gained the most joining the European Union. It has got a lot of money to bring things up to scratch and you can see this everywhere in Portugal. A lady from immigration visited our boat and alerted me to the fact that I must visit the immigration office as ,as an Australian you are only allowed to stay 90 days in the European Union countries before you need to apply for a renewal to stay. My 90 days from when I entered in Azores was only days from being up. Luckily I went to the office straight away and it was sorted out over the counter. Or so they told me! However now I have been told the stamped piece of paper that they gave me apparently only applies to Portugal. I should have a stamp in my passport. It is very confusing sometimes as they all seem to say different things at different ports. You ask questions and don’t seem to be able to get answers. Stefan doesn’t have these problems as he still has his Swedish passport.

That afternoon they had the festival parade of dressed up boats, hundreds of them and hundreds of spectators turned out to watch. As you can see from the photos we had a box seat to view the parade being tied up on the outside of the marina. It wasn’t very private though! Also that afternoon we saw a boat come in with an Australian flag. We don’t see many of these. The boat had its home port as “Yamba”. After the parade of boats we had a party on our boat and invited Dorothe and Jesper and the couple off the Australian boat, Daniel and Andrea. We had a really fun night. Daniel & Andrea had bought their boat in Poland and were sailing it back to Australia. They actually come from Braidwood which doesn’t have a port of course so they just chose a place they liked as their home port.

We were kept awake one night with a foam party at a bar near the boat. I am probably a bit backward but had never heard of this. The music was very loud and people dancing in meters of foam. The following night we decided to have a “bump” party. We didn’t have loud music though and it wasn’t planned. It was the festival’s firework night. We were told we may have to move our boat at 10pm for the fireworks depending on the wind direction, so we came back to the boat. There were 3 boats that were told they might have to move. In the end we didn’t have to move. We were invited over to Lucia and Frans’s boat, a dutch couple. We had some drinks and while we were waiting for the fireworks we sat on their rubber dingy at the front of their boat and gently bumped up and down. Us yachties are easily amused. SO NOW YOU KNOW WHAT A BUMP PARTY IS, if you are ever invited to one.

Stefan got very frustrated with siesta time in Spain. Everytime he needed something urgently from the hardware store it was siesta time and it wasn’t even hot weather. In Portugal Stefan asked a man if they have siesta time. The man said” In Portugal we don’t have time for that rubbish”. We found out however that in Portugal many businesses still do. After  having  4 great days in Viana de Castelo and the last night having drinks on Dorthe & Jesper’s boat it was time to be off. Finally the wind was from behind. We had a day of champagne sailing, sun wonderful sun and a pretty cooastline to Leixoes outside Porto. 


PORTO and beyond! PORTUGAL

2008-08-24 to 2008-09-08

PORTO and beyond! PORTUGAL.   24th -   AugustWe were one week early for THE RED BULL AIR RACE in PORTO which would have been spectacular where planes come from all over the world to compete flying down through balloons on the river near the bridge with the spectacular backdrop of Porto. We did however enjoy a wonderful time at a festival in Viania de Castelo. MAKE SURE YOU READ OUR LAST EPISODE!

 We tied up at a marina in Leixoes, on the coast about 15kms outside Porto. We caught a bus, then the Metro into Porto with our Dutch friends from THE BUMP party in Vina de Castelo,  Lucia & Frans. It was a very modern, efficient metro system. We bought a bottle of port where port originated from, not that I like port. We will bring it back to Australia for those who like port. Stefan likes port but I will make sure it makes it back to Australia! There was also a very good hop on, hop off, double decker sightseeing bus with earphones and details about the sights we were going past in English, for about $15. We stayed on the bus mostly only getting off twice. Once at a nice parkland and the second time near the bridge and old boats for lunch. The buildings and statues around town and the main square were very impressive. We did go inside one big church.xxx

We anchored up the second night. Stefan fixed the bow thruster  that wasn’t working. This makes the boat go sideways . You get to see more action when you are anchored up. We watched all the ships being bought in and out with tugs and the pilot boats going in and out. A big old sailing ship anchored up near us and a navy boat tied up on a nearby wharf. We took our dingy to the fisherman’s wharf. These are always busy places in the mornings. Stefan went to a hardware store while I looked around the other side of town and walked back to the boat via the beach. The beaches here are surfing beaches with surf and people riding surf boards. The water was not exactly warm however and there was a bit of a breeze but I sunbaked anyway.xxx

Stefan complained that there were only 2 varieties of boatmade biscuits to choose from for morning tea while I was away. Poor honey! Isn’t he going to get a shock when we get home to Australia! After 2 nights we upped anchor off to, Aveiro. A day’s sail then up a river. Before we got to where the yachts were tied up we noticed an overhead electrical line. It couldn’t see anywhere how high it was, even in our guide and we weren’t going to chance it. The boats on the other side were smaller than ours and we weren’t sure if our mast would get under it. We anchored in the river. In the middle of the night the tide changed and of course it woke us up. Aveiro is an interesting town, Portugal’s answer to Venice with lots of canals and the same sort of boats in them. We walked around town and the canals in the morning. A dwarf size lady attended to us at the library internet. She was very efficient with a smile on her face and going about her life despite the challenges that must face her. There were salt processing farms in this area which fascinated Stefan.xxx

In the afternoon we went back to the entrance of the river and anchored up in a bay near a car ferry. Baia de S.Jacinto. The nice beaches were on the outside, not far to walk. It was a nice bay with quite a few other yachts anchored up. We got talking to a young German couple Ann Kristine & Jens on a 36ft yacht Tigger. They had met our German friends from The British Virgin Islands. They were heading to Madiera then across the Atlantic. They came over to our boat for Pineapple coconut Pie and ice cream. Our laptop computer was playing up and Jens tried to help Stefan with the problem .We seemed to be surrounded by German yachts.xxx The lady in the supermarket here spoke English well. No wonder! she had been born here then spent 35 years in America. Now she was spending 10 years in Portugal. This town was very small so it would be quite a change for her. There was a long breakwater with probably up to 100 people fishing off it. They started early and went till late. We watched these smaller sea birds dive for fish. They were very skilful and came up with one every time. I wouldn’t like to be a fish in this area. xxx

After 2 nights in this bay the wind was light but we decided to push on . We had to motor a bit but tied up in Figueira Da Foz at about 10pm. As usual you report to the marina office with passports and ship papers. The marina here cost us nearly $100 to tie up for the night for very basic services. After we paid, we were told that if you complain about the price they half it. I guess we are learning. Needless to say we left early the second morning without paying for the second night. This was a very touristy area. Big beach areas set up with chairs and umbrellas etc. It was flat so we went riding on our bikes the next morning. As usual Stefan to find a hardware shop. I went riding along the long beachfront area with a big Lidl supermarket at the other end. I was going for a swim but it clouded over. In the afternoon I went a walk the other way. I found a nice park with a band playing in it. The marina might have been expensive but at least the library internet up a hill was free for 30 minutes. xxx

It was here that immigration came to our boat and told me I should have a stamp in my passport for a further 90 days in the European Union, not the loose piece of paper that I had got when I went to the immigration office in Viana de Castelo which was only valid in Portugal. After questioning Stefan at length as he is the captain of the ship ,they ended up saying it would be all right but not stamping the passport so I don’t know. I think the confusion is when we went back to England that is not part of this group of Countries even though they are all in the European Union. It seems to get complicated.  I should have got my passport stamped in England apparently. They all seem to say something different and blame someone else, so I don’t know. I have not been deported yet. We keep asking the officials how long can our boat, being Australian registered be in the European union. They don’t seem to be able to give us an answer .We have heard 6 months which is why we are leaving the boat in Turkey outside the European union, but others say 18 months. These two time frames we have even read in different guides.xxxStefan got talking to an Englishman,Geoff on the next boat to us in the Marina. He came and had a cup of tea and a bun on our boat. He had been at the marina for 2 years doing up a big old timber motor boat (quite a project). He was getting a different marina rate of course.  His wife worked in England and came back and forward. He kindly offered to take Stefan in his car to a more specialist hardware store where he could get things he wanted for the boat. 


RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH THE DANISH ROYALS

2008-08-31 to 2008-09-07

RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH THE DANISH ROYALS – LISBON – 31st Aug to 7thSept

.We had an exceptional sunny day sail to a lovely island, Ilha Berlenga, with a castle. We were going to anchor off this island but for the first time the engine wouldn’t start. DRAMA! DRAMA! We would have to anchor up very close to the island to be shallow enough to anchor. It was risky trying to anchor here under sail so we went on to anchor overnight at Peniche amongst fishing boats. By the time we got there Stefan had got the engine started. Good to have a mechanical engineer on board!   It is amazing how many people cruising when we find out the normal occupation it is engineer. Unfortunately, “sometimes the engine not starting” still hasn’t been sorted , but Stefan is working on it!  Juliana is a temperamental girl. It is not the first time Stefan has had problems sorting out temperamental girls!  Another small sailing boat “Inspiration ll” with a single sailor on board, anchored up near us. We had been in the same harbour a number of times with this boat.XXX

The following day as we came into Cascais, the port outside Lisbon, we saw lots of smaller sailing boats, maybe 100, all with spinnakers up. Later when we were anchored up and these boats were coming in we noticed an Australia one. We found out later it was the world sailing DRAGON championships. ROLF! Didn’t see you there! We went ashore to maybe become a cheer squad for the Australians. We couldn’t find the Australians, but we did see a big fancy motor yacht with a Danish Flag. We didn’t think any more of it. Stefan is always impressed by big boats. It was a motor boat however! We went to have a look at it. Just as we arrived near it a car pulled up casually. A man dressed in red pants, a floral shirt and a captain’s hat got out. We were only meters away. Two and two quickly added up to Stefan. He said I think he is the Danish King! A little dog trotted after him. Soldiers stood to attention as he passed. They then put a crown on the bower of the boat to indicate that the King was on board. We later found out that he was here to add support to the Danish team of which Mary’s husband Frederick was part of. We didn’t see Frederick or Mary! We did however wander into a party tent courtesy of the Danish King with free wine! The brand name Sexy Wine! XXX

Moving right along! Cascais is a Monaco type of place with a nice atmosphere. There seems to be a lot of money here. A lot of sunburnt English tourists taking advantage of the sun on nice beaches ! Strange to hear English being spoken around us again! There was a big modern shopping centre with an internet cafe. We also used the free internet at the Library. We had been having trouble with our laptop but finally it worked. We caught up again with the young German couple on a boat called “Tigger”. This would be the last port we would see them as they would start heading across the Atlantic from here. A number of times when we have been tied up or anchored Stefan has woken up startled, jumped up in the night, thinking that we were still at sea, wondering where we were, panicking that the boat was steering itself when he realised I was in bed.The following day we took the train into Lisbon, a very scenic half hour ride along the coast beaches. We walked in the main part of town which is car free near the big arch and the horse statue. A number of buskers! One was doing very well. A young man sitting on the ground playing a piano accordion with a little dog sitting on a box in front of him, holding a little basket in this mouth for people to put money in. The dog was getting a lot of attention and photos and money. We caught an old fashioned tram up to through the narrow steep streets on town and walked back down past an impressive monastery with a fantastic view of the harbour. We got back to the boat very exhausted. Stefan found a land power source hear where he worked buffing the stainless steel for the davits.xxx

In Cascais a duck decided he wanted to make our dingy his home. When we went off in the dingy and came back he was on the back lower part of our boat. We gave him a piece of bread and he went off happy with that. After a couple of days here we headed off with the wind finally from behind and sun. Did the washing and it all dried as we were underway. Stefan also worked on the back drilling away as we sailed along. We had to motor the last few hours and got into Sines quite late. We were told we could stay on the police jetty overnight.xxx

We went for a walk up the to town past the castle. We bought some fruit and vegetables at the local morning markets and some nice fresh bread rolls. We were going to leave but there was no wind so we anchored up.  A nice spot with the castle as the backdrop. You can always see more when anchored up rather than in marinas and the amount they charge is always over the top. This anchorage however was a little rolly. We saw a big bike race go through with all the backup crews etc. It was one of the races that follows the Tour de France. We had a good vantage point from the boat. There was plenty of action on the beach, groups of swimmers doing laps. Groups of joggers running along the beach.  I went ashore in the kayak for a swim. There was a big modern Library with free internet.Then when the wind was right we sailed overnight to Faro. This is where we would meet our daughter Tania, who had flown from Sydney to Stockholm . She had spent a few fun filled days with family there. They took her mushroom picking and they found the most amazing coloured mushrooms, all shapes and sizes. They had to have a book to know which ones were safe to eat. We arrived in Faro a few days before her to be sure we were there when she arrived.


TANIA JOINS US SOUTHERN SPAIN

2008-09-07 to 2008-09-15

TANIA joins us in SOUTHERN SPAIN   7th - 15th September

The waterways around Faro are full of mud flats and channels that look quite different at high and low tide. We anchored out quite a way to avoid going on ground and went ashore in the dingy. After a couple of days here Stefan thought he knew the channels and came to an abrupt stop when he hit a mud bank in the dingy as he was flying along .Much to his embracement he went head over turkey landing in the water in front of the dinghy. The water wasn’t warm he said. He was lucky he wasn’t hurt, that I wasn’t with him and he didn’t have his wallet or anything valuable on him. He came back very wet and looking a bit sorry for himself.xxx

As we waited for our daughter Tania to join us Stefan found a yard with power where he could weld the davits for the boat. He was back and forwards a lot. I helped him holding pipes in position at first while he welded. His finished ongoing project will soon be unveiled, from raw stainless steel to shiny davits! We will have to have a ceremony! Stefan was going to get them welded but he decided to buy a lightweight welder in Faro and again was like a boy with a new toy for his shed. He gets all his toys ! What about me! He could justify the welder as he has saved a lot of money making up the stainless steel davits himself to hang the dingy on the back, which will make life a lot easier.  A welder on the boat will also always be handy as you know Stefan always likes making up new things. His welder at home is very old and heavy. Stefan’s brother in Sweden had had a lightweight one and Stefan had been very impressed.

The harbour in Faro is under a rail bridge were there are only motor boats and lots of them! Fishing in all southern Europe is very popular! In Spain people don’t seem to take their powerboats up on a trailer even though they are small. They leave them in the water in harbours or on moorings. Faro is a pretty city with lots of tourists speaking English, lovely buildings and parks. A modern library with free internet and wi fi.  The weather was warm! After complaining about cold weather for  so long I am not game to say it was nearly too hot with no close swimming beach!xxx

Planes flew over where we were anchored to land but not when we were sleeping. We were on the boat when Tania’s plane came in at 8.40pm. If it had been light and she had had a window seat on the left she would have seen us. We had organised to meet the airport bus in Faro. We hadn’t been up the channel at night and it was hard to see. We went slowly. On the way back with Tania and her luggage etc Stefan shone his torch on what he thought was a marker. A big white bird flew off obviously not impressed having a torch shone on him. xxx

 We gave Tania a guided tour of Faro the following day then anchored off a beach some miles out of Faro. Tania wanted a beach and it was hot. We went ashore and walked along the lovely beach with a lighthouse. A bit remote with holiday cottages. As it was getting late we didn’t take our costumes but we wished we had as the water wasn’t cold . There was a lovely sunset that night. We left this area the following morning. There ended up being a strong wind 30-33knots and we were bashing into waves. Not a pleasant experience for Tania for her first day at sea on Juliana but she handled it well.xxx

 We anchored up that evening in a river separating Spain & Portugal. We went to Ayamonte in Spain for a nice meal, music, and a nice temperature, leaving the dingy at the Marina. We had tried to tie up at the Marina but they said the only vacancy they had was for a 21 metre boat . There seemed to be vacancies, they were trying to get more money out of us. We were happy to anchor rather than pay over $100 per night. The following day it was a big decision whether to go Spain or Portugal in the Dingy. We decided to go sightseeing in Ayamonte Spain in the morning and Vila Real de.S. Antonio, Portugal to the beach in the afternoon.xxx

We loved Ayamonte. Tania and I went walking while Stefan did interneting. It had lots of character and quaint streets. A park with very decorative tiled seats. We went inside a lovely restored building with paintings in it. There is also a beautiful park with a free zoo in it. Tigers, lions, bears, monkeys, zebras and birds. The weather was good and we had a very enjoyable morning. In the afternoon Stefan dropped Tania and I off in the dingy in Portugal for an afternoon on the beach. A good beach was a short ride on the bus. We sunbaked, went for a swim and walked around. We sadly said goodbye to Portugal changing our visiting flag to a Spanish one.xxx

On the way out of the river it was low tide with less than a metre under the keel, we had to anchor and wait for an hour or two until the tide rose. We then had a good day of sailing to Mazagon, Spain. As we came into Mazagon 2 Spanish guys sailed alongside us in a small sailing boat asking if we were really from Australia. They spoke really good English and were very friendly. We anchored up overnight. Tania went ashore in my Kayak. She got a ride into town with the Police. They seemed very friendly she said. She spoke the best she could in Spanish to them. It was only a small town and Tania was soon back on the boat.xxx

As we were getting ready to sail early the next morning in the dark the coast guard boat came nearby with no navigational lights on which was unusual. They shone a spotlight on the name of our boat and then were off with their big powerful engines. More seams on the front sail had come undone so we had to spend many hours repairing them sailing with only the main. There had been no sailmakers in the last port and we have learnt to be self sufficient. Next season we will have new sails so we won’t have this constant problem with worn sails. The main sail furls into the mast. We often have problems with it also, getting it out and up, as it is saggy and sometimes gets stuck half way out and I have to winch Stefan up the mast to work at getting it out. xxx

As if the sail problem and little wind were not enough only half an hour out the coast guard approached us again. This time to let us know there was a Military exercise in operation in the direction we were heading. We would have to go further out to sea. We motored half an hour off course only to have the coastguard approach us again and in a apologetic way, tell us they had been advised ,the military were changing areas and we would have to motor another half hour off course. Finally the navy ships finished their exercise and passed us obviously heading for the same port as us Rota, Spain. We finally arrived there late and tied up to a Marina.

         


GIBRALTAR-The Mediterranean at last!

2008-09-16 to 2008-09-21

GIBRALTAR – Entering the Mediterranean at last!  16-21th September

Rota, Spain, like many harbours we go into, has the old part of town near the port, beach and newer areas further away. It was wonderful walking around the old town and impressive buildings.  Later we cooled down on the lovely beach. It was great to have Tania with us. We walked quite a long way to Botanical Gardens, only to find it closed for siesta. I suppose the plants need a rest as well. It is so frustrating at times. Many places have siesta at different times, some not at all. I don’t know how many times we have finally found a place to find it closed 5 mins ago for siesta.xxx

The impressive sunrises and sunsets, the impressive buildings, castles, mountains and landscapes. We start taking them for granted. Just like the whales in the Atlantic when you see so many of them. How many pictures of these can you take! We have so many great memories and reading this blog in years to come will trigger lots of memories together with the photos. It reminds me of when I was doing amateur theatre and the most important thing to remember your lines was queue words.  I try to make this blog interesting for others to read but small events often trigger memories of different places for us. Most evenings are spent with a nice meal and wine in the cockpit of the boat in different settings. Usually we can find some good music on the radio. Next season I want to get organised with an Ipod. We will not have to play the same CD’s over and over then. xxx

Our next port was to be Cadiz, Spain, a short sail away, but the wind was good so we had to go on by. Time was running out to get Tania to Gibraltar where she would fly to England for some days then Thailand. We had to motor quite a bit as the wind as usual was on the nose. We stopped at a marina at Barbrate to refuel, then sailed overnight into the famous Gibraltar Straight with the mysterious mountains of Africa on our starboard side. It was late when we anchored up in Tarifa the most southern point in Spain, the Entrance to the Mediterranean. After some hours of sleep we went ashore in the dingy. It was raining. xxx

Tania had organised to be with us to celebrate my birthday the following day, however the only reasonably priced flight was that night and she had to take a short bus ride to Gibraltar from here to catch her plane. We had celebrated hers in Cusco, Peru earlier in the year. We went back to the boat for her to pack her things. Tania had organised a little early birthday party with balloons and party hats and then sadly she was off. We had enjoyed her visit so much.The following day was a birthday I will always remember as we sailed into Gibraltar with the big rock backdrop and lots of huge ships. We were going to stay at the Marina but because we didn’t have insurance we were not allowed, which saved us a lot of money. As it happened we found a lovely anchorage with plenty of action with planes landing and ships coming and going and with a wonderful view of the rock that changed by the minute.We anchored next to a 72ft English yacht “Rich Harvest”. On board was a super friendly couple Phil and Nicola and a big black friendly dog. They had lived on the boat at this anchorage for 2.5 years so knew the area well. We were going ashore in our dingy. They warned us it was unsafe to leave a dinghy ashore, even if it was locked up as it would get stolen. I asked her where the nearest big supermarket was. Nicola had a car ashore and offered to take me to a supermarket and Stefan to an internet cafe on the Spanish side. We were anchored half way between Spain and Gibraltar with the airport runway in the middle. There seems a boating community here who have lived on boats at anchor for some time. The only road between Gibraltar and Spain goes across the airport runway. I have never seen anything like this before. The traffic has to be stopped every time a plane takes off or lands. Any times the traffic banks up considerably when this happens.Nicola said her partner would take us ashore in our dingy and bring it back to their boat and pick us up again when Nicola rang him. Stefan was very worried at first about handing over our $5,000 dinghy to a stranger to mind. We had heard before that you had to be very careful with dinghies in Gibraltar. My gut feeling was that they above board and proved to be right.Nicola took me to a Carfour supermarket. The biggest supermarket I have ever seen in my life. She kindly and patiently waited while I loaded the trolley, helped me pack it and put it in her car. Nicola is 26yo, a very down to earth kind person who would give you her last dollar. Her family lives in England and she goes back regularly to visit them. Stefan had just finished interneting when we got back to pick him up. Nicola rang Phil to pick us up in our dinghy and all was well.The following night Phil & Nicola came over to our boat for drinks. They had lots of interesting stories to tell us about Gibraltar. There is still a lot of bad feeling in this area with the Spanish still feeling Gibraltar belongs to them. Citizens in Gibraltar are also funny towards the English. Nicola plays land hockey on a National level for Gibraltar. When she is the highest goal scorer for the game it is not recognised. They are happy to have her in the team and count her goals as team goals but someone who gets a lower goal score but was a citizen of Gibraltar becomes the highest goal scorer for the game.There is a lot of high rise building going on in Gibraltar. Lots of tourists, particularly British. Everything is expensive except liquor and cigarettes which are duty free. Lots of these shops with tourists stocking up. Stefan took me out for a birthday meal in a nice waterfront Mexican place. We walked around the old part. It was interesting to learn that there are about 90 miles of tunnels inside the rock.It was interesting sitting on the boat absorbing the contracting landscapes. The mysterious mountains of Africa with Fast Ferries coming and going. It apparently takes less than an hour. The rock of Gibraltar also mysterious with cloud cover coming and going and in different light by the minute. Big Russian boats coming and going refuelling huge anchored ships. Apparently they get cheaper fuel this way. Tugs and pilot boats very busy helping ships dock. Then it was Saturday afternoon with sailing boats blending into the landscape between ships, even sailing dinghies.   .


CARTAGENA Spain Roman Fesival

2008-09-21 to 2008-09-28

CARTAGENA , Spain-10 day Roman festival.  21-28thSeptember

We left Gibraltar after a few days. Nicola took me into Gibraltar in her car the last afternoon to buy some duty free cheap rum and some groceries in an English supermarket Morrisons. I think she enjoyed a bit of female company and so did I. We went over the border and the airport runway. I got my passport stamped, something that doesn’t happen much when you sail over borders into small ports.xxx

Our main sail caused the usual problem not wanting to come out of the mast. We dodged freighters as I winched Stefan up the mast to help the sail out. Stefan certainly will not have to justify the cost of 2 new sails next year which will make life so much easier. We have certainly had our problems with these ones even though the boat is only 4 years old. New boats apparently do not come with quality sails. We sailed overnight, wind from behind finally 20-25knots. We averaged 6.6 knots over 24hours. Lots of Freighters! Lovely sunset and sunrise! We had to motor the last bit arriving in Cartagena, Spain about 1pm the following day.xxx

Cartagena greeted us with a 10 day Roman festival. We had loved Cartagena in Columbia and were impressed with this Cartagena as well. It has a lot of history. Lots of Roman battles took place here. Many of the old buildings here are well kept. The town hall is very impressive. It still has bullet holes from one of the battles. There in a big old amphitheatre with ruins. A big park with a castle overlooks it. It has the old part of town with all the narrow streets. I am not a lot into history but even I found the history of this place interesting. Xxx

The waterfront was very modern, well done with parkland, palm trees and outdoor cafes. We were tied up with the bigger boats on the waterfront side of the Marina. There were lots of tourists walking along looking at us and our boat. We felt like monkeys in a zoo. I know this is the Mediterranean way but I like a bit of privacy when I am having my breakfast. Quite a few people came up and talked to us. Some black guys that spoke good English asked us if we wanted crew. One had been to Australia. We talked to a very friendly lady on a big catamaran next to our boat, Christian and her Italian husband. She had a very stylish look and told me where I could find a good hair dresser, very important to her! We met a guy and his father on an Australian boat. He was from Cronulla, had sailed from Australia and been cruising for 9 years. He was in Thailand when the tsunami hit. An interesting blog for those interested. Geocities.com/weatherly adventures                    xxx

The following day we moved to a cheaper more private marina. $100 a night to tie up we feel is a bit steep. There was a hotspot on the steps of the town hall to use the laptop so we utilised that. During this 10 day Roman festival there were ongoing events. There were battles re enacted in full costumes and weapons in open areas. Battles on the water re enacted as well. There were plays in open theatres etc. Lots of things happening! The streets were all decorated and a very community feel. The night before we left there was a man in costume stirring a huge bowl of alcohol over heat singing and then pouring it into small glasses as a blessing for people to drink. It tasted really good. It had been raining so it was good it cleared up for the huge Roman parade that took over an hour to pass. All ages dressed in very elaborate Roman costumes. Floats, one with a life size fibreglass elephant with Hannibal an important character of this era, on board.  Between each troop was a band drumming etc. We took many pictures. We left before the grand firework finale the following night.xxx

Stefan tells me that cruising people never beat to windward but we seem to do it more than not. We are doing it again. Our boat is not good at beating into it. It is uncomfortable! We arrived early morning into Alicante. We tied up on the waiting berth of the marina about 6.30am with no one around. We went to sleep. Around 10am the Marina people were knocking on our boat. Stefan was deep asleep so I talked with them. Told them we would come to their office. Half an hour went by and they came back to said we could not stay there. I finally woke up the captain. The main thing they required was credit card details. Stefan asked how much it cost per night. All of a sudden there was no room at the marina. European’s obviously just have whatever deducted from their credit cards and are too embarrassed to ask about prices. I am proud to be an Australian and think they are known for asking about prices. I make no excuses for asking about prices and I think it is acceptable if you are an Australian. They just want people that will pay whatever.xxxLuckily we got a few hours sleep and we were off. That night we ended up staying at Greenwich Marina that was not the English one but on the Meridian of Greenwich in Spain. We ended up paying about $170 to tie up in the boatyard side of the Marina which wasn’t that pretty but more room than where they wanted to put us. They kindly provided us with an extension cord as there was no power here! They pack boats in like sardines, bower to the pontoon. We got talking to this friendly English couple on a 30ft catamaran.xxx

We headed off at about 2pm. We had only been at the Marina 15 hours and paid $170. The marina guy said he should really charge us for another day but would let it go. We felt very privileged. These marinas are very tight in area. Stefan reversed and then tried to go forward to get out and apparently the control cable came lose. He could only go back and neutral and took moments to realise this. We called out frantically to the people we had just said goodbye to on the catamaran. They helped us tie on alongside them. The marina guys were quick on hand. So you want to stay for another night they said. No maybe an hour said Stefan who fixed the problem and we were off for the second time.              


MALLORCA and SARDINIA

2008-09-29 to 2008-10-04

 MALLORCA and SARDINIA        29th September -4th October.

We sailed overnight.  Spain had surprised us with so many huge mountain ranges. Stefan and I mostly did 2 hour shifts at night. We often changed clothes in the dark. Once I caught Stefan trying to put my clothes on. Strange things happen when you spend too much time at sea. I had to wake him sometimes when there was a ship nearby and I wasn’t sure where it was heading. Their lights can be confusing, but they usually pass you at a safe distance without us having to change course. We have met one boat that hit a freighter. He and the boat survived but he would be repairing the boat for some time.

We were going to stop in Ibiza but the wind was good so we continued on to Mallorca. We tied up to a free mooring , apparently courtesy of the European Union, on the north west side of Mallorca. There were other cruising yachts here. It was a beautiful setting. Not surprised Christopher Skafe hid out here for some time. We had a good night’s sleep. We really felt we were in the Mediterranean now. We would have liked to have stayed here a week, but we must push on to pick up Anscar, a friend in Sardinia 3rd October. xxx

Lots of boats of all kinds passed by, big power boats with rooster tails etc. , as we sailed to the south end of Mallorca, beautiful Mediterranean landscape along the way. The sun was out and warm, as was the water. There was a gentle breeze. Life was good! The wind became very fresh in the late afternoon about 20 knots. We anchored up in a pretty bay with other cruising boats, overnight . There were lots of rocky outcrops.  Another boringly beautiful sunset! We saw a lot of the coastline of Mallorca but actually didn’t go ashore. We hope to come back to this pretty place and spend more time on the way back.xxxWe were underway by sunrise, a beautiful one, which was at about 8am. We motored as there was no wind, no swell, just a big vast ocean 265 nautical miles to Sardinia. We said goodbye to Spain as we took down our worn Spanish courtesy flag. The wind picked up later in the day to be good sailing.

Halfway across to Sardinia the engine wouldn’t start. We had been having trouble on and off with it but this time it really wouldn’t start. Luckily the wind was good at this stage. We had to turn everything off except the freezer to conserve battery. We had to steer manually through the night, only turning on the navigation lights when boats were near.  We realised how much we took the auto pilot for granted. The wind was changing direction quite a bit and it was hard to steer . About midday the following day the wind dropped and we were bobbing around in the swell with no wind and no engine and ships nearby. I was worried. Stefan tried another thing to get the engine started and “hurray” it worked. Needless to say we left the engine ticking even when sailing till we arrived in Sardinia as even the anchor is electric. xxxIt is amazing the number of small land birds that hitch a ride with us sometimes out in the middle of the ocean. They often fly off for a time and come back. Stefan and I thought of the strange situation in times gone by when wars were fought via sailing boats and there was no wind and they were all flopping around unable to go anywhere.xxx

We finally anchored up in Teulada, a small town in Southern Sardina where we were to pick up Anscar our German friend who would help us sail the boat to Greece. We hadn’t seen him for 5 years. He sailed with us in Australia on the old Juliana, as a 20yo backpacker.     We missed seeing him by one day when we were in Germany. He is 25 now and a history teacher who had some weeks off. Anscar joined us the following day. Stefan needed a particular spanner to try and fix the engine starting problem. The Marina and where we were anchored was a distance out of town. A friendly Italian who had a boat and was a pharmacist in town offered to take Stefan into town on his motorbike to a place to buy a spanner. Come on Stefano he kept saying. He didn’t speak much English. They got the spanner Stefan needed. His pharmacy was closed for siesta but he opened it up, made Stefan an expresso coffee and let him use his computer as there was no internet cafe in town. Come on Stefano he kept saying introducing him to his friends. He knew everyone in town. xxx

There were no buses into town which was about 12 klms so I hitched in. A friendly lady with 2 teenage sons picked me up. They spoke no English but understood I came from Australia and was on a sailing boat going to Turkey. They seemed very amazed. They dropped me off at a small supermarket. I enjoyed walking around this town so much. There were no tourists only locals. There were Saturday morning markets. I bought fruit and vegetables. The locals were a bit curious of me as I waited patiently to be served. When it was my turn they made sure I was served. They were smiling and very kind to me without being able to speak any English. On the way back a young Italian man picked me up and took me right to the marina even though it was a bit out of his way. Again he spoke very little English but I could make myself understood.xxxxxAnscar hitched out as well. The wind was from the right direction but a little strong when he arrived. He settled in that afternoon and we talked a lot. We ended up leaving that evening when the wind dropped a little. The anchor was caught under a rock and all of a sudden released with a thud.  


SICILY to GREECE

2008-10-06 to 2008-10-11

SICILY to GREECE                                            6-11thOctober

After leaving Sardinia we had good winds overnight then the wind dropped. The following day was lovely and sunny, relaxing conditions but not much wind. We had to motor most of the day. The halyard to the main sail broke so we had to roll the sail in. Our first port in Sicily was Mazara de Vallo on the South Western side, where we tied up to a marina. The people in the office spoke limited English but were very friendly and helpful.  The marina office was in a marquee with a lounge area and free internet. xxx

Mazara de Vallo has the old side of town with fishing boats coming in with their nights catch. Lots of old men sitting around drinking coffee, narrow streets. A lovely sunset. Anscar bought some fishing gear. We walked around, stayed overnight and were off again after getting some nice fresh morning bread. We sailed overnight and arrived at midnight the following day in Porto Palo on the southern side of Sicliy. It was hard to find our way in amongst lots of big fishing boats. We anchored up overnight. It was a very rolly anchorage. xxx

We wanted to get fuel. We tied up alongside a big fishing boat. They didn’t speak English but were very helpful and understood we wanted fuel. Apparently the only way was to order a truck to come out with fuel. A man took us into town in his car to try and organise it. The town was a very local one, no internet. We stood out like saw thumbs. There was an old man who spoke German. Anscar was back on the boat so Stefan spoke to him in the little German he remembered. In the end we decided it was too complicated and there was a fuel bowser they told us at the next port. He invited us for coffee but we had left Anscar back on the boat and thought we had better get back. He drove us back in his car. They were so friendly we just wished we spoke Italian.  xxx

The next port had a fuel bowser but was too shallow for us to get in. Luckily the wind was good now so we sailed on to Sirocusa. It was a day we will remember. The wind was good, the weather warm and sunny and the scenery along the way beautiful. Sailing into Sirocusa was surreal with the palm trees and cross on the left and Castle on our right. We had been here 5 years ago and loved this old city. I never thought I would be sailing in here one day. It was like coming home. We recognised where we had stayed, had a meal etc. xxx

We went to the fuel jetty. Another boat was also waiting for fuel. There was a phone number to ring. A kind Italian man on the jetty with a mobile phone rang the number for us. Apparently they couldn’t be bothered coming. “Crazy man” the man who had rung up for us said. We anchored up with many other cruising boats. We met some Australians originally from Perth but now living in Asia. It is always great to meet Australians as we have not met many on this trip. They were on a sailing boat heading for Malta to leave their boat there for winter. They had just cruised Croatia and told us how expensive the marinas were $200 per night to tie up. They had a water maker on board and were self sufficient and had anchored up not having to rely on Marinas.xxx

When we bought the boat we were offered a water maker for a reasonable price off another boat. Stefan has not yet installed it but it seems it will be useful when cruising in Croatia next year. A water maker turns salt water into fresh water. xxx

Stefan went ashore in the morning in the dingy to the internet. He said he would be about an hour. After 3 hours plus, Anscar and I became concerned about our missing captain. We blew up the kayak. It wouldn’t seem to inflate fully so Anscar paddled it over to the Australian boat to ask if they would take him ashore to go looking for Stefan. They told us that the internet would be closed for siesta and Stefan would probably be waiting till it opened again. This turned out to be the case.xxx

We also met an English lady with an American husband. They had been cruising in Turkey for 7 years. They gave us some information about marinas in Turkey. There was a real cruising community here anchored up. Another English lady on the only motor boat, came over with an invitation for us to a buffet lunch, bring a plate, on their motor boat next Sunday. We also got other invitations. Again this would have been a nice place to stay at least a week but the wind was good and we had to get to Turkey so we were off.xxxWe sailed overnight, close hauled to a very fresh wind, about 25 knots. We were flying along 7-8knots most of the night even through the sails were reefed considerably. It was not very comfortable and a job just moving around the boat. We still hadn’t managed to get fuel but luckily didn’t need it. We sailed through a second night to arrive in Pilos Greece at 3am in the morning. We anchored up. There had been a full moon that night. We motored the last few hours as the wind turned to be on the nose. We had been doing shifts of 2 hours on 4 hours off at night. xxx 


STEFAN`S big 60 birthday PILOS GREECE

2008-10-13 to 2008-10-16

PILOS, Greece, Stefan’s big 60 birthday!     13-16th October

Pilos, Greece was where Angsar left us to catch a bus to Athens then fly back to Germany. He had been a great crew member and good company. Being a history teacher he was a wealth of information and interesting to talk to over the sea miles. After anchoring up and going ashore in the dingy we had difficulty locating the Port Authority up a narrow staircase. We originally planned to stay a day or two here but needed to check into Greece. The Port Authority said if we were just passing through and didn’t want to pay and do paperwork as far as they were concerned we had never been here. They were busy eating cakes. They said if we wanted to book in officially and pay we would have to come back after siesta at 3pm.  

Pilos is a pretty town in a valley extending to the nearby mountains. It is in a big natural, protected bay with small dagger like islands as you enter . At this time of the year we found it a sleepy town with a small supermarket, fruit and bakeries and lots of outdoor restaurants in the town square and waterfront. It has a small swimming beach and harbour. Like many towns in Greece it has a big impressive castle with walls overlooking the town which we walked up to.

We had talked to a number of other yachties who said if we planned to leave our boat in Turkey we should pre book something as they might be booked out. We were having a lot of frustration emailing marinas and getting no response. We tried ringing only to find they didn’t speak English or were booked out. We finally got a booking but it was so overpriced we weren’t happy. xxxIn Pilos there is a marina where there were non Greek boats. The marina is managed by the Port Authority. It has no facilities, no power or water. There are a lot of smaller fishing boats. Stefan went to the local boat shop as he usually did. A friendly greek, Nickos, who spoke very good English ran the shop. He had lived in America for many years. He had an American wife and 3 month old baby. His American father-in-law was visiting them and in the shop. Stefan was talking to him about the frustration of trying to find somewhere in Turkey to leave the boat. xxx Nickos said why don’t you leave your boat here or there is the secure marina nearby. As a surprise to him he rang the nearby marina to have them say they were booked out. There may be cancellations they said. We spoke to others in the Port Authority marina in Pilos. We spoke to Germans who lived nearby who had had their boat in the Pilos marina for 7 years and had never paid anything and their boat had always been safe, they checked it every few weeks. We went into the Pilos marina on an outside berth that we were told was not very safe in extreme weather conditions. xxx

Nickos being a local worked hard trying to find out which boats further inside maybe moving for winter. He had a number of boats he rented out and his dive boat in the marina and told us he could keep an eye on our boat and he was in the marina attending to his boats all the time. The german people also said that every time they checked their boat they would check Juliana as well. We had their phone numbers and could ring them anytime. It was very tempting but we were very confused as what to do. It seems to stay in the marina you can choose if you stay unofficially paying nothing or book in officially and pay. If you pay however there are no facilities or security other than what you organise. This we had been basically been told by the officials also. We felt very uneasy about leaving the boat in Greece unofficially even though we trusted Nickos and he advised us there would be no problems, he knew the port people etc. xxx

After a lot of sleepless nights we decided to visit the nearest private marina that was full that may have cancelations. It was not a great distance but took 1.5 hours as it was over a windy mountain range in the bus. To our relief when we went in person they had had one cancelation and the cost we considered reasonable. We secured a berth here only to find when we got back to Pilos a boat had moved and there was a good safe winter position for us at Pilos. We are happy with the decision. An established marina with 24 hours security that we have booked into officially will make for us to sleep easier in Australia. The other option probably would have worked out all right however. Pilos seems a very community oriented place. Their motto is come as a tourist, leave as a friend. This was certainly true to what we found.  xxx  

There was also a young man running a restaurant in Pilos who was born in Melbourne and had spent the first 16 years of his life there before his family moved back to Pilos. Apparently in days gone by a ship with passengers went from Pilos to Australia. Most Greeks we have met speak English to some extent. They all seem to have a least one relative in Australia. The weather was warm, water clear and warm also. It was great being able to swim off our boat on a good anchorage. We cleaned a bit of slime off Juliana’s undersides. There doesn’t seem to be any barnacles which is good xxx

Two days after we got to Pilos was Stefan’s big 60 birthday. He still hasn’t come to terms with it. I got him a favourite of his a Danish(Greek style) pastry for his breakfast we also got him a cake from the local bakery which is always tempting to walk past. Angsar had left a present a bottle of ouzo, SOME WORRY BEADS, which is a bit of a worry, and some biscuits. A shirt from his Mum and birthday emails of course. We went out and had a nice Greek meal on the waterfront in the evening. 


PILOS CELEBRATES

2008-10-17 to 2008-10-31

PILOS CELEBRATES     17to 30th October

The town of Pilos was getting ready to celebrate shortly after we arrived. Two big Navy ships came in with so many flags up and a band playing on deck. The street gutters were being whitewashed which they do with small mops on sticks .The 20th October is an important day for Pilos and modern Greece as we know it today. Turkey controlled Greece for 400 years up to 1827 when there was a fierce battle in the Pilos Bay and surrounds. This was also the last known battle in the world fought with sailing ships. The English, French and Greeks joined forces to defeat the Turks and from this day onwards Greece is as we know it now. It is understandable they have big celebrations on this day every year. There are a lot of monuments around the bay. One day Stefan and I went in the dinghy to the rocks at the entrance to the bay which are quite interesting with caves or grottos that go in a long way.  xxx

Luckily we have been going to the Greek Dinner dance in Gosford every year lately so are up with a bit with Greek dancing where young and old dance together. Stefan as usual piked out. I was invited to dance with the mayor of Pilos and all the important dignitaries and had a good time as everyone joined in. It was a night in the town square full of Greek dancing performers in national dress and Greek music. Sorry Eric you wouldn’t have lasted the night.  We were very disappointed we did not have our cameras with us.xxxHaving decided to leave the boat officially in Kalamata marina we went to the Port Authority again to check into Greece. We paid them $60 for a Greek-Ships log book and $170 for a week in their marina. A Greek Canadian lady was in the office and helped as an interrupter. She was very friendly. She had lost her husband. She and her grown up children lived in Montreal, Canada but she came to Pilos for 3 months every year. She had to leave her little dog in Canada while she was away but spoke to him on the phone every night. She showed us his photo, her baby.xxx

Every morning this fishing boat came by with loud Greek music playing and went to sell his catch on the town dock. We saw this man around in town quite a bit, he was certainly a character. There was also a character in a little 3 wheel truck. He pipped his horn. The horn matched the size of the truck, a little weak one. It was so funny! One day we went a 10 klm ride on our bikes around the bay. There was a national park on the other side with lots of birdlife. We enjoyed an ice cream stop half way. There were a few ups and downs but the views were good. xxx

We caught the bus into Kalamatas the nearest city to Pilos. It was only about 65kms but took about 1.5 hours as it is a very windy road over a big mountain range. We went to the marina and secured a berth for the winter as previously explained, walked along the waterfront and around town. We got back to the bus stop tired after a lot of walking to find that a Pilos bus had left 10mins earlier at 3pm and there wasn’t another bus till 7.45pm. We walked to the bus depot to find that another bus left for Pilos at 5.30pm but went to a lot of villages on the way and didn’t get to Pilos till 8pm. This ended up being a good option as we saw a lot of the countryside. We were the only passengers on from beginning to end. It was a big comfortable coach and had to manoeuvre through these small narrow streets. The driver was patient and skilful. I certainly would not like to be a bus driver here. Surprisingly the buses never had even a scratch. We were glad to get back to the boat. It had been a long day. xxx

Internet acess we could get free on the boat here sometimes which was rare. It was a hotspot to the 12 Gods! We are thought that we were finally in touch with God, only that the 12 Gods is a nearby resort!

We talked to a German man on a catamaran in front of us. He gave us a disk of all the charts of the world to put on our computer which finally worked. Previous ones we had been given didn’t seem to work. Stefan was amazed to look up Gosford waterways on it which were very accurate. While we were sitting on our boat one day a family with two boys came along fishing off the pier. They recognised our boat was Australian. Christina the mother was actually born in Gosford hospital, lived many years in Ettalong. Her four other brothers and sisters still live in Australia. A brother in Charlestown, Newcastle. They still have friends in Matcham. A small world! Christina met Carl, a German, in Bali while backpacking. They kept in contact and eventually Christina moved to Germany, learnt german, had 2 lovely boys Matthias and Mika. Carl and Christina are both teachers and were on holiday in Greece. They came over for dinner on our boat a few nights later and we had such a good night. xxx

You only realise how unique Australians are when you are away. In nearly 8 months we have only met a handful of Aussies. Christina has been living in Germany for 15 years but certainly hasn’t lost her Aussie streak. I am bias but it was certainly refreshing. That is not to say I haven’t enjoyed all the other cultures.  Xxx

After nearly 2 weeks in Pilos we cleared out with the Port Authorty and said goodbye. We liked this place! People here go out of their way to help you with no advantage to themselves. We are starting to think this is the Greek way. We had been told there were a few nice stops on the way to Katamata, so decided to take our time getting there. We are taking our time now Rene, please note, smelling the roses as we don’t have to get to Turkey. The first night we anchored up in Methoni. Like all self respecting places it had a big castle as you entered the harbour. The castle looked wonderful at night all lit up. We spent some hours the following morning walking around it. Our mind boggles at the amount of man hours that went into building them and how grand they must have been in its day. Our second night was anchored on a remote cliffline which was a good anchorage. The 3rd night we anchored off Kononi. Gunilla, Stefans Swedish sister realised that she had been to this area a year ago and recommended this place and it was all good. We went ashore lots of restaurants, shops, etc. A nice place!

We are getting towards the last episode for this season so stay tuned! People have asked for my reflections of the last 12 months now that I am supposedly an ACCOMPLISHED SAILOR. I think for me backpacking South America was more of a highlight for me. Check out Tania negotiates with the locals 17th January! I will have to do some thinking! Crossing the Atlantic certainly had its highs and lows. Sailing is still not at the top of my list but has been an experience! Stay tuned for my reflections!


Kalamata and some Greek history

2008-10-30 to 2008-11-06

Kalamata- and some Greek History.      29th October-7th Nov

We enjoyed our last few leisurely days of sailing and the time spent looking around Methoni castle that some parts date back to prehistoric times. Its position made it central to a lot of action over the years it seems. The temperature in and out of the water was great and it was great being able to swim off the boat in crystal clear water while anchored up. Our last few hours of sailing into Kalamata were perfect. The wind from behind about 12 knots. We took the sails in now, most probably for the last time as we plan to have new ones next year. The front sail has so much hand stitching in it, it has to be considered a work of art. Not one hand sewn seam has come undone however. We sailed in as the sun was setting. We had now clocked up approximately 16,400 klms, or 8,850 nautical miles since leaving Tortola in the Caribbean 7.5 months ago. xxxx

Majestic mountains are the backdrop of Kalamata, which is in western Greece. It is a large town maybe 80-150,000 people. It is not a tourist town but a agricultural centre (olive trees). The town is old, as most towns on Europe, and lacks town planning. Streets are a bit "built here and there" houses are often half completed (as people save up for the next stage). Streets are sometimes full of old cars, garbage bin, building rubble etc. , but it still has charm and character. People here don’t have private garbage bin collection. I guess some of the streets are too narrow for garbage trucks. People are responsible for putting their garbage in dump bins dotted around the place which are collected .

We went a bike ride to the castle one day and around the old part of town. It was Sunday, lots of Greek Orthodox churches with people going there. Most towns have an old castle and Kalamata has one too.The castle was originally built in 1300-century and has been controlled by many different ethnic groups as wars have ravaged this area. Greece was occupied (amongst many others) by the Turkish empire for about 400 years and became independent in 1827. It is hard to understand that the present day Greeks who are happy and easy going, but a little lazy and disorganised, could be descendants from the ancient Greeks that build such a great society, one of the greatest ever, some 3000 years ago. xxx

The marina staff helped us tie up Mediterranean style with stern to the marina and mooring rope at the bow with a boat on either side. David a friendly Englishman greeted us shortly after we arrived. He and his wife Claire are staying at this marina over winter. We met a number of people staying on their boats here over winter. Many had been back to this marina for winter for many years. Most of the time here through winter t-shirts are all you need. It is not surprising many Northern Europeans spend winters here. It does get cool at night through they say. xxx

The Sunday after we arrived we went to a yachtie’s barbeque organised by themselves at the back of the marina. Everyone bought their meat and drinks and a plate to share of salad etc. It was a very interesting afternoon. We got there an hour early not realising that winter time had changed a week ago. We had managed a week before realizing. Sometimes it is hard to work out what day of the week it is. There was mixture of Spanish, French, Dutch, German and us about 20 people from yachts in the Marina. They have the barbeques every Sunday afternoon. Many of them have dogs on board that they take walking mornings and evenings. There is a supermarket nearby, larger ones further away.   xxx

Kalamata has a long mostly stony beach which is good for swimming and open to the ocean but no swell. Along the beach are lots of restaurants. There seems to be more restaurant chairs in Kalamata than people. As the city is flat the bikes are very handy. Stefan is now like a local riding amongst the traffic and obstacles. I am still very cautious. There are a lot of family shops with a mix match of products. You can’t go to one hardware shop and expect to get a number of things for example. Stefan has been fitting a water maker will should be up and running next year that turns salt water into fresh water. xxx

One day we caught a bus to Sparti. The bus ride itself is spectacular over a high mountain range. It was hard to get photos in the bus. Very zig zag roads. It was only 58 klms but took 1.5 hours. The archaeological sites around Sparti date back before 1000 BCE. We went to a museum in Sparti with items from this period. Mosaic tile pictures that have been dug up and put back together, pots, vases and quite a few Greek figures and busts. I usually tie of museums and we haven’t been to many on this trip, but this one was interesting. Greece, the castles and Ansgar have got us a bit more interested in history again I suppose. xxx

This is where Stefan and I asked the question why is it that even in warm weather, 30 degrees, Greeks seem to wear tight jeans and sometimes jumpers. We seem to be the only ones in shorts and T-shirts. All their ancestors seemed to wear nothing in the museums and we read that the early Olympic games were staged with athletes with no clothes on. We asked the Historian Ansgar! His response was interesting and informative I found. xxx 

First: Not all greek statues are in the nude. There are also many with a toga, e.g.famous ones like the one of Socrates.

Second: The Greeks started with showing gods and heroes naked to differ them fromthe ordinary people and because especially gods are just perfect and you have toshow that.

Third: There was the ideal of the beauty of a perfect body. To show a perfecttrained body seemed to be aesthetic and beautiful. So the Greeks started to showalso sportlers and warriors (who where - by the way - often also heroes

Four: That the ancient Greeks did sports naked is what you know. The greekgymnos means nude and is the origin of the word gymnasium. So the old tradition todo sports naked remains until today - at least a bit.

Five: Working nude saves clothes. Since clothes were not as cheap as today it wasespecially for poor workers very advisable to get off the clothes. And it shouldn`thave been a big problem for women to see that ;-D

Six: The ancient Greeks didn`t walk around naked the whole day. They already hadshame. But they where quite liberal concerning sexual belongings: Sex with boys,prostitution, promiscuity and painting that all on vases or writing it down are ourevidences for that. That`s it pretty much, I think. But you should also think why we`ve got act paintingand photography (and films!) nowadays and why so many people watching it: the beautyof a nice body is still today very fascinating. So why not also for the ancientGreeks? xxx

 The only conclusion Stefan & I can come up with for the current Greeks wearing jeans and jumpers in the middle of the day when it hot is that they must not feel the heat or it is about fashion.   


ISTANBUL! HOMEWARD BOUND TO AUSSIE

2008-11-08 to 2008-11-15

We booked our return trip to Australia from Istanbul as we planned to leave the “Juliana ll” in Turkey! Plans changed and we left her in Greece! Try what may to change our flight. We were not successful so we had to add on an expensive, less than one hour flight from Athens to Istanbul , $350 each! A friend suggested going via Istanbul was a bonus. She was careful to state she hadn’t been to Sydney Australia but has travelled considerably and Istanbul was her favourite city in the world! xxxx

We had had no rain for some time! We had booked our express bus ticket from Kalamata to Athens, $40 each, which took 3.5 hours. It was a bit of a walk with our cases but we planned to walk to the bus station!  We got all ready the night before! Clearing the freezer, giving remaining food to people we were friends with on a German boat. Would you believe it, when we woke it was teaming down rain! Plan B, we had the security guy call us a taxi to arrive in half an hour. Would you believe it ,  the taxi arrived in 10 minutes .We then had to rush to get the boat locked and secured for winter.  The taxi charged us far too much but we were sick of arguing! Our good old crew member Basil we couldn’t take with us to Aussie, so we had to plant him in the garden in the Marina. xxxxx

We took the flight from Athens to Istanbul and spent 2 nights at a good hostel, Cordial House, right in the centre. A long time since we had slept off the boat! It was a pretty ride at night from the airport at night on the bus along the water.  We went walking around town the following day. The Palace! The many amazing mosques! The Grand Bazaar, spice markets and the busy waterfront. Rock fishermen had set up their little fortresses with rocks. They really seemed to be marking their fishing territories! xxxxx

 Everywhere you go someone is trying to sell you something. We met a friendly Turk who spoke good English and took us on a little tour telling us many interesting facts about Istanbul, particularly “Obelisk”, a granite monument, about 20 metres high, made in one piece weighing hundreds of tons, 3,000 years old,  shipped  from ancient Egypt, with amazing carvings in the rock of people and society of that time. How they managed to ship it here and have it standing is amazing. It is in such good condition for being so old.  Of course our friendly Turk finally took us to his family carpet shop which was pretty amazing. He took us to a dungeon area with a special collection of ceramics. He didn’t seem too upset when we didn’t buy a carpet. xxxxxx

It was Sunday. Stefan went to get some money out of an ATM. Nor his card or money came out. Luckily the bank was open the following morning and he, together with some other people was there to collect their cards. While Stefan was collecting his card a long siren went off. I was alone in the hostel. I thought war had been declared. Maybe a fire! It went on for a long time and was so loud. I grabbed passport, visa card etc and raced down stairs to find every in the street standing still. It only happens once a year to commemorate the minute, hour, date of the death of the founder of modern Turkey! I am glad that was sorted! It is not that easy being a tourist. Had to buy some Turkish delight! xxxxxx

We booked a hotel shuttle to the airport to fly back to Aussie! The small bus picked us up first and negotiated many tight areas to pick up other people. A few hiccups! The bus was fully booked. A family had only booked for 2 people but had 3 kids and so much luggage! People and luggage were in the isle packed like sardines. Then a couple realised their hotel had booked them to go to the wrong airport and we had to take them back to their hotel. Luckily we had plenty of time because then the driver had road rage with another driver. They were out fighting. After waiting a considerable time and as we were not that far from the airport some passengers that thought that they may miss their flight decided to walk with their luggage along the motorway. The Police finally came and everything seemed sorted. xxxxx

We caught our flight to London, Bangkok, and finally to Sydney. Saw some good movies! A novelty to finally see something in English!  We had a good flight talking to some interesting people. A lady who had gone back to Cyprus to see family still there. Her family had lost everything in Cyprus in war times and had ended up in Australia. She loves Australia! xxxxxx

How tame the buses are in Sydney! We caught a train and a bus to Tania and Daniels. After having no sickness all the time we were away we were as sick as dogs the first few days in Aussie. We must have picked up something on the plane. Too used to open ocean!  xxxx

Once we recovered it was so great to start catching up with family and friends. After a few days with Tania and Daniel we went to stay at my Aunt’s holiday home at Bateau Bay. There are a lot of retirement villages in this area. Stefan & I went to the shops. We were still feeling so sick having to stop on seats along the way for a rest. We even thought of asking one of the oldies for a lend of their walking sticks. Luckily we got better.

 

 

 


THE ATLANTIC LAST YEAR THIS YEAR THE ELVIS TRAIN

2009-01-09 to 2009-01-12

You will never, never know, if you never, never go! This saying got me sailing across the Atlantic! I did originally plan to fly! An Australian aboriginal Icon, Ernie Dingo, is famous for this saying, promoting the Northern Territory Australia. Sailing across the Atlantic was something I never imagined I would do. LAST YEAR it was the ATLANTIC, this year “THE ELVIS TRAIN to Parkes my home town in the Central West of NSW in the middle of the wheat/sheep belt. Xxxx

Parkes also is famous for a big radio telescope dish, just outside the town that supposedly took over part of the first man on the moon pictures when there was some problem with the one in Houston, America. An Australian Movie “The Dish” is based around these happenings and filmed in the area. xxxxx

I am not an Elvis fanatic but like his music and when my friend Diana asked me to join her.I decided to step outside my square! Stefan was not brave enough to take up the challenge! The train had been booked out but a week before it left they added another carriage. xxx

We boarded the Elvis train in Central Sydney! A train, put on especially for the festival. I was unaware of the hype there would be. The Media were having a field day with all the extrovert Elvis and Priscilla look a likes! One dance group of Elvis fans booked one carriage! All the National TV stations were on hand! The train ride, six hours went very quickly! We danced, we sang, we had a good time! Everyone aboard the Elvis train was going to the Elvis festival and in Party mode! A paid Elvis impersonator did a show in each carriage with all the Elvis moves! Everyone joined in on the bear hop chain along the entire length of the train. Many Elvis impersonators import Elvis suits from America which are very impressive costing $2,000. Yes Elvis certainly still has some serious fans! The mayor of Parkes dressed as Elvis boarded the train an hour before arriving in Parkes to welcome us all! xxx

When the train arrived in Parkes, the whole of Parkes in party mode was there to welcome us! There were so many people! Everyone as they got off the train received a lay of flowers! Finding the people there to meet you was a challenge. My cousin Helen & family were kind enough to put me up. It was good catching up with them! xxxx

My home town of Parkes is recognised Australia wide as being the Elvis city of Australia, where Elvis’s birthday is celebrated big time, early January, getting bigger every year. This was the 17th Elvis festival in Parkes. The 1st ones being only small. The Elvis Festival started out with a restaurant owner in Parkes owning a restaurant called Gracelands. It was quite in January so he started having an Elvis night to celebrate Elvis’s birthday. The rest is history. This one weekend brings to Parkes $350,000 for the weekend. Every motel/hotel/home stay/tent city is booked. All the surrounding towns have shuttle buses.  The city of normally about 12,000 is a buzz. Parkes has a pub on every corner and they are all packed as well the clubs. In the main park there is constant entertainment with Elvis and Priscilla competitions. Elvis’s young and old and all shapes. Markets with Elvis stuff etc. Parkes has an impressive Elvis museum donated from private collections. It is to become permanent.  xxxx

The Elvis train from Sydney rolls in Friday afternoon pulls out with weary cargo Monday morning, arriving Sydney late afternoon. Lots of shows Friday night! A big street parade Saturday morning. I arranged to meet my school friend Margaret! We had a great day. Elvis apparently was very spiritual. I big gospel service is held Sunday morning with 3,500 people in the undercover Big W car park with a lot of screens for those not able to see the stage. Months’ of preparation goes into the service, many people commenting if every gospel service was like this one they would be there every week. xxxx

The funny thing was that on the Elvis train away from the coast I met some sailors. Denise and Kip were Canadian & American with a boat similar to Juliana. They left their boat in Redcliff, Queensland, caught a flight to Sydney etc. I met quite a few people coming from interstate and from overseas.  We visited Denise & kip, later in Queensland when visiting my sister Coral and family on The Sunshine Coast. There were people young and old from all walks of life. It was certainly a fun weekend.


LEAVING AUSSIE was sad

2009-01-12 to 2009-02-23

The temperature 29 degrees, the beach great! I was staying at my aunt’s holiday home at Bateau Bay. Thank you so much Aunty Stella for making your place available to us! On the beach I thought, this is as good as it gets! Para sliders, sailing boats, a beautiful beach white sand, warm water for swimming. Stefan had left 3 weeks earlier to do work on the boat and was telling me how freezing the weather in Greece was. xxxx

Sad to say goodbye to family and friends! Everyone back home had treated us so special! Thank you Natasha for letting us housesit your lovely home and keep Pinocchio the cat company for 6 weeks, over Christmas. Glad you had such a great time in New Zealand. Thank you, dear friend Barrie for recommending us to her. Thank you also for offering to mind our cat if no one else could be found when I you don’t like them. After all the stress and finding someone to take her our tenants decided they had grown attached to her and wanted to keep her after all at the final hour. Their daughter’s allergy had been sorted out. She is better staying where she knows. We enjoyed the morning walks with Libby who lived nearby and caught up over dinner.xxx

Diana, I really enjoyed the lovely walk along the beach and lunch we had together just after I got back. Also the walk we did from Pearl Beach to Patonga and back again. The lovely photos of flowers and trees you took. The night Ken took us out for dinner and Stefan fixed the air conditioner because it was so hot and it didn’t work. Thank you for the lovely photos you have taken and printed out for me. xxxxx

It was good catching up with next door neighbour Marj and seeing all my friends again at the Central Coast Bushwalkers Christmas Party.

Christmas was a great time! The first time we have been together as a family for Christmas for a long time. Last year Stefan and I celebrated Christmas in Bolivia while backpacking around South America. My Mum & Dad came down from Coffs Harbour. We had Christmas day at our daughter, Tania and son Daniel’s, place at North Curl Curl, Sydney. My brother Robert and family came from the South Coast in the afternoon to see us. It was a great day, not too hot, just right. We put a shrimp on the Barbie, lots of salads and Pavlova with cream and tropical fruit. Just after Christmas Stefan & I went sailing with daughter Tania and friends on Pittwater. It was a very enjoyable day full of events and good to be out on the water again. xxxxx

We had managed to buy a good second hand car for a good price, to do us for the time we were home. We drove up to visit my parents and sister and family in Coffs Harbour, North Coast, NSW.  We spent Australia day there. Throng throwing competitions etc. Had a great time at the Anunka Resort one evening! Then up to visit my sister, Coral and family in Queensland. We had a fun relaxing time with them in their lovely home overlooking the Sunshine Coast. We listened to nephew Hayden play in his band. They were good. xxxx

We also stayed at our daughter Tania’s house and walked her dog Roxy, while she was over in Los Angles at the Grammy awards and then to New York. She won a competition in a magazine. She had to say in ten words why she wanted to go. It included the dress make up, hair etc. taking a friend and spending money, was valued at about $20,000. Got to meet Tania’s special friend Phil, when she got back and we were having a family barbeque to farewell Stefan in the park at Bateau Bay. He got our approval. xxxx

Julia, Stefan’s niece was in Geelong, Victoria as a Swedish exchange student and came to visit us. Later her parents from Sweden, Stefan’s brother Einar and wife Agnes. Good times were had watching the Pelican feeding at The Entrance, Reptile Park with Koalas, kangaroos etc.xxx

Terry finally decided to convert from a Pom to an Aussie while we were home.  What a good idea and about time! And what a good party! Also the Robbie Williams show! Bit of a hard act to follow Terry! You don’t have the sunnies! The meal you cooked us up Fiona and night at your home at Avoca was tops! xxxx

 Susan an Eric put us up and treated us like King & Queen when we were homeless for a couple of days. Might have to be homeless a bit more often! Five star service!  Great Barbie and swimming in your pool, in between laboring at our house, down the street, on the retaining wall and moving our stuff from one storage place to another. xxxx

Caroline and Bob, Helen and Danny, friends for a long time we caught up with on several occasions, which is always I fun time. Stefan caught up with his sailing buddies Brian & Stig and friend from table tennis xxxx

Travelling is great but Aussie is a special place. Most Aussies don’t understand how good they have it and what a good place full of opportunities it is! The cost of living in relation to wages is amazing! xxxx

After Stefan left I went to spend a week with Julie, a special friend in Adelaide. We had met 18 months earlier in Broome, Western Australia. We had had a lot in common!  After meeting her I had seen what I consider the best part of Australia. The Kimberly region between Broome and Darwin! I did a 9 day safari in a 4 wheel drive. We slept in swags on the ground beside the fire, which we cooked on. Our showers were the waterfalls, lots of them! The colors of the landscape were amazing. We followed The Gibbs Rd, to Mitchell Falls. The graveled road was very remote. We went up in a small plane over Bungle Bungle Mountains. It was an amazing experience. xxxx

In Adelaide Julie was a great host with a lovely home. She took me to the beachside of Glenelg, Port Adelaide, and wine tasting in the Barossa valley. We had a very relaxed time. We went out to a festival, pubs and the Casino. Thank you Julie for the great time ! You are a special friend.

I had to catch the 6.35am jet star flight to Adelaide. Chris our son took me to catch the 3am train from Gosford. I had visions of the train being scary at this time Saturday morning but felt very safe.xxxx

My friend Tony took me around Lake Macquarie and Sugarloaf mountain on the back of his motorbike one day which was fun, stopping off at Freemans Waterhole for a coffee on the way home. Had a great barbarque at Jenny and Tony`s shortly after getting home

The last week was busy! Last minute things to attend to! Sorry I didn’t get to see you again Mo! Enjoyed the time I spent with you & Mark when I first arrived back. Hope things are going better with Amira now and that she is out of Hospital. xxxx

Had a great girl’s night out at Lizottos with Caroline and Helen! How good can anyone play a guitar!  Got to see youngest son Chris play soccer, spent time with his lovely girl Holly. Spent some quality time with Diana & Caroline at the last moment, not planned  was all good! Stayed  the night before I left at Caroline and Bob’s. Daniel, our son picked me up at 6.30am and took me to Sydney. I spent a lovely morning with daughter Tania and Roxy, the dog on the beach. She took me to the airport at 3pm, 23rd March.

 

  

 


CAPTAINS REPORT KALAMATA to CRETE

2009-04-01 to 2009-04-02

This is the Captain speaking: This year I will try to add some more factual details about the navigation, sailing and other interesting details that Wendy might have missed.  I’m not a good writer, but I will do my best.

