Day 218, Year 2: Flight Out of Sydney

Day 218, Year 2: Flight Out of Sydney
Date: Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Weather: Partly Sunny Day
Location: En Route from Sydney, Australia to USA

Well, its been an interesting three days of travel. Right now we are on a United flight from San Francisco to Boston, but we almost didn’t make this flight. After the delay on Tuesday, we arrived at the Sydney airport at 12:30 PM on Wednesday, four hours early for our 4:15 PM flight to San Francisco. But as soon as we got in line we were handed a very nice letter from United saying the United plane did not make it in from the US and that we would be offered a flight on the Friday flight. Since
we have tickets to fly us to Charlotte on Thursday, this was a little problematic. So we waited in lines for almost three hours. After telling our sad story to a United agent, we found out that we could be rescheduled to the 3:30 PM Quantas flight to San Francisco and still make our original San Francisco to Boston flight and our Charlotte flight. It took almost an hour to find this out and then we waited in the longest line I have ever waited in to get our tickets. By the time we got our tickets,
it was almost time for the flight, so we practically ran to get to Customs and Security. Naturally in Security we were pulled to go through the more thorough checking of bags, making it just in time for the final call for the flight. We arrived in San Francisco, went through Customs, and then when we got to the Security gate there, I was pulled aside for the Level 1 check again. Do I look like a terrorist? This check took forever and the woman in charge of my things was not the most lovable person
I’ve ever met. She would ask if something was mine, and I would instinctively reach out to the item, giving her cause to say very firmly, “Keep your hands off.” This kept happening to me and other people going through and was a little intimidating. Once through this ordeal, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then got to the gate just before our boarding call. We didn’t even have time to get any US money, so we can’t buy any food or drink on this flight. I drink beer, not hard liquor, but right
now a good stiff drink of something would sure taste good!

We will land at Logan in Boston in about three hours and it will still be Wednesday due to crossing the International Dateline. Tuesday night’s dinner with Francetta Glowinski was great fun. She is the woman who was also left behind in Sydney on Tuesday due to our delay coming in from Brisbane. We found out that she actually got off the flight from Brisbane and got to the bus transfer station more quickly than we did. She got a bus that left immediately, and she was still too late for the flight.
We had both booked our tickets online and since there is not a United desk in Bundaberg, we didn’t have seats assigned. So 45 minutes before the flight, our seats were given away. Anyway, we had fun consoling each other about the delay and we learned about Francetta’s fascinating life. She is a nun with the Franciscan Sisters Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus Christ and Mary. This order is also known as the Wheaton (Illinois) Sisters. She spent most of her life as a chaplin at Loyola University
in Chicago, and has more recently taken a position as a chaplin in a Chicago hospital where she works mostly with patients dying of cancer and their families. It is easy to see how people would quickly learn to trust and love her. She is full of life and a delight to be around. In addition to being delayed, half of her baggage has been lost. All we had to offer her yesterday was a new toothbrush, but she stopped by our room this morning to return it. She actually found her ditty bag in the one
piece of luggage she does have. She has been here in Australia visiting with a friend in Brisbane for the past month. On other trips to the South Pacific, she has visited Indonesia where some of the sisters in her order work. It will be fun to stay in contact with Francetta as we travel through Indonesia next year. I’ll pass along the name of a book that she highly recommended since we will be traveling to Indonesia. It is Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. We don’t know if Francetta was able
to get a flight home to the US today, but we do hope so.

This will be our last official daily log for this cruising season and, again, it has been an amazing year. Actually we started 2007 in the United States and celebrated the birth of our first grand child on January 21. We spent the next month watching Samual Ellery Goldstone grow during his first month of life. Then is was back to New Zealand where we spent a month traveling through the North and South Islands with Alan and Helaine Kanegsberg, friends from Concord, New Hampshire. Alan and Helaine
flew out of Auckland on March 26 and we spent the next month in whangarei getting Windbird ready for a new season. we left New Zealand in May and spent three months in Fiji. The following is a summary of our voyage this year that I will be sending to friends and family who do not follow our log. If you have been reading the log, it is a little repetitious, but it does capture the essense of the Voyage of Windbird for 2007.

