Sailing Vessel Warrior

Loretto, Mexico

Thursday August 2, 2007

We finally made it to the bus station this afternoon. This morning all we had left was one fridge to wipe out, the halyards to pull inside the mast, the canopy to drop and stow which effectively meant it was time to go because once the shade went the heat was unbearable. We sat and had a last drink with Southern Bell who have been so good to us over the last few days. They fed us, watered us, beered us, wined us, entertained us, and have undertaken to store supplies for us while we're gone. Thanks so much guys, you don't know how much we appreciate all you have done for us.

We sat on the bus to Loretto in the cool of the airconditioning and spent the next half hour wondering if we'd forgotten to do anything. Power turned off, check. Doors locked, check. Passports and tickets with us, check. Sea cocks shut, check. Master battery switch turned off..err.. ummm.. oh God hope so. We got to Loretto in what seemed like record time, covering by land in a few hours the ground we'd covered by boat which took us weeks. It was fun to see the Conception Bay area from the bus, Punta Chivato, Isla San Marcos. Everything looks different from land. We had originally decided to head to a really posh hotel in Loretto and spoil ourselves for a night but when we arrived our hotel of choice were totally booked out so we ended up around the corner at a very nice hotel for roughly 1/4 of the price. The foyer was cool and filled with plants, the room airconditioned and very comfortable. Then we decided since we were in a cheap hotel we'd splash out and order a really nice meal. We drank, ate and finally managed to push the price of the meal to 22 dollars. We just can't seem to spend money in this part of Mexico.

Los Angeles, USA

Friday August 3, 2007

Robin did some last minute work on the computer this morning, organizing a few more orders for the boat. Michelle did what girls do when the going gets tough, that is, she went shopping. She did find a couple of bottles of Damiana, which purportedly is a liqueur local to the Loretto area. Anything alcoholic should be a hit with the Aussies. We made our way to the airport, checked in with Alaska Airlines, strolled over to customs to try and get our papers stamped and they instead took photocopies of the documents and said you don't need no stinkun stamp or at least words to that effect. We hope we don't have too many complications at the border on our return because nothing is going the way it was explained to us. Then as we were heading to the departure gate the guy on the baggage scanner informed us no alcohol was to be carried in hand luggage these days. It had to all be checked. Sigh. Back to the airline counter to have our bag (thankfully we were only travelling with one) recalled and packed the bottles of Damiana inside. We can only hope they survive the trip to Aus without breaking or leaking. Note to self... no more purchasing of alcohol while travelling by air.

The trip up to Los Angeles was a lot of fun. We flew up the inside of the Baja Penisula and got to view yet another perspective of the Sea of Cortez we'd spent the last few months sailing around. It was very informative to see from the air the different shapes of the coastline and islands, bays and inlets we'd anchored in, the reefs we'd navigated. Things fell into place in our minds and we were constantly saying oh that's what that looked like. It was fun naming all the different bays, penisulas, channels and anchorages we'd visited and passed by and we entertained the flight attendant for a while pointing out different landmarks. It seemed no time at all from the top of the Sea of Cortez to the pilot's announcement that we were about to make our decent into LA. Then we noticed the smog and we realized we were back in bonnie US of A.

It only took us roughly an hour to collect our bags, clear customs and get rechecked back onto our Qantas flight to Australia. We were informed there were no window or aisle seats available, and we were checking in seven hours before the flight. Ouch. We would have to survive a 14 hour flight stuck in the middle of a row of four seats at the very back of the plane. After receiving that delightful piece of news we decided to head for the nearest bar and that's where we realized we really were back in America. Beers which cost us $1.20 in Mexico were staring at us with a price tag of $6.60. Are you guys insane? How can you pay those prices? LOL We ordered one of the cheapest bottle of wines we could find which was from Napa Valley and not cheap and not overly impressive and decided we have been having too good a time in Mexico. We will no doubt be shocked by the prices at home in Aus as well.