Leaving Kalamata was not as easy as you might think. As we declared our intended departure to the port authorities they suddenly decided that we owed them €0.88 ($1.70) which had to be paid before we left. In Greece any yacht that stays more than 3 month has to pay tax. For “Juliana” this meant paying about $1000.- for 6 months! What a rip off! And we had been back in Australia for 4 of those months. Anyway I rode my bike up to the tax office and actually had a lot of problems getting them to accept my €0.88 as I had no tax number! Anyway, the coffers of the Greek treasury were boosted and we were free to depart, hurray!

We left on 1 April, and there was no wind! (I’m not joking). I thought  ”We have to motor today”, but after  an hour, the wind came in from every conceivable direction. We pulled ropes and operated winches till our hand were red-raw.  After 2 hours we finally had wind from the east at up to 35 knots. Welcome back to sailing! Reefed both sails down heavily. Conditions were not very nice with rain and sea spray all over the boat and we decided to anchor up in a bay about 20 nautical miles  S of Kalamata. I thought the problem was going to be too deep to anchor. We have about 65 meters of chain which enables us to anchor in up to 20 meters depth. We managed to find a nice spot in 6 meters depth, right below the ancient town of Itlio.

2nd April. We stayed at anchored awaiting the wind to abate.

3rd April. Next day more strong wind from the east, but early afternoon the wind dropped and suddenly came in from the west. We sailed a further 20 miles but the wind veered back to east and increased again. Anchored up in a bay at the southern  tip of the peninsula.

4th Finally the wind was from the NE and we could sail on our intended course: SW. As we approached an island called Kithira the wind increased again to 30-35 knots and we were glad to be on the lee side of the island. At that point we had enough of beating into the waves so snuck into the harbor of Kapsali for a proper sleep.

5th got up at 6am. The wind was from NE about 20 knots. The weather was cold with rain showers.  We set a reefed main and a reefed headsail also. Did good speed with the wind on the beam. We had 49 miles to next port and we wanted to be in before dark. Unfortunately the head sail started to develop a tear along the leach which seemed to get bigger. Both sails are old and worn out. We have ordered new ones, but they will not be delivered until 1st may to Turkey. This was a worry, especially as the mainsail had got jammed in the mast (also due to it being old). Anyway we decided to nurse the sails the best we could until next port, and then try to fix it. At 17.30 we arrived in Chania in Crete. And we managed to furl both sails ok.


GREECE IN SPRINGTIME

2009-04-03 to 2009-04-06

 I, Wendy, had a long but good trip back from Sydney to Kalamata Greece. I tried booking my luggage through to London to try and change my flight from London to Athens rather than London to Istanbul. I was unsuccessful so had to get my luggage off in London and book it through to Istanbul. I sat next to some interesting ladies on the plane to London via Bangkok. They had just played the Ladies World Cricket Cup and won and the whole British team was on the way back home after being in Australia for six months training and playing. The lady I sat next to was not very tall and a spin bowler. She was only 19 and having a gap year before attending university.

I arrived in Istanbul, caught a bus and a tram to a great hostel we stayed at on the way over, Cordial House, central to everything.  I had a bed in a room with 3 other ladies for $14 per night. By the time I got settled in it was about 5pm, so I went for a bit of a walk. When I came back the other ladies were in. A friendly Japanese lady, a Korean and a school teacher Jenny, from Willoughby in Sydney who had taken some time off and had been travelling around Turkey for 5 weeks. I had a good night’s sleep that night having not slept much on the plane.

Jenny was a very interesting lady and we got on well straight away. I was trying to find out about an overnight bus that went from Istanbul to Athens. I found out that there were no buses going direct at this time of the year and that I would have to change buses Thessaloniki .Jenny was on her way to Greece and had booked in sleeper on the train going to Thessaloniki Greece that night. I decided to join her. It left at 9pm. It was supposed to take 12 hours but took 13 hours. I could then get a bus direct from Thessaloniki to Athens which took 6.5 hours, then a bus from Athens to Kalamata which took 3.5 hours.

 We checked out and put our luggage in storage for the day at Cordial House. We spent an interesting day together walking around Istanbul and then walked to the train. It had been dry all day but decided to pour with lightning and thunder as we walked to the train. The train left on time. Our sleeper had 2 bunks which were comfortable. I was on the top one. In the middle of the night we crossed the Turkish- Greek border. They woke us up wanting to see our passports. We woke up and looked out the window and snow was falling. It is a long time since I have seen this. It was nice and warm in the train, in fact too warm.  We had thought the train got in at 7.30am and had set an alarm just in case. We were all ready to get off at this time, however it ended up being about 3 hours later. Communication breakdown!

Jenny was staying in Thessaloniki and I was catching a bus to Athens. Luckily as we were waiting to get off the train we got talking to a young Persian Guy who lived in Canada. He was catching a bus to Athens as well so we followed him and bought a ticket. The bus didn’t leave for 1.5 hours so Jenny and I went for a bit of a walk and coffee. Jenny waved me goodbye on the bus. As I had bought my ticket at the same time I was seated next to this young Persian Guy who spoke good English and was interesting to talk to. The bus followed the coastline of Northern Greece quite a bit and it was very scenic and very mountainous at times.

 I basically got off the bus and straight onto the bus to Kalamata at the intercity bus terminal in Athens. I then got a taxi to the boat arriving at 10.30pm Thursday 26th March. Stefan got a surprise as he thought I would be on the later bus.

As I mentioned when I arrived Juliana was sparkly and had scrubbed up well. Stefan had arrived back to find her covered in dust. The dust apparently comes across all the way from Africa. Stefan had worked hard over the 3 weeks doing various jobs including revarnishing some of the floors. He had been relieved to find everything well with her as there had been some extreme weather during winter in Kalamata while we had been away with a number of boats breaking free and being damaged with waves coming over the breakwater of the marina. We had left Juliana in the water rather than put her up on land as the Marina was too shallow for Juliana where they lift boats out. He had been told Juliana was OK but was happy to see it for himself. I had about 5 days before we left to recover from jetlag, get provisions, do washing etc. Stefan had been telling how cold the weather had been but the days I arrived it was lovely warm spring weather.

2nd April : 10 days ago I was sitting on the beach at Bateau Bay, Australia, watching Para sailors, sailing boats, swimming in the warm water on white sands, in a warm temperature, thinking how good is this! xxxxx

 Now another surreal environment! We are anchored in a lovely sheltered bay surrounded by  huge mountains, near Itilo, Greece. In the bay are newer, castle like resorts. There is a huge old fortress on the hill. Juliana is like a revolving restaurant, swinging around in the strong wind, a different picturesque view very minute.  The sun is out and behind the wind dodger on deck, it is very pleasant.  Inside Juliana is like a sun room! Protected from the wind, lots of ceiling windows, the sun shining in, and able to see out from the side ones. We watch cars pass over the mountains from one side to other until they finally disappear. It takes them quite a time.

 It had taken us about 5.5 hours to sail here from Kalamata, past many panoramic high snow capped mountains. The wind started gently became very fresh, up to 35knots at times. We were not broken in gently! We had to reef the sails severely. We motored the last hours as the wind was strong and on the nose.

After a good night at anchor we decided to walk up the huge incline to the capital of this area of Mani in Medieval times, Itlio. It was an amazing walk! Very steep! We need to rebuild our fitness. We passed a man on a bulldozer who spoke English moving Olive trees. He told us we were on the right track which was very overgrown.  The wildflowers were amazing, all colours. I took a picture of them. Diana, you would have had a field day! Up the top there was little wind and sun which was nice. Itlio was an old sleepy town perched on the hill with a spectacular view. The stonework on the houses was amazing.  The wind was still very strong so we stayed here another night.

We sailed the following day, the wind still strong. We anchored up the following night in a remote desolate bay with a small community of a few houses surrounded by high, terraced mountains, Porto Kagio. A fishing boat was pulling up nets as we arrived. The weather was freezing and windy but this bay was reasonably protected. Stefan put out 50 meters of anchor chain, which is more than we normally put out. We were getting bullets, wind gusts coming over the mountains. Overnight we couldn’t believe it in these temperatures and weather and so remote but there were divers doing a night dive with torches.

The wind was still strong but we pushed on. We reefed the sails right down. There were lots of white sea caps.   I was very relieved to get into the harbor of Kapsali on the Greek Island of Kythira.  We tied up behind a fishing boat and went for a walk. Kapsali is a pretty place with a beach. All the houses are white with blue trimmings. Everywhere we have been they have been busy painting, changing light bulbs, getting ready for a busy summer. It is good in a way to be coming by before the crowds. You can imagine this place is packed in summer. It has a little pine forest and a castle on a high mountain above it. Especially at night when the castle is lit up it is very impressive.

We had a meal that night at a lovely little restaurant right on the beach with a great outlook, called Lemon . The owner spoke good English and was very friendly. There was wireless internet so we used our laptop to check emails which we hadn’t been able to do since leaving Kalamata.  We decided to anchor up for the night, after that as the wind was pushing the boat into the wharf which Stefan didn’t like.   We planned to get an early start the following morning so as to get to Crete before dark.


CHANIA. Western Crete

2009-04-07

We got an early start from the Greek Island of Kythira to Chania in Crete. There were a number of nasty rocks sticking out that we had to avoid on leaving. We had good wind and sailed most of the way. The last few hours it was raining but Stefan had his wet weather gear on and didn’t seem to mind. We took the sails down and motored into Chania about 5.30pm Sunday 8th April. We tied up but later the Port Authority came and told us we had to move as soon big trawlers were coming into the spot where we were. We moved just in time. A Greek guy who spoke good English, on a big motor boat, helped us up next to his boat. The Port Authority told us we could only stay here temporarily as this was where their boat normally tied up.

Chania has lots of English spelling variations such as Khania and just Hania which is in North Western Crete. We never really knew which spelling to use. At first we thought these were all different places. It rained on and off the first few days we were there. We were tied up alongside the wharf in the middle of the old town which was quite a lively place even this early in the season. At this time of the year the backdrop is huge snow capped mountains, lots of restaurants. An interesting lighthouse, long stone breakwater and mosque as you enter the harbor.

 Again we felt like monkeys in a zoo. I think we should charge a fee as a tourist attraction when we are tied up like this. People just come and stare at the boat even when we are sitting on deck. One of the other yachties said to me “ Oh you are on that boat with the biggest stick in the harbour”!I found that amusing as I never go into a harbor and think about who has the biggest stick, though I had heard that term once before. I guess this is a man’s way of thinking! It made it worse that we were tied up next to the biggest power boat in the harbor.

 I am not a private person and like talking to people but it gets to you after a while. As it was raining quite a bit we sat downstairs when on the boat and closed the curtains otherwise people would peer in.  I prefer anchorages where this doesn’t happen but when it is raining it is good to be able to step ashore whenever you like.

The day after we arrived we noticed the freezer wasn’t working. Stefan tried to fix it but came to the belief it needed regasing. We asked around for a fridge mechanic. The funny thing about Greeks is you would rather them say they couldn’t help you but instead they say they will come and they never come. They can’t seem to say no!  After a lot of work a person came to regas our freezer. I was relieved as I had just restocked the freezer. Shopping in a supermarket in Greece is not that easy as Stefan realized when I was away. He always wondered why I took so long. When you don’t understand Greek! Pictures can be deceiving! Stefan when I was away went to the Yachtie’s barbeque. He wasn’t good at salads so took some meat and what he thought was an impressive cake with icing and nuts on top in a big box. He didn’t open it up until he was at the barbeque. When he was about to serve it he realized it was a packet mix. A very fancy packet mix $10, lots of packets, nuts etc, instructions in Greek! I have the instructions now with a Greek translation! Thelma & Peter  seem to be our 1st guests so may get to see if the Greek cake turns out! KEEP TUNED!   

We asked a guy on a power boat near ours if he knew anyone who fixed fridges! He gave us an address that ended up being a restaurant. We asked if they knew a fridge mechanic. It was 3pm. They said George was a fridge mechanic that came here for a drink at 5pm, stay here and wait for  him,have a few drinks with them! We had a few things to do and said we would come back at 5pm to see George! We came back at 5pm, no George. He arrived in Greek time at our boat! Didn’t speak much English! Acessed the situation that the freezer needed gas and left without saying anything! Luckily within 20 minutes he was back with the right equipment to regas it and $100(a bit heavy)the freezer was fixed!

 Another  funny  thing was that Stefan made a special attempt to contact a person who said they would come to fix our fridge after it was fixed. When he rang this Greek guy Nicko, he couldn’t get a word in! This guy kept saying he couldn’t come because he was sick. Stefan finally got it across that it was fixed he said he would come around tomorrow to say Hello!

As usual Stefan was looking for a place that sold boat chandlery. We found a place. The shop was open with all the boat parts, very unorderly with  nobody to be found. After calling out, waiting etc. we asked at nearby shops where the owner of the shop was. They said he was in the shop across the road playing Backgammon. We went across the road. He had no interest it seemed in us as a customer. He seemed more interested in his game not being interrupted! Strange! We did find another more interested in customer boat chandlery luckily!  Another funny thing we have noted about Greeks! If in Australia you heard loud voices and the tone in their voices you would think it was a serious argument and maybe there be a fight. In Greece it seems their normal mode of conversation, no fight and they seem to still be friends! A NOISY BUNCH! Needless to say!

Ray, a Canadian, who we kept meeting on his bike who seemed to like the old port.  Chania is a big but small place. We met him in the Maritime Museum. He was very helpful trying to help us with our freezer problem and putting us on to the council information to tourists which went out of their way to help us. He put us on to a friend Annie. He and his wife loved this place out of season and came from Canada and rented a place for 3 months every year from March to June and lived a relaxed lifestyle.

We met Dav, a friendly youngish English guy on a 30ft boat. He had an American couple on board that had sailed from mainland Greece to here with him. He was just about to start a season as a guide bushwalking, kayaking etc. We wouldn’t be there a week later when his first one was due to leave but he gave us a lot of ideas of the best places to bushwalk etc. One of the most famous attractions in Crete is to walk the 18 klms through Samaria Gorge. Unfortunately it doesn’t open till 1st May. Dav told us of another Gorge, Agia Irini Gorge that he said wasn’t as famous but just as spectacular which we could walk independently. He told us the best way to see the spectacular countryside of Western Crete was to hire a car.   STAY TUNED FOR OUR ADVENTURES THERE!


BUSHWALKING IN WESTERN CRETE

2009-04-08 to 2009-04-10

We picked up our bright yellow little beasty car, the night before so got an early start. We had hired it for 2 days to see the countryside we had been told was beautiful inland, off the beaten track and on the south west coast of Western Crete. I am glad it was Stefan driving through the narrow streets at first then on the main road. I find it hard to use the gears with the right hand whilst driving on the other side of the roads.

We headed along the north western coast first, very touristy, then headed inland through lovely little villages with working donkeys, along windy narrow roads with huge drops and no fences. Quite often there were boulders on the road that had come down from the mountains. There were goats sitting down in the middle of the roads that weren’t in a hurry to move. It was finally a clear sunny day. The day before there had been thunder and lightning and rain.

We went down to what is described as the nicest white beach area in Crete, very natural, Elafonissi. The water is very blue. The camping area had very few people in it at this time of the year. We then went across to Paleochora, a quaint beachside town, originally a popular hippy hangout with quite a new harbor. As there had been rain we inquired at a tourist place if it would be possible for us to do the Agia Irini Gorge walk out of Sougia. The lady said it would be so we went on to Sougia, a similar beachside town. We went off the main road through some amazingly remote and desolate countryside. At one stage we passed a lone, serious bushwalker in the middle of nowhere. We were never really sure it would bring us out where we thought it would, but thankfully it did.  We passed a group of bushwalkers towards the end. The view from the top of some of the mountain was so high and amazing.

In Sougia, we went to 3 places inquiring about a double room and got one opening to a balcony overlooking the beach with private bathroom and fridge for $50 for the night, probably over double this in peak season. We spoke to an English Guy who had just come back from a day’s bushwalking. This place is a popular base for bushwalking and independent travelers but a bit hard to get to without a car.

We went for a walk to the small Harbor, then along the beach past a group of nudists sun baking , making the most of the sun. We walked up the hill to some Minoan ruins, then went back to Zorba’s, the place we were staying and had a beer and snacks, sitting on our balcony overlooking the beach as the sun went down.

We were planning to catch a bus to where the Agia Irina Gorge walk started about 30 mins by bus. Only one left at 7am on the way to Chania. The owner of Zorba’s spoke good English. He loved Australia, had been to visit family in Melbourne and was going again in November for 3 months. He usually closed up his hotel over winter.  He was very friendly and offered to drop us off at the start of the walk in the morning about 8.30am as he was going that way. We could then walk back to where the car was, about a 3.5 hour walk.

We checked out and left the following morning. Zorba, not sure of his real name, took us on a bit of a guided tour via the village where he was born, on the way to drop us off. We said our goodbyes and then we were off on the walk. It was relatively early and even though it was a sunny day, between the mountains in the Gorge it was a little cold at first but spectacular countryside. It was easy to stay on the track with a huge mountain on either side. At first we walked alongside a strong water flow. We enjoyed the 3.5 hour walk immensely. We met about 10 other walkers along the way, most going the other way and one little lonely but healthy looking goat on a rock in the middle of nowhere by itself. We finally came out in the sun again and where our car was parked.

We continued on through the spectacular countryside and cute villages perched high in the mountains in the car. Lucky it was small when passing other vehicles. Sometimes the road looked as if it ended with a house but always around the bend it continued. We wove our way back to Chania, through a gorge and with a great view of the city as we came down from the mountains. We picked up some groceries before we took the car back. We were quite exhausted after our little expedition.

The following day we repaired the sail and got ready to head off the following day to Rethymno. The Port Authority said we had to pay $40 for electricity for the 5 days. Everything on our boat is low voltage and there is no way we could have used this amount of electricity and we tried to tell them this. This is after we had paid harbor fees. What the Port Authorities say goes and they enjoy exercising their power and there is always something extra to pay they say.  You just have to bit the bullet.

 We arrived at Rethmno at 3pm. Rethymno has the old harbor and Port Authority  on one side and a newer harbor where the yachts are on the other side with a 20 minute walk between the two. We reported to the Port Authority like good little people with our documents then went a walk up to a Fortress on the hill overlooking the city, then around town.

We were leaving early the next morning. We were just having dinner on the boat when the dreaded Port Authorities came and told us we had to report to their office on the other side. We told them we had and our log book was left with them. They went off and came back and told us they didn’t have all the necessary information and  needed to take our ship’s papers to photocopy to be picked up the following morning before we left. Why they didn’t do this the first time I don’t know! They don’t seem to have enough to do.  We went to get our documentation and to pay our harbor fee for one night. Nowhere else has this happened but they said we had to pay for 2 days having arrived one day and leaving the next. We had only been there for 18 hours. That is Port Authority rules they said. I think they make up their own rules as they go.

On a happy note the next Port Authority man at Irakio was so accommodating didn’t charge any unreasonable extras and went out of his way to help us.

 

 


IRAKIO & the fancinating MINOAN palace KNOSSOS

2009-04-11 to 2009-04-14

 PLUS The CAPTAINS REPORT!We have now started doing movies so check these out on the blog also! We will get better!

What a difference a warm welcome into a port makes! We arrived into Irakio, Crete, late evening. Lots of Ferries & Cruise ships were coming and going. Planes flying in and out overhead! There was a friendly port authority guy to greet us indicating where to tie up bow to stern and fishermen on the next boat to help us. They were so friendly and kept saying WELCOME! WELCOME! We formalized things with the Port man, no unnecessary nonsense, no extras to pay! He spoke good English. We asked him how we get to Knossos castle, 5 klms away. He went out of his way to help us even giving us a map.

Irakio has a big castle protruding as you enter the port and a very Venetian Style about the buildings as did Chania and Rethymno. These cities are so interesting as you can see so many different influences from different governing powers over many years. As the captain will tell you Juliana proved herself as a real party girl that night, rocking and rolling big time all night, as she has never done before, with waves entering the harbor from a different to usual direction.

The following morning, Easter morning in Australia, after I realized the Australian Easter bunny hadn’t made it to Crete. How did he know that Easter is celebrated a week later here? We got an early start, catching the local bus out to Knossos. Local buses are good as they usually go the long way around so you get a bit of a trip around the city, the parts that are too far to walk.

When we first got there, not that many people were wandering around, but by the time we left there were a lot more and this is not tourist season. Knossos was the capital of Minoan Crete. The 1st Palace was built on this site in Knossos in 1900BC. The ruins of this ancient Minoan site were discovered by an English archaeologist, Evans in 1900. He, spent 35 years and 250,000 pounds of his own money to unearth the site and restore some parts of it so one can now understand more what it was like in its prime including paintings that were in the early palaces. Most of the site however, is still ruins with explanations of what the ruins were. I was very impressed!

That afternoon we were off and anchored up on an island 5 miles out to sea. It was a peaceful place, just the mountains, birds and us! We left the following morning in calm conditions but got some very strong wind that was not forecasted that afternoon, which I found pretty scary. We were glad to anchor up in a remote place in lee of land. Another sailing boat came from the opposite direction, saw us sheltering and joined us. Later following us around the point to the next bay, with a lovely little town where we anchored for the night. We made an early start for a short sail to Sitia, the wind had dropped and it was a lovely sunny day. We arrived at 1pm. I will hand you over to the captain for his report.

CAPTAIN’S REPORT - Chania to Sitia, Crete.

We left Chania with very light wind. We motored most of the way arriving in Rethimno at 15.00. Nothing to report other than we apparently passed through a submarine exercise area, and you supposedly need a permit to do that. We did not know!

Rethimno to Iraklio- another short leg, 25 miles. Started under motor and it was sunny. Arrived under sail and it was raining. Iraklio is the capital of Crete and a commercial port with a lot of large ferries. We moored in the old (built by the Venetians) harbor, stern to the quay. Not very comfortable as the easterly swell came straight into the harbor and made Juliana rock and roll (worse than Tina Turner).

Iraklio to Sitia We left Iraklio on 12 April. Sailed 5 miles north to a small island, N. Dhia, where we found a very snug anchorage in a bay surrounded by high hills. Anchored in 8 meters , wind from NE.

Next day, wind from SW and we set of in an easterly direction. Forecast was for SW wind 15-20 knots, “great” we thought “an easy sail , the  wind from behind”. WRONG! Soon the swell built up from SE direction, which seemed strange as land was only 5 miles in the same direction. Shortly after the wind came in with a bang from the SE! We had far too much sail up, and had to scramble to reduce sail quickly. After a few minutes it was blowing 40 knots. We reduced the sail to about ¼ of the size and I tried to head as high into the wind as possible to get closer to land and more protection from the waves, which by now splashed over the deck. After a while and with the help of the engine we got to the shore and anchored in 8 meters of water as close as possible to land. The wind was still “howling” but there were no waves. We decided to wait till the wind abated a bit.

The biggest problem was that both of our sails tore.  My concern was “how do we get to Turkey, where our new sails will be delivered”. On the leg: Kalamata – Chania we tore our genoa and in Chania I simply bought the heaviest cotton material I could find and repaired with contact cement. When we arrived in Sitia I bought more contact cement (they only had the kind used for shoe repairs) and repaired the tears as well as I could. It would probably be ok for light wind, but I did not really know how strong it would be.

In Sitia we stayed for 3 days as the wind was too strong, particularly for our “rag-sails”.

 


Leaving CRETE for the Greek Island of KARATHOS

2009-04-17 to 2009-04-18

We enjoyed our time in Sitia, Crete. We tied up alongside a wharf. A crew member from Norwegian yacht helped us with our ropes. They had just sailed through the Suez Canal with no problems other than a dust storm. You go when the weather is bad and the pirates don’t worry you they said.

Sitia is a popular holiday place in summer, for Northern Europeans. We went for a walk along the beach. It is a nice harbor with palm trees and traditional colorful Greek fishing boats. We find the Greeks very patient people especially when driving there cars. In general they are very layback, a bit too much at times.

 We met a Greek, Italian guy who had an English wife and went to London regularly. He had lived 15 years in Melbourne, missed AFL. He had returned to Greece, did the cooking in his family’s restaurant. He was very friendly and informative. Everywhere kids were letting off fireworks. This is what they do at Easter it appears in Greece. You could buy fireworks anywhere.  There was a good Spar supermarket here and a free hotspot for our laptop in the square. We are adapting more to eating what the Greeks eat. Other food tends to be expensive.  The oranges in Greece are plentiful and so sweet, plenty of tomatoes, olives, and Ouzo. We relaxed, did washing, tidied the boat, and listened to my ipod! Thanks to those who contributed songs to it. It is great to have a change from Greek music on the radio.

We spent 3 nights in Sitia. We anchored up the second night as the wind was pushing us against the wharf, but the anchorage was rough and the low battery alarm woke us up in the night. We came back to the wharf 3rd night. A French boat had come in. It was plugged into power with about 60 meters of cord. The French boat went out the following day but came back, said the wind was too strong. We had drinks on their boat and got some knowledge about being street smart with Port Authorities. Dominique & Raymond were their names on a Beneteau 47. They lived in France and left their boat in the next town along. They had 2 weeks holiday and heading to Karpathos like us. Dominique was an English teacher in France so spoke good English, her husband not much.

 The wind dropped and we left for the Greek Island of Karathos. We had a great day’s sail and anchored up the first night in a beautiful protected bay with a golden beach called Peramma. There was a lovely little white and blue church as we entered the bay. There was lots of intruding unusual rock formations. We lowered the dingy from the davits which makes it a lot easier now. We went ashore in the dingy , pulled it up on the beach and went for a walk. It was evening and the water cool but there was a man swimming.

The next morning we motored around to the next town. An old Greek fisherman helped us tie up near other big boats that took tourists out. I wrote: This is as good as it gets in the town of Pigadia the capital of Karathos, population 1300! I know you have heard this before and it does get bad at times!  The winds can be scary! But all is forgotten when it is about 30 degrees and you are in this beautiful place. We are tied up on a wharf in the centre of town. There are only 2 sailing boats here. There is nil crime rate here they claim. It is strange not to lock up the boat but we are doing it. In Greece Easter Sunday is tomorrow so we will see what happens! We are on a Greek island like the one you see in posters with the quaint blue and white churches, rocks protruding from crystal clear water. I would love to dive off the boat but unfortunately the water temperature is still a little cool. The tourists aren’t here yet. The dreaded port authorities haven’t worried us yet and the locals so friendly. This is what the trip is about for me.

The other sailing boat was a traditional wooden one with an interesting couple Peter & Gertrude. Peter smoked a pipe. They were Danish and had come from Turkey, so we got some interesting information from them. They had been cruising for many years.

Easter Sunday literally started with a bang at midnight. We were woken with lots of fireworks going off and bells ringing which went on for about half an hour. Quite a commotion!  We had gone to bed early to get an early start the following morning.

Captain’s Report - Sitia to Karpathos

 We left 17th April and had a great sail. The wind from NW about 15-20 knots and Juliana was very happy “with a bone in her teeth”. The sails stood up well and we arrived in a bay on the SE side of Karpathos where we anchored for the night. It was very calm and scenic surrounding. The water was crystal clear with visibility of around 15 meters deep. Next day we motored (1 hour) into the principal town: “Pigadia”. Tied up to the main pier in a good harbor.


An EASTER to be remembered, LINDOS Greek Island RHODES

2009-04-19 to 2009-04-20

We have had the most amazing week.  Perfect sailing conditions, friendly people, magic places, sun and crystal clear blue water, white beaches, unusual rocks and water caves. After Crete and our last enjoyable stops on the Greek Island, Karathos, we decided to go to the city of Rhodes via the south, east coast of Rhodes so as to visit a place Lindos that sounded interesting in Lonely Planet but not mentioned in our cruising guide. It was amazing arriving as the sun was going. There was an Acropolis and castle perched on the hill as we entered the narrow entrance of the circular natural harbor with mountains all around and the white houses of Linos. We didn’t know what to expect. It felt like we were entering a volcanic crater; This Acropolis receives apparently 500,000 people a year, but luckily the tourist season hasn’t started even though the weather is beautiful.

We anchored up in the middle of the circular natural harbour. It was a perfect, protected anchorage. We were the only boat there other than a few small moored boats. The second night a 43 ft Beneteau joined us. The castle was lit up as night came over and the water reflected the lights across the water. There was lively Greek band playing up in the town square. The mountains all around us acted as an amphitheatre as we sat on the boat with our ouzo, taking it all in. We had to pinch ourselves to check we were not dreaming. It was Easter Sunday in Greece, a week later than in Aussie and one we will never forget.

Apparently a number of celebrities have homes in this town and you can understand why. It is such a special place with a lovely beach! There are no cars. They are all parked in a car park at the entry to the town which only has a population of 900.There is no bus terminal just a donkey terminal. There are small service trucks that amazingly can get through the narrow lanes with their mirrors folded in. It was interesting walking around and up to the castle, lots of quaint cafes. The spring wildflowers beautiful in every colour! We didn’t have mosques waking us in the morning only donkeys. I had forgotten what an awful noise they make. We investigated a number of interesting sea caves in our dingy.

The water was so clear. It made me think how amazing an anchor is. There have been times when we have been anchored up with 40 knots of wind blowing and it has held 17 ton Juliana so well the chain very taught. With no wind now, the 35metres of chain just loops loosely around on the bottom and you can follow it right down to the anchor, ready to do its job if the wind starts blowing. We had 3 resident long big fish around our boat that gobble up any food scraps and many medium to small pretty, bright blue with black fish. Stefan had been talking about diving down and scraping off any barnacles of the propeller and investigating why the bow thruster wouldn’t work. For those of you curious what a bow thruster is. It is a little sideways propeller under the front of the boat that helps the boat motor sideways mainly used when you are leaving a wharf etc. Anyway Stefan kept putting off going in as he thought the water was too cold even in a wetsuit! I thought I married a tough Viking!

I finally could not resist diving in with the colourful fish and the clear water. I didn’t need a wetsuit. Stefan told me he would protect me in case they were killer fish. The water temperature was about 18-19 degrees. A little cool at first and then wonderful.  When I was still in after 20mins Stefan decided I didn’t need any more protection and he dived in with his wetsuit and cleared some barnacles. Juliana has a slimy tummy but not many barnacles it seems.

 We will make it to the city of Rhodes this afternoon. We are gently sailing as I write this blog. I have cooked a batch of Anzac biscuits which smell nice but never last long with a hungry Viking around. The wind is very light and the sun, warm. Stefan is sanding back and re varnishing the cockpit table as I write.

 

 

 

 

 


ANZAC Day in TURKEY but not GALLIPOLI

2009-04-22 to 2009-04-25

After a beautiful day’s sail we arrived in the ancient city of Rhodes, Greece. A harbor where many huge cruise ships come and go!  Another tying up technique to get used to! We had to put our anchor out at the front and reverse our stern to the jetty. Luckily there was a helpful Danish man to help us with our stern lines as I was letting the anchor out as Stefan reversed. Luckily it was on the end and we didn’t have to do the operation for our first time in between two boats. We thought we did a good job for beginners.  We watched how quickly yachts did the operation squeezing in a small space in between 2 other boats. They had done it many times before I think! We still haven’t got a Mediterranean gang plank. We climb over the dingy to get ashore at this stage.

The old city area in Rhodes covers a large area and has many interesting buildings from many different influences. A good tourist office! An impressive castle with moats (waterways around the castle to protect it)now parks ! We found the hotspot! A place in the street where you can get on the internet for free on our laptop! Not what some others of you were thinking! (BOB FENNEL!) It is not always easy to find the hotspot in the area, usually around big hotels or public squares! In the square where we interneted , there seemed to be a lot of action the days we were there, then a big bronze statue of a man was put in place and covered up. The following day it was unveiled. The ceremony seemed to go on all day with loud speakers and lots of people. Not sure what it was all about!  Needless to say interneting was limited for us that day. Most people in shops speak English in Rhodes which was good. This is because of all the cruise ships that come in and apparently a lot of Northern European people come to live here.

It is so good that in Australia and many other countries we have many animal welfare groups! In Greece there are so many thin cats around. The Greeks consider it too expensive to desex their cats and there are cats everywhere some not doing so well that you feel so sorry for! In South America it was dogs!

The Greeks we found so trusting! We found this many times. We had our boat filled up with fuel and the guy just said to pay for it at an office when we were ready! It seems to be the normal thing people in Greece for them to trust each other and what seems to happen is people seem to do the right thing! This is part of their culture.

It was very windy and we ended up staying 3 nights in Rhodes! Stefan ended up putting out an extra anchor. A Danish boat which had spent winter in Turkey told us of certain grocery items that were not so easy to get or expensive in Turkey, to stock up in Greece. Alcohol, coffee and anything to do with cows, (meaning dairy products) was the way he put it! There was an Aldi type store about 5klms away so I did 2 trips on my bike with a big box on the back full of groceries. I certainly get my exercise these days and am getting better at negotiating the traffic on the bike which can be hairy at times.

We had a hiccup checking out of Greece. You have to go to 3 different authorities. At first they said our boat transit log had expired a day ago which could be a big problem. We had been told something different about dates. That problem seemed to be not a problem after a while.

 As an Australian boat Juliana can stay 6 months in Greece then has to be outside Greece for 6 months. In Kalamata customs told us when we left the boat to go back to Australia time stood still and wasn’t counted in the 6 months however in Kalamata when we went back to Australia customs apparently didn’t do our paperwork on our boat transit log to show we were out of the country. We were told Juliana now wouldn’t enter Greece again for 6 months. In the end they told us that everything probably could be sorted out when we re-entered Greece if we had proof we had been back to Australia for 4 months. Strangely, neither Stefan nor my passports were stamped when we entered Australia by Australian immigration. We probably have other proof that they will accept. We will have to see what happens .

The wind was right so having cleared out of Greece we set sails as the sun was going down, which was quite spectacular. The barometer reads  1017 millibars. Wind from the north, west 15 knots, from behind, spinnaker  pole out! Looks like I am doing the captain’s report for him this time!

I write at 8am the next morning 25th April, ANZAC day! I have just taken over my shift from Stefan who is downstairs asleep! I also did a shift 1am to 4am. I was very rugged up. Quite a bit of shipping around was my main concern. It is hard sometimes at right to interrupt their lights. One big freighter passed closely in front of us but a safe distance. It is an “eary” experience” Ships in the night” You can realize what this expression means. They come and go so quickly and relatively quietly at night. It is great to have the wind from behind, comfortable but quite cold as it blows straight into the cockpit and is quite fresh 22 knots at times. Stefan reefed the sails right down for my shift.

It is strange we are sailing east, close along the coast of Turkey and every now and then we pass a island that belongs to Greece, so close to Turkey, so far away from Greece. YES IT ANZAC DAY! A day in Australia when we remember all the Australians who were killed in war at Gallipoli, Turkey on this day many years ago. We have made it to Turkey on this day but not Gallipoli!  

 

 

 

 


JULIANA`S NEW SAILS ARRIVE

2009-04-26 to 2009-04-28

We arrived at the small port of Finike , where we planned to do the necessary paperwork, purchase a boat transit log etc to check into Turkey. We had been told if we got there before 5pm Saturday we would be able to check in. We got there at 3pm to be told customs had closed for the weekend.

Finike is a luxury Marina, $80 per night to tie up! The marina men came to meet us in a boat and helped up tie up. The shower block actually had showers that were hot and full length mirrors on every wall! I got a scare! Long time since I have seen myself in a full length mirror. I have lost a bit of the weight I put on in Australia but still would like to lose some more. A lovely setting with a snow capped mountain backdrop. BUT $80 a night.

We walked into town and stumbled onto a most amazing bazaar, they call it here in Turkey. It is strange some years ago when we were up to our ears in debt and work, Stefan used to read this blog written by this Australian lady who he didn’t know, on a sailing boat in Turkey.  She used to talk about these amazing markets that she loved, where local people came from everywhere to sell their goods. You could buy anything and it was so cheap.

 We arrived on Saturday and stumbled across such a market. I bought a kilo of prime strawberries for AU $1.50. Prime tomatoes that really tasted like tomatoes used to for $1 per kilo! There were just acres of such goods! Capsicums, smaller than our ones but the same taste for $1 per kilo! Dried figs, apricots, nuts, herbs & spices!  Unfortunately I didn’t capitalize as much as I should have. I had just stocked up in Greece and it was too much to take in. I guess I also thought OK this is TURKEY! WOW! How terrible having to live on strawberries! Lemons were also very cheap so I got out my good old faithful common sense cookbook and dug out some lemon desserts. I have never done much lemon cooking before Basically lemon butter with flour and whipped eggs whites folded in. Egg whites whipped into a peak by hand, try that, it is not that easy but at least it keeps the arms from not getting so flabby! Then baked in the oven. It ended up tasting Yummy like a lemon cheese cake with Strawberries.

We stayed one night and said that we had to go to Antalya to pick up our sails and could we check in there. They said yes as long as we said we had come from Rhodes Greece when we checked in. We anchored up overnight in a nice little horseshoe bay on the way as we knew we wouldn’t be able to check in till Monday.  It was a beautiful sail along the coast! Snow capped mountains and National Park as a backdrop to lovely beaches and bays. A cable car going up to the peak of a huge mountain 2,365 metres high. Resorts, spectacular buildings  with Para sailors in the foreground!

On Monday we anchored in Kemer Bay and went ashore to check into Turkey. This was a port listed as an entry port. They said they had run out of transit logs and we would have to continue on to Antalya to check in. We were starting to feel rejected, that Turkey didn’t want us! We sailed into the commercial port with Freighters anchored up outside.  Luckily 3rd time lucky. In Antalya the marina was $120 a night to stay. There was only one marina, no protected bays, but they helped us with our papers clearing in! They even had paper covers to put on the toilet seats and a golf buggy to take you there if you didn’t want to walk. The boats in this Marina! Juliana was a dingy! Never mind the biggest stick! The problem was we had organized to pick up Juliana’s new sails here and goodness knows when they would arrive from Thailand. We had ordered them through an Australian sail company. $120 PER NIGHT.  

We talked to a friendly German lady who had been cruising on their yacht with her husband for 20 years and were taking it back to Germany. I guess you could say they were finally going to hang up their sails. We caught a mini bus into Antalya. We went past the stop in town where we were supposed to get off. By the time we realized the bus driver told us we were nearly at the end of the run and he would tell us where to get off on the way back. We were the only ones on the bus and saw a bit of the outskirts!

When we finally got off at the right stop, we got directions and walked to the old town and old Roman harbor with the Guletts (traditional Turkish wooden sailing boats). It was very interesting but my legs so ached from the extra bike riding. We got a bit lost walking back! A young Turkish guy, who spoke English, and had been living in Germany, showed us the way back to the main street.

We stayed 2 nights at the Marina in Antalya. It was 29th and we found out Juliana’s sails would probably arrive 4th May. We decided to sail back to Kemer only 20 miles back where there was a nice protected bay we could anchor up.

Juliana’s new sails finally arrived 5th May at Customs in Kemer so we didn’t have to go back to the marina in Antalya. It went quite smoothly. We originally planned to have them shipped to Kalamata in Greece to start the new season. We were told by other yachties if we were going to Turkey it was far easier to have them shipped there as a boat in transit not having to pay tax on them. Greek customs are known to be difficult and it was simpler being shipped to somewhere outside the European Union. The transport company told us to be at customs Kemer at 2pm and they would be arriving then and we needed AU $315 in cash to pay customs fees. After filling out many forms and paying the money we had our sails. Stefan was very pleased, if we had had them shipped to Australia like he has in the past we would have had to pay about $1,500 in tax and import duty on these sails. There was always the worry they would get lost in transit etc. and we needed them badly.

While we were waiting we got talking to a very friendly American lady who had also had a part shipped for her motor yacht. She was having her yacht shipped to Australia later in the year to cruise Australia and was very excited as she liked scuba diving. She was asking us all about Australia.

The funny thing was that Juliana was anchored up in the bay. We had come in on the dingy! The customs man was very friendly. We thought they might have to roll out the sails to check there was nothing else in the boxes. The 2 boxes weighted about 40 kgs each. One a bit heavier! We had bought our shopping trolley. We thought we would wheel them to the dingy one at a time. The customs man said he had to sign to say he had witnessed the boxed loaded onto Juliana. Stefan told him there would have to be 2 trips a distance of about 500 metres. Stefan put one box on the trolley and it tipped the customs officer looking on. To make things worse it had started to rain. In the end he borrowed a sturdy trolley from the Marina security piled the 2 boxes on and Stefan wheeled the boxes along the very uneven surface followed by myself with the shopping trolley, the marina security man came also to bring the trolley back and the customs guy.

Needless to say we loaded the boxes in the dingy and onto the boat as we gave a sigh of relief!

 

 

 


KEMER a place we LOVED

2009-04-29 to 2009-05-07

We spent 8 wonderful days in Kemer anchored amongst the Gulletts (largeTurkish wooden sailing boats). We got to know them by name as they came and went! There was Melissa, Hepay. We were invited to tea on Hepay. This boat was very impressive! It was well maintained, wooden with 2 masts, about 85ft long, about 23 ft wide and weighed about 50 ton . It had 10 cabins. It went out for a week at a time with tourists. We mainly talked to the son who showed us over the boat and spoke very good English. Stefan was also very impressed with the engine.His father was the captain and they had a cook. They were so friendly. I took over some cake I had made to have with the tea (cay). The next day they bought back my plate full of Turkish cakes!

We have so far found Turkish people so humble and sweet! They can’t do enough to help you! The first day we were there we went ashore we didn’t know where to leave the dingy. We went over to some fisherman and asked them. Leave it here we will look after it they said in half English. We had no hesitation! These men work so hard for so little but are so honest. I accidently left our shopping trolley where we normally leave the dingy. I remembered later and went back not expecting it to still be there but sure enough it was just where I had left it.

It was such a great anchorage, protected, with a panoramic mountain backdrop and beach foreground with plenty of action, water skiers etc. The joggers started running along the beach early and there were some early morning swimmers! The water so clear and a turquoise colour. We had lovely drinks, freshly squeezed orange juice with strawberries in. Freshly made fruit salad and yogurt! Salads with olives and tasty goat’s cheese! Lots of healthy stuff! We love the Turkish bread, it is very soft! It costs about 50 cents a loaf and comes in different varieties, with different spices on top is you wish!

This area of the coast is known as the Turkish Riviera! There was a full moon at night! We watched the sunsets. We were the only non Turkish boat anchored. All the other non Turkish boats were in the Marina behind security gates paying dearly for it! Really missing out we felt. The only problem was there was a nearby disco at night that was a bit noisy. When it stopped the mosque started up, but it would have been the same for the Marina boats.

We went every day to an internet café. Less than AU $1 an hour. Stefan traded futures while we were there and he had reliable internet contact and we knew we would be there for some days. He made a bit of money for the piggy bank. The Internet café was a family business and very friendly. We got to know the whole family, even their little dog. Most Turkish people we found very family orientated. They called Stefan, Sydney! They invited Stefan to have a meal with them. Unfortunately Stefan had to make an excuse as they didn’t speak much English and he would have felt rather awkward. It however was a very nice gesture.

The wind strengthened a bit one day! We had to put out a stern anchor like the gullets in the bay. There was a very good tourist office. Everything has to be is so many different languages. Apparently the majority of tourists that come here are Russians but also many Northern Europeans. We asked about bush walks in the area and ended up riding our bikes 10 Klms to the start of a canyon walk in Goynuk National Park. The mountains were very majestic and we walked through water in the canyon which was very spectacular. Our photos are always disappointing as they never show the scenes as dramatic as they are or the height of the mountains. By the time we walked and rode 10 klms back we were pretty exhausted. Some of our bike ride was through countryside that looked like Switzerland. It was hard to imagine we were in Turkey.

While we were in Kemer we also hired a car for 2 days to see a bit more in the mountains! We went through many small towns in the mountains. We went to Chimaero and went on a walk where natural flames (fire) come out rock crevices. It is quite amazing! They have been burning for thousands of years. People have tried unsuccessfully to put them out. Natural gases ignite and burn. In one area there are these fires everywhere! Sailors in the old days saw them from the sea! It is easy to understand why in days gone by they believed in all these gods that breathed fire etc. There were also ruins in this area.

We also went to Olimpos where we climbed up to impressive ruins that were perched on a hill overlooking a beautiful bay and beach which we walked along! There were tombs carved out of rock! Sailors who had been lost at sea! There was also an alternative lifestyle area near here very popular with backpackers, tree houses etc. It was here that Stefan went back to get something out of the car and tried to open another car with his keys much to the curious look of the Turkish owner of the car. THESE TOURISTS!

The following day we went to Termessos which has the reputation as having the most dramatic of all ruins in Turkey. Even the road to get there is amazing. We managed to navigate around the city of Antalya first. Stefan doing a great job driving on the other side of the road operating gearstick with left hand! Where ever you go in Greece or Turkey you hear about Alexander the Great conquering the area. He found this area around Termessos so inaccessible that it was one of the few areas he didn’t try to conquer and just let them be. It is a bit like Machu Picchu in South America. There is a big amphitheatre which is very impressive with the mountain in cloud backdrop. It seems such a shame to see such fine columns and carvings amongst the rubble. Much of the damage was done by earthquakes.

We also visited Karain Cave above a fertile valley. The cave was believed to have been inhabited for 25,000 years.


WE NEED TO GET A LIFE leaving KEMER

2009-05-08 to 2009-05-13

 
When you start doing cartwheels at the sight of another boat with an Australia flag coming into the harbor you start questioning yourself. We start thinking maybe we need to get a life! Mind you Australian flags are very uncommon over here.

Be sadly waved goodbye to Kemer after 8 memorable days. Stefan was keen to test Juliana’s new sails. After a few teething problems getting the main sail up and down we were delighted not to have saggy sails that we had to constantly sew and that we had trouble with, me having to hinch Stefan up the mast when it got stuck! The new head sail, a little smaller than the old one would be easier to manage. We would not have to reef it so much. Stefan is trying to get me on side to get another sail, a light weather spinnaker. We would then have an ideal sail combination. We saw a boat with a navy hull like Juliana and a hot pink spinnaker which I thought looked good. Stefan said he would even we prepared to get a hot pink spinnaker to get me on side which was a surprise. We will have to see! More money down the bottomless pit!


We anchored up in a few beautiful bays with a full moon, on the way back to Finike. We arrived there thinking it was Saturday. They have fabulous fruit & veg markets on Saturdays. We couldn’t understand why the markets weren’t on when we went ashore. We asked and found out it was Friday not Saturday. We were a day ahead of ourselves. We had been an hour out before but not a day.


We do very old fashioned things sometimes! Many times Stefan listens to the BBC radio at night on the long distance radio with earphones. If there is something particularly interesting Stefan unplugs the earphones and we listen to it together.
We sailed past Demre where it is claimed Santa clause originated. A 4th century bishop who felt sorry for the people that had very little on Christmas day put bags of coins down chimneys anonymously. He spent his life helping people who were very poor and later was made a saint, Saint Nicholas.


We sailed to bay upon beautiful bay, behind every rock was a gullet(Turkish boat) with tourists but that was OK. We went ashore and walked in the peaceful landscape. We anchored up near the quaint town of Ucagiz, which is protected against development, nearby the submerged ancient ruins, Lycian Tiemiussa. We went ashore and used the laptop in a treehouse whilst having a beer. We left our dingy in the care of a friendly Turkish man who had lived in the area all his life and spoke very good English.
It was when we came back to the boat we saw an Australian boat come into the harbor but it went the other side not seeing us. Later that day we went in our dingy to see the submerged ruins. We saw the Australian boat in the nearby town of Kalekoy. They invited us on board for a drink. Their names were Carol & Peter from Noosa, very friendly. They had bought their boat Jacktar in the Mediterranean and had been sailing the Med for 4 years. They had another Australian couple on board and were one of the 65 boats in the Rally that went from Istanbul, via the coast of Turkey, Northern Cyprus , Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. We thought there had been a lot of boats coming into the bay that afternoon. Kalekoy has a castle on the hill which we climbed up. We managed unintentually to go up missing the main gate where you pay. A man came running after us. We then went a walk around the Lycian tombs, impressive tombs carved from stone all over the hillside.


The following day we saw the rally boats go out 65 of them all with their flags up to the top of the masts. It was very impressive. We went to a deserted spot the other end of the waterway. A place called Aperlai with lots impressive ruins in the hills to walk amongst. It must have been a grand city in its day. There were lots of cows, goats and sheep. Stefan went too close to a cow with a calf. I have never seen him run so fast. There were 2 competing restaurants in this remote area only accessible by boat. They both tried hard to get us to come to their wharf when you went ashore. They showed us fish they had caught and suggested you come back there for lunch after we had been for a walk. It was a lovely early morning walk. There was another bay on the other side of the hills.
We had anchored up near an American, 38ft, double ended yacht from Portland, Oregan. We invited them on board Juliana for coffee. Richard and Anita had been sailing for many years. Richard was a typical lay back sailor with a beard. Nothing would worry him I would guess. They had some interesting stories to tell. They had sailed across the Pacific from America to New Zealand, Australia and back through the Suez Canal.


I will end this blog with some of the frustrations and funny things that have happened lately.
THE FRUSTRATIONS
Stefan is determined to get a wireless internet connection on the boat with his laptop. It is possible but they have such a complicated system here in Turkey and it takes a long time to get your head around it and find out correct information. Just when you think you have success there is a new twist!
FUNNY THINGS :
Turkish people have a good sense of humor we have found .Stefan asked a Turkish Man in a ship chandler if he spoke English! He said no I only speak Chinese. To be silly Stefan started talking back to him in made up Chinese. He did the same. Then they both cracked up laughing and did a high five. The Turkish man’s daughter in the shop looked puzzled wondering what was going on. Her father explained the situation to her and she laughed also. When that was all over Stefan said “Now I’ve forgotten what I came in for”! They all cracked up laughing again.
I was on the computer when Stefan came and asked for me to help him with something. I threw my hands up in the air in an annoyed fashion. “You can’t expect me to drop everything to help you all the time” The funny thing was when I threw my hands up in the air my glasses on the table landed on the floor. I couldn’t help changing from being annoyed to laughter.


A Quick visit to the GREEK ISLAND KASTELLORIZO

2009-05-14 to 2009-05-16

A QUICK VISIT TO THE GREECE ISLAND of KASTELLORIZO 14th May
We made a quick unofficial visit to the beautiful Greek island of Kastellorizo only 2.5 klms from the Turkish coast. Stefan was a little worried but other yachties were putting up the visiting Greece flag and going into a bay unofficially so we chanced it. We discreetly took down the Turkish flag replacing it with the Greek one as we went across the short distance. It was like coming home as a Greek fisherman went by in his colorful boat with music full bore. A green Jamaican boat we had anchored up with before was there. We went up and said hello to a Swedish boat. As it happened they had been up on land over winter next to the Dutch boat Callista we had sailed across the Atlantic with. It is a small, small world.


The contrast between Turkey and Greece is very marked. Kastellorizo was the backdrop of an Oscar winning Italian Movie “Mediterraneo”. You can understand why they chose this lovely island with its Venetian style, red roofed houses, pine trees, goat bells ringing from the mountains and its lovely little harbor. It is great in these situations to have your own boat to go to places like this that are special and not packed with tourists. We went ashore and strolled around! It was Magic! In the evening at anchor we sat in Greece watching the lights of Turkey across the water. A funny thing was that a friend, Diana, when I was in Australia gave me a Sunday newspaper lift out written by John Mangos on his favorite Greek islands. His wife is Greek. Kastelloriza was featured. I didn’t realize this was the island until it looked familiar. I went back to the boat and dug out the lift out.
After our brief visit to Greece we snuck back to Turkey discreetly changing our flags again across the short distance to Kas. We went into the harbor, put our anchor down with stern to jetty. A friendly local helped us with the ropes. There were lots of Gulets(Turkish Tourist boats) here. Stefan got talking to a young Turkish man who spoke good English from one of the Gulets. They do however get words mixed up some times. He said “his husband” owned the boat. Stefan told him I don’t think your “husband” owns it. He was quite sure it was his “husband” but ended up being his cousin. Another time a Turkish man was talking about his wife but said widow instead of wife. We shouldn’t laugh!


Kas is a quaint popular tourist destination. The fruit & Veg markets were on the day we arrived so we stocked up. Two Greek boats were stocking up too, being watched closely by a Turkish security man. They must have been the Green Grocers in Kastellorizo stocking up for the week. I took my shopping trolley to the supermarket to stock up with groceries as well. We were meeting our German friends Julie & Ricco here. Julie and Ricco we met in the Caribbean. Julie is the same age as Tania 29. They have a similar boat to ours and were next to us in the marina when we were getting ready to sail across the Atlantic. They had already sailed across from Germany so were very helpful with giving us advice. They had had a very bad crossing, had problems with their boat and decided to ship it back to England on a freighter. We met them again in their home port in Germany when we were sailing past last July 08. They have a beautiful Hotel near the beach and were very good hosts to us.

We kept in touch with them. They have not sailed in Turkey and when they had a week off in May we invited them to join us. They flew to Dalaman and caught a taxi to Kas. They arrived to join us in Kas marina late in the evening Saturday 16th May. They arrived loaded with duty free drinks, chocolates and lots of goodies.


It was wonderful sitting on deck in the balmy evenings. The day temperature was about 35 degrees . Julie speaks very good English as she was an exchange student in America. Ricco did really well. He is a really funny guy and with his sound effects and actions was very good at explaining things when he wouldn’t quite get the right words. Julie translated a bit at times. They are a really fun couple.


Unfortunately when we were trying to leave Kas harbour our anchor was caught on a boat on the other side’s anchor chain. Everything is a tight squeeze in these harbours. We saw one yacht being squeezed into a spot that we didn’t think it would fit.The boat I felt had to take a deep breath to get in A huge super yacht came in and they squeezed it in amongst the gullets on a corner. Stefan had to dive down 6 meters without a weight belt to release the anchor. After a number of attempts he was successful. We had some great sailing days! The water temperature now good as well about 23-24 degrees so it is great to dive off the boat to cool down, swimming in crystal clear water as well as exploring ruins, anchored up in lovely bays!


The 1st night we anchored up in a bay with a lovely beach and a couple of restaurants. Stefan, Julie and Ricco went water skiing behind our dingy. The dingy didn’t seem to have the normal power. Julie was the first to try. It was a funny sight as she pumped to try to get up. Ricco then had a go with the same funny result. Stefan was successful. Stefan realized on the way over to a restaurant that night in the dingy when it cut out half way across the bay that he had put petrol in the dingy but had forgotten to put oil in the petrol. This is why it hadn’t had enough power to water ski successfully. He had to drop us off then paddle back to the boat to get the oil. Luckily the engine didn’t seem to be damaged. We had a nice meal at this remote restaurant overlooking the water. The other restaurant was only open in the day when day trippers from Kas came by boat for the day. Ricco paid for us. I had a nice vegetable casserole with rice. They had fish.


BUTTERFLY VALLEY A SPECIAL PLACE

2009-05-17 to 2009-05-20

 Julie and Ricco our German friends met us in Kas to come sailing with us for a week. The kayak was very handy as we all enjoyed swimming ashore when we anchored up. One of us would take turns to kayak with the shoes and clothes, the others swam. We went ashore like this at Kalkan. Ricco had a sore shoulder from water skiing and decided to try and find a masseur. We went into a salon called Lady Diana who advertised Massage, haircuts, shaves etc. Ricco asked the Turkish man if he could fix his sore shoulder. He said he could. Ricco dubiously had the whole treatment. He was massaged with a beer glass at one stage but it fixed his sore shoulder. He had never had a shave with a knife before and asked Julie in German if he should trust this guy. Needless to say Julie and I had an entertaining time watching his technique and the scared look on Ricco’s face. They get the whole treatment including shave, hair cut, brow, ear and nose hair tidy and finished off waving a small stick of fire around his face . He even had to put his arms up as deodorant was strayed on him and he smelt wonderful. There are more men’s parlors in Turkey than women’s. This one however was a unisex one. There were lots of books in English on Lady Diana. We asked him why he called his Turkish salon Lady Diana. He said because he had admired the lady. This is also a tourist area frequently by English tourists.


We were on the boat just before going ashore when a Turkish diver surfaced at the stern of our boat with a calamari for us on his spear. We ended up filleting it and Julie fried it up with tomatoes onions, garlic etc. This was an on tray before going ashore for a meal. As if we hadn't had enough entertainment for one day, Ricco took us out for Pizza at a Tree house type restaurant which are quite common in Turkey. This one was up high with a lovely view overlooking the town and water. In the middle of dinner I noticed a bee on my finger. I wildly swooshed my hand around to try and get it off before it stung me and accidently sent a glass ashtray on the table flying to the street below. Not sure where it ended up but hopefully didn’t hit anyone that we could see. It was quite dark below. Maybe we think it ended up on a roof. Julie quickly grabbed another ashtray off one of the other tables and we acted as nothing had happened. You couldn’t do it if you tried, in a million years. That night when we had gone back to the boat, everyone had gone to bed except Stefan who heard Julie giggling in her cabin. She kept having giggling attacks, every time she thought about the bee, ash tray episode.


That night we finished off with apple tea sitting on the floor Turkish style. Most restaurants offer you something on the house at the end of your meal. This time it was apple tea; sometimes it is a fruit platter. We went a walk around town. The main part of Kalkan is up quite a steep hill. We were in a bit of a silly mood. Julie and I had a photo taken sitting on a plastic tiger. We also put on Turkish hats in front of a Turkish flag and tried the Turkish bubble pipes coconut flavor, even Stefan. They have a small amount of nicotine in them. It was quite relaxing. Each person has their own mouthpiece and changes it when it is their turn.


Julie and Ricco like sailing and we had some good sailing days with fresh wind 20 knots at times from behind. The new sails worked well.
It was quite by chance we anchored up in a place we found to be special, Butterfly valley. At first I thought it was called Butterfly valley because of its shape with the valley in the middle and mountains rising up on either side like wings. We found out later it is so named because it has some very rare butterflies here. We only saw one. It is in a national park with spectacular scenery. You can only get here by boat or walking. There is a backpackers place at the top of the high mountains. We met a group of 3 Americans who had walked down and were worried about getting back by dark as it was quite a climb back up. They wondered if we were going around to the next bay accessible by road that evening, so they could get a ride, but we weren’t. There was only a guest house and camping on this beach. There was also a bush bar and restaurant. It was a bit of analternative lifestyle of place.


There is also a huge waterfall dropping down. I have never thought about it before but now I realize people outside Australia do not know what you are talking about when you say you want to go for a bush walk. Even if you said tree walk they would be confused they would think you wanted to go walking on trees. I guess the word bush walking came about when people went walking in the good old Australian “BUSH!”
We went walking in the beautiful countryside amongst the trees to the waterfall which ended up being quite a climb over rocks. There were unusual wildflowers. It was after this walk that my knee became sore again. On our way up a man came running up to us wanting money to enter the National Park. We always seem to enter the wrong way. We had swum ashore and didn’t bring any money so we just kept walking telling him “no money” and he gave up trying to get money off us.


I got talking to some Australian guys on the beach, from Adelaide and Melbourne. They were teachers in Istanbul, one married to a Turkish lady. They had lived in Turkey for some time and loved the cosmopolitan lifestyle of Istanbul.
I like animals but Julie is a real dog lover and laughed when the Turkish dogs kept taking an instant liking to me and weren’t interested in her. One fluffy black dog came jumping all over me when I was lying on the beach and got a bit too over friendly to the laughs of the others.


The following day we sailed past beautiful bays and high mountains. We have seen a lot of paragliders but there were so many coming down the mountains landing on the beach. For the first time we saw one doing compete rotations. It was amazing. We tied alongside a Gulet with some friendly Turkish men who invited us over for coffee and tried to show us their card games. They were having a day off from taking out tourists. We went for a spin around in our dingy in the beautiful bay.


That evening we anchored up with stern ropes to land on an island with lots of interesting ruins. Julie and Ricco enjoyed a walk up to the top. Stefan and I were all ruined out. Lots of tourist gulets were coming and going. It was warm but raining which was unusual. A lady was making Turkish bread to order on a small boat that came along side with a man paddling. Ricco ordered a banana and chocolate one which was like a pancake and tasted good. We went ashore to the other side in the dingy for a walk but there wasn’t much action.

 


COWS! not TOURISTS on the beach amongst BEACHCHAIRS & UMBRELLAS

2009-05-21 to 2009-06-02

We anchored up in Fethiye and went ashore. I needed to visit a dentist and one had been recommended to me here. I found the dentist and went back the following morning. Everyone had little shower caps on their feet. I was very impressed with the efficiency and professionalism and my dental problem was fixed. Fethiye is in a big protected natural bay and is very touristy. That night when we went ashore we were invited for coffee on a luxury gullet and were very impressed.

Everywhere in Turkey and Greece they have these ornaments that look like an eye, apparently to watch over you and keep you safe. I had hung one as an ornament in Julie and Rico’s cabin. They joked that it was probably a cam camera in their cabin spying on them.

The night before we said goodbye to Julie and Ricco, we anchored up with a stern rope in a nice bay, very bushy with lots of pines and goat bells ringing in the countryside. Stefan, Ricco and Julie went ashore looking around a luxury marina being finished off that already had boats in it. It had covered wings along all the walkways.

We said goodbye to Julie and Ricco the following day after anchoring up in Gocek! It was sad as they were such good company! It was such a fun week! We laughed so much! They caught a taxi from here to Dalaman airport. On the Tuesday we caught up with my Aunt Celia’s and Charles’s son, my cousin, David, Mags, Jack and Issy here in Gocek. David has a unit nearby in Dalaman and flies to Turkey from England regularly for a holiday. They came on board for lunch and we had a good time together. They had arrived the night before and hadn’t had much sleep. Issy is only 3yo and Jack 12. Issy got a bit bored with all the talk.

Our Freezer was playing up again. It was running all the time and draining our batteries. We had a fridge mechanic look at it and fix it. Apparently the last guy had put in too much gas. While we were here it was very hot so we got a quote and had a boom tent made up. This is a tent that goes over the sail boom to reduce the heat inside the boat. It is good being anchored as you can jump off the boat to cool down when you are hot. It was fun seeing boats coming and going and the sun rising and setting. It was entertaining listening on the marine radio, the bigger boats talking to the marina as they were coming in. There were many big boats anchored up around us most of them with only crew on board constantly polishing. Just when you thought the biggest boat had come into the harbor another bigger boat would come in. The biggest boat we saw here was a private motor yacht called “My Shanty” It was about 250ft.

There was a cute little ferry passing us regularly, taking people from a marina into town. We went to look at the other marinas in the dingy. On one marina each boat had its own little private garden entrance as they went on board. Pretty fancy boats they were! Lots of super yachts! Stefan went to one of the marinas to get something and needed to give them his name. They thought he was the captains off one of the super yachts who had a similar name. He told them he wasn’t off any little super yacht he was off “Juliana.” What serious sailing boat doesn’t have a fly bridge and a garage for toys at the stern? You must have 4 satellite domes, of course!

After Gocek we anchored up stern to the shore in a beautiful bay with one restaurant. A nice English couple Tina & Andy on a chartered sailing boat next to us said they had been sailing in this area for their holidays for many years. This was their last night and this was their favorite bay. We invited them over for drinks on our boat. As they were flying back to England the following day they gave us a bag of goodies they didn’t want to take back, including food, two English boat magazines and 2 ladies magazines which were quite a novelty to us. It was like being a kid again and getting a sample bag at the show. The things that amuse us!

There were interesting ruins all around, with lots of goats, sheep and donkeys. One little lone goat nearly went up the gang plank of one of the boats. The water was very clear and we cleaned Juliana’s tummy which was a continual job as she really did need taking up on land and anti fouling (paint to stop growth underneath). The English couple had given me a pool noodle to sit on which made it easier.

Gullets with tourists came and went, luckily leaving us in peace in the evenings. Gullets often have a water slide that goes from the top internally to the water, with water running down for people to slide down. They have on board plasma TV screenings of the underwater world. They often have loud music! The tourists on one gullet were entertained by Stefan climbing up the mountain to get a photo of Juliana. I usually liked going up with him but my knee was still playing up a bit.

We had good wind the following day and sailed past Dalaman with planes coming and going overhead. There was still snow on some of the highest mountain peaks. The next beautiful bay we anchored up in had cows wandering on the beach amongst the beach chairs and umbrellas some even in the water. No English tourists but cows. It was a funny sight. After a while we saw the owner hunting them off.

We next sailed into Marmaris with its beautiful bays and huge mountain backdrop with all the gullets coming and going loaded with tourists. We anchored up amongst some big boats. We went ashore amongst all the tourists. Stefan finally had his prepaid Turkcell modem working on the boat, so we had internet though quite expensive, to keep an eye on his futures.

Out of Marmaris we came into a beautiful natural protected bay. There were a number of restaurants with men waving to us to come and tie up at their different restaurants. “Free to tie up to our jetty” they said. We wanted to anchor as some other boats had. One guy was very persistent and came over to us in a rubber dingy. “I help you”. We would see a man anchored on one of the other boats waving at us. We motored over to him ignoring our persistent man. We found it was an Australian boat with Aussies Michelle and David on board. They told us they had had the same problem with this man and had just ignored him and anchored up which was what we did. They were Tasmanian but had lived in England and France for a while and had bought a boat in “the Med” They had so much in common with us! They now had a house and 2 daughters living in Sydney and went back quite regularly. They had also back backed around South America.

This area was quite isolated. We saw a big outdoor wood bread oven start up the following morning. Then a lady came around on a boat selling bread, honey and other goodies. There were goats and donkeys roaming around. We went for a swim. Michelle and David invited us over to their boat for a lovely “cuppachino?” (Coffee).We wished we could have spent some more time with these lovely Aussies and this lovely bay but we were due to pick up our next visitors in Bodrum so we had to up anchor and move on spending the following night anchored off a beach outside a small harbour which ended up being rolly. Another smaller boat came in later and anchored up near us. We could see tractors were the main mode of transport in this small town.


