Dear Diary (and readers)

February 19th 2007: This is it...we have finally cruised Northward on our first leg.  After years of planning and preparation I find it hard to believe that we are actually doing it .We stopped at Redcliffe on the way to see family and friends.  It was very hard to say goodbye to son Ben and all of our good friends.

February 20th 2007: Today we departed Redcliffe and cruised on to Mooloolaba, where we stayed at Ron and Gloria Austin’s place (they take delivery of their very own Voyager 1100 in two weeks) They made us very welcome for several days as we waited out the rain and squalls that persisted. During this stay we inadvertently got Ron to add about $15,000 more gadgets to his boat, because he kept spotting the toys and gadgets we had fitted and decided they were a ‘must have’ as well. (sorry Ron). Needless to say Ralf was a big hit with Ron and Gloria. We finally got a break in the weather and headed off to Urangan via the notorious Wide Bay Bar.  After we had topped up the tanks we meet up with ‘web watchers’  Heather and Michael and again,  Ralf was the main attraction.  Unfortunately we missed Tony and Anne who also wanted to meet Ralf.   Today the wind is still blowing at 20 knots so we are tucked away safely inside Fraser Island just relaxing.  Ralf is a bit off colour today and won’t leave my side.  Looking forward to doing a little bit of fishing tomorrow and putting some crab pots in.  I can’t wait to try out my new ‘crab’ saucepan.

February 28th 2007:  John has been giving you the news for the past few days, so I won’t go over everything that we’ve done.  My ‘crab’ saucepan is still brand new.  I think the professionals have really done a number of Wathumba Creek.  You never know though, we just may get lucky before we leave which looks like being a few days yet.  It’s absolutely gorgeous here at Wathumba.  My kids Ben and Susie were bought up holidaying here and so I have lots of wonderful happy memories.  The bream are still huge!  I can’t believe we come all this way and the boat that followed us in a few days ago were neighbours of mine ten years ago. They still live there at Newport and are thinking of buying a Voyager too. Ralf is his old self again. We took him ashore this morning and he just goes ballistic.  He loves the water and the beach.  He’s just had a nice shampoo bath and a big belly full of fresh cooked veges and chicken.  He is one loved pooch!  It’s about ‘sundowner’ time so I’m off to the front deck with John to enjoy the sunset and a nice glass of chardie,  so until next time …….cheers.

March 1st 2007:  1st day of Autumn but you wouldn’t know from where we are.  It’s only just 9am and very hot already.  I’ve done three loads of washing (sheets/towels etc) while John is busy making water. Sheets are already dry and ready to go back onto the bed.  John mentioned that we caught lots of squid right!  Well I’ve done the breaded calamari rings, calamari in garlic butter and calamari carbonara.  Do any of you loyal ‘web watchers’ have any favourite recipes that you can email me.  I’m thinking may be a chilli or something else with a bit of bite.  Remember I’m limited in my selection of dried herbs and spices (not fresh).  We also caught a big tuna which we cut into nice generous steaks.  I marinated these in a concoction of herbs/lemon juice and fresh crushed garlic and olive oil.  John bbq’d on a very hot plate, and I can tell you .. it was sensational.   Today is the first day of our exercise programme, so I’d better go and motivate John (not to mention myself). The tide is dropping so Ralf is looking forward to his run too.  PS .. still no crabs!

March 6th 2007:  Where does the time go!  I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last made an entry in my diary.  Because we were a little worried about the Cyclone intensifying we decided to leave Wathumba on 2nd March and head for Pancake Creek which is just north of 1770.  It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been in there and it was just as beautiful as I’d remembered.  We spent two lovely days in here just walking, jogging along the beach (yes jogging!!) and exploring in the dingy.  Again, with reports of the cyclone building we thought we’d take advantage of the still good sea conditions  and go up to Gladstone to a safer anchorage.  Again another beautiful trip up but instead of going into Gladstone, we headed up the Narrows, 30 mile of calm water cruising between Curtis Island and Gladstone.  We anchored up for a couple of days in Pacific Creek where we did some fishing (we also caught three really big sea snakes .. yuk!) and crabbing, but surprise surprise, still NO crabs at home!  There was a steel trawler type boat name Robian moored just ahead of us in the creek.  We decided to call in and say hi yesterday and meet Alan and Kathy.  What a lovely young couple and wouldn’t you know it, they are just back from the Kimberley and were so pleased to share their experiences and stories and incredible photos.  The information we were able to gather from them will certainly come in very handy.  What a fabulous chance meeting.  We will definitely stay in touch with them and maybe meet up with them again before our trip is over.    So with the cyclone no more we cruised up to Yeppoon this morning and have decided to moor at the Roslyn Bay Marina for the night.   I forgot to mention that John has had an allergic reaction to sandfly bites and had to visit a doctor today for antibiotics and antihistamines.  Poor bugger, but he’s decided that taking Jim Beam internally as well as the six Panadol he’s also taken and that is apart from the prescribed junk he has already taken just seems to be easing the itching a little.  Somehow I don’t think I’m going to have to cook him dinner tonight.  Ralf is such a good little bloke and such good company.  He’s just snuggled up here beside me.  We are not long back from a long walk.  He has had his ‘nummies’ for the night and ready for beddy byes I think.   I did a little bit of shopping today while we were in town.  The Marina has a courtesy car which they very kindly lent us.  I replenished the fresh vege and fruit supply while John replenished the beer, wine and bourbon supply.  I’m still reeling from the vege prices .. can you believe $4.95 for a lettuce, which I did buy and $11.95/kg for broccoli which I did not buy!  I did think twice about buying fresh mushrooms but again resisted at $12.99/kg.  So here we are for the night.  It’s very pleasant here but we will still be pleased to leave tomorrow and go out amongst the islands where we can do out own thing and just enjoy nature.  I’m wondering how Ron and Gloria are and whether they have a new ‘baby’ yet.

