Day 212, Year 2: Happy Thanksgiving!

Day 212, Year 2: Happy Thanksgiving!
Date: Thursday, November 22, 2007
Weather: Yet Another Beautiful Day
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

We are thankful . . . for our children, for our wonderful families and friends, for Windbird as she carries us safely around the world, and for the wonderful sights we see everyday in our voyage. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Today became a very special day when we took a late afternoon walk just behind the marina and saw all kinds of wildlife. Most notably, we saw kangaroos. They didn’t let us get too close, but we were close enough to get some decent photos. We saw all kinds of birds. There were plovers and kites and other unidentified birds as well as mating Monarch butterflies. At least We assume they were mating as they flew coupled together. I can’t believe we haven’t taken the time to walk about here before
now, but we will spend every late afternoon tromping back in the bush from now until we leave.

Our morning started early with a visit from Lib, our surveyor. He was finally delivering a rough draft of the survey we need for our insurance. It took almost an hour and a half to make corrections, but we were glad to do this as our insurance agency has been most patient waiting for this survey since we arrived here. By 8 AM we were in Bob and Dianna’s dinghy finishing the wax job on Windbird’s topsides. The topsides are the hull from the waterline to the deck. We did as much as we could from
the dinghy and then finished the job from the dock. We had just finished that job when the prospective buyer for Ranger arrived with his wife and John, the broker. We helped with the lines as Ranger left the dock for a short sea trial and haul out so the buyer could inspect the bottom. It appears at this point that the buyer is satisfied and that the deal is solid. If so, Paul and Marie have about two weeks to move themselves off Ranger. They have moved most everything to a storage unit already,
but now they will have to pack those things into boxes to be sent home. It’s hard to believe that Paul and Marie won’t be on Ranger any longer, but we wish them well in their new adventures back in the US . . . after a nice long explore here in Australia.

Thanksgiving dinner on Windbird was a wonderful time spent with good friends. I had one can of Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Mix left and some Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix. You can’t buy cubed stuffing here and the stuffing mix I could find here was like finely ground bread crumbs. Marie and Dianne both baked chickens and we had stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes with Dianna’s wonderful gravy, green beans, and cranberry fruit salad. It was quite a feast, enjoyed by all, and easier than usual since no one
person had to do all of the cooking.

As wonderful as it was to have a great dinner with friends, we always think of family at holiday times. Happy Thanksgiving to all. Heather, Jed, and Sam, Justin and Jo–we are thinking of you and are hoping that you are having a great Thanksgiving. Next week this time, we will all be together in Charlotte, North Carolina. That seems like another world away, but soon we will be there.

Day 211, Year 2: Too Close for Comfort

Day 211, Year 2: Too Close for Comfort
Date: Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Weather: Another Beautiful Day
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Voices on the dock at 6:30 AM? Not usually. Then banging and crashing sounds . . . not on the dock, but on our boat. Mark hopped out of bed and was on the back deck in seconds fending off a sailboat that was being pushed by the strong current sideways onto the back of Windbird. We used boat hooks to fend them off, but the current was very strong. Finally they were able to use their motor to propel them forward, still sideways to the finger pier docks, and on to the power boat to our side.
By this time, Paul and Marie were out helping and Mark went down the dock to the slip these folks had just tried to leave and started pulling them back in. Once the boat got its nose going into the current, the captain gunned the engine in reverse and was able to pull them away from the docks and safely on their way. Nothing seemed to be damaged on our boat, although we had to borrow White Swan’s dinghy this afternoon to check the wind vane steering mechanism that is attached to our stern. We
found a problem, but we don’t think the problem was caused by this morning’s little “crunch.” It is not a major problem, but something loose that shouldn’t be. We’ll check that out further and are very grateful that more damage was not done. When we came into Whangarei last year, the same thing happened to us when we tried to come into our slip. We ended up sideways to the finger piers, and it was Paul and Marie’s Ranger that we almost crunched. Not a good way to greet your new neighbors, but
a fact of life when in the swift currents in the rivers here.

So by 7 AM, we were up and very alert. I decided to go wash the rags we have been using for polishing stainless in the marina laundromat. I had soaked them overnight to get rid of most of the gunk, but washing these by hand didn’t sound like fun. As long as I was doing one wash, I decided to do two loads and include our dirty clothes. By the time I reached the laundry room, there were only two machines available and I had more clothes than I thought. So I washed some by hand. While up at the
laundry room, Mark was installing a fan to keep the battery compartment cool. I checked in with Jeff at the marina office to see when he was going to pay a visit to Windbird today. He is the marina manager, but he also offers a boat watching service for people leaving their boats here. He wanted to visit the boat today to take pictures and get the directions from the captain as to what would need to be checked while we are gone. Jeff said he would be down before 11 AM so that we could take the
11:30 AM bus to town. As it worked out, he came earlier and then Ranger took us to town.