JULIANA'S THEME SONG

2009-06-03

When things get tough on Juliana we have been known to sing the song DON”T WORRY! BE HAPPY. This usually gets us through so we have made this her theme song. My Aunt Thelma to document her stay on Juliana changed the words to the original song;


Here’s a little song we wrote! We like to sing it on our Boat!


DON’T WORRY! BE HAPPY! In between each verse:


1. Our boat she is Juliana! She handles the sea, rough or calmer!
2. Bodrum’s all night disco turned up high, Completes with mosque man’s deafing cry!
3. Sailing north new comers learn the ropes! White sugar cube houses dot the slops!
4. We watch full moon rise over the hill, Moor at Troy buoy and pay no bill!
5. The wind she blows and then she goes! The Skipper says it’s on the nose!
6. Wind has died, we start the motor! Lean over the side for another photo!
7. Find sheltered bay that’s disco free! Bread & butter pudding & pizza for tea!
8. Butterflies swarm at Dragon Bay! We sail beside dolphins at play!
9. We motor in to Koala beach fast! Stefan climbs the 90ft mast!
10. Visit market when food we lack! Paddle ashore in the trusty kayak!
11. Oh what fun it is to be a yachtie! Who said we sometimes end up grotty!
12. The housekeeping becomes somewhat lazy! In the marina at Kusadasi (Cousin Daisy)
13. Ferried to Samos for the day! Loved old Vathy town round the bay!
14. Often our plans seem somewhat concealed! But on the day, all will be revealed!
15. So thank you for these fun filled days! Will remember your kindness for always!
DON’T WORRY BE HAPPY!


A GUEST BLOGEST, THELMA, kindly gives me a break

2009-06-04 to 2009-06-11

JUST BEFORE I HAND OVER TO OUR GUEST BLOGEST my AUNT THELMA, who joined us in Bodrum with my Uncle Peter, I need to fill in a bit before they joined us.

We left early and had a good sail into Bodrum . There was even a gullet called “The Southern Cross” with an Australian flag but no-one on board .We anchored up amongst the gullets near the castle at 1.30pm. Diana my friend from Gosford was flying in from Istanbul to meet us here this evening. At this stage we could use our Turkcell sim card for internet on the boat or in our mobile phone so we put it in our mobile phone. We tried to call Diana’s mobile without success. Stefan went ashore while I stayed on board which was lucky as even though we had dug in the anchor it was dragging. The wind was strong! I held the fort till Stefan arrived back. There was an anxious gullet owner downwind who was glad when Stefan came back and we moved to the other side of the bay near a beach resort, which was very protected.

We were the only boat there at this stage. The following day other boats started anchoring up near us. A bright colored “hippy” type sailing boat. A young German couple who had been obviously having trouble finding a suitable anchorage anchored up and gave a sigh of relief. It was short lived however as just after the coast guard came along and told us all we had to move. We released the following day why! The following day a helicopter was scooping up water to fight a fire in the area where we were. We would have been scooped up. 

We got a call from a Turkish man who put Diana on. This was later in the evening as we were starting to be worried where she was. He had charged her about AU$8 to use his phone which was a rip off as her phone didn’t seem to work. Diana however was happy to be in contact with us and after a bit of confusion as to where she was waiting Stefan came back to the boat with her. It was so unreal that she was here! We knew she had planned this trip for a long time. She had really wanted to join us in the Greek Islands but here she was! I asked her if she could bring a small pot of peanut butter and a small pot of moisturizer. She had bought huge pots of both!

Diana and I went looking around the shops the following day. I was looking casually at this beautiful cotton rug with camels on it. I was reduced to tears when she bought it for me without saying anything! It was the last thing I expected her to do! I felt a mixture of embaracement, joy and thankfulness as it was perfect as a bed cover for our bed that we didn’t have. I love it so much! We were sad when we got back to the boat and some of the little pottery dishes she had bought to take back to Australia had smashed. The floor rugs Rene bought us from Canada for the boat we still really like as well and they are still working well.

Diana arrived Weds evening. The following day anchored off a beach we had gone ashore swimming and in the Kayak. My Aunt Thelma and Uncle Peter who I don’t think will mind me saying , turns 80 next year, got the overnight bus from Istanbul. They were due to arrive Friday morning to join us. Diana & I went to the markets and supermarket “Tansas” to stock up with provisions that morning. Stefan was on the boat waiting to hear when they arrived. Our mobile and marine radio turned on. They went to the marina when they arrived and the Marina called us up on the marine radio to let Stefan know they were there and he took the dingy over to pick them up. We had been over to the marina that morning to fill up with fuel and water and planned to leave when they arrived. Stefan got them settled in on the boat. Diana & I had organized for Stefan to pick us up with the groceries at 11am. We were rushing with the groceries to meet him when we walked past Stefan, Thelma and Peter, of all the streets in Bodrum to walk along. Stefan had brought them in for a little walk around before meeting us at 11am. Our reunion was in this Bodrum street. Thelma & Peter had been on a 14day tour around Turkey prior to joining us.

I WILL HAND OVER TO THELMA NOW! 

Bodrum, what a town! It is the most touristy town we have seen. To walk down the street, one is invited “Here, one question please” or “ Here is your chair, very good food” or “leather jacket here for you, your size”. Diana joins the crew here too and is impressed by entertainment provided. First a fabulous aerial display by two bright yellow aircraft, while two helicopters keep refilling their huge buckets beside Juliana, flying off to douse a fire on the hill. Then there is the late disco! All night the music beats across the water from the castle, Diana doesn’t sleep well, so can enjoy the whole performance. Plus of course the five times a day “call to prayer” blasting from the mosque competing with the disco! All this action as we gently rock on Juliana while moored in the shadow of Bodrum’s great Crusader Castle and in company of many traditional Turkish ‘gullets” and other fabulous yachts. Almost full moon, each night we watch it rise over quiet bay or from busy marina, camera in one hand, glass of wine or hot chocolate in the other. How much entertainment can we take?

Next day Wendy and Diana shop in the village and unexpectedly run into Stefan with Thelma and Peter just arrived on the overnight coach from Istanbul. Because they missed the first day’s aerial display we are treated to another fly past. However there is little enthusiasm for more disco, so we up anchor and head off round the peninsula. Here we are amazed at a strange and unexpected scenario. The hills are alive with tourism! Each slope has rows of square white boxy dwellings marching down to the sea, perhaps “made of ticky tacky and all looking just the same!” As we go we marvel at this unexpected phenomenon, then we note it is mentioned in our “lonely planet” book from early 2000s so has been going on for some time, and as many still being built, perhaps the new Riviera for Europe. Not many seem to be occupied, though it is school holidays. As we head north the scene changes and hills and normal bays become prevalent with just the odd village or development.

Day one, the newcomers soon get into the swing of yachting, learn to leap to when Stefan says “Tack”! or “Ship shape”. “Learning the ropes” takes on new meaning. Great cuisine too, chef Wendy (with helpers) has a good larder, freezer full of goodies so we eat well, have a cabin each, with ensuite and settle into a life at sea. Daily swim over the side, usually later in the day, and Diana does a reconison of the bay each AM in the kayak. Stefan finds a good bay, we check for likely discos, or too many tourists on loud boats, and can move on, but have had ideal o’night stops. Sunday night we had our own beach, a koala shape rock on the (rocky) sand had us name it Koala Beach, all had a good swim, and lovely way to cool off. As the full moon rose we looked across to the lights of the Greece Island of Samos,with an airport. Planes were coming and going! Monday we sail up the strait, Greece on our left and Turkey on our right. The (Greek) Coast Guard zips past close, gives us a check, in case we should dally too close perhaps.

No suitable bays so it is into Kusadasi Marina, Kusadasi, meaning ‘Bird Island’ a thriving tourist town with some 680 hotels. Large fort + statue of Attaturk welcome us as we enter the other feature a large, Kervansarayi, tastefully restored as a hotel and visitors can browse the rooms, art gallery, selling rugs and other stalls. We book in at the large marina – life is a little different here, we use on shore facilities, catch a trolley cart (or walk) around to the spacious toilet/shower block, shop /swimming pool. We seek the shade, days getting hotter. The sun beats down relentlessly, we‘re glad when it finally sinks over the hill about 9pm. We plan our tour to Greece late night, pay at the gate a boy on a motor bike, and they pick us up at 7.30am to go to the port. Here we are dwarfed by the many huge cruise ships that come daily, leave to be replaced by the next lot. This port is the closest for the popular town of Ephesus, also Mary’s house. Dozens of buses wait at the dock to take visitors to those spots, give them time to browse the many shops and stalls, the closer to the port, the dearer the souvenirs! We battle through customs, obtain a visor for Greece, and soon board our small ferry for the two hour voyage. A lady sitting near us turns out to be a travel agent from Samos, so we are able to plot our day, and learn much useful information from her. She tells us these are heat wave conditions, and will be 35 Deg. C with a heavy sea mist, so visibility not good. Noticeable difference in buildings as we arrive on Greek soil, solid square villas dot the high hills around the bay then we come to Samos town, and we see the old town of Vathy on the hill.

More stall holders hassle us here. We find a taxi and head off out of town to the old town of Pythagorio. On the south coast it has a paved street right down to the bay, restaurants and shops hug the water front. On the hill out of town we find the Evpalinos tunnel, a kilometer long double tunnel through the mountain was completed here in 524 BC to bring spring water to the town. Peter and Thelma manage to pay a student rate and brave the tunnel to see the short part of it still open, portly or claustrophobic folk advised not to go, we squeeze past portly foreign gentlemen and find it interesting. Our driver then takes us on a scenic “long way back” we see a traditional town square with huge tree planted by the driver’s father around which they all sit. The traditional Greek Church is there, complete with Greek minister sitting outside. Grape vines, olive trees. Dropped back in Vathy we walk down narrow streets back to port, we think too narrow for cars, till they zoom past, and we sidle back into doorways. Motor bikes whiz by, heavy scent of jasmine and other flowers. Back, footsore to port and through customs once more to enter Turkey and a relaxing 2 hours in the smooth ferry.

We next anchor up in Dragon Bay, a wonderful bay. We name each bay. We called this Dragon bay as it had a dragon painted on one of the rocks. We had met an Australian, John from the Gold Coast, in Kusadasi marina who had told us not to miss this bay. We have the bay all to ourselves. Fish farms dot the entrance but we made our way through and the inlet is deep and accommodating. Stefan swims to rocks front and back and ties us securely, he later climbs the hill with camera and takes shots of Juliana and outlook. Cats are visible, biting flies annoy and when we relax for dinner, spinach pie then bread and butter pudding – does it get any better than this? . Butterflies in profusion arrive and swim in Wendy’s wine at dusk and we kayak and swim around with great satisfaction.


EPHESUS a Fascinating Place

2009-06-12 to 2009-06-13

Our taxi driver George (his name was slightly different) very friendly, picked us up at 7.30am to go to EPHESUS. We had organized it the day before. Thelma and Peter had a quiet day on the boat as they had already been to Ephesus, so there was Stefan, Diana and myself. We got an early start to try to beat the heat! It was a scenic trip up the mountains. It was very green with lots of orchards of peaches, apples, citrus, figs and cotton amongst other ruins. We resisted the temptation to buy a “Genuine fake watch” outside the Ephesus gate. Turkish people do have a good sense of humor! George dropped us off at the top gate and we spent some hours strolling down to the bottom gate where luckily he was there amongst all the other taxi drivers to meet us and we had no problem finding him.

There were lots of groups. From time to time we stopped to hear what an English guide was saying, some speaking better English than others. Some groups had to wait till the group ahead finished. We were happy we could walk on at our own pace. We walked down the impressive main street of Ephesus which would have certainly have been grand in its day! Many shops with mosaic fronts! We sat on the communal toilets, a row of holes shaped right that went down into a drain. There was a male side and a female side luckily. We went past the bath house, the medical place, the famous Library seen as the face of Ephesus in pictures. I did a ballet pose in the impressive amphitheatre as one must do.

As we walked we saw lots parachutes coming down over Ephesus. I guess this is a good way! We were lucky enough to be treated to an outdoor re- enactment theatre show with lovely costumes, acting, dancing. Sword fights etc. being performed at no extra cost. I think they just put it on for us!!!!!! Lots of other people who had been there had never had a show at the end. We kept telling Diana this is the extra entertainment we had organized for her. With the extra events that happened while she was on board I think she nearly believed us. To come up with a full moon though was probably the hardest thing we had to order for her!

It was then further up the mountains to the house which is believed to have been the last house of the Virgin Mary. There was a church service being performed in English outside. We filed through the house. The spring water that runs outside the house is said to be holy. We filled a bottle each and I put the water on my knee that I had been having trouble with. George again was waiting for us when we came back. It was very hot! We had another stop at Selcuk. There were lots of Stork (birds) families with nests up high on stacks even in busy towns. It seemed to be the STORK nesting season!
The taxi driver also recommended we stop at a carpet factory where handmade carpets were made and were amazed all the work that went into making these carpets. He said there was no obligation to buy. Some carpets it would take a lady 4 months to make. Over a glass of red wine we even saw how they spun the silk from cocoons to make the silk carpets. The carpets needless to say were beautiful but very expensive. The man spoke very good English and was very friendly. He tried hard to sell us a carpet especially Diana as we said we had no room for an extra carpet on our boat 

Going back though the peach orchards, George our taxi driver stopped and bought us some peaches. He spoke a bit of English and was certainly a gem. The views of Kusadasi and the sea coming from the mountains were certainly spectacular. The sunsets here had been amazing.
Thelma has followed on from here in her last blog up to where we anchored up in Sigacik. The only extra thing I have to add was snorkeling in a bay where we anchored up. The water was so clear, when you went down you could see the whole underneath of Juliana. We also saw a big rock nearby under the water so decided to move after having lunch and a swim.

It was very windy when we anchored up in Sigacik , so Stefan stayed on the boat. We went ashore as this was where Thelma, Peter and Diana would leave us in a few days and Stefan’s mother and sister would join. We needed to find how to get to Izmir airport. Sigacik is a small town with a castle, the old town inside the walls. It has a lovely little fishing harbor. The marina was closed as they were extending it. A present Sigacik is not touristy, a lovely little natural town. In the next years it will change with this huge marina going in which is a shame. We were directed to a Real Estate agent. A lovely English lady Louise and her Turkish husband Omer, who had a real English accent which sounded so funny. They had lived in England for many years but had now lived in Turkey for 4 years. There 2 children went to the local school. They were so helpful and interesting to talk to. We had a lot of questions for them about the Turkish way of life.


JULIANA HITS THE ROCKS after enjoying good company in SIGACIK

2009-06-14 to 2009-06-16

We caught a mini bus with the locals into the nearby bigger town of Seferihisar to get groceries. The following day went for a walk to the nearby ruins of Teos before it got hot. Teos was about 4 Klms along a relaxing country road with magnificent oleanders of so many different colours. Along the way I stopped to look at a beautiful well kept horse. It didn’t look like your average Turkish horse. As I was admiring it a lady came out from a food shed and said hello and we got talking. Her name was Eileen and she was English, but had lived in Turkey for a long time. She had been a married but now single, had been a journalist and also had worked as a teacher teaching English in Turkey. Eileen had a house in the old part of town but kept Gipsy on this farm out of town. Eileen also had 2 beautiful dogs. We got on so well right from the beginning with our strong love of horses. She unfortunately had had another horse kick her badly in the leg and she still carried the injury and was unable to ride Gipsy at this stage.

The farm belonged to a Turkish man Emin who was very friendly but didn’t speak much English. Luckily Eileen spoke Turkish well and did some translating. They invited all 5 of us to his farm cottage to have a cup of tea, Turkish style. Eileen told us Emin had asked her to go back to her house and get some nice tea cups as his on the farm were too old. HOW CUTE! His were fine. He had goats and made his own goat cheese which we tried and it was good. They were such interesting and friendly people and we learnt a bit more of the Turkish way of life. We went a walk around the farm with scattered ruins.


Eileen offered me a ride on Gipsy but unfortunately Stefan wanted to get back to the boat to check it as there was still a strong wind. Stefan, Thelma and Peter ended up going back to the boat while Diana and I stayed a little longer . We helped Eileen clean out the stable and then she took Diana and I in her car. I was in the back with her 2 friendly dogs. We went past the beach and to look at other ruins. We picked wild rosemary herbs. Then back for a cool drink to her interesting house in the old town inside the castle walls. She had it very tastefully decorated with mementos of her travels all over the world, her saddle just inside the door.She showed me her horse books. It stirred memories of the horse books I now have packed away somewhere, from my horse days before travel and family.

Thelma and Peter were leaving us the following day to catch a taxi to Izmir the bus to Istanbul. Diana and I decided to share their taxi to Izmir and catch a bus taking about 3.5 hours inland to Pamukkale. I would have to come back then as Stefan was concerned being on the boat alone with the strong winds. Diana would go onto Cappadocia then back to Istanbul where she would catch her flight back to Australia. Eileen kindly helped us make our travel arrangements and offered to lend me her mobile phone to ring her landline to be in contact with Stefan while I was away. “What a kind offer! “ too kind for me to accept and we are used to not having a phone. Eileen would have liked to have come with us but had her animals to care for. I thought I would see Eileen when I got back but didn’t as the wind was strong and after picking up Ulla Britta and Gunilla we headed off to hopefully find a calmer anchorage.

Guest Blogest Gunilla takes over from here!

This is Stefan’s sister Gunilla writing. Mamma Ulla-Britta and I arrived in Izmir airport, Turkey, on June 18. Stefan met with a taxi that took us to Sigacik by the coast. The waves were huge and the wind hard but Stefan managed to get us and our bags over to Juliana II which was anchored in the bay. We sailed to another bay, a little more sheltered from the hard wind. We had a rough night and not much sleep, since the anchor dragged and the boat hit the rocks on a nearby island. Wendy and Stefan said it was a planned initiation to test us!! We survived. The next day we continued to another bay, nice wind and sunny.

Mamma fell in the cockpit when she lost her balance in the rocking boat and unfortunately hurt her rib. After that she had to stay calm. We all slept like logs the following night. A new day and a new bay a few hours away. Lots of other boats joined us during the evening. Wendy and I went swimming and canoeing. We had to ask a Turkish boat to move as it had anchored up too close to us. A nice wind took us to AlacatI the next day. Supposedly a well kept old village, but as Wendy and I went there in the dingy it appeared to be a brand new developed village! The older part was further away.There were also a lot of windsurfers.

Stefan found a nice marina with a travel lift. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset. We arrived in Cesme after a few hours fast sailing in a southern wind the following day (22/6). Stayed in the harbor for a while and went shopping. On our way further north to Dalyan, we saw many newly built little villages and a huge hotel, but no people anywhere. In Dalyan disco music was provided for dinner!

WENDY’S FOOTNOTE!
It was very unfortunate that Juliana dragged anchor in the middle of the first night on board for Gunilla and Stefan’s 86 yo mum. It was like a nightmare to me waking up to hear the thuds, realizing Juliana was hitting the rocks. IT IS THE WORST EXPERIENCE! Especially in the dark with the strong wind! I consider Juliana was more at risk here than our experience in the North Sea. We had dug the anchor in well, the wind had dropped a little and we thought we were right for the night. Luckily the rudder worked, Stefan acted quickly with the engine fully revved and I getting the anchor up and we were out of there! NO WATER COMING IN! We didn’t sleep much the rest of the night. Stefan dived down under the boat the next day and found there was no damage to the rudder or keel. There was some damage to the hull front and back but not too bad, as it had hit the strong superstructure points of the boat. WE COUNTED OUR BLESSINGS!


PAMUKKALE a snowlike landscape in 35 degrees heat

2009-06-17 to 2009-06-18

 Strong winds still blew as Thelma, Peter, Diana and I went ashore to Sigacik in the dingy with the luggage. The taxi picked us up at 8am to go to Izmir bus station some distance away but with four of us and the luggage a taxi seemed the best option. We sadly said goodbye to Thelma & Peter. We had enjoyed their company. They caught a bus back to Istanbul to fly on to England. Diana & I were going backpacking for a couple of days to Pamukkale about 3.5 hours on the bus inland. Diana was going on to Cappadocia and I was coming back to the boat after that. Stefan stayed with Juliana and the strong wind. We were going ashore for a meal the last night but the wind was too strong so we got dressed up Turkish Style and had a Turkish night on board.

Diana & I enjoyed our bus trip from Izmir to Denzil with a lot of agriculture along the way. We caught a mini bus from there to Pamukkale, arriving at 2pm. We had booked a budget hotel and the owner’s son, Ali, met us as we got off the bus. His family had owned the hotel for many years and he was a university student who spoke good English. He showed us to the hotel and our room which overlooked the snowlike environment of Pamukkale. Pamukkale means Cotton Castle. A younger male member of the family followed after his older brother learning English and how to look after guests and doing a lot of the leg work as he was asked. This is very common in Turkey. Diana and I encouraged this younger boy that he was really doing a good job. He really came out of his shell while we were there and we were happy for him to practice his English on us. He brought us a beautiful breakfast, which was included to the rooftop part of the hotel with a beautiful view over the area. A small omelet, olives, cheese, tomato and crusty bread and jam with coffee. The mother and sister were working in the restaurant. They also sat talking to us one night. It was a very well run family business and they all went out of their way to be friendly and helpful which we really enjoyed. We were offered Apple tea and sat on the floor Turkish style after we were settled. Later we were taken to a beautiful swimming pool associated with our hotel. It was nice to cool off with lots of beautiful flowers and birds.

While we were there Ali asked Diana and I if we or anyone we knew preferably Australians (Australians are happy and talk a lot he said) who would like to work in this Hotel. Their only job would he to learn about the area and the culture and talk to guests in English, answering questions and making them feel welcome. I would have loved this job in my younger travelling days. Free accommodation and meals and a moderate wage for simply talking to visitors from many different countries. Also they were happy to assist your travel around Turkey with a lot of travel contacts and the timeframe was open.
In the evening we sat down and had vegetarian pide in a simple, typically Turkish restaurant. Just as we did the mosque across the road started up with men coming in preparing themselves for prayer. The mosques are so loud especially when you are this close to them. It was very pleasant walking in the evening when it was a bit cooler. The snowlike slopes of calcium formations, stalactites and natural shelves and travertine pools were lit with floodlights. It was very effective. We also went for a walk early the next morning, the best part of the day! Some ladies sold us some embroided cushion covers for a good price!

We took a bus with a sweet Turkish lady guide, complete with headscarf, to the ruins of Hierapolis with its many tombs, churches and an impressive Roman amphitheatre above Pamukkale. She was a student and new to the job. Her English was a bit hard to understand unfortunately. We then walked down the calcium formations, padding in the pools, water coming down the walls into the pools. It was spectacular scenery!
Some people who have been here many years ago are said to be disappointed. Whereas you used to be able to wander wherever, now there are only certain areas open as they have realized they have to protect the area as it is very unique. It is now a National Park and a world heritage site. The springs here are thought to have curative powers for many ailments. People have been coming here for thousands of years to be cured. The springs have a soda water, fizzy taste. Unfortunately a lot of deaths are recorded in this area, indicating that not everyone who comes to this area to be cured is cured. Following on from that there are many tombs! We also went to some springs that were boiling hot!
We sampled an assortment of Turkish Food for lunch that day. An “all you can eat” for a set price! Unfortunately Turkish desserts are very sweet and our curiosity to taste different ones outdid our common sense to not overdo it. We were not so keen about the candied pumpkin, very sweet!

We took a bus in the evening to a town a short distance away called Karahayito. There were not many tourists here. We seemed to be the only women without head scarves. Some women here with face and body nearly all covered. They must be so hot! These places I find interesting, off the tourist trail where you can see how people go about their normal way of life and try to imagine what it would be like.

The next morning I sadly said goodbye to Diana. Diana went on to Cappadocia which she really enjoyed before flying back to Australia. After lots of bus changes I made it back to Stefan & Juliana safely! We had certainly had a great few days!


JULIANA'S Birds eye view over Kusadasi

2009-06-24 to 2009-07-04

We tied up in Cesme and went for a walk in town near the castle, having a nice farewell lunch under shady trees, with Stefan’s 86yo Mum, Ulla Britta and sister Gunilla who a week on the boat with us. The restaurant was called Star restaurant with a very friendly waiter who spoke good English and also some Swedish. He bought us out a lovely fruit platter after the meal “on the house.” This is common of Turkish hospitality. Ulla Britta and Gunilla then caught the bus back to Izmir.

 We started investigating places to slip the boat. Juliana was overdue to be taken up on land. She hadn’t been up for about 18 months and the anti fouling had lost its effects. We constantly rubbed her undersides when we were swimming. Julie and Ricco our German friends had made fun of her underwater garden. Then we had dragged anchor in the night and hit rocks and though luckily not much damage had occurred, it became more urgent to take her up.

We went into a marina with a hoist just east of Cesme. Lots of wind surfers and Paragliders! We spoke with a friendly Syrian guy who had a motor boat in this Marina. He invited us on board for coffee. We had a quote from Kusadasi marina further south when we had been there before. He suggested Kusadasi marina would be a better place so we backtracked. The haul out seemed expensive about AU $1,800 but on the quote it had a big 30 days FREE on the hard which we took as being just that, but found out it was free on land but only if you had a marina contract a $100 per day. Needless to say it was a very expensive week hot week.

Stefan worked hard to repair, paint and anti foul Juliana and do anything else that needed doing while she is up .Our bower thruster couldn’t be fixed until the boat was out of the water. It was just a pin which Stefan fixed. The cost of paint and materials also was very expensive. Anything to do with boats in Turkey is very expensive. In the heat we did not have a fridge or freezer while the boat is up on land as it has a water cooling system for both. I inquired at the marina about ice. It was not available in this town I was told. We couldn’t put any water down the drain of the boat for the week as the paint needed to dry etc. We had to walk a long way to the toilet and showers. JULIANA had a bird's eye view over the streets of KUSADASI with lovely sunsets. Unfortunately after working hard all day in the heat we couldn’t sleep as the disco music went all night, louder and louder till daybreak when the mosque starts up. It wasn’t like we would move to another bay. We watched the tourist boats preparing for another load of tourists each evening. The yard workers were very friendly and let us put some things in their meal room fridge. They work long hours for not much money.

The Marina listed as one of its features a marina pool. This was the only way to cool down. I finally lost it one day when Stefan & I went for a swim and after Stefan left a lady came up to me and said there was an $8 charge for the pool but you got your 1st drink free. I said but we have a boat in the marina and this is the marina pool. There was no mention of a cost for the pool in the brochures or anywhere else. She then said if we had a boat in the marina it was half price. We were paying so much already and I wasn’t prepared to pay anything extra for a swim . I went and complained at the reception and asked to speak to the manager. He was conveniently unavailable but after talking to him on the phone she said I could use the pool without paying. I went and cooled down with cold showers after that. The marina also advertised free wi fi but it never worked. I ended up making a daily trip to internet café to plug in the laptop. They got to know me well.

I felt sorry for the girls in the marina office and one man. They seemed to have to deal with all the unhappy customers that there seemed to be a lot of. The marina was just trying to get every extra dollar they can out of you in a shady way. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. This however we found was not representative of most Turkish people many of which we found very friendly and accommodating. We got on well with a young Turkish guy who worked in the paint shop in the Marina. He had done a university degree in Los Angeles and of course spoke good English. It was so hard working in the heat. I went off regularly on my bike to buy hardware for Stefan. He got anti fouling dust on his skin and was so itchy. I put calamine lotion all over him which helped but looked funny.

 We saw a lots of what appeared to be happy celebrations .Processions of cars dressed up, pipping their horns, and music. We thought that this must be the wedding season however we found out they were circumcision ceremonies. This was in the Turkish summer school holidays. Boys aged 8-10 dressed up in white suits, head the procession on a float or truck decorated with drums being beating etc. The procession creates huge traffic jams in this peak tourist season but motorists seem very patient .After the procession there is a big party where the boy is given gifts. He then goes off to the doctor and then has all his gifts to look though as he recovers.

You see tractors come into town sometimes with the whole family on board which we found was different. I suppose it doubles as working on the farm and transport into town which makes sense. Turkish men running around the streets with trays of tea in their cute little tea glasses! was also a common sight. They also did this with quite a few plates of food with covers .Free delivery I suppose!

We were glad when Juliana was back in the water. I think she was too! There should be some very good sailing now with new sails and a squeaky clean bottom. We would now be saying goodbye to Turkey after a lot of enjoyable experiences, people and the beautiful scenery and great sailing. A shame it had to end with a bad marina experience but they did offer to help us check out of Turkey for $100. In fact they said we could not check out ourselves which we found to be a lie.

 The marina had made it sound so complicated but Stefan checked Juliana and us out of Turkey for no cost and no problems. It took about half an hour. He had to check out with three authorities, which on our tourist map seemed close to each other, Passport police, Health and the Port authorities! Funnily enough they all work independently and if you ask any question even where the other authority is they don’t seem to know. He saw official type people outside one building which ended up being the Port Authorities but they were on their lunch break so he moved on to the next one and came back. The Passport police office was attended by a Helga type women with guns strapped to her waist who took the passports and disappeared. After some time and reappeared with a big stamp and stamped them with a big bang and a lot of authority. Everything in these countries seems to be done in a very inefficient old fashioned. I suppose this way more people are employed. I think they are just starting to computerise things.


GREECE Welcomes JULIANA back

2009-07-05 to 2009-07-07

 We weren’t sure if after checking out of Turkey we would we able to check Juliana back into Greece. We were planning to go a bit further north in Turkey but the winds weren’t favorable. When we checked out of Greece in Rhodes a couple of months before we were told by the officials that because Juliana, a non European boat, had been in Greece for 6 months she had to be out of Greece for 6 months. Everyone even officials seemed to say different things so we just decided to chance it and went to Samos the nearest Greek island and checked her in with no problems. We had stocked up with lots of fresh fruit & veg which were cheap from the Friday market. This is something we would really miss leaving Turkey.

We loved Turkey in general, but we immediately felt and appreciated the more relaxed atmosphere of Greece, especially after our busy, frustrating, hot, noisy and expensive week in the marina slipping Juliana. We had sailed through the straight between Turkey and Greek island of Samos on the Turkish side which is about a kilometer across in one place. The Greek coast guard had kept a close guard that we didn’t stray into Greek territory as we had our visiting Turkey courtesy flag up as we tacked back and forward. Now we were on the Greek side with our visiting Greece courtesy flag up and the Turkish Coast guard was keeping a close eye on us. They apparently do have illegal immigrates getting in across these narrow straits.

We anchored up in the bay near the pretty town of Pythagorion. It was great to relax, a warm breeze, near full moon, good relaxing music on the radio for a change. No noisy Discos! IT WAS GOOD TO BE ALIVE! If only we weren’t so tied and had a lot of sleep to catch up on. It would have been good to stay awake long enough to enjoy it. It is claimed that this is where Anthony & Cleopatra spent their honey moon and you can understand why. It is also the birthplace of the mathematician Pythagoras who the town is named after.

The next morning we noticed another Aussie boat in the bay “EYE CANDY”. On board Andrew and Claire from Sydney! Andrew was an engineer like Stefan and when 2 engineers get together and start talking about water desalinates it never stops. Stefan bought a water desalinator at the same time as he bought the boat. He had fitted it into the boat over winter but hadn’t started it up. Andrew and Claire had the same delsalinator working on their boat so Stefan decided while we had someone experienced around to start it up. The 2 boys had a lot of fun. Stefan had a new box to climb into!
In the middle of this a solo Israel lady sailor came in to anchor up and was having problems with stuck anchor chain not coming out. Poor Stefan had to go to her rescue get on board her boat and sort her anchor chain out. In the meantime another boat “Hippopotamus” came in and took her spot. Within minutes of anchoring they had dived over for a swim and had not tied on their dingy properly and it drifted off to sea. I quietly thought serves them right for taking her spot but luckily before Stefan could perform another rescue someone from another boat had retrieved the dingy. They got a bottle of wine for their efforts, not sure what Stefan got. He said she was a talker and it was hard to get away so we will leave it at that. She apparently had 6 kids and this was her time out! I hadn’t noticed but Andrew noticed she had a G string on!

 I did by the way give my seal of approval to our first glass of drinking water from salt water! To change the subject! We went for a nice walk in the countryside with Claire and Andrew to a monastery with wonderful views and the water tunnel. The tunnel was about 1klm long. Digging had started on either side of the mountain and amazingly they met in the middle, this was about 2,500 years ago. It carried water from a spring to the town. Claire & David came over to our boat for morning coffee. We went to their boat for drinks in the evening. We had a lovely time with these Aussie folks and it was time to move on!
We had a good days sail around the southern very scenic side of Samos to the island of Chios. We anchored off a beach with resorts. There was still a full moon. The following morning we anchored up in a nearby natural harbor, Emboreios, stern rope to the rocks, with about 4 other boats. There were a few hotels but it was off the beaten track. It was a lovely bay with very clear water to swim in and sea caves. As we arrived, David and Brenda, a New Zealand couple on the next boat, BANDIT was going ashore. We spoke with them briefly they had hired a car for a day and had driven in the mountains to see the medieval mastic villages. As they still had the car for another half day they were doing some interneting at the hotel, then going back to the villages they liked the most. Brenda was a journalist and wrote travel articles. David had a good camera and took the photos. They had a vineyard in New Zealand and had a manager running it.

We went ashore a while later to do some interneting also and inquire about hiring a car. Brenda & David were still doing interneting. We got talking and they invited us to come with them in their rented car. It was a fun time driving in the hills and walking amongst the villages. The best preserved ones being Pyrgi and Mesta. They had a very medieval feel, lots of arches, and houses of bare stone. The villages were inside walls with 4 gates. Narrow cobbled streets that were maze like where you could easily get lost! Brenda & David came to our boat in the evening for drinks.

In the 14thcentury the hills had been covered with low mastic trees which for many years were the main source of income for these scattered villages. It was popular in ancient times to be chewed as a chewing gum. Many ancient Greeks including Hippocrates proclaimed the pharmaceutical benefits of mastic for many ailments. Even modern medicine has used it up until recently when it has been replaced other products.


A MERMAID greets us on the greek island INOUSSES

2009-07-08 to 2009-07-13

A Mermaid statue and the classic Greek church greeted us as we entered the natural bay of the Town of Inousses. This is a small island only 640 people but there are some beautiful neoclassical mansions here. I took the dingy and went a walk up to the church with a beautiful view. It is the ancestral home of 30 percent of Greece’s shipping owners who return here for summer in a week’s time. This time next week this bay would be full of luxury boats and there would be no room for yachties. The rich pay under the table to keep this island their own, from being developed too much.

Strangely enough there were birds making loud noises at night. I think they were seagulls. Not sure what their problem was! We anchored too near to the entrance of the bay and the coast guard politely asked us to move. Another Aussie boat from Pittwater came in. Paddy & Caroline had left Darwin March 08 and sailed here via Thailand and the Suez canal-brave souls! Hadn’t had any problems with pirates! 

We were invited for drinks on their boat and went out to dinner with a Swedish couple. Linda was originally from America. Thomas was a retired cruise ship captain. Linda had lost her 1st husband due to a tumor and was leader of a group on board his ship when they met. Thomas hadn’t married. It was a classic love boat story. They were a very interesting couple. Stefan was very interested as his early dream was to be a captain on a ship but his father had talked him out of it.

Next Island we stepped back in time. Psara was a remote island with no internet. Daniel was joining us soon and we could not contact him. The Youth have to entertain themselves otherways. It was quite refreshing I must say. We walked around town. The fruit & Veg man with his truck and loud speaker we never escape, not even here! We anchored up and went ashore in the dingy as we prefer, though many harbors like this don‘t charge! They are just happy to see other people and have a bit more action.
We were then in the thick of things! We were getting good wind about 20 knots! Cruising at 8 knots reefed a little. This was the main shipping lane between Istanbul and the world and we saw some big beasts! Ships that is! And we stayed away from them! Stefan had a place in mind that might be a good place to anchor but the military had already had the same idea and waved us off! It was a beautiful bay!

We finally anchored in a beautiful bay and beach near Skyros away from where the huge Ferries came in! This beach had your typical Greek restaurant right on the beach with blue chairs and tables, sleepy in the day but lively at night! This group of islands is beautiful! The Sporades! White rock outcrops and lots of pine trees! I could never have imagined that the Greek islands had many pine trees! The other thing I could never imagine, not on this island, but on many others was how much Venetian influence in the way of buildings there is on many of the Greek Islands. We went ashore to a nice internet café! A Greek girl who spoke good English said she was a traditional girl and had followed her man from Athens to be here. She didn’t mind it in summer here but in winter it was boring. I think her partner owned the place! It was very trendy! We spent a couple of days two and throw as it was the only internet place .We never saw him but got quite friendly with her! She let us use the internet without buying a drink in the end as drinks here were expensive. Hope she didn’t get into trouble! From her man that is!

We went ashore to the beach one day wanting to go to Skyros town not sure of how to get there. A bus with a driver was near one of the hotels. I told him we were off a boat and wanted to go to Skyros and was he heading that way! Stefan is lucky he has me to get him free rides often! This bus was on the way to the airport so we did some detours which was good for us. We got to see some more of the countryside! He dropped us off a little short of Skyros as he was going to the airport but we enjoyed the short walk with the castle backdrop! Skyros is your classical beautiful old Greek town. Narrow streets! Whitewashed houses with blue doors and windows, bougainvilleas, olianders. A spectacular view from the top over the water, which was quite a few steps up! These are the towns I like! They do have tourists but not so many that it effects there way of life of the locals! Local people in these towns are so social. Ladies sit pealing beans on their front step talking to everyone they know as the walk past! All the locals know each other and show so much affection to each other! It is such a social environment! Everyone knows and talks to each other. Kids run around freely without parents in sight! It is so refreshing I love it! We sat with the locals in the shade as it was hot! Stefan had to spoil it getting his laptop out to check a trade he had happening! I decided to have one of the cheese pastries the locals seem to have been all having! A bit cold but OK! 

We caught a local bus back to the boat! I patted a Skyrian pony which is unique to the island and in danger of extinction! My love for ponies & horses will never die! I elected to swim back to the boat to cool off while Stefan took the dingy! That evening an Australian boat came into the bay! Stefan was off doing his interneting thing. I think they thought I looked a bit lonely and they invited me over for Ouzo! They were actually Greek Australians. The owner was a doctor from Brisbane. He and his wife had four other relatives on board. They kept this sailing boat in Athens and came over every Greek summer for a holiday. Stefan also came on board when he came back. They were so friendly gave us their contact details and told us if ever in Brisbane to visit them. They left the following morning!


MAMMA MIA here we go again! I Meet a special friend

2009-07-14 to 2009-07-22

We sailed to the Port of Kimi on the Island of Evia, Greece’s 2nd largest Island, attached to the mainland via a bridge. We were meeting our son Daniel here. He had a few dramas booking flights to Sweden and losing his credit card but we were tied up in the harbour and he had no problems finding us. Daniel had spent a week in Sweden and some days in London which he had enjoyed.

We arrived a few days early and anchored in the bay. This is a busy port for huge ferries to the Islands. Unfortunately the ferries don’t slow down when they came in causing Juliana to rock and roll quite a bit as they passed which wasn’t so bad by day but at night when we were trying to sleep we didn’t want to rock and roll with her. It is amazing how any cars come off these ferries. There is a constant stream and when you finally think no more cars could be on board another stream come. Plenty of action to watch!

There was no public internet and few facilities here but a nearby hotel kindly let Stefan have access to their internet. Trading futures with limited internet sometimes can be challenging for Stefan at times. The town of Kimi is very picturesque 4 klm up the mountain, a very windy road leading there and a lovely view over the water. There were no buses going there so we had to hitch as it was too steep for biking! Some friendly American men picked us up. They were low on petrol, hoping to make the town which we did.

Interesting enough Dr George Papanikolaou who came up with the pap smear test came from this smallish town. Phew! I am glad they abbreviated the name of this test. These are the towns I love, pretty with a lot of character, not many tourists and a local feel about them, locals congregating in the town square under shady trees. You actually feel you are in Greece.

Evia is very mountainous. We had read that there were some other beautiful little towns in the mountains up to the north. We caught a bus we thought was going north. It ended up heading south and then west to Hakida, the other side of the island, where the bridge crossing to the mainland is! It was very hot and we walked along the water near the bridge when we arrived and had a milkshake which was mainly ice. Though we didn’t end up going where we wanted to go it was interesting seeing some countryside anyway. We got a ride back from Kimi town to the port with a Greek lady car mechanic whose car wasn’t running that well. She was going down to the beach to cool off!

It was good to see Daniel. After he settled in we had a great sail to the Greek island Skopelos . The cast and crew spent over 3 months here filming the ABBA movie Mamma Mia. We instantly knew why they chose this island, it was so beautiful! White rock outcrops and lots of pine trees and clear blue water. The 1st night we tied up in the small beach harbour of Agnontas which was beautiful. It was calm when we came in, but overnight the wind changed and there was surge and we felt as if we were in a washing machine. A boat also came in in the middle of the night with noisy people on board which didn’t help. We didn’t get much sleep and were happy to get out of there. The wind was quite strong even a Hydrofoil was going slowly. We ended up anchoring in the next bay off Limnonari beach. Daniel enjoyed doing back flips off the boat into the clear 28 degrees water and ended up getting sunburnt despite precautions.

Stefan ended up having to go off in the dingy to help a man on a charter boat whose anchor dragged and he was having problems getting it up. The other people on board were ashore. Apparently he had a heart condition and the anchor chain had to be pulled up manually. Stefan came back a little worn out. As the wind didn’t seem to be dropping Stefan decided to stay on Juliana while Daniel and I walked over the hill to catch a bus to Skopelos town. On bus ride there were some spectacular views over the water.
Skopelos town is your classical old Greek town and harbour that you see on post cards, narrow streets, white with blue buildings and cats. There are always lots of cats! Daniel and I walked around town and then sat in a café using the laptop in the cool. Daniel had to book his ticket back to London.We certainly enjoyed the scenery on this island. When we got back Juliana had a friend. A big silver power boat called Barbie. The logo on the boat was the same as the doll, it obviously had some connection to the company. There was no sign of Ken! In fact I think there was, as usual only crew on board washing and polishing. Luckily Stefan didn’t have to rescue it dragging anchor.

Next we sailed off to the beautiful island of Alonnisos . We went to tie up stern to the wharf in Patitiri. A lady port authority blew her whistle at us as they like to do, telling us to move to a different place. Stefan was concerned that there was enough depth for our boat, she said at least 3 meters so we went where she told us. I hate harbors! Always a drama! A Greek catamaran not only tied up beside us when there was not enough room but had a friend’s boat also want to tie up between us as well! Then we were sitting there relaxing in the evening! Daniel was ashore. All of a sudden we started hitting the bottom with the surge waves from the Ferries coming in. We had to move quickly but there was no more room in the harbor at this time of day! We ended up anchoring inside the harbour near some trawlers with 2 stern lines to the rocks.

The following day I had just about had enough of dramas. The old town of Alonnisos is perched above on the mountain. I read that there was a nice short cut bush walk amongst olive trees, up there so decided to clear my head. Stefan stayed on board. I must of missed the turnoff of the walk and ended up starting to walk along the road the cars go, which was hot and a long way I realized so I decided to hitch. As it happened two Greek ladies picked me up. Eva the driver said she would love to take me to old Alonnisos and walk around the old town with me if that was OK. She was from Athens with her car on a 5 day holiday with a friend who wanted to do different things to her. Her friend wanted to sit on the beach all day while she wanted to do things. She ended up dropping her friend off at the beach and taking me to see the sights of the town in her car.

Eva was such a friendly kind person. She told me God must have sent me to make her happy! I told her God must have sent her to make me happy as we had both been having unhappy times earlier that day. I asked her how it was that she spoke good English. She said she learnt English from watching American movies. Eva and I were born in the same year. She had 2 boys and had worked hard but now could take it a bit easier. She designed gardens and had 2 shops selling plants and flowers. We had such a lovely morning walking around the old town talking and then sat in a café overlooking the view. I insisted on paying for coffee but she wouldn’t let me. In Greece you are my guest she said and just wouldn’t let me pay. The waitress took a photo of us. Unfortunately the photo didn’t turn out that well. I had complimented her on the shell necklace she wore. I was reduced to tears when she presented me with a gift bag with the most beautiful shell necklace. To remember our special time she said.

I had arranged for Stefan to pick me up in the dingy at 1pm. Eva drove me back at 1pm. I invited her to the boat but she had to go back to pick her friend up from the beach. We sadly said goodbye exchanging contact details and arranged to meet for coffee the next morning if I was still in town as she was going back to Athens the following afternoon. The wind was right that afternoon and we had to sail so I didn’t see her again but one day maybe! I hope so!


HOTEL AUSTRALIA in SKIATHOS

2009-07-23 to 2009-07-30

We left Patitiri on Alonnisos island with all the big ferries coming and going. Next Island we visited was Peristera. We anchored in a beautiful remote bay with stern lines to the rocks. There was a big sailing boat about 120ft anchored up with paying passengers windsurfing, kayaking etc. In the evening I did my normal kayaking around the bay and got talking to Richard on this boat. He was the boat’s engineer, a Kiwi and had been with this boat for quite some years! In Patitiri we had talked to an Australian who was crewing on a similar sized boat. There was also a barbeque happening on the beach which I checked out. They were from an English boat, very friendly and invited me to stay but I had had dinner and Daniel & Stefan may have wondered where I was.The following morning a boat, we had also met in Patitiri came in. Some Australians, Chris, his wife and 2 highschool aged daughters! They currently lived in Malaysia and had chartered a boat for a couple of weeks. Australians do seem to get around. A dog’s head was all we would see at first of a dingy coming along in this bay. The dog seemed to be enjoying the ride.Our next anchorage was in a remote bay back on Alonnisos island with fishing boats and a small community ashore. Daniel unfortunately was cleaning his razor and dropped a part of it overboard never to be seen again. On my paddle around the bay this evening was a French boat! They didn’t speak much English, A boat from Israel with a friendly couple and 2 young girls. I then spoke to a Swiss guy sailing alone. His wife was joining him shortly for a week, she apparently was not that keen on sailing! It was a beautiful evening, very calm as the sun went down.The following day we sailed along the coast of Alonnisos past Patitiri where we anchored but in a beautiful bay for a swim, with a view of old Alonnisos perched on the mountain. I had looked down to this bay a few days earlier having coffee with Eva up in the old town. We continued on around the bottom of Alonnosos and along the beautiful mountainous coast of Skopelos with a little church perched on a mountain. It is always fun to sail like this close to land. It is like bushwalking on a boat!After peaceful remote bays it was back to noisy discos that blared all night. We had anchored near Skiathos town on Skiathos Island to take Daniel out to a restaurant as this was one of his last night’s with us. It is very touristy! Restaurants and shops! The main street however had no cars! There was lots of action here with the port police blowing their whistles constantly as cars and trucks went on and off ferries. In contrast a horse and carriage! We had a nice meal on the waterfront and then went for a walk on a small island attached to and overlooking the town. The lights were beautiful. There was a huge power boat called SUNDAY.The following day we looked for a quieter anchorage and found one around in the next bay off a beach, where there was still easy access to town, and the airport Daniel had to fly out of was nearby. It was very hot so we put up the boom tent and constantly jumped overboard in the clear water to cool off. Even the water was about 28 degrees. There was water sports happening by day that seemed to like using us as a rounding buoy but that was OK it kept us entertained. Stefan and Daniel got out our water skis and kneeboard and went for a whirl as well. The paragliders came very close to our boat also. We took Daniel ashore in the evening to catch his plane. I waited with his luggage while he went to try to book accommodation in Athens on the internet, as he was arriving late. It ended up taking longer than expected and he nearly missed his plane. He was saved by the plane leaving late though it was quite a bit late.I was independent and could paddle ashore in the kayak for groceries at Dia and Carrfour etc. There was a free hotspot nearby to use the internet. We met a young Australian guy from Coffs Harbour in a campervan here. The wind picked up and we dragged anchor heading towards an expensive power boat, other boats were dragging as well. We had to take the boom tent down quickly which was a challenge in this strong wind and re- anchored a bit further along. A lot of other boats even a freighter were anchoring around us as this was the protected side of the bay. As there was nothing better to do waiting the wind out, keeping an eye on the anchor, boaties all watched each other. It was quite funny! You often learn a lot by studying other boats and how they are set up etc.I went a walk up to an old fashioned Greek windmill one day. There was a beautiful view over town and the bay. I needed to visit a dentist and a man at a hardware store had recommended one. Greek people are so funny when they give directions we have found. They usually tell you to turn left when they mean right. They usually give directions for 100 meters or so and then tell you to ask someone else. Sometimes this is understandable as the narrow streets sometimes run like rabbit warrens.I did find the dentist; her surgery was near the Town Hall. She was such a sweet lady and fixed my problem. She spoke good English. She had horse pictures in her waiting room. Apparently her daughter was a keen horse enthusiast. After hearing about our sailing adventures she was so fascinated she didn’t charge me any money for her services. I found out I was lucky to find a dentist as they were all on holiday at this time of the year I was told. Over the last 18 months I have visited an American dentist, A Swedish dentist (my dear sister in law) An Australian one, a Turkish dentist and now a Greek one. Yes I do have teeth that require a bit of attention unfortunately.Stefan was having his challenges but is very determined. He wanted to be able to use internet on the boat via 3G as we had finally been able to do in Turkey. He had had his challenges in Turkey and now here. In order to get it he needed to have a land line. He had walked past a hotel called Hotel Australia. Curious he walked in to say “Gidday” It turned the guy Costas, who owned it was born in Greece but his mother was Australian so this is why he had given the hotel this name. He was so friendly and Stefan got talking to him about the frustrations he was having with Vodafone. He kindly offered Stefan his landline number to use and then it was all clear sailing. We now have limited internet on board as it is quite expensive. If anyone goes to Skiathos and is looking for a hotel make sure you stay at Hotel Australia!We caught a local bus around the island one day and went walking which was fun!


METEORA , A WEIRD LANDSCAPE and we Meet SIR OLIVER of LEROS

2009-08-01 to 2009-08-07

After catching a local bus along the coast beaches of Skiathos we set sail for mainland Central Greece, Volos. Very high bare mountains greeted us as we entered the Pagasitic Gulf. Volos is a large bustling university city. It is popular to stroll along the waterfront in the evening with lots of boats, restaurants, parks and beaches. There are lots of buskers and street venders. Plenty of action! Ferries leave here for the Sporade islands. The same fisherman fished beside our boat every evening with his line. We motored around looking for a spot to tie up. There was nowhere to anchor. A friendly Greek waved us into a stern to the waterfront spot. He told us this was his private mooring we could use as his son was out with his boat for a week. He helped us with our ropes and we pressed the THAT WAS EASY” button we have on the boat.

One of the main reasons we had come here was to go inland to a place called Meteora where there were monasteries perched on dagger shaped Mountains. At 6.45am the following day we caught a local bus from the bus station to Trikala where we changed buses to Kastraki. This trip took a couple of hours but it is novel for us to see a bit of the inland away from the coast. As we approached Kastraki the landscape changed drastically as we suddenly saw strange dagger like mountains protruding the landscape. A bit like the Bungle, Bungle mountains in Australia, then we noticed the monasteries on top. It was amazing! We got talking to a young polish couple who were on the bus going to the monasteries as well. We ended up sharing a taxi to Grand Meteora monastery which we went inside. These days there are steps to get up. They are very high up and the monks built them on top of these dagger style mountains to escape invaders and be closer to God. It is amazing how they could build these monasteries. The only way up and down for them was to be hoisted up in a rope net. The James Bond movie “For my eyes only” was filmed from the holy Trinity Monastery which we walked to later. We spent an interesting day walking in this unusual and dramatic landscape. It is a popular destination for serious rock climbers. It was a long day and late by the time we got back to the boat.

Another day we took another local bus about 16 klms,up to Makrynitsa which clings to the mountainside with an elevation of 750 meters. It is named the Balcony of Pelion overlooking Volos and the water. The ride up was magic with such panoramic views from the top. It is a lot cooler up here with a very shady town square with big old impressive trees and cobbled streets that are closed to traffic. While we were waiting for the bus to go back to the boat we saw a fire break out in a small town below. Being very hot and dry it quickly spread threatening houses. Unfortunately it took the fire engines a long time to come up the windy steep road, laden with water. Then the big Helicoper came back and forward filling up with water in Volos bay and dowsing the fire till it was out. A very skilled pilot as the countryside was very mountainous to maneuver to get the water landing in the right spot. We had a bird’s eye view.

There was a huge surprise waiting for us when we got back to Juliana. “Callista” with Harriet and Paul aboard was tied up next to Juliana. “Callista” was the nearest boat about 50 nautical miles from us going across the Atlantic. Going across the Atlantic we spoke to them nightly for nearly 2 weeks then finally got to meet them in Azores. After that we had gone up to Sweden and they had gone straight to the Mediterranean. We had kept in contact but had not seen them since then. During the summer we had tried to meet up with them but commitments and weather hadn’t allowed it. They were heading in a different direction from us but due the wind being unfavorable they had turned around and here they were. It was meant to be! After drinks on their boat, we went out together to a restaurant on the waterfront that night and had a wonderful night. They are Dutch and had left their boat on the Greek island of Leros over the winter. Unfortunately their boat had been struck by lightning whilst up on land during this time and everything electrical on board had been damaged so they ended up in Leros for longer than expected. Harriet had rescued a puppy while they were there. They had fallen in love with him and decided to take him with them on the boat when they left. They called him Sir Oliver of Leros. We had heard so much about this little dog and now we finally got to meet Sir Oliver. He certainly is a personality and gets a water pistol spray when he does the wrong thing. He has been known to chew up things on the boat.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to them and the friendly young Greek couple on a small sailing boat beside us. We anchored on a nearby island called Trickery with a stern to line. The wind changed in the night and we had to move on. We past ships in the night! The wind got quite strong and there was a disturbed sea as we passed Kimi on Evia Island where we had picked up Daniel. Our main sail had got stuck in the mast. We anchored off a nice little beach that was a good anchorage for the night. There was a small community here. I had to winch Stefan up the mast. He lashed the sail to the mast as it would not go in and out and we sailed on with one sail. The straight between Southern Evia and Andros Islands has a bad reputation. We made good progress with one sail which was reefed. A bit rolly at first with not much wind then it freshened and we were doing about 8-9 knots. When we were just about through the Straight, all of a sudden there was no wind then 40 Knots then no wind again. Stefan reckoned we were not going to be let off that lightly in this big bad straight, just got a little smack on the bottom as we passed through to make sure we had respect for this area.


STATE EMERGERY SERVICES BOARD US ON MAINLAND GREECE

2009-08-08 to 2009-08-13

We tied up stern to with lots of charter boats in Lavrio, mainland Greece and went for a walk, not much of interest, very touristy and set sail early morning. Vouliagmeni was where we were to pick up our Australian friends Fiona, Terry and daughter Verity! This mission was conducted successfully and they were safely on board! We had worked out this was the closest port for us to Athens airport and they caught a bus to us from there. These friends I met when I was involved in State Emergency Services as a volunteer in Australia. Those good volunteers that go out in all sorts of weather to help people in distress!

Curiously! Just after they arrived a strange box floated by on the water tied with a string. We were tempted to pick it from the water but had second thoughts! Just think if it happened to be drugs and they had just arrived in the country they would have had some explaining to do! Curiously we let the box float out to sea! WE WILL NEVER KNOW WHAT WAS INSIDE! We were anchored off a resort, lots of water sports people doing their thing!
The following morning we set sail to the island of Aegina! A nice island but probably too close to Athens! Very touristy! Lots of Ferries coming and going! We did however have a good time here, a nice meal ashore etc! Our main sail was still stuck and Stefan had Terry’s help trying to get it fixed! In the process there was a problem with the main sail slider and Stefan lost his balls! The stainless steel ball bearings from the slider broke free on deck scattering everywhere some overboard. My good old kayak caught some of them. We had a mad scramble to catch and find as many as possible. NEVER A DULL MOMENT ON A SAILING BOAT! A treasure hunt to see who can find the most balls! 

Fiona, Terry & Verity decided to have a washing day! Fiona & Verity got the clothes clean and gave Terry the job of rinsing the clothes. When he decided to agitate them with his dirty feet in the bucket it didn’t go over well at first but at the end of the day we were all reduced to laughter. Fiona & Terry had sailed with us before and were due to spend 5 days with us unfortunately daughter Verity hadn’t sailed before, wasn’t very comfortable with it and wanted to see Athens as she hadn’t been there before. It was after all mainly a family holiday to England. They caught the Ferry back from Aegina and were only with us for two days which was sad as you can’t go very far in 2 days. The islands we saw if they had been able to spend the 5 days were magic.

It was great to see them and their two days with us were action packed! We had an funny discussion about male monkeys if they want to be the leader of the group they have to bulk up to be bigger and better than the others. Terry reckoned Stefan might have to bulk up a bit more to be a captain. The old Greek idea also was that a bulked up Greek gave the impression of being a wealthy one.

While we were in Aegina another Aussie boat and a New Zealand boat were anchored up nearby. We decided to call the bay ANZAC cove. A French boat dragged anchor and was on the rocks when the Aussies and Kiwis worked together to perform a successful rescue of the boat and 2 people on board with an engine that wasn’t working. The boat had to be towed off, luckily with not too much damage. Stefan was the first one on the spot to help in the dingy with a tow rope which he attached to the boat in trouble and the New Zealand boat “Slam dunk”! He will have to set up a rescue service as this is the 3rd boat in trouble recently that he has helped, one a solo lady sailor.

Our State Emergency Services trained persons Fiona & Terry were on board and stood by to help. A bit of a different situation from what they are used to but they were amazed how quickly things happen. One minute a boat is anchored up next to you, a minute later when you look out it is on the rocks. The ANZAC team saved the day!

After Terry, Fiona & Verity left us we decided to go to Athens to get some stainless steel ball bearing for the main sail slider to replace the ones that had gone in the water and a few other things. The marina we went onto was a big one with the marina men coming out to meet us and directed us where to tie up and helped us. They were very friendly and said we could stay free of charge for a couple of hours to do what we needed to do. A friendly Greek on a big motor boat next to us let us fill up our one empty water tank with his hose. Stefan got the things he needed, I stocked up with groceries at a nearby Carrfour supermarket and we were off.

Greece has 6,000 Islands and islets so we had a few more to see! I was interested to find out that the word MARATHON came about with a battle in 490BC that is said to be one of the most celebrated in world history. 10,000 Greek soldiers defeated 25,000 Persians. The only way to let the people of Athens know about the victory was to send a runner with the good news. He had to run 42 Klms to Athens. The town he ran from was called Marathon and this is why the distance of a Marathon is 42 Klms. Unfortunately the runner was so exhausted after the run and proclaiming the news that he collapsed in a heap and never recovered .

We enjoyed the Saronic Gulf Greek Islands. Some lovely bays on Aegina! On the Island of Poros we anchored up in a bay called Russian bay. It had some ruins of an old Russian army base and a cute little Greek island that I kayaked around. We were next to a Greek sailing boat called Tania, our daughter’s name and spelt the same way. I wouldn’t help myself kayaking up and asking them about the name. They were a professional Greek couple from Athens. The wife’s name was Tania also. They said it was a very common Greek name. I was surprised. He was an Attorney. We anchored up near Poros town, a beautiful Venetian town. White houses with red roofs. We sailed through a narrow water passage that runs beside the town with cute waterfront houses, across to the beautiful island of Hydro. We sailed with another Australian boat ABACO, that we had met before from Perth. Hydro town has a small harbour, so we just cruised in and out without stopping. An Australian on a super yacht saw our flag and yelled the war cry AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE and we yelled out OY ! OY! OY!

Most Islands in Greece have the main town with the same name as the island which is confusing. Hydro town has no traffic only donkeys with gracious stone white and pastel Mansions. A similar nearby island Spetses has lots of pine trees and horse drawn carriages. In days gone by these were where the rich Athenian shipping barons lived!


GYTHIO a place where three Australia boats hang out!

2009-08-14 to 2009-08-25

We went into the big protected bay of Porto Heli and anchored with lots of other boats. They had a religious festival and there where church bells ringing all night that kept us awake. There is always something. After walking around this touristy town we set sail for Nafplio. We anchored up in what we thought was a quiet bay and went for a swim, but believe it or not there was a noisy disco lurking behind trees that started up. Another sleepless night!

We went stern to the wharf in Nafplio the following morning but the wind came up and we decided to move. We found a protected anchorage near the castle. Nafplio is billed as one of Greece’s prettiest towns and lives up to this reputation with its narrow streets and Venetian houses and a scenic walkway around the water. There are many restaurants where the water virtually laps your feet. It is a town full of character with its 3 fortresses of which relics have been found dating back over 3,000 years. Nafplio has been a major port since the Bronze Age and still has lots of bronze around the town. A big bronze horse with a soldier and bronze canons in an impressive park in the middle of town with the Fortress as the backdrop! Stefan was very impressed with the bronze canons! We walked up the 999 steps to the top of the Palamidi Fortress. The stonework was amazing. There was also a spectacular view in different directions. We would even keep an eye on Juliana in the bay below.

We sailed back along the other side of the Argolic Gulf in eastern Peloponnesewith its spectacular high and rugged mountain range, past Mount Parnnonas 1,935 meters high. An area called Leonidio. We went into the harbour there but it was too small so we sailed on to Monemevasia. Monemevasia is Greece’s answer to Gibraltar, a massive rock rising dramatically from the sea. We sheltered for 2 nights in an isolated bay NW of Monemevasia with 2 Swiss boats. There was a hotel and some nice houses here. We went ashore for a walk. Greek air force planes often fly low overhead

When the wind dropped a little we anchored up near the Massive Rock with its old town perched on it. We waved to a boat called Coral Sea that was just leaving and had an Australian Flag. We got to the old town on the rock via a causeway from the mainland town of Gefyra. The old town with its narrow cobbled streets, impressive stonework decked with Bougainville and beautiful views over the sea was certainly something for the eye. Anchored up we saw the police moving on campervans that were trying to make the most of the view for the day. There are advantages with boats. You can often anchor up for no cost in prime positions like this. The wind however was still strong and the anchorage rolly!

When we set sail there was very little wind, then when we went around the S.E. tip of the Pelonnponese the wind picked up to a scarey 40-50 knots. Luckily we were in lee of land so the waves didn’t get much of a chance to build up but they looked very strange and were making our deck and cockpit very wet and. I battened down below deck. Stefan braved it out on deck with his wet weather gear.

We headed for shelter and anchored off a beach near Neapoli for 2 nights and one day. Luckily the anchor dug in well and held as the strong wind was very persistent. Meltemi winds they call them, you don’t muck around with them and they can blow for days. The Freighters were coming in to shelter as well. They don’t stop to shelter unless it is really strong! Stefan and I entertained ourselves by having a guessing completion to guess what the highest temperature was over the hour. We did get some sleep with the anchor alarm on in case we dragged. We tried to get the Boxing Kangaroo flag down as it was getting ripped to shreds but in true Aussie form it didn’t want to come down. We had to leave it up boxing fearsly with the wind. We wondered what happened in wars when ships decided that they didn’t want to declare war anymore and couldn’t get their flags down in strong wind.

We were now in the Lakonian Gulf and sailed into Gythio. A surprise again greeted us! JACKTAR with Australians Peter and Carol from Noosa were already tied up to the wharf so we tied up beside them. This was the 1st Australian boat we saw in the season in Turkey. We had done cart wheels on seeing an Australian flag and thought we needed to get a life! It was so great catching up with them. They were in the rally going from Istanbul to Egypt when we met them last, months ago. Then a 3rd boat came in with an Australian flag CORAL SEA the boat we had waved to in Monemevasia. They tied up next to us so then there were 3 Aussie boats in a row! He was an Australian from Tasmania but now living in Norway married to a Norwegian lady. They chartered a boat in Greece every year.
We went a walk up to a church on the hill with a fantastic view over the quaint fishing harbour of Gythio. There was octopus hanging out drying in the street. We wanted to hire a motor bike to go up in the mountains but there were no hire places here as it is not a tourist destination which has its advantages and disadvantages. I would have liked to have done some trekking in this area but it wasn’t to be.

Our next anchorage was an interesting one Porto Kagio! We anchored up in a deep natural bay. A church on the hill greets you as you enter. This area of the Peloponnese is called the Mani region. There are all these tower settlements dating back to the 17th century when they were built by refugees from clan wars. Many have been restored into holiday bed & Breakfast places out in this remote region, which make for a different holiday destination. I bit like staying in a lighthouse!

Sailing on we passed the cape we had left from early in the season when sailing from Kalamata to Crete. The wind dropped, then there was no wind at all, then off Kalamata a thunder and lightning storm was frightening. Stefan saw the water sizzle one hundred meters away, it was close. Stefan came up with one of his bad jokes GREECED LIGHTNING! I went down stairs. Our wind instruments stopped working. We knew we had not been hit but thought they must have been damaged by the static electricity. To our relief they suddenly started working again a few days later. STRANGE! Wind and rain have no moderation over here. We had had no rain all summer and now it poured. The only good thing was that Juliana got a good soak with fresh water after all the salt that got on everything in the strong winds.

We enjoyed the East and South Peloponnese, Southern Greece, which is full of big Gulfs to sail into and spectacular mountain ranges and lovely bays. We went into Kalamata where we had left Juliana over winter.


Olympia- LET THE GAMES BEGIN

2009-08-26 to 2009-08-29

After recovering from the thunder storm with lightning and rain bucketing down and Meltemi winds , we joked there was a Meltemi wind hiding behind every hill, we anchored near Katamata gas depot to get our gas bottles filled, an expensive exercise! It is hard to find places that fill up the American gas bottles on our boat but we had filled them up here at the beginning of the season, 5 months ago when we left. Just after we anchored up we saw quite a few men with bright life vests getting into dinghies. They were being dropped off in pairs in the water. We were very close and wondered what was going on. Then there was a smoke flare and a helicopter came down low and we realized it was an army training rescue exercise. You realize how difficult it is to pick men up from the sea even in these calm warm conditions with the strong wind from the rotor blades etc. It was very dramatic and kept us entertained for some time, particularly me while Stefan went off in the dingy to get the gas. 