   March 27th 2007:  For those of you who may have been wondering, no I haven’t jumped ship but there have been times in the past three weeks that I have seriously thought about it.  Apart from my laptop not working and not being able to access any of my files, we have had some dreadful weather the worst being the trip from Middle Percy to Airlie Beach.  But I will need to digress to bring you up to date. 

I last told you that we had decided to stay at Rosslyn Bay Marina.  We had a lovely time in the Keppels.  We met up with Ginny and her husband Greg and Graham and Sharon.  Graham is awaiting delivery of his Voyager and Ginny being a skipper and charter operator will also be operating Graham’s charter business for him.  They all took us to a beautiful new restaurant called Michael’s where we dined like kings and queens.  The following Sunday we all met up at Long Beach on Great Keppel Island.  Graham came aboard Catalina to take us a short distance to a reef where he promised us some good fishing.  You will have to see John’s file for the results but I will just say that we had the best coral trout for dinner that I have ever tasted washed down with a beautiful bottle of Margaret River Classic Dry White.  It was the 12th March when we reluctantly left this beautiful haven to travel north.  The weather was terrible all the way and we pulled in to Port Clinton for the night and then travelled onto Island Head Creek the next day.  Again the weather was awful for the entire trip up and we just wanted to collapse into a heap on anchoring.  Because of the gale winds outside we stayed in the creek for three days.  We met Kerry and Eileen and cat Zac.  They have been living aboard their boat Olympus for nearly two years.  They are a nice couple and Ralf fell in love with Zac.  We crabbed and fished but the highlight of that stay was learning how to throw a bait net.  Thanks Kerry, I’ve wanted to do that my entire life.   Still NO crabs!!

    We have to keep moving north and as the ‘weather man’ is predicting only 15 knots of wind we are off to the Percy’s.  Well I swear the weather man reads the weather from his lounge room and never ventures outside.  Try 30 knots again!  We anchored up at what was recommended as a safe anchorage from any SE wind.  PIGS!  Had a terrible night and moved around to Middle Percy next morning hoping for a little more shelter.  A beautiful beach for Ralf to explore.  We enjoyed putting out feet on the sand for a couple of hours too.  We gathered up a couple of coconuts which we ‘milked’ and I grated the flesh to make beautiful fresh coconut milk which then became a beautiful meal of chilli coral trout cooked in fresh coconut milk.  That night turned into the worst night I have ever experienced on a boat.  The winds howled 30 knots all night almost throwing me out of bed at one stage.  Ralf was terrified and spent the night under my pillow.  Poor little bugger.  We just have to get out of this place!    So we decide that it’s Airlie Beach ‘or bust’.   Now, I’m a pretty good sailor and wild seas don’t bother me, but the next 7 hours was like going to hell and back.  We experienced gale force winds and constant 5 to 6 metre seas.  We were both exhausted and so the little bay just ½ klm from Airlie looked like a lovely spot to anchor and ‘regroup’, or so we thought.  So, welcome to the Wet/Windy Weteverydays!  Next morning the wind is gusting 40 knots and the starboard cabin hatch in the main cabin was blown open and smashing the starboard side windscreen.     Tension was already at an all time high so this discomfort didn’t help at all with rain pouring in and shards of glass in everything on board  plus we were so tired.  John contacted Voyager and arranged for a replacement to be sent up from Brisbane.  Thankfully the manufacturers had one in stock but it would be three-four days before we could get it.  We have had to do a temporary repair on the windscreen.    We have kissed and made up at this stage and have decided to hire a car for the day and get out and about, do some grocery shopping, go to the hardware and take a drive out to Dingo Beach.  We needed that time away from the boat. 