We returned to the marina by 1 PM and then started the afternoon of work. This is when we went to borrow White Swan’s dinghy to check out the stern of our boat, and then used the dinghy to clean the stainless windvane and wax the port side of the boat. We have a pier on our starboard side, but not one on the port, so waxing that side without a dinghy in the water would be impossible. By the time we got that done, we were pretty much exhausted, so only a few small jobs got done after that. We
are making good progress on the things that must be done. We’ll finish waxing the boat in the morning, and take the rest of the day to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner aboard Windbird tomorrow night. We’re hoping to go for a late afternoon walk to look for kangaroos, and then Paul and Marie of Ranger and Dianna and Bob of White Swan will join us for dinner on Windbird. Tonight we watched a small dolphin playing behind our boat at sunset. Maybe he will return and put on another show for us tomorrow
evening. For that, we would be thankful.

Day 210, Year 2: Perfect Weather

Day 210, Year 2: Perfect Weather
Date: Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Weather: A Beautiful Day
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Today was one of those picture perfect days–blue skies with puffy white clouds, a stiff breeze, and the temperature and humidity just right. Wouldn’t it be great if you could bottle days this and release them in the middle of a cold New England winter? Unfortunately, you can’t do that, but we can hold the memory until we return here in a few months.

Work continued today. Varnishing is completed, stainless on deck is all bright and shiny, and we are ready to wax the hull. Tomorrow morning we will do a few odd jobs and then head to town to buy the last few things we need for our Thanksgiving dinner and to buy some things we need to complete our packing project. Time is slipping away quickly, but we are making good progress and should be all ready to go by Saturday. On Sunday we will figure out what else we need to do, and by early Monday morning
we are off on the train for Brisbane. We can start to feel the cool air of New England.

Day 209, Year 2: D-day

Day 209, Year 2: D-day
Date: Monday, November 19, 2007
Weather: Bright and Sunny Day
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Today was D-day on Windbird–Decision Day. We simply can’t get everything done that is on our list before leaving for the US next Monday, so we are having to prioritize and work faster at getting the important things done. I have one more morning of varnishing and that will be done. We started cleaning the stainless on deck today and will try to wax the hull tomorrow. We can reach one side from the dock, but without a dinghy in the water, the other side might have to wait until we can borrow
someone’s dinghy. We have taken all our halyards (lines) down and put them in storage, so there’s no way to get our dinghy off our deck and into the water. I’ve started gathering all of the things to be packed and taken home, but I don’t think there is any way we can take all we want and stay within the weight limits. Again, we will have to prioritize and some things will have to be left here.

Today was Paul’s birthday, so we went out to dinner with Paul and Marie to celebrate. They are keeping busy with the paperwork necessary when selling a boat in a foreign port–lots and lots of paperwork. We are frustrated with too much to do and they are frustrated with rules and regulations, so tonight was a nice, relaxed evening out that gave us all a needed break.

Early this morning we talked with Heather, Jed, and Sam via Skype. This grand baby is something to watch in action. Heather promises I will lose weight trying to keep up with him. We both had our web cams going today and Sam seemed to have a greater than usual interest in watching the computer screen. He is always trying to grab the video camera, but today he was doing that and he was watching and listening to us. We were able to take some Skype still shots that definitely show his determined
nature. Can’t wait to hold him, or run after him, when we get home next week. For now, I’d better keep running to get things done here.

Day 208, Year 2: Marketing, Varnishing, Sewing, and Oiling

Day 208, Year 2: Marketing, Varnishing, Sewing, and Oiling
Date: Sunday, November 18, 2007
Weather: Very Rainy Night Clearing in AM; Mostly Sunny Day
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Tt was another “get it done” day–not too exciting as you can see from the title to this log, but a lot of work got done. I got out of bed and immediately put another coat of varnish on the aft head floor and the teak shower grate. Before I finished the shower grate, Paul and Marie invited us to go to the Sunday Market at the Shalom College (Catholic high school) in Bundaberg. We needed to buy some things for our Thanksgiving dinner, so I finished the varnishing and along we went. The terrain
here looks like Kansas, but instead of wheat fields forever, it is sugar cane fields. There are also huge fields of various vegetables and cantaloupe. The cantaloupe is now ripening, but many crops have just been planted. In another month it will be summer here, and the rain we have been having has brought everything to life. On the way to the market we saw the most beautiful Poinciana trees I have ever seen. This tree originated in Madagascar but has been spread to tropical climates around
the world. We saw these trees in the Caribbean and in various places across the South Pacific. But none were as beautiful as the ones we saw today. These trees have a flat, wide-spreading crown and the flowers are a bright red, although sometimes bright orange or scarlet. The tree is also called a Flamboyant or Flame Tree. We stopped in a residential neighborhood on the way home from the market to take a picture of one particularly beautiful tree.