We also anchored outside Kalamata Marina where Juliana had spent last winter. Stefan needed to get some things for the boat and I went back to my old grocery haunts. We anchored up for the night off Koroni, in a protected bay for the night. We set sail early planning to sail to another old haunt from last summer, Pilos. I wrote one of my “This is as good as it gets!” moments. It is like Mark Holden on Australian Idol when he used to give a very good performer “a touchdown”. There was a gentle breeze blowing us along with no swell past the little seaside villages, hills with olive trees and Luxury houses gracing the hills in places. I constantly refer to bush walking (trekking) when we sail like this, close to the coast, as this is what it feels like. When you want to take a break from taking in the view you go downstairs and do what you have to do. We even had dolphins join us. Stefan was puzzled when he thought her saw an uncharted rock ahead but it ended up being a turtle that moved.

We sailed back around Methoni with its spectacular castle on the point, which we had marveled about last summer. We planned to revisit Pilos but the wind was too good and we knew we had to gasp opportunities now that we were sailing north west towards Corfu and winds could be predominantly on the nose. We arrived in Katakolon near Pyrgos late and anchored in darkness with other boats in protected waters.

The following morning we went ashore in the dingy to investigate how to get to the nearby ancient Olympia where the first modern Olympic Games started in 776BC. We found there was a train leaving soon that went directly there. We decided to catch this train that took about an hour. It was unfortunate that we didn’t have our camera with us as we didn’t plan to go just yet. I had to get post cards and take a picture of them for the blog to remember what it was like. The train was a cute little 2 car diesel train that tooted at each road crossing.

We went around the Olympia museum with magnificent sculptures and learnt a lot more about the early Olympic Games. In early days The Games were a lot more than a sporting fixture. Writers and poets came to read their works to large audiences and traders struck deals. The idea was that all factions declared a spruce while the games were on and worked towards peace. They expended their energies in sport rather than battles at this time. The ancient complex of Olympia covers a large area, which was interesting to walk around. It consisted of temples, priest’s dwellings and many public buildings as well as the athletes’ quarters and training areas.

We learnt that even in the early times some athletes tried to cheat drinking bull’s blood with apparently had the effect of a steroid. If they were found out they had to pay for a statue of themselves to be made that everyone that walked past it spat on. The Red Bull energy drink apparently got its name from this idea of drinking bull’s blood for energy. Many bulls also were unfortunately sacrificed at the start of the games.

We saw where the torch is lit before it travels to the city hosting every Olympic Games. The original Olympic games were held in an outdoor area that seated 30,000 people, only men. It consisted of a 120 meter sprint track. Women started dressing up as men to get in. It was decided that spectators be nude like the Athletes to make sure this didn’t happen. Athletes entered via a long tunnel, the remains of which are still there. After a short walk through the modern town of Olympia we caught a bus back to Pyrgos with a friendly French guy and then another bus back to the boat in Katakolon.

We had also read about an interesting train track in Northern Pelonnonese so the next morning we caught a 7am train to Pyros then Patras. Patras to Egio. We had a bit of time walking around Egio, then Diakofta. It was an ambitious plan but we got there to catch the 2pm train to Kalavryta. The original train was steam and the track was built by an Italian company, very ahead of its time in 1885 but now the train is diesel from the 1960’s. It climbs up a rack & pinion (cog) track 756 metres into the spectacular Vouraikos Gorge. (see photos)

The train stopped before we got to the end which was disappointing as it was a 14 hour day we were to have to see this. Apparently there was some problem with the train and we had to transfer to the train going down. We had a booked bus fare from a town about about 15 klm away but couldn’t find a bus or even a taxi to get there so we had to hitch. It took a while but a finally a kind Greek in an old car picked us up. He was going to Patras further along to visit his son not Egio but we decided to with him the further stage. All of a sudden however there was a strange noise. Stefan got out with him and found his fan belt had snapped. Luckily there was a service station nearby. There also was a taxi so and as we had paid our bus fare from Egio and it was nearby we decided to say goodbye to our kind Greek man who spoke good English. Luckily we caught the last bus back to the boat from Pyrgos but it was only because it was running late.


KEFALLONIA the Island where Tania & Phil join us.

2009-08-30 to 2009-09-11

 Before leaving Katakolon near Pyros on mainland Greece we went to fill up with water. A friendly Greek guy Janis on a big power boat helped us with our ropes on the wharf. We filled up our tank and decided to stay on the wharf for an hour or 2. We were amazed at another Greek guy washing a power boat. The hose was on full bore and he seemed to wash the same spot over and over for hours. I think he liked holding a hose. When he was not using the hose he put it in the water still on. Then as we were about to leave a guy came up and wanted 10 Euro from us for filling up 300 litres. We are used to paying for water but this seemed excessive. We asked Janis on the next boat if this was the right amount. He spoke to the Guy in Greek and it was all settled we pay nothing. This was the same guy who had come up in a power boat and told us we were anchored in a fishing zone and that we had to move. Other boats had been anchored here so we ignored him. Now nothing was too much trouble! Amazing a conversation in Greek makes! He was now our best friend!

Stefan had gone into town to get a big pipe he needed for the boat. He was in the Vodafone shop and put it down while talking to the shop person. People started putting rubbish in his pipe thinking it was a bin.

We sailed to the Greek Island of Zakynthos. We stayed overnight in the town. There was no suitable anchorage so we had to go into the Marina. A man was standing on the Jetty with his money purse ready to collect the money his 25 Euro and packing the boats in like sardines. I felt like a jockey in the starting barriers, the boats on either side were so close, charter boats with 6-8 people on board. We went a walk but unfortunately it was so touristy and the harbour smelt. We were happy to leave the next morning and sailed along the East coast of the island which was still touristy to the extreme. In the Lonely planet it says the turtles have always laid their eggs on this island however the huge number of beach umbrellas is damaging the eggs after they are laid and they are in damger. It describes Zakynthos as a tacky package tourist island, however to the North were some pretty amazing blue grotto caves and north west an amazing bay shipwreck bay! Spectacular scenery! We look an amazing movie but are not having much luck putting movies on the website they seem to be too big but the photos are there. Angsar gave Stefan a card last birthday with” Hope you don’t end up like this!” I still had it and got it out. It was shipwreck bay!

We sailed on to the next island of Argostoli. There was a big freighter anchored half way between the islands that puzzled us. We anchored up near Spartia beach. We named it the 12 Apostles as the white rocks looked like them standing up with a huge mountain backdrop with clouds coming and going over them. It was an amazing sight! The water was so clear for swimming off the boat. A turtle visited us. This was one of those “This is as good as it gets” moments. One morning we went ashore for a walk to the church we could see in the distance and to get some bread. It was a lovely walk amongst the olive trees. Apparently England owned this Island at some stage and there are lots of houses and holiday houses in this area that is apparent are English. Very stately homes with fountains, roses and manicured lawns! A young Hungarian couple we met gave us a ride back to our boat in their hired car. It was great to talk to my friend since school, Margaret on Skype on her birthday. Margaret is having health problems and managing to stay so positive. She is certainly an inspiration for me when things get tough on the boat sometimes!

We then sailed into the Gulf of Argostoli, an impressive waterway for sailing. We spent the first night anchored at Lixouri on one side of the gulf and the next in the bay near Argostoli town where we were to meet our daughter Tania and Phil. While we waited there was a big radio controlled power boat regatta! Lots of noise for Stefan! And a quieter rowing regatta for me! This is the sport I want to take up when I get back in old timers division! Plenty to see from our anchorage! We are constantly amazed by our nudist sailing neighbours! In some secluded bay or if you have a good body it would be OK! We thought English were conservative but have seen otherwise! The Northern Europeans obviously make the most of the sun even if it is painful to the eyes of others nearby in harbors and it is not as if you can’t notice them as they wave to you! It is amusing anyway and maybe it is us who have the problem! We have a new line for our Juliana song. A naked sailor in the morning is a general warning!

Tania & Phil arrived at 7am. We arranged to meet them at the Tourist Hotel, a pink building on the waterfront. As happens sometimes they arrived early. After a walk around town we set sail about midday! We anchored a few hours later for a swim near Spartia beach (Our special 12 Apostles bay)! We decided to anchor here overnight but the anchorage got at bit rolly so we made an early start in the morning.

We sailed to Ithaki an amazing town, bay and Island anchored up with 23 other sailing boats, 2 other Australian boats. This area is a paradise for sailing. We wished we could have spent more time in this area. When we sailed out the following day we counted 48 sailing boats sailing around the islands as far as you could see. Stefan has a big grin on his face these days as Juliana sails past every boat around with her clean bottom and new sails she certainly performs well. Again we anchored up in a beautiful bay for lunch and a swim. Tania says she will really miss these lunch times diving off the boat followed by lunch, open sandwich platters and fruit. She comments she is feeling so relaxed and healthy already. Whilst in this bay Stefan did his good deed for the day helping an English couple on a charter boat who had anchored up and then were unable to get the anchor up or down as the anchor chain was stuck inside the locker.

Later we anchored off the private Island of late Aristotle and Jackie Onassis, the shipping tycoon who married President Kennedy’s wife. Aristotle and his children are buried on this island. You can understand why he chose this area full of beautiful bays with a mountain scenery backdrop. We then went through a canal which was interesting and sailed overnight to the island of Paxi.

We went ashore and had a walk of beautiful dinner in the quaint town of Gaios and stayed for the night here anchored stern to the rocks. The following day on route to Corfu where Tania and Phil would fly out of, when the wind dropped we stopped in the middle of the sea for a swim. Tania was amazed to be able to swim right out there without worrying about sharks.

The tears rolled saying good bye to Tania and Phil such a wonderful person and perfect match for Tania! It was so great getting to know him more. We had had such a wonderful time.


CORFU! Scootering around!

2009-09-12 to 2009-09-21

Tania & Phil left us in Corfu to fly back to Australia! We spent 10 days in Corfu while we waited for a new crew member another Stefan from Austria who would join us to sail to Croatia, Malta,Gibraltar and across the Atlantic. We nearly felt like locals by the time we left, riding around on our push bikes. We found Corfu to be a beautiful green island. It has the most rainfall of all the Greek islands. Corfu has lots of mountains and tropical vegetation, many beautiful beaches and of course castles and monasteries! We hired a scooter for 2 days from a friendly Greek couple and went up into the mountains which was fun, with lots of smaller towns! It was like bushwalking the fast way, though it struggled a little up the highest mountain in Corfu, 925 meters with the 2 of us on board. A spectacular view over the island and nearby Albania !

We stopped for a chocolate coated Ice Cream. The things that have us in hysterics these days! I looked down and Stefan had something that looked like a bird dropping on his jeans. We weren’t sure if it was this or a melted dropping from his Ice cream. I don’t know how a bird dropping would have got there at the same time as he was eating Ice cream but it looked more like this than ice cream. He washed it off without tasting it so we will never know but we had a good laugh. I couldn’t understand why Stefan didn’t want to taste it to see which it was!

The second day we scootered to the beautiful area of Paleokastritsa and the Magnificant Fortress of Angelkastro, quaint towns and spectacular views that you will see in our pictures, on the Western coast of Corfu. We stopped off for a drink in a beautiful bar overlooking a beautiful bay. We found a scooter better than a car as it is easier to pull off anywhere and look at the map when needed. We also went for a proper bush walk with beautiful views up amongst the olive trees.

We had first anchored near the castle and Corfu town, very pretty at night! We had recently complained about a full moon shining through our hatch, when we needed it open, waking us up at night and before that there were times when we complained about the sun being too hot and couldn’t wait till it went down. COMPLAINING ABOUT A FULL MOON AND THE SUN! What is happening to us!

There are lots of English people living in Corfu so everyone speaks English which makes life easier. They even have a famous cricket pitch in the middle of town where regular games of cricket are played which seems funny in Greece. There are lots of impressive buildings and big mansions, a very cosmopolitan place with a big parkland area, very popular with the cruise ships that come in quick procession! We anchored in another spot as near the castle was a bit rolly! We could easily have been harbour side on the north shore of Sydney. We put a piece of our bimnie in to be repaired. There is a good fruit and vegetable market in Corfu. We also anchored near a little fishing harbour , it was a good anchorage and easy to ride our bikes into town. We also anchored near a Lidl grocery store to get supplies going ashore to a little jetty. Stefan was happy with a well stocked boat shop here. They got to know him well!

We don’t watch much TV even though we have one on the boat as it is usually in another language or the reception is bad but one night we watched BONANZA and BEWITCHED in English. It had Greek sub titles. It was funny to see these old films from way back! One night I was complaining about Stefan watching soccer on TV as he often did as you can watch and understand what is happening. I wanted him to see if there was anything on, on any of the other stations. Finally he did and I told him I wanted to catch this programme in English that seemed to be a cultural program. All of a sudden there was this tribe cutting off a chooks head and squirting blood everywhere as a sacrifice! I was happy for Stefan to go back and watch his soccer. Now every time I complain about him watching soccer as it is popular over here, Stefan says,”remember what happened last time”

Corfu is a great place to have a birthday! Last one was memorable in Gibraltar. I wonder where I will spend next one, hopefully not on the bottom of the sea. There was a mishap with my birthday cake! Stefan went to the trouble of getting a decorated heart shaped one! Unfortunately it tipped upside down in the dingy going back to the boat. I didn’t know about it at the time. It was in a box and tasted delicious but the shape and decoration was destroyed but such is life on a boat! It was great to get birthday emails and talk to my mother and father in Australia via skype. They are in their mid 80’s and don’t have email. They find it hard to understand I am talking to them via a computer which is understandable. As a young child my father’s family in country New South Wales only had a horse and sulky to get around with and a meat safe in the ground to keep meat from going bad, with no electricity. Things have certainly changed in their times!

We had one day of rain while in Corfu which was quite a novelty as we had forgotten what it was. On one of our last nights in Corfu while doing my Kayak socializing around the bay I was invited aboard BARACCA with a friendly Kiwi couple Heather & Maurice who refused to do the Hakka to prove they were Kiwis. They had just spent some months in Croatia and they were very helpful with information and must sees. HEATHER & MAURICE we ticked every one of the boxes of your MUST SEES and were impressed! Thank you! Luckily Stefan is used to me staying out after dark on my kayak. He knows I am not far away! I do paddle to enjoy the scenery as well but not after dark! We were kept awake that night for the first time with someone having a domestic on one of the anchored boats. It wasn’t Heather and Maurice by the way! The woman’s language was very strong, and kept going, something must have got up her nose. A boat can sometimes be close quarters I suppose!

We were anchored near the castle again when Austrian Stefan who agreed to be called Stefano to avoid confusion, arrived! His family name starts with O so it is not that much of a change for him. It was getting dark when he arrived and we picked him up in the dingy via the castle moat beside the castle which is interesting and still used as a passage for small boats. He arrived, on a warm evening with the lit up castle backdrop, from Austria, so it was pretty magic as we motored in the dingy where Juliana lay waiting.


CROATIA a country of beautiful towns & spectacular NATIONAL PARKS

2009-09-22 to 2009-10-02

We refueled and filled up with water. Stefano our new crew member had joined us and we sadly said good bye to Corfu and Greece about midday 22nd September. Stefan had done his captains duty of checking Juliana and crew out of Greece while I took Stefano on a little guided tour around Corfu. We picked up some fresh fruit & Veg, bread etc. It took us about 36 hours to sail from Corfu along the coast of Albania and Montenegro with its high mountains to Cavtat the about 15 nautical miles from Dubrovnik. There was not much wind but low swell. Unfortunately we had to motor quite a bit of the way. The dolphins came to say “hello” to us from time to time. We arrived and anchored up in Cavtat at midnight. We had a good sleep and woke up to a pretty place, very green, with nice walkways around the water, lots of trees and Venetian style houses. People jogging and walking their dogs!

Stefan went ashore in the dingy and we were told to proceed to the quarantine dock to check into Croatia. The cruising tax in Croatia we knew would be expensive so we were prepared and paid our AUS $500. Whether you stay for one month like us or 12 months you pay the same amount unfortunately. Marinas in Croatia also charge a lot so we knew to anchor up and stay away from them. While Stefan did the formalities Stefano & I waited on the boat. People came up talking to us. An Australian couple from Windsor, NSW, Australia and some English people off one of the cruise ships! Stefan walked back and forward to the different authorities and then we went back to our nearby anchorage which was a good one. We swam off the boat in clear warm water.

Cavtat is said to be one of the most attractive destinations on the Adriatic coast and was the forerunner of Dubrovnik 15 nautical miles away. It has a very impressive town hall. We caught a local bus to Dubrovnic. The short bus trip along the coast was very scenic and high up over the ocean. The road was rather narrow and a little hairy! On the way back we managed to catch a bus with a lot of older school kids. It is amazing how kids all over the world act the same. These ones were a little noisy.

Even though the tourist season was finished the old town Dubrovnic was packed with tourists as the cruise ships come in here. It was amazing to be walking around Dubrovnic and its ancient walls, which has 2 main gates, a town I had heard about for a long time. The old town is very well maintained with its old port and costumed city guards parading around. We watched a man stamping coins in a press with a hammer as they did in days gone by. Dubrovnic came under fire and suffered damage even in the recent Croatian war. We stayed 3 nights here. On the last night a strong wind from the opposite direction came up in the night. We dragged anchor and had to move to the other side of the bay.

We then sailed on by the old town of Dubrovnic to Sipanski Luka on the island of Sipanski. As we anchored up Croatian folk music set the scene bellowing out of a local hall in this run down but quaint isolated town with its huge old church and vegetable gardens. I kayaked ashore and there was a Croatian wedding warming up in a café called NO NAME! A group singing backed up by a string band and piano accordion. Well dressed guests were singing in perfect harmony and dancing, really letting their hair down. They then formed a procession to a waiting boat. The boat left with quests, fireworks blazing. It was certainly an experience to witness. Swimming off the boat again in clear warm water!

We set sail the following morning for Miljet National Park on Miljet island. We went into a number of bays along the way for a look. Restaurant men were out holding ropes beckoning us in but were to be disappointed. We anchored up in a peaceful bay around from the town of Pomena which was very protected. Unfortunately the wind had blow in a bit of rubbish to this end of the bay. The following morning we went ashore and walked around to Pomena. Stefan went on the internet at a hotel here. Stefano & I went walking in the National Park which was one of the highlights of my Croatian experience. We walked around a huge saltwater lake with a small island with a monastery in the middle. The scenery was spectacular and the water clear. People swimming and kayaking in secluded bays!

Shortly after we got back to the boat a National Parks Officer came around wanting money for anchoring up. We told her we had pay $500 cruising tax for one month and weren’t paying anymore and moved on. We arrived after dark into a big natural bay to the south on the Island of Lastova. In the morning we sailed to the other side of the island and anchored up in a beautiful bay near an ex-navy tunnel big enough to hide a big boat. We went into the tunnel in our dingy. There was a big Gullet with paying passengers stern to the rocks. We went for a walk and got talking to a German guy on the Gullet who was a bit nervous of walking in the area in case there were still left over land mines. There was a great view of Juliana in the bay from on top of the tunnel. About 6 charter boats came in in a group and anchored up to close to us so we decided to move and found a beautiful little bay to ourselves and went stern to the rocks. We called it Bonsai bay as it had these trees that looked like big Bonsai trees. We fed the fish with bread.

Next day our island hopping went to Vela Luka on the island of Korcula. We anchored up in a bay just out of town near a big hotel. It was a nice walk around the water to town. Later we found a short cut across. We had a beer in a local bar and watched the locals. There were very few tourists here. One day we came back to find Juliana had found herself an Aussie friend. A boat with a super friendly couple Helen and Len from Newcastle, only about 80 klms from where we live! They invited us over for a lovely meal & drinks. We had a great time together.

The following day we caught a local bus to the town of Korcula via Blato with its archway of trees across the road. There was not enough room for cars coming the other way and the bus to pass so the cars had to keep pulling off into parking bays. Again it is always good to see a bit of the inland, lots of vineyards. Korcula is like a mini Dubrovnik and it was interesting walking around the old town. The Island is famous for its figs. I had never tasted fresh figs before and they were delicious. We saw the family home of Marco Polo here. Unfortunately it was a bit rainy and cold so it was good to have a pizza and cappuccino in a cozy little restaurant.
Stefano our new crew member is working out well being an experienced sailor and easy to live with. The weather most of the time is still nice and warm in the day but getting cooler at night. We are still swimming off the boat; water temperate has cooled down to about 23.


SPLIT, CROATIA & Guest Blogist ANSGAR

2009-10-03 to 2009-10-10

Vis town, on the Croatian Island of Vis was fairly sleepy at this time of year but the big Ferries were busy coming and going. There was one busy café where the locals obviously met. We anchored in the harbour with a big church on the point. There was a full moon over it that night which was magic. We went ashore walking amongst the Impressive buildings, some somewhat run down.

Our next island hop was to Hvar. We anchored up in a secluded bay which was a bit of a hike across to Hvar town in the dingy as the harbour was very congested. Hvar was a classic beautiful Croatian town with a castle overlooking and a walkway around the water and beautiful buildings and narrow cobbled stoned streets. The Ice creams everywhere in Croatia are so good and cheap. For Aussie$1-50 you can get a decent sized single scoop, many favours to choose from in a waffle cone! SOooo yummy! I had SUCH a hard time capitalizing on this! I made them my lunch many days when ashore! Not such a healthy lunch but OH WELL! My favorite flavor was one with snickers bar bits in it.
Hvar is actually the capital of Hvar however the original capital, Stari Grad is the other side of the island. We voted it one of the most beautiful towns in Croatia that we saw. Unfortunately as it happens sometimes I didn’t have the camera with me on this day. The narrow cobble stoned streets with stone houses however, run like a rabbit warren and it is easy to get lost. We anchored again near a big resort hotel and got a bit lost in bush finding our way to town. I had been talking about our German friend Ansgar arriving soon. We had been seeing so many beautiful towns and National Parks, we joked we deeded to see something ugly. Stefano said innocently, “Angsar is coming soon”. I said” how do you know he is ugly”! Poor Ansgar! He is not ugly but Stefano’s timing was pretty funny!

Ansgar had sent us an email: See ya on friday, fellas. Interested in meeting the compatriot of Arni Schwarzenegger! He was referring to meeting Stefano! Arni I didn’t realize was Austrian. It had Stefano thinking he better start doing serious push ups! FUNNY TIMES!

The next island Brac, we found a quiet bay for the night then motored across to Milna harbour, very congested so again we anchored in a bay outside. I kayaked across the bay and walked into town but it was quiet and not as impressive as other towns we had seen. The water however was very clear and great for swimming.

We were lucky enough to arrive in Split on Independence Day. A nuisance we thought at first as everything was closed. In the evening however we went ashore and were treated to an amazing free outdoor concert with the lit up tower as the backdrop on a balmy evening. I never realized before that Croatian’s are so talented musically. We have seen it so often now. There was a group of about 20 Men all playing instruments, Violins, cellos, guitars, piano accordions etc. They took turns singing and playing solos and harmony. Their performance went on for over an hour. It was a world class performance we felt. We went back to our boat and was treated then to a re enactment of the coming in of the ships all lit up and then fireworks.

We had to pinch ourselves. Here we were anchored up paying nothing in the beautiful city of Split, free concerts etc. It made the $500 cruising tax we had paid for less than a month more palatable. I had to make one of my statements THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS! A perfect temperature for walking around taking it all in! WHAT A BEAUTIFUL CITY! Amazing fruit and veg markets! What more could one want.

Our young German friend Ansgar joined us in Split. He arrived with a dramatic entrance on board a sister ship to Juliana a 54ft Jeanneau. He flew into Zadar. He was to catch a bus but ended up doing a good deal with a taxi returning to Split. He arrived a couple of hours earlier than we expected. We were anchored up near the fuel jetty and all the charter boats had finished their week and had to fuel up before handing in their boats. They had obviously all left it to the last minute and they were all around us. With all the commotion we did not notice Ansgar on the shore. We had previously been watching this Jeanneau 54 charter boat waiting to fill up. Next minute it comes along side us with this guy on board yelling WENDY! STEFAN!

At first we didn’t recognize Angsar as he had grown his hair and had a beard and we weren’t expecting him to arrive like this! All of a sudden we both realized. I will never forget the scene of him leaning over on the other boat with his backback. He reminded of BRAVEHART! He had asked the Russians on the Jeanneau 54 that were on the refueling jetty if they could take him to us. They all cheered when we boarded our boat. We had a great week with him on board! I will hand you over to him!

Ansgar’s guest blog:
Since writing in a guest book seems to be a Swedish thing Wendy now thought that every visitor on Juliana II has to write a guest blog. I personally think she’s just a bit tired on it.
So how can I manage it without offending or glorifying the two yachties from Gosford and the now first mate from Austria? I’ll better tell the truth! I caught them up in Split/Croatia nearly a week ago. Got to the meeting point a bit early and saw them anchored up and relaxing the nice scenery while enjoying a cup of coffee. Since no one was responding on my radio call on channel 16 I asked a crew from Russia (I didn’t have to pay or was forced to drink vodka) to bring me over to Juliana II. Wendy still thinks this was a kind of magic thing and reckons that she’ll never forget that until the end of her days.

Next day we spent in Split walking around. The day after we left to go a bit up north and discovered another old town, Trogir, there. Finally we decided to go a bit further up to wait heavy winds (about 45 knots) passing by. Now Juliana and her crew are quite a bit inland. We went up a river to visit the famous Krka (no spelling mistake) National Park with it’s really gorgeous waterfalls. It has been really cold the last days with temperatures of about 5 degrees at night and not that much more at day. Combined with a fresh breeze might give you an idea why some posted pictures seem to come right from an Arctic expedition.
You’ve all read a lot about the recent “touristy” things and probably quite a big percentage never looked up most places. You might have asked yourselves more about the big question, so how are they (the two owners) doing on that small space even a big boat offers? Let’s put it in this way: They’re coping with it quite well. Arguments seem to be argued mostly when they are still in the state of a bigger discussion. And other things are all about accepting, respecting or just ignoring.

Anyway, Stefan’s still the tough working skipper who repairs and repairs and innovates. Wendy is a bit of the lovely housewife who cares more about the daily duties and complains a bit – now and then – about the “hard life” being on a yacht since she rather prefers being still backpacker in South America.
So, both seem to have got used to the life of being world cruisers but I’m also pretty sure that they’re looking forward to come back to Down Under – but who really knows when?
That’s it so far. There’s surely more “investigation” to make for the next visitors who have then the lovely task to write the guest blog. And at the end it’ll all be revealed! (For the insiders)

See them soon and always good winds
Ants-car (26, former Aussie backpacker from Germany)


Scenic Krta National Park, Croatia &The CAPTAIN finally REPORTS!

2009-10-11 to 2009-10-20

Split is such a beautiful city and we really enjoyed our time there. We were having battery problems and even though we had only got new batteries a year ago we had to fork out again. Ansgar now with us made us four and we headed for the world heritage listed old town of Trogir which we enjoyed walking around. We were anchored up but had a guy come out wanting us to pay. We refused and he finally gave up. This was off season and we had spent money in the town. I had also bought a Croatian T-shirt. Our next anchorage was Primosten where we sheltered from strong winds. Luckily the anchor held. We went ashore to this pretty, old town with its nice stone walkways around the water. I saw a squirrel run up a tree. The weather turned freezing cold but it didn’t stop the nudist sailors, a group of men on the next boat going for their morning swim. Ansgar made us freeze going for his morning swims but had costie’s on.

We then made a long trip up a river called Krta north of Split to the Krta National Park. We anchored up in Skradin which is said to be the oldest town in Europe. From here we bought a ticket into the National Park which included a boat ride there from Skradin. Ansgar went for his last crazy swim here and nearly froze to death about 19 degrees water temperature but air temperature about 12. It had been about 5 overnight. We could see snow on the mountains in the distance.

It was Stefan’s birthday. I had made him a cake. We enjoyed the day in the National Park with its spectacular waterfalls and walks which was well worth seeing. He wore a T-Shirt Tania and Phil had given him for his birthday with THE WILD ONE on which was a perfect fit. We finished off the day celebrating Stefan’s birthday in a nice restaurant.
We sadly said goodbye to Ansgar in Skadin! He is always fun to have on board and we had enjoyed the time he had spent with us. He was to catch a bus to Zadar where he would fly back to Germany. As we were sailing back down the river Ansgar saw us twice when he was on the bus.

After anchoring overnight in the sleepy tourist town of Vodice where we refueled, watered , interneted and restocked groceries, we then headed to a cluster of islands called “Kornat”. It is also a national park and is supposed to be very scenic. We anchored off one of the islands but it was so cold we decided to head south in search of warmer weather. We had the task of finding our warm clothes for the first time in over a year. Yes winter here is starting to bite. Up until now the evenings have been cool but days still warm but that is gradually changing. Hopefully Malta would be a warmer. We will pick up crew member Rene from Canada there.

Captain’s Report – Kornat, Croatia to Brindisi, Italy
Well, well don’t die of shock, the Captain has decided to write a report. The pressure from supporters and fans has become too great. It’s time to act!
We anchored in amongst the hundred or so island that makes up a National Park called Kornati. It is located 30 miles NW of Split. Originally we did not plan to go there. The weather suddenly has turned bitterly cold and Juliana, being an Aussie girl, could not stand it any longer. So we decided to”head south” in search of warmer weather. As we had a little extra time we called in at Kornati to have a look. I must say the islands were very barren with hardly any vegetation at all. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and these islands certainly may present an interesting labyrinth of cruising in warmer weather
We anchored in a shallow bay overnight on the 17th October awaiting the increased wind that had been forecast. It came in gradually during the night from the NE and was blowing up to 33 knots in the morning. I didn’t get much sleep, but the anchor held fast. We had the anchor alarm on the GPS just in case.

The wind was from the right direction and we set off with heavy reefing in both main and genoa. We went along quite well doing sometimes 8.5 knots. Course SE. The sea was choppy and now and then a wave would splash into the cockpit or over the foredeck. The wind on the quarter we made good progress and arrived in a place called Komiza on the island of Vis at 17.30 that night. As usual we anchored up outside the harbour in about 8 m. But after 3 attempts at “digging in” the 75 lbs CQR anchor, we could not get it to grip. So we deployed the 2nd anchor a “Britany” as it has proven in the past to dig in better. It worked on the first attempt, but we now had 8 meters of chain and the rest rope. I don’t like rope as it can chafe on sharp rocks on the bottom. I spent another night with broken sleep “worrying” about the rope, but it was ok.

The next day Stefano and I went ashore to “clear out” of Croatia. Wendy stayed on anchor watch. Dealing with authorities is always interesting and you never really know what you are in for. I first went to the Harbour Master’s office, being located up some back stairs in an old stone building. He was pleasant to deal with and after 5 minutes of “filling in forms” I was finished and had to head off to the “Port Police” at the end of the harbour pier. The Harbour Master had arranged for the Port Police to meet me there “in 10-15 minutes”. Stefano and I waited and waited. Nobody turned up. After 2 hours Stefano went and rang the Port Police and that had an almost instant effect as a female officer came within 5 minutes. She must have been attracted by his sexy voice or possibly they had simply forgot. After 1 minute the passports were stamped and we were free to leave.
We set off at 12.30, heading for Barletta in Italy. Wind NE 15-20 knots. We had a cold night with some rain, but made good progress in the first 6 hours. Then the wind died and we motored. Then the wind came in from NW and we had everything from 30 knots to 0! Reefing in…..Reefing out, not very much sleep for any of us. The 3 of us did 2 hours on watch four hours off. Plenty of fishing boats everywhere; we did a slalom course between them. I decided to push on to Bari, a further 30 miles further down the coast (It was still not warm enough!) and arrived outside Bari harbour at 09.00 on the 20th October. It was still 15 hours until the forecasted strong southerly wind was due so I decided we had time to push on for Bindini, a further 60 miles southeast.

We arrived in Brindisi, a big commercial port and tied up on the main wharf on the old town. Believe it or not but we managed to find the only free wharf space in the whole town. No cost at all! Next day I went to “clear in” with the authorities. It was the usual running around. Talking to officials in immaculate uniforms that didn’t speak English and didn’t know where I should go. Huge office building and nobody knew who I should see! After 2 hours I finally manage to get my papers stamped. I had done everything according to the correct procedure, but if I had not bothered and ignored the whole process, I doubt that the authorities would really care.

 


BRINDISI a beautiful Italian city & Captain’s Report –Brindisi, Italy to Malta

2009-10-23 to 2009-10-26

We arrived in Brindisi, near the heel of Italy after sailing overnight from Croatia. It was in the evening, a big commercial harbour with lots of ferries coming and going and lots of markers to look out for amongst all the lights which took concentration. Brindisi is a beautiful Italian city with friendly people and plenty to see and do. It is amazing the culture differences an overnight sail can do. The countries are so close but so difference. It was good to have another Italian experience again. We were here 6 years ago. We came on a Ferry from Greece but had to catch a train connection to Sicily so didn’t see much of the place last time round.

We needed to shelter in Brindisi for 4 days, while a southerly front moved through and the wind then would come from the north. We weren’t planning to come here so it was a real bonus. We had finally found warm weather again and this place wasn’t a bad place to be struck in fact it was a real gem. We tied up near the center of town on a free berth next to a Canadian boat with Barb & Con(very friendly). On their 52ft sailing boat they not only had a washing machine and drier but also a dishwasher. Pretty amazing! We went on board each other’s boat for drinks and had some good times together. There was also a big American boat with 3 Aussies on board, one from Mooloolabah. There are only about 3 free berths here. Internet unfortunately was very expensive. At the Library it was cheaper but a long walk over a bridge to the other side of town.

Stefano has survived being with us for over a month and it is working well. Stefano enjoys espresso coffees, short, black and sweet and he enjoyed having them here with the locals. Unfortunately a lot not speaking much English or German! We went out to an Italian bar one night and had a platter of Italian cheese and red wine. They were watching soccer! Oh yes! They like their soccer in Italy! They have many parmestian cheese shops so we had to buy some to go on our handmade ravioli.

There was lots of fisherman, fishing on the wharf around our boat. One fisherman accidently dropped his fishing rod in the water and it started drifting off. Stefano got the boat hook out and managed to rescue it to the applaud of onlookers. Barb on the next boat was helping off their boat as well and the fisherman whose fishing rod was rescued must have taken a liking to her. He came back to her with lots of presents for her for rescuing his rod. First a print of the old Brindisi! They invited him on board for a coffee. The next day he bought them his mother’s bread and cookies. Then, olive oil, wine and so it went on. Barb tried to give Stefano the credit but unsuccessfully. Barb and Con seemed to have ended up as part of his extended family which was a little difficult as his English was very limited but this is what these people are like, very friendly.

Our fridge was playing up. We had an Italian fridge mechanic turn up promptly to fix it. He charged us $170 for 20 mins work but we ended up having to get him back a couple of times as it still wasn’t fixed. Italian fridge men seem to dress a lot more stylish than their Australian counterparts. He didn’t speak much English but Stefan became quite friendly with him. He took Stefan in his car with his wife to a town a distance away to get a tool Stefan needed from a big hardware store. They stopped for coffee on the way back.
Brindisi has a long Corso to walk along and is a very lively place particularly at night when families all come out walking! The Italians are very family orientated. The architecture of the buildings and their balconies are amazing. It is easy to get lost in the side streets which I did a couple of times once with a heavy backpack of groceries. A good place to stock up on groceries and we did our washing which didn’t take long to dry.
Captains’s report Brindisi Italy to Malta

 

 


In Brindisi I had to fix the spinnaker pole. When it is stored upright along the mast, it sometimes “folds” sideways, due to its universal joint at the upper end. The problem occurs when I use the pole by sliding it down the track. The universal joint then sometimes gets “knotted up” and could actually break. I have now made a guide out of stainless steel that stops the end from “folding over” . It remains to be seen if this has solved the problem.
We left Brindisi 25 October 05.30. First we had a wind from NNE at 10 knots, but it died out and we motored all the way to the easternmost point of Italy. As we turned towards SW the night started and the wind also came in from NNE at 10 knots and we started to sail. During the night the wind increased to near 40 knots and we had to reef both sails several times. It became quite choppy but we made good progress often at 8.5-9 knots. The following morning we found ourselves near the “toe” of Italy. The coast was just visible some 15-20 miles to the north.
October 26. Kept sailing southwest down the coast of Sicily. The wind dropping off and the following night and 27th October we motored most of the time, crossing the busy shipping lane south of Sicily.
Arrived in Valletta, Malta at 16.00 on 27th October. Tied up in Msida Marina. Although it was full they managed to find a temporary birth for a few days.
In Malta we were expecting the arrival of Rene from Canada. I also had to fix a few problems with the boat. We were waiting for some O-rings for our watermaker to arrive USA. Rene was bringing those. Wendy wanted her Ipod to be connected to the stereo system, the outboard motor was only running on 1 cylinder, instead of 2, the upholstery on one cushion had a got a small rip, The thermostat in the oven did not work. So an exciting time ahead for the Captain!


MALTA will always hold a special place in my heart!

2009-10-27 to 2009-11-06

 Arriving into Valletta Harbour in Malta is spectacular by yacht, with heavy fortifications surrounding the small entry into Malta, and a large cathedral with steeple above the walls as you will see in the many photos I took. We prefer to anchor up but there didn’t seem any where suitable so we motored over to Mdina marina to investigate. A lady on a NZ boat who recognized the name of our boat from a radio network,” Dragnet” we communicated on some weeks ago was very helpful helping us find a place though the marina was full. The local fisherman with their lines out weren’t happy. We were told to tie up alongside the quay, very handy to everything. About AU $35pn which is very reasonable with power and water! We enjoyed the 11 days we spent here. Such friendly! Friendly! People!

The evening we arrived some local families were having an evening picnic near our boat overlooking the water. They had their chairs, tea, coffee and cakes and asked us to join them. It was interesting to get some local knowledge. It was a barmy evening and what better place to meet up with friends. They said they did this often and we said hello to them many evenings after that. 

We had inquired about checking into Malta but as our last port was in Italy also part of the European Union we were told the authorities would be too busy to worry about us however a health authority guy came by wanting to know what our last port was. When we told him Brindisi Italty he had us fill in a short form and that was it.

It was interesting to learn there are more Maltese people in Australia than Malta. I didn’t believe it at first but it is true. One can learn so much about their interesting country as they were an English colony and all speak English very well despite Maltese being their first language. The population of Malta is 100,000 and they are part of the European Union. The architecture is a fusion of Arabic and European influences. Apparently the windowed balconies are a feature of Arabic design, where women were able to look out from their homes without being seen or going into public.

The weather was beautiful which we enjoyed. There was free Wi Fi internet at a nearby café! A man in a fruit truck came around every morning with fruit! & veg! We caught up with washing, explored the area nearby and prepared Rene’s cabin. He arrived from Canada a little earlier than we expected but we were tied up in the Marina so we were easy to find & he could just step on board. It was good to see him again. He had sailed across the Atlantic with us on the way over and had left us in England. Now there were four of us.
The next day for 47 euro cents, we caught a wonderful old bright coloured bus with curly chrome bumper bars and headlights. These buses seem to make up most of the public buses in Malta. Sadly we heard because of the safety regulations of the European Union these buses are going to disappear soon. They certainly add character to the place. The buses all have funny posters inside. One that amused me! GOD LOVES YOU! But I’m his favorite!

We watched a film “The Malta Experience” with all the history of Malta and its different influences. Valetta suffered extreme damage in World War 2.The Order of the Knights of St John are a prominent part of the island's public image, and history. In the time of the crusades the knights were forced out from Jerusalem, and later from Turkey, by the colourfully named, Suliman the Magnificent. Looking for a new place to set up home, the pope 'gave' them Malta for the princely rent of 2 falcons per year. They set out to build massive defences and a hospital using the Maltese people for labour, and were later besieged by Suliman's forces again. Although very old he was determined to finally crush Christian rule forever. Suliman sent a famous ex-pirate, Dragut, as commander of a huge naval force. After many bloody battles, disease and wounds causing much loss of life, Dragut was killed. The Ottoman forces were defeated and limped home with only a 3rd of their original numbers. Yes Malta has had a very colourful past and these people are survivers!

The weekend we were in Malta there was an open day weekend at the nearby fortress Mandel barracks which are being restored. They had an army re-enactment, firing of guns etc.

We went into Valletta to the Sunday markets. There was entertaining performers and a vintage car display and a lot of people out and about. We happened to be under the biggest bell I have ever seen as it struck midday which was quite a deafening experience. There is plenty to see including a huge church St Pauls and the Palace. We had lunch overlooking the harbour. Rabbit dishes feature prominently in Maltese restaurants which weren’t for me being vegetarian!

We gradually got the hang of which buses to catch and where to get off. We made a few mistakes at first and had to do some extra walking. One day we caught a bus to the silent city of Mdina, originally the capital. The old town has been beautifully restored. All the streets are curved. This was apparently as arrows cannot go around corners which gave extra protection. They have lovely cakes in Malta! We had a wonderful marzipan cake here!
We went past the most different National Park I have seen. Cultivated farmland, an Aviation museum, and a stadium! Rather bare, no trees at all. In fact most of Malta is like this, very flat and built on. We went to the North West side of the island to St Pauls which has relatively modern buildings, beach resorts and lots of English folks!
Stefano needed a haircut and ended up running out half way through after becoming concerned!.Rene thought he bought a big packet of peanuts but they ended up being tick beans! Some Aussies on a Perth boat dropped in to say hello! We also talked quite a bit to a family on a Swedish boat. I needed to find a dentist and found a very good one! Hello to Jean if you read this! He had been to Australia recently on his honey moon! He and his father also a dentist were fascinated by our sailing adventure!

The last day we were in Malta I caught a bus to the Blue grotto on the south east side, a beautiful coastline. A very friendly Maltese man showed me a few extra sights! The stonework on the houses in Malta is amazing!
Malta will always hold a special place in my heart!


MALTA to ITALIAN island Pantelleria & a CAPTAIN's report in Malta

2009-11-07 to 2009-11-08

I am so excited! We have just booked our plane tickets to come back to Australia. I have decided to sail back across the Atlantic. We will spend a different Christmas this year in the Atlantic. I am sad we will not be with our family for Christmas but this is when we must sail. They seem to be planning a fun Christmas and I wish I could be there. They write “Thinking about a very relaxed Hawaiian style Chrissy lunch in Coffs Harbour, around the pool with cricket down the beach in the arvo (afternoon) for the energetic ones? Maybe a Secret Santa, where we all pull someone’s name out of the hat to buy a present for!”

We will leave the Canary Islands about 6th December. We will not see land for about 3 weeks. There will be 5 of us, me the only women in a man’s world. Stefano, Austrian has been with us since Corfu and is working out well, Rene, the Canadian who sailed across with us before and Bob, a sailing friend from Gosford, our home town, who has sailed with us before in Australia. We have booked our return ticket from St Maarten in the Caribbean arriving in Sydney 3rd February and leaving Australia again 22nd February which is not long I know. We will find a safe place to leave our boat somewhere around St Maarten. Interesting enough the airport we fly out of is called Juliana airport. Hopefully tales about our trip back across the Atlantic won’t be too dramatic and we will make it.

After filling up fuel, water and groceries from Gazo shopping centre & Lidl, we sadly said farewell to Valletta, Malta, our home for about 11 days. We had felt very at home here and we had got to know the place and buses quite well. I had got to like these little hot cheese pastries you can buy everywhere for less than AU 50c.We had been waiting for a window to sail directly to Gibraltar but the weather wasn’t co-operating so we realized we would have to do it in stages. Rene had joined us here so there were now 4 of us.

We sailed to Mgarr, on the nearby Maltese Island of Gozo. The Ferries were busy coming and going so we had to watch out for them as they move fast. We had a drink in the local bar overlooking the Harbour that night with free hot snacks. The following day we caught a bus to Victoria the main town on Gozo and walked around the old town. We went inside a very impressive church. Our very healthy lunch was cherry cheese cake and a cappuccino before catching a bus to an inland sea and rocks called Azure’s Window which as per photo was very spectacular. The wind was quite cold and we had to wait a while to catch the last bus back. I discovered warmth coming from the compressor of the Ice Cream truck and took advantage of it. Stefan quickly followed suit.

After staying a night in Gozo we set sail at 8pm the following night and sailed overnight to the small Italian island of Pantelleria, south of Sicily. It was a bit of a hairy ride, thunderstorms, wind squalls, lightening and rain which started on my shift. It was good to have the 2 extra boys on board. We spent two nights anchored up, sheltering with another French yacht. It was good to be in a Harbour in this weather! This was not a tourist place only locals which is always interesting. We went ashore to an internet café and to buy some fresh bread.

Captain’s Report in Malta:
Rene arrived ahead of time. He brought the O-rings I had ordered from Spectra in California. Unfortunately, they were the wrong size, and essentially useless. I had to call up Spectra again to get another set sent out. This time it was coming by mail and sent to the local agent in Valletta. Luckily, we had planned to stay in Malta for 2 weeks.

In March this year I tried to connect the Ipod to the stereo system. The problem was that I couldn’t find a way to remove the unit to see at the back where to connect. Daniel had even tried when he was onboard, but no success. Rene, being a very meticulous person, decided to read the manual first. (I have never heard of this method before!), and discovered a connection point on the back of the stereo unit . Voila, it worked! The only remaining task was to install a switch, so we could switch between the disc player and the ipod. This took some 4 hours to complete, and Wendy should now be very pleased.

The outboard motor for the dinghy has been working fine since we bought it in BVI last year. But a few weeks ago it started to splutter and gradually got worse. I thought it was the “magical black box”, which controls the ignition that had decided to pack up. I found out where the Yamaha agent in Malta was located and took a bus there. There was some good news and some bad! The good news was that they had one in stock, the bad news was the price, €200.- (A$340.-)!!!! I decided to make sure that this really was the “broken” part, before I paid. I went back and started to investigate closer. After extending my “mechanical repertoire” to its maximum, I concluded that the faulty part was……. “the coil” and not the “black box”!!!! The motor has 2 coils and 1 was broken. I could not get a genuine part, but got one “Mercury coil” which seemed to be exactly the same. It worked and “only” cost €62.-. So now the dinghy was back to normal. This was good news indeed as the dinghy is an important transport to and from the shore when we anchor up, sometimes long distance from the harbour.

Another job was to repair the upholstery on the seat in the salon. It had developed a small tear along one seam and I was anxious to have it fixed before it got any worse. I took the foam out of the cover and went to a nearby chandlery to see if they knew an upholstery place. They took it and said they would get a quote first, “Come back in the afternoon and we will have a quote for you”. Ok, I thought that sounds fair. When I came back later that day the cover was already fixed—and the cost? €5.- (A$8.-). Couldn’t complain about that!
Our stove is powered by propane gas. Ever since we bought the boat, Wendy had complained about how difficult it was to regulate the temperature in the oven. I had tried to get it fixed before, but couldn’t find anyone that understood the oven or had spare part for this stove. It is a French brand “ENO”. Now, with Rene onboard, things started to happen. Rene is very “hand on” and a born “fixer” and gets very annoyed if things don’t work properly. So he started to pull the stove apart and soon discovered a small copper tube that connects the thermostat with the gas control valve. The tube had a small hole in it. We located the Maltese importing agent for this stove and a young guy arrived the next morning to “have a look”. He was going to have the right part sent out the next day. There was a small problem though; he was joining a yacht sailing across the Atlantic the following day. “No problem, my assistant will look after you!” However, we never heard anymore from this firm. As I write this, we still haven’t got this problem fixed. However, Rene had discovered that we could control the flame in the oven by “half closing” the main valve for the stove while cooking. It will have to do for the time being!

 

 


Leaving Malta – Italy- Tunisia to Gibraltar : CAPTAIN’S REPORT

2009-11-09 to 2009-11-11

On the 7th November we left Valletta, Malta. The weather was not particularly good but we were only going 12 miles to an island called Gozo. With a 25 knot wind from NW we motor sailed to windward. Half headsail up only, it took us 5 hours to get there as we tacked our way up the coast of Malta main island. We arrived at 17.00 in a harbour called Mgarr, which is also the ferry terminal. We had an uncomfortable time at the marina as the swell found its way into the harbour and Juliana was surging back and forwards pulling here mooring ropes attached to the marina jetty.

The next “window” in the weather was a couple of days away and it was not particular good one. More wind from the west and strong at times. We had to try and make progress. The distance to the next island was 120 miles. We left on 8 Nov 19.40 and had no wind!!! Motored for a while but the wind soon came in and we had an uncomfortable night with rain squalls and lightning. Lots of reefing and adjusting of sails! We were approaching the Italian island of Pantelleria and I was planning to anchor up on the eastern side in a little bay. By the time we came close to the shore it was already dark and it was impossible to see where all rocks and shoreline was. In addition we found 2 lighthouses, close together, that had the same flashing code! Most confusing! I decided in view of safety, we would continue to the main harbour on the NW side. The problem was- we had a wind of 30 knots against us with quite heavy seas. Anyway, we motored into it with many waves coming green over the foredeck. At an average speed of 2 knots we finally entered the harbour at 20.00. It was a well protected harbour and we dropped the anchor in 7 meters. There was a weird light underneath the water beside us which puzzled us. We later realized our waterproof torch had gone overboard. It was too deep and dark to dive for it. Another donation to the sea!

We stayed 3 days, as the storm continued and actually intensified. Waves were coming over the break wall and one night our wind speed instrument indicated a max wind speed of 60 knots! Our anchor held fast, although we were concerned at times. During the previous leg a “traveler” for the mainsail outhaul came off its track, which resulted in about 90 ball bearings falling out and bouncing on deck into the water. We only recovered 6 of them. So, I now had to try to get some ball bearings from somewhere. There was a ships chandlery in town, but he could not speak English and was not interested anyway. Almost certainly the balls had to be send from mainland Italy. After many hours communicating with many people how to get the parts, I gave up and decided to find another solution. On a rubbish tip near the harbour I found an discarded whip aerial made of fiberglass. I cut off 2 pieces 100mm length and inserted them where the ball bearings normally would go. It did work, but the traveler didn’t slide very well. It did however hold the sail in place. This was a good “emergency solution” and it meant we could continue sailing.

12 nov. We left Pantelleria. At first we had 18 knots from the NW, but then the wind died off and we motored most of the way to Kelibia in Tunisia. Smooth waters and sunny!
As we tied up to the “Navy wharf” in Kelibia we were greeted by a group consisting of Customs and Immigration Officials, Harbour Master, Police and others of unknown rank. The Customs and Immigrations came onboard and made themselves comfortable in our salon. One wore an overcoat even though it was hot. I started filling in forms and Rene acted as a translator as they only spoke Arabic and French. Soon they asked if we had anything to declare. “No, I said. Only some wine and beer for our own consumption!”. “Any whisky?” asked the immigration guy. “No”, we said truthfully, “Only a half opened bottle of rum”.” Are you sure you don’t have any unopened bottles of whisky?” was the question again. But we did not have any. Then he asked: “Have you got any cigarettes?” Stefano who smokes said he had a few packets. “What brand are they?” “Pall Mall”, said Stefano. “Have you got any Marlboro” was the next question. We said: “No Sir”. Then he went into Stefano’s cabin and helped himself to a few packets of his cigarettes. Stefano said “No way! You can’t have them, they are mine!” and he grabbed them back of the official. These officials were looking for “gifts” it seems to supplement their maybe low wages .Then they asked, through Rene, if “the Captain would be kind to offer some money as appreciation for their services.” I was baffled and taken by surprise, I gave him €10 He seemed disappointed “What about my friend” he said (the other official) I handed out another €10 thinking they may not treat us very well otherwise. Then they left with our passports and ship papers saying not to leave the boat until they came back.

Wendy, being Australian, needed a visa which cost 30 Euro, but was quite impressive, see photo. After an hour they returned with our passports and a very rough courtesy flag that we had to purchase for 5 Euro and we were free to go ashore.

13 Nov: Departed Kalibia. Motored at first due to lack of wind! After sunset the wind came in from NE at 10 knots and we had a great sail arriving in Bizerte the next morning. Heavy fog on arrival made it impossible to see the town or anything at all really. I found the northern break wall and followed it in to about 7 meter depth where we anchored. As the sun rose, the fog lifted eventually. We then received a visit from Customs, but when they learnt that we had already cleared into the country, they were satisfied and left us.

 14 Nov. We left Bizerte in a light S to SW wind. Motor sailed to Tabarka in western Tunisia, not far from the border to Algeria. Arrived 05.38 in the morning the next day. It had a modern harbour, but the spot the Harbour master wanted us to go to was too shallow so we elected to go alongside a 40 ft catamaran instead. We decided to leave the same day as arriving, so we had to “clear out” . So at 6pm I went to the port police with ships paper and passports. Again it took 1.5 hours for them to fill in a simple form. Normally this form takes 5 minutes! They were friendly, but totally inexperienced. Every word in our passports were read and re-read. I think they suspected us to be smugglers, illegal immigrant transporters or terrorists from Australia. It didn’t help that that they couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak French. After they finally finished he gave me a sign to follow him and we walked over to Customs. On the way there he asked (I think) if I have a mobile phone that he could have. (They are not shy in asking for bribes!) I said: No, I’m sorry!
The customs office was a plain room with nothing more than an old counter. Some fluro tubes in the ceiling were blinking on and off. 2 plainclothes (jeans and t-shirt) young guys were watching TV when we came in. They proceeded to asking basic questions in French and I answered to the extent that I could understand what they meant. (What we had onboard). On the counter was an old TV with a coat hanger as an antenna. I accidentally touched the TV and the antenna fell on the floor. The picture disappeared but they indicated not to worry.

Then the 3 of them and I walked back to the boat. (I think they wanted to make sure we had not sold our engine on the local market). When they were finished it was only one other issue--- we had to pay stamp duty of 0.39 dinar (A$ 0.40). We had deliberately used up all our Tunisian money and had nothing left, so we couldn’t pay. We offered euros, but that was apparently not acceptable. For ½ hour we were arguing about this (Wendy offered to take a loaf of bread back to the shop to get a refund!). Finally they said “Don’t worry, we will forget about it and they left. We were finally free to leave the country! 

15th Nov: We departed Tabarka at 20.10, shortly after the Tunisian Officials left. The wind was light from the south and we managed to sail for quite a while. We sailed along the Algerian coast and I suppose we sometimes ventured a little inside the 12 miles limit. One day we were apprehended by the Algerian coastguard who, via the VHF radio, wanted to know who we were and what nationalities were onboard. They even took some photographs of our boat! These paparazzis! For 5 days we sailed and motored with light winds until we finally arrived in Gibraltar on the 21 November. We actually anchored in La Linea on the Spanish side.


ITALY by morning AFRICA by afternoon

2009-11-12 to 2009-11-19

Our original plan was to sail straight to Gibraltar from Malta but as the weather was not co operating we decided to do it in stages. After 2 days sheltering on the Italian island of Pantelleria the weather settled. We had been hesitant about going into Tunisia, Africa, but after talking to other people on boats and with the unsettled weather we decided to sail along the coast calling into ports when appropriate. Luckily we had a bit of time up our sleeves! I have been to many countries but have never stepped ashore on the African continent so was excited. It was amazing to be in Italy in the morning and Africa in the afternoon I thought. We started out early and got to Kelibia, a fishing harbour in Tunisia in the late afternoon. As we approached the harbour a wire jumped off the wheel of the steering. We had to sail out a little while as Stefan fixed it. Why do these things often happen at critical moments? Stefan has explained dealing with officials here which was quite different, in his last report.

The following morning was a hive of activity with lots of fishing boats coming in early in the morning with lots of fish. We decided to go and investigate. Being a Moslem country I was the only women here. Hundreds of men, trucks being loaded with sardines to go to factories to be processed! They didn’t like us taking photos so we only took a few. Rene, in French, negotiated with a man and bought a kilo of Sardines for $1 then had to pay the man his commission of $1. Next we walked up to the castle with a great view of the harbour. We did some interneting in a fancy Bedouin style resort near the water then Stefan & I walked into the main town past a university where all the students were dressed in Western clothes. We stocked up on fresh fruit and vegetables and bread for a very reasonable cost. A kilo of dates I bought for about 80 cents (great for my scones) tomatoes 70 cents. There was a very Arabic feel about the place. It was strange hearing them speak French as well as Arabic.

After spending a night in Kelibia, 10 Euro harbour fees which was Ok. We were rafted up to another sailing boat with no facilities. We sailed overnight to Bizerte. We arrived there early in the morning and anchored up near a breakwater with lots of line fisherman. There was a lot of fog. Tunisian officials came over to see us and check our papers but we had already checked in to Tunisia so there were no problems. We went ashore in the dingy. This is certainly a different part of the world. We went walking around the markets. We were pretty well stocked but I bought this chilli paste unique to Tunisia, some almonds and some more fruit. There were live chooks tied together. Meat was on sale in all forms, intestines, tongues, even a cow’s head. I had to walk on fast. The old town here was interesting to walk around.

When we came back to the boat Stefan decided to try some of the chilli paste on some bread. We thought it was a spread. He came running inside the boat for water; it was very hot he said. Instead of grabbing a bottle of water he grabbed a bottle of vinegar and made the situation worse. We found out it is had in small amounts with Cous Cous.
Again we sailed by night to Tarbarka. Arriving in the dark we anchored up until daylight then went into the harbour rafting up beside a catamaran. We found Tarbarka , Tunisia to be a very friendly place with an internet café nearby. There was a beach and parkland area along the waterfront. Any tourists here were Tunisian. It was an interesting town to walk around with locals doing what they normally did. I felt I stood out like a sore thumb but everyone was helpful and friendly. I was looking in one shop and there was a blouse I liked, especially the colour, but it was too big. The businesses in this town are all family run from Grandma to young children working in them. This elderly lady said no problem I sew, I can make it your size. We agreed on a price and she told me to come back in an hour.

In the meantime I decided to walk up to the castle as I usually do as it usually has the best view of the town and harbour. I got talking to these Tunisian ladies who were English teachers in Tunisia and anxious to practice their English on me. They were on holiday together from Southern Tunisia, so friendly and I learnt a lot about Tunisia from them. One of them was getting married in July and said I must come to her wedding. Weddings here are very big and celebrations apparently go for about a week. This lady’s name was hard for me to pronounce. The English translation for her name was Feelings so that was what she told me to call her. They invited me to have a fish dinner with them. As Stefan was expecting me back to help move the boat for refueling I sadly declined.

I ran into the ladies again in town when I was trying to find the shop where the lady was altering my blouse. They walked around with me for ages as I tried to locate this shop. I finally found it and the blouse now fit perfectly. The grandson, his name was stormy, was in the shop now also and very interested to learn more about Australia. I guess they don’t normally get too many Aussies dropping in. I was worried if this lady went to the trouble of altering this top and I didn’t turn up because I couldn’t find the shop again. A ran into these people again in the supermarket. I was surprised when I heard the name WENDY being called. SUCH FRIENDLY! FRIENDLY people!

When we were filling up with fuel however the man who served us wondered if we had a gift for him. A bottle of wine maybe! This seems the normal thing over here for them to ask if it is not forthcoming! It is something we are not used to. Moslems supposedly don’t drink alcohol so I don’t know! Maybe their wages are low and they sell it.

After a night and day here we set sail in the evening. Due to the light winds it took us over 5 days to sail direct from Tunisia to Gibraltar along the coast of Algeria. We had good winds at times but as usual we ended up motoring some of the way. Stefan caught the first decent size fish a tuna, then Rene a tuna & a dolphin fish. Rene of course has cooked up some good dishes with them and some in the freezer. As we came closer to Gibraltar in darkness dolphins were playing at our bower. Their bodies and slip streams lit up in the night with plankton. It was a pretty amazing sight. There were lots of big ships to avoid! Our son Chris turned 21 when we were still at sea and couldn’t contact him. We would have loved to have been home in Aussie to celebrate it with him. I celebrated my birthday here in Gibraltar 14 months ago. We have seen a lot since then.


Goodbye Mediterranean! Hello Atlantic! Plus captains report Gibraltar to the Canaries

2009-11-27 to 2009-12-01

After 5 days at sea from Tunisia we motor sailed into Gibraltar in the morning with a stuck main sail! Lots of ships coming and going! We haven’t had any problems with our main sail getting stuck for a long time but this time as we tried to furl it in it was stuck. Once in protected waters I winched Stefan up the mast and he managed to get it unstuck and we furled it in and anchored.

When we were in Gibraltar 14 months ago we met up with an English boat “Rich Harvest” with Nicola & Phil on board. They were very helpful and friendly. It was good to have them over for drinks again and catch up. They had been anchored up in this area between Spain & Gibraltar for some years. Phil is certainly an entertaining guy!

We were anchored near La Linea, Spain and left our dingy at the marina for 5 Euro a day, when we went ashore. The biggest decision was whether to go to Spain or England (Gibraltar) each day. We could stay in Spain or walk across the runway and boarder to Gibraltar. La Linea has a lot of character as a city, typically Spanish with lots of cafes. Very busy in the morning and evening but of course even though it is winter everything closes in the afternoon for siesta .It has a big council, vegetable, fruit, meat, fish market in the centre!

Last time we were here we were amazed to just look at the Rock and things happening around us, whilst anchored up. This time I enjoyed bush walking on the rock. I did the walk called The Mediterranean Steps. A good track leads you up to the top of the rock. I walked down via one of the long walls. Most people go up in the cable car or bus but they really miss out. It is amazing how much bush there is up there and the scenery, flowers and birds are spectacular! I also walked around the Botanical gardens which was relaxing. There are apparently 80 klms of tunnels inside the rock but they didn’t interest me to investigate. Lots of monkeys roam around freely in Gibraltar mostly on the upper rock but some stray down town with babies on their backs which looked funny. From the top of the rock there is a good view of Spain and its beaches and Gibraltar.

Captain’s Report –Gibraltar to Canary Islands
In Gibraltar I got some new balls for the mainsheet outhaul traveler. So that was now fixed. We needed more propane gas and it was impossible to find a place where they would accept our “Maltese” empty bottle for an exchange. (In theory you should be able to exchange this bottle anywhere in Europe!)After many days of riding around on my bicycle I managed to find a distributor who was only open “roughly between 2 and 3 in the afternoon” (and that was Spanish time). 3 kg of gas cost 18 euro! Not particularly cheap, but we had no choice. This 3 kg bottle was transferred into our regular 10 kg bottle. So now I had an empty 3 kg bottle, this one of Spanish “Camping Gaz” brand, and I went to fill it again from a regular store. No problem this time cost 11 euro. Why did we not fill the bigger 10 kg bottle in the first place? Nowhere in Europe will they refill propane bottles. It is only “exchange”, and our regular 10kg bottles are of US design, and they are not accepted.

Rene and I also readjusted the lower forward shrouds, which were a bit loose. The rigging screws were seized up and wouldn’t budge. This issue has been bothering me since we bought the boat. So we had to apply heat from a blow torch, WD40 oil and a couple of heavy spanners. And it worked. We cleaned all the threads, applied anti corrosion grease and assembled it again.

25th November Bob Swan arrived from Gosford to join as our 5th member sailing across the Atlantic

26thNovember Bob and Stefano went sightseeing in Gibraltar and I did general maintenance work on the boat.

27th Nov. we checked the weather on www.passageweather.com , filled up with diesel and water and we were off at 12.00. Good wind from the NW and we reached at 8 knots towards the narrowest part of Gibraltar some 17 miles away. Soon we discovered that the tide was running from W to E and was up to 4 knots. We were a little early. The current turns 5 hours after high tide! There is a constant net inflow of water from the Atlantic to the Med. After 5 hours motor sailing with the wind at 10-15 knots from NW, we were at Cabo Espartel, the NE point of Morocco. It was sad to leave the Med behind, but we also were looking forward to the more “predictable” weather systems in the Atlantic.

28th Nov. The wind first turned to N and gradually dropped until we had to start the engine. We motored for many hours. Then the wind came in from the SW! On the nose! (As usual). We had expected this wind and we deliberately had motored a bit to the west of the rumb line. Now the course was 170 (south)- directly towards land, Morocco! Luckily we were 60 miles from it. The wind gradually increased and with that the waves got bigger. As the wind started to veer towards the west, we managed to steer a little more towards SW, in the desired direction.

By now we were down to heavy reefing in both sails. The wind was gusting up to 35 knots, we were sailing into the big waves, coming from SW. Frequently a wave would come over the deck and water was gushing everywhere. Every now and then Juliana launched off the back of a big waved and fell into the trough on the other side with a tremendous thump. The whole boat came to a halt and everything was shaking and rattling. It was very uncomfortable indeed, especially trying to sleep in the forward cabins, Bob in one and Wendy and I in the other. I don’t think any of us got any sleep that night. At one point during the night I discovered the spinnaker pole has detached itself from the mast. The top end had fallen down but the bottom end was still attached to the mast by “the parrot’s beak”. And the topping lift was holding it in a horizontal position, poking over the port bow. I climbed forward, with the safety harness on. I slowly lowered the pole and lashed it on deck. “Better check it in the daylight” I thought. I found later that the “quick release” mechanism had opened itself and I don’t understand why. (Connects the spinnaker pole with the “car” that slides up the mast!) Maybe a rope had hit the lever . I checked the mechanism and but it seemed to be working normally.

The next 2 days were good sailing with the wind from the N, up to 33 knots at times. The seas were choppy and sometimes quite big, but Juliana handled it with ease, lifting its “stern” to the waves and surged ahead with each wave. At times the speed exceeded 10 knots and we had both sails reefed.
1 dec at 14.05 we spotted the northernmost island of the Canaries


Spectacular scenery in the Canary Islands

2009-12-02 to 2009-12-08

Sailing through the Strait of Gibraltar was fun with Africa on one side, Spain on the other. After 5 days at sea we completed our 1st stage of our Atlantic crossing to Las Palmas on Grand Canary Island.