 

    It’s the 23rd now and we are off over to Hamilton Island to collect friends Mark and Linda who are going to join us for three days.  It’s not raining today but it is blowing 30 knots and the trip over is awful resulting in  the temporary repair blowing in and as you can guess we now have glass shards everywhere.  Mark and Linda arrived and found us anchored up at the Marina.  Mark and John scrounged a piece of plywood and cut a template for the screen and glued it in to stop any more damage and rain coming in.  While walking along the Marina pontoon John walked straight into the bowsprit of a big boat and knocked himself to the ground and hurt his shoulder.  An island employee witnessed the accident and whisked him away to the doctors clinic.  The doctor is not there, he is off ‘oystering’ for the day!  They took a report and gave John some pain killers.  Linda and I took off to the resort and got stuck in to a few cocktails, followed by a couple of bottles of wine.  The boys joined us for a couple more drinks.  Somehow, we all got back to the boat and managed to have a lovely steak and salad dinner.  We left the marina next morning and motored over to Cyd Harbour and Whitsunday Island.  God, this is bliss at last.  We are OUT of the wind.  I’m never moving again.  We had a lovely time fishing, going for short trips in the dinghy and oystering.  First day Linda and I set out we only gathered about 3 dozen oysters because the tide was coming in.  Next day we were more organised.  We managed about 20 dozen oysters this time.  We had done the oysters and champagne the previous night so  tonight we are having ‘Catalina Kilpatrick oysters’.  This consists of five dozen oysters (per person) topped with cooked bacon and worcestershire sauce wrapped in a parcel of alfoil and cooked on the bbq for about 5 minutes.  And of course don’t forget the champagne.  YUM YUM!

 

   Linda and Mark are flying home today (26th).  Linda is happy that John is almost over the fact that she broke his antique fishing rod.  She was landing that beautiful Sweet Lip that she caught (see John’s files) and broke the rod.  Yes, his favourite rod, handed down from his Granddaddy.  (At least that is the story John told her.  Poor girl, she is flying home today still believing all of that .. I’ll have to tell her one day).  OK, so we are back to the 27th March where I started.  Mark and Linda are home safe and sound and we had the replacement screen fitted yesterday afternoon when we got back to Airlie Beach.  We are anchored just in front of the marina doing some ‘stuff’ and just chilling out.  It’s been raining and the wind is gusty at times.  John has just phoned the glass repair main to let him know that the screen is leaking badly.  I’m off to have a cuppa. 

     

March 30th 2007:  We left the Whitsundays yesterday as planned.  We were well overdue for the beautiful weather we have had for two days now.  Yesterday we had a very leisurely four hour cruise up to Queens Bay (Bowen) during which time John busied himself making water, checking and rechecking the instruments, plotting our course and catching up on some reading.  I did two loads of washing and also did some reading but mostly I just enjoyed  taking in the beautiful scenery.   We had a very restful night.  This morning we weighed anchor just after 6am and are headed to either Cape Bowling Green or Magnetic Island.  The weather of the past two days helps to dull the memories of the dreadful weather we have had to endure over the past three weeks.  Although we get a beautiful breeze up on the bridge when we roll up all of the clears, it sometimes get very hot so today we have spent an unusual amount of time down here in the galley/lounge/dining area.   The seas are very calm and we have a lovely breeze coming through all windows/hatches.  We are cruising along at about 7-8 knots which apart from being very economical is also very peaceful and calming.  John has plotted our course, set all alarms and put George in charge and   has decided to do some trolling for a little while.  I’ve been reading and doing some crosswords.  Ralf has been doing nothing.  We have no turbulence so our ‘fasten seat belts’ sign is switched off.  Shortly I will be moving through the cabin checking on my passengers comfort and serving drinks and a snack before selecting and showing an in-flight movie which should take us through to mid afternoon when we should be making our approach to our destination (still to be decided).  I forgot to mention that when we were moored up at the Abel Point Marina a few nights ago, we had the Aqualuma underwater lights on as usual.  They are amazing!  The garfish were at the back of the boat by the hundreds and we were actually catching them by hand.  The lights seem to stun them.  They are fabulous bait fish so we have frozen down a few packets.  The Spectra water maker is also a god send.  Although we are still very very mindful of how much water we use, the water maker just take the pressure off.  Yesterday we saved all of our final rinsing water from the washing and once we had anchored up for the evening, we gave Catalina a really good ‘tub’.  And although he doesn’t know it yet, after he has been to the beach for a run and a swim later today, Ralf is also going to get his weekly tub. 3pm and we have arrived at Cape Bowling Green, right on schedule.  There is nothing here except a big bay which is providing a lovely anchorage for the night.  The movie chosen was “The Thin Red Line” starring Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, John Cusack and Woody Harrelson.  Great movie, we gave it a 9/10 .. recommended you see it if you get a chance.  It’s now 4pm.  I rowed Ralf ashore. He has had a really good run along the beach and a big swim.  He has had his bubble bath and has come up smelling like roses.  He is now on the back swim platform sunning and preening himself like a Cheshire cat.   It’s a tough life being the ships ‘top dog’.