Brisbane, Australia

Sunday August 5, 2007

We arrived in Aus, having lost the usual day one does when heading West across the Pacific, to be met by the smiling faces of Emma and Matt. We collected our one bag from the baggage carousel and they were both suitably impressed that we could travel so lightly. They took us home to their abode, we yapped and chatted, they made us truly excellent coffee and then we headed out for some brekkie. Ah good old Aussie lingo. We ate like royalty at a place in West End which served the most enormous meals we've seen outside of America. After stuffing ourselves with bacon, eggs, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoe, toast, orange juice and more coffee, we strolled on over to South Bank and checked out the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art. It was the first art gallery we'd been in for a while and we couldn't believe it was free. Free? We couldn't remember the last time we didn't have to pay admission fees to enter a museum. The gallery housed an impressive collection of Howard Arkley's work, inspiring holdings of Contemporary Aboriginal art, a number of fine works of sculpture and a Historical Chinese Gallery to mention a few collections. The entrance to the Gallery housed an "innovative abstract work" by German Artist Katharina Grousse. I'm not sure we appreciated her artistic bent although her use of three stories of floor, ceiling and walls in the foyer to hang numerous very large balloons was umm I guess assertive is probably a good word. A couple of hours of wandering through the various exhibitions saw us all fairly exhausted and we headed back to the house for a wee rest before tackling Sirromet's Winery.

Sirromet turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Located in Mount Cotton, the picturesque vineyard which also sports it's own cellar, restaurant and entertainment area is situated in the midst of some great Aussie countryside complete with wallabies and other wildlife. The setting was not only tranquil but pictureseque, and they'd provided an afternoon of live jazz in our honor. Well ok it wasn't only for us but what the heck this is our story after all. What a great site for a Winery. We lined up for some wine tasting and if we remember correctly, which we probably don't as we were fairly well jetlagged by this point, tasted about 10 wines from their range. We were truly impressed and were wondering if they were as good as we thought or whether we'd just been starved of Aussie wines for too long. Whatever the truth of the matter, we ended up buying a mixed case which Robin carried to Tasmania with him. Here's a shameless plug for Sirromet's winery. Go take a gander. After the winery experience we headed back to the house where we were subsequently wined and dined by kangaroo steaks, done to perfection. We truly think we are becoming hedonistic, sybaritic epicureans. The rest of our Aussie trip will bear this out time and again.

Cairns, Australia

Monday August 6, 2007

We crawled out of bed this morning feeling like our heads were stuffed with cotton wool to an amazing breakfast of fresh tropical fruits (omg custard apple!) prepared by Em complete with totally awesome coffee done by the hand of Matt. We felt totally spoilt. Drove over to University of Queensland campus, and had yet another cup of coffee and finally began to wake up. We had just enough time to try and buy Robin a new pair of sandles (and failed) before Michelle needed to be back at the airport this afternoon for the flight up to Cairns. Robin would be spending the next 3 days with Emma in Brisbane. An uneventful 3 hours later and Michelle was being strangled to death by Mel and Gavin and she was hard-pressed to get another word in for the next 4 days. Mel has the most amazing ability to talk nonstop and never repeat herself once.

Friday August 10, 2007

It's been a full on few days running around Cairns. Mel walked Michelle's butt off (well no, that would take some doing but it felt like it). Tuesday we headed down to the marina area and had yet another enormous breakfast of eggs, bacon, mushrooms, spinach, toast, coffee and had to pick up our bellies and waddle around downtown for a couple of hours to walk it all off. There was something very comforting about being able to sit and look at all the boats in the harbor. You'd think we'd have been glad to get away from boats but it's seems not to be so. Wednesday night Mel organized a BBQ and Michelle caught up with some old familiar faces including Lulu, and met some new ones.

We did a side trip up to Kuranda yesterday which was very welcome after the dry desert conditions of Baja Mexico. Kuranda is up on the Tablelands, settled in the midst of dense rainforest. We decided to do a round trip by taking the Skyrail (a gondola trip) up to Kuranda and the scenic railway back to Cairns. We crawled out of bed before the birds had started chirping and caught the bus up to the gondola not really knowing what to expect of the trip. It was spectacular. The Skyrail takes you above the rainforest canopy of the Baron Gorge National Park and offers an awe inspiring view from the top of the vast forest canopy. Looking back towards the coast you see the numerous offshore islands scattered up and down the coast and glimpse numerous patches of reef. One day, all being well, we will sail through those. The day was overcast and threatened to rain but the inclement weather held off long enough for us to thoroughly enjoy the day.

The rainforest itself continually morphed as we climbed to 1788feet, starting off as a predominantly eucalypt woodland with an undergrowth of fern-like cycads. As we rose it changed to vine-clad forest and then the very moist well-developped rainforest full of staghorn ferns, basket ferns and other epiphytes clinging high on the trees. After that the most complex and lush rainforest appeared and it was studded with Alexandra Palms and Cooper's Tree Ferns, Figs and native Banks Banana's. Following this wetforest the older denser forest emerged with trees towering over 50meters (150 feet) including hardwood varieties such as Red Penda and plate-seeded Oak. Just when we thought this couldn't get much better and we'd spotted a myriad of our colorful Aussie parrots flitting in and out of the canopy, we came over a rise to the view of Baron Falls, where the river drops 280meters (840feet) to the coastal plain. The gondola certainly meandered over the top of some of the best of the country.