We enjoyed our 2 day stay in Las Palmas, particularly catching a bus to the old town with its huge church and quaint streets. Columbus house was very interesting to walk through! This was where it is said Columbus, when he was in port, planned his passages to America and beyond. There was a lot of information about the different passages he did which were pretty amazing in these unchartered areas. When he first arrived in America from the Canary Islands he thought he had found Asia. He called North America: Superior India and South America Inferior India. It was amazing to learn that he did the passage in 21 days. It takes the average sailing boat a similar time today. Columbus house also has a room set up as Columbus’s cabin section of his boat so one can get the feel what it was like. It had a number of smaller models of his boats and information and paintings of life in those days. The history of Las Palmas & so on! I felt it was very informative and well presented.

We also caught a local bus, as usual, to see a bit of the countryside. We went on an interesting ride which was recommended to us by one of the bus drivers. It took us about an hour there and an hour back. The ride was along a scenic windy road to a quaint country town called TEROR. It was only the bus ride that caused us terror. It was a big bus that had trouble sometimes passing vehicles coming the other way as the road was narrow and bendy. We walked around the town had cappuccino and a cake in a local café and went back again.

We were anchored in a protected bay and had to come ashore in the dingy on the beach. We ran out of fuel in the dingy once and had to row. Stefan took the fuel tank across to a nearby service station to get it filled. In the short time he was away someone pinched the fuel line he had left in the dingy which was a real pain. Luckily there was Marina nearby where he bought another one for 11 Euro. We walked across to City beach which was not far to the other side of the island and had an ice cream.

Our next stop was Santa Cruz on the Canary Island of Tenerife where we spent 3 nights. It is impressive sailing in here with its spectacular jagged mountain backdrop and lineup of Cruise ships. It also has a Opera house that looks like a copy of our Sydney one. We went into a marina here as there is nowhere to anchor. The marina wasn’t overly expensive but the port tax was. There were a couple of big square rigged sailing ships tied up nearby which the boys spent a long time examining. Santa Cruz has a very European feel about it with a very relaxed twist. It has an artificial lake in the middle of town, with a big fountain, lots of parkland, impressive buildings and statues. In the evening everything was well lit and everyone was out and about enjoying the balmy temperature and atmosphere.

We took our usual local bus rides. One day to Taganana on Tenerife’s northern coast. On the way there, the bus slowly climbed to the top of a mountain ridge and we were able to see out to the neighbouring island of Gran Canaria. We then drove through a small tunnel and reappeared on the other side of the island. Just off the road was an enormous drop of at least a few hundred metres and way at the bottom of the valley were a few scattered white villages. There was surf on this side and people on the bus had surf boards. The North Atlantic swell caused some fairly rough surf. There were even dagger shaped rocks in the water out from the beach. It was the amazing backdrop of razor sharp mountain ridges that made the trip really worthwhile.

The next day we got an early start. We caught the 7.50am bus to Puerto de la Cruz on the other side of the island. We wanted to go to see MT Teide, Spain’s highest mountain at 3,715ft. There was only one bus a day up to the National Park at 9.15am from Puerto Cruz. We arrived a bit early so I went for a short walk down to the beach with its black volcanic sand. When we got back there was a queue for the bus. There was a group of about 20 cyclists pulling their bikes apart and putting them in the baggage compartment of the bus. They were catching the bus up and riding their bikes down. There are not many days apparently when it is clear enough to see the top of this mountain but this was one of the clear days. It was sheer luck for us but others had changed plans to take advantage of the clear day to see the top. People were pushing and jumping the queue. Others getting angry at the queue jumpers!

We were one of the last to get a seat at the back of the bus. Another half bus load of people left behind. Apparently there was no need for panic as they did get an extra bus to pick up these people a short time later. The bus ride up was panoramic overlooking Puerto Cruz. We kept going up for 1.5 hours, up into a volcanic crater with a circumference of 42 klms, with the peak of Mt Teide clearly visible on one part of the crater. It was like a moon like environment, very spectacular.

To get up near the peak is a 4 hour walk there and four hours back from the road. We decided to get the cable car up and walk back down, which would have been perfect timing to catch the only bus back to Puerto Cruz. We caught the cable car up. Even though it had been hot when we left on the bus it was very cool at this height. We enjoyed the view, being able to see much of the island and neighboring islands as well. Half an hour into the walk down, Stefan, who insisted in walking in sandals! His sandals in this rocky terrain broke didn’t they? I was so looking forward to this walk and doing some bushwalking I was so disappointed and angry. Stefan did try to go on with his broken sandal.

I wanted to go on alone but Stefan was concerned about leaving me in this remote area. I suppose at least we got to walk in this unusual landscape for at least half an hour down and of course longer going back up with Stefan and his broken sandal. When you are not used to this attitude you become breathless. We did pass some people that had walked all the way up and had found the terrain at this altitude hard going up. This is also why we decided to only walk down. Most people go up and down in the cable car. So guess what? We also had to come down in the cable car. We then had a number of hours to kill until the bus left. Luckily we got talking to some interesting English folks Jill & John also waiting for the bus. We occupied ourselves taking in the atmosphere, doing short walks and being amazed watching the cable car going up and down. About 30 people fitting inside the car!
By the afternoon the cloud had actually started coming and we came down in the bus through the clouds.


Safely across the Atlantic to Barbados

2009-12-09 to 2009-12-24

We ended our sail across the Atlantic with a full moon and ideal conditions. The trade winds which we were supposed to have all the way across finally kicked in. The last part of our sail went quickly. It is so good to be able to spend New Year’s Eve in Barbados, with our new friends we had sailed across the Atlantic with and now to meet them in person. We ended up changing from Antigua to Barbados as this was our nearest landfall to where we ended up with the winds. Though at times we had little wind, at the end of the day it took us 21 days the time we expected. We have survived as a happy crew working well together in sometimes difficult times.

I was both excited and hesitant as we had a crew picture taken and after refueling and topping up water with water bottles, we left the southernmost Canary Island Hierro at 9am 9th December, 2009. I had walked up the road to get fresh bread as the bakery opened. De la Reshina was an interesting, protected harbour at the south of the island with a black volcanic backdrop. Unfortunately it was a holiday when we arrived ,so most things were closed. We had to stay overnight to get fuel. Walking up the road there was a beautiful view of Juliana and the harbour. We tied up alongside a decorative breakwater. Bob & Stefano relaxed in a café. We found an internet café, the last one for a while. The beach here was also black. We had first gone in to a port in the North but they did not have fuel or water which we wanted to top up.

Originally our plan was to head for Antigua, Caribbean. The stars were so bright they were reflecting on the ocean. There was a new moon. We were able to check in on our long distance radio to Herb in Canada every day for an updated weather report and advice which was great. After a couple of reports from Herb, his report finished one day, a lady Diane, on an American boat “Argonaut” who had heard us speaking to Herb, contacted us and gave us the radio frequency of a group of about 10 boats staying in contact with each other , across the Atlantic. They called it MadAtlanticnet and had a time twice a day. They checked in, spoke to each other, compared notes, information etc. In this group were 2 other Australian boats and one Kiwi boat. It was great chatting to each other and forming a real bond. I became a lot more confident with marine radio talk and actually took my turn as controller of the net on day.

Day 6. There was no wind, so with all the sails down we stopped and went for a swim in the Atlantic which was great. We were catching as many fish as we needed and a number of plastic bags. Rene caught 3 decent sized dolphin fish on one line at the same time. He had a number of hooks on his line. It was pretty amazing photos later. I felt sorry for the fish as they are such pretty coloured yellow and blue. The flying fish were amazing the distances they can fly. We also saw a lot of dolphins. Two of them put on a quite a show for us at one stage. I think they must have escaped from Marineland in Miami. They flipped over and over out of the water in tandem. Only once did we see small whales and a few birds. Sometimes we had big fish swimming beside the boat taking advantage of the waves we created. We had a competition each day at midday to guess what distance we had covered in the previous 24 hours.

Stefan had told me that the trade winds were always reliable and would come from behind at this time of year so why did we have to beat into wind and waves. One night I slept under the table. It wasn’t because I was drinking rum! I was becoming airborne in the front cabin as the boat hit into waves. Stefan was already asleep on the lounge so I made up a bed under the table which is the centre of the boat. A lot of water was coming over the front of the boat and we discovered the hatch in our cabin wasn’t closed properly and my bed was wet. Luckily the weather was warm and it was not a problem to dry out. We heard via Herb that boats a lot further north of us near Bermuda were having bad weather. One boat called TRUE LOVE had rudder problems. We heard Herb trying to get help for them. They had to be lifted off their boat by helicopter as the winds strengthened. We heard later the boat washed up in the Bahamas and wasn’t insured which was sad. We heard that the captain was 80 yo. He didn’t sound that old on the radio.

We were lucky to leave the Canary Islands when we did. As it happened we were one of the last boats to leave successfully. We have heard there is a big group of boats still waiting to leave. Fronts keep coming though of strong 35 knot winds from the South West which would be right on their noses. One boat apparently left, went out 100 nautical miles and had to turn back. Even Herb has said the weather we are experiencing is very unusual for this time of the year. If we didn’t leave when we did we would be still waiting in the Canary Islands for the right weather. Even though the weather has been a little frustrating being so light and uncomfortable at times we were so lucky. We have overtaken one of the smaller boats, an Australian boat called Fancy Free. We were at the back of the pack most of the way across, the others leaving before us.

Luckily I was reading a book about Great achievers in the Australian Bush. I was living a luxury life compared to them. We were having a mixed bag of weather. Luckily the wind was mostly from behind and a small current with us. One minute motoring because it was calm then some strong wind and we were off. In the middle we went through a period and no wind and had to do quite a bit of motoring. Herb kept telling us all to go south in search of more wind. Going across the Atlantic the other way he kept telling us to go north for the same reason. Both ways we have had more of a problem with light winds than too strong.

Half way across the Atlantic we saw these two identical big boats come in to view. You don’t see many boats so we got quite excited! I called up the captain on the short distance radio. We were getting a little frustrated at this time with the lack of wind. We started thinking we may be hanging out here for a while. These 2 boats were new ferries being delivered from Greece to Venezuela with English crew. They were motoring along quite quick and said they would arrive there on Christmas Eve. I told them we were Aussies and would be in the Atlantic for Christmas. They offered to send a short email Christmas greeting for us, which I sent to Tania, also saying we were safe in the mid Atlantic. On Christmas day Ross on the New Zealand boat in our little group, about 300 nautical miles ahead, offered to send family Christmas greetings which I did again. He had a satellite phone with email facilities. We also saw aircraft at night overhead quite regularly.


Christmas in the Atlantic

2009-12-25 to 2009-12-30

There was little wind the day before Christmas Eve. I started getting homesick about being away from family over Christmas. Then I decided to make the best of the situation. In Sweden they write poems or little verses to go on their Christmas presents so I decided to keep myself busy doing this. I had bought marzipan rum & raisin logs, wrapped in shiny paper twisted on the ends for each of the people on the boat. They looked like bon bons. I decided to write a poem about each person with events and funny things that had happened so far. See below! I wrote them on some nice paper with 5 stars pasted on them. I called them the 5 star Christmas award bon bons! They had the different names on them. I presented them to each person reading them out. They went down well, with a lot of laughs and entertainment on Christmas morning. I even got a request to read one of them out to the other boats which I did to a big applause.

Bob, before leaving Australia had asked me what he could bring. I told maybe a small, small, Christmas tree and some tinsel to decorate the boat at Christmas. I had already a few decorations put aside. Bob also bought some Santa hats. Rene had a tape of traditional Christmas songs in French. We sat under the stars on a balmy night in the Atlantic with our Santa hats on, on Christmas Eve, listening to Christmas carols in French! It was certainly different!

It was great opening up the Christmas envelopes Tania had sent with Bob, photos and cards with lovely words! After the Christmas awards on Christmas morning, Stefan made up some Swedish Glugg! Not quite suited to the climate but enjoyed by all. It is a hot alcoholic drink with red wine, rum, Cinnamon, cloves and raisins! Christmas lunch consisted of Tinned Danish ham, rice salad, bean salad, beetroot and pineapple and some nice fresh bread I had made, so we didn’t fare too bad. This was followed by an Australian Celebration Christmas cake, nuts, sweets, etc

Juliana's 5 star Christmas bon bon awards: Personalized poems! 

STEFANO
Stefano joined us in Corfu, near the castle moates!
Shortly after had to cope with Ansgar’s Arnie jokes!
Too many pretty Croatian towns & National Parks, hard to take!
When the weather turned cold we decided to make a break!
Malta was where we were headed!
Weather turned bad so Brindisi was where we bedded!
Italy was a nice cultural change!
Warm weather and Malta was in range!
In Malta a hairdresser made him run!
His hair was only half way done!
In Tunisia he wouldn’t give the officials his smokes!
He said Come on! Come on! Be fair you blokes!
On Juliana he likes his lemon & honey drink!
Expressos are his favorite but in the Atlantic they are extinct!
He cooks some really tasty meals!
Don’t know why he was so worried he gets no appeals!
Sometimes pork comes out of the freezer as chicken!
Recipe changes, no problem, but who did the picken!
Not many places he hasn’t seen!
His 5th Atlantic crossing! This Austrian’s keen!

RENE
Rene sailed with us across the Atlantic before!
He joined us in Malta! He’s back for more!
In Tunisia he was our French translator!
The officials were more interested in collecting gifts than our data!
He’s also bubble officer on our boat!
At home he loves his cottage! It’s quite remote!
Catching a fish gets him excited!
Sometimes plastic bags come on his line uninvited!
In Canada he likes to hunt Moose!
On Juliana he hunts flies, with a swatter he really breaks loose!
Rene’s a good cook! His meals are great!
When meals are called we are never late!
With his thermos always by his side!
In 2009 on Juliana he came for a ride!

BOB
Bob joined us in Gibraltar!
The trade winds they did falter!
Keen as mustard he was to come!
He loves to sail, he loves the hum!
His family loves him and misses him a lot!
They have lent him to us for a short time slot!
Bob & Stefan adjust the sails!
Another knot! Come excited wails!
The teacher from Umina!
You couldn’t find a mate more finer!
Always there to lend a hand!
Very true to the Aussie brand!
On deck he polishes Juliana till she gleams!
With lots of different kinds of creams!
Bob’s mushroomed sauced steak with roast veggies gets Wendy’s vote!
While Stefan, on Bob’s meatloaf he did dote!
We’re sure glad that he could come!
Across the Atlantic to the Caribbean to share some rum! 

STEFAN
Stefan’s projects keep him busy!
Always something to fix! He stays calm never gets in a tizzy!
Up & down in his workshop box!
He works on Juliana while she rocks!
He’s been known to be found in Rene’s locker!
He says he is fixing the propeller proper!
Muesli, bread & cheese for breakfast is a must!
They give him energy to reef, in a gust!
Talking to Herb every night for the weather!
He guided us where to go, keeps saying South is better!
We start thinking around the horn we will go!
As Juliana rocks madly to and throw!
2 Aussie & a Kiwi boat are crossing with us as well!
Sometimes on the Mad Atlanticnet they are as clear as a bell!
Following a recipe, Stefan makes Wendy a vegetarian dish!
1st in 33 years and it’s not fish!
Sailing across the Atlantic and back was his dream!
He’s like a cat lapping up cream!

Yes Christmas in the Atlantic was quite a different Experience!


NEW YEARS EVE IN BARBADOS!

2010-01-01 to 2010-01-11

We are now in Falmouth, Antigua, where the Super yachts hang out. Mirrabella 5, a sailing boat, 250ft long, the tallest single masted boat in the world was anchored near us in Gibraltar. It left a day before us; we gave it a head start, surprising it got here before us. At night it is like Disneyland with all these boats lit up, Red lights on the top of their masts, all their spreaders and lights blaring. The boys just drool! A different type of red light district! By law you only have to have a red light on top of your mast if it is over 300ft to alert aircraft flying overhead. Mirrabella 5’s mast is 290ft. All the big yachts have them anyway! It seems a status thing. Yes it is quite another world! A lot of the bars are full of super yacht crew! It is a very balmy laid back environment! We have a good anchorage and can swim off the boat to cool down, so will stay here for at least a week. Hopefully catch some buses around the place.
Since finally putting our feet on Terra- Firma after 21 days at sea we have had a lot of fun social times putting faces to those people we had spoken to every day on the radio but never met, out in the Atlantic. We have seen some beautiful places and bays, where we have swam off the boat in 28 degrees water with a hotter air temperature! At one stage we really thought we would not only spend Christmas in the Atlantic but New Year as well! We made New Year in Barbados with one day to spare! The last smaller Australian boat in our group MadAtlanticnet “ FANCY FREE” made it in, in the dark just before New Year to receive a huge applause as we were all partied on Juliana and guided her in, flashing Juliana’s mast light. We then went on to the Barbados cruising club to see in the New Year! They had a bonfire on the beach and fireworks at midnight. It was a good night!
Yes, we have laughed together and cried together. I couldn’t hold back on the net being upset one day just before Christmas. The thought of not being with family for Christmas! Not much more than half way across with little wind it seemed like we would be in the Atlantic forever. Everyone on the net was so good at cheering me up. We were” all in the same boat” scattered over thousands of nautical miles. Diana on one boat had the very upsetting experience of her kitten falling overboard one night at sea never to be seen again. We all knew what she had been through with this kitten and how much she loved it. She had rescued it in Morocco when in was 3 weeks old and fed it with an eye dropper to be very healthy. She had got all the vaccinations and certificates to be able to take it back to America. There were many wet eyes the day she cried her way through telling us what had happened on the radio.
It made me appreciate how important radio nets in remote areas of Australia would be to keep people in touch with each other. Interesting enough I only read one book coming across the Atlantic and it was about Australian outback heroes who worked hard, under extreme conditions in the outback in different ways to make it a better place including communication.
We anchored off a beach near Bridgetown and caught the bus around to see the island of Barbados which we enjoyed. Very scenic! It was quite a dingy trip to check in where the Cruise ships come in. We stopped off and had a very layback afternoon one afternoon at the cottage of an American ex musician who had lived in Barbados for 15 years. He called his cottage by the beach Hotel California! He was certainly friendly, a good singer & piano player! His name was Bob. Our Bob also played some good tunes. We joked we got our TWO BOB’S worth. Emma off the NZ boat sang and also played guitar as we all tried to sing along. The last night in Barbados we went as a group on a bus to a local fish restaurant which was great. We went ashore to a beach bar which was very lay back to do interneting and got some water in our bottles. It was a bit tricky going into the beach in out dingy & keeping the computer dry. We also used the library in town to do interneting. Where we tied up our dingy was a very impressive park still with Christmas decorations. Bridgetown is a very lively! Colourful place!
After about 5 days in Barbados we moved on to the French Island of Martinique. We anchored at St Pierre with a spectacular volcanic mountain backdrop and very lush green vegetation and palm trees. In 1902 the Volcano erupted killing 30,000 people. Here we caught up with two more boats crossing the Atlantic with us “Meander” from Aussie with Ray, Julie, 14 yo Sam & Milo their dog.“Tosca” An English boat with Nathan & Ashley and Chester their dog. We had a fun night on Juliana that night. They headed for Martinique rather than Barbados as they had dogs on board that weren’t allowed off the boat in Barbados. We sailed with these two boats to the island of Dominica where we anchored up in Prince Rupert Bay. We hope to spend some more time on this beautiful island when we come back from Australia.
We then sailed on to a small French Island in the Guadeloupe group anchoring in Les Sainte a quaint place with lovely fresh French bread and real French but a Caribbean twist. We walked up the hill for a great view of the bay! We had great sailing days between the islands averaging about 7 knots with low swell. As we were sailing with” Meander” a Catamaran we took photos of each other’s boats under sail which are on the blog. We anchored overnight in another lovely bay, Deshaies, NW Guadeloupe. It was great cooling off jumping off the boat! It is a hard life! It was then a day sail to Antigua where we are now!
Some say their life is boring compared to ours! The grass is always greener I can tell you & often I dream of having a normal life again with the luxuries such as a washing machine, limitless water & power, being able to walk into a supermarket and get what you want without surprises and having to work out the price in different currencies and pounds rather than kilos etc. Also to have reliable conditions for sleeping!


STEFAN FLOATS ON CLOUDS as we board MIRRABELLA 5

2010-01-12 to 2010-01-20

We spent about 10 days in Antigua, most of the time in Falmouth. We walked around Nelson’s dockyard, caught a bus to Budget Marine, Jolly Harbour & St John one day. St John is the capital and where the Cruise ships all come in. A lot of Indians have shops here! Stefan had wanted a keyboard for a while on the boat and found one here. He got it for a good price as some of the keys didn’t work but Stefan was sure he could fix it and did. It is always interesting to see a bit of the island by bus. The buses are small and privately owned. When you want to get off there is no bell. You just yell out STOP BUS PLEASE and it stops. People as they get on the bus usually say good morning to everyone on the bus as they board.

We had a problem with our fridge and had it fixed here after a few visits by a Canadian recommended to us by a boat anchored nearby, Magnum. We did our interneting at a friendly bar called The Mongoose where a lot of the yachties met. We met a lovely Aussie couple Marno & Shelley on boat Atitudes and had a lovely night aboard Juliana with them. We could see Montserrat Volcano on the next island, still active, going off regularly from our anchorage.

When we were approaching Antigua from the sea we saw a mast towering over the mountain. Stefan guessed it would be that of Mirrabella 5. As an engineering feat Stefan had read every detail about this boat since she was launched. We had circled around Mirrabella 5 in our dingy in amazement in Gibraltar, taking a picture, which we put on the blog, when she was there with us, never realizing in our wildest dreams we would be invited on board later down the track. When we arrived and she was in Falmouth, Antigua, Stefan studied her in amazement from the jetty and I took a picture of him at her stern.
One weekend we sailed to Green Island, Antigua, a pretty place with a lot of Kite Surfers. I made a bread and butter pudding. I got some bread out of the freezer and didn’t realize it was garlic bread which made for an interesting Bread & butter pudding. Determined not to waste the precious ingredients I ended up putting vegetables in it and making a curry which tasted delicious with its sultanas etc. A NEW RECIPE! 

We were surprised to again see Mirrabella 5 anchored here. We were anchored up minding our own business when this huge runabout came alongside us and said what a nice boat we had! We hadn’t seen where it had come from and got talking to this guy who said he had seen the Aussie flag, then Sydney and come over to say hello. He said he came from just north of Sydney, East Gosford. We of course told him to come on board still not realizing he was the skipper of Mirrabella 5. The subject finally came up and we finally found out he was the skipper if Mirrabella 5. A very modest guy! He had lived in Wells St. East Gosford, a street down from where we live. He went to Erina High, a local high school. I took a picture of Stefan & Bob with him! He was on board for over an hour with Stefan & Bob asking all the questions! Mirrabella used 55,000 litres of fuel doing the same Atlantic crossing we did. Her length 245ft, beam 48ft, 290ft Mast, 4 million American dollars per year to run! 14 crew, 12 guests. In case you want to hire her for a week you will need A$420,000.

Rooker, the skipper, told us the guests would be leaving in the morning and if we were still around, he would send over the tender to pick us up for a look over Mirrabella 5. We of course made sure we were still around. Stefan & Bob thought it was a crazy dream. It was like being a Royalist and being given a tour of Buckingham Palace by the Queen for them.
The following morning Mirrabella 5’s private tender arrived alongside Juliana to pick us up. The size of the tender itself was amazing and this was the small one. The other one being 29ft! We stepped on board Mirrabella 5 with the crew all standing there to greet us. VERY IMPRESSIVE is all I could say. I think the pictures on the blog speak for themselves!
We also anchored off Five Islands bay, Antigua one day and night which was beautiful, a lovely area for paddling in the Kayak and going ashore on a lovely beach. Unfortunately Stefan got stung by something with a tentacle that he had to remove! Luckily he recovered.
We had good wind as we sailed overnight to St Maarten arriving early in the morning. We had the coast guard board us as we were waiting for the bridge on the Dutch side to open. It only opens at certain times. The coast guard went through some formalities and welcomed us to St Maartens, where we will celebrate Australia day. We called up the other boats we knew were here while we were waiting! There are a number of Aussie boats here we will meet again so it should be fun. St Maarten is split between two countries. We are anchored on the Dutch side. We can go by dingy or bus to the French side. Bob will fly back to Australia from here with us and Stefano will look after our boat while we are in Australia then fly to Costa Rica to learn Spanish.


AUSTRALIA DAY in ST MAARTEN before heading back to Aussie

2010-01-21 to 2010-02-03

When we first anchored up inside the huge protected Simpson Bay Lagoon on St Maarten we anchored on the Dutch side. We checked in and paid $100 for coming under the bridge and anchoring for 1 week. We soon realized that if we moved over to the other side of the lagoon which is French you don’t pay to anchor. After a week we checked out of the Dutch side with immigration etc and into the French side which is in the same lagoon. The French side was just on the limit for the depth of our boat so we were on the border of the French and Dutch side. In some wind conditions we were not sure if we were in France or Holland. Many people live on boats and work. They go to work in dinghies rather than cars. Some working couples have 2 dinghies instead of 2 cars. There are dinghies zooming everywhere. It is quite a sight. Never saw any collisions but it must happen! We were anchored near a channel and it busy with dinghies especially in peak hours.

We had a great Australia Day in St Maarten, with arm wrestling, pie eating competitions etc. There was a raft race! Quite a few other Aussie boats and also Aussies who are skippers and crew and the super yachts! Quite a mixture! to celebrate, with a some Kiwis and Poms thrown in !Some Kiwi girls asked for trouble coming with PROUD NOT TO BE A AUSSIE! Written on the back of the T-shirts! They were smartly thrown in the pool! Most of us ended up in the pool. It was a fun night! Lots of funny photos for the blog! There was a fun group of ladies on boats and we have some good dancing nights. I had trouble getting Stefan to dress up in Aussie gear but he got in the mood and did! Half way through the night a guy took a liking to his Aussie t-Shirt and asked to swap which Stefan did. Photos tell the story! He has never had so much attention with the girls! We had lots of fun nights including a Pot Luck curry night on one of the boats one night.

Bob, Stefano & I caught one of the local mini buses to the capital of the Dutch side Philipsburg one day which was fun and a very scenic ride, especially on the way back with a view over Simpson Lagoon and all the boats! Philipsburg is where the cruise ships come in. We had a meal on the waterfront with a wonderful Mango smoothie! Bought a few things to take home! The buses just pull up wherever you hail them. You open and close the door yourself! When people get on they say Hello to everyone on the bus which is nice! You pay your fare when you get off. There are no bells on the bus! You just yell out loudly STOP please! And the bus lets you off. People help each other a lot on and off etc with groceries, kids etc. They cost very little!

The day before we left Stefano looking after Juliana to fly back to Australia for 3 weeks, we decided to have a TEA PARTY! On Juliana! Something different! We wanted to say goodbye to many of our friends who would have left by the time we came back and with a long flight ahead of the last thing we needed was a hangover. Some of the guys radioed us “Have I heard right! A TEA PARTY!!!!! They all came and a good time as we sadly said goodbye to many whom we had sailed across the Atlantic with and would probably not see again for some time!

Not often can you go by dingy to an international airport but this is what we did. We were up early. Our friend Bob was leaving the same day but later so he took us in the dingy to where we could walk across the road to board the plane. As I have mentioned the name of the airport on ST Maarten is JULIANA international Airport. We were there over 2 hours early but nearly missed the flight. When we went to check in they told us we needed a visa waiver number to fly via America which we didn’t have. They said we could do it on line but there seemed to be a problem with the computers. Ten minutes before our plane was due to take off we got the approval number. We followed a man who said RUN RUN RUN! Follow me! We went through all the normal searches etc running across the tarmac with shoes and belt in our hands. Stefan holding onto his pants for dear life! The door of the plane was closed. We had guys saying NO! NO! too late. The guy with us saying Go !Go! We were confused. Finally they opened the door and we were on! If we had missed this flight we would have missed our connection to Australia!

I was so relieved to get on this flight we were looking forward so much to coming home after 10 months away. With the problem we had had somehow our connection flight to Australia had been cancelled but much to our relief they found us seats and rebooked them. After this Stefan & I were to be seated at opposite ends of the plane but the kind man sitting next to me swapped seats with Stefan when he heard what had happened so all well ends well!

In Los Angeles United Airways had overbooked the plane to Sydney and were offering hotel, meals and incentives to fly the next day. From the time we left St Maarten to Sydney with connections via Chicago, would take 34 hours! We were tied after the dramas and were tempted to have a night’s stopover but with only 3 weeks in Australia decided we just wanted to get there. It was great to arrive at Sydney airport.


BACK IN AUSSIE I say “OVER” on our mobile!

2010-02-03 to 2010-02-22

After long flights it was great to arrive in Sydney 8.30am. Tania our daughter had taken the day off work and wanted to meet us at the airport however as independent travelers, we insisted it was a lot easier for us to catch the train & bus to her to avoid peak hour traffic over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We rang her when we were near the bus stop! Our mobile still had credit from 10 months ago and worked! This was our 1st conversation on a mobile in all this time. Tania was amused when I said Over! On our mobile after finishing what I had to say! Too much time on boats and boat radios! At least I didn’t say “Roger to that” It reminded me of on one of our previous boats which had foot pumps to get water out of the tap. You got so used to pumping your foot to get water in the sink. After living on the boat for about 6 months, our middle son Daniel was only 12 months old and learned to walk when we lived on our boat day hopping along the coast of Australia, back home I started pumping my foot madly in front of friends who didn’t realize what I was doing! I did finally get used to turning on the tap again but it was easier with my hands free!

We spent the first nights in Sydney, North shore beaches, with Tania & Daniel and our youngest son Chris came down from Gosford! It was so good seeing them again. We took Roxy the dog for a walk to Warringah Mall shopping centre one day. Australians should be so appreciative of grocery prices which must be amongst the cheapest in the world!!! Snowy the cat lapped up our attention as well! Tania & Phil her partner had visited us on our boat in Greece as had Daniel but Chris, our baby????? 21yo, we hadn’t seen for 10 months! It was very emotional for me. He had grown to be a mature young man about to start a degree in Nursing! Our 3 kids had really been there for each other when we were away and had formed a strong bond! We are so proud of them!!!! All my worries about leaving them were unfounded! We had miss them so much! Spending Christmas in the middle of the Atlantic! They had a great Christmas together with my parents and sister & family! They hadn’t done this for a long time! I know their Grandparents specially appreciated it and they also liked getting together with similar aged cousins they hadn’t seen for a while!

Tania & Phil were moving house from North Curl Curl to Manly, the weekend after we got back to Australia so it was good to be able to help them. Unfortunately it was teaming with rain which made it interesting. Saturday afternoon friends from Engadine caught the Ferry over to Manly & we caught up with them which was great. We meet so many new friends which we love, but friends you have known for 32 odd years they are special! Hi Chis & Gill! On Sunday we caught the train to our hometown of Gosford stopping off at Friends Diana & Kens’ for a lovely lunch. Special Again!!!!! We also visited Chris our son in Gosford. It all gets too special!!!! Susan & Eric kind friends of ours had us up for the next week and we had some great times together. They even lent us their car for various appointments! Doctor check up, accountant etc! Then it was my kind Aunt Stella’s place we stayed in! We are so blessed! It was great catching up with Vanda & Jess!

Unfortunately a friend of ours Bob was in intensive care in hospital when we got home. He went home a few days before we left which was good. We had a lovely brunch with Bob & Caroline the day before we left cooked by son Tarrant (A chef by trade!) Bob also lent us his car one week! Helen & Danny friends that go back a long way we met visiting Bob! Another close school friend Margaret wasn’t travelling so well health wise but she is now home and hopefully out of the woods! It confirms with us that we better do what we want to do while we are able! A good friend Mo also having a bit of a challenge with life! It was good to talk to her! We stayed a night with Jenny & Tony and had a great Pizza night, again friends that go back a long way! We got to see our 90yo neighbor MARJ!!!! Still living in her our home next door and going strong!!!

Had a night at our local sailing club with our friends there & BOB and lovely wife Sue Ellen!!!!! Funny Story! Bob sailed with us across the Atlantic and went home to Aussie the same day as us but later. Stefano another crew member was looking after our boat while we were back in Aussie and took Bob in the dingy to the airport! His comment! His strange man appeared from down below” Juliana” He actually had long pants on and I didn’t recognize my friend Bob!

My parents 87yo & 82 came down on the train to Gosford to spend some days with us which was great also Aunty Thel & Uncle Pete and friend Diana had a special reunion night. We had spend special times together sailing in Turkey!!!
We did so much talking on the phone with many friends we will catch up with in September! Time was so short this time! Didn’t get to see any of my sisters or brother! ALL TOO SOON OUR TIME IN AUSSIE WAS UP!!!!!!!


ST MAARTEN quite a sailing community!

2010-02-23 to 2010-03-12

We arrived back from Australia to St Maarten, Caribbean, to find Stefano had looked after our girl “Juliana” well and both were in good shape! We flew out on my mother’s 82 birthday! When travelling to America from Australia you are allowed 2 bags of checked in luggage 23kg each so we had 4 suit cases mainly full of good old Aussie tucker(food) and our carryon luggage with was quite a bit of gear. Chris lent us his car to get to the train from Bateau Bay where we were staying, with all this gear. He had gone to Uni by train. The train is the usually the best way to the air port. We had had a family Barbeque the day before and said our goodbyes! Unfortunately the train we caught was full. We were standing with our entire luggage in the front carriage of the train when this man ushered us into a staff only compartment on the train. We found that we were in the train driver’s compartment so it was a very interesting 1.5 hours. We had a good forward view of the train tracks out the front window and saw a train driver in action. His name was Rett and he was very friendly! Stefan of course quizzed him about everything to do with trains then we got talking about our sailing adventures which he seemed to find interesting. The trip went very quickly with plenty of room for our luggage.

We had had an overnight stopover in Los Angeles where we arrived late at night with an early flight out it didn’t make it worthwhile checking into a hotel. So we became bench sleepers for the night. We are getting used to this sort of thing! At least it wasn’t a rolly anchorage! Once we arrived back at Juliana Airport St Maarten it was just a matter of walking across the road to where Stefano was waiting for us with the dingy! Unfortunately while we were waiting for our luggage to come along the conveyor belt a child about 4yo was playing around and got his arm caught in the belt. Luckily the belt was stopped promptly but his arm was caught and he was screaming as were his concerned parents, brothers & sisters, a young family! Officials came running but there didn’t seem like any plan in place to deal with a situation like this. It was a harrowing experience for anyone nearby to experience. Different people had different ideas about how to deal with the situation. Finally after about 15 minutes the child was released and carried away! Miraculously he didn’t seem too injured!

Stefano who had been with us for 5 months was now off to Costa Rico to study and master the Spanish language! There was just Stefan & I now! We have had to make new friends as all our previous friends have moved on North, while we were in Aussie. There is a busy social life here and sometimes hard to focus on the things you have to do. A place called Turtle Pier has a happy hour for Cruisers Weds from 5-7pm with beers for $1 hamburgers $3. On Sundays they have a champagne breakfast for $5. Both these sessions get a good turn up and a great way of meeting new folks. The dinghies are all tied up looking like a pub parking area of a different kind. Lagoonies has a flea market on a Saturday morning where yachties bring anything they want to swap or sell including books and DVD’s which works well as well. Every morning at 7.30am there is a radio net on channel 14, with weather, announcements of events that are on, an information session where you can pick the brains of the other cruisers, then a buy, sell or swap session. It works well and makes for a close knit yachtie community. There are hundreds of boats anchored in the lagoon most stand by on channel 14. If a yachtie at any time of the day has a query about anything and puts out a general call with the query he usually has an answer within seconds. It is a bit like google.

One weekend there was a big big Heineken regatta with a lot of boats both big and small coming here for the race. We had a fun time going out our dingy in raincoats with Nat & Art to see the finish of the last race. Some very performance racing boats! Very impressive in full action! We did a trip on a local bus to other beautiful spots on the island such as Grand Case. Here there is a beautiful beach with aqua coloured water. Restaurants and bars line the beach. A waiter will even wade into the water and put your drink on a attached floating table while you swim! We filled up with water in 5 litre containers for a reasonable cost on the French side.

We were directly under the flight path of planes taking off and landing which could be annoying but we found it interesting as Juliana airport is only a relatively small airport and it is amazing how skilled the pilots are who are in control of these huge aircraft. Luckily they don’t go overnight. It was a busy time as this will be the best place to get anything we need in the next 6 months. I was busy stocking up with groceries. I got a lot of groceries from Cole Bay. There are a lot of Chinese supermarkets that have different things at good prices, bulk sugar etc. I found different things at different shops and bought those things in big quantities. COST U LESS was an Aldi type store but not walking distance. Our boat is finally becoming more of a home! I bought my sewing machine and blender back from Australia this time! In Antigua Stefan bought a small keyboard and has made one of the cabins his piano room. Stefan has finally fitted a small twin tub washing machine in one of our bathrooms. It washes and spins well and is good to wash and spin bigger items. He has also fitted a proper mirror in our cabin where I can see a bit more than just my head to have a reality check sometimes.

Stefan worked on our water desalinator which we will soon use as our only source of fresh water. We also catch water from the boom tent when it rains! Hoses are fitted to the boom tent that runs straight into the water tank. We have recently got a small Honda generator to charge the batteries when necessary. We have solar panels, a wind generator and a propeller generator. We can charge the batteries off the main engine but when not using the engine it is more efficient to use the generator. As you can see we now have all bases covered.


Finally pulling up anchor for ST BARTHS

2010-03-13 to 2010-03-29

We checked out of French St Maartens, said our goodbyes and after waiting for most of the day to fuel up and fill up water, very lay back are they! We finally got to meet the Australian boat “Clementine” who had sailed across the Atlantic just before us. We went under the bridge and anchored up in outside waters. We had a big job scrapping Juliana’s bottom as she has developed a lot of barnacles while being anchored in warm waters 31 degrees for over 6 weeks in St Maarten.

We sailed first to St Barthelemy, a French island frequented by the rich and famous. There are lots of boutique shops, restaurants and mansions on the Hills. Everything was very well kept. Stefan was interested in visiting this island as many years ago it was a Swedish Island and has a lot of Swedish history connected to it. Stefan found the Swedish museum there interesting. We checked in at Gustavia where two Cruise ships were anchored, ferrying passengers back and forward. We took a walk up to one of the Swedish Forts where there was a good view of the town and bay. We also anchored up at Colombier beach swimming off the boat and cleaning off the rest of Juliana’s barnacles. We did a lovely walk over the cliffs to Flamands town and a beautiful beach with white sand and palm trees.

Our next island stop was Saba probably our favorite island so far in the Caribbean. The island has a spectacular approach as you arrive by boat! It is very beautiful and untouched by tourism and the people who live here super friendly. The visitors of this island are divers, hikers or yachties. It has the smallest commercial airport runway in the world 400 metres with very talented pilots that land here. The island’s dive sights are said to rank amongst the top scuba spots in the world and is preserved as a marine park where boats have to take a mooring rather than anchor as the coral would be damaged. Unfortunately it is a bit of a rolly on the moorings. Saba has a volcanic peak which we walked up and then down around the island’s rainforest with spectacular scenery. We caught a ride up to the Windward Quarter, via a town called” The Bottom” and St John. Unfortunately when we arrived to start walking it was under clouds and raining but gradually cleared.

The next island we visited was St Eustatius known as Statia, another similarly untouched beautiful volcanic island with a perfectly formed crater which we walked up and into the rainforest. While we were walking we met an American girl whose grandmother had had a house here for a long time. When we arrived at night it looked very commercial with a lot of ships coming and going! A big Texas company apparently has big fuel storage tanks here. The ships drop off the fuel and the fuel is distributed by tugs pulling barges to other islands. We got talking to a local in the tourist office. Apparently the locals gain very little from this operation and are looking forward to 10-10-2010 when they come under Holland and they hope the island will then we better managed. There were lots of hens with chickens walking around town. We had a beer in a Chinese restaurant here believe it or not! The morning we left we had a job getting back onto the boat it was rolling so much.
We anchored overnight first on the Northern end of St Kitts. It was a very peaceful anchorage with a spectacular backdrop. We saw a sugar train go by. It was great sailing along the western side of St Kitts past a big fortress. We enjoyed St Kitts (St Christopher). We anchored near Basseterre first to check in and had a nice ice cream in the Park. It was very rolly anchorage so we moved on to Whitehouse bay which was very protected and beautiful. There was a fresh waterfall here and a lot of the yachties were going their washing in it. We spent a morning with some nice folks we met here from Seattle, Tom & Diane, on a boat called Tasman. We hitched a ride into town, Basseterre with a very friendly guy Gary who owned the restaurant at Cockle bay. We got an early start the following day and went a walk around the salt lake and beach to his restaurant seeing monkeys along the way. A lot of work is going on in this area with a big new marina planned. So much for its natural beauty!

We caught up with friends Natalie & Art here on CAPTAIN’S FANSY, friends from St Maartens. They left before us. They are an interesting couple who have sailed completely around the world in their 33ft boat. Natalie is French and met Art, an American, in Vanuatu on the boat when she was travelling around. Art asked Natalie on a date to sail with him to Australia. That was 6 years ago and they are still sailing. Natalie is an artist and paints wonderful paintings which she displayed at Turtle pier. They have no fridge or freezer on their boat. I have got so many good food ideas for on a boat from her, including lessons in making Sushi . We got on well with them and did some great hiking on Nevis together. From Charlestown we caught a bus to Golden Rock! The beautiful tropical flowers and tropical jungle! We climbed up to the source! Where all the water on the island comes from! Most locals said they had never been there! It was quite a climb as you will see in photos! Panoramic views of St Kitts! We get to some amazing spots for hiking but have to sail there! They had an agricultural show on when we were there! It was interesting but very hot! We went ashore to a free internet spot that even had a power point! We filled up water bottles!

We said goodbye to Natalie & art and headed for Montserrat with its active volcano!


MONTSERRAT and its Active volcano

2010-03-31 to 2010-04-17

We sailed from Nevis to Montserrat, strong winds and squalls 20-25 knots. Beating to windward against the waves was slow going. We could smell the sulfur fumes from the active Volcano. As recently as 11th Feb this year there had been a serious eruption with part of the cone collapsing. No one was injured as two thirds of the island has been vacated and is a no go zone. 5,000 people now live on the remaining one third of the island which is declared safe. In 1997 Plymouth the capital was covered with ash and abandoned. 11,000 residents had to be resettled. 19 people lost their lives. The volcano is monitored on a daily basic at the volcano observation centre and by helicopter. At the observation centre we saw an interesting film of the volcano and the devastation it has caused over the years. They have original footage of the volcano eruption which is very powerful. Many houses on the island weren’t covered with ash but are empty because of the risk factor. This island has also had to deal with hurricanes over the years.

The current harbor is very rolly with a lot of surge and not very protected. We watched as a small freighter went on ground for some time trying to tie up. The French captain had asked for a local pilot but at the last minute was told he could be given directions from shore. We listened and the directions were very vague. They did manage to get off after some time but must have had some damage.

While we were anchored, a 26ft sailing boat anchored next to us with 3 young Norwegian guys. We invited them over for drinks. They had sailed it from Norway a few years ago and were about to sail back across the Atlantic. Amazing what people do! A charter boat with young Danish family on board had lost their dingy and couldn’t get ashore so we gave the man a ride to shore as he needed to get some fuel.

A westerly wind came up so we set sail from Montserrat to Deshaies, on the NW side Guadeloupe in the evening. We were extremely lucky to be able to sail right near the ghost town capital of Plymouth and the steaming volcano! Normally you cannot do this as you would get ash all over the boat but because the wind was blowing the ash and fumes the other way we sailed quite close with the sun shining on it late in the day. It was an eerie feeling with the whole town including multi storey buildings submerged in lava and just left as a ghost town, even a church; we could only see the top of. The buildings that were in direct flow of the lava were obviously in the sea. Unfortunately when we got around the island the wind died so we decided to back track a bit. We anchored up on the boarder of the no go zone and got an early start, again sailing past the devastated Plymouth this time as the sun was rising! The wind gradually increased on the quarter.

 We arrived in Deshaies on the French island of Guadeloupe in the afternoon. We had stayed here for one night on the way up to St Maarten. It is a very popular bay with lots of boats! There is a constant number of boats coming and going, all sizes. Every morning you hear the sound of anchor chains being pulled up as boats move on. Some stay for one night others like us now stay for over a week. One night we counted 50 yachts in the bay. It is a quaint little town with the church bells chiming every hour. Checking in is easy here you just do it on line at the Pelican Café, a place where all the yachties meet. We met an Aussie boat here from Perth. They were however heading North. There was a water tap here so we filled up our 5 litre water bottles every time we went to town. A local lady had a stall and was selling homemade ice creams. I had a coconut one and it was delicious. There were often beautiful rainbows over the town. I guess there are lots of pots of gold here! One day a big tender pulled alongside us with our cushion which had blown overboard without us realizing and was floating out to sea. We were very appreciative.

The coast guard came along one night flashing a spotlight on each boat’s name. Not sure what they were looking for! There was lots of sun and wind for our solar panels & wind generator. We had not had much internet connection lately. We could subscribe to have internet on our boat for about $40 a week so decided to go with that as we decided to stay put for the week and research booking our fares home in Aug-September. Stefan wanted to go back to Australia via Sweden to see his family. I decided it might be nice for him to spent time with his family alone so I decided to go back via Vancouver Canada as I had wanted to go there for some time. We also sat down and made a rough plan for the next year. We decided to go down the islands slowly to Trinidad. We booked Juliana to go up on land there at Powerboats on 20th August. I would fly out 25th & Stefan 26th. We booked to come back to Trinidad 6th January, do some work on the boat, see a bit of Central America then through the Panama Canal about April, Galapagos and across the Pacific. We needed to be back in Australia by Nov 2011 out of the cyclone area.

Having a good internet connection available on the boat was great, using video skype with Tania, Daniel, Chris & Phil as it was Easter. Tania laughed that we were staying put for a week because we had subscribed to an internet and wanted to utilize it. She thought we needed to get a life I think. I also researched what I would do in my 2 weeks in Vancouver. We spent quite a domestic week, sewing covers for the lounge seats etc
We walked up the hill to Botanical Gardens. There was no hardware store here so Stefan really suffered. One day we hitched a ride with a French guy to Pointe Noire then a local mini bus across the mountains to Maison-de la-forest where we went for a rainforest walk. We then hitched and got a bus to the bus station in Pointe-a-Pitre, a big city, rough in parts! Guadeloupe is shaped like a butterfly with Pointe-a Pitre in the middle. There was a big fruit and veg market by the harbor. We did the boring thing of having a nut sundae at a Mc Donald’s there. There was a band all dressed in orange t-shirts drumming in the park which was entertaining. We walked in the bustley city with lots of shops full of clothes & shoes. My joggers were had it so I bought some new ones here. We were lucky enough to get a local direct bus back to Deshaies.

 One day we got caught in the rain and had to shelter near a cemetery as we walked locally along the nearby river where there was a college and some pretty fancy houses. Another day we caught buses to Grande –Terre the other side of the island. It was sometimes challenging finding the right bus with very few people speaking English and we not speaking French. We went to Ste Anne a lovely sea side town and Francois where the ferries leave. As it was Saturday the buses finish early. With the help of a local we caught the last bus out of Pointe-a-Pitre to Ste Rose, after buying some groceries. When we got to Ste Rose we found the last bus to Deshaies had left and it would be expensive to get back by taxi. Luckily a small bus operator felt sorry for us as it was getting dark and agreed to drive us back to the boat for about $12


DOMINICA! Indian River! Backdrop! Pirates of the Caribbean!

2010-04-18 to 2010-04-27

We spent over 2 weeks in beautiful , Deshaies, Guadeloupe. A couple of nights before we left we got caught up with some Swedish boats who invited us to a Swedish sea shanty night! Unfortunately I was the only non Swed! Swedish people are normally so reserved but when they let their hair down!!! This was a funny night!! Stefan doesn’t normally like singing but was singing his heart out from the handed out singing books, Birgitta leading on her her piano accordion. I didn’t understand any of the songs which were apparently very funny! Just observing them was funny! Mats was an X-Olympic swimmer! In the last Olympics he swam he got beaten by an Aussie in Japan I think it was and it wasn’t Dawn Frazer. He was 2nd in the world in his class at the height of his career.

After having coffee with Jim & Renate from Emerald Seas and finally pulled out of Deshaies , our sails reefed, 30knots of wind from the east. We anchored just down the road near the mainland, near Pigeon Island. It was a windy night the wind generator pumping away. The following morning we went in the dingy snorkeling off Pigeon Island. There is a statue of Jacques Cousteau under the water. Divers are said to have luck if they touch it. It was one of his favourite dive sites a few decades ago and is a protected reserve called Reserve Cousteau. We didn’t find out exactly where the statue was until we went ashore and it wasn’t worth going back as it was quite a way in the dingy. We did however enjoy snorkeling here with its coral and colourful fish.

We anchored in a cute little bay near Marigot Lighthouse that night. The following morning we motored around the bay to the capital of Guadeloupe Basse-Terre and anchored off the very run down Marina. There were boats tied up in the Marina, not that old, that weren’t being looked after and looked like they were sinking. I real shame really. We wanted to rent a car but without success we did our normal thing catching the local bus up to St Claude. From there we walked about 6 klms, a nice walk to the entrance of Guadeloupe National Park and the climb up the volcanic volcano Mt Soufriere,1,447 metres. First a lovely rainforest walk then a moonscape like environment with a great view over the island and the islands of Les Saints. We were fairly exhausted when we got back to the boat after walking back to St Claude where luckily a bus was about to leave for Basse-Terre. We got some groceries at Price Leader before setting sail and anchoring at Grande Anse on Terre-de-Bas, a lot less touristy than Terre-de-Haut where we had been before.
The following morning we motored over to des Saintes to check out of Guadeloupe! Sailing from Guadeloupe to Dominica we enjoyed the short day sail winds ESE 12-15knots. Approaching Prince Rubert bay Dominica we were welcomed quite a long way out by boat boys offering services such as river guides, laundry, provisions etc. The one that met us had CHARLIE LOVE on his boat. They are very friendly but they are all competing against one another to serve you and there are a lot of them which can be a little annoying at times.

The Indian River that comes out in this bay is a really interesting place. You have to have a guide row you! We went with another American couple. We met our guide Randolph at 6.30am. This is the best time to see the bird life on the river. The boat trip winds up the shady tree canopy through tall swamp blood wood trees, Randolph pointing out different birds, fish and lots of crabs. Scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed here and it is not surprising! We ended up at the Indian River bush bar where we went a walk around a plantation. There is an abundance of fruit on this island! Bananas, coconuts, mangoes, pineapples and you name it! It was an interesting few hours and well worth it.

One of our friends Judy, an American was swinging into the water on a rope with the locals the following day. She didn't realise the water was as shallow as it was and she hurt her ankle. She was very worried about the cost when the locals told her they had called an ambulance but it cost her nothing. They bandaged it up and she recovered.

Reggae music is good but they have these huge speakers that echo the music very loud in the bay all hours of the morning which makes sleep hard. Unfortunately there are a number of big ships that have been washed up in hurricanes on the shores.
Our favorite thing of course is always to catch the local bus up into the villages off the tourist track, which we did. It is so much easier here where they speak English. We caught a bus to the other side of the island through the scenic tropical jungle to Bense. From there we took a 45 minute hike to Chaudiere Pool. This is one of my IT DOESN’T GET BETTER THAN THIS moments. Just the 2 of us by this tropical jungle with a beautiful waterfall that dropped into a deep pond after the hike it was magic going for a swim and being massaged by the water. We watched the small birds & butterflies with the relaxing sound of the water we had our picnic lunch.

We are at Big Papas bar that has wi fi as we sip rum punch. It is a hard life we have! We had a great time catching up again with Jim & Renate, Canadians, on Emerald Seas in Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica. We had met them in Deshaies. What an amazing couple! Renate first lost her husband with a tumor on the brain! Jim lost his wife a couple of years later to breast cancer! They had been friends as couples! Both knew each other’s families closely! Never in their wildest dreams would they have imagined what developed slowly to the point where they ended up getting married, had never sailed before and but bought a yacht and are so happy together after such hard times. They were both divers before and very water oriented! THE LOVELIEST COUPLE!

On Anzac day we anchored up in Roseau where we found Dominican people again very friendly and helpful. Roseau is the capital and a busy place in the mornings. We left our gas bottle with a very helpful lady at the gas station, to be filled for a very reasonable price.There are some old buildings here on the waterfront one of them is used as the Library and we were allowed to use our lap top here free of charge. It overlooks the sea. After catching a local bus, we hiked up to the twin waterfalls, Trafalgar Falls, very spectacular! The following day we caught a local bus to Carib Territory over the other side of the island. This is an area set aside for the original Carib people and was interesting especially travelling on the bus with them. They have a slightly Asian appearance. We went first along the west coast then across the mountains which were very rugged to the east coast. One the way back the driver got a call that someone had missed the bus. He asked passengers if they minded if he went backtracked 20 mins to pick up this person. No one seemed to mind so back we went and up a steep driveway when he wasn’t on the road. When we got back to town 2 big cruise ships were in. We spent some time walking amongst the huge old fig trees with their abundance of shade in the nearby Botanical gardens. We loved Dominica it has a lot of natural charm and it is a lot easier when they speak English. The children in these islands are so cute with their braided & beaded hair.


WENDY gets up close & personal with AUSTRALIA’S CRICKET captain & wicket keeper!

2010-04-28 to 2010-05-14

After Dominica the next Island, French again, Martinque. We had good wind, so sailed past St Pierre, with its impressive mountain backdrop, which we had enjoyed before, to Fort-de-France (The Capital). Fort-de-France is an interesting looking place from the water with its Fortress. It has big churches and a fancy library which was bought out piece by piece from France and rebuilt. There are lots of shops to wander amongst and a big market area! At a pharmacy here I actually showed the bottle of migraine tablets I deed a script for in Australia. They sold them to be over the counter. They had exactly the same ingredients and strength. In Australia I pay $20 for them here I paid $6. The tablets are made in Ireland. Mind you most other things in the Caribbean are much more expensive than in Australia.

There was a trendy internet café; air conditioned! Gay guys and travelers hang out here apparently. Drinks were a bit pricy but included free wi fi. The people here spoke English, were friendly and helpful. We checked into the island at the boat chandlery which was different. Another very helpful bloke here who spoke good English! A well priced supermarket here so we stocked up. We had had a good local radio station lately which we enjoyed, Radio Nostalgia, with good music , a change from Reggae and Gospel and our tied old tapes. Making bread every second day had become a habit, NO BREADMAKING machine.

We had a freakish thing happen here. We were anchored up a safe distance we thought from an Old Nordic trader sailing boat with Danish folks on board. We were down stairs when we heard a big bang and running upstairs we saw its big bower sprit had hit us from the rear. It took us a while to figure out what had happened. A big cruise ship with its bower thrusters full bore had come in stirring up all the water so that all the anchored boats were facing different directions. Luckily the boat hit our davits which Stefan didn’t have too much trouble repairing. The Danish boat had a bit of paint missing from its bower sprit. We had been lucky and were glad when the bigger boat decided to anchor a little further out!

The following day we caught a local bus through the centre of the island via Route-de-la-trace. We had to wait a while. They are smaller buses but don’t go till they are full. We learnt to get on at the first stop. If you don’t they are full and go straight by when you hail them. It was a scenic trip past Piton-du-Carbet. We got off at Morne Rough, took a walk in town enjoying the view over the ocean , then hitched to St Pierre and bused back to Fort-de-France via the coast we had sailed.

Finally setting sail again to a few lovely bays before anchoring for the night in Anse Noire ,a cute little bay with palm trees! When all the day tripper big Catamarans went home we had it to ourselves which was magic! There were young locals entertaining in the bay, jumping into the water from high cliffs. We went a walk in the morning up quite a few stairs. There was a big guest house on the beach, a very peaceful place. We had a great sail from Anse Noire to St Anne, Martinique! To windward but no swell! Quite fresh! Back and forward a bit but Stefan was disappointed when we arrived at 1.30pm! Lovely environment! Lovely temperature! This is what the Caribbean is about I guess. On the French islands not speaking French makes communication a little challenging.
It is so funny when we go to our pantry! We still have products from so many different countries in so many languages. St Anne on Martinique is a popular place with Yachties! It is a big protected bay. There is a nice town square as you go ashore. We went for a walk to the shrine up the top of the hill with a lovely view over the bay. We got caught up in a big funeral on the way back. A huge group of people all very dressed in black or white walking behind a Hearst! We waited as I passed. The cemetery is close to town.

We got up early one morning, got on our bikes and went a ride over to the east side of the island Pointe-des Salines, with low lying land reserve and lots of birds. The coastal ocean was quite rugged with unusual rock formations. Some parts were difficult to navigate with our bikes but we managed. We went through some farms growing melons. We were quite exhausted when we arrived back to the boat and it was good to cool down with a swim. We stocked up at a well priced supermarket in Marvin before having a good sail to St Lucia! Gentle breeze this time from the East!

I was very annoyed that when we went to check in to St Lucia, with its English history, Australians need a visa, even for staying a couple of weeks, for which I had to pay about $55. No where else since Tunisa with all the places we have been to have I needed one. All our guide books said Commonwealth country citizens did not require a visa in St Lucia. Last time I heard Australia was still a Commonwealth Country. Of course Stefan didn't need a Visa, he never does with his Swedish passport. The other thing was they had to keep my passport overnight to have it stamped at the airport and wouldn't provide me with any sort of receipt. Needless to say I was on the doorstep the following morning when they opened.

A consolation was that we arrived in Rodney Bay, St Lucia to find that Australia was playing in the upcoming week, the world cup 20/20 cricket games also there was a big Jazz festival weekend! The place was a buzz!!There is quite a sailing community here, 100’s of boats anchored in a lovely open but protected bay, a bit like St Maarten, but clear water so we can swim off the boat to stay cool. They have a radio net every morning, information! Buy, sell, and swap etc. It is good to feel part of a community from time to time! We made a lot of new friends and caught up with friends we have met before. Went out to a mother’s day lunch at the St Lucia sailing club with some new friends, Canadians on Beachouse & Americans on Bay Pelican! We were invited to have drinks on a Swedish boat and listened to the last night of the Jazz festival from their boat which was fun. The boats were really packed in. We went to our friend Jim’s 60thBirthday party on Emerald seas which was a great night!

A funny thing happened. I am not a cricket follower! I went with a group of 4 other cruising ladies to lunch one day! Leaving the guys on the boats with their projects! They have their meetings in boat chandlery places it seems! We were just having lunch. I knew the Aussie cricketers were in town but didn’t realize they were staying at the resort where we were having lunch. These guys with an Aussie accent happened to sit at the next table to us. The other ladies where American! These young guys were very athletic looking and I said to the other ladies, “Wouldn’t it be funny if they were Australian cricketers”. One of the American ladies asked the waitress if they were Australian cricketers and she said yes. Marsha said loudly “We have an Aussie lady here and she would like a photo with you!”
As I don’t follow cricket I was embarrassed but at their request got up for the photo when they agreed.

Debbie took the picture with her camera and when she emailed the photo of me I emailed it to Australia to my friends who followed cricket asking if the guys were Aussie cricketers and if so who they were? Within minutes of emailing it I got the email back:

“You've got to be joking!!!!! Leave the captain alone Wendy - He's still
getting over Lara Bingle! Stephan - make sure she is not sneaking out in
the dinghy at night - come on Aussie come on - enjoy the cricket - I think
you will as 20 - 20 can be fantastic (slog fest!) We only see the
highlights here (no pay tv for me) Sounds like another highlight for the
blog Swannee

I have never received so many emails in such a short time! All telling me that Michael Clarke, Australia’s cricket captain was on my left side and no other than Brad Haddin his wicket keeper on my left! Some asked if I had got their autograph which I hadn’t because at the time I didn’t even know if they were really Aussie cricketers even and in all fairness when I asked Stefan who sometimes watches cricket, he wasn’t sure. He did say that he thought one of them might have been Michael Clarke! FUNNY STORY!

Needless to say we went and saw the nail biting game Australia against Pakistan with Australia winning in the last minutes! The atmosphere was fantastic with the Caribbean band and dancing girls really going for it. I got together with some other Aussie ladies and we had a great time dancing and waving the Aussie flag frantically. Sad to say we had to see Australia lose to England in the Final at a pub packed with Poms ! We being the only Aussies!


ST VINCENT A BEAUTIFUL UNTOUCHED ISLAND

2010-05-15 to 2010-05-25

 In Rodney Bay St Lucia we enjoyed anchoring up near Pigeon Island. The final days of the Jazz festival were here. We walked up to the big fortress on the hill which makes up part of the National Park with a lovely view over Rodney Bay and all the anchored boats. There was an interesting café on the island with very friendly staff. We had been here with our laptop and had some lovely veg spring rolls and pineapple juice. After our walk we wanted to do some interneting but the café was closed. We noticed a lady in the kitchen and asked what time the place opened for a drink and to do some interneting. She invited us in via the back kitchen and let us in even though they were closed. This café had a lovely view of the bay and a great atmosphere.

Geraldine, a friend from Canada was arriving to spend some days on Juliana with us! She was arriving at an airport on the Southern side of St Lucia so we decided to sail down to meet her. Vieux Fort if off the track for most cruisers but we found it an interesting place to learn how the locals really live and go about life. We anchored up outside the small fishing port and had no trouble meeting up with Geraldine and cooled down with a swim when we got back to the boat. The following day we caught a local bus and went on a rainforest walk in the middle of the island near Morne la Cambe. Then to the capital Castries! We walked around a Big Church near a Park, the colourful markets and then a bus via the east coast to Souifriere with spectacular views of the Pitons (dagger type mountains)By the time we got back to Vieux Fort we had covered most of the island that day. We picked up some groceries before walking through down back to the Juliana, patiently waiting for us.

Geraldine was meeting a friend in Castries after leaving us, so we decided to sail slowly up the island again to Castries past the Pitons where we had been in the bus a day earlier. It is quite different, the view from land and sailing past in the boat. A boat we knew, Emerald Seas was anchored up at The Pitons. We anchored off a beautiful bay with a resort a bit further north. Geraldine & I took turns kayaking ashore. I walked up a lot of stairs to a restaurant with a beautiful view over the bay.

Our next stop was Marigot Bay! You can well understand why they decided to use this bay as a backdrop to in 1967 movie Dr. DoLittle. It is the most beautiful Palm tree clad bay. Geraldine enjoyed kayaking here taking in the scenery. We had stopped here a couple of days here on the way south to pick up Geraldine. We had watched Australia lose the 20/20 cricket final here in an up market bar full of Poms! We had also been walking down the road and it started pouring rain. We were taking shelter when all these mangos came washing down the street, some still in good condition. They had obviously fallen down from the tree in the rain and come washing down the road. I rescued some before a car came down the road and squashed the rest. Stefan thought it was hilarious me in the pouring rain chasing mangoes down the road. He liked them in a cake later though.
Castries was where we said goodbye to Geraldine. After anchoring overnight near where the big Cruise ships came in we were off to the next island St Vincent. Seeing Australia play in the semi finals 20/20 cricket in St Lucia, even meeting them and the Jazz festival as well had all been a big bonus! A big group of hundreds of dolphins escorted us past the spectacular backdrop of the Piton peaks of St Lucia. We have never seen so many dolphins in one group. Dolphins are always hard to get on camera but we got a good shot which is on the blog. A lot of sailors skip St Vincent as it has had a checkered past as far as security goes but everyone we talked to who had actually been there lately said they had really enjoyed this totally untouched island and felt very safe.

There were other boats in Cumberland bay as we approached ready to sail on if we were not comfortable. It was a protected anchorage with a spectacular mountain backdrop covered with lush vegetation.

Joseph with his palm leaf hat and Rasta tail attached our stern line to the rock when we asked him, in a very organized way and was very helpful with information about the area. He was not at all pushy. In our eyes this island is a gem, so untouched and beautiful. We think it is unfair that the island has such a bad reputation with cruisers. We found the locals super friendly and helpful. There are the normal venders who come around selling vegetables and fruit etc but if you tell them you have enough they wish you a happy stay. We enjoyed the experience of catching the local mini buses, sometimes with over 20 people, reggae music turned up full volume, around this island with its spectacular scenery and friendly people.

A super friendly local we met, Vincent, leases a vegetable plot on the Northern end of the Bay and works hard growing Vegetables. We loved walking in the beautiful countryside and met him as we walked along the road. If anyone happens to come Cumberland bay we know he would appreciate any sort of vegetable seeds, like carrots, lettuce, cabbage, sweet peppers etc. as he finds them expensive and hard to get on St Vincent. Bennet at Beni’s restaurant is his cousin so the seeds can be left there for him if you are unable to locate him.

The locals are so proud of their island and answered the many questions we had about their lifestyle as we walked in the local villages, one nearby being Spring Village. A man was chopping up a pig in front of his house with a big machete. People came by buying pieces like from a butchers shop. The dogs all looking on eagerly! Donkeys , chooks walking in the street! It was like stepping back in time 50 years. The children were all neatly dressed in uniforms as they walked along the roads to school.

While we were there a big school of fish came into the bay and we saw the excitement as they worked as a community with a big net, row boats and lots of people on shore to haul in the hundreds of fish. Again, see photos on the blog! A local young man who seemed to enjoy our company paddled out to our boat every day for a chat which was very interesting. He always bought some fruit and I gave him some of my cooking which he seemed to enjoy! Mango cake with real shredded coconut seemed to be his favourite. They do smoke pot here as part of the Rasta religion. I politely said no thank you when he asked if we would like to have a smoke with him. He was only trying to be friendly. 