 

April 9th 2007:  The Easter bunny did not find me yesterday (John must have left better directions than me!).  From Cape Bowling Green to Townsville to pick up a few supplies.  Where we should have gotten an extra carton of beer because I’ve just noticed that John has only two cans of Mid left.  We are now anchored up in a creek in Zoe Bay which is on Hinchenbrook Island.   We arrived here on the 7th.  We were anchored for about five days at Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island which is just  a gorgeous place.  It has been absolutely years since I’ve been there.  We were very comfortably from the constant wind we’ve been having since we left home.  It was nice to be able to get on a bus and have a little tour of the island.  We did a lot of walking through the tracks from beach to beach and survived the Tsunami.  When we got news of the impending ‘danger’ we just gathered all valuables (ourselves and Ralf) and headed up the mountain.  Of course the best place to head really is out to sea, but we only had an hour and 40 knots of wind, so we decided to go to shore and wait it out.  In total there were five pressure waves of about 20cm.  Nothing to worry about at all, but we just wanted to play it safe.   John got talking to yachties Peter and Tom one afternoon at the park and invited them for dinner the following night.  We had a nice bbq and then watched the movie ‘Kenny’ again.  Next day finds us heading for  The Palm Island group and Orpheus Island in particular because there is supposed to be a good ‘out of the wind’ anchorage there.  Well, we had two reasonably good days there but the weather report is not looking good so we headed here to Zoe Bay and this creek.  We could weather a cyclone up here.  It is very shallow in parts but we have about 9 feet under us at low water. Within about an hour of anchoring up we had the fishing lines out and within the next hour we had a huge stingray, 2 bronze whaler sharks, another smaller shark and John hooked a huge Queen fish which he took ages to land.  Once again the Aqualima lights bought all the bait fish about last night and to our surprise several huge barramundi.  Although we had live bait they had a virtual smorgasbord of fish so didn’t come near out baits.   What a sight! Tonight we will try the flash on the camera to see if we can pick them up for you, because unless you see them, you just won’t believe what I’ve just told you.  John just throws the cast net at night and we get all the live bait we need which is terrific.  It has been very overcast and rainy for the second day now but it really is a nice change from the sun.  I did some cleaning and the washing yesterday.  In the next 30 minutes, we are heading off in the dinghy to pull some lures to see if we can get ourselves just one of these barras.  No doubt you’ll read and see all about it if we do.   

April 28th 2007:  Well we did!  Catch Barra that is but it seems so long ago now.  We’ve traveled so many miles since my last entry that I’ll have to retrace some of the trip for you.  After leaving Zoe Bay and the creek, and yes you guessed correctly it was in bad weather, we headed a little north to Cape Richards (Missionary Bay just hoping to catch up with an old friend of John’s who owned the resort only to find out that due to ill health he had recently sold and was now living on the Gold Coast.  Out next anchorage was at Dunk Island.  John rowed the dinghy ashore to have a look about but was back within 30 minutes.   After yet another uncomfortable night of rocking and rolling we left and headed directly for Cairns and Yorkey’s Knob Marina where we spent the next six days.  We had a couple of very nice meals at the Restaurant and also hired a car for a couple of days.  We did some shopping, bought some new fishing gear and me a brand new rod and reel (yippee!!) and replaced my old laptop with a new Compaq Presario V6000 which is a really nice little unit and does everything except wash the dishes.

 

But forge ahead is what we must do and so off we head for the Low Isles, Hope Isles and Lizard Island which was absolutely beautiful and a welcome haven out of the infernal wind.  We conquered the ‘walk’ to the top of the mountain. This was the vantage point which Captain Cook used to navigate and chart his way out of the inner reefs.  He certainly had an incredible view, absolutely breathtaking in fact.  We did some snorkeling which was nice.  Giant clams everywhere.    Once again the ‘aqualuma’ lights bought the fish in at night.  John was tempted to throw a lure but no no no, fishing is prohibited here.  We really would have liked to stay longer and reluctantly we are off again, this time to the Flinders Group of Islands where we anchored up behind Flinders Island for the night.  Next day we thought we would chance a night at Morris Island and so we headed in to seek shelter once again from the wind.  A really nice little island and as my maiden name is Morris I’m wondering if I might have any claims to a little bit of real estate here.  We found some HUGE oysters and to accompany these John bought some fresh prawns from the trawler anchored next to us.  After a  very comfortable night we headed north to our next stop in Margaret Bay where we met Bill and Carol from Broome WA.   They came aboard for ‘sundowners’ and a chat.  As our travel calendar is about the same, we hope we will meet again in the Kimberly. 

 

As the days go on and we put many many sea miles behind us the anticipation of reaching Cape York is beginning to get the better of both of us.  Just one more sleep and  stop over and we will be nearly there.

 

April 29th 2007:  Our last night on the east coast of Australia was spent in the Escapee River.  What a good sleep we had.  Not a ripple!  We normally have breakfast once we are under way but yesterday we decided to have brekkie before we headed off.  Not long out of the river and with about 15 nm to go, the port engine began to show signs of overheating.  We had quite good weather so nursing the motors for the next leg wasn’t a problem.    