We arrived in Kuranda and decided to do the Jum Rum Creek Jungle Walk, found a pub to have lunch and a couple of refreshing ales, checked out the local arts and crafts and artwork from indigenous artists and then caught the train back down the range which gave us yet another perspective of Baron Falls and the rainforest. One of the fun things was to read again the story of Buda-Dji the Carpet Snake. It's a very old creationist story told by the rainforest aboriginals. They say that GudjuGudju the rainbow serpent who lived in the sea at Double Island came ashore one day in the form of a Carpet Snake (Buda-dji) and with him he brought the much-prized Nautilus shells (Miya-miya) so that he could trade them for dilly-bags and eel traps from the Tableland Bama. On this trip three greedy bird-men ambushed Buda-Dji near Baron Falls chopped him up and scattered him throughout the land. (One has to wonder why greedy men would expend so much effort?) Every place Buda-Dji's pieces were scattered became a significant Bulurru landmark, Freshwater, Red Bluff, Hill of the Scrub-hen Nest, Cassowary Mountain and Lamb Range to name a few prominent landmarks. It is said that his tail part is on the Tableland and his head is down on the coast which is the dreamtime water at the site known as Grant Hill near Yarrabah. Gotta love the Aussie Aboriginal stories. All in all a not to be missed trip if you ever get to Far North Queensland Australia. If you want to take a gander at Kuranda, check out this link.

Tonight the itinerary was to head down to the water front for cocktail hour, stop by the night market for lower leg and foot massages which were truly devine, and then on to a wonderful seafood restaurant where we dined like royalty yet again. The food was excellent, the wines wonderful, the champage some of the best I've ever tasted. Michelle's not sure how she's going to get out of bed to catch a plane tomorrow. All in all the time in Cairns flew by. Only one thing to do.. drag Mel to Mexico!

Brisbane, Australia

Meanwhile... back in Brisbane, Robin was having a pleasant couple of days staying with daughter Emma, and Matt. Robin had lived in Brisbane from 1975 to 1988 and found it to be familiar but changed. In 1975 it had only recently been sewered by Mayor Clem Jones and still half showed its origins as a large country town. During the last 30 years it and the surrounding SE corner of Q'land has been the fastest growing area in Australia. Brisbane City (ie. the City Council) controls a huge area, supposedly the largest city area of any city in the world. It seems to have done a reasonable job preserving massive tracts of bushland for wildlife including the sensitive koala. In 1975 Robin and family had bought 5 acres on the edge of the city area for $11,000 in the "greenbelt". When he left, a 0 had been added to that value, and probably another 0 has been added since. Those acreages could not be sub-divided and new sub-divisions have been restricted to 20 acres and larger. So much of the bushland is much the same. He was also impressed with all the major civic developments that had been added at the 1988 site of the World Fair close to the City center, like the free Art Museum. Then there are all the different restaurants that would rival San Francisco or even New York - with large SE Asian and Indian influence a really cosmopolitan place. Readers from the US (kindly known here as Yanks and unkindly as Septics, which is a short version of the rhyming slang, Septic Tanks) may be bemused to learn that this reasonable governance of Brisbane City has mostly been in the hands of the Labor (no U) Party. Since our middling conservative party (the Liberals) are well to the left of your Democrats, that makes Labor arch socialist in your terms. If the US ever does a left turn, it has a long way to go to get anywhere close to Cuba with plenty of room for fair government in between.

Anyway we figure Brisbane would be a good place for Warrior to stop for a few months whenever we get there. Accordingly Robin spent a few hours checking out slips and moorings. Not much going that is handy on the slip side. There are large marinas just south of the Brisbane river entrance (Wynnum/Manly) but mean low is only 7 feet. The bottom is soft mud so Warrior can burrow a hole for the keel, but its not the greatest option and is 10 miles from the city center. There are only private moorings up the river, but right opposite the Botanical Gardens, adjacent to the City proper are moorings for about 30 boats in deep water. Looked great so we will have to remind ourselves to get a reservation well in advance.