We caught the local bus to the buzzing capital Kingston one day. After walking around the buzzing market area we took a stroll around the beautiful Botanical gardens which are very well maintained. They are said to be the oldest in the Western hemisphere which also houses an aviary with the endangered St Vincent parrots, very colourful birds. We went North on the bus one day to Chateaubelair bay, a very scenic trip over the mountains.

We stayed in Cumberland bay for four days. It has everything from great snorkeling, colourful fish and corals, hiking in the beautiful countryside and interesting villages, great little restaurants. Plenty of entertainments as the locals play cricket and soccer under the palm trees on the beach. We thought we would have to wait till be were in the Pacific to see such an untouched beautiful island. St Vincent is one of our favorite islands in the Caribbean so far. Saba, Statia, and Nevis and Dominica are also on that list.


STEFANO HAS DRAMAS IN CENTRAL AMERICA!

2010-05-26 to 2010-06-02

The last day we were in Cumberland bay, St Vincent’s, we moved to the other side of the bay as a change and there was going to be a lot of pre carnival loud music on the side of the bay we had been. While we were anchoring stern to the rocks, we managed to get the stern line caught around the propeller and the engine stopped. Stefan had to do a quick dive down to free the rope otherwise Juliana would have drifted onto the rocks. There were some anxious moments but his mission was successful and the engine started again and we anchored successfully! We saw lights rising up the cliffs that night and started thinking they were UFO’s until we realized they were fire flies, very big ones with an amazing glow. On this side of the bay was a Frenchman. He and his wife were sailors who arrived in this bay and loved it so much they set up a restaurant! The Black Baron has a pirate theme and well done.

We sailed along the east coast of St Vincent’s with its spectacular scenery! We were heading for a place that sounded nice Blue Lagoon. When we got there it was we found it was a base for the charter boats and it didn’t appeal to us so we sailed on to Bequia. It was a short sail but very rolly and lots of currents. We arrived to find many other boats we knew anchored in Admiralty Bay, a big protected bay. We had dinner that night with our old friends on Emerald Seas! They were heading off tomorrow so we were glad to catch up with them briefly! A good Pizza night was had, also there was Tom & Jodie from Jade!
To anchor we had motored around trying to find internet connection and had run aground briefly. The following night we had the local dish Roties with an Aussie boat Where II, a lovely couple! We joked with them as to the name of their next boat! Also Canadian folk on Evergreen & English folks on Badgers Sett! They were barmy evenings looking over the bay with a full moon! I am of course always the quite one!

Stefan & I always try to walk or bus around the island. The mornings are the only time! The afternoons are only for swimming and cooling off! We had walked the main street of Port Elizabeth! It didn’t take long! Stefan checking out boat shops and me groceries! Not much to offer! We enjoyed our walk in the countryside to Spring Bay then Industry Bay! Don’t know why they call it industry bay, only beaches with coconuts and a lot of crabs who went quickly into their holes as we approached. A nice walk! We enjoyed the scenery and a kind local offered us a ride back! We did our favorite thing of catching a local bus to the east coast of the island past friendship bay. As usual we enjoyed the scenery and the interaction with the locals! Another day we went walking along the Southern end beaches “Princess Maragret beach and Lower Bay! We decided to turn back when a little yappy dog decided he didn’t want us ti go any further! In Bequia they are still allowed to kill 2-4 whales a year for meat as a international agreement due to it being part of their native life! The Whale Killing is pretty disgusting but the locals do very amazing miniature whaling boats in wood! It is hard to imagine that they went out hunting whales in these boats! They do apparently still find the whales in these boats as they are quiet but have back up motor boats!

We were invited for drinks the following night by English folks John & Janet on Ventosa! They have lived on board for ten years and have some great stories to tell having sailed a lot in Venezuela and South America! We also had a good night with Swiss Isabella & English/ New Zealnder John on Pathfinder!

We had a good internet connection here and had a great skyping session with Tania, Phil & Snowy! It is amazing to be able to talk and see them. We got an email from Stefano who had crewed on our boat for 5 months from Corfu to St Marrten :
Hi Wendy,

Well, here's my story, i try to make it short:
After 2 months of intensive course Spanish I felt that i needed a break, overload. Traveling I thought, Nicaragua or Panama. Then I got this offer from Ian in colon to sail with them. Well, I considered and started to head south. They had and have problems and so I had to kill time, went to Bocas del Toro, rented a little cabin and there hell broke loose.
3 heavily armed guys with some woodoo masks came in, gun on my head (very intimidating), they took almost everything, even shoes and t-shirts and hit me on the head. There I was, asking for a dollar note to make a skype call. After days of insecurity the credit card company refused to send the new card to Bocas. Lack of address and phone number, they only would send to Panama City and hand it to me in person. As I told that to my landlord he threatened me physically and said he would kill me if I left without paying. Police came but were only concerned about how this guy could get his money. I was actually threatened again in front of the police and rather desperate. I then met an Austrian girl whom I knew from Costa Rica. She gave me 100 bucks and I ran to that little airport in the early morning hours. The guy was after me, police came again. Airport guys helped me a bit. They said they will be after me in Panama City and if I didn't pay...
I had some days of suspense in Panama City, got the card and a day later the code. But where to go? I had nothing much left; I did not want to pay these killers... further south? The Australians boat? Too risky, they wanted to stay in Panama City for a while... so I decided to flee, to run, out and to Europe and give it a break. In Palma I have friends and can pursue my Spanish. I will try to rent a little place and enjoy a summer in Europe, you know, espresso, and newspapers, learn Spanish, etc. and lick my wounds of course.

That’s it, not much money left and stuff but happy to be here!
Cheers from Stefan O


MUSTIQUE! HOW DIFFERENT THE ISLANDS ARE!

2010-06-03 to 2010-06-08

The islands we have been to lately are so different! After St Vincents, which money wise is quite poor we came to Mustique, a unique privately owned island that has been developed into holiday homes of the wealthy! There are 90 such homes on the island. A roll call of those includes Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Raquel Welch and the late Princess Margaret. Mansions with Tennis courts, stables with beautiful horses and swimming pools sit on rolling grassy hills stretching out to white Palm tree clad beaches.

There is little tourism on this island other than these houses. Half these houses are available to rent when the owners are not in residence. We were told you need at least $50,000 to $150,000 per week to have a holiday on this island. Mustique, welcomes yachties, so it didn't cost us much for the 3 nights there which is one good thing about having a boat. We paid US$75 for 3 nights! You must take a mooring not anchor. We watched the daily orange ferry come in being unloaded of people and containers. The islanders pile onto the back of trucks with their boxes! It was our afternoon entertainment.

You can take a taxi tour to learn about the mansions and who owns them however Stefan & I decided to get out our bikes as much of the island has been left wild with great tracks and not much traffic. A lot of little golf cart type of vehicles running around. The island is only 5 miles in length, very spotless and nature conscious. We rode around a salt lake with lots of birdlife, near white palm tree cladded beaches and bays. We got an early start as the afternoons are very hot. Even so it got very hot riding up hills. We talked to a local, painting a smaller fishing boat. Some take great pride in their wooden boats painting them bright colours, with names like Ball of fire! Some have quite powerful engines. I guess their interest is in boats rather than cars.

We took a packed lunch and were looking for a place with a good view. We ended up near one of the 90 private properties. This was one was called Taliesin. We asked one on the ladies working in the garden there, where we could go for a good view of the island. She said we could go up to one of the buildings on this property where there was a good view. Here we were in our bike riding clothes in the middle of all this luxury and no one else here. The place was all open, expensive ornaments & furniture, even the bedroom suites with 4 poster beds and indoor spas overlooking spectacular ocean views. Huge flat screened TV's. As the French Open tennis was on with Sam Stoser, the Aussie playing for a berth in the final we were tempted to turn one of them on and make ourselves comfortable in front of one of the screens. The huge pool looked terribly inviting as we were hot.
The fancy gym, that was too much like hard work.

Stefan & I walked around for ages taking in the fantastic view and atmosphere! We decided we better look somewhere else to eat our sandwiches. We talked to the lady in the garden on the way out who said it was the off season and that from the end of June it was booked out. Forgot to ask who owned the pad but it was certainly impressive.

We stopped off at the airport, a small one, the terminal cladded with bamboo and interesting looking! We took another break here! It was cool and they had a cold water machine and some magazines in English to read. We watched the wealthy coming and going in smaller aircraft. It was great to get back for a swim and do some snorkeling around the coral. I went for a paddle in my kayak and one of the ends of my paddles fell off and sank as it was getting dark. Luckily the water was clear and I took a note where it had come off! We went snorkeling the next morning. I found the paddle and Stefan dived for it! Ventosa caught up with us with their visitor and we had drinks the last night here.

We have an internet antenna with a booster which we bought in St Lucia on the boat now so when internet is available we can get it on the boat which makes life easier not having to take the laptop ashore. We actually listened to Sam Stoser play the French open final on the internet via radio and seeing a live score board which was a little ahead on the commentary. We were disappointed to see her lose before setting sail to the next island a short distance away Canouan which was a hive of activity with their annual Sports Festival Day. People came from local islands to attend! There is a big new resort area on this island which is private. We did our normal walk around the island to the resort and then to the other side. A friendly dog was our guide the whole way!

The next island was Mayreau with its beautiful Salt Whistle bay. A sand spit with palm trees separates the outside ocean and the protected bay. We walked up the hill overlooking the bay with a great view! How any photos through do you keep taking of beautiful bays? These islands are great as you can walk around most of the island without the need to catch a bus. We walked over to the other side of the island to Saline Bay. Some great Murals on the walls and creatively decorated bars! A church with a great view over Tobago Cays! A cemetery with a family of white goats guarding a tomb stone! Locals going about their daily life!

Stefan was curious when he saw one of the fishing boats had a Swedish name and a Swedish flag. We finally got to meet the guy who owned it! A local who had spent some time in Lucishil, near Stefan’s family’s summer cottage in Sweden! He had sailed there and apparently had a lot of friends who were Swedish! He was very interesting to talk to!

Next stop Tobago Cays. Five small low lying islands with white sand, palm trees and turquoise green water which form a marine national park where you pay a fee per night! Everyone had raved about Tobago Cays! A bit like one of our favorite islands in Australia, Lady Musgrave! Snorkeling is good here with lots of fish, turtles and Coral reefs. We are anchored off the reef for protection. The sound of the waves as they break on the reef! It was quite windy when we were here. The wind surfers were having a great time.


UNION ISLAND! What a funny name for a beautiful island

2010-06-09 to 2010-06-13

We left Tobago Cays as a strong wind persisted. Unfortunately friends on Ventosa had just arrived as we were leaving. We sailed on to Chaltham Bay, on Union Island. A beautiful, big, protected bay with a What a funny name for such a wonderful mountain backdrop! Only a few other boats here. It was very peaceful. The evenings are always so balmy and beautiful. Not so long ago this area was only accessible by boat with a few beach bars having barbeques on the beach. There is a dirt road now and the area is opening up. A resort has just opened up with a few charter boats but this is the off season with not much happening.

The following day we went on a walk in the mountains, past Mount Taboi with a scenic view over the bay, then views over Frigate Island. We past lots of Cactus with big flowers and walked through Ashton with its very friendly locals helping us with directions how to get back to the boat. As we were walking up the last mountain we were offered a ride by people who worked at the new resort. We were very tied and hot by now and ready for a swim.

Clifton, the capital was our next port and call where we anchored sheltered in the lee of the reef, where the waves lapped, near a small manmade island only big enough for a bar. People go there in their dinghies at sunset for a drink. It is quite novel! On anchor we looked also across to Palm Island with its Palm trees, white sand and Turquoise coloured water. We liked this anchorage

Through Cliffton is the capital it is very small town. We went ashore! A number of small supermarkets, fruit stores restaurants and bars. We met a local who had helped us with directions in Ashton the previous day on our walk. There was a boat chandlery here with a very helpful man. Our dingy outboard was playing up and Stefan needed a part but unfortunately was out of luck. We walked up to the old Fort on the hill overlooking the small airport and a good view of the bay and other islands and a salt pond.
We checked out of St Vincent and the Grenadines here. Stefan went to custom’s office only to be told “The custom officer is at the airport” He walked there and found a man in a large room asleep leaning on his desk. A nervous “hrrmm” woke him up and Stefan said “We are clearing out, what is required? Without saying a world he handed a form. Stefan asked for a loan of a pen as he didn’t have one. The officer shook his head but said nothing and resumed his sleeping position on the desk. Stefan was left to go searching for a pen. Finally a lady in another room took pity on him. We had a friend who went to a customs office. The man was asleep on his desk. Our friend made a “Hrrmm” sound .The man opened one eye pointed upstairs without saying anything then went back to sleep. Sometimes 3 big people can be working in one small air conditioned room and have to shuffle around to open the door. Immigration and customs on some of these islands are so funny!

A short sail on was Petite St Vincents a small private island with sand spits off it. Petite St Vincents has a luxury resort that takes up the whole island. It has a road running all the way around with small cottages hidden away. A moke constantly drives around. Anyone in the cottages that requires attention apparently puts up a flag. The island is beautifully manicured parkland. We the commoners can go ashore of the beach which is so white but no further. It was a lovely anchorage with clear turquoise water. It was a nice surprise to find our friends Tom and Jodie on Jade a power boat anchored here.

From here we went over by dinghy to Petite Martinique which is part of Grenada and another country. A small island, only one mile in diameter, with a population of 1,000, earning their crust from fishing! We went for a walk along the main road with a few supermarkets and a school with lovely murals on the walls of birds. The youths played cricket on the beach.

Sailing on we checked into Grenada in Hillsborough, Carriacou. The Nation of Grenada is made up of 3 islands: Petite Martinique, Carriacou and the island of Grenada. It is the smallest independent nation in the Western hemisphere with a population of 100,000 people. That evening there were 3 small local sailing boats using our anchored boat as a rounding buoy so we had some entertainment. The following day we caught a local us over to the scenic hills to the Windward side where the locals build traditional sailing boats about 25-30ft based on small trading ships. We had a drink and talked to the locals here! There is a big race in August where they race them.

We sailed past Sandy Island and Paradise beach to Tyrrel Bay a popular hangout for sailors. There we anchored near the Halleluiah bar. A motor boat set up as a bar in the middle of the anchorage. Our friends Ken & Judith our English friends on Badgers Set were there and we had Pizza with them at The Lazy Turtle on the water. The following day they took us for a walk to the South West Point which we enjoyed seeing lots of sheep on the way. They had black bellies that looked like they had been anti fouled. The island looked dry and looking forward to the rainy season. Judith had told us about the ice cream shop at the end of the walk which we looked forward to in vain as they had run out of Ice Creams.

We walked over the east side of the island another day. Beautiful houses on this side with more sea breeze. We had a donkey following us at one stage. We got a little lost at one stage and we got talking to an English lady with a little puppy married to an African guy who were cutting down trees preparing their house for the cyclone season. As we came back over the mountains through a tree canopy there was a beautiful view over Tyrrel Bay! We had our ice cream this time at the end of our walk in a nice air conditioned shop. Farewell drinks were had on Juliana that night as we planned to head off to the island of Grenada the following day.


GRENADA ! The smallest independant nation in the Western Hemishere 100,000 people!

2010-06-17 to 2010-07-22

The next hop was a short one between the islands of Carriacou and Grenada with some small islands in between. This area has a nasty reputation with currents and can get a bit wild. There is a rock called Kick-em –Jenny. I say ”good on you Jenny! You have attitude!” Also an active underwater volcano with a 1.5 km exclusion zone! Luckily it hasn’t caused too many problems since 1989. Things went OK for us!

We anchored near St George the capital, on the beautiful Island of Grenada! The lonely planet describes the harbor of St George as something out of an old watercolor painting of a forgotten seaside village. A big fortress on the hill, Colonial buildings mixed with bright Caribbean stalwarts. The same could be said about the cozy, well decorated Jazz club we went to in St George. I don’t usually like Jazz but Stefan does and we went with a Grenadian friend. I actually loved the live band, Jazz with Caribbean rhythm. A talented violinist lady, a Caribbean drummer and guitars making up the 5 piece band led by a vocalist!

Grenada has some spectacular mountains and national parks to walk in. There are finally well stocked supermarkets here which are great and a buzzing market area! More ships bring supplies here I guess! The harbor is often a buzz with smaller freighters offloading their goods. Caribbean’s are always dress in bright colours! The hot, wet season has started! It is now officially the hurricane season. We have to watch out for Hurricane warnings however they do not normally reach this area. Last one 2004. They are predicting a bad hurricane season in the Caribbean this year. Many people leave their boats here up on land and go home. Showers come and go and you go on regardless! We have regular visitors alongside our boat, turtles pop up their heads now and then to have a sticky beak as we jump off the boat for a swim to cool down.

We anchored off St George for a week as it was handy catching the local buses around the island. The world cup soccer was showed at the Yacht club so Stefan could always go there and Island Water World a well stocked chandlery was nearby. We caught a local bus up to Sauteurs, on the north end of the island along the coast we had sailed, which was an interesting trip. Went for a walk around there, Carib’s Leap etc! The Carib’s apparently leapt off the cliff to their deaths rather than surrender to the French in days gone by! We then caught buses and walked a little to Rivers Rum Distillery where we had a guided tour which was very interesting. Rum has been made the same way here since 1785 with the oldest working water mill in the Caribbean. Some of the Rum they produce is strong, 80% and you cannot take it on a plane. They have tastings. I few sips of this and you are gone.
We then (staggered)walked on by the scenic beach to Lake Antoine a crater lake. A friendly local gave us a ride back to the main road to catch a bus to Grenville. After walking around Grenville, no tourists here, it is an agricultural hub, we then caught a bus along the scenic road back to St George. We also caught a local bus another day and got off the bus in The Grand Etang forest reserve. We then hiked to the Seven falls through the lush rain forest with usual and beautiful flowers. It was wonderful swimming under the waterfall. I local was diving from heights into the pools. He climbed back up the rocks like a monkey.
We said goodbye to our friends Jim & Renate on Emerald Seas over lunch at St Louis Marina. Their boat was now on land and they were heading back to Canada. I hope to catch up with them when in Canada. Another friend Kennedy also joined us. It was a while since we had seen him. He sails with his cat Archie!


We had a nice sail with Grenadian friends Emma and Destiny to Prickly Bay, a bay further south. They are in their late 20’s, both Veterinary Surgeons. They did one year of their training in Australia and loved Australia. They were a wealth of information about Grenada. Emma also introduced us to an Australian Vet, Guy, was doing volunteer work at the animal shelter here! It was funny! We had become friends with this German guy! He was leaving the yacht club as Stefan was picking up Emma & Destiny! He had this look in his eye! Does Wendy know about this adventure of yours with 2 young girls! Why didn’t you tell me and I would have joined you

In Prickly Bay we caught up with some Australians again. Where II, with Matt and Karen, Zenna ,with Aussie Mark & Pommie Marian. Danny an Aussie on Magnum and Roz & Kev on Santania. Our friends on Ventosa were also here. We spent a few days here but it was a bit rolly. We caught a bus to Grand Anse, a lovely beach and watched the final of the World cup at de Big Fish. A group of boats including Bay Pelican left for Trinidad as we arrived. Boats sail together as there have been incidents with pirates in this area. You can’t talk on the radio about leaving as the pirates may be listening.

Our next anchorage was off Calivigny, a beautiful small private island near the mainland. I did some kayaking off the boat here. We really settled into life here with the other sailors, locals and expatriates. There is a radio Cruisers net here like in St Maartens every morning announcing the local happenings, buy and sell and weather forecast etc and connecting the boat community. A lovely community here! Quite a few sailors live on their boats here over the hurricane season.

We took our dingy over to Clarke Court Marina, a place where all the activities happen. Miss Kitty, a Texan lady, just loved her ascent, was at the centre of organizing things with a little help from her friends. Bob was the owner. They have pot luck, cruisers night on Saturday evening where we take something to put on the barbeque and a dish to share, a movie night Tuesday night. Art and Jewelry classes are on some mornings, yoga at Whisper cove marina. It was a great place for meeting new people. They have a big screen where Stefan watched the World cup soccer games. We have friends who are Canadian so joined them in their Canada day celebrations 1st July then 4th July celebrations with our American friends.

One Saturday I went with a group of Cruisers to help a group of children in a village that need improvement in their reading. The children were so cute and it was a very rewarding experience! I went walking one morning around the bay and countryside with Crystal, Michelle and Terry which was fun. Stefan & I walked from Mt Hartman Marina to Prickly Bay one day which was quite a walk in the heat over the hills. Some lovely houses in this area! We got lost in lover’s lane and had to backtrack up a steep hill! Another day we walked around Hog Island. A barefoot bar is popular here on Sunday afternoon with a cruisers barbeque. We anchored off Hog Island a couple of days before we left Grenada to experience a different Bay. Juliana had a sister ship here another Navy Blue Jeanneau 54 with Henry on board the captain. Henry had the full time job of looking after this boat. The boat belonged to a Columbian that never seemed to have time to use it. It is always interesting looking at sister ships and comparing notes. Henry was English! A very friendly chappy!

Our friend Kennedy on Far Star was also in this bay so it was good to be nearby him as well as many other boats we knew. Hog Island is probably the most popular haut of Cruisers in Grenada. We however like to move around!


TOBAGO ! Pirates NO! A full moon accompanied us all the way!

2010-06-23 to 2010-08-25

In Grenada as we spent some time there we did jobs on the boat. We have made some outside side shades which were long overdue in this hot climate, mosquito nets for hatches etc. Stefan started re varnishing parts of the boat. On a boat there is always work to be done!

Twice we joined the local Hash House Harriers. It is a big thing here every fortnight on a Saturday. We were picked up in St George to go to where it started at a Community Hall up in the Hills. There were about 200 people. There is a big international University here so there are students from all over the world, we talked to as we as locals and expatiates. There were young and old, people with dogs on a leach, some walking and some running. We just followed along around the beautiful countryside managing not to get lost. When we finished there was food and drinks available to be bought. As this was our first Hash House Harriers run we got a virgins certificate. “That’s so, so funny as our American friends would say!” We really enjoyed the event. Stefan had his Gosford sailing T-Shirt on and a Man came up and asked if he came from Gosford, Central Coast. He was American but his wife came from Point Claire so he knew Gosford well. Small world! We had been talking to another man when we were trekking a few days earlier. He was 70 yo and so fit. It turned out that his birthday was on the same day as Stefan. We met him again here! The 2nd Hash started at MARAN. It took about one hour by bus to get there on the Northern end of the island it was called - The Mango Hash. We past trees with hundreds of mangos on the ground! We stopped every now and then to eat one for energy.

We competed in THE CRICKET MATCH to end all cricket matches, Clarke Court Bay against the rest of the world! Stefan ended up being captain of the rest of the world! Though he is not a big cricket follower he knew the rules more than most of the other including me and the other Americans & Canadians! Stewart from South Africa organized the match and was responsible for the prestigious cup. He was a keen cricketer and his team actually had people seemed to know what they were doing except for poor Miss Kitty, our friend from Texas who was learning the game. She hit a great ball! The crowd told her to keep running! She ran, her partner didn’t and she was out not understanding why! The funny thing is that a lot of Americans said they had tried to understand the rules when watching the game! Now playing the game it all made sense!

I was on Stefan’s team but thought the odds were against us! Pictures on the blog maybe tell the story a bit! The grass was long so bowling was a hit and miss! It was such a funny game with beer bottles as stumps. The funny thing was that this was a first of its kind at Clarkes Court and our team won the prestigious cup. Stefan of course humbly accepted the cup to be displayed hereon in Court’s Bay Unfortunately we weren’t around to defend the cup.
Footnote: Due to popular demand the cricket match has become a fortnightly event at Clarkes Courte. The lawn in now mowed and a spectator shade tent put up! I heard even training and learning rules is happening! That’s So! So! funny! Sorry my Lovely! Lovely! American friends but I am an Aussie! Aussie! stirrer!

It was sad to finally say goodbye. Hopefully our American friends are still our friends! The funny thing here is you cannot announce that you are leaving to head south as the pirates may hear so I paddled around on my kayak saying goodbye to most. We had said goodbye to our Aussie friends having a Chinese meal together in St George. The meal wasn’t that great but the company was! Eight of us! Well Marion, a Pom with an Aussie Partner is doing well! A great night of laughing! You forget how unique Australians are when you are away from them for a while! We spent a night in St George, then Tyrell Bay, Carricou.

We had a most wonderful overnight sail to Tobago Sunday night. It always happens when you are not looking forward to a sail! Most cruisers sail from Grenada to Trinidad direct and in groups as there have been isolated incidents of pirate attacks on sailing boats in this area. Many miss Tobago as it can be a tussle against the wind and currents to get there but we will not be in this neck of the woods again and didn’t want to miss Tobago which is said to be a lovely nature island. There have not been any reports of pirate attacks between Grenada and Tobago which is part of Trinidad, as the pirates come from Venezuela but because it is in the same general area and sailing alone I was nervous. We hid away things important for survival!

From the southern end of Grenada we sailed back near the northern most island, Petit Martinique to get a better angle of the wind to sail 90 nautical miles to Tobago. It was tricky getting to this point with lots of currents but we rounded the northern end of Carriacou and past Petit Martinique as the sun was setting which is always magic in the Caribbean. It was magic as the sun was setting the full moon was coming up. It was a fitting farewell to the beautiful islands that make up Grenada.

The wind was from the east, north east about 15 knots. This is not a common wind in this area .We had waited for this wind and we had it even though I missed a Art & Craft fair I wanted to go to. Such is life on a boat. There was little swell and it was great to be out sailing in these perfect conditions. No squalls, a clear night, the full moon keeping us company all night till the sun came up. Juliana seemed in her element cruising along between 6-9 knots throughout the night. The moon was so bright it was nearly like day. We did not see any other boats overnight and took 2 hour shifts. Unfortunately as the sun came up the wind dropped and we had to motor the last hour into Store Bay, near the capital Scarborough of Tobago. We had made it against wind, currents and pirates!
It had been sad saying goodbye to Grenada, having spent 1 month & 12 days in Grenada, Carriacou & Petit Martinique.

We enjoyed Tobago! Store Bay first a resort area with a view of Trinidad as a backdrop! Not a lot of boats here but the ones here are very helpful and friendly. We had no problem checking in at the Ferry Terminal! We paid about one American dollar each for a communal taxi into Scarborough. We found the officials very friendly. We paid our fee less than 10 American dollars. Everything here seems a lot cheaper and more organized. Don’t get me wrong we have enjoyed all the Caribbean Islands we have been to but Tobago is different again. We are looking forward to experiencing the nature side of the island up North. We only have a couple of weeks here.


Vancouver and the Rocky Mountains

2010-08-26 to 2010-09-11

With Juliana safely on the hard in Trinidad I looked forward to stopping off in Canada for 2 weeks and some land travel in Canada. Stefan & I were travelling opposite ways around the world back to Australian. While I was flying Trinidad, New York, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Sydney, Stefan was flying back via London & Sweden to visit his family then via Asia to Sydney. Stefan could arrive back 2 days before me 11th September.
A friend, Geraldine who lived in downtown Vancouver met me from the skytrain. We had a great afternoon together walking along the beach in English way and in Stanley Park. The next morning I went to a yoga class with her and met her friends. We went walking by the totem poles. Unfortunately it started pouring down rain and we retreated to her unit after seeing a family of Racoons in the garbage bin.

The following day I joined a 7 day Moose backpacker’s trip out of Vancouver. We travelled on a 18 seater bus with bubbly and informative, 21 yo Vanessa as our driver/hostess. There were usually about 15 of us so it was very comfortable. It was very well priced with mainly very friendly younger people and we stayed in youth hostel style dormitories. The 2,300 km bus trip took us through the wild recreational paradise of British Columbia as we passed by mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and much more on our journey to the Canadian Rocky Mountains. We got a chance to explore Banff and Jasper National Parks along the Columbia Icefields parkway – said to be one of the most scenic roads in the world. I agree with this!
Day: 1 | Location: VANCOUVER TO SHUSWAP LAKE
Leaving the city behind, we travel east through the Fraser Valley, stopping for a short walk in a west coast rain forest to check out Bridal Veil Falls, and for lunch at an idyllic lake. We’ll then pass through the Coastal Mountains and into the much drier interior of British Columbia. The night is spent at Scotch Creek in the Shuswap, a summer recreational region. (Dinner included)


Day: 2 | Location: SHUSWAP LAKE TO BANFF
We cross into the province of Alberta and will be in four National Parks today, including Canada’s oldest and most famous – Banff! The Rocky Mountains await us, as does Emerald Lake, the first of many aqua blue glacier lakes we’ll see. We’ll settle for the night in the historic town of Banff, in the heart of the Rockies. (Dinner included)

Day: 3 | Location: BANFF TO JASPER
Today, we’ll soak up the awe inspiring scenery along the Icefields Parkway – Lake Louise, jagged mountain peaks, raging rivers, the Columbia Icefields, waterfalls, wildlife and more. The Jasper townsite is Banff’s little cousin, but Jasper National Park is the definition of great Canadian wilderness! Enjoy a campfire and look for the Northern Lights.


Day: 4 | Location: JASPER TO BANFF
It’s another day of jaw dropping vistas, and scenic hikes as we make our way back to Banff. Highlights include Parker Ridge (seasonal), Peyto Lake and Moraine Lake (seasonal). Tonight we explore the great nightlife in the pubs, bar and clubs of Banff! (Dinner included)


Day: 5 | Location: BANFF LOCAL TOUR
Today we have put aside an entire day to explore the heart of Rocky Mountains. Take an included tour of the sites in the Banff area, hike a local mountain, or for an optional extra cost, go whitewater rafting, horse riding or mountain biking. Your guide will help you arrange an action packed day tailored to your adventure plans!

Day: 6 | Location: BANFF TO KELOWNA
We leave the Rockies today, but not without first stopping to visit Takakkaw Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Canada (seasonal). Then it’s on to the Okanagan Valley for wine tasting, sandy beaches on crystal clear lakes, and lots of fun in the sun. Rock out in Kelowna tonight - it’s a university city with plenty of bars and nightclubs!


Day: 7 | Location: KELOWNA TO VANCOUVER
Today we climb over high mountain passes and through the beautiful grasslands of the Nicola Valley before returning to the coast. Pump yourself up because once we hit Abbotsford, it’s time for tandem skydiving from up to 14,000 feet (optional extra cost)! Then it’s back to Vancouver and time to say goodbye to your new friends.

After this week of travel I caught the Ferry on a scenic ride to Vancouver Island where I was hosted by Susan & Eddy. The Jazz fessival and a wooden boat show featured in Victoria a beautiful city. Eddy also took me bush walking and I caught up with Renata and Jim old sailing buddies. I also enjoyed a couple of days up in Whistler.


Christmas back in Oz

2010-09-12 to 2011-01-05

Summer has finally kicked in here! Hot days! We can walk to a surfing beach with lovely white sand, from where we are currently staying which is great. Our daughter in Manly, Sydney is hosting a family Christmas lunch this year which we look forward to. Last year we spent Christmas in the middle of the Atlantic without family but with 3 great crew members, with little wind not knowing how long we would be out there. We made the most of that experience but certainly had a different Christmas experience as recorded on our blog. Being so hot here usually Christmas day we have mainly cold cuts of ham, turkey and shell food such as lobster & prawns. Lots of great salads! Pavlova with fresh fruit & Cream for dessert! We usually spend a family afternoon down on the beach sometimes playing a family game of cricket on the beach.

New Year's Eve we spent with Mark & Mo watching the fireworks from Manly.Tania & Phil gave the family a parasailing adventure of the harbour which was fun!
We have travelled up to Queensland & down the South Coast of NSW visiting family and friends which has been fun. We have caught up with friends on six sailing boats who have just sailed across the Pacific and have all had such a great time. We caught up with Marno & Shelly on Atitudes in Brisbane. Friends on one boat who live in Queensland have their little dog, Milo fly home from quarantine in Sydney today. He has sailed with them for 4 years so not seeing him for a month as been so hard.
It is now less than a month and we will be back in Trinidad antifouling and getting Juliana ready for her maiden voyage across the Pacific. She has become bored crossing the Atlantic as she has done it 3 times and now looks forward to a new challenge.
We recently caught up in Sydney with friends who have just sailed across the Pacific! Their boat Ghost in the background now up for sale after 3 years of cruising. They now plan to settle down after their adventures. Back to careers’, having a family etc.
We are now back in Bateau Bay near Gosford! We enjoyed our 10 days away! We had a good night with Julie & Ray(Meander) and Glenys from Fancy Free. Ray had just sailed into Mooloolaba the day before we caught up after dealing with formalities in Bundaberg! The valuation of his boat $70,000! They live in a lovely area in the hinterland, near Maloney, about half hour drive from Buderim. It was a nice drive to see them and have a good evening! Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet Greg. He was invited on a 5 day fishing trip which was a too good offer to refuse. Greg & Glenys have built a beautiful big and modern house with an ever changing view down the valley to the sea. Julie & Ray are renting an older cottage with lots of character across the road with a similar view. Sam seems to have settled into school and the other life well! It was fun to meet him again also. We enjoyed the days spent with my sister and family


Trindad & ABC Islands

2011-01-10 to 2011-02-23

Back in Trinidad we had a busy time scaping back and painting the bottom of th boat to lanuch it back in the water and stocking up with supplies.

We have been on the Dutch island of Bonaire, for nearly a week and plan to leave here on Friday for the next island Curacao which is about a 6 hour sail! We have enjoyed our time here catching up with Canadian friends on their boat “Emerald Seas”! We sailed with them last year and I visited them when they were home on Vancouver Island. They are keen scuba divers and have been here for a while with a hired car, so invited us for a hike. The island is mainly flat but the Northern side has some mountains. We climbed the highest mountain on the island 241 meters. We saw flamingos feeding in the wetlands. The environment is very different with lots of Cacti! The windward side of the island coast is very wild and a desolate environment. The water on the leeward side where we are is very clear and you see lots of colourful fish even around our boat when snorkelling. As it is a Marine Park we are not allowed to anchor so are tied to a mooring. They have recently changed the currency from Dutch guilders to American dollars which makes it easy. About 3 times a week a huge cruise ship containing nearly 2,000 people arrives early in the morning and leaves before sunset which changes things a bit!

We have had a week on the Dutch Island of Curacao! As we arrived we had a flock of Flamingoes fly over us which was quite a sight. We had to have a floating bridge open up for us. Willemstad is the Capital has a lot of Colonial brightly coloured pastel buildings and outside eating areas, markets. It is a lively place where Cruise ships come in. We anchored up near a marina in an industrial area,as we needed to find a fridge mechanic. Our fridge had been playing up for some time. While waiting for the fridge mechanic our freezer decided to play up as well with a freezer full of food. There are only a few fridge mechanics on the island who are very busy and we had a frustrating time waiting for him to turn up trying to keep the food in the freezer frozen with bags of ice. After a week the mechanic has hopefully fixed the problems and we plan to leave for the other Dutch Island of Aruba tomorrow which is about 11 hours. Luckily our food in the freezer survived.

Stefan has spent most of the week on the boat waiting for the mechanic to turn up. He was also able to but a new propeller for the dingy which has also been playing up! Luke and I have been seeing a bit of the island by bus. The island is fairly flat with mountains in the North, population of 138,000. There is happy hours at the marina so we have been meeting other people on boats. It is about a half hour walk into town from where we are.
There is a free bus every morning from the Marina that goes to a large well stocked supermarket and returns. It was quite novel having a hot shower without having to be really water conscious.


JAMAICA! Setting a record getting there!

2011-02-27 to 2011-03-01

We have arrived safely in Jamaica, Port Antonio, after a 500 nautical mile, swift passage. It took us 2 days 16 hours. A mixture of wild & woolie weather as well as good. We set a new record, heavily reefed down, with Juliana’s longest ever distance covered, 201 nautical miles in a 24 hour period in this passage. The following 24 hours we covered 185 nautical miles. As we set out from the Caribbean Dutch island of Aruba at 7am, the weather for the first day was predicted to be NE winds 10-15 knots. The winds the following day were predicted to pick up to 25 knots which would get us along the passage nicely before dropping back. What happened was another thing! We had the nice 10-15 knot winds with a slight sea on the first morning but by that afternoon and evening the wind had increased to 30-35knots with rains qualls and gusts to 40 knots from the ENE. The waves were confused and built up to 5 meters high, mainly coming side on, occasionally breaking. Juliana was reefed to the bare minimum of sails and we were still flying along at 8-9knots. We had some current with us and a full moon when it came out of the clouds, on the positive side. It was great to have Luke on board! A seasoned sailor with a couple of Sydney to Hobart races under his belt so used to this sort of stuff! In the middle of the bad weather I asked Luke what he would like for breakfast. He jokingly said scrambled eggs! He was very surprised when I came up with scrambled eggs on toast for him! Quite a feat he thought! I did too!


We had a sleepless night due to the uncomfortable motion! Juliana had a very wet deck but the auto pilot was performing perfectly under the difficult conditions! I was afraid but took my midnight to 2am shift and then again at 6am, as it was important that the others try and get some rest. As always in a situation like this I question why am I doing this sailing thing! Ships pass by a safe distance away! The 3 of us did 2 hours on 4 off. It was all one could do to move from one position without being thrown across the boat with the confused sea! We carry a plastic jerry tank of petrol, tied on well on deck for the dinghy. We put it on deck rather than stash it below for safety reasons. We were hit by a wave the force of which sent the plastic fuel tank airborne and into the water never to be seen again! Luke and I had walked a distance to a service station and carried it back to the boat full just before leaving! All in vain now!


What a difference a day makes! The next day the weather settled down again and we were left thinking maybe we had dreamt about the bad weather, so bad that it threw our Jerry tank overboard. You could not believe the ocean had changed back so quickly as we sailed into beautiful Jamacia! Juliana had handled the conditions very well!
We have enjoyed our few days in Jamaica! Port Antonio is beautifully lush and very local and non touristy! Other than the locals there is only a few yachties here so we get a bit of a taste of what life is like here. Shopping is very basic, mainly markets.


We caught a local bus eastward along the northern coast and walked back through the villages which we like. This way you get to meet the locals who in Jamaica speak English and are very friendly. The Jamaicans’ have a different appearance from the rest of the Caribbean with more African influence. Blue Lagoon where the movie with Brooke Shields was filmed however had its share of tourists. I guess buses from the cruise ships bring their passengers here. The cruise ships come into Montego Bay which in on the other end of the island.


Our Cuban experience

2011-03-01 to 2011-03-03

Luke and I went to the markets for fresh veg & fruit, bread while Stefan checked us out of Jamaica. We had only been in Jamaica four days but had seen quite a bit and really liked the Port Antonio area and the people we had met. We set sail at 9.45am Mon 28th Feb, the wind light at first then 15-20 knots from the east. By late afternoon 20-25knots from behind easing off overnight! 2pm the following day we had to start the engine for a while as it was like a mill pond with only 5 knots of wind, clear and sunny. We had a big fish on the line but it managed to free its self as we pulled it in. The next time the same thing happened and our lure was gone.

It took us 2 days to reach Cienfuegos, on the south western coast of Cuba. We arrived in the afternoon putting up our Q flag. We tied up to the dock as instructed by the dock master who was very friendly. We had heard that we would be boarded by a procession of officials so were prepared. About 11 of them and 2 sniffer dogs over a period of about an hour asking questions and filling in forms! They were all friendly enough! Unfortunately it started raining half way through and there were quite a few paw marks left behind on our boat. It was funny with a lady official with her high heel shoes and stockings having a problem boarding our boat.


Cienfuegos is billed as the Cuba’s pearl of the south. We stayed the night in the marina getting a good night’s sleep, filling up with water and then anchored up the following morning. It was an easy walk into town, about 2 klms along a promenade, water all the way. We later paid about 1 cent to catch the local city bus which was good when you have groceries though crowded. The first thing you notice in the streets is the big old American cars dating back to the 50’s. Some are very well maintained, others not and blowing out lots of smoke. There were some amazing buildings near the Marina now serving as hotels and restaurants. There is a big park in town surrounded by impressive well maintained Colonial buildings. One of these buildings is a theatre. A high class Cuban ballet performance was being staged the weekend we were there. I managed to talk Stefan & Luke into coming with me. I don’t even normally go to watch ballet performances but the theatre and the quality of the performance was well worthwhile. Stefan & Luke appreciated it but had had enough by intermission so we moved on. In Australia you would have paid a lot of money for such a performance. Here in Cuba we paid $5 each for a good seat. We had been out to a nice local restaurant and the 3 of us had a good meal with a bottle of wine for $16 all up. This was because we paid in local pesos. We enjoyed Cuban Music. The best we heard was musician groups practising in the front of private homes. Very talented people!


Cienfuegos is not too big and not a place a lot of tourists come to which was good and we grew to love the place. In Cuba there are two currencies. The local peso which the locals use and Cuban CUCs which tourists use which has similar value to the American dollar! Most tourists come in and out on a week’s holiday and accept this paying for tours, restaurants & hotels in CUCs. Basic food like fruit & vegetables in the markets and bread can only be paid for in local money. After a bit of asking around we got to learn that we could change Cuban tourist currency to local pesos at one of the banks. This of course made everything available at local prices to us. This also meant however I had to queue for bread etc as the locals do sometimes for nearly half an hour. The local bakeries only cook one variety of bread at a time and you are never sure what it is you are lining up for. The bread is white and very light. You pay 2 cents a loaf. Sometimes it comes as a loaf and sometimes as bread rolls. Locals are used to queues. They seem to have to queue for everything so are very patient. Even the local’s grocery stores have queues and different things every time you go. I queued once for eggs and paid about $1 for a dozen eggs! I found it all an interesting experience! It is a shame I don’t speak Spanish. They talk a lot to each other in these queues and greet friends with a kiss as they go past.
Even with the “what sounds cheap food” to us it is expensive to them as the average monthly wage in Cuba is said to be about $25 per month. We paid 8 cents for an ice cream in a cone. 40cents for a small takeaway pizza that they make while you wait in a wood fuelled oven made of corrugated iron. at the front of a private house. They make money any way they can! Many people set up drink stands in front of their houses. We paid 20 cents for a small glass of beer. When you go to a local bar you can’t buy a rum & coke as a drink. What you buy is a bottle of rum & 2 cans of coke with takeaway glasses for $3.00 to share with your friends. We paid 16cents for a kilo of cooking tomatoes! 50 cents for a pineapple!


It was an interesting experience for me! This was the first communist country I have ever been in. Private people do not have access to internet or mobile phones. It is not allowed. Many cannot afford a land line. They do have TV with 4 channels and good healthcare. There seems to be very little violence or badly behaved people. Despite many Cubans not having much money we didn’t experience many beggers. We found Cubans are very friendly, proud people.


Havana- Capital of CUBA!

2011-03-05 to 2011-03-06

We usually catch the local buses but we were told when we went to the counter that this was not possible and we had to catch a tourist bus, a $20 ticket to Havana, the capital of Cuba. This would take over 3 hours, to across the other side of the island. We were approached by a taxi driver at the bus station who said he would take the 3 of us to Havana in his taxi for $45, $15 each, cheaper than the bus and he would pick us up from the marina at a time nominated by us which sounded good. We wouldn’t have to get to the bus station at the scheduled time. He gave us his card. We decided the taxi was the better option. He had spoken good English. A kind lady lent us her phone and we had booked the taxi to pick us up the following morning at 8.30am. We had organised for our boat to be looked after on the Marina while a charter boat was out for 3 nights. We could do a bit of land travel. At the Marina they told us to get a taxi to Havana would cost us at least $120. As we started asking around and others confirmed this and we started having concerns. Maybe this guy planned to mug us! After talking to a local however we found out that this arrangement was quite common for 4 locals going in a taxi from the bus station to Havana by taxi for $10 each so we relaxed at little. The taxi arrived on time and we got to Havana safely after our concerns. The locals normally go by local bus for about $2 but it takes time.


The countryside we travelled along was very flat. A lot of agriculture! Along the highways and roads, tens and maybe even hundreds of people, some with small children, stood along the sides of the roadway, waiting for someone to stop to give them a ride. We felt guilty travelling in the comfort of a taxi with only 3 of us. Their transportation was often in open trucks between towns, jammed with adults and children and others in small, enclosed trucks or "buses" that were long two level "cabs" towed by a tractor. Commonly seen were all manner of broken down motorized vehicles – trucks, cars, buses, motor cycles –hoods open or jacked up with men working on them. People walking in the hot sun, sometimes carrying small children or large sacks of things, often far distant from any houses or anything else that was visible from the highways or roads! Bicycles and horse drawn, two wheeled wagons, and some men on horseback with only a blanket under the riders – riding small and thin horses!


We passed a turn off to Australia. We only had one kilometre till we were home. We were told in the old days Sugar mills were named after other countries so this would be how the name Australia turned up half way between Cienfuegos and Havana. Oxen were seen pulling ploughs and cultivators in the fields and in rice paddies. They also dragged water tanks on planks with no wheels along the road.


Once in Havana we walked amongst the magnificent Colonial buildings in the old part of town, some wonderfully restored others sadly dilapidated and crumbling. Its many parks and squares and statues, it had a European city feel with strong French & Spanish influence over many years. We walked along the water viewing the old Fort opposite. We stopped at a cafe for an ice cream sundae in a nice shady area. We found a room in a casa(house)for the night. It was very central in quite dilapidated dirty streets where children played. We went up many stairs. Once inside the houses are often very nice with elaborate furnishings. You wouldn’t know this judging from the street.


Stefan, Luke and I went out to China Town nearby for a meal that evening. Some restaurants were empty. One with a queue! We decided to wait in the queue as we were looking forward to a good meal and thought the locals must know. As per usual when waiting in queues in Cuba you often happen to get talking to a local who wants to practise English. We had many questions about Cuba answered while waiting our turn which was worth the wait. The restaurant was run very efficiently. Stefan & Luke had an Hawaiian Pizza in a Chinese restaurant in Cuba which they thought was quite a funny. It is a little difficult for vegetarians in Cuba so I enjoyed a great Vegetable Chinese dish, half of which I took with me in a take a way container. Again we had Cuban wine which isn’t bad. There was a live pianist a lady who was very good. She was in a loft above us. She had to get up there with a ladder which had been taken away to make room for a table. Hope she didn’t need to use the bathroom in a hurry! Things in Cuba ARE different! Again we paid about $5 each for a good meal & wine and entertainment which we wouldn’t complain about


Vinales surrounded by Limestone Mountains & Tobacco plantations!

2011-03-07 to 2011-03-08

Vinales surrounded by Limestone Mountains & Tobacco plantations! 7th March
From Havana the following morning the man of the house booked a taxi for us to take us to the bus station to go out to Vinales in the mountains west of Havana. It came at 7am instead of 7.30am so we had to rush a bit. We said goodbye to Luke for a couple of days as Stefan & I only had 3 nights before we had to be back on the boat while Luke could spend longer. The taxi’s brake pads shuddered every time we stopped and we wondered if we would make it. Despite getting to the bus station 1.5 hours before the bus was due to leave we were told the bus was fully booked. There were 2 polish girls who had just travelled overnight on a bus that were in the same situation and a taxi driver willing to take us the 3.5 hours trip for $15 each instead of $12 on the bus. Basically we didn’t have a choice so the 4 of us and our luggage piled into the taxi. The Polish girls spoke good English and Spanish as well which was great for us as we ended up staying in the same Casa(homestay).


We travelled west from Havana along the motorway. We saw citrus and banana farms and then farms with vegetable crops, pastures with cattle of different breeds. Unfortunately about 80 klms out of Vinales on the motorway the taxi blew a tyre. Luckily we came to a stop safely after a hair raising minute or so. The tyre was wrecked! Our luggage had to come out to get to the spare tyre out as we stood beside the road. Stefan was not impressed with the spare tyre. It was half the width of a normal tire, something you would normally only use to go around the corner to the nearest service station. This tyre had to get us 80 klms into the mountain range. We could see for many miles to the horizon as we made hairpin turns with our dodgy rear tyre. On one corner the driver nearly lost control as the tire lost grip and the car swerved across the road into the oncoming lane. Lucky no cars were coming! Across lush green fields with red soil and wooded areas!
We finally arrived in Vinales surrounded by its unusual limestone mountains! Stalagmite caves! And its tobacco plantations for which the area is also famous for with its red soil! We paid $20 per night for a nice double room with our own bathroom. Strange to have a bedroom that didn’t move! That afternoon we went on a hike in the area with a local guide. His name was Alexis and he was very knowledgeable as he was born in this area and knew everyone who lived here. He was so good at remembering everyone’s name. There were 7 other people in our group. We walked into the picturess mountains in the surrounding the area, through tobacco plantations where we saw how they farm tobacco. How they pick it, dry it and how they roll cigars with it. We were made a Cuban coffee at one of the farms. We walked by Alexis’s uncle’s farm where he made us Coconut milk, Rum & honey drinks which tasted good. He was pretty wild with his machete chopping off the coconut tops. I think he had done it before! We then walked into a cave up a mountain with a great view over the area. On the way back we stopped off at the local baseball field which is a big thing in Cuba. The locals were pretty good. An American guy in our group challenged them which was entertaining as we sat in the stands as the sun went down. A South African girl in our group also had a go as well as did Alexis.


We got some fresh bread rolls at the bakery less than 1cent each on the way back to our Casa (house)That night we went to hear a local Cuban Band. We caught up with the group we had been with in the afternoon. I danced the night away with the girls and Cuban guys who are really good dancers. It was fun.


We planned to do some hikes ourselves the following day. We had breakfast on the terrace in the morning served to us by the family. There was a hop on hop off bus that was meant to go to different places you could go walks. The first one was due to leave a 9am so we waited at the stop together with other people. We waited and waited but no bus came. We asked in the information office. They said it may have broken down. We gave up and walked along the road to a valley between 2 mountains. Lots of homeless dogs on the streets in not too good condition! I felt so sorry for them! We enjoyed the walk but it was quite hot and we were pretty exhausted by the time we got back to town. We got a 40cent Pizza and later an ice cream for 8 cents from the local venders. We paid with local pesos. We booked our bus trip back to the boat. The bus left at 7am the next morning and would arrive in Cienfuegos about 2.30pm so we had a home cooked meal sitting on a terrace overlooking the mountains and got an early night.


The coach was very comfortable with air conditioning a bit on the cool side. We stopped at a Park where there were animals and a restaurant. We walked around to stretch our legs.
We arrived to find Juliana well looked after while we were away. We went and anchored. Luke wouldn’t come back till Sunday


JULIANA IN DANGER! as she attempts to rescue a yacht in trouble! Cuba!

2011-03-09 to 2011-03-24

It seemed strange having no American boats around after a season in the Eastern Caribbean, now French, Spanish, Dutch & German and Canadian, all very friendly. “Lonely Planet” a Dutch boat we had met last year in Dominica was here and we enjoyed a drink on their boat! Luckily after leaving Juliana in the Marina to travel to Havana we were back on board, anchored up in Cienfuegos as a big front came through wilder than expected. All the anchored boats started dragging. Luckily Stefan & I were on the boat with Luke ashore. We had to pull the anchor up and head away from land. It was really blowing. We had the boom tents up for shade. They were blowing widely and hard to get down. The weather had changed so quickly with no time to take them down. 2 boats had anchor chains tangled around each other but managed to free them. One small Spanish boat was at anchor working on their engine. They dragged anchor and with no engine went aground and were being pounded. We couldn’t help them as it was still really blowing and our draught was too much. Another smaller yacht tried to pull them off but to no avail until the wind settled a bit. We had met them and they were really friendly people and we felt so sorry for them. They have no money for coast patrol help in Cuba. Even the marina didn’t have a boat to help them. The only help available is other yachties.


Finally the weather settled a bit as it got dark! Our boat was the most likely to be able to drag the stranded yacht off! I went in the dinghy to the stranded boat with a long,long rope attached to Juliana. We couldn’t get any closer due to our 2.3 meter draught. We only had ½ meter under the keel as it was. A German guy , who’s name was “Stefan”-- what else, got in our dinghy to help me as it was hard going with the dinghy and the long rope and not getting it tangled. We got it attached to the stranded yacht. Luckily the yacht was less than 30ft steel and planted firmly on sand currently. Stefan was by himself on Juliana and started to pull the boat off. The German Stefan & me tried to pull in the dingy at the same time with another rope attached to the stranded boat’s mast! The boat started moving off. Everyone watching gave a sire of relief but it was short lived! It was hard for Stefan by himself to manoeuvre Juliana , with an onshore wind to tow and all of a sudden there was slack in the tow rope and it was caught in Juliana’s propeller and her engine stopped ,leaving her to suffer the same fate as the other boat with little water under her keel. Luckily Stefan reacted quickly putting down Juliana’s anchor with a short chain. We were a long way away in the dingy and it was getting dark. It was a while before we realized what had happened and detached the rope from the stranded yacht and sped back in the dingy to save Juliana if she dragged on her anchor with a short chain. As soon as we got back Stefan jumped in the dingy attached at tow rope to Juliana and pulled her full revs with the dingy with a lot of effort she moved slowly out to deeper water as I pulled up her anchor and re-anchored!


We were exhausted. It had been a long day but had done our best to help. Stefan couldn’t dive down to free the rope till morning so we just hoped the wind didn’t blow up again overnight. We were so delighted to wake up in the morning to see the boat that had been on ground floating tied up at the marina. About 20 people on land had been trying to help. They attached long ropes to the winch of a Catamaran tied up in the marina quite a distance away and at 1am, high tide they worked hard to winch the boat off. Stefan still had an unpleasant job to perform, diving into the unclean water and it was quite cool, to try to free the rope from the propeller which wasn’t that difficult but the rope was also stuck in-between the top of the rudder and the boat and was proving a problem. He finally was able to drop the rudder a fraction from the inside of the boat and diving down again Juliana was finally free and the engine started.


There was no damage to the Spanish boat. They were so relieved and threw a party at the marina to thank everyone who had helped and it was a great night. GLAD THERE WAS A HAPPY ENDING TO THIS STORY!


Enjoying Beautiful San Blass islands and the Kuna locals!

2011-03-25 to 2011-04-08

We have just had the most amazing 10 days sailing back 80 miles west of Colon to the San Blass Islands, still part of Panama. Probably some the most beautiful tropical islands we have seen so far. We had to sail by them a couple of weeks ago from Cuba when we thought we had engine problem. Stefan didn’t want to risk going into the reefs with a faulty engine. The vibrating sound in the gearbox has not reappeared again despite rigid testing. Stefan thinks it may have been caused by the propeller generator which was working hard for nearly 5 days nonstop from Cuba. He has decided to take it off as a precaution which is such a shame as recently when we are sailing we have been fully powered by the propeller charger, solar panels and wind generator. These have run the Freezer, fridge, auto pilot, house lights and navigation lights, water pumps etc. We didn’t turn the engine or generator on once in the nearly 5 days.

You could go to a different San Blass island every day of the year if you had the time as there are about 365 of them, some very small with just white sand and Palm trees. Some of the smaller ones are so cute with white sand and a couple of palm trees out of the aqua coloured water. Ship wrecks are a common sight. A reminder of how dangerous the reefs everywhere here are. Concentration on navigation is a must. Off one of the islands is the wreck of what once was a beautiful 41ft Hallberg Rassy, a luxury sailing boat. Must have been a tragic story to lose your boat in such a beautiful but dangerous place with reefs everywhere and charts not always accurate so you have to look out all the time! It is however very protected to anchor behind the reefs!

In San Blass we happened to anchor up next to the 15yo Dutch girl Laura Dekker on her boat “Guppy”who is planning to become the youngest person to sail solo handed around the world. She plans to arrive in Australia about the same time as us but in Queensland and will not arrive back in Holland till she is 17 so not sure what record she is working towards. I am glad it is her and not me. In many ways it takes more skills to navigate amongst reefs and new harbours than it does sailing nonstop away from the coast. She seems to follow a very strict schooling program so good luck to her. She is getting a lot of attention but seems to be very shy and I think she prefers to be alone. She talks to her parents back in Holland every day on her satellite phone and has flown back to Holland for a week recently leaving her boat in Bonaire for this time. Her boat was in Bonaire when we were there so no doubt we will see her again.

The islands are made more fascinating by the Kuna Indians who have an interestingappearance, are very short and always smiling. They live on the islands and paddle around in dugout canoes, which are quite works of arts. Often they use sails on these dug outs. Quite skilful they are particularly into the wind! Interesting to watch them sail these and steer with a paddle like I did when outrigger canoeing. We watched one day as they cut down coconuts on Green Island and loaded up the canoe to the brim, very little freeboard as they sailed off out of view to the mainland with their very makeshift cloth sails. The islands we went to do not have electricity let alone internet so we have not had internet in this time. Surprisingly some have mobile phones. They paddle out and ask if we could charge them for them. They come back later to collect their fully charged phones. Some ask if you have any fresh water to spare as this is sometimes hard to get for them. They come by selling lobsters and fish at good prices. We found it more interesting than a nuisance. On some islands they are organised enough to make simple bread on wood fires. They come around selling it to the boats who welcome it. Some islands charge you a modest fee for anchoring. In 10 days we paid $15 which we felt was OK.

The women often wear traditional dress. Molas make up part of the blouse part of their dress. They also often wear colourful plaited braids around their arms and legs and sell these as well. They sew Molas and bring around for you to look at and buy. Molas are made with pieces of material, all sizes that are skilfully crafted involving a lot of sewing. It must take them a long time to make. They are very beautiful in lots of different colours and with lots of different motives. I bought one as will be featured on the blog with birds for $10 which I thought was a good buy. They range up to $60. They have their native Kuna language and speak Spanish. A little English!

One family came by in a canoe selling Molas. We said we didn’t need any more. They are curious people and asked if they could come on board and have a look inside our boat. Our experience is that in general they are very gentle honest people. We invited them in for a cold drink and snack, which is novel to them as they have no fridges. Luke spoke to them in Spanish as they spoke little English. They of course admire different things on the boat hoping you will give them something which is understandable. The lady had a very attractive face and when she went into our cabin, we saw she was very fascinated looking at herself in the mirror. She was delighted when we gave her an old mirror we had. The man was happy with a pen and some magazines, the boy a koala bear key ring and a small packet of sweet biscuits. The boy that was with them we thought he would be less than 10 years old and were surprised to learn he was 13yo. He was their nephew. His parents were dead we understood.

Sometimes we saw a family living on an island only 50 meters wide, just white sand and palm trees and such clear water, in their palm hut with their dug out living off the sea. We enjoyed our time swimming off the boat, snorkelling. The kayak got a good workout. We went ashore walking on quite a few islands. One night it was such a beautiful night and I slept on deck all night, after the sun had gone down behind palm trees, quite remote untouched, quite a contrast from Colon and all its activiity.
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Colon! An interesting place to view ships!

2011-04-11 to 2011-04-20

After a lot of taxi trips to the supermarkets in Colon to stock up with food for our 6 month Pacific sail back to Australia and our extra crew member arriving,27yo American, Vaughn, we were all ready to say goodbye to the Caribbean and welcome to the Pacific. It is mind boggling when you have to, for example, work out how much flour you will need for 6 months! Over 50 kgs! We do make our own bread etc. Then finding systematic places on the boat to store them and this is just flour! Everywhere else across the Pacific will be expensive or very limited! There were now 4 of us! It had been a frustrating time anchored up off Club Nautico in Colon.

Stefan & Luke had caught a taxi to the various places to check in, pay our cruising tax of $193 dollars, money for visas etc. Luke speaks quite good Spanish which is handy! We were measured up 24th March, paid our money $1,750 to go through! Half of that is a bond that hopefully we will get back. We thought we were booked to go through the Canal 11th April, which allowed us enough time to go back 80 miles to San Blass islands. We had missed these islands, sailing down from Cuba due to a suspected gearbox problem. Our understanding had been to ring up 2 days before 11th to check our booking! When we rang up 2 days before they said they had our details and money but no booking. We had to rebook and our new date was now 18th April. There was now a wait of about another 10days.

We originally planned to leave the boat in the Marina and have some time in Costa Rica but it would cost us about $72 a day for the boat there which we considered too expensive.

Colon we are told is an extremely dangerous place. It felt a bit like a prison as we had to catch a taxi every time we went outside the security gate. Luckily taxis are very cheap. A couple of dollars locally! For a couple of dollars also we caught a bus to Panama City one day. It was a long day! We had to wait for a bus in a long queue on the way back as it was peak hour. The traffic was very bad also. The bus trip took a couple of hours. Stefan went to the Mira Flora Canal Museum and Observation area which he found interesting on the Canal. I had a day in Allbrook Shopping Mall which I enjoyed at my own pace. It is a huge modern Mall with lots of cheap stuff. They have 2 big Kangaroo models there!
We were anchored with a couple of Australian boats so had some fun evenings! We could not swim off our boat in Colon of course as it was an industrial harbour. Interesting to watch the constant flow of huge ships being loaded and unloaded with huge cranes! The tugs cleverly guiding them in! The pilot boats coming and going! Cruise ships came very close to our anchorage many mornings and left in the evenings. Some yachts that anchored too close to the channel had hairy experiences with the Cruise Ship’s bower thrusters pushing them all directions and close to the ship. Pilot boats often came by to get them to move them but often it was too late.

27yo American, Vaughn, our extra crew member, was to join us on the other side of the Canal 17th April after attending his friend’s wedding. He was the only one delighted with our delay as now he would get the opportunity to join us on the Colon side and transit the canal with us! He bought me some Basil and Parsley seeds which I have found hard to get. Hopefully we can soon have some fresh herbs on board. I would prefer to buy the plants but have been unable to find them either. Vaughn also bought from The States a cable that Stefan hasn’t been able to get for our marine radio.

We rang every day now to check our canal booking! We could sometimes get free internet on the boat thanks to our booster but there were often problems and it was very slow. We sometimes went to the cruise Ship terminal shopping Centre nearby for internet. There was a good supermarket here also!

We rang up the evening before our due date to transit. They confirmed they had a pilot for us and we were due to go the following day with another boat. They had said earlier in the day that they didn’t have a pilot for us at this stage but they would get one. We were all excited the following morning. We had an English friend from another boat organised as our extra line handler. You must have 4 line handlers, the skipper and a pilot. We had hired 8 tyres for the side plus our 7 fenders. $ long ropes are required which we had. We had been told to report to an area called the mud flats to pick up our pilot at 4.30pm. Stefan went to check out of Panama! I had a busy morning preparing food for 6 people for the 2 days of the transit. 

At about midday friends on another Australian boat “Sunburnt” who were due to go through the day after came to tell us that they had just heard all the yachts had been put back 2 days due to lack of pilots . We rang up to find we were now going through 20th , 2 days later! We were devastated after the previous delay. Unfortunately what happened to us happens to many yachts! Most people pay to have an agent but it even happens to them! Such bad communication! Unfortunately the authorities consider the Yachts an inconvenience. Many big ships pay about $200,000 to transit the canal, yachts about $800. Ships are pulled through with 4 powerful locomotives!

Finally we transited the Canal 20-21st April! It was an a great experience!


A life time experience-Transiting the Panama Canal on a sailing boat!

2011-04-21 to 2011-04-23

I had been through the Panama Canal about 35 years ago when I took a 6 week passage from Sydney to England on a ship but don’t remember a lot about this transit. At 2.30pm 20th April, we picked up Stuart from another yacht to be our extra line handler. Together with Luke and Vaughn our crew members we motored around from Club Nautico and anchored up in an area known as the Mud Flats at the eastern entrance to the Canal. Luckily we went around early. We had been told to expect our adviser to arrive at about 4.30pm. As we were putting the fenders on and preparing the boat and were surprised when our adviser stepped on board early at 3.30pm from a pilot boat and told us we could be on our way. It was only then that we really believed that we were really going to start our transit through the canal this time.


Another adviser arrived at the same time and boarded a nearby South African catamaran which we were to go through the canal with! Then we were off, motoring the short distance to the entrance to the Gatun locks, the first set of 3 locks that raise boats up a total of 26m from sea level to Gatun Lake. Before we entered the locks we rafted up to the catamaran and after waiting for a cruise ship coming out of the canal the opposite way and our stable mate a big freighter to go into the lock ahead of us we preceded. We were tied up to the Catamaran on one side so only had to handle 2 ropes on our port side. Once we were in the locks the line handlers at the side threw down "monkey fists", weighted balls that carry lightweight lines. You tie your heavyweight lines to these and then the line handlers pull them up and hook them over bollards when the boat is in position. Some boats have had solar panels and hatches broken by these weights. Luckily the guys in our case were good shots and nothing was broken. Apparently they have to practise and there are annual competitions for accuracy. When we were moving forward motoring in the Canal the two guys would walk along up the top with our ropes. At times running up several flights of steps to keep up with us! The same would happen on the other side of the catamaran so coordination was necessary. The ship in front of us had similar line handlers on shore but they are seated in small powerful locomotives which pull the ship forward. After the lock closed and started filling up with water we had to keep adjusting our ropes. The upward locks are supposed to be trickier as the filling water creates substantial turbulence, but under the guidance of our adviser we took in the lines as required as the boat gradually raised and it was all relatively simple. Once out of the locks we separated from the Catamaran.


I was busy cooking for our enlarged crew. We were tied up to a huge buoy in Gatun Lake by about 6pm. We said goodbye to our adviser for the day as he was picked up by a pilot boat. It is said there are crocodiles in this lake but Luke & Vaughn couldn’t resist a quick swim in the freshwater lake. We then relaxed with a meal of Lazana and salad followed by dessert and drinks. I was in Party mode with no one wanting to dance. Men are so boring sometimes and there were 4 of them!