Back at the marina, it was back to work. I thought I had the handrail on the port side ready to oil, but on closer inspection, I could see that I had much more sanding to do. And then I had to do the the starboard rail. Just when I thought I was finished, I looked back at the hand rail on the other side of the boat and I could all kinds of places that needed more sanding. Mark came to the rescue and helped me. Otherwise, I think I would still be out there sanding away. I had hoped to stop at
4 o’clock and go for a walk to see the neighborhood kangaroos that hang out in the fields around here, but we decided to wait until tomorrow so I could go ahead and get one coat of oil on the handrails. There was still more to do, but it was put on hold until tomorrow. Varnishing after dark just doesn’t work! Paul and Marie did go, however, and they saw one beautiful “roo.” Maybe we’ll finish early tomorrow and get to go for that walk.

Mark spent his afternoon sewing seams on our Dorade box covers. They were made with special thread that is supposed to be UV resistant, but every year some seams have to be resewn. There is a thread that we can buy here that will last forever, but it costs about $250 a spool. I guess it should last forever at that price. Mark also got the new tarp we bought last week put in place over the boom. It is there to protect the cockpit from direct sunlight and it looks like it will do the job.

Just one week from tomorrow we will be headed to Brisbane by train and then on home by plane. There are so many things I still want to see here before we leave, but boat work comes first. Tomorrow will be another busy day.

Day 207, Year 2: Dinner with Good Friends . . . Again

Day 207, Year 2: Dinner with Good Friends . . . Again
Date: Saturday, November 17, 2007
Weather: Partly Cloudy with Periods of Rain; Rainy Evening
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Varnish jobs have had to be transported inside as it seems to sprinkle rain every single time I start to varnish something outside. So we have our Dorade boxes sitting on the main saloon table and the teak shower grate hanging from the main saloon ceiling. I’ve finished the varnishing of teak trim in the shower enclosure, but I am still working on the aft bathroom floor. By the first part of the week, I should have enough coats on these things to call it quits to varnishing, although I will still
be working on oiling the handrails on deck. I start that process tomorrow and hope to have that done by mid-week. This morning Mark sprayed the spinnaker with fresh water, laid it out on the deck to dry, and then raised it in its ATM sleeve to complete the drying process. It had gotten doused with salt water on the passage here, so we needed to clean it before storing it away. With eight days to go, we ticking off the jobs to do, but somehow the list seems to get longer every day.

I had invited Bob and Dianna of White Swan and Paul and Marie of Ranger to come to Windbird for dinner this evening, but the rain caused a change in plans. There was no way we could all fit in our boat with the varnish projects sitting around and no way to put these things outside because of the rain. Marie invited us to come to Ranger, so we transferred food in that direction. But then there was another big change. We were going to have grilled steaks, but Marie had talked to some of the local
fishermen on the dock yesterday and arranged to trade “XXXX Gold” beer for crabs. She thought she would be getting two or three crabs that we could cook and eat as an appetizer, but we ended up with twelve huge Spanner crabs and they took the place of the steaks. We’ll just have to have those on another evening. The crabs took a little more work than we had expected, but they were delicious. After dinner, we did some pre-planning for our Thanksgiving dinner this week. We will all get together
again on Thursday to enjoy turkey (or maybe chicken) with all the trimmings. We aren’t sure that we can get cranberries here, so Mark might not get to make his traditional cranberry salad, but we will have stuffing and pumpkin pie, and all of the other traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

When we got up this morning, we found that we had run out of time on our wireless internet service. It took all day to get that up and running again so I didn’t get to call our daughter Heather to check on baby Sam. He has had a nasty little cold and we wanted to check on how he is doing. We will have to try again in the morning now that we are connected once again. After that, we will get out the Sail Rite sewing machine and Mark will do a few sewing projects. He needs to restitch the Dorade
box Sunbrella covers and make some modifications to a tarp we bought this past week. We are going to hang it over our boom to cover the cockpit area. We will leave the dodger and bimini Sunbrella covers up while we are gone, but we hope the tarp will help protect them from UV damage. So more varnishing and some sewing are on the agenda for tomorrow.