On Monday afternoon, Robin and Emma drove up to Griffith University, Robin's ex-employer from 1975-88. With Emma being entertained by the spectacle, he had great fun knocking on people's doors (after taking advantage of checking the photographs on the staff list against old half-remembered names) and saying gidday as though he had only left a month before. There were some startled reactions the most memorable being, "Who is this hippy?!" from one wizened old conservative codger (who used to be a hippy in 1975). He re-met Dobson, O'Conner, and left a note for a couple of others. Up in the Science School office he alarmed Dennis Crane who had been a PhD student in 1975 and was now deputy Head of school. Through a doorway he waved to Frank Clark and David Thiel who were ensconsed in one of those interminable university meetings - maybe one ongoing from 32 years ago. Both had been fellow Senior Teaching Fellows (like Robin, the lowest of the low) in 1975. All the STFs of that era in Science had gone onto being full Professors, about half of them still at Griffith. Left there with Dennis undertaking to organize a get-together for 4 pm the next day. Then up to Pegg's office to find him in place with pencil and paper (as a theoretical physicist these had always been his only research tools) - of course that was the most warm series of giddays because for about 10 years, 1980-90, Robin and David Pegg had been co-authors on more than 50 research papers published OS in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance. Had a couple of beers with Pegg in the nearby staff/student club (in a bushland setting complete with overhanging balcony and resident kookaburras). Parted with the plan to have a proper celebration the next day at four.

Next day at 4, back in the Uni Club, the old faces drifted in. About a dozen all told from the old days. It was terrific to catch up with them and learn the "fate" of all the others that had left Griffith. It was one of those times when everything was simultaneously the same but different. During the 80s the School of Science, Griffith, had out-published on a per capita basis every other Oz Science Dept. But right now the School is down-sizing for lack of capable students. Some of Robin's ex-colleagues had been forced to "retire" during the last couple of years. So here was a group that was well qualified to commiserate and congratulate on the basis of having done great things "in spite of the system" and to do several rounds of "I told you so" back in the year dot etc. Then the conversation would drift to the ever on-going uni in-fighting over resources and it was as though it was the same discussion as in 1988. Amber liquid flowed, those that had to drive wandered off and then Dave Maguire (who had been fare-welled from Griffith only 2 weeks before) arrived. Soon enough, Emma drove Robin and the two Davids back to Maguires house and left them for a few hours to reconsider past events. There was much reconsidering and general agreement on the salient facts. Dave Maguire and Robin had spent many periods propping up bars - they had found that a team effort worked best to keep the thing erect. Some various escapades had resulted in which they often attempted to trap Pegg with considerable success. Almost none of these would bear repetition to anyone except themselves. However Robin was surprised to learn that he had quite forgotten one innocent adventure. To celebrate Pegg becoming a full-Professor they had acquired a large rock from some unknown place (there is a uni statute that forbids the removal of rocks etc from the uni campus, this statute being followed by another that states that any erection on campus must have the approval of the University Registrar), transported it in Maguire's boot (the yank term being trunk), which would not close, to Pegg's house where sometime after midnight they lowered it into Pegg's new swimming pool, and they did this with such quietude that Pegg was immediately aroused but unable to stand in the way of said rock. It took a team of 10 men or a large crane or similar for Pegg to remove the rock subsequently - Dave and Robin had only needed a pre-prep with amber stuff. It was recall of such events that enabled another midnight to come around and everyone farewelled everyone else for another unknown period of time.

Next day Robin got a very quick direct flight from Brisbane to Launceston. It used to take hours via Melbourne, so it was as though Oz had shrunk. Landed in wet Lonnie to be greeted by elder brother John. Tassy being a small place (with only 450,000 residents in an area of the size of England), it was not too surprising for Robin to immediately run into a bunch of his ex-in-laws at the airport so there was brief and pleasant chit-chat on those two particularly Tasmanian subjects: the state of the weather and the state of everyone's health and all the embellishments, overstatements and under-reportings that attend such entirely accurate and truthful communications. John took Robin to his home in Lonnie, John's wife Gail soon arrived home from gainful employment, the weather/health questions were soon disposed of and the subject turned to sailing. The weather was however of some note to Robin as it was raining and did so for the next couple of days. This was the first rain he had seen for over a year and Michelle missed out.

Next day, Thursday, John delivered Robin to their Mum's house in Hagley. Middle brother Glenn came down from the farm, ie his own house half a mile away, and for the first time for decades Mum had her three sons to herself for lunch etc. Of course a more pleasant event cannot be imagined. It also takes some time to enumerate the health and well being of a few dozen rellies so again the hours fled. The weather also took on an aspect of much greater significance since Glenn's farm depends entirely on its state and it had been unseasonly dry. A day or so later it fined up and Tassy was sunny and crystal clear. Robin, having been away, particularly noted the common saying or greeting, "You couldn't ask for a better day!" Being somewhat agnostic he was non-plussed as to whom he should address such requests, and couldn't agree anyway since he had been enjoying the rain. Meanwhile, back in North Queensland ................