“‘Bula’ is the hello greeting there, and we will forever remember those beautiful Fiji smiles and greetings of ‘Bula, Bula!’ everywhere we went. Mark’s brother Steve joined us in Savusavu and spent almost three weeks with us. We had an incredible time together visiting villages, snorkeling, and fishing. Steve caught a huge wahoo with our fancy fishing reel mounted on a long paint roller handle and we enjoyed that wahoo for weeks after Steve left. We thought it couldn’t get any better than Fiji,
but we next visited Vanuatu and found we loved it there as well. Vanuatu is definitely the most primitive of any of the countries we have visited. The government is promoting Kastom Economy which is another way of saying that they want the people to keep their traditional ways. There is no electricity and very few paved roads except in the two cities of Port Vila and Luganville. Every country we have visited is different and you love each destination for its different flavor. We traveled to
Vanuatu in company with Paul and Marie on Ranger and stayed together throughout our explorations there. The highlights of the Vanuatu experience were visiting an active volcano on Tanna Island and attending the “Back to My Roots” festival on the island of Ambrym. This was three days of traditional dances and ceremonies. We were drawn into the traditions of the people and felt as one with them. Mark says this was the highlight of his two years of cruising. It certainly rates very high on my list,
but I have so many favorites. I loved visiting villages and schools in both Fiji and Vanuatu, but I equally enjoyed the underwater world. We snorkeled at every opportunity and shared many hours with fish of all colors and shapes and sizes. Every snorkeling experience was different and every one was incredible. On almost every underwater excursion, we would find families of anemonefish. I could stay in the water for hours just watching these fascinating little guys. We ended our season in New
Caledonia. This was a bit of a shock because we were back in a country where even the tiny islands had paved roads and electricity. But we soon looked past that to the beautiful white sand beaches and sparkling turquoise water. The views out over the lagoons were just breath taking.”

We have now ended our South Pacific islands cruising by sailing to Bundaberg, Australia, and will be moving on to Indonesia and Malaysia next season. We could spend many more years here in the South Pacific, but we have decided to push on. We will be in the US until sometime in March or April when we will return to Australia and cruise up the coast along the Great Barrier Reef. We will make our way to Darwin, Australia, by July and then join the Sail Indonesia Rally. This is, of course, considering
that there are no major political issues that crop up in Indonesia and Malaysia between now and then.

I will be posting logs from time to time while we are in the US, but for those of you who read the log daily, this is the last daily entry for the 2007 season. Some of you are very faithful readers and we feel that we have gotten to know you through your comments sent to us. Thanks for being there to encourage us in our voyage. And some of you have sent some really good questions that we hope to answer in the form of Captain’s Logs that will be posted while we are home. So check in from time
to time to see those posts. When we begin our 2008 cruising season, we will send an email to those of you have contacted us through the website in case you are interested in following along again next year. Until then, happy sailing thoughts to you.

Note: Photos from New Caledonia have not been posted. Hopefully they will all be posted sometime in the next two weeks. I thought I would get this done in Australia, but life on the dock there was just way too busy.

Day 217, Year 2: Stuck in Sydney

Day 217, Year 2: Stuck in Sydney
Date: Monday, November 27, 2007
Weather: Beautiful in Bundaberg; Cloudy in Brisbane
Location: En route from Bundaberg, Australia to USA

This was the day of delays. We had booked airport transport for 9 AM even though our flight didn’t leave until 12:15 PM. As this sad story develops, you will see that this was a good idea, but not good enough. The van picking us up taking us to the Brisbane airport was late. He delivered us to the Brisbane International Airport as our Orbitz flight information indicated. We unloaded all of the heavy luggage, got it inside, and then found out–wrong airport. We needed to be in the Brisbane Domestic
terminal. That required hauling the luggage on a cart down one floor and across a long walkway, taking it off the cart and putting it on another elevator, getting off and carrying each piece quite a ways down a train platform, and waiting for more than 40 minutes for a train to take us to Brisbane Domestic. It was less than a five minute ride, but too far to walk. We got off the train at the Domestic terminal and had to carry the heavy luggage one piece at a time a very, very long way down the
train platform. No carts! Each bag weighs 70 pounds, so this was a Herculean effort on Mark’s part. Finally, as Mark was carrying the last bag, a train employee saw what was happening and unlocked a door to give us a cart that we could use to carry the luggage across a long walkway to the terminal. We finally made it to the Quantas check-in. I had out my wallet for identification. Then we had a weight problem. One bag was 1.5 kilos overweight but one was 1.5 under, so we had to transfer some
things. In the process, unknowingly I left my wallet laying on the counter. I never needed ID as Mark had our Passports, so after checking-in we went upstairs to the Food Court before heading to our departure gate. We were having a snack when I heard my name on the loudspeaker. I went to the counter and the gentleman who had checked us in was there and asked if I was missing something. I clicked off all the bags and said I thought we had everything. Then he produced my wallet with all my credit
cards and driver’s license. I was so grateful. At least something good had happened today.

We waited for our flight to Sydney, but it was late coming in and late leaving. Then when we got close to Sydney the pilot announced that the Sydney airport was backed up and we had been put in a holding pattern. We finally landed at 3:15 PM with our flight to San Francisco leaving at 4:15 PM. We still thought we were okay, but then we had to go to a transfer area to wait on a bus to take us from the Domestic to the International terminal. At least we did not have the heavy luggage, but we waited,
and waited, and waited, and no bus. I was getting very nervous, but there was absolutely nothing we could do. When we finally reached the International terminal, we found we had to walk a long distance to get to the United check-in. As we were practically running, I heard a young woman call Mark’s name. She acted like she was the bearer of good news, telling us that she had us booked on tomorrow’s flight to San Francisco. Our hearts sank. She explained that they closed the flight 45 minutes
before take off and it was now ten minutes to take-off. So then the saga began of claiming that heavy luggage once again and getting Quantas convinced that they needed to take care of our meals, transport, and lodging. All of that worked out and here we are in an airport hotel for the night. We met a woman on the transport to the hotel that had the same problem as us, so we are having dinner with her tonight, compliments of Quantas. I’m writing this in hopes that the wireless internet here is
going to work. We had no internet access in Brisbane, so I am having to send yesterday’s log and then this one. I will write a final log for the cruising season tomorrow and send it from San Francisco. That is, assuming we get to San Francisco. Wish us luck!