 

We traveled on through the Albany Pass which was really lovely.  Just 5nm to go now!  We are here!  We’ve made it!  As you can imagine, rounding the Cape was awesome.  We anchored up in Shallow Bay and took the dinghy ashore and walked to the northern most point of this wonderful country of ours. Reaching the cape is what we refer to as our Everest.  It has been really tough at times, but we’ve made it and we still have so much to look forward to.  We need to refuel and as we were told that we can get fuel at Seisia which is just 15 nm away we head off again.  Once there we hope to spend a day or two before heading to Gove which is 300 nm and means a full day and nights steaming and sleeping in shifts and praying for good weather.  Anyway, we are at Seisia and there is no fuel so we need to back track to Thursday Island.  We have been here for about an hour now and John has just checked the motors.  We aren’t going anywhere!!!!  We have serious problems and if they can’t be rectified this could mean the end of our trip.  John is mortified and the mood aboard is very somber.  We’ve contacted Volvo and now just have to wait until Monday to see what they can do.  We are as they say .. dead in the water.

 

May 4th 2007:  Hello everyone from beautiful downtown Seisia.  We have been here for one week and are considered ‘locals’ already.  The only highlight of our day is when the tide either goes in or out and our scenery changes.  Everyone here is one crocodile alert after one was spotted near the jetty yesterday and there is also a very large, perhaps 10ft or so, bronze whaler shark lurking about.  John has seen it and I saw it yesterday just behind one of the dinghys that was pulling into the beach. Tonight we are going ashore to the Seisia Fishing Club clubhouse for a bbq and a couple of drinks.  Apparently this place really fires up on a Friday night.  Yesterday we had a nice surprise when Rudy and Lynette came knocking of our back door.  They are a nice couple from Brisbane who we met them at Lizard Island.  They have been living aboard their yacht Tiata for about 15 months I think and are quite familiar with these waters so have been able to pass on some local knowledge.  We should all have a good night tonight.

 

Tomorrow, Saturday our mechanic arrives.  Cross fingers that he fixes the problem and we can get underway on Monday.  John has arranged a tanker to come to the jetty on Monday morning. We will take on 1050 litres of diesel for the trip to Gove.  The weather in the Gulf this past week has been perfect for the sort of cruising we would like.  We just hope that it continues through to next week and we get a good run.  It’s 300 nm and we will be doing this over two days and one night without any stops.  We will sleep in shifts and watch the occasional DVD  to help pass the time. 

 

On a much more personal note, I would like to pass on to you the most incredibly good news that I had this week.  My daughter Susie her husband Ablo and children Jamila and Saleem are comnig home to Australia to live.  They have been living in Chicago for about 7 years so this is just wonderful.  I am so excited that I could burst.  They should arrive mid June so when we get to Darwin I will go home for a couple of weeks to see them and to settle them into our house where they will be living.

 

Well Ralf is giving me a little nudge to let me know it is time to go ashore for ‘walkies’ so I’ll close for now but we will keep you updated with regards the repairs necessary to get us under way again.

 

May 6th 2007:  It’s Sunday and another beautiful day in paradise.  Volvo mechanic Brian and his   lovely mechanics assistant Linda arrived yesterday afternoon.  What would have taken Brian a few hours to fix in a normal workshop situation has taken him 8 hours so far because of the tricky positions of the oil coolers.  Both motors are running now but yet to be tested under normal load conditions.  Fingers crossed that everything is going to be OK.  Tomorrow we will fuel up, look at the weather chart and all going well we will probably head off on Tuesday for the long journey to Gove.

 

We had a very nice time at the fishing club on Friday night and a nice BBQ on board here last night with Rudy and Lynette and Brian and Linda.  

 

May 8th 2007:  We are heading off to Gove, a daunting 360 nautical mile run across the Arafura Sea.  I will let you know more when we arrive.

 

May 13th 2007:   We arrived safely in Gove.  We were on the go for a solid 36 hours doing the trip with each of us at the helm for four hourly shifts.  The nights were the worst.  We had no moon at all and the sea was all over the place making the trip seem even longer.  We were both exhausted by the time we arrived.   The rain we had the night we arrived was very welcome as it saved us the trouble of washing the boat.  The wind blew from every direction so there wasn’t one part of the boat that missed out.  It rained again the next day too so we got the buckets and detergent this time and did all the clears and windows etc.  Our friends Rudy and Lynette arrived a couple of days after us.  It was just great to see some familiar faces.  We all went into town on Sunday to treat ourselves to a nice lunch.  We didn’t realise it was Mother’s Day so the beautiful smorgasbord at the local club was a bonus.  We feasted on beautiful fresh seafood and assorted other meats and salads.  There isn’t much else to do in Gove though.  It’s not a very pretty place.  The bauxite mining tends to make everything red and dirty and it is extremely hard to keep the boat clean.  We moored just out from the Gove Yacht Club and have to go ashore in the dinghy which isn’t a problem but the beach is sooooo muddy and just plain yucky. 