Melbourne, Australia

Saturday August 11, 2007

Melissa got up this morning looking like something the cat had dragged in but she nevertheless had to cook Michelle breakfast. A scant 15mins later she produced an awe inspiring plate of eggs, spinach, mushrooms, bacon, tomatoes and toast which looked like it had been cooked by a chef in a 5 star restaurant. Finally got moving and caught a taxi to the airport to find that the internal flight to Melbourne was on a codeshare flight operated by Jetstar and not Qantas. This wouldn't have mattered much except that you have to purchase all drinks and food onboard, pay for inflight entertainment and this just isn't the Qantas service one has come to expect. Arrived in Melbourne in the early afternoon to a smiling Alan and Crazy Dave and his girlfriend. It cost them a neat 18 dollars to park in the Car Park (like that's insanity!). Al dragged Michelle around Melbourne City for a couple of hours (or was it the other way round?) then headed to the Stork, our old stomping ground of a pub and greeted the local yokels, many of the same old faces from years ago still spending more than their fair share of alloted time on earth holding up the bar. Clover got off work and met us down there and we ate and drank and spent many merry hours catching up with each other. It will be so good to spend more time with them on the way back through Melbourne before returning to Mexico. Al your girlfriend is so gorgeous. She's a keeper mate. Look after her :)

Launceston, Australia

Sunday August 12, 2007

Michelle managed to drag Al and Clover out of bed, not an easy feat, and we headed to her old coffee shop where she'd spent the better part of six months writing her PhD back in 1998. It was under different ownership now but essentially still the same business with almost the same menu and all the same decor and paintings still on the walls. After brekkie we hiked over to the Skybus terminal where Al and Clover were glad to dump Michelle and head back to bed to recover from last night's chat fest. None of us got much sleep last night. The flight to Tas was again on Jetstar but this time it was only 40mins or so. Robin was at the airport to fetch her and we headed on out to the farm in Hagley. The entire family (that would be Allie (Robin's mum), John and Glen (2 older brothers) Gail and Doreen (respective wives) AB (teenage offspring of John and Gail) all of whom will continue to figure in this story over the next few days) got together Sunday night up at Glen and Doreens, Doreen cooking a fabulous meal. We ate drank and were merry some more and generally did the gossip thing all over again. You'd think the eating drinking part of the trip would be over now but alas it was not to be. The next 5 days all we did was eat, drink and continue to make merry.

Monday August 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Grace.

Tuesday August 14, 2007

Launceston is Australia's third oldest city, after Sydney and Hobart, and really is a feast of beautiful old buildings. There are so many historic buildings that the visitor seems to go on an endless voyage of discovery where around every corner there is another exciting building dating back to as early as 1820. (OK, some of the eastern US has old European stuff, but by the time you get to Minneapolis the earliuest bulidingd are around 1850 or later). Even though we've been busy ordering boat parts and shopping for items we think we'll need over the next three years or so, we've still thoroughly enjoyed wandering around "Lonnie" as the locals call it. Robin caught up with an old friend, Terry Brain, while he was arranging for our Yellow Fever shots and arranged to have dinner for Wednesday night at the Gorge Restaurant.

Wednesday August 15, 2007

Michelle woke up this morning and remembered that Robin's passport was due to expire in 8 months which meant problems early next year when we wanted to head into Central America. You must have at least 6 months left on your passport to enter some of these countries. So an emergency run into the post office and a few hundred dollars later and the passport would be ready to be collected on Monday. Which means we need to make two trips to Hobart - one tomorrow with John on the school bus and one Monday to collect the passport. Life somehow always turns out to be busy.

Tonight was dinner at Cataract Gorge Reserve, or "The Gorge" as the locals call it, a unique natural formation within a two-minute drive of central Launceston - a rare natural phenomenon in any city. If you're wanting to hoof it, it's just a 15 minute walk from the city centre along the banks of the Tamar River. The pathway, originally built in the 1890s, then meanders along the cliff face, offering a spectacular view down onto the South Esk River. We wandered down past First Basin, where people who feel no pain can enjoy a swim in the freezing waters, across a suspension footbridge, the Esk flooding beneath, and up the path to the restaurant on the northern side. The restaurant is set in a garden which is a cross between Victorian elements of rolling lawns and trimmed gardens and a wilderness of large native tree ferns and exotic plants with peacocks and wallabies freely roaming the grounds. It really is quite the setting. Sadly we didn't get to see much of this as it was pretty dark, and we were being guided by John holding a flashlight which seemed to dance to it's own rhythm.

