Friday, July 27, 2007

Gateway to the Whitsundays

Craig with our US Coast Guard Documents. So nice.

We've made it to MacKay (the Ausie's pronounce it McKie - like pie). It took longer than we thought even though the wind was blowing hard and we had some of our fastest sails so far. We really moved with just a little bit of our jib (the front triangle shaped sail) only. The ocean swell was some of the largest we've seen, making the passages rocky and rolly. Luckily, Maia's hard chine hull shape prevents the boat from being too tippy and prevents the waves from slapping the hull. The picture below shows the swell well above our lifelines which are unusually tall.

We spent one wonderful afternoon and evening in Island Head (22 degrees 25 minutes south and 150 degrees 32 minutes east) even without a stove and oven. There were so many turtles poking there heads out of the water checking us out that we were beginning to feel a bit self conscious.

This is a picture of Island Head as we left, notice the rainbow.

Our propane for the oven and stove ran out on our first night out at Island Head, which turned out to be four days before we got back to a town. We suspect that the bottle wasn't completely filled. We survived on cold food, but missed our fresh bread and hot meals. It made our landing in MacKay very welcome.

Back to our long term plans, we sent off our passports to the the PNG consulate the day after we got our USCG documents. Although we sent it in a return express mail package, we haven't got them back, so we still can't leave the country. At this point it is possible that we will spend the rest of the trip in Australia, given our short time frame. We will know more soon.

Evvy's visit with her mom was fantastic. They explored caves, fed kangaroos, sailed, and generally explored every tourist site within 20 miles of Rosslyn Bay. We are a little overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of pictures that we have from that portion of the trip. Marguerite is a spectacular photographer. Evvy is pulling together a slide show and we will include it in a post to come soon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Big News

Hello international audience:

The BIG news is that today we RECEIVED our documentation from the USCG today. Thanks so much to our bureaucracy and Craig's Mom Gayle for making that happen!

As we have had Marguerite visiting, we have not had time to update you, and upload pictures. That will come in the next few days as things are changing. Maia will soon be heading North again, with an eye to going off shore on the most probable route. We are looking forward to leaving Australia, though it has been wonderful being here. There is precious little time left to make an offshore passage, but we have done much to get Maia ready.

More news soon. We will soon be leaving for Mackay, but plan to post some great pictures that Marguerite took when here before we leave.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rosslyn Bay

The sun is shining and the crew is clean and happy.

We've made it to Rosslyn Bay after two days of fantastic sailing. Evvy's Mom has just arrived from Las Vegas and we are looking forward to checking out some of the local islands together.

As we set our anchor outside the marina, our friends Frank and Jane pulled into port, so we are looking forward to some shared adventures.

Pictures to come soon....

Saturday, July 7, 2007


Latitude: 23 50' S (Decimal Degrees -23.843) Longitude: 151 15' E (Decimal Degrees 151.256)

The gateway to warm water and trade winds, so we've been told.

Gladstone itself is an industrial city where giant ships get loaded with coal, aluminum (or aluminium if you are Ausie) is refined, and energy is generated. The town is small, about 30,000 people. The marina is very inexpensive and managed by very nice people. It is a pleasant walk to town from the boat, and all of us have spent the last few days walking and biking about, enjoying some warmer weather, though nights are still quite cool.

Tomorrow we head out again, this time to The Oaks, then on to Yellow Patch, then either Keppel Island or Yeppoon. North of Yeppoon the US Military is practicing war with operation Talisman Sabre on the Queensland Coast, so after that we need to stay offshore or commit civil disobedience. We haven't decided what we are going to do yet.

Still no word on Evvy's mom's passport, but we are hoping to meet up with her before we get arrested, if we choose that route. Unless of course she wants to join us.

Here are a few more pictures from Pancake Creek and the sail up.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Pancake Creek

Moonrise in Pancake Creek

We've arrived at the land of cruising, our first true destination for this has been Pancake Creek. Since our last internet access, Maia left Bundaberg, traveling north to the Town of 1770, then to Pancake Creek for a good few days, and arriving in Gladstone on July 4th. Our Australian compatriots here do know that July 4th is American Independence. I can't say that we knew of any historically significant date for Australia, but then again that's not much of a surprise, is it? As I type, we are running the motor as we head into Galdstone harbor. Like most sailing days for us we are again pushing against the winds that continue to come directly from the direction we want to go (north west). We are nearly into the harbor though, so this blog post will likely be completed tomorrow, when we have sorted out our arrival in the marina.

Our visit to Pancake Creek was the start of real cruising for us. The weather finally broke, and it was warm enough during the day to go back to shorts and t-shirts, at least until late afternoon. The creek is quite picturesque, there were great beaches to walk along. We went on beautiful walks up to the light house on Bustard Head, found all kinds of things on the beach including a giant lizard, a cane toad, and kangaroo tracks. We got to know the friendly cruisers in the other boats, who had all kinds of things to show us. We learned from Sherry how to spot the Southern Cross in the sky every time. Heather and Pete taught us how to find small shrimp they call "Yabbies" to use as bait. This worked so well, Dave immediately caught his first fish that we could eat.

We were excited to find on our second day there that our friends from Brisbane, Frank and Jane on Escondido, had sailed into the creek and we had a great reunion with them. They proved they are true sailors by launching their dinghy with an oar as a mast and a jacket as a sail to sail over to us without using the engine or rowing. Against the quick running tide, this was quite a feat, good fun! On our last day in Pancake creek, Frank and Jane organized a cook out on the beach with all the boats in the marina. At this gathering all three of us were again the youngest people (save for a three cruising kids), earning us the nickname of "the kids" here. As the sun set on July 3rd, we reminded ourselves that we had really made it half way around the world to Australia, bought a cruising boat, and got it ready and out cruising. We basked in the sun and our feat.

Today Dave pulled up Maia's anchor at first light, about 6 a.m. Craig steered the boat carefully through the shallow water of the creek and Evvy passed around the coffee and tea to keep us warm. About 5-6 boats left our anchorage at Pancake creek this morning, most all of them motoring their way to Gladstone at the same time we did. (It felt a bit like we imagine the BaHaHa to be.) Our preference to sail rather than run the engine ALL the time means that we typically will use all the time we have in the day to stay out on the water, keeping the motor off until it becomes clear that we have to motor to arrive before darkness. Today was no exception, after Evvy got together a great lunch, we turned off the motor and sailed for hours afterwards, until the wind went light and the tide turned adverse, forcing us to use the "iron genoa".

Just as we left Bundaberg we found out that our US Coast Guard application was rejected for failure to have an address. In a wonderful show of bureaucracy, we learned of the problem with the address through a letter sent, you guessed it, through the mail! We are disappointed that we still have no time frame for when we might be able to get the paperwork needed to leave Australia.

In other news of bureaucracy, Evvy's Mom was set to join us here in Australia today, but she has been delayed because she still has not received her passport after months of waiting for it. She still hopes to reschedule, and the airlines are understanding about changing the time. We are off to explore Gladstone for a few days in hopes that Marguerite can soon join us.