 

Rudy and Lynette are planning on staying in Gove for a year if they can both get jobs.  Their dreams are to buy a bigger and better sea doing vessel.  I couldn’t stay in a place like Gove for much longer than we have but they have a dream and are prepared to give it a go so of course we wish them all the very best but will miss seeing them for a while.

 

Tomorrow we head off in the direction of Darwin.  We are both looking forward to the 10 day (approx) cruise John has planned for us.  Tonight I will be dreaming of blue sky, calm seas and long white beaches for Ralf to explore at the end of a days cruising.  We probably won’t have any internet coverage at least until we reach Darwin so there will be no more updates for a couple of weeks.

 

May 22nd 2007:  We arrived in Darwin yesterday.  The trip down wasn’t exactly what we had planned.  The waters are milky blue and not clear at all and are dotted with dangerous reefs and it was extremely difficult to find shelter out of the wind which blows constantly.  I had hoped that we wouldn’t have to do any more ‘overnighters’ but we did.  We left the shelter of Inglis Island and overnighted to Grant Island which was beautiful until the crocodiles arrived!  Until we spotted them on our second day we had been going back and forth to the beach with Ralf doing some trolling from the dinghy and generally enjoying some down time.    But the crocs just kept stalking the boat and so we decided to leave and found a nice little bay called ‘Black Point’ where we \stayed for the night and then went on to Popham Bay which was very muddy and really stank awfully bad.  Eager now to get going  we left at about 2am and went around Cape Don and headed for Darwin which was about a 90 nmiles run.  We had to anchor out in Darwin Harbour for the night (in the wind!!!!) before we could get a berth in Cullen Bay Marina where we are now.   The Marina is very nice and we are both looking forward to a little R & R before John’s friend Mark arrives from the US and I fly back home for a couple of weeks to see Susie, Ablo and the children who arrive from Chicago on the 7th June.  I’ve missed Ben so much too so it will be lovely to see him and also catch up with some friends.

 

May 30th 2007:  Mark arrived yesterday looking very fit and well after his 30 hour ordeal to get here.  Last night we had a nice meal at La Beach which is a restaurant here at the Marina overlooking the beach.  We watched the sunset, shared a nice bottle of wine and chatted for what seemed like hours.  I am catching the midnight flight back to Brisbane tonight so the boys are going down to the Casino for a couple of hours.  They are leaving for their fishing trip tomorrow.

 

June 30th 2007:  WOW!!!! What a month.  I just can’t begin to tell you what an incredible time I had at home with the family.  We didn’t do much but every day was filled from start to end.  We had lots of walks to the park, Ablo and Susie spent a lot of time fixing ‘stuff’ up with immigration etc etc. which meant that I had lots of quality time with the kids alone. We booked Jamila into school and bought uniforms and generally had a great time together. I miss them already but knowing that they are now living in our home on the Gold Coast somehow makes it easier to bear.  I will probably fly home again in a few months once we reach Perth.

 

John and Mark’s trip away was good but they didn’t catch any quality fish.  They saw lots and lots of crocodiles though and both managed to get themselves literally stuck up to their waists in the mud while taking Ralf for a walk.   It was a very serious situation and could have ended quite differently had John not been able to pull himself out and getting back into the dinghy before helping to  pull Mark out of the mud with the dinghy.  All of this while the crocodiles looked on.

 

Mark left on the 10th June which left John to batch for two weeks before I arrived back in Darwin.  He spent his time making friends in the Marina and generally waiting for parts to arrive from Volvo so they could do some repairs.

 

July 2nd 2007:  John and I went down to the Mindil markets last night and just happened to run into NICOLE KIDMAN.  I was standing beside here at the Oyster bar for a couple of minutes before I realized it was her.  I was actually admiring her cap and jacket when it dawned on me that it was her.  I couldn’t believe it.  She is just so stunning and natural looking.     She has been in town filming the movie “Australia”.  The old pearl lugger “Anniki” which is moored alongside us in the Marina has been restored to its former glory (with the use of film props) to be used in the movie.  It has been very interesting these past couple of weeks watching all of the comings and goings and it was particularly interesting to see Baz Luhrmann himself on the boat checking lighting etc.

 

July 8th 2007:  We are leaving Darwin in a couple of days.  Our friends Lee and Dee from Redcliffe arrive on the 10th.   Originally we had planned to meet them in Broome and spend about a week cruising about in the Kimberly but because we have been held up here in Darwin for so long we have decided that they will fly up here and join us on the first part of our trip to the Kimberly and leave us in Wyndham to continue their touring in WA.. 