It was a truly delightful meal, in a dining room with a crackling log fire, the walls covered with historic pictures of the area, the wine supurb (we really have missed good Aussie wine) and the company delightfully entertaining. Terry drove us back to John and Gail's for the night where we'd catch a few hours sleep and be up with the birds for an entertaining bus ride to Hobart with a bus full of school kids.

Click here for a neat website which gives an overview of The Gorge. Check out the photo gallery in particular. They've done it well.

Thursday August 16, 2007

The bus trip to Hobart was comedy central. John (Robin's brother), a retired ex-Rigistrar of the Supreme Court of Tasmania, drives school buses which keeps him off the streets and out of trouble. Hmm well maybe not off the streets. The trip down was boisterous, the boys chatting, John chatting, the teaching chatting, the entire bus was a riot of noise. The two adults managed to talk the legs off several iron pots. Robin being the socialite that he is, hunkered down in the front seat and tried to look like he just wasn't there.

We arrived in Hobart in very good time dropped the boys off at the university and headed down to the waterfront. We stopped by the Royal Tasmanian Yacht Club, applied for membership and checked out the slip availability and haul out yard for if/when we ever make it to Aus. Then we squeezed in a wee bit of shopping (bet that surprises you all!) at the chandleries. John then took us past a boat he is thinking about buying. We climbed all over it for an hour or so, gave him the thumbs up and a little advice from our extensive experience of a few months sailing and then headed for a bite to eat before we needed to be back on the bus to Launceston.

On the way back to the bus we came upon the Queen May, an old Rig-Ketch built in 1867 by Alexander Lawson on the banks of the Huon River. It was 66 feet long, beam 18feet, draft 5 feet and the main mast height was 68 feet. Her hull was constructed of Tasmanian Hardwood (Blue Gum) while the deck was of Tasmanian Celery Top Pine. Her history was very chequered and it's a wonder she's around at all, suffering 5 collisions (one with a whale) and 2 sinkings (neither on account of a collision). This type of vessel was known as the Tasmanian Sail Ketch and for most of their working life they were used very successfully as trading vessels on account of their shallow draft which allowed access to the coastal settlements before the establishment of road links. Although for most of her working life the May Queen transported sawn timber from the various sawmills, she also carried berry fruits, apples, wool, coal, perishable food supplies, railway iron, steam boilers and even pregnant women to the nearest doctor. A normal load consisted of approximately 50 tons of sawn timber stacked tightly both below and above the deck. It would have been a sight to behold. We had fun crawling all over her and observing her restoration which will hopefully ensure she endures to the next century. All in all we had a pretty productive day. We arrived back at the farm to a wonderfully home cooked meal. Allie was working her magic yet again.

Friday August 17, 2007

Our chore for today was Yellow Fever shots. We arrived at the hospital in good time, paid the fees and were promptly shown into the doctors office. Michelle immediately got into trouble by appearing to not take the shot seriously enough or the dangers associated with Yellow Fever. Then she managed to annoy the doctor by asking too many questions while the lady doctor needed to concentrate and write down the correct batch numbers. And then she attempted to make a joke about something else and it fell as flat as a 10day old pancake. Then we got in trouble for not having seriously considered Hepatitus A and Typhoid in addition to the Yellow Fever shot. This woman was not someone to be trifled with. Her humor was as dry as a dead dingoes armpit. We were so glad to be out of the office. On a positive note, the Yellow Fever shots were completely painless. Not even a pinprick could be felt. Wish all needles could be that accommodating.

Friday night Allie took Glenn, Doreen and the both of us to dinner at Fitzpatrick's Inn in Westbury. Westbury is one of the myriad historic towns in Tasmania and is located on the Bass Highway 34 km from Launceston and just a mere 7km from Hagley where the family farm is located. Westbury is classified as an historic town and came into existence in the early 1820s. It was surveyed in 1823 and by 1828 Governor Arthur ordered that the townsite be laid out with a view to Westbury becoming a major stopover point on the route from Hobart to the northwest coast which, at the time, was being opened up by the Van Diemen's Land Company. The scale of the survey was such that it is clear there were plans for Westbury to become a city. By 1832 Lieutenant Ball and a detachment of troops were stationed near the Village Green. Four years later the town's population comprised 227 free men and women and 317 convicts. The town never did grow. Consequently this early plan for a substantial township has been held in aspic. It is a town where time has stood still. Anyway I digress. Located at the southern end of town Fitzpatricks Inn was opened in 1833 as the Commercial Hotel and was apparently the first hotel in Westbury. In the 1890s it was acquired by the Fitzpatrick family who renamed it Fitzpatricks Hotel. It remained in the family for a century and gained a reputation as a very fine hotel. It is recognised as a fine example of a Georgian Inn although it is worth noting that the classical portico at the front was added in the early 1900s.