We slept well overnight despite the sound of the howling monkeys but we were used to that from Trinidad. The following morning at 6.15 am our new advisor for the day arrived, Ivan. We set off motoring, having breakfast underway. The lake was formed by flooding the existing landscape with a big dam and apparently the drowned buildings and even a train sitting on its tracks are still down there in almost perfect condition. The total canal length is around 80km, most of which consists of the Gatun Lake so it was quite a long time, but scenic, and passing many big ships, before we crossed the lake and reached the Gaillard Cut, the final 12km stretch forming the narrowest part of the canal that leads to the final locks. For the final locks we rafted up to the Catamaran with another French boat with a dog on the other side of the Catamaran - the procedure is the same as before but the water is much calmer so it's even easier and before we knew it we were through the Miraflores locks and in the Pacific. There is an observatory at Miraflores with hundreds of people watching us go through. I stood up at the front of the boat and waved the boxing kangaroo flag and they all waved back! There was a huge red ship, 20 meters behind us being pulled by the locomotives ,looking down on us, with only about half a meter clearance on either side of the canal. It was fun and quite an experience! Then as the gate of the lock opened and we realised that “Juliana “was in the Pacific Ocean finally for the first time and she seemed to like it after just over 3 years of owning her.

Our pilot persuaded Stefan that it was good the give a diesel engine a good work out sometimes and to give the catamaran a run for its money under motor. We didn’t overtake it as it had started before us but we did 9.5 nautical miles per hour with a bottom that wasn’t clean which quite impressed us. I think the pilot was in a hurry to get home. He was a lovely bloke and answered the hundreds of questions Stefan had about the Panama Canal with which he had been involved for 50 years! These guys get paid to go through with yachts on their days off apparently. I was worried because I had heard that if they don’t like the food you give them they can order meals to be delivered setting you back about $300.He seemed happy and we said goodbye as he was picked up by a pilot boat. We had passed under a bridge that looked a bit like Sydney Harbour bridge just to make us feel at home! It was quite an experience!


We were waiting while another boat went out from the jetty when another yacht pushed in in front of us and tied up. “Rather rude really” as English Stuart said .We thanked and dropped off Stuart our extra line handler from “Snow Leopard “to make his way back to Colon where his boat was as well as the extra fenders we had hired.
We refuelled and topped up water at Flamingo Marina and anchored at La Playita with a view of Panama City sky scrapers. It had been quite an amazing few days.


Panama to Galapagos

2011-04-24 to 2011-04-29

It is great to be in Galapagos! We had quite a good sail from Panama to Galapagos! Just over 6 days but had to hang out at sea for a while when we arrived waiting for daylight to enter Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz! The evening before this we had celebrated sailing across the equator which was quite funny and fun! Some time before we had decided to celebrate by taking down the sails and jump overboard and go for a swim on the equator out in the middle of the ocean. We had, after all, swum in the Bermuda Triangle! The other celebration was that we had now sailed an equal distance on Juliana since we bought her 3 years ago, to sailing around the world, 40,000 kilometres. We arrived a bit earlier than expected and had just passed the equator when we realized it so had to go back across the equator again to get the photo of the zero degrees on the plotter and go for a swim after taking down the sails. Luke & Vaughn took their turn jumping in first. Then Stefan & I in case Juliana decided to leave without us! Juliana was finally in the Southern hemisphere for the first time. I hope she likes this side of the earth.
As expected a bit of everything as far as weather went, had to do a bit of motoring but we were prepared for that when the wind was light and on the nose. The area between Panama & Galapagos is known as the Inter Tropical Conversion Zone. It is a confused area where a number of weather patterns’ merge. Most yachties dread this passage.
Saturday 23rd April we left our anchorage La Playita, near Panama City at 2pm! Everywhere had been closed the day before for Good Friday. Luke had to go off to a doctor when he was in a hurry to put the back step of the boat up and caught his toe ripping off his toe nail. Luckily fellow yachties told us where the nearest hospital was and he got good treatment even on Good Friday for a reasonable cost. We had caught a taxi to Albrook Mall, a huge modern mall, for last minute groceries and hardware and to post a post card to Stefan’s Mum. The taxi driver had a flat tyre on the way that Stefan helped him change.

We stopped off on the way back to the boat at the markets for fresh produce. We bought a big stalk of green bananas so heavy I could only just carry lift them up for $4. I hung them on the boat and was expecting them to take a week to ripen as I had seen on other boats! Unfortunately they all ripened together 3 days later. We were having bananas for breakfast lunch and tea in all sorts of new recipes I discovered. We sailed about 8 miles to Tobagos, on a lovely holiday island. Stefan wanted to dive down clean the hull after the dirty waters of Panama, in clear water before we sailed for Galapagos. We spent Easter Sunday being able to swim off the boat again finally which was a treat! Stefan & Vaughn spent a lot of the day diving down cleaning the hull. Luke couldn’t get his injured toe wet. Overnight the anchorage had been a bit rolly. Unfortunately the Easter Bunny didn’t find us! I guess we are a bit hard to catch up with! I enjoyed a walk ashore. There was a big church with decorated with lots of flowers for Easter Sunday and lots of locals enjoying the beach. 

After a windless hot day the wind started building at about 4pm so we set sail for Galapagos. We got good wind at first then 140 miles out it eased. We had a big Mai Mai fish on the line for ANZAC day! We have footage of it but just as they were about to hoist it in it got off the line. We then came into the zone where there is a lot of thunder and lightning which I hate. First a long way away! We saw big pods of smaller dolphins doing back flips out of the water which was quite a spectacle, some whales and lots of birdlife!
We kept sighting a catamaran sailing nearby at night and by day. At first it was behind us, then in front and so on. They made contact with us by VHS. They were French and delivering the boat to Tahiti! We maintained daily contact. We listened to the Cruisers net at 8am but because of all the electrical activity there was not good reception. We had one day of heavy rain on and off and a lot of thunder and lightning very close. At times we had 4 seasons in one day. On my shift one evening a build up of very black clouds looming in front of us I found scary but we managed to go around them.

Stefan & I were sleeping in the front cabin on Luke’s shift when we were awakened by a huge bang and crack. It was our large hatch that was broken and the vent ripped off. Luke had tacked and didn’t notice that the sheet(rope) was taught on the hatch. Stefan had told him to be careful of this and wasn’t impressed that Luke had gone on winching despite the considerable extra tension required to do something like this. An expensive mistake for us and it is unlikely we would be able to get a replacement in Galapagos. It was a problem as we were getting quite a bit of rain and often get water on deck at the front of the boat when sailing which would now come straight in. Stefan managed to repair it with wood rather than toughened glass which looks very makeshift but at least for now it is sealed. We can’t open it and we haven’t got the vent on it now. We may not get a replacement till back in Australia.


The second fish in contrast to the first huge one that got away was a small one that was put back! We had light wind on the nose one day and had to motor most of the day and night. It was very uncomfortable to sleep with a lumpy sea. We had to motor on and off at various times when the wind dropped rather than flap around. Many boats have had to motor a lot of the way and worry about running out of fuel. We arrived with still a half tank and did it in a little over 6 days with many boats taking 10 days. Stefan managed to hear news about the royal wedding of Prince Andrew, one night on the BBC long distance radio.
We finished the passage with 2 days of champagne sailing. S.E. Wind 10-15 knots with little swell, clear skies! The night and stars were magic out here.


Enjoying the wildlife in Galapagos!

2011-05-01 to 2011-05-09

We anchored up in Academy Bay, Santa Cruz, Galapagos ! Unfortunately unless you take a very expensive option you can only anchor up on one island. If you want to see other islands you need to do tours. We enjoyed the wildlife that is very unafraid! Seals swimming around the boat and the variety of animals on land! We like the nearby small town of Pto Ayora and have got to know it well eating out with friends a couple of times. A lot of the tourist boats leave from here. The fisherman clean fish in town and it is always interesting to look at the different animals and birds that turn up for a feed as you will see from our photos. The Blue Boobies with their very blue feet, the sea lions and so on all flighting for the scraps with Iguanas in amongst it all. Everywhere on the rocks were these bright orange crabs. We took our dingy and tied it up to our agent’s private jetty. You must pay an agent to check you in and out of Galapagos which cost us $170.Often there were seals and sealions you had to step over . Sometimes they growled at you. We were a little frightened of being bitten by one at first but then learnt you just have to clap your hands to get them to move. You It is a nice bush walk to a white beach surfing beach. We have done other bush walks on the island always seeing lots of different birds and animals! We swim off the boat to cool down. We have visited the Charles Darwin research centre on this island where Lonely George hangs out and lots of other Giant Galapagos Tortoises. There are other Australian boats here so it is great sharing experiences with them! “Bondi Tram” and “Connect 4”. We spoke to a Swedish couple on a yacht. The lady had unfortunately injured her arm as they were ready to depart for Marquises, getting from their boat to the water taxi in rolly conditions! I related to this as I had actually ended up in the water trying to get onto a water taxi from the back of our boat in these conditions. Stefan had been tying our dingy to the side of our boat at the time out of the way. When he heard the splash he came running letting the dingy go with drifted off. I didn’t hurt myself luckily but had my bag in the water trying to rescue and keep things dry. Then i had to swim after the dingy.


A filling had come out and I had to find a dentist here. I was recommended to a lovely young lady dentist who spoke English well and I had treatment for a very reasonable price.

Today we will set sail for French Polynesia. We will not see land for at least 3 weeks. Friends ahead of us on a smaller boat have just taken 25 days. It is forecast for lighter winds at first. Hopefully we will be able to talk on long distance radio to boats around us. Luke was a good crew member and worked out well! Unfortunately we had to tell Vaughn that things weren’t working out which is always hard and he would have to leave here as on a boat is very close quarters. Unfortunately Luke left in sympathy. We are enjoying now being 2 of us!! Most couples cross by themselves and many lone sailors. Yesterday Laura the 15yo Dutch lone sailor girl left here for French Polynesia so surely the 2 of us will be fine and the trade winds will be kind to us! The good thing is that now we have more room friends and family that may want to join us!


Sail from Galapagos to Marquesas, French Polynesia . Left 10th May arrived 27th May!

2011-05-10 to 2011-05-30

We have arrived safely in French Polynesia after a 17 day sail from Galapagos. We are enjoying the lush mountainous islands with beautiful beaches, clear water and friendly people.

On day 4 of our 17 days sailing 5,400 klms without seeing land I wrote!
It was Friday 13th May, at sea yesterday, bad luck for some but lucky for us as we had a great day! The Sun was shining! The wind was from the SE 15-20 knots and a slight swell. Perfect sailing ,sailing along nicely in the trade winds, an average of about 8 knots sometimes a bit slower when Stefan reefs(reduces)the sails, for my shifts while he sleeps, in case of squalls! The last 2 days we have done 200 nautical miles each day which is great and before that about 180! For three days now we a have been lucky to have a 57 ft Swan sailing boat “Sultano” sailing along near us at a similar speed without ever planning it or trying to keep the same speed ! We never met them in Galapagos but saw the boat. They apparently left from the same bay as us a bit before. Francesco is the Italian Skipper with 4 other Italian crew members. They are delivering the boat to Tahiti. Francesco commented that he is surprised our boat sails so fast for a 54ft boat with only 2 people on board. Most of the times we are in front much to Stefan’s delight except when we reef and they catch up! We have been talking on the short distance radio channel 16 regularly! Most of the time we are only a mile or so apart and we can see each other over 600 nautical miles from land. They are heading for Marquesas first as well! Today I spoke to the youngest crew member Andreas who is studying to be an engineer. Tomorrow I am looking forward to talking with Bernadette the only lady on board. They say they are taking turns to brush up on their English but speak it well.


Despite all the sailing Stefan and I have done in 35 years and 4 boats over 40ft we have never done a big ocean passage of 3,000 nautical miles,(approximately 3 weeks without seeing land) like this before just the 2 of us! I was always a little concerned about the remoteness by ourselves! We have always had crew as we thought we wouldn’t be able to get enough sleep etc. We planned to have crew on this passage but it didn’t work out! It has come as quite a surprise that after 4 nights we both feel really good, relaxed and happy. We have got into new sleeping patterns easily. We are sleeping in one of the aft cabins which we have found more comfortable on this passage under sail! Doesn’t bounce around as much! We have been getting waves splash over the front of the boat so the hatches in the front cabin cannot be left open therefore it is very hot. The aft cabin has windows that can be left open and is cooler. The both aft cabins would normally be taken up with crew. We now have the option of either according to the conditions which is better for sleep. The forward cabin is a huge cabin and when we are anchored has more room. I guess also I realize that I am a better sailor than I give myself credit for. Stefan of course is very experienced and we seem to be working well as a team. In 3 years since we bought “Juliana II” we have sailed 40,000 klms.


My day started today at 2am when I took over from Stefan. He had done 8pm to 2am shift while I slept. My shift 2am to 8am while he slept! We then have catnaps in the day! The moon is about 3 quarter full and bright with the cloud bank around it an interesting sight. The stars so bright! I can sit for hours in a semi dazed state looking at the stars, the moon, the sea and the florescent trail we leave. There is lots of wildlife around at night. The night before last I stepped on something squishy in the cockpit. The following morning I realised it was a squid I had stepped on. Stefan counted 21 of them on deck in all sorts of curious spots and had the job of removing them. The Italians had the same experience but collected them and put them in pasta and said it was a delicious lunch! There are also lots of fly fish. One hit Stefan in the face when he was on deck on night giving him quite a fright. Another came in through the hatch and I nearly sat on it! Even this far out we have small black sea birds with white tails flying around us! They seem to have so much energy!


We have a long distance marine radio net at 8am & 6pm where we check in and talk to other boats sailing from Galapagos to Marquesas like us ,spread out over the 3,000 nautical miles, which is always fun! Laura the 15yo solo handed Dutch girl left 3 days before us and is about 400 miles ahead of us and going well. It has been necessary for us to relay for her regularly to boats behind us when contact is bad. Stefan is amazed how fast her 42ft ketch is. We are overtaking a number of the smaller boats that left before us but don’t look like catching her. Today we passed a solo handed guy on a 26 ft yacht who set out a day before us. We didn’t see him as we were on different latitude but communicate with him on the net. Unfortunately he isn’t getting the same attention as Laura!

It is Day 17 and we are only hours of making landfall at Fatu Hiva, Marquesas. Lately we have not had much contact with the 57 ft Swan, Sultana that we sailed alongside the first 5 days. We had a bit of light wind and they put up their spinnaker and overtook us also heading further south than us. We do not have a spinnaker though Stefan would like one and has been trying to talk me around for a while. We have just had contact with them on short distance radio and after 17 days we are only miles apart heading for the same anchorage. Stefan and I are patting ourselves on the back as they have a crew of 5 on board and are a larger boat recognised as being fast with a spinnaker to boot. We actually arrived at the anchorage 30 mins before them after 17 days of sailing! Amazing! We were anchored up and having a toast when they came into the anchorage. They circled us saluting and clapping us! Embarrassing it was! What good sports! but we didn’t realise it was a race.


We didn’t plan to do this passage by ourselves but when it didn’t work out with crew we did it and have enjoyed the experience. We have had good wind, a little more than we would have liked but it has been great. At one stage we had 5 meter waves and wind from behind and Juliana was showing her form as a true surfer girl surfing down the waves sometimes at 11-12 knots.


The Majestic Marquesas Islands!

2011-05-31 to 2011-06-22

I burst into tears of happiness! We had not had internet contact for 10 days and when I logged on the news that our beautiful daughter and Phil were engaged! So happy!

Sadly in the next few days we will have to say goodbye to the beautiful French Polynesian Marquesas islands with its rugged scenic landscape, beautiful bays and welcoming, friendly people. We feel privileged to have experienced this. Few people experience these beautiful hard to reach islands. It is experiences like this that make up for the sometimes scary times at sea. We have visited 5 of the 6 inhabited islands in just over 2 weeks. These islands only have a couple of small villages. We have done some amazing hikes in the tropical mountains and its beautiful flowers. One walk we did was to the base of the 3rd tallest waterfall in the world on Nuka Hiva. We were anchored up in Daniel’s Bay! Spectacular scenery and where American Survivor was filmed apparently. A group of us yachties had a fire on the beach, drinks etc which was fun! Another walk between villages over a mountain with spectacular views of the bay where Juliana was anchored! Again photos can never show the true amazing view. Sailing between one of the islands a massive Manta Ray launched itself out of the water nearby. It was about 4 meters across, an awesome sight. We see lots of dolphins, marlin, and sharks and lots of amazing birds!


We have had great social times meeting new and old friends sailing around the bays! On the beautiful island of Ua Pou we met a wonderful local lady, Helen who spoke English perfectly even though she has never lived off the island. She took us around the island, with its sometimes rough roads, in her landcruiser, at one stage with her daughter and 7 month old baby. She introduced us to many of her relatives and their beautiful gardens where she introduced us to fruit like star fruit that tasted delicious. Helen loaded us up with local fruit to take back to the boat. She took us up into the mountains to pick up her brother and wife working with their goats. Helen is a lady we will never forget such a warm and friendly person and answered our many questions about life on the island and what it was really like. She had lunch on our boat but had to leave at 3pm to pick up relatives from school. We asked her how we could repay her! She said our friendship, company and practising English was all she wanted. She finally accepted a few Australian Souvenirs. Many other local people have been so kind to us!


We had a spectacular arrival to Marquesas, French Polynesia arriving after 17 days at sea at Fatu Hiva! “The bay of penises” originally is what it was called as that is what the mountains look like with its towering basalt cones that surround the bay. The name was changed however to the bay of Virgins by the missionaries and this is the name used today.


Though it is the most south eastern island in Marquesas, you cannot check in here and it is hard to sail back to against wind and current. You take a risk of being fined $200 going here first without checking in. We decided to risk it be it only for 2 nights. We would have liked to have stayed longer but had been told the local policeman turns a blind eye if you only stay the 2 nights after that there could be problems.

Leaving Marquesas we sail about 500 miles, about 3 days to Tuamotus atolls. There are 70-80 Atolls covering an area the same size as Australia. These atolls are the kinds you don't think really exist except on postcards. A crystalline lagoon surrounded by huge coral rings with maybe one or 2 passes in and out! The entrances can be tricky to enter and you have to time entry with the tides otherwise you can get up to 9 knots of current against you. After 3 days sailing if you get there on the wrong tide you have to hang about for the right tide! Hope we time it right! Sometimes conditions aren’t suitable at all and you have to keep going!


Juliana enjoying the Tuamotu Atolls!

2011-06-25

We are now in Fakarava which is the 2nd largest Atoll (population 700) in the Tuamotu's. We have internet again after about 10 days! Before Fakarava we spent four glorious days in Kauehi, our first chosen Atoll, a 500 nautical mile sail from Marquesas which took 3 days! Stefan chose this one as our first as it seemed to have an easy entry with plenty of dept! We had a good strong wind from the ESE most of the time about 25 knots squalling to 30 knots at times. As the waves were on the beam it was a little uncomfortable at times. We timed the channel perfectly. We were reefed all the way but even more towards the end to slow the boat down arriving just as it was getting light. Stefan accessed that the conditions were right when I was asleep to go into the lagoon, through the reef, where you can have quite strong current against you. I had concerns entering our first atoll but woke up to find we were already inside and after motoring for an hour across the lagoon, looking out for coral heads we anchored up near friends on an English boat “Salamander” a NZ boat “Remedy” with another WENDY and Ian on board, and “Kite” American friends.

Kauehi is a beautiful "small" atoll 8 miles long with about 200 inhabitants. There's a church, 2 small shops, an airstrip and that's about it. The rest of the atoll is sand/coral beaches inside, lush coconut groves for a few hundred metres then very rough dead coral (ex-seabed) until the live coral shelf that plunges a few thousand metres into the Pacific. The lagoon inside is a very protected anchorage with crystal clear aqua coloured water. It is said that these 70-80 atolls formed as the barrier reefs of volcanic islands that sank to the bottom of the Pacific millions of years ago!

After anchoring, we laid down to have a rest. Unfortunately after 3 days at sea, you have only just got into a new regular pattern of sleep. We were a bit tied after the sail and woke up surprisingly to find it was midday. Salamander kindly invited us over on their boat for dinner as they were leaving the next morning and we hadn’t seen them for a week or so! A good night was had! The following night was fun also, catching up with Wendy & Ian on our boat! We have so much in common with them. The 2 Wendys get on well liking to talk about travel and hiking! Ian and Stefan, both engineers are never lost for words! Most of the time now every place we go into we know most of the boats, some better than others!
We enjoyed walking in the village. It was good swimming off the boat. Some big fish that looked like reef sharks befriended Juliana and seemed to take up residence under her which we were a bit worried about. We were told they weren’t sharks and were friendly! I was never too sure and usually took a quick exit out of the water when in. It was so good in the Med and Caribbean never having to think about sharks! I know some people like swimming with them but I am not one of those!
Our 3 weeks in the Marquesas has definitely been a highlight of over 3 years of sailing on Juliana! Weeks we will always remember! The razor sharp mountains plunging into deep gorges and bays! So untouched and natural and for a person like me who likes hiking it was a paradise. The friendly locals with always a smile and a “Bonjour”! We would have loved to have stayed longer but one has to move on!
We had a fun party in Nuka Hiva, on “Steel Sapphire”, meeting people we had been in touch with on the Pacific Reef Runner’s net, coming across 3,000 nautical miles from Galapagos, some of whom we had not met in person until now. Lots of dancing and singing along to old songs! It was fun to be with people who liked to dance and sing the night away!
We spend our last few days in Marquesas on the Western side of Oa Pou. We had been to the Northern bay previously on this island and had really enjoyed this stunning island with the most incredible vegetated basalt spires. Hakaheteau is a lovely flower cladded village and an interesting archaeological site which was restored in 2007 with information. Most of the houses in Marquesas are very simple but very tidy. The people always seem to be sweeping up leaves. We went a wonderful hike to the Manfred waterfall talking to friendly people from the village and beautiful horses along the way.
Our last day and night was a fitting farewell to the Marquesas. We anchored up half way down the western side of Oa Pou, Vaiehu, a most beautiful bay with towering cliffs and aqua clear water. Erosion from the cliffs had resulted in soil half way down with greenery in all different shades. There were huge rocks on top that looked like a priest. Lots of birds took advantage of the draughts from the cliffs and were interesting to watch. The clouds also put on a show for us. There were caves and little blow holes. We had the calm anchorage to ourselves other than some local outrigger boats that came by fishing from a village around the other side of the cliffs.
As if all this wasn’t special enough the next morning as we sadly set sail ,saying goodbye to these special islands a pod of dolphins didn’t let us go without saying goodbye!


Arriving in Tahiti

2011-07-01 to 2011-07-11

Really enjoyed the Tuamotus atolls! After the smaller atoll of Kauehi we went to a larger atoll of Fakarava! Protected Lagoons surrounded by coral! Turquoise coloured water, clear! White sand and palm trees! Friendly people! Really chilled out with friends! Small villages! Pictures on the blog! No diving with sharks for me I want to live a little longer! Some people appreciate black peals but expensive jewellery is not my thing either! Had to get rid of so many souvenirs when we packed up house so am careful now especially when they are expensive! Didn’t see the damage the French did while doing nuclear testing but hopefully that is in the past!


We are now in Pape’ete Tahiti! Amazing really to take in! It will be quite an adjustment! Our last city Panama over 2 months ago! There is good and bad about cities! We have had Little internet! Not a normal supermarket since then and after being relaxed about not locking up our boat or dingy we have to be on guard again! We sailed in via the north side of the island as the sun was rising! Spectacular razer shape mountains! Like in Marquesas truly amazing after the flat atolls! We had to ask for clearance to go past both ends of the airport! Wouldn’t like our mast to be clipped! So many boats anchored up here 100’s and then the super yachts showing off in the Marina! Diana your red favourite “Georgia” once the biggest in the world from Kusadasi, Turkey is here. There will be a picture on the blog if it doesn’t leave overnight! So many boats it is hard to find the friends you already know! A real crossroads! I guess we will just have to meet new ones and we thought we knew all the boats crossing the Pacific! NO!


Lots of outrigger canoeing teams going past our boat with an empty seat! I am not going to miss this opportunity! I will borrow a paddle from somewhere! The good news is that we caught up with our American friend Kennedy on Far Star who we last saw 12 months ago! Sadly his companion crew member Archie the cat has flown back to America a few days ago with his sister as Australian Quarantine is too hard! Kennedy is doing it hard at the moment missing his only faithful crew member! The strange thing is that pets can fly into any country in the world as far as I am aware with the right vaccinations and vet clearances. An independent Swedish vet we met with experience in animal infectious diseases has told that Australia is over the top with its regulations! I tend to agree having seen how the rest of the world deals with pet animals who are mostly treated as children!
Only just arrived so will report pack soon about life in this exciting city!


Moorea !Tahiti’s sister island!

2011-07-12 to 2011-07-19

 We left Papeete, Tahiti, a couple of days ago, where we were anchored in the yacht anchorage, with probably 300 other boats, very crowed. It is the peak season for the yachts that are all migrating west like whales. All having to be out of the cyclone area by October, most are going to NZ, some OZ. The visibility was amazing even with so many boats. We could see the bottom 17 meters below us. The whole island is surrounded by a coral reef and we were anchored between it and the main island, which is covered by mountains, some as tall as 2200 m. It is mostly protected and the swell only comes over the reef when there is large swell outside. We enjoyed the 12 days we spent there. It was fun catching up with friends on other boats we hadn’t seen for a while. Papeete is a lively city with a big market in the centre. Lots of handcrafts to look at as well as fruit and vegetables! The cruise ships arrive there etc. Lots of quality buskers playing Polynesian music in the streets. It was luxury with modern well stocked supermarkets! These however were very expensive. Stefan enjoyed the ship chandlers and stocked up on necessary things! We had our normal interesting experiences catching local buses and hiking to waterfalls with lush tropical vegetation, colourful flowers etc. We just love the Polynesian people always so helpful and happy! Always ready to offer you a ride when the bus doesn’t quite go where you want to go! Many speak English! The day we went to check out the wave breaks Tahiti is famous for, they were not that spectacular!
The super yachts show off on the Marina! Mind boggling always trying to outdo each other! A big space age type, silver, motor yacht, with an amphibious jeep they launched over the side into the water then motored it around to a ramp where they drove off. They had a launched a hovercraft on the other side!


We are now the next island Moorea, only 8 miles west of Tahiti, its sister island. Quite a contact to buslely Papeete! We could see this island from Tahiti as the sun sets behind it and sometimes creates spectacularly coloured sunsets. Photos to be on our blog! We are in a beautiful deep protected bay surrounded by spectacular jagged mountains and lush vegetation. We again came in through a reef entrance and are inside the reef as well. The first evening we were here enjoying the amazing environment when all these bright yellow tropical flowers came floating past our boat as if to welcome us to the bay. It was amazing! We are going to hire a scooter to go around the 60 klms as we haven’t done this for a while. The coast road goes around very mountainous inland!

Tania and Phil will join us soon on the next island for 8 days and will leave us in Bora Bora! It will be great finally getting to celebrate their engagement with them!


Beautiful Bora Bora French Polynesia

2011-07-22 to 2011-08-07

In the next days we will sadly say goodbye to Bora Bora and French Polynesia with its dramatic mountains, beautiful reef protected anchorages, turquoise coloured clear water and white sand! We have enjoyed the Polynesian music, dancing and their traditional dress. French Polynesian people have to be the most welcoming people that we have met to date and we have met a lot of friendly people in our travels! These people just cannot do enough for you and it is always with a smile and there is never any pressure to buy! You are suspicious of how friendly and helpful they are at first but soon learn it is just part of life to them! When Tania, Daniel & Phil were out walking and asked a local where the nearest bar was to get a beer.He opened up his esky in his car beside the road and insisted they have a local beer with him and his friend. Picture will be on the blog! They wouldn’t accept any reimbursement and Tahitian beer is very good!


The approach when sailing into Bora Bora is amazing, the jagged volcanic peaks rise up from an almost entirely encompassing fringe reef with just one pass to get in. It is strange to be miles off the land and to see breaking waves way out to sea where the reef ends. The actual land mass is tiny compared to the area of the lagoon and motu's

With a group of 10 other yachties we climbed 661 meters up Mt Pahia one of the prominent mountains featured on post cards of Bora Bora for the fabulous view. A track led through plantations to the foot of the vegetated cliffs and then the fun started! The "trail" was basically scrambling straight up rocks and mud, using vines and occasionally ropes. The dry rock was good for climbing but the muddy and vegetated bits were like skating. It took us about 6 hours to get up and down!

Tomorrow we will spend the day riding 31 klms around the coast road of the island. We will then start preparing for our sail 685 miles to the remote Cook Island atoll of Suwarrow with a population of 2 people. It will take us at least 4-5 days to sail there and it can be rough going. The actual atoll is quite large about 10 miles across with a few scattered islands around the northern part of the reef; the whole area is classified as Nation Park. The island was made famous by Tom Neale, who lived here on his own for three long stints between 1952 and 1977 and ended writing a classic book called "An island to oneself". On the main island there are two park rangers, who spend 6 months a year here as caretakers. There are two ships a year that come there, one in June bringing them with all their supplies and one to pick them up again in November. It is only possible to get there by private yacht so yachties are the only people visiting this atoll which is supposedly rich with sea and bird life. Hope we get there safely!


We had an amazing time on “Juliana” the 8 days our son Daniel, daughter Tania and Fiancée Phil, were with us here! It has to be the best kept secret with Daniel jumping out from behind a tree to surprise us as we were supposedly picking up Tania & Phil in the dingy after they flew into Tahiti! We had a busy time adding his name to a poster we had made up to welcome them! We greeted them on the wharf the proper Polynesian way placing fresh lays (Flowers) around their necks. Luckily we had flowers to put on their heads as well so we had some for Daniel as well! We had dressed “Juliana” up with her signal flags and our courtesy flags from countries we have visited which are considerable now! Flags went from the bower up to the mast and back to her stern. You can imagine how emotional I was!


When Tania and Phil told us they were able to join us in Tahiti we asked Daniel & Chris if they could come too. Daniel told us he would love to come and would talk to Tania! After that we didn’t hear any more even though we asked. We didn’t push the subject as we knew Daniel had already booked to go to NZ skiing with friends! Chris wanted to come but said he couldn’t get the time off which was a shame! Luckily it won’t we too long till we see him again! We hope to be home in Australia with Juliana in October.
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t was great to finally get to celebrate Tania & Phil’s engagement with them and to have Daniel with us as well! He enjoyed having some quality time with them as well and like us will miss them when they move to London soon! Hopefully only for a few years! At this stage they are planning to get married in London next May but nothing is booked yet! It looks like a European trip next year for us!


Suwarrow! What a nature Paradise!

2011-08-10 to 2011-08-14

We have arrived safely in Niue about 300nautical miles east of Tonga! The last day’s sail was a bit rough with 25-30 knot winds, beating into waves, splashing on the deck. Niue is said to be the world’s smallest independent nation with a population of 1,100 people. The coast road is 60 klms around. It is known as the “Rock of Polynesia” because of its rugged landscape and rocky untamed coast. We look forward to exploring it. Stefan has just worked out we have sailed aprox 26,000 nautical miles (46,000 Klms) now on “Juliana”


We finally have internet, be it slow, the 1st time since we left Bora Bora over 2 weeks ago! It was a 4 day sail to Suwarrow , a remote Cook Atoll. We enjoyed our 9 days there and didn’t want to leave. The island is a National Park with 2 rangers, James and John, who care take it and made our stay there so much fun. A boat drops them off in May with their supplies, generator etc and picks them up in November. They are the only inhabitants on this remote atoll! It is the peak season and there was about 25 yachts there however, most of whom we knew but made some new friends. It was fun having Pot Lucks and Sundowners ashore and writing our name in the Suwarrow Yacht club register in its open hut area. The only way there is by private yacht so we feel privileged to have visited this nature lovers’ paradise. It is home to huge colonies of birds and said to have the country’s richest sealife which we certainly witnessed. We anchored off Anchorage Island where the rangers live. It is about 1klm long and about 300 meters wide with lots of palm trees, white sand and clear turquoise water. The lagoon is protected by a reef that runs about 10miles around it with various smaller motos(Islands). We had a great snorkel around “Perfect Reef” which lived up to its name. Lots of colourful fish of all sizes swimming around colourful coral! A different world down there! We also went snorkelling with Manta rays in Suwarrow which was awesome. There were black tip reef sharks swimming around the boats all the time which a James the ranger told us were friendly and curious, only dangerous if there was blood in the water. We got used to them and a group of ladies, me included went swimming every morning around the boats for about an hour for exercise.


We were devastated to hear that friends on an American boat Ri Ri who we have sailed with for some time lost their 43ft Yacht on Palmerston Reef a couple of days ago. We left Bora Bora with them days before. They went via Palmerston and we went via Suwarrow. A mooring buoy they were tied to broke in the night and they woke up to find themselves on the reef and unable to get off. Frank & Gail escaped with no injuries and were able to get most of their belongings and boat equipment off before they had to watch helplessly as their fibreglass boat broke up on the reef. Fellow yachties and the locals nearby did and are doing whatever they can do to help. They were heading for New Zealand. When they get over the shock and organize their belongings they have been offered spaces on other boats sailing to New Zealand. It makes you aware of how things can change and how on guard you have to always be.


Nuie, an interesting unusual Limestone island

2011-08-15 to 2011-08-28

We enjoyed Nuie, an interesting unusual Limestone island which is known as the Rock of Polynesian. It is quite a different from any of the other islands we have seen! It is said to be the world’s smallest independent nation with a population of about 1,100. It has its own modest Parliament House and the Biggest Little Yacht Club with friendly Keith in charge! It doesn’t have any beaches or a harbour so the only way of getting your dingy ashore is to hoist it up with a crane which is set up for this purpose. Most boats tie to moorings as it is mostly too deep to anchor and the bottom as lots of deep crevices where an anchor could get caught! There were no moorings available when we arrived so we had to anchor and luckily we had no problems. At the time they were having problems with some of the moorings so we were happy to be anchored. As it is in open sea you cannot be there in westerly wind. Nuie is covered in limestone chasms and caves with lots of fantastic hikes and lots of wonderful underwater caverns and tunnels. We hired a beat up van with friends on another boat Sunburnt and enjoyed snorkelling in super clear water in caves with lots of fish. The water is the clearest we have seen! We have been told that because the island is basically all limestone there is little soil run off! It was amazing exploring the unusual limestone caves with Stalagmites and Stalactites etc!

We did an amazing walk in Togo Chasm to a tropical oasis with palm trees and a beach appearing bizarrely amidst the barren jagged volcanic pinnacles of rock. This was the windward side of the island and the waves crashing ashore were very dramatic!

Whales bear their young in the warm waters of Nuie so there are lots of them around Humpbacks! They often came very close to the boats in the anchorage. One huge whale launched itself right up in the air a number of times! I have seen a lot of whales but never this so close! It was amazing! It is apparently a courtship thing! Of course always by the time you grab a camera they are gone!

One night we had a wonderful local buffet meal and were entertained by local Polynesian dancing girls!

After about 4 days in Nuie we got an early start, had good wind and made it to Neiafu, Vava’u Tonga the following day at sunset which was great!


Enjoying the Kingdom of Tonga!

2011-08-30 to 2011-09-18

 Sailing between Nuie and Tonga we crossed the dateline where we lost a day which was a little confusing, especially as on our radio net some of us were in a different day. Stefan & I normally do net control on a Tuesday but once we crossed the date line our day has changed to Wednesday. We are now the same day as Australia and even 3 hours ahead! WOW! It starts feeling like we are nearly home which we should be in less than 6 weeks! We are noticing the weather getting colder as we head south. Not good! How will be cope!
We have been enjoying the Vava’u group of islands for over 2 weeks now! The group consist of 34 islands of which only 21 are inhabited and are regarded as Tonga’s most scenic. I guess you would liken them somewhat to the Whitsundays in Australia with lots of islands with lovely anchorages, white sands, and great snorkelling off the reefs. The capital Neiafu is in a deep beautiful harbour with a colourful market! Population 6,000! Everything in town including the houses is very basic and old fashioned including the banks. Pigs, dogs and roosters wander the streets in harmony! Tonga is very poor moneywise but has very happy proud musical people! The children love staying “hello” and “Goodbye” as we ride through their villages on our bikes! The atmosphere is very lay back and the people very accommodating!
We were lucky enough to be in Vava’u for Regatta festival week which was fun packed. Juliana did well in the 3 yacht racing events bringing home 2 beautiful carved wooden shields with her name on them and winning vouchers in the other race, be it sail repairs in New Zealand and oversize T-Shirts! The fancy dress pub crawl was so funny! There was a full moon party on the beach and lots of team game events throughout the week. There was a parade through the main street finishing up with a concert of Dancing and singing in beautiful traditional dresses.
We walked up Mount Talau for lovely view over the town and islands. We dingied into Swallows Cave where we snorkelled in crystal clear water with lots of fish and the sun shining through the huge rocks underneath the water! Stefan, Tony & Glen dived into Mariners Cave. To get into the cave you have to dive down into it first! They said it was beautiful! Not my cup of tea but they thought it novel!
Many people go to Tonga and pay a lot of money to swim with whales! Friends Tony & Glen were scuba diving off a reef. Stefan and I were snorkelling looking down at them below and waving! The Coral and fish were amazing! A group of friends were snorkelling nearby! I surfaced to the sound of Wendy! Whale! It was quite scary! These whales were surfacing very close to us in the water and were huge! Stefan then surfaced and I made him aware! He could not believe it also that the whales were so close to us! We could see them above the water but not below! To be so close to whales in the water is everyone’s dream but I have to say when you are not expecting it it is quite scary!
We caught up with a lot of friends on boats we hadn’t seen for a while. We are really partied out! It was interesting walking through the villages! Open houses, no electricity, but huge smiles everywhere! Children happily entertaining themselves without TV or computers! I enjoyed kayaking and swimming off the boat! Turtles surfaced near our boat! Stefan fiddling with boat projects! Strangely enough Stefan is now in a hurry to get home to get his teeth into something! I shiver to think what this means???? While I am enjoying the cultural thing this neck of the woods has to offer and want to make the most of it! Maybe selling Juliana when we get home! Stefan has had enough of sailing, cruising life it seems! Has done his dream! Now hopefully it is my turn! Outback Africa etc ??????? No boat!!!!!! I WONDER WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS!


Celebrating my birthday in Savusavu Fiji!

2011-09-21 to 2011-09-25

 After enjoying our time in the Kingdom of Tonga, our sailing friend Bob Swan from Gosford flew in to join us and we set sail for Fiji! We had a good 3 day sail, safely through many reefs. The wind was quite strong and we had to reef down. We had to slow down at one stage even further to go through Lakemba pass in daylight. Bob had sailed with us for 3 months from Gibraltar across the Atlantic and in the Caribbean. It was great to have him back on board! I had my birthday at sea but it was a good passage! Our friends on a boat “Salamander” sailed nearby most of the time with us! Sue’s birthday had been the day we left! There are worse places to spend a birthday. We sailed over the Geographic dateline 180 degrees which could have meant we missed a day! My birthday! For commercial reasons luckily for me Tonga has changed its time so it is on the same day as Fiji and NZ so I didn’t miss my birthday after all! Mind you I wouldn’t mind being a year younger! 

We arrived in Savusavu at daybreak, on the island of Vanua Levi with a population of 5,000. Lonely Planet describes it as a small dusty peninsular layback town with fabulous views across the bay to the western mountain range! Hot springs bubble near the wharf with is quite an unusual sight with the steam coming up! We found it a place of character with lots of well priced little cafes. The guys seem to enjoy watching the rugby cup which I am totally bored with! We had heard it was a complicated checking into Fiji but though it was expensive we found it fairly straightforward. The friendly Marina man helped us pick up a buoy near to town for AU$6 per night which included hot showers. We just waited on the boat while he bought the different officials out.

Sue and I finally got to celebrate our birthdays together at a local restaurant with our guys and a good local band with a lady singer who was good. Chris, Sue’s husband had a bad infection on his leg and had to have antibiotics and take it easy! Wendy from “Beyond “, was his nurse! No alcohol and no swimming! You have to be so careful as just a scratch can quickly flare into something nasty!

We took a local bus over to the other side of the island. The bus wove its way over the mountains through villages picking us passengers with their machetes which are what you need to fight your way through the lush vegetation here! There were fantastic views along the way. We went through planted pine forests as well as tropical jungle. It took 2.5 hours to get to Labasa which is the administrative town on the island. There is a big Indian population here! An interesting study of people of different appearances! I have the Indian population to thank for a better selection of vegetarian food in Fiji! We walked over the river to Botanical gardens, around town with lots of shops and a big fruit and veg market! Prices of most things in Fiji are good which is a change for us! I bought chips with a bit of salad and flavoured milk for AU$3.50.

We checked out of Savusavu Vanua Levu Fiji set sail for Lautoka, Viti Levu the island Nadi is on. We anchored the 1st night at Coconut Point off a small community on western Vanua Levu and the 2nd night off Northern Viti Levu. There are a lot of reefs to navigate by day. The mountains of Northern Viti levu made great scenery as we sailed along. We were now sailing inside the reef with its funny mangrove trees. We arrived in Lautoka on the 3rd day. Fiji is a bit like Cuba where you have to check in and out of each Fiji island and each area port and advise them of your itinery. 

We checked into Lautoka the next morning, motoring in on our dingy to the dingy dock. Lautoka is a busy industrial centre for the sugar cane industry. It has the beautiful mountains of the national park as a backdrop but is very smoky from the burn off of sugarcane. Freighters came and went and were being loaded up on the dock both day and night.

As this is where Bob would leave us we headed into town to immigration to get him off our crew list. Quite a lot of Indians working here with the sugar cane! We walked around town with quite a variety of shops and a big local market before heading back to the boat. I bought 4 small pineapples for AU$1.50and the kind man put in an extra one. I paid AU$1 for a kilo of tomatoes. Fruit and Veg is so cheap here in the markets. We are enjoying this after having so little and overpriced of this now for a long time.

We anchored up a short distance away near a deserted resort. This was Bob’s last afternoon with is. We swam ashore and walked around. Another sad product of the recession I suppose. Bob caught a bus to the airport the next morning. We had enjoyed the 10 days he spent with us so much as did our friends! Fiji has a lot of reefs which can be tricky to navigate so it was good having him on board with his experience. There are so many beautiful islands in Fiji but unfortunately we are running out of time.


Phil writes of Daughter Tania and Phil's trip to Africa

2011-09-26

First stop, Rwanda. Not the top of my must-go-to list but the promise of gorillas, the seemingly professional websites and Tania's glass half-full attitude convinced me that the worst of Rwanda's sad history was sufficiently behind us (17 years post genocide) and that it was safe for visitors. This rationale held fast in our busy final days in Sydney but as we approached the capital, Kigali, I wondered whether we had made the right decision. Tanzania, our second stop, a former British colony, seemed a much safer bet for our entire holiday. The East Africa Lonely Planet guide provided some comfort - at least there was a brief section on Rwanda and at least some of the hotels / restaurants were recommended. Suffice to say I landed in Kigali with intrigue and nerves finely balanced.

Despite a small issue with customs involving a lack of US dollars we were met by our guide for the next 5 days. A man with a sign saying your name at an airport is an amazingly reassuring sight. We drove for 3 hours at night without much clue as to where we were going or if our driver really was really a tour guide and not a profiteering local. Whilst I was suspicious, Tania slept - probably a fair reflection of our attitudes.

We arrived at Mountain View Gorilla Lodge towards midnight to be met by a small army of staff offering to re-open the kitchen, take our bags, show us our rooms and help in anyway possible. In reality we just wanted the comfort of our own bed and some downtime. For the first time we felt the warmth and friendly approach that was to become the norm for the rest of our stay in Rwanda.

The next three days consisted of two trips to see the mountain gorillas, one trip to the golden monkeys and a number of local tribal dance shows designed to amuse waiting tourists eager to begin the trek to see the promised gorillas. The gorillas were beyond our wildest expectations and we felt truly lucky to witness such animals. To see the size of the dominant silverback, the tenderness of the females with their young, the play of the juveniles was extraordinary. We even witnessed some x-rated primate mating - I shielded tania's eyes.

What really started to impress though was how Rwanda appeared to have a well thought out policy on everything we came across. From the micro to the macro, this new economy, essentially built from scratch in 16 years, appeared to be thriving.

As we drove to and from Kigali we passed a wide range of industries from fish farms to brick factories to hydro-electric plants. All of which seemed to be alive with activity. In the lush countryside each small area works as a co-operative with land, seed and tools provided by the State in return, I believe, for 20% of the revenue raised. Every inch of the fertile volcanic countryside was being farmed, mostly Irish potatoes but often an unnamed plant which produces a natural insecticide. Few of the farmers have vehicles but from dawn till dusk we saw farmers either working their fields or transporting unbelievable loads either on the back of the bicycles, which had no brakes, or more typically on their heads. The rural children rarely begged, and on the odd occasion they did, local adults explained that kids needed to understand that education was the source of opportunity and not tourist's charity. We frequently came cross groups of primary school age children heading to school, immaculately dressed with books under their arms. Tourism is a major contributor to the economy, rightly so given the wonder and scarcity of the gorillas, but again the country appears to be managing this resource in an impressive, sustainable manner. Each family of gorillas welcome a maximum of 8 tourists per day for just one hour - and hence with 9 families in total only 72 people per day can pay the national park fees.

We visited with sadness the genocide museum and clearly the country has some incredibly deep scars that will take generations to heal. Whilst there remains a strong view that Rwanda was forgotten by the West in its hour of need, our overriding memories of Rwanda will be of a country firmly focused on its future.

Second stop: Tanzania in 3 parts; safari, Kilimanjaro and then rest and relaxation in Zanzibar. Each of the three stages was memorable.

The Team Kilimanjaro safari with our guide, cook and general handiman and us swiftly journeyed through 4 game reserves and 1 overnight Masai led hike. We battled by 4WD the famous 'African massage' roads and inhaled copious amounts of the dry season dust but were fortunate enough to see some truly memorable sights including cheetahs, lion cubs, elephants galore and hippos. Our photos tell the story better than any words here but our highlights included the Serenghiti and the Ngorogora crater, both of which we would have liked to have spent much more time in. We tented for the 6 days, which with hindsight was perhaps a mistake but certainly allowed us to be genuinely scared each evening as we listened to the animals prowling amongst our tents.

After a overnight stay in Arusha at Onsea House, the type of guest house you wish you could stay in for a week, we woke early with intrepidation to start the big climb. Our guidebook encouraged some fairly serious training before arrival in Africa, unfortunately both Tania and I stopped exercise in the weeks before leaving Sydney so as to concentrate on the to-do list and as such felt about as unfit as we ever have. This fitness combined with an alarming story over breakfast from another team Kilimanjoro client who had just finished the hike left us somewhat on edge but nonetheless excited.

With a staggering and initially embarrassing number of guides, assistant guides, chefs, waiters and porters (12 in total) we set off around lunch time on day 1 for a steady 4 hour climb from 1800 meters to 3000 meters. Very quickly we met other groups and found out that our porter size was in fact normal and that the tour companies prefered to promote full employment over profit margins. Having walked through rainforests and into what the locals called 'heatherland' we ate our standard meal of tasty but to become predictable popcorn, followed by soup, followed by stew followed by hot chocolate and watermelon - as is fairly obvious the guides were keen to ensure we did not get dehydrated. Day 2 we ascended further sleeping at 3800 meters before starting on day 3 a series of acclimatization walks, including lunch at 4600 meters, just 200 metres below Mont Blanc, before sleeping at 3850 meters. Despite one case of nausea and some killer headaches we generally felt strong and were keen to push on. We did however start on the diamox, more as a preventative than a cure, on the evening of day 3. Our biggest problem was the cold, with temperatures well below freezing and, apparently, at the peak a bone shaking -20 degrees. Day 4 saw us rise back to 4600 metres and after a difficult day camp directly below the summit at Base Camp. Our guide decided that we were in good enough shape that after another heavy meal and a reasonable sleep to attempt an ascent on day 5 leaving at 4am. We rose early and under an almost full moon started to climb. 6 hours later we clambered unto Stella Point at 5730 metres before stumbling the final few hundred meters upto the peak at 5895 metros. A few tears later, a good few photos and a celebratory Mars bar we began the slow trudge down in what had become heavy snowfall. The descent back to 4600 metres and from there to 1800 metres on day 6 was a painful affair with our knees complaining but our spirits remained buoyed.

After another evening at our favorite african home, Onsea house, we caught the short flight from Kili to Zanibar where we spent the evening and following morning in the centre of the capital, Stone Town, - a wonderful if confusing melting pot of different cultures weathered by the African sun. Zanizbar has over the past 500 years been part of Oman, as well as being a German, Dutch and British colony. It has been part of Tanzania since 1964 but clearly views itself as an almost autonomous state. From Stone Town we ventured to our final destination, the luxurious Essque Zulu hotel on the northern tip of the island. The hotel was one of those places where you could want nothing more - and we didn't.

Tomorrow we fly to London for another great adventure....


Highlights of Fiji for us!

2011-09-27 to 2011-10-02

For us the highlights of Fiji were getting off the tourist route and into the countryside. After Bob left us we caught a local open bus up the coast from Lautoka to Ba which took about an hour. We had seen this coastline and it’s wonderful mountains from our boat as we had sailed in! Ba a regional centre in the sugar cane industry! It was a slow but interesting trip with locals getting on and off along the way. Homes were all very basic but tidy. The local radio on the bus made us laugh with the jingle! “Fiji kids are wheatbix kids” not Aussie kids! Breakfast cereals are very expensive here and I am sure most locals could not afford it but anyway!

We waited about a half hour in Ba! No tourists here so we really stood out. The local kids with their big dark eyes very curious! They all speak English so it is finally great to be able to communicate freely with the locals. I guess you would say we people watched. There was a big local market and men selling homemade Indian sweets in carts which we tried and liked! Finally our next open local bus left for Navala which Lonely Planet describes as Fiji’s most picturess traditional village! It was again a very scenic trip up the mountains with a fantastic view of the coast and to see Fijian agriculture and the farms. The roads were dirt roads and often rough! Often the bus stopped to let people off where it seemed there were no houses. The bus driver always seemed to know where to stop! They had all been in shopping so passed out the window lots bags of shopping to each other etc. Everyone knew everyone and they were friendly to us and made us feel welcome. There are only a few buses a day and unfortunately this one was the last for the day and would come straight back. 

Navala didn’t let us down! We went over a river with horses drinking from it and then the village with all traditional thatched huts in the middle of the mountains miles from anywhere! People met the bus to pick up goods and meet family! We didn’t have time to get off the bus as it turned around again but we got a good fell for the village! Local guys with local dress, machetes and no shoes got on! They looked scary but were friendly enough! They got off a short way along! Also well dressed school children! They take education seriously if ever they get a chance.


We wove our way back through the interesting landscape along the bumpy road sometimes worried that the bus would have enough traction make it up the steep hill. Within an hour we were back in Ba and then an express bus back to Lautoka! It started pouring down on the way back. We did a bit of interneting at a cafe, got some fruit & veg from the markets and caught a taxi, which was very cheap back to the boat! The dingy was full of water and we got drenched on the way back to the boat!

The next day we headed over to Musket Cove and Plantation Island. It was nice anchored there! We swam off the boat! Aqua water and white sands with waves breaking on the reef!! Very touristy! Jet skis buzzing around etc. We went ashore walking though the resort and caught up with a friend, Damon who has a business there which was fun. He has a boat that takes surfers out to the surf breaks. We were entertained watching a helicopter land and take off.


That evening Lorraine & Graham invited us for dinner on their boat which we enjoyed! We headed off the next morning to Deneurau Marina in the rain to fuel up! We stayed the night on a mooring buoy with Salamander next to us. We went out with a group of our friends that night to an Indian restaurant which was fun! Internet was good with buying a drink here! This is where the ferries leave for the island resorts so it is very tourist! Trendy Units surrounding etc! Stefan enjoyed looking at the super yachts here!


The following morning we checked out of Fiji in Lautoka! We anchored overnight in a bay nearby with Salamander and Lorrigray. We headed off in the morning with Salamander to the southern bay of Waya which is about 30 miles away, part of the Yasawasa Islands to the NW. These islands are more untouched!

The bay on Waya, where we anchored was beautiful. Mountains and beaches and palm trees! We went ashore to the village together with Sue & Chris on Salamander! We were ushered to the chief’s hut but he was up in his garden so the children took us on a guided tour of their traditional village till he came back. The church, the health clinic and the school, the sports field and along the beach! The kids spoke very good English and were interesting to talk to. They loved soccer and knew the names of the famous ones and aspired to be like them. One 10yo boy said proudly he was going to be an accountant. The school here was only a primary school but children from all over the island came here mostly by boat, some staying the week, going home weekends. High school they had to go to another island and after that mainland Fiji! Some huts had small generators! There were a few solar panels about! There was only 1 TV in the village! The huts were very bare and they sat on woven mats on the floor!

By the time the children took us back to the 73yo chief he was back from his garden! We sat on the grass talking to him! He talked about his village and answered our many questions! We presented him with cava and gifts for the village! Then the Sevu Sevu ceremony began. Lots of clapping and an occasional mention of Australia and England ensued! We were accepted into their village and invited to church the following morning and a walk up the mountain for a wonderful view of the bay the following day Monday morning! Unfortunately we didn’t take photos as we thought it would be out of place!
We went back to the boats and had a nice evening on Salamander. That night we started worrying as in the village there had been these 2 dressed up men with ties that looked a bit out of place! They had been friendly but asked us the names of our boats! We had checked out of Fiji and were here unofficially. We were supposed to leave Fiji within 24 hours! There is no check out faculties on these islands and they are on the way to Tanna! It is awkward to go to these islands and have to go back to the mainland to check out! It was the weekend and unlikely a customs boat would be coming by but being a military government we became uncomfortable! It wasn’t worth risking having our boats impounded so it was with disappointment that we decided to leave early next morning through the reef on route to Tanna!


Tanna, Vanuatu! Our most amazing experience so far!

2011-10-05 to 2011-10-07

Dolphins farewelled us as we set sail after exiting the reef from Waya Fiji to Tanna with friends sailing nearby on “Salamander” .It took 3.5 days with varied conditions. The first night a big bird decided to hitch a ride on top of our mast! It was amazing how it managed to balance all night with the boat bumping around and us trying to encourage him to move! Salamander has 2 masts and they had a big bird on each mast! It was funny listening to the ABC radio on the side band radio! The next night I found very scary with lots of lightening from all directions as different cells went through which we tried to dodge. Bolts coming down to the water, whole clouds lit up and it was raining! The first 2 days we were in sight of Salamander but then overnight we were a long way ahead as the wind picked up! The last afternoon the wind and waves were on the nose so we decided to motor sail so that we got into Port Resolution!Tanna! Vanuata, before dark.
I am finally feeling confident with all the radio terminology as a net controller! It is great to be able to chat with friends while out at sea who are sometimes are a thousand miles away! I feel so lucky to have met such a diverse group of friends while sailing who will be friends for a long time even though we are having to part on our different ways now, a lot of them heading for NZ!


It is 5am Tuesday 11th October! We are anchored in spectacular Port Resolution, Tanna. I sit in the cockpit alone reflecting of the amazing experiences we have had in the last few days. Steam wafts out of the mountains at various points! High mountains in the mist as a backdrop! There is a pool where the heat is so intense it boils, bubbling vigorously! The sun is not up yet but already the there are 5 dugout outrigger canoes out. Locals laying their fishing nets! The nearby village is waking! A rooster crows! I wonder if it is its last after seeing a half dead one with its feet tied bumping up and down on the floor at the back of a truck along the rough road, together with a turtle in a bag flapping its flippers and fish at our feet! Sue had thought the turtle at her feet, was the man sitting next to her making advances. No fridges here so they have to keep them quiet but alive for a village meal that night. The other day I saw a baby pig rotating on a spit all its features visible. I struggle with this but it is survival here! A cow moos in the distance! Hope it wasn’t the one that caused 2 villages to declare war against each other. More about that later!
We had had a good night’s sleep the first night after arriving in Tanna ! Salamander arrived the next morning and came over for morning tea and we then went ashore to the small yacht club where Weiry answered our questions and we walked through the village to Yatana surf beach, a beautiful white sand beach on the windward side if the island where the waves broke on the beach. An American couple Bill and Cathy walked with us! The local people were together weaving palm leaves into panels for the roof of the church! I guess you would say they were having a working bee! We made friends with a lady called Ester who did the cooking at the yacht club! Children with no shoes were enjoying playing soccer! Everyone was very friendly! The acting chief Johnson gave us paw paw and chocos! We looked in the small community market!


The village only has one vehicle, a 4 wheel drive! We met Stanley who is very friendly and we organised with him to go up to the volcano! We didn’t have any Vanuatu money as we had been unable to get it in Fiji and there certainly weren’t any banks here! Stanley lent us the entrance fee money which was about $35 each, to go to the volcano and we could pay him for the transport when we took the 4 wheel drive to the other side of the island to check in and go to the bank! The following day however we were waiting at 3pm for the truck however it was held up over the other side of the island! We hung around for some hours in the village, went for a walk to the next village with a tree house and a beautiful view across the bay! The trip ended up being put off till the following day which was a blessing in disguise as it started raining!

It is a unique experience as a yachtie as you come ashore on a daily basis! No tourists here and gradually you get to know the people and get quite an insight into their way of living! They have very little but are so happy and welcoming and want to welcome you to their village! They give you fruit and don’t expect anything in return though they are so appreciative of anything you have to spare! Even if the clothes are old. We went through our clothes and food! Clothes that we didn’t need, food that maybe we would have to hand over to quarantine in New Caledonia or Australia! We felt it was going to a good home!
Stefan and other yachties helped them with fixing broken things! It was a wonderful experience for us and they of course benefited as well! Unfortunately they have health issues! A lot of the kids have runny noses and quite a lot sores on their limbs. There has been a campaign to eliminate malaria on the island which seems to have worked, which is good, funded by world health organization’s we understand. Tanna is probably the most underdeveloped island we have seen while sailing around! The village basically lives on fruit and vegetables it grows, pigs & chickens and catching fish! Their homes are made the traditional way! They have no electricity, TV etc! Some have mobile phones but have difficulties charging them.


Tanna-standing on the crater rim of a volcano spewing red hot lava!

2011-10-08 to 2011-10-10

The following day the local pickup truck did turn up at 4pm to take us to the volcano! We stood up in the back holding on for dear life and ducking the branches of some low trees, especially Chris who was tall, along the bumpy dirt road! Only a 4 wheel drive could make it and we learnt from the locals that it was more comfortable standing up in the back than sitting! After about an hour we arrived 150 meters from the volcano where it was cold and a moonlike landscape! Boats coming in at night from the sea had seen the red hot lava and smoke spewing up! From Port Resolution where we were anchored we could only see the alum light at night from the volcano! We were told the volcano is graded each day according to its activity! When it is graded 4 you are not allowed near it! Tonight it was graded 3 so we were told it would be very active! I hoped it didn’t decide to be a grade 4 while we were up there! There are no safety fences! It is all about taking responsibility for yourself! We had been told that a couple of years ago a couple of tourists had been lost to the volcano!


We walked up some stairs and there we were on the edge looking straight down into the rumbling core getting ready to strut its stuff! From the dark central crater, three vents take turns to spit rockets of red-molten rock and smoke! We walked around the edge a bit further as it was still light! You wouldn’t want to stumble here! Then up it went! Quite frightening at first! Red hot lumps of lava the size of small cars shooting up above the height where we were standing and sliding back into the core again only to build up again over a period of about 5 minutes and do it all again! This is one hell of a angry volcano! There was a huge rumbling and the earth seemed to vibrate just before it spewed out again, then a deadly quiet! Luckily the wind was blowing the ash away from us however some people were coughing from the smoke! The day after we left Tanna the wind changed directions and even the boats in the anchorage miles away got ash all over them making a mess !It was interesting to watch in daylight but of course a lot more spectacular as night fell! There were about 40 people in awe the night we were there, witnessing nature’s spectacular natural fireworks display! It is said that Tanna’s Mt Yasur, 361 meters high, is the world’s most accessible volcano! 7pm we were back on the truck for our bumpy ride back!


For a donation of about $6 per person another village in Port Resolution had organized a feast for any yachties who wanted to come, with a big bonfire on the beach! We found it important to support the different villages in the area not just the nearest one! The villages are friendly towards each other but a little competitive for our support we found! This was a great end to our evening on the volcano! Lots of freshly grown Vegetables with pig! We had our meal on beautifully woven plates with a flower on each! We finished off with tropical fruit! We drank coconut milk from little coconuts which tasted really good! They do not drink alcohol! The men were invited to drink Kava later if they wanted! There was plenty of food but we realised that they fed us first then the local families had their turn of what was left over! Luckily I didn’t have seconds but those who did felt guilty all of a sudden! A local, Sam had a guitar and started playing and singing! One of the other Yachties started playing and singing around the fire which made for a good time! It was a little tricky getting back to our boats around the reefs in our dinghies at the end of the night!

We were invited to a village church service! Stefan took Sue & I in the dingy to church. He was going to pull the dingy up on the beach, turn it over and give it a good clean while we were at church! We helped him pull it up and went off! The service was mostly in their local language but they welcomed us and some of the service was in English for our benefit! By now we knew a number of people in the village! We had to be careful sometimes as to us some of them looked the same! The church was the small Presperterian one, open at the sides with a thatched roof and decorated with flowers! Everyone had on their best clothes mostly women and children! They most probably only had one set of good clothes! The weather was balmy! One curious child behind me touched my hair gently to be pulled away by his mother! Others had a little chuckle to each other as they looked at us with their big dark eyes! I guess they don’t see many blue eyed blond people here! The singing as usual was so harmonious especially the choir when they had their turn! A man sang and played a guitar! One older, small framed, lady with missing teeth stood up and gave a talk! She was very expressive and well received it was a shame we couldn’t understand what she was saying as was the younger ones doing bible readings! We put money in their collection and left a bag of clothes and food with a lady we knew to distribute! They were much appreciated and they wouldn’t let us leave without some paw paws and 6 freshly laid eggs. We ended up using the eggs to make a birthday cake for one of the girls who had a birthday the following day. It had to be cut into about 30 pieces with a lot of children turning up! There were chooks with cute little chickens wandering everywhere!


When we finally got back to Stefan and the dingy on the beach we learned Stefan had been trying to turn to dingy over and hurt his back so had been waiting there for us all this time unable to do anything! I guess that’s what happens when you try to work on a day of rest and you don’t go to church! We got Stefan back to the boat and he had to have not just one day of rest but quite a few more before his back was better again!


Caught up in a Freud between 2 villages Tanna, Vanuata!

2011-10-11

 In Tanna Stefan hurt his back pulling up the dinghy at an awkward angle so I had to be the acting captain and travel across the island for 2 hours on the back of a pickup truck to check our boat and ourselves into Vanuatu and get some money from the bank to pay back local, Stanley for our volcano trip! We arrived on Thursday but couldn’t organize the cross island transport till today Monday! At 7am I set off with 3 other couples, friends from other boats with the same mission! There were also about 6 locals! At first I sat in the front of the truck with the driver and a young mother with a newly born baby sleeping in her arms! I wasn’t coping very well with half dead animals at my feet as I stood in the back of the truck! A chook, a turtle and fish flapping! Another lady, Choe, from the French yacht had a young 3yo son but he enjoyed the excitement of being in the back even though he went to sleep at one stage! Her husband was very fit and in training for a marathon in Tasmania! He rode his mountain bike over the rough road to Lenakel and actually arrived before us! They spoke very good English, were very friendly and lived in Noumea! Full of local knowledge for us!

About half an hour out as we were driving along through a village we heard the wail of what seemed to be a woman in distress! The driver stopped the truck to investigate! The locals in the back jumped out as well! All of a sudden an athletic machete yielding young guy jumped out from behind the trees and set up a barrier so the truck couldn’t get past! He was very angry and yelling in the local language! He was making it very clear that we weren’t going any further along the road in our truck! We yachties became worried not knowing what was going on! Maybe they were going to kidnap us and require a ransom! Another local truck came from behind us and was let straight through! Also a man on a horse! One of the locals from our truck started approaching the angry man trying to calm him down but was shoved back! This could turn nasty we thought! We started talking about starting to walk back to our boats to get the hell out of here! This may become more dangerous without local knowledge! Chloe with her child was very nervous and one of the couples had left their young teenage children back on the boat and became concerned for them also if we got stuck out here!

We realised all of a sudden that Stanley who had organised the truck for us was on the other side of the barrier! He then came through the barrier to us! We expressed our concern and he explained to us that a cow from the neighbouring village had strayed into this village’s vegetable plot and destroyed all their vegetables that they rely on to survive! Stanley explained that the angry man was his brother in law! They all seem to be related! The truck and driver of our truck belonged to the village those cow had done the damage! Stanley explained that the man did not have an issue with him or us only our driver and truck! In the middle of this all it started pouring with rain! Stanley told us to follow him through the barrier and we could wait in the local church for another truck that he had organized to arrive! We followed Stanley past the barrier with the angry man! We were a little afraid and looked straight ahead! Our original truck turned and went back!
After about a half hour wait another truck arrived and we got on! I went in the back this time as there were no suffering animals! The truck route involved following river beds, crossing volcanic ash plains, driving over tree trunk bridges, up mountain tracks and finally down into the port. At one spot we had to wait as one of the 4 wheel drives were bogged and they were trying to get it out! The road was one big mud slush! Luckily we got through after a bit of slipping and sliding! It's great to see the interior and it seems that much hasn't changed in hundreds of years, just very traditional (and poor) villages, very little traffic, everyone carrying machetes to cut their way through the jungle.