 

July 12th 2007:  Lee and Dee arrived safe and well but tired from the flight up from  Brisbane which always seems to  arrives in Darwin at the ungodly and uncivilized hour of 1.30am.  We departed Darwin yesterday for the Kimberley. Our first stop was the ‘lovely’ Daly river.  Yum yum!!!!  Looked liked liquid chocolate but didn’t smell like melted chocolate and those things moving on the shore weren’t roasted almonds but big nasty crocodiles.  John and Lee caught some Barracats which we used for the crab pots.  We had to draw straws to see who got to set the pots but again John and Lee although a little reluctantly, showed us women what they were made of and set off to do their jobs.  Dee got quite a surprise this morning when she looked out of her cabin hatch directly into the eyes of Mr. Croc who had come to visit.  It’s too scary here so we are heading off to some clearer water.  Ron and Gloria will be pleased to hear that we finally got to use the crab pot purchased in Mooloolaba for the 6 huge muddies taken from the pots this morning.

 

July 27th 2007:  It’s been nothing but go go go for us this past week or so which has left me   little opportunity to update my dairy.  We got as far as the Berkley River which was quite spectacular.  It is about a 14 mile cruise up to where you can see the beautiful cliffs and waterfalls.  It’s very crowded with tourist boats though which detracts from the beauty of the place a little.  John has to be very careful too when anchoring as the tides are huge  and were about 7 meter when we were there.

 

Unfortunately all good things much come to an end and we eventually had to leave and head back into the Cambridge Gulf and down to Wyndham where Lee and Dee were leaving from to continue there trip.  We arrived back in Darwin a couple of days ago and spent one whole day cleaning Catalina and making her beautiful again.

 

John and I have had a lot of sole searching to do since experiencing some of the bad weather on the west coast and listening to the horrific stories told by some yachties that we were fortunate enough to meet along the way.  Now is just not the right time to even attempt cruising down to Perth so we will be staying put here in Darwin and readying the boat and ourselves for the trip back to the East coast

 

August 11th 2007:  Even though we are keen to leave Darwin and get out into cruising mode again we are going to find it difficult to leave behind the wonderful friends we have made.  At first Darwin just didn’t ‘do’ it for us, but boy has she grown on us.  There is so much to see and do here and it’s        so much more pleasurable when you have friends like Cam and Sherni (Knot too Shabby) who so graciously loaned us their car to get out and about. John and Susie (Bedar) took us to the Darwin races several times where we all had a little flutter and picked some winners.  Unfortunately all the celebrating we did to celebrate out wins, left us all very much out of pocket, but it was great fun.  They were also very patient with Ralf who visited the boat constantly.  You see Ralf fell in love with Indy their cat.  Indy thought Ralf wasn’t too bad either, but it was never going to be a match made in heaven.  Ralf will miss Indy. 

 

And of course there is Rudy and Lynette (Tiata) with whom we have kept company on and off   since meeting them on Lizard Island.  They are such good fun and  are now working in Darwin at jobs they both enjoy.   Lynette is writing some wonderful articles for Multi Hull magazine, which takes the reader on a wonderful journey with them while they live their dream.

 

Yep, we are going to miss Darwin heaps. 

 

August 29th 2007:  The weather was a mixture of bing and bang (as Lynette would say) and definitely a lot more bang than bing, but here we are in Gove where we will wait for yet another weather window so we can head off to Seisia.  Instead of gong directly across the Gulf this time we are going to go down to Groote Island on to Mornington Island then to Karumba and up to Weipa and on to Seisia from there.

 

But first we need to get some supplies, which means hitching a ride into Nhulunbuy.  Now, that should be an experience.  I can’t exactly remember when it was that I last ‘hitched’ a ride.

 

September 5th 2007:  Fully stocked again, we decided to inch our way down to Groote taking refuge in some of the nice little bays along the way.  Unfortunately once again the weather does exactly what it is NOT predicted to do and things go sour yet again.  I’m not going to go into all the horrible detail of the trip down, I’ll just tell you that we are anchored up now in a beautiful little bay on Groote Island which I was never going to leave until of course John reminded me that the only way I was ever going to see family and friends again was to be a big girl and face the fact that we still have a long way to go. 

 

As luck would have it, today we met Bruce and Juanita who own the 65ft fishing boat called “Wild Card”.  What a magnificent vessel (I want one!!!!!!)  Anyway, what fantastic generous people.  Not only did they invite us aboard for dinner but because Groote does not have any refuelling facilities AND to save us the journey down to Karumba, they gave us 350 litres of fuel from the stores of 17,000 litres.  You see, THERE IS GOING TO BE A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER PATTERN AND IT IS GOING TO BE FABULOUS, YES FABULOUS for the next few days and so we are going to do the direct trip to Weipa from Groote Island without delay leaving early tomorrow morning.  I’m, so excited to be getting closer to the east coast but anxious at the same time that the weather is going to again catch us out.  More from the other side of the Gulf when we get there.