The inn has been beautifully restored by a local who grew up in Hagley right next door to Robin's family (though a couple of years before Robon's fearsome memory began to flourish) and who is now running the business. Food arrived, wine flowed, more wine flowed, coffee appeared, desert wine appeared, and a very nice bill at the end of the night made itself known but we all had a great time.

Sunday August 19, 2007

Our only day off was yesterday where we tried very had to spend the entire day in bed or at least relaxing. Allie has cooked such wonderful meals the times we've been home to eat, which included a roast lamb dinner, a roast beef dinner, a roast duck dinner and ham steaks two inches thick. Seems like we just can't get away from not just food but great food. Robin hogged into Mutton Birds for brekkie a few days this week but Michelle couldn't bring herself to stomach them first thing in the morning. Just the fishy smell was enough to chase her out of the kitchen. Lunch today was in at John and Gail's and John managed to produce a supurbly done roast on the BBQ. Gail had conjured up the trimmings which they'll be eating for a month there was so much food. AB treated us to some special teenager humor, the cat decided we were aliens, the dog wanted to pack it's bags and come with us and we had a wonderful time just hanging out with a crazy family.

Monday August 20, 2007

Left early this morning for Hobart. Arrived in good time, collected the passport without a hiccup, visited the Chandlery one more time (how can one resist?) and were back on the road in no time. Arrived back in Launceston early afternoon, did a few more last minute chores and then headed over to John and Gail's. We arrived to find that the LED lights we'd ordered from North Queensland hadn't arrived. A few phone calls later and we were told to phone at 6:30am in the morning and maybe they'd be able to locate where they were exactly. Just Ace! Dinner was down at the Thai restaurant which was a wonderful treat for us (you don't find Thai food in Mexico) as well as for Gail who didn't have to cook.

Melbourne, Australia

Tuesday August 21, 2007

Flew back to Melbourne this morning. Al was waiting for us at the Skybus terminal. Michelle had a doctors appointment at 4:30pm and having got that out of the way we ended up back at the Stork Hotel. Robin was already there waiting for us having been successful in picking up the towing generator, one order that at least went without a hitch. A few more friends arrived and we had a relaxing evening partaking in yet more eating, not so much drinking, pool playing and making merry.

Wednesday August 22, 2007

Dragged Al out to breakfast with us, Clover having had to get up at the crack of dawn and go to work. We ran around Melbourne stupidly trying to get all last minute stuff done and finally got done around 5:30pm where we again collapsed in a heap at the Stork Hotel for a refreshing ale. We were planning on heading over to the Gugenheim Exhibition when Clover got out of class but we were all so tired and then more old friends arrived at the Stork so we ended our last night eating, drinking and making more merry until the wee hours of the morning. Al and Clover managed to get Michelle into a photoshoot back at the apartment. Anyone that knows her knows that that was definitely no easy feat. Good job Clover~ Then again Clover is so lovely you can't deny her a thing. God only knows how we endured the flight back to the USofA but we somehow pulled it off. The only thing we missed out on was getting in contact with Bill and Julie. We were so disappointed to have missed them. Our trip home to Aus seemed to fly by so fast. I'm not sure we actually slowed down enough to register it. Our baptism back into the lingo though was priceless. We were able to yabber on, have brekkie, down a few coldies during the arvo, 'av a go at the locals, identify the nongs, use the dunny, and finally ooroo Aus for another few years. No wuckin furries! Ah it was great to be home!

San Diego, USA

Thursday August 23, 2007

Arrived in Los Angeles, made it through customs and grabbed our luggage (now greatly increased from our original one bag to said bag plus two huge backpacks crammed full. Caught the shuttle round to the hire car, and half an hour later we were on the road to San Diego. The drive down was uneventful with a stop at Dana Point for lunch. It was odd to think just a year ago we had sailed in here. We have accomplished so much sailing since then. Hopefully we've learned something as well. Arrived in San Diego just before dusk, found the hotel, grabbed a bite to eat and promptly fell into a jetlagged induced coma.