Lenakel is the biggest town on the island but is very basic and small! It is where supplies come in but not a good anchorage! We commenced checked in, filling in the forms! The check in was to cost us a lot more than we were expecting! There were no ATM’s and only one bank where you could change other currency to the Vanuatu currency! We had tried to get some Vanuatu currency without success in Fiji! Some of us had to lend each other American dollars to have changed. We had been told by the officials that we needed over $300 to check in a boat and 2 people. When we complained that it was more than we had been advised they told us the fees had gone up recently! We complained to Stanley, the local helping us. He was surprised it was to cost us so much! We explained to him that yachts would stop coming to Tanna with these expensive costs as this was our only stop in Vanuatu, only 5 days on route to Noumea then Australia. The villages where the yachts come in Port Resolution receive a lot of support from Yachties and would suffer if yachts stopped dropping in! After changing the money we went back to customs where the costs had strangely dropped to about $220.Though this was still expensive the officials were obviously trying to pocket as much money as they could get away with and our complaints got back to them. Also you pay $35 entry to the volcano! The villages apparently don’t see any of this either! It supposedly goes into a disaster fund! It appears to us there is a lot of corruption with officials in Tanna with the poor villages missing out other than the direct support of Yachties!

There is a big Fruit/Veg market in Lenakel with lots of fresh produce very cheap which was great! Other than this there are a few very basic small supermarkets. We headed back across the island through the village where we had had the delay in the morning but all was calm now! The villages prefer provisions such flour and sugar rather than money in return! As we had provisioned for 4 people coming across the Pacific and only ended up being 2 we were happy to give them our extra provisions and know the right people were getting it rather than donate to similar charities when we got back to Australia not knowing if the right people got it! Such lovely deserving people who try to get the best education they can for their children! We visited some schools! The children are so well behaved and appreciate any education or learning they can get!

We had only been 5 days in Tanna but it is those 5 days which will stand out as probably the most memorable of our 3.5 years sailing. All speaking English made it so much easier than in many other countries we had been to! Having to move on to Noumea we set sail! Stanley and other friends we had met paddled out on their dugout outriggers to say goodbye! I had enjoyed the experience of paddling one of these canoes which takes some skill! It was quite emotional as we said goodbye to Port Resolution with its beautiful bay, magnificent cliffs and the friends we had made! As they all waved we wondered if we will ever get the chance to visit them again and see how they were faring! No internet or phones or post to keep in touch with them here!


The Homeward Leg! Sailing into Brisbane from Noumea

2011-10-13 to 2012-05-02


AFRICAN CAMPING SAFARI

2012-05-09 to 2012-05-31

Day 1 South Africa – Cederberg Mountain Region

Leaving Cape Town we make our first stop at Table View and take photos of Table Mountain from across Table Bay. On the way to the Cederberg we visit !Kwa ttu where we enjoy a San guided tour and museum visit. After the tour, lunch will be prepared and afterwards we continue to our campsite in the Cederberg region. We arrive at our accommodation and your guides will give you a full briefing on the tour.
Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Marcuskraal: www.marcuskraal.co.za
Facilities: Hot showers, shared ablutions, swimming pool
Route: Cape Town to Citrusdal: ± 230 km
Travel time: ±5 hrs
Activity Package: !Kwa ttu San Guided tour

Cederberg Mountains
The Cederberg mountains and nature reserve are located near Clanwilliam and named after the endangered Clanwilliam Cedars (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis), which are endemic to the area, growing at an altitude of 1 000 m to 1 500 m. Some species are believed to live up to 1000 years but human activity has led to the destruction of most of the original forests. The mountains extend about 50 km north-south by 20 km east-west, the highest peak in the range is Sneeuberg (2 028 m). The area is defined by dramatic sandstone rock formations, often reddish in colour. Cederberg Wilderness Area was recently proclaimed one of eight World Heritage Sites within the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. The area is also known for the San rock art and the discovery of important fossils, particularly in recent years. The fossils are of primitive fish and date back 450 million years to the Ordovician Period.


Day 2 Namaqualand – Gariep (Orange) River
An early start, we head north via the distant town of Springbok, best known for its diamonds, copper and spring flowers. We then proceed to our camp located right beside the Namibian border. The camp is situated on the riverbank that forms the border between South Africa and Namibia.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Fiddlers Creek Campsite www.bushwhacked.co.za
Facilities: Water not drinkable, bar, hot showers, shared ablutions.
Route: Citrusdal to Orange river: ±570 km
Travel time: ±10 hrs


The Gariep (Orange) River
The Orange River was originally called the Nu Gariep (“great river”) by the indigenous Nama people. It was named the Orange River by Colonel Robert Gordon, commander of the Dutch East India Company garrison at Cape Town, on a trip to the interior. Gordon named the river in honour of William of Orange, although a popular belief is that it was named for its colour. Nowadays known by its original name Gariep River, it is the longest river in South Africa, covering 1 800 km. It rises in the Drakensberg mountains in Lesotho, where it is known as Senqu, flowing westwards through South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean at Alexander Bay. On its long journey, the Orange offers a variety of vistas: in places seamed by rugged mountain chains and in other parts by endless dune fields.
The river forms part of the international border between South Africa and Namibia and between South Africa and Lesotho as well as several provincial borders within South Africa. Although the river does not pass through any major cities, it plays an important role in the South African economy by providing water for irrigation and hydroelectric power. The Orange River is also responsible for the diamond deposits along the Namibian coast. Over millions of years it transported diamonds from the volcanic pipes in Kimberley in South Africa to the sea. From there, the currents took them northward and the surf deposited them into the dune fields of the Namib.

Day 3 Namibia – Gariep (Orange) River - Fish River Canyon
This morning there’s the chance to see the beautiful river valley by canoe or just relax at camp. After lunch we cross the border and travel to the Fish River Canyon. After a scenic walk along the edge of the canyon we enjoy our dinner while watching the sunset. This is also a fantastic photo opportunity. Optional Activities: Half-Day Canoe Adventure.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Hobas Campsite www.nwr.com.na/hobas.html
Facilities: Drinkable water, small kiosk, hot showers (sometimes), small swimming pool, bar
Route: Orange River to Fish River Canyon ±210 km
Travel time: ±4-5 hrs and a border crossing
Included Highlight: Hike along the rim of the Fish River Canyon
Border posts: South Africa: Vioolsdrift, Tel: +27 (27) 761 8760, Open 24 hours.
Namibia: Noordoewer, Tel: +264 (0) 63 297 122, Open 24 hours.

Fish River Canyon
The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world and the largest in Africa, as well as the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia. It features a gigantic ravine, in total about 160 km long, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 m deep. The Fish River is the longest interior river in Namibia but its flow is now a puny trickle compared with the immense volume of water that poured down its length in ages past. It cuts deep into the plateau which is today dry, stony and sparsely covered with hardy drought-resistant plants such as succulents. The river flows intermittently, usually flooding in late summer; and when it ceases to flow it becomes a chain of narrow pools on the sandy rock-strewn floor of the chasm.

The Fish River Canyon area has a typical semi-desert climate. During the hot summer months (October - March) temperatures can rise to 48°C during the day and cool to 30°C at night. Relief from the heat comes in short spells with occasional thunderstorms. The average annual rainfall in the canyon area is 100mm. During the short winters, temperatures can go below zero at night but quickly pick up during the day to a moderate 20 to 28°C.

Day 4 Namib-Naukluft National Park
We arrive at the Namib-Naukluft National Park and set up camp, then enjoy a short hike into the Sesriem Canyon. Tonight enjoy the star-studded sky and enduring silence of the Namib Desert, only occasionally interrupted by the call of a Jackal or, a rather unique lizard, the barking gecko!
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Sesriem campsite http://www.nwr.com.na/sesriem_campsite.html
Facilities: Drinkable water, bar, swimming pool, hot showers, shared ablutions, shop
Route: Fish River Canyon to Namib-Naukluft Park ±560 km
Travel time: ±10 hr
Included Highlight: Hike into Sesriem Canyon

The Namib Desert
The Namib Desert is one of the oldest and largest in the world, occupying an area of around 90 000 km², stretching 1 000 km along the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia. Having endured arid or semi-arid conditions for at least 55 million years, it is considered to be the second oldest desert in the world, after the Atacama Desert in Chile. It has less than 10 mm of rain annually and is almost completely barren, characterised by dramatic red dunes with sharp ridges, some of which tower 3 000m in the air, the highest in the world. A section of the central Namib Desert incorporates The Namib-Naukluft Park, one of the largest national parks in Africa as well as the Naukluft Mountains. Despite the harsh conditions, a variety of plant and animal life can be found in the desert. There are some unusual species of plants and animals that are found only in this desert.
The Sesriem Canyon, one of the highlights of the Namib Desert and the entrance point to the western section of the Namib Naukluft Park, was formed by the Tsauchab River, which carved the canyon out of sedimentary rock over the past two million years. During the rare rainfalls in the Naukluft Mountains, the river becomes rapid-running and strong and has over the years created the canyon, now 1 km long and up to 300 m wide. The water held in parts of the canyon provides water for a variety of wildlife that has adapted to life in this arid landscape.
The name Sesriem is Afrikaans and means "six belts", since the early travellers and settlers had to attach six belts together in order to reach buckets down into the canyon to scoop up water.

Day 5 Sossusvlei Dunes - Namib-Naukluft National Park
This is our earliest morning as we prepare for our hike up Dune 45 to marvel at the sunrise. After our hike, we will have the chance to visit Sossusvlei. Later, we join a local expert on a guided hike and learn more about the unique desert ecosystem and how the Bushmen survived in the harsh desert conditions.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Desert Shelter Cha-re: No website available
Facilities: Hot showers, good shared ablutions, swimming pool, bar
Route: Sesriem to Solitaire ±100 km (excludes drive to and from desert walk)
Travel time: ±3 hrs (round trip into Sesriem plus drive to Solitaire)
Activity package: Guided desert walk with local expert
Included Highlights: Sunrise hike up Dune 45, explore Sossusvlei on foot
Namib-Naukluft National Park
Namib-Naukluft National Park is an ecological preserve in the Namib Desert. It is the largest game park in Africa, covering about 50 000 square km and a surprising collection of creatures survives in the hyper-arid region, including snakes, geckos, unusual insects, hyenas, gemsbok and jackals. Most of the life here is sustained by sea mists from the Atlantic and sporadic rainfall. The winds that bring in the fog are also responsible for creating the park’s towering sand dunes, whose burnt orange color is a sign of their age. The color develops over time as iron in the sand is oxidized, like rusty metal; the older the dune, the brighter the color. These dunes are the tallest in the world; the most famous of which is Dune 45, which reaches more than 170 m. The dunes were numbered to make the area easier to navigate and coincidentally Dune 45 is 45 km from Sesriem Canyon.
‘Namib’ means open space in the local Nama language and the Namib Desert gave its name to form Namibia – “land of open spaces”. The park was established in 1907 by the German Colonial Administration. The park's present boundaries were established in 1978 by the merging of the Namib Desert Park, the Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park, parts of Diamond Area 1 and some other bits of surrounding government land.

The Park includes Sossusvlei, a clay pan in the central Namib Desert, fed by the Tsauchab River and known for the high, red sand dunes which surround it, forming a vast sand ocean. 

Day 6 Swakopmund
After a brief photo stop while crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, we travel onto Namibia’s Atlantic coast and the adventure capital, Swakopmund. Often there are flamingos at the Walvis Bay lagoon, just before we arrive in Swakopmund. You will be briefed on the many optional activities available here and then there is time to explore the town before dinner out at one of the local restaurants. Optional Activities: Dinner out
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Two per room: Dunedin Star Guest House: www.dunedinstar.com
Facilities: En-suite, laundry, wireless internet, drinkable water
Route: Solitaire to Swakopmund. ±280 km
Travel time: ±4-5 hrs (including Walvis Bay)
Included Highlight: Stop off in Walvis Bay to view Flamingos

Day 7 Swakopmund
The whole day is free to relax, explore or partake in one of the many activities available here. Most popular are Quadbking in the Dunes or Tandem Skydiving. On a clear day’s skydiving you can see all the way to the next day’s destination! Taking a walk around Swakopmund’s shops and having a leisurely lunch is also a great way to spend your day. Optional Activities: Quad biking, Sand boarding, Sky Diving, Scenic flights, Dinner out etc.
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Two per room: Dunedin Star Guest House: www.dunedinstar.com
Facilities: En-suite, laundry, wireless internet, drinkable water
Swakopmund
Founded in 1892 by Geman settlers, Swakopmund was intended to be the main harbour of German South-West Africa. Increased traffic between Germany and its colony necessitated the establishment of a port of its own, as Walvis Bay, located 33 kilometres south, was in British possession. The choice fell to a site north of the Swakop River where water was readily available. There is a strong German architectural influence in the town, with its Bavarian-style buildings, including the Altes Gefängnis prison, designed by Heinrich Bause in 1909 and the Wörmannhaus, built in 1906 with a prominent tower, now a public library.
The area now known as Swakopmund was orginally called “Tsoakhaub", a Nama word that can be translated as "excrement opening", an offensive but accurate description of the waters of the Swakop River when it flooded, carrying masses of mud, sand, vegetation and animal corpses to the Atlantic Ocean. The name was changed to "Swachaub" by German settlers and with the proclamation of Swakopmund as an independent district of German South-West Africa in 1896, the present way of writing Swakopmund (meaning Estuary of the Swakop in German) came into use.
Surrounded by the Namib Desert on three sides and the cold Atlantic waters to the west, Swakopmund enjoys a temperate climate. Rainfall is rare but the cold Benguela current supplies moisture to the area in the form of fog that can reach as deep as 140 km inland. The fauna and flora of the area has adapted to this phenomenon and now relies upon the fog as a source of water.
Swakopmund is well known for adventure sports including: skydiving, sandboarding and quadbiking. Your guides will be able to assist you in deciding on a suitable activity, alternatively, spend the day exploring the town and enjoying the various coffee shops and souvenir shops.

Day 8 Spitzkoppe
Leaving the coast we drive through arid landscapes to Spitzkoppe Mountain. The enormous granite monoliths dominate the otherwise flat landscape and we set up camp in the wild plain at the base. This afternoon our guide will take us on a guided walk to explore the unique rock formations. The more adventurous among us may want to try some mountain climbing behind camp for some stunning views of the landscape. Optional activity: Guided hike to the San rock paintings at bushman paradise.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Bush Camp: Spitzkoppe Community Campsite
http://www.namibian.org/travel/community/spitzkoppe.htm
Facilities: No facilities. Long drop toilets.
Route: Swakopmund to Spitzkoppe ±170 km
Travel time: ±3-4 hrs
Included Highlight: Guided walk with Nomad guide through Spitzkoppe

Spitzkoppe
The Spitzkoppe (also referred to as Spitzkop, Groot Spitzkop, or the "Matterhorn of Namibia"), is a group of bald granite peaks located between Usakos and Swakopmund in the Namib desert. The granite is more than 700 million years old and the highest outcrop rises about 1 784 m above sea level. The peaks stand out dramatically from the flat surrounding plains. The highest peak is about 700m above the floor of the desert below. A minor peak- the Little Spitzkoppe - lies nearby at an elevation of 1 584 m above sea level. Other prominences stretch out into a range known as the Pontok Mountains. Many examples of Bushman artwork can be seen painted on the rock in the Spitzkoppe area.
It is possible that the main peak was summited as early as 1904, when a soldier of the Royal Schutztruppe supposedly soloed the peak and made a fire on the summit. What he may have burned remains a mystery, as there is absolutely no natural fuel of any kind on the upper parts of the peak. The legend suggests that he never returned and that his body was never recovered. Certainly no proof of his conquest is available today.

Day 9 Himba Tribes
After some early morning exploration we continue north and drive towards Kamanjab. Today we have the chance to experience life within a Himba tribe. The Himba are a pastoral people and predominantly breed cattle or goats. They are easily recognisable by their unique style of dress. The Himba have been extremely diligent about upholding the roots of their culture but they are also very curious about visitors to their home.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Himba camp– no website available
Facilities: Bush shower, toilets
Route: Spitzkoppe to Kamanjab ±340 km
Travel time: ±5-6 hrs
Activity package: Guided visit to the Himba Tribe with Local Guide.
The Himba People
The Himba are descendents of the Herero people and still speak a dialect of the old Herero language. There are about 20 000 – 50 000 Himba people living in the Kunene region, where they have recently built two villages at Kamanjab. The Himba are semi-nomadic pastoralists who breed cattle and goats in this dry, rugged, and mountainous area. They are some of the most photographed people in the world, due to their striking style of dress and their traditional lifestyle. Their appearance is characterised by scanty goat-skin clothing, and they are heavily adorned with jewellery of shells, copper and iron, according to the tribal hierarchy. The distinctive red colour of their skin and hair is a mixture of butter, ash and ochre (otjize) which protects them from the harsh desert climate.
Typically the women take care of the children, do the milking and other work, whilst men take care of the political tasks. The villages are made up of family homesteads – huts built around a central fire and livestock enclosure. Both the livestock and fire are pivotal to the Himba belief in ancestor worship, the fire representing ancestral protection of the living community.
Situated about 20 km outside of town, a guided tour around the village will not only give you an in-depth insight into the life and ways of the last traditional tribe in Namibia, the Ova-Himba, but an amazing photographic opportunity as well. You will find out about the milking ceremony, the smoke bath, be informed on the beliefs around the holy fire, ancestors and herbal medicine. You will also learn about the jewelry and hairstyles to imitate the status of each tribe member and their close relationship with nature, their cattle and children. The income generated from these excursions, helps to sustain the tribe from day to day, buying food and supplies, medicine (if necessary) and taking care of the children. Please take note that the village is not for show or a human zoo, you will be allowed inside these amazing peoples’ home and have a cultural exchange. Please respect their lives and ways as they would respect yours and in this way help preserve their culture and traditions.

Day 10/11 Etosha National Park
Etosha is the venue for some of the most unique game viewing experiences in Africa. The sparse grasslands allow great opportunities to see animals normally hidden in dense vegetation. You may even see some of the amazing animals crossing the road in front of your truck! We will go on various game drives and spend our evenings at the abundant water holes for some excellent game photography. Optional Activities: Night or Dawn Game Drives in safari vehicles.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Halali and Okaukuejo: www.nwr.com.na/etosha_national_park.html
Facilities: Drinkable water, shared ablutions, bar, shop, post box, swimming pool and waterholes at all campsites.
Route: Kamanjab to Etosha NP ±280 km
Travel time: ±4-5 hrs
Included Highlight: Game drives in Nomad truck 

Etosha National Park
Etosha, meaning “Great White Place”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan, part of the great Kalahari Basin. The Etosha pan, originally a lake fed by the Kunene River, covers about 5 000 square km, a quarter of the Etosha National Park. The lake dried up thousands of years ago and is now a dusty depression of salty clay which occasionally fills with the rare heavy rains. This temporary water supply stimulates the growth of an algae which attracts wading birds and flamigos by their thousands. Large concentrations of wildlife gather year-round at the perennial springs on the edges of the pan. This amazing abundance of wildlife makes Etosha one of Southern Africa's finest and most important game reserves. Covering an area of 22 270 square km, it is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, surprisingly, one species of fish.

Day 12 Windhoek
After an early morning game drive we set off towards Windhoek, the Capital city of Namibia. On the way we stop at a popular craft market where you can barter for handmade gifts to take home. Windhoek is not only the capital; it is also the cultural, social and economic centre of the Namibia. On arrival in Windhoek our guide will take us on a short city tour in our truck. Joe’s Beer House is an exciting dining experience for our optional dinner out. Optional Activities: Dinner out.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Two per room: Hotel Uhland: www.hoteluhland.com
Facilities: En-suite, hot showers, swimming pool, bar, laundry
Route: Etosha to Windhoek. ±550 km
Travel time: ±8-9 hrs
Included Highlight: Craft market en-route and short city tour in Nomad Truck
Windhoek
The Nama people originally gave Windhoek the name Ai-Gams, meaning “hot water” due to the hot springs that were once part of the town. The Herero people who lived there called it Otjomuise, “place of steam”. Theories vary on how Ai-Gams/Otjomuise got its modern name of Windhoek, most believe the name Windhoek is derived from the Afrikaans word Wind-Hoek, meaning "corner of wind". It is also thought that the Afrikaners named Windhoek after the Winterhoek Mountains, at Tulbagh in South Africa, where the early Afrikaner settlers had lived. In those days Windhoek was the point of contact between the warring Namas, led by Jan Jonker Afrikaner, and the Herero people.
Present-day Windhoek was founded on 18 October 1890, when German settler Von François fixed the foundation stone of the Alte Feste fort. During the next fourteen years Windhoek developed slowly, with only the most essential government and private buildings being erected. After 1907, the town grew quickly as people migrated from the countryside to the city and a large influx of European settlers began arriving from Germany and South Africa. Many beautiful buldings and monuments were erected, including Heinitzburg, one of three castles in Windhoek, the fairy-tale Christuskirche and The Rider statue.

Day 13 Botswana - Ghanzi
After an early start, we cross into Botswana and drive to Ghanzi. After setting up camp we meet with a local Bushman (San) community and experience some traditional tribal dancing.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Ghanzi Trail Blazers: http://ghanzitrailblazers.wheretostay.na/
Facilities: Hot showers, shared ablutions.
Route: Windhoek to Ghanzi. ±570 km
Travel time: ±8-9 hrs, plus a border crossing on this day.
Included Highlight: Bushmen Tribal Dance in evening
Border posts: Namibia: Buitepos, Tel: +264 62 560 401, Open: 07h00-24h00
Botswana: Mamanu, Tel: +267 6592013/2064, Open: 07h00-24h00
As we cross the border we’ll start to see villagers, cattle, donkeys, and sheep along the side of the highway. Sometimes the donkeys and cows sit in the middle of the road and any amount of horn blowing won't get them out of the road. Independent since 1966, Botswana (formally a British protectorate) has three of the world’s richest diamond mines and this has made Botswana quite a wealthy nation. Now 40 years old, it is known as the African success story. Politically stable and with the foresight to invest in education, healthcare, high economic standards and without the racial issues that have plagued other countries, Botswana has the best economy in sub-Saharan Africa. The government has employed a strategy of high income - low impact tourism. This is where they reduce the number of tourists entering any area of the country by charging a lot more than neighbouring countries, thereby making it more restrictive for the budget traveller.

Bushman (San) people
The San people, formally known as Bushmen, are indigenous to Southern Africa and have lived here for over 30 000 years. It is truly an incredible experience to get an understanding of what Africa was like in the past and how these people survived in the desert conditions, living in harmony with nature. It is said that the word ‘San’ meant ‘wild people who can’t farm’, however historically they didn’t have a collective word for themselves. They now call themselves Ncoakhoe meaning ‘red people’ but the term ‘San’ is still predominant. They were nomadic people – primarily hunter gatherers, moving to where the food and water could be found. It is estimated that there are only 55 000 San people left, with 60% of them living in Botswana and the rest in Namibia and northern South Africa. Many examples of their expressive and remarkable cave paintings can be found dotted around Southern Africa, tracking their historical movements. Sadly nowadays their traditional lifestyle has been eroded by colonial influence and they can be found in 'squalid alcohol plagued settlements' or on farms and cattle posts.

Day 14 Maun
Our journey takes us from Ghanzi towards Maun. Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta and this afternoon we will prepare for this excursion, packing small 2-night bags. There may be an opportunity this afternoon to visit the local crocodile farm or take a scenic flight over the Okavango Delta. Optional Activity: Crocodile Farm visit, Scenic Flight (time permitting)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Sitatunga www.deltarain.com
Facilities: Hot showers, shared ablutions, bar, swimming pool.
Route: Ghanzi to Maun ±300 km
Travel time: ±4-5 hrs

Day 15/16 Maun – Okavango Delta
This morning we board the big 4x4 truck that will take us in to the Delta. In high-water season it is sometimes necessary to take a boat to the poling station where we meet up with the members of a local community who will be showing us their homeland. We spend 2 nights bush camping in the wilderness and, if the water level allows, we will take a mokoro (traditional canoe) trip through the waterways. We will also be going on some nature walks in the hope of seeing some wild animals in their natural habitat.
Day 15 (Day 1 in Delta),
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Bush Camp www.deltarain.com
Facilities: No facilities – bush camping
Route: Maun to Bush Camp
Activity package: 4 x 4 vehicle transfer into Okavango Delta, Mokoro ride and guided nature walk

Day 16 (Day 2 in Delta)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Bush Camp www.deltarain.com
Facilities: No facilities – bush camping
Activity package: Guided Nature walk and mokoro rides
Maun
Maun, the fifth largest town in Botswana, is known as the tourism capital and the gateway to the Okavango Delta. It is an eclectic contrast of modern buildings and traditional huts. Now home to over 30 000 people, the town were founded in 1915 as the tribal capital of the Batawana people. It originally serviced the local cattle ranching and hunting operations of the area, and had a reputation as a hard-living 'Wild West' town. With the growth of the tourism industry and the completion of the tar road from Nata in the early 1990s, Maun developed swiftly, losing much of its old town character. However, it is still infamous for its infestation of donkeys and to lesser extent, goats. These animals can be seen wandering around freely as the local farmers arrive in the innumerable taxis to sell their wares on the kerbside.
With the influx of tourism dollars, the typical traditional rondavels (round huts) of the past have been replaced by square but modestly sized cinderblock homes roofed with tin, or sometimes tiles. It is not unusual to see mud rondavels with satellite dishes, attesting to the increasing affluence of Botswana, and the increasingly reliability of power and communications in the town. This striking contrast of the traditional and the modern is also evident in the multi-level air-conditioned shopping centres incongruously surrounded by potholes, dusty parking lots and lively market places.

Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is the world’s largest inland delta, a labyrinth of lagoons, lakes and hidden channels covering 17 000 square km. It originates in Angola - numerous tributaries join to form the Cubango River which then flows through Namibia, becoming the Kavango River and finally enter Botswana where it is becomes the Okavango. Millions of years ago the Okavango River used to flow into a large inland lake called Lake Makgadikgadi (now Makgadikgadi Pans). Tectonic activity and faulting interrupted the flow of the river causing it to back up and form what is now the Okavango Delta. This has created a unique system of waterways that supports a vast array of animal and plant life that would have otherwise been a dry Kalahari savannah.
There are an estimated 200 000 large mammals in and around the Okavango Delta. On the mainland and among the islands in the delta, lions, elephants, hyenas, wild dog, buffalo, hippo and crocodiles congregate with a teeming variety of antelope and other smaller animals - warthog, mongoose, spotted genets, monkeys, bush babies and tree squirrels. Notably the endangered African Wild Dog is present within the Okavango Delta, exhibiting one of the richest pack densities in Africa. The delta also includes over 400 species of birds, including the African Fish Eagle.
Many of these animals live in the Delta but the majority pass through, migrating with the summer rains to find renewed fields for grazing. With the onset of winter the countryside dries up and they make their way back to the floodplains. This leads to some of the most incredible sightings as large numbers of prey and predators are pushed together. Certain areas of the Delta provide some of the best predator action seen anywhere in the world.

Day 17 Gweta
We leave the Delta behind us and travel east to Planet Baobab. You can explore the bush around the campsite, lounge by the pool and view some of the region’s oldest Baobab trees.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Planet Baobab Campsite www.unchartedafrica.com/page.php?p_id=59
Facilities: Hot showers, shared ablutions, bar, swimming pool.
Route: Maun to Gweta ±200 km
Travel time: ±2-3 hrs (4x4 & mokoro transfer), ±3 hrs driving in truck.
Planet Baobab
Planet Baobab provides an oasis in the middle of the endless lunar landscape of the Makgadikgadi salt pans. It’s reputably the baobab capital of the world and home of the Kalahari Surf Club! Planet Baobab is perhaps the funkiest camp in the Kalahari, where you can sleep in authentically styled, luxurious Bakalanga huts, or simply pitch a tent nearby.
The pans are the remnants of the once great Lake Makgadikgadi which covered some 80 000 square km. Up to 30 metres deep, thousands of years ago, this was the largest inland sea in Africa. The pans now support strange ‘upside down trees’ – the massive Baobab – some of which are 2 400 years or older. Elephants are the other giants in the area, they splash about in a nearby watering hole to cool off, seemingly unaware of the guests’ presence.

Day 18 Botswana - Chobe National Park
We travel to Chobe and this afternoon we enjoy a sunset river cruise as the animals are best spotted from the Chobe River. Elephants, Hippo, Crocodiles, Eland and many other creatures reside in Chobe so keep your cameras ready.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Thebe River Safaris: www.theberiversafaris.com
Facilities: Hot showers, good ablutions, bar, swimming pool.
Route: Gweta to Kasane. ±400 km
Travel time: ±6-7 hrs
Activity package: Sunset Boat Cruise in the Chobe NP

Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park, the second largest park in Botswana, covers 10 566 square km of northern Botswana. The Park forms part of the mosaic of lakes, islands and floodplains formed from the Kwando, Linyanti and Chobe River systems. The area is renowned for its vast herds of elephant and buffalo. The elephant population is currently about 120 000. The Chobe elephants are migratory, moving up to 200 km from the Chobe and Linyanti rivers, where they concentrate in the dry season, to the pans in the southeast of the park in the rainy season. They are Kalahari elephants, characterized by rather brittle ivory and short tusks, perhaps because of calcium deficiency in the soil. Due to their high concentration, there is a lot of damage to the vegetation in some areas. Culls have been considered but are too controversial and have thus far been rejected.
The original inhabitants of the area were the San people, otherwise known in Botswana as the Basarwa. They were hunter-gatherers who lived by moving from one area to another in search of water, wild fruits and hunting grounds. The San were pushed out by groups of the Basubiya people and, around 1911, a group of Batawana moved to the area. In 1931 it was decided that a national park would protect the wildlife from extinction and attract tourists. In 1932, an area of some 24 000 square km in the Chobe district was declared a non-hunting area. Over the years the park’s boundaries have been altered and the people settled in the area have been relocated gradually and Chobe National Park was finally empty of human occupation in 1975. In 1980 and again in 1987, the boundaries were altered, increasing the park to its present size. 
 
Day 19 Zimbabwe - Victoria Falls
Once we have crossed the border into Zimbabwe, it is a short drive to the town of Victoria Falls where we will be briefed about all the different activities available. Choose carefully as almost all of them are really worth doing. Your guides can advise you on the best way to spend your time here. Please be aware that you cannot use credit/debit cards in Zimbabwe, so cash (USD) is best. The prices of the activities are listed at the beginning of this dossier so you can make sure to bring what you need.
We then visit the spectacular Victoria Falls and experience the thundering of the mighty Zambezi. An optional dinner out is a friendly way to end your tour with all the new friends you’ve made along the way. Optional Activities: Chobe morning game drive, Zambezi Sunset Cruise, Dinner out, White Water Rafting, Bungee Jump, Elephant Excursion, Walking with Lions, Horse Riding and much more...
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Hostel: Vic Falls Adventure Lodge:
www.adventurezonevicfalls.com/accommodation.html
Facilities: En-suite rooms, hot showers, bar, restaurant, laundry, internet café.
Route: Kasane to Vic Falls. ±100 km
Travel time: ±2 hrs plus border crossing
Activity package: Entrance to Victoria Falls National Park
Border posts: Botswana: Kazangula Road, +267 6250320, Open: 06h00-20h00
Zimbabwe: Kazangula Road, Open: 06h00-18h00 

Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls, 1 700 m wide and 108 m high – is said to be the largest falls in the world. David Livingstone, the Scottish explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view the Victoria Falls and wrote: "It has never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so wonderful must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight". The older, indigenous name of Mosi-oa-Tunya (‘the Smoke that Thunders’) is the name in official use in Zambia. Due to its immense power and size, the waterfall is surrounded by a rich mythology. The local Tonga people of the Zambezi believe that a river god, Nyaminyami, resides in the water in the form of an immense snake. When the Kariba Dam was built in the 1950s, the Zambezi River flooded three times, causing many deaths and much destruction. The local people believe Nyaminyami caused the terrible floods in anger at the construction.
The unusual form of Victoria Falls enables virtually the whole width of the falls to be viewed face-on, at the same level as the top, from as close as 60 metres, because the whole Zambezi River drops into a deep, narrow slot-like chasm, connected to a long series of gorges. Few other waterfalls allow such a close approach on foot.
The falls are formed as the full width of the river plummets in a single vertical drop into a chasm 60–120 m wide, carved by its waters along a fracture zone in the basalt plateau. The depth of the chasm, called the First Gorge, varies from 80 m at its western end to 108 m in the centre. The only outlet to the First Gorge is a 110 m-wide gap about two-thirds of the way across the width of the falls from the western end, through which the whole volume of the river pours into the Victoria Falls gorges.
There are two islands on the crest of the falls that are large enough to divide the curtain of water even at full flood: Boaruka Island (or Cataract Island) near the western bank and Livingstone Island near the middle. At less than full flood, additional islets divide the curtain of water into separate parallel streams. The main streams are named, in order from Zimbabwe (west) to Zambia (east): Leaping Water (called Devil's Cataract by some), Main Falls, Rainbow Falls (the highest) and the Eastern Cataract.

Day 20 Victoria Falls
Officially your tour finishes after breakfast but most people will spend the day White Water Rafting, a not-to-be-missed experience of a lifetime! Vic Falls offers many exciting alternatives such as a walk with lions or a bungee jump from the bridge that joins Zimbabwe with Zambia. Optional Activities: White Water Rafting, Bungee Jump, Elephant Excursion, Walking with Lions, Horse Riding, Dinner out.
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Own Arrangements / Post tour accommodation can be booked through Nomad.
Tour Ends


Tania & Phil's wedding in London & travelling in Wales

2012-06-06 to 2012-06-10


Backpacking in Laos, Cambodia and Northern Thailand

2012-06-21 to 2013-01-25

21/06/12 arrive Bangkok

22/06/12 Free day in Bangkok 

23/06/12         Start pass from Bangkok – Sukhothai Be at the Stray Bangkok office at 6:45am to meet your Stray guide and group. There is a brief introductory session to go over how everything works, then we travel to the train station for an 8.30am departure to Sukhothai. Take this opportunity to grill your guide with any questions you may have about your trip or South East Asia in general. You have the afternoon free to cycle around and explore the beautiful old ruins of the Sukhothai historical park.
Accommodation: Guesthouse located in the heart of the Old City $10-20

24/06/12 Sukhothai – Chiang Mai
We jump back on the jumbo from Sukhothai to Phitsanulok train station. The train travels north into the more mountainous region of Thailand (watch the glorious sunset out the train window) and arrives into Chiang Mai at 8.30pm just in time for dinner, drinks and a Muay Thai boxing fight if you’re keen! Accommodation: Guesthouse located within the Historic, old quarter $12-20

25/06/12 Free day in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is an amazing city with endless activity options. Some of our favorites include a tree top adventure with Flight of the Gibbon, trekking, rafting, elephant riding, cooking classes and for those looking for adrenalin; down hill mountain biking and Muay Thai boxing training! There's also the famous night market, the Night Safari (Asia's largest) and easy access to Pai village.
26/06/12 Chiang Mai – Chiang Khong
Enjoy a free morning in Chiang Mai to do another activity, sleep in or get a local massage. We then drive to the border town of Chiang Khong stopping along the way to visit the most magnificent and unique White Temple at Chiang Rai, you can hop off here otherwise we continue on to Chiang Khong where we enjoy our last night in Thailand whilst looking over the Mekong River to Laos. Accommodation: Guesthouse with views across the Mekong to Laos and a great host to add a special touch $20 

27/06/12 Chiang Khong to Luang Namtha

In the morning we take a short boat trip across the Mekong to Laos and after clearing customs you get the first sight of your mighty orange Stray bus. We take the very scenic journey through Bokeo province and into the Nam Ha National Protected Area (NPA) in Luang Namtha province. The night markets in Luang Namtha is the first great place to sample the local BBQ cuisine and Beerlao! Recommended: Hop off in Luang Namtha for trekking and hill tribes. Accommodation: Hotel in the centre of town $8-15

28/06/12 Luang Namtha to Nong Khiaw
We depart Luang Namtha in the morning and head through Oudomxai. Once in picturesque Nong Khiaw, you have the optionto learn fishing with the locals or time permitting, visit the amazing Phathok Cave, where some communist loyalists lived during the 'secret' bombing of Laos in the 1960's. Watch the sunset over the beautiful Karst Mountains and Nam Ou River, before dinner and a competitive game of Laos' national sport - petanque, with the locals. Recommended: Hop off in Oudomxai to explore the far northern reaches of Laos for remote trekking and home stays. Accommodation: Rustic bungalows with basic amenities but A-MAZE-ING views! $8-13

29/06/12 Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang
Sit back and relax today as we settle into a slow boat and take a picturesque ride down the Ou and Mekong Rivers. We stop at the famous Pak Ou Cave with its hundreds of Buddha statues before cruising into the centre of the Unesco World Heritage List city of Luang Prabang. On arrival, take the Stray Kuang Si Tour to the famous and impressively high Kuang Si Waterfall, complete with a bear sanctuary.
Highly Recommended: Hop off in Luang Prabang to make the most of this beautiful city. Learn to weave silk or take a course to be an elephant mahout! Go trekking, kayaking and rock climbing or just relax, have a fruit shake and take in the night market. Accommodation: Large dorm beds in a modern central guesthouse $5 or Guesthouse with fan or air conditioned private rooms close to the night market $20-40

30/06/12 - 02/07/12 free days in Luang Prabang

3/07/12 Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
An early departure travelling through mountainous and steep terrain, we make a number of stops today to take in the incredible views, and still arrive in Vang Vieng in time for those inclined to spend the afternoon and evening tubing and partying. Other activity options: cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, hot air ballooning, resting and even watching re-runs of The Simpsons. Accommodation: Guesthouse amongst all the hype, with large rooms. $8-15 or a Hotel on the main street with quiet rooms $23-30

04/07/12 Vang Vieng to Vientiane
Today we cruise straight through to Vientiane - Laos' capital for the last 450 years. Once here we take you on a tour of the city's main attractions, Patuxai, Pha That Luang, That Dam and the Presidential Palace. Spend the afternoon shopping, visiting the COPE centre, having a massage or making the journey out to Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park). Accommodation: Hotel with modern facilities including WIFI and breakfast $20

05/07/12 Vientiane to Tad Leuk
We give you the morning to explore the capital city and the stalls along the banks of the Mekong, get some cash out and buy some comfort food before we head off the beaten track again and into the Phou Khao Khouay NPA. We head to Tad Leuk waterfall where we camp between the waterfall and jungle and have the opportunity to swim, trek and maybe spot the rare Phu Wah Rock Lizard found in only 3 places in the world (Tad Leuk is 1 of them and the other 2 is within 100 metres.). Accommodation: Tents with mats $8 includes camping equipment and national park fee.

06/07/12 Tad Leuk to Kong Lor (7km Cave)
An early departure means we can take our time to check out the Sala Viewpoint, Phu Phu Man limestone forest and have a little shop in Paksan before heading down to the 7km Cave (or Tham Kong Lor to the locals). We head into the abyss of the 7km cave (this is a must do activity where we cruise through the cave in a traditional motorised canoe to see some amazing rock formations). The evening can be spent chilling with the locals or watching a DVD at the guesthouse. Accommodation: Comfortable guesthouse with spectacular views of rice paddies and Karst Mountains, and just a short walk from the cave $10

07/07/12 Kong Lor to Xe Champhone
This morning we have a scenic journey to Tha Bak, where locals use the hundreds of bombs that were dropped on the nearby Ho Chi Minh train, as boats in their daily life. You have the unique opportunity to take a trip in these custom-made 'bomb boats' down the Nam Theun river. We then head all the way south, passing the 'Great Wall of Thakhek' to enter the Xe Champhone Wetlands. So remote, that when the rain comes we might not be able to drive the Stray bus here, so we’ll jump onboard an off-road truck for a real off the beaten track experience! Spend the night with friendly locals in Monkey Forest - a sacred forest, home to thousands of Rhesus Macaque Monkeys! Recommended: Hop off in Thakek to explore local caves and the Khammouane Province. Accommodation: Remote homestay $10.

08/07/12 Xe Champhone to Tad Lo (Bolaven Plateau)
We wake up early and check out the 'Monkey Home Market' before heading to a 200 year old Hotay Pidok Buddhist library (with scriptures written on palm leafs!) We then visit Turtle Lake with soft-shell turtles that are revered by the locals. Leaving the Xe Champhone wetlands behind, we make a stop at Old Wat Taleow (a stunningly beautiful temple that was bombed in 1969), and head south to get to the spectacular waterfall of Tad Lo in the heart of the Bolaven Plateau. The waterfalls here make this location a must-see. You have the opportunity to take a swim, explore the small village and also ride elephants and watch them bathe in the waterfall. This place still has the old school dirt road charm of Laos about it.Accommodation: Bungalows from modern to rustic in the heart of the village $8 or Guesthouse with fan rooms for the river $9+

09/07/12 Tad Lo (Bolaven Plateau) to Pakse
Today we cruise the Plateau stopping in at the coffee plantations that are everywhere around the area. We also get to visit some of the best waterfalls in all of Laos including the 120m high twin waterfalls of Tad Fane. We have time to enjoy the morning on the plateau before continuing south to Laos’ second World Heritage area, Wat Phou, an ancient Khmer temple (Angkor Wat without the crowds!) Tonight is spent in Pakse, the provincial capital and cross roads to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam bringing a mix of ethnic groups and international cuisine. Accommodation: Guesthouse with fan or air-conditioned rooms in the centre of town surrounded by everything you need! $8-10

10/07/12 Pakse to Don Det (4000 Islands)
This morning we leave Pakse and head to the 4000 Islands to experience the idyllic laid back island lifestyle. We arrive around lunchtime giving you plenty of time to cycle across to neighbouring Don Khone Island to visit Li Phi waterfall or take a boat trip for a chance to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphins that frequent the border waters of Laos and Cambodia.Accommodation: Basic bungalows by the river $5 or comfortable rooms in a Guesthouse with fan or air conditioning and private bathrooms (now that Don Det has electricity!) $13+
1

1/07/12 Don Det to Phnom Penh

Having said goodbye to your Stray guide, you depart Don Det on a public bus in the morning and make the 2 hour journey to the Lao/Cambodian border. Complete immigration before continuing your journey into the heart of Cambodia, passing dusty rural villages arriving late in the capital city of Phnom Penh, with its scenic boulevard on the Mekong.

14/7/12 Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
Continue your journey through Cambodia today on board a public bus to Siem Reap the gateway to the world - renowned Angkor Wat. Have the afternoon to explore this culturally abundant city and it’s temples.

17/7/12
Siem Reap to Bangkok
Today cross the Cambodia / Thai border and arrive back in Bangkok.

19/7/12 20.55 Bangkok to Sydney


Our first grandschild Annabel the greatest thing yet!

2013-01-27 to 2013-03-18


TANIA, PHIL & ANNABEL's Visit

2013-03-19 to 2013-05-03


Setting Sail SYDNEY TO COOK TOWN

2013-05-04 to 2013-06-05

Anchored up off Palm Beach tonight! Provisioning done, Car sold! Good byes said! Our son Chris came to bid us farewell on his new motor bike. Great catching up with Jess and Vanda in their lovely new home! Also Doug Jessie, Lee and Debbie who we had met in Port Stephens! Our crew members featured in photo are ready (Teddy, soldier, and Hippo)! Early start tomorrow! INDONESIA! THAILAND! Here we come via Coffs Harbour, Mooloolaba, Darwin and a few other places in between! tc! Arriving Darwin mid July!

Can't believe we have been home 18 months since sailing across the Pacific! An amazing time working with children with special needs! Spending Quality time with family and friends! Great having Tania & Phil visit from London with our first grand daughter Annabel! Celebrating Dad's 90th   Will miss them all so much but now a new adventure!!!! A bit scary but what the tc! Arriving Darwin mid July! Can't believe we have been home 18 months since sailing across the Pacific! An amazing time working with children with special needs! Spending Quality time with family and friends! Will miss them all so much but now a new adventure!!!! A bit scary but wha

A red sunrise as we left Pittwater with not much wind! Quick sail up to Coffs Harbour helped along by a southerly change coming through with winds up to 40 knots! Waves splashing into the cockpit!

Sunrise sees us off Byron Bay with dolphins playing off our bow and a big freighter passing us at a safe distance. After a great few days in Coffs Harbour with family we are on route to Mooloolaba! Great catching up with my sister and old sailing friends in Mooloolaba! Wind a bit light but making reasonable progress! I did the midnight to 3am. I then get to do 6am to 9am and see sunrise!

Anchored up at Cape Capricorn with beautiful sunset! Then Port Clinton! Went ashore Duke Island a private cattle station with a small airport! We talked to the owner’s friends. Double Island was a cute horse shoe island offering good protection. I kayaked ashore and went for a short walk along white beach and then went for a swim! Brampton Island was our next port of call fast tracking so as to have more time north of Cairns.

We set sail from Shute Harbour to Magnetic Island, an overnight sail! Haven’t been to Magnetic Island since my teens! Our spinnaker and water pump now repaired. We did a 24 klm bike ride yesterday to Airlie Beach and beyond and back! Quite exhausting with Airlie beach being a hilly area to say the least! Did some provisioning as last major town we would go into before Darwin.

After a relaxing few days in a nice protected anchorage, Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island, such a pretty island for walking! Walked up to the Fort seeing a koala in the wild on our way was quite a treat! Caught a bus to Picnic Bay with its long Jetty! Walked through the Sunday markets! It is time to up anchor at 4am in the morning and head out into the 25-30 knot winds so that we can attempt the bar at Hinchinbrook Island on a rising high tide 11am! Was looking forward to Hinchinbrook Island but not going over the bar! Lovely sunny days but brisk trade winds and big tides that we have to get used to!

The winds were not as strong as predicted and all went well and we are now in beautiful Hinchinbrook Island! This is what makes sailing all worthwhile! Cloud cover today but maybe tomorrow Mother Nature will reveal all! We have caught up with friends and in such a cosy scenic anchorage! We passed the longest jetty in the world 5.7 klms for ships shipping molasses.

We anchored off Haycock Island with other sailing friends. The beautiful scenery of Hinchinbrook! Was looking forward to kayaking in the nooks and crannies of Hinchinbrook Island such beautiful scenery! I could really get lost! Then reality knocked a local crocodile or two appeared on the scene.

We enjoyed the mountain scenery sailing off Cairns. We anchored at Double Island with its luxury resort north of Cairns! We were entertained with a helicopter flying in guests!

We enjoyed the rainforest walk up the Hill on Dunk Island with panoramic views! Beautiful Island, resort still closed after severe damage in cyclone over 2 years ago. New Jetty just completed. Having a good sail to Fitzroy Island!

Enjoyed Fitzroy Island near Cairns! Did a walk to the summit for a good view and then the lighthouse!  Another beautiful sunset on Fitzroy Island! Did a walk to the secret garden then on to beautiful Nudey Beach! Nudey by the way is a fish.

We are finally in what I feel is the tropics! Low Isles off Port Douglas! 28 degrees! Such clear water and I ask myself do I go swimming! Then we have a visitor alongside our boat, a reef shark! Hey not a crocodile so all is good! Went for a kayak to the island with its cute lighthouse and then a swim! Didn’t get eaten by the reef shark!

One day calm conditions sailing past the beautiful mountains north of Cairns but Juliana sure got to sail down some pretty big waves a few days later before we got to shelter behind the reef at Hope Island near where Captain Cook went on the reef with Endeavour!


Sailing COOK TOWN to LIZARD ISLAND

2013-06-07 to 2013-06-12


Sailing Cape Melville-Flinders Islands

2013-06-13 to 2013-06-17

We are getting up towards the top end of Australia. We hope to anchor in Portland Roads tonight about 160 nautical miles from the top of Cape York. We are really enjoying the remoteness of the landscapes and the bright starry nights. No phones, internet, TV, etc. Stefan has started playing his keyboard again! We hope to briefly have internet today so I will send this off to let you know we are still alive! We have a busy time navigating the many reefs, amazed how Captain Cook managed without charts or modern technology. We have to cross fairly narrow shipping lanes that are not straight. They skirt around the reefs so have to keep a keen eye out for ships! It is like crossing the road looking to the right and left as they have the right of way. A couple of days ago we had to take the sails down and wait to cross with a ship coming, as they come up fast. Quite a few of the Channel markers have helipads with bridges we presume to service the markers. We have been doing day sails lately, anchoring at night and the winds have been moderate, low swell protected by the reefs. I have liked this. More common up here is the 30-35 South Easterlies which we have had and are prepared for again in open seas.


After being dazzled by Lizard Island with its beauty and crystal clear water, we headed north to Cape Melville, notorious for its strong wind as you round the cape due to its high mountains. We had had a great day sail and the mountains were so beautiful as we approached. A mountain backdrop with huge boulders on top of each other and places where it looked like huge amounts of rocks had been dropped all done by nature. We rounded Cape Melville avoiding more piles of rocks that looked like they had been just dropped in the sea. We had read that this area is becoming popular with 4 wheel drives and there is a basic campsite nearby but we see no sign of this in this wild terrain. The predicted winds hit and we struggled to control the boat and get the sails down. Once around the Cape out of the swell we anchored up a long way out as it is very shallow all the way to land. There was another Tug anchored way out from us. Because of the strong wind Stefan put on the anchor alarm. Where we were anchored was a Dugong sanctuary with lots of sea grass which they like. The anchor held. It was a windy but a safe night. 

The next morning we had a short sail to the beautiful Flinders Islands. The colour and textures of the rocks as see in our photos were amazing. Having lived in Australia for close on 60 years it is amazing to finally be up is this neck of the woods for the first time. We anchored up near a sand spit not another person, boat in sight and enjoyed the serenity and beauty of Mother Nature. We went ashore for a walk along the beach with its unusual looking trees again in out photos. This is the first time we have seen a crocodile warning sign so we tread carefully me armed with a big stick. They say they mostly stay out of your way if they can. Needless to say though the swim off the back on the boat was a quick one to cool down as it was 28 degrees! That night was so amazing an absolutely clear night with such bright stars, the Milky Way and all sitting on deck on a balmy evening!


Owen’s Passage amongst the Flinders Islands is like a big protected bay and so scenic from all angles featuring a big mountain that looks like Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. The following morning we up anchored and went across to the other side of this huge bay near a National Parks hut with a tank of fresh water. Again we went ashore for a walk. There was now a Catamaran called Nomad in the bay with 4 men on board on route to Thursday Island. After we got back to the boat a solo sailor we met in Cook Town Terry came around the corner with his catamaran and popped over for a chat! Terry has been up and down the coast from Frazer Island to Weipa 13 times. He knows every little nook and cranny! We asked him where he calls home and he says anywhere between these 2 places. We had been told there were caves with amazing aboriginal paintings on Stanley Island but couldn’t find any information but sure enough he knew where they were and took us on a guided tour. They were authentic and the best preserved painting I have seen! The scenery was also amazing, so untouched! Such an amazing part of Oz! All of a sudden that afternoon there were about 4 more yachts that we knew came in! We moved around to Stokes Bay to get an early start the following morning to leave Flinders Islands for Morris Island a tiny Island surrounded by reefs for good protection anchoring for the night. We were joined that night in the anchorage by a trawler and small fuel supply ship. It headed off before us and along the way we saw it anchored off a reef with about 12 trawlers queuing up for fuel in a row like at a petrol station but in the middle of the sea! A funny sight.


The remote aboriginal community at LOCKHART RIVER make us welcome!

2013-06-18 to 2013-06-23

 Next morning we head off past Restoration Island, Captain Bligh’s first land fall on the “Bounty” after “the mutiny”. Restoration Island is where he recovered. There was a sailing boat up on the beach which was salvaged and bought for $1 not so long ago! We met the owner of the Island, Dave, later in the day. We anchored at Portland Road as it is a more protected anchorage. Portland Road is said to be the only freehold land between Cook Town and Cape York. There was a long Jetty and military base built there in the Second World War. Only the ruins of the jetty remain. You have to go in, in the dingy at high tide to get over a reef.
We went ashore and got talking to Kate & Seamus who had a big friendly dog! They are managers of The Portland Roads Beach Shack, a remote holiday place you can stay. Next door was a cafe called “Out of the Blue”. There are about 10 houses having to generate their own power. Portland Roads is a popular place for 4 wheel drives to drive out to with camp sites nearby in the Iron Range National Park. It is only accessible by 4 wheel drives, and it was strange to see vehicles again. We also saw a group of motor bikes. The road to Lockhart River Aboriginal Community with a population of about 500 had just been graded and as such was currently in good condition. In the wet season it is often cut off. It is 40 klms away, taking about 45 minutes by 4 wheel drive. We were interested to go to Lockhart River but it is not possible to go there by boat as it is too shallow and too rough for our push bikes.

Kate & Seamus were really friendly! They had been travelling around Oz from Perth. They arrived in Portland Roads 3 years ago, were offered a job of managing the Beach Shack and have been there ever since. They tried home schooling their 10yo daughter Zoe. Kate works in Lockhart River for the council. Zoe now goes into school in Lockhart and seems to have blended in with the Aboriginal Community well. Kate drops her off on the way to work. Seamus in busy keeping the remote Beach Shack maintained.Kate was interested in that we had visited different remote communities across the communities and told us that this evening in Lockhart River the aboriginal community was having a final dress rehearsal for a big festival in Laura near Cook Town. They were travelling to Laura about 8 hours away, for the festival where about 9 different aboriginal communities showcase their dancing. Kate said if we could get to Lockhart River for this rehearsal it would be very worthwhile. Seamus was going into Lockhart River leaving at 3pm to travel 45 minutes in his 4 wheel drive to pick up their daughter from school and could give us a ride in. He would then come back to Portland Roads. If we wanted to see the dress rehearsal we would have to stay the night in Lockhart River. Seamus offered to pick us up the following morning when he dropped Zoe off to school. Lockhart River is a dry town meaning to alcohol is allowed so no pubs to stay the night. There is very little accommodation for non indigenous people. Kate offers to ring HACC accommodation which is only small, often booked by out of town workers servicing the town. It is the only accommodation in the town and some units out of town near the airport but as we didn’t have a car this could be awkward. Kate rang and HACC was fully booked but one room’s occupants hadn’t turned up yet and she wouldn’t know till 5pm if it was available. There was a vacancy at the airport out of town.

We were a little concerned leaving Juliana anchored up alone for the night, but it seemed a safe anchorage. We decided to take the chance with the HACC accommodation and get a ride into town with Seamus. Kate had got permission from the aboriginal community, her boss, Dotty to stay the night there. Kate & Seamus would keep an eye on Juliana and our dingy pulled up on the beach. It was interesting talking to Seamus on the way in to pick up his daughter and drop us off! Kate had given us a list on contacts. In many ways Lockhart River is very modern. The government has poured a lot of money into the town! As usual we were told in many cases not into the right things! Millions of dollars has been spent on a state of the art new Police Station where 4 people worked. Most of the aboriginal community here live in modern housing! This housing has to have tiled flooring and stainless steel benches that cannot be burnt. More simple housing more to their needs and at less cost I feel would be more appropriate. The aboriginal community here it seems are used to getting government handouts so have little interest in working or setting up businesses such as a bakery and the like. There is one well stocked supermarket which is government run, prices expensive.

Seamus picked up Zoe from School it was interesting studying the kids all very outgoing and friendly and curious about us. We filled up our petrol container for the dingy at the service station. Seamus would take it back for us! Next stop the supermarket! Seamus dropped us off at our accommodation with friendly Ivy to greet us. Later we walked around town, past an indigenous art gallery which we thought would be closed. There were people inside and as we looked in they opened up the door and showed us around. We enjoyed looking at the colourful painting with different styles. Many now famous aboriginal artists have come out of this workshop here at Lockhart River. They enjoy their painting and it us good for their self esteem as is their dancing performances as we saw.

We walked on to the lit up sports ground where the final dress rehearsal for the Laura Festival was to commence at 6pm. We followed many Indigenous families making their way over. Children walk around by themselves playing where they like outside as I remember I did as a child. Lots of kids running around kicking balls! We became aware how family orientated they are. One of the problems of further education and work for aboriginal kids in these communities, we learnt is that even when they are older they don’t cope well being away from their family group.

Surprisingly we learned there was a Russian film team in town comprising of 5 people. They had permission to film the town and culture. We had crossed paths with them a couple of times that afternoon. We were the only other non locals. As we arrived, Dotty who was very friendly and plays a big part in the community, welcomed us. Dotty and a group of ladies had been working very hard preparing a lot on salads, pasta and rice to feed the community. We met Dav, ( a non indigenous local who has the lease of nearby restoration island) and Paul ( a strong community member originally from the Solomon islands) a very welcoming person who even offered to go out of his way and drive us especially back to our boat that night if we needed to go back. They were both busy cooking steak and sausages on the barbeque. The kids were already lining up for their free food! A local aboriginal priest said grace and the food disappeared quickly with food piled up as much as possible on each plate. Different children came up and asked us our names. One came back about an hour later remembering Stefan’s name.

It was a balmy evening outdoors! The dancing commenced in full costume! It included all ages dancing together. There were some young dancers probably about 5 years old and truly talented. There was a group of aboriginal musicians playing instruments and singing and an aboriginal narrator who introduced each dance and explained its story which we found interesting and sometimes amusing as he dances were acted out. Aborigines are known to share everything with each other. One dance was about an old man who wanted to have piece of watermelon to himself. He sat in the corner eating it not prepared to share. A group of dancers circled him wanting him to share. He hobbled off to find another quiet place but was followed again. Different actors played out different interruptions of the same dance.

An amazing evening then Dav from Resolution Island drove us back to our accommodation and stayed in our room as we had a spare bed in our room! Accommodation for non indigenous folks very limited! Even though there was 3 of us to a room you must pay singularly $88 per person so $264 per night for the 3 of us without our own bathroom! We did chat to others staying there but of course their accommodation was paid by their employers so all was Ok with them with these high fees as they weren't paying! We had go pay for our accommodation at the council building which has a lift because it is a law for 2 story buildings but no funds for its servicing so it remains unused! Very typical of things that go on around here!

All we put down to an interesting experience! Seamus picks us up in the morning! We go back to Portlands Road where Juliana is still there safe and sound as well as our dingy! Problem is it is low tide and we can’t carry our dingy over the reef so have to wait till high tide many hours later! We go to Out Of the Blue Cafe to wait out the time and catch up with Dav again who has come to get his mail and has the same problem as getting back on hid dingy to his Island. We spent most of the day talking to locals waiting for the tide to ride in! WHAT AN INTERESTING time we had!


THURSDAY ISLAND- OVER THE TOP- GULF OF CARPENTARIA

2013-06-24 to 2013-07-02


GOVE TO DARWIN

2013-07-03 to 2013-07-11


Sailing into Darwin! WHAT A VOYAGE!

2013-07-12 to 2013-07-27

 

 


sailing into KUPANG Indonesia!

2013-07-30 to 2013-08-03


Alor Indonesia

2013-08-05 to 2013-08-12


Flores Indonesia

2013-08-13 to 2013-09-04


KOMODO Dragons and Amazing Snorkelling

2013-09-05 to 2013-09-13


THE LOMBOK CUP the race that stops the nation!

2013-09-14 to 2013-09-18


Bali a great place to celebrate turning 60

2013-09-19 to 2013-09-30


Orangutans in Borneo! An amazing upriver jungle experience!

2013-10-01 to 2013-10-06


Chilling out in Belitung Indonesia

2013-10-07 to 2013-10-13


SAILING ACROSS THE EQUATOR

2013-10-14 to 2013-10-25


Sailing through the Singapore Strait to Malaysia

2013-10-26 to 2013-11-05


A amazing time in Taman Negara National Park Malaysia

2013-11-06 to 2013-11-13

An amazing 4 days away! Hiking with friend Belinda in Taman Negara National Park Malaysia with its 130 million yo rainforest! 8 hours on the jungle train, then 70 klms on a local bus to get there and the same coming back! Spectacular scenery! Malaysian people so friendly! We had such a fun time cycling and shooting rapids in a wooden boat! Shame we didn’t have a waterproof camera! We walked the world’s longest hanging bridge canopy walkway above the rainforest tree line, hard to take pictures while holding on! It was refreshing to end our days with a swim in the river! Food in the floating restaurants was amazing!  A lot of fun for a very low price! AUD $9 each for our own chalet with ensuite. $ 10 one way for the train, which was AC. Thought I was over blogging but will definitely do a blog on this trip! Many things didn’t go as we thought but turned into a new adventure! We have never laughed so much!


Singapore a good balance of greenary and buildings

2013-11-15 to 2013-11-22


Johor Bahru Malaysia to Phuket Thailand sailing

2013-11-24 to 2013-12-12


Annabel & Tania join us on Juliana in Phuket

2013-12-13 to 2013-12-24


Christmas & New Year in Phuket plus brief Diary of our trip

2013-12-25 to 2014-01-06

We started 2013 on our boat with friends and family on Sydney Harbour anchored up near the Zoo! As usual the fireworks over the Harbour Bridge were spectacular. We set sail from Gosford the beginning of May after our daughter and husband and 7 week old granddaughter from London stayed on our boat with is for 5 weeks. A lot of quality time as we sailed around Sydney, Pittwater etc. We stopped off in Coffs Harbour to visit my 90yo Dad and 87yo Mum who still have good health and are active!  We had an interesting sail around to Darwin which took 3 months .Strong trade winds especially in Northern Queensland! We enjoyed Thursday Island. We had a good sail across the Gulf. Leaving Darwin with the Sail Indonesia rally and spend an amazing 3 months sailing through West Timor to Alor, Flores, Komodo, Bali, Borneo, Belitung, Bin Tang. We were amazed by the scenery and friendly people! We visited many remote villages and experience a lot of culture.

There were so many highlights but will try to pick out a few! We were made King and Queen for the day in Alor where we were dressed up and treated as royalty. We were picked up by a local boat and attended lots of ceremonies.

We hired a motor bike and rode 3 hours to the coloured lakes in Flores and 3 hours back dodging huge holes in the dirt road as well as pigs, dogs and chickens! The scenery through the rice fields and mountains and the coloured lakes were amazing and worth the ride which was a little hair raising at times with me on the back!

Rinco and Komodo islands were amazing with its dragons and great coral and fish which were great to snorkel.

We enjoyed the Lombok cup! The race that stopped an inland! I was proud to win the best hat competition amongst stiff completion. I won a night’s accommodation with meals in a luxtury resort! The races were on ponies with no saddles that went like bats out of hell! Quite scary really!

I celebrated my 60th birthday in Bali with about 30 other yachtie friends in a restaurant in Lovina Beach where we were anchored. Son Daniel and partner Lizzie flew over and treated us to 5 star accommodation at Ubud. We even had our own private swimming pool! It was mind boggling. We had fun times with them. Touring around the mountains and waterfalls and temples, massages, manicure & pedicure, bike ride through the rice paddies, nice meals and entertainment! It wasn’t so bad after all turning 60!

The orang-utans in Borneo were certainly a highlight! We went up a river on a local boat with 2 other friends overnight. It was amazing seeing these animals in the wild along the way as well at feeding stations and getting so near to them. We also saw proboscis monkeys, gibbon! Our photos tell it all.

We had to be very alert as we passed through Singapore straights. One of the busiest shipping channels in the world heading for Dangar Bay, Johor Bahur Malaysia. I stayed on the boat in the marina while Stefan flew back to spend time in Sweden for 3 weeks with his 90yo Mum who is very active and family! He also did a quick trip over to London to visit our daughter Tania and family. I enjoyed doing a bit of land travel while he was away to Singapore! I enjoyed the waterfront there and the Botanical Garden particularly the orchids as photos will show. I also did a trip up to Taman Negaro National park in the middle of Malaysia for a couple of days walking with a friend which I really enjoyed. Our accommodation on the river with its floating restaurants and food cheap food!

When Stefan got back we went fairly quickly up the coast of Malaysia as we needed to meet our daughter in Phuket Thailand! We will go slower on the way back! We really enjoyed the short time we spent in Penang and Langkawi!

Our daughter Tania and 11 month granddaughter flew into Phuket 13th December and we spent an amazing 8 days with them sailing the islands around Phuket which are very scenic!

We are now anchored off Yacht Haven Marina in North Phuket! A lot of mega yachts here so Stefan has a lot to feast his eyes on! We have caught up with a few other yachties we haven’t seen for a couple of years so that has been fun! We will spend New Year in Chalong Bay with friends!

We plan to sail around this area till late January. We will take out boat up on land about 6th February in Krabi and fly back to Australia for 3 months. I plan to fly to London then for about 5 weeks while Stefan will fly back to the boat to do projects.


BEAUTIFUL KO PHAYAM, Thailand

2014-01-08 to 2014-01-11

A Thailand island up near the Burma border! We were leaving Ko Phayam today for Surin Islands but squeezed in one more day! This Island is up there with the best we have been to on this trip. It is the full package! Calm anchorage with no jet skis and easy to land the dingy on the beach! Beautiful beaches with no ugly umbrellas lining the beach! No cars allowed on the island. Friendly people! Lots of tracks to walk on amongst trees! Lovely Bays to Kayak in! Reefs to snorkel! Cheap good food available at restaurants on the beach! Beautiful scenery and a very relaxed atmosphere.


SAILING the Beautiful SURIN and SIMILAN islands

2014-01-12 to 2014-01-22


Sailing Phuket to Krabi

2014-01-23 to 2014-02-04

As I love kayaking, lots of nooks and crannies, caves , a kayakers paradise, to explore surrounded by majestic mountains. You literally make you feel like “a drop in the ocean”. You are overcome by it! Hiking, swimming and scenery on the back of motorbike we have had so much fun in this area.


Juliana ll in Krabi Thailand

2014-02-06 to 2014-02-09

“Juliania” safely on the hard at Krabi Boat Lagoon Marina ends an amazing chapter of our journey sailing and motoring 5,925 nautical miles 10,096 klms leaving from Gosford near Sydney NSW Australia 3rd May 2013 to Thailand via the islands up near the border of Burma. Three months spent sailing through Indonesia. The spectacular scenery and friendly people we have met in this 9 months will stay with us for a long time. We are very comfortable leaving our boat at this marina for the 3 months we will be in Australia and got a good deal we feel after considering other marinas. Our boat was put up on land in a very professional way with a diver even diving below the water to check that everything was right before Juliana was lifted. Choo the manager and his staff are so friendly and helpful. We now look forward to being home in Oz again 12th February with family and friends.


Enjoying Kuala Lumpur

2014-02-10 to 2014-02-18