 

9th September 2007:  Hello from Weipa everyone!!!!!   It took us 20 hours, but we made it.  We left Groote in the good conditions, which just got better and better and finally it glassed out completely. We travelled the first 300 n miles at about 14-15 knots.  Approx. 60 n miles from Weipa we headed directly into a terrible storm.  Even though we could see it on radar, it covered a huge area so there wasn’t any way to ‘go around it’, and so we just had to hang on!.  John had to tack all the way into Weipa.  Bugger the Gulf, it has a mind of it’s own, and just when you think you are home and hosed, it throws something else at you.  But we made it across and almost simultaneously both John and I made a rude gesture to the ‘gulf’.  You’ll never see us again you, you, you thing!!!!

 

We will stay here in Weipa for as short a time as possible (on croc alert again – 4 metre croc between us and the tiny jetty).  We need to fuel up before we go on a picnic up to Seisia, which is our last stop before going around the top and back onto the EAST COAST.   Those words dear readers are music to my ears.

 

10th September 2007:  We are leaving Weipa tomorrow morning.  Yesterday we phoned the depot manager and arranged to get fuel at 9am today from the wharf.  I think we finally pulled away from the wharf at 3.30pm.  What an ordeal.  The customs boat before us had some problems and couldn’t move, then the pumps went on the blink etc etc etc. 

 

12th September 2007:  It’s lovely to be back in familiar territory. We spent last night at Port Musgrave and arrived in Seisia earlier today.  We don’t need to do much here except go to the fishing club on Friday night for one of their famous hamburgers and catch up with a few friends.   

 

14th September 2007:   Oh, my god!!!!  Today the Wildlife people pulled in the big croc trap they had set a few days earlier to catch the big bitie, which took 3 dogs off the beach in the previous three weeks.  They pulled it up onto the boat ramp and the whole town was there taking photos (see John’s photo file).  I am definitely not a crocodile lover and hope it was being taken off to the shoe factory, although I really think it was being taken to some crocodile farm down near Cairns (or so they said).

 

John has been studying the weather charts all day and is predicting good weather for the next four to five days so we are heading off tomorrow and will probably go directly down to Cooktown, weather permitting. 

 

19th September 2007:  You’ll never guess where we are.  We are in CAIRNS.  John got it right and the weather bureau got it wrong, again.  We had a fabulous trip from Seisia.   It took us almost 3 days and was very tiring, but well worth the time.  We had originally planned on stopping at Lizard Island for a few days, but couldn’t let the opportunity to travel in good weather pass us by. 

 

Now that we are here, we will hire a car for a few days, get some bits and pieces that we need and probably drive up to the Tablelands for some sight seeing.

 

26th September 2007:  I think it was about the 22th when we left Cairns.  We stayed at the Marlin Marina this time instead of Yorkey’s.  It was more central and we could walk up to the city for dinner each night.  I can’t believe what they have done to the Boardwalk there.  It’s magnificent with the pool and bbq’s etc.

 

We went down to Zoe Creek which is on Hinchinbrook Island and again the trip down to there was just beautiful.  That is where we caught all of our Barra on the way north.  But alas, NO barra and only one mud crab but there were lots and lots and lots of sandflies so we decided to leave Zoe Creek probably never to visit again and head further south.

 

So that brings us to Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island where we arrived yesterday.  Sea conditions were like glass all the way down the coast.  We are going to have dinner ashore tonight and head on down to The Whitsundays tomorrow where we hope to enjoy better weather than we had on our last visit and do lots of diving and snorkeling around the reefs. 

 

16th October 2007:  A few weeks have passed since my last entry.  We spent just over a week in the Whitsundays.  John’s daughter Tracey flew up to Hamilton Island to spend four days with us on the boat.  We just island hopped, fished and generally relaxed.   We had a lovely day at Whitehaven Beach and Tracey and I also spent a day on Hamilton around the pool and just looking around the resort shops before Tracey managed to slip on a rock and break for big toe although we didn’t know that until she got home and went to the doctors.   When Tracey left we headed immediately for Keswick Island where we spent the night before heading off again for the Percey’s where we had a chance meeting with Kerry, Eileen and Zac 2 off Olympus.  We meet these lovely folk at Island Head Creek on our way North back in March.  We’ve never had much luck with the weather at the Percey’s and got blown out of there the next day so headed down to Keppel Bay Marina to see some friends and to restock for the trip home.

 

From there we went out to the Keppel’s for a few days, which was just lovely.  We caught some beautiful fish, did some walking on the bush tracks and Ralf always has the best time whenever he gets to go to the beach.   We left there this morning and arrived here at Yellow Patch just before lunch.  We have already met a few other boaties and will probably get together with a few of them over the next few days because the weather looks as if it is going to blow 25-30 knots for a least 3-4 days.  Needless to say it is pretty crowded in here at the moment, but hey, what a beautiful place.   From here we will probably go down to Musgrave Island, down to /Fraser, then Mooloolaba to see Ron and Gloria and then to Redcliffe and then HOME to the Gold Coast.