Friday August 24, 2007

Arrived at Downwind Marine today to deal with our order, to find them in a flurry of activity. They hadn't received our email from Australia to say make the order official and have it ready for us by the 24th to peruse etc. The better part of the day was spent checking off items on the list and hats off to those guys, they worked hard to get everything together. Friday evening we spent at Fiddler's where we met yet another crazy South African, Pete, (they're all crazy by nature) who goes by the email address of pinkafrican so you know he's crazy. We also met the owner of Fiddler's, Steve who was as eccentric as the people who drink at his bar. A very fun night at a fun place which also had decent food.

Saturday August 25, 2007

We had incredible luck today. First we got hold of Richard and Karen off Chessie who we hadn't seen since Mazatlan. Then we walked into West Marine to grab a few more items we were "in desperate need of" and ran smack into Rose and David off Valkerie. The cruising family is a very small world. We were invited to a birthday party with Chessie this evening and it wasn't till we were heading that way that we realized it was Karen's sister Judy who was the birthday girl. It was great catching up with them all again and even though we were tired and still jet lagged we had a great time and wish we could have stayed longer.

Karen snapped this pic of us just as we were leaving. I promised her I'd post it on our website so here it is.

Robin and Michelle
Double Trouble

Sunday August 26, 2007

Michelle is beginning to fight off a lurghy so she isn't feeling too crash hot today. We took it slow this morning, trying to get some rest before the long bus ride back to Santa Rosalia. We got most everything packed up by early afternoon and went for drinks with Richard and Karen to the yacht club out on the spit of San Diego. The yacht club has a prime spot out there. After a relaxing drink we all decided Thai food was in order and we ate yet again like royalty. The food was to die for it was that good. It will be good to get back to Mexico and put some order to our eating and drinking. It's been seriously out of control for the last month. But it's been oh so decadently delicious. Karen and Richard dropped us back at the hotel and arranged to drop us off at the Mexican border tomorrow. You guys are the absolute best.

Monday August 27, 2007

Richard and Karen arrived at midday to cart us off to the Mexican border. We really had no idea how this was going to go. With all our purchases including a new SSB Radio we figured we'd probably have to pay import duty for sure. We arrived and asked a taxi driver if he'd drive us across the border and he told us to just walk across and get a taxi on the other side as there's a huge waiting line for him on the other side to get back into America. We looked at our gear and thought ok we can lug it that far. So we said our goodbyes to the crew of Chessie which wasn't too hard this time as we know we'll be seeing them again October 17th in Puerto Vallarta. Robin got out our trusty luggage cart we'd just bought from Downwind Marine, strapped on the large backpacks, Michelle lugged a couple of bags, Robin another small back pack and off we shuffled. To our total amazement there was not a single person of authority at the border checkpoint. We went through one turnstyle and just kept following the line of people, went through the next turnstyle and were looking around for passport control when a taxi driver asked us where we wanted to go. Uhh... Robin I think we're in Mexico. It was that simple. No wonder there's all those movies about escaping to the Mexican border to escape justice. I always thought that was Hollywood being well.. Hollywood, but you really do just walk on in. Kind of boggles the mind. Maybe they station security one day out of 10 to keep everyone honest?

Santa Rosalia, Mexico

Tuesday August 28, 2007

We are home finally, home being Warrior of course. We arrived this morning at 8am, walking off the bus into a wall of heat which almost knocked us over. Oh my God it's hot. Did we mention it was hot? We stood there staggering and spotted a vendor selling fresh fruit and huddled in the only spot of shade eating it while gathering up the strength to carry everything the couple of blocks back to the boat. We managed to dump everything on the boat, get the canopy erected and Michelle got the bags unpacked. Then we collapsed in the heat alternating between sleeping which just made us feel ill, hosing ourselves down and lazing in the swimming pool trying to get cool. The shower water was hot, the pool water above luke warm, the water out of the hose on the dock like a warm bath. There was no relief anywhere. Finally we sought an airconditioned restaurant and took a break for an hour but by this stage Michelle was really feeling sick. A head cold and sore throat in the heat is just not fun.

Friday August 31, 2007

The boat is slowly getting organized. We've managed to get the jib and staysail bent back on. The old mainsail still needs a couple of small repairs before it can be replaced. We manage a job or two a day and that's about it before the heat claims us and we're trying to hose down and find a patch of shade. Another couple of days should see us back on top of things though and hopefully we will be out of here early next week.