Day 216, Year 2: Bundaberg to Brisbane

Day 216, Year 2: Bundaberg to Brisbane
Date: Sunday, November 26, 2007
Weather: Beautiful in Bundaberg; Cloudy in Brisbane
Location: Enroute from Bundaberg, Australia to USA

I had my very first train ride today and loved it. What a comfortable way to travel and see the countryside. Paul and Marie took us and our mammoth luggage to the train station in Bundaberg. And that mammoth amount of luggage was our first hitch. We had read that the weight limit per bag on the train was greater than that on the airlines, so we weren’t concerned about our heavy bags. That was until the nice gentlemen in baggage check told us the limit was 25 kilos per bag for checked luggage.
Anything heavier, you have to load and unload yourself. So we got one of those wonderful hand carts and loaded the two huge suitcases weighing 32 kilos each, and the two duffel bags that were smaller but just as heavy. And then there were our backpacks which are always heavy and which have hiking boots tied to them this time so we will be ready for cold weather on arrival in Boston. We are both wearing sandals until then. We just can’t quite give in to shoes just yet. And then we both have
carry-ons. Paul was convinced that we will cause the air plane to be overloaded, but that’s tomorrow’s worry. We said our sad goodbye’s to Paul and Marie and then waited on the platform for the train. It was right on time and we were on our way to Brisbane. As we headed south, the countryside was flat sugar cane fields for as far as one could see. After we went through Maryborough, the flat sugar cane fields turned into rolling hills with cattle grazing everywhere. Once in a while we would
pass a volcanic cone which looked very out of place in the gently rolling countryside. But then Australia is a land of contrasts. The other contrast was the weather. Almost immediately after leaving Bundaberg, the sunny weather left us and it became totally overcast. So much for sunny Australia. We’ll have to wait for a few months to see that again.

We arrived in Bundaberg and unloaded that massive amount of luggage onto a hand cart and wheeled it out to the street to wait for a taxi. We were in a taxi loading area, but after waiting quite a while, we had no ride. We remembered that the train conductor had announced that there are courtesy phones in the train terminal for calling a taxi, so we did that and got a ride very quickly. We had reservations at the Kookaburra Inn and we were there within ten minutes. It was a cute little house on
residential street just a couple of blocks up the hill from downtown. The Kookaburra is small backpacker and the price was certainly right. Of course, our room was downstairs, which meant lugging all of the luggage down narrow stone stairs outside the house. And of course, our room was at the far end of a stone walkway. So much for heavy luggage!

We got settled in and then walked downtown. Amazingly, we were drawn to the waterfront. You’d think we might get enough of water, but I guess not. Brisbane is on a river and there is wonderful ferry system that you can hop on and go to major stops up and down the river. We hopped on and went to an area across from downtown where we had been told there was a lagoon. Actually, it is a huge city park with a man-made lagoon and city beach. It is currently being renovated, but we enjoyed a walk
on the boardwalk and the flowering trees and plants in the park. The museum was just a stone’s throw away, but we were running out of time and had to take the ferry back across to the main downtown area before it got too dark. Queen Street is the main street in Brisbane and it is a walking mall. We were there just as the stores were closing and the mall was packed with people. We got to see the very last bit of the Brisbane Christmas tree being erected by a crane (obviously a fake tree) and we
walked the street enjoying the sights. We actually walked all the way through the downtown and on to Chinatown for dinner. It was a quick tour of Brisbane so we will have to plan more time there on our way back to Bundaberg in a few months.

Tomorrow morning we check into Brisbane International, fly to Sydney on Quantas, and then have a quick change to a United flight to San Francisco and then Boston.

Day 215, Year 2: Leaving Bundaberg Tomorrow Morning

Day 215, Year 2: Leaving Bundaberg Tomorrow Morning
Date: Sunday, November 25, 2007
Weather: Rainy, Rainy Night; Beautiful Day
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Last night it poured the rain while we were having dinner on Ranger, and the rain continued off and on all night. We had one last rain early this morning, and then the sun came out and we had a beautiful day. Unfortunately, we spent the whole day inside the boat doing more to get her ready to leave. I’m afraid I inherited a trait from my mother that I just can’t shake. Before leaving for a trip, everything has to be “ship shape.” In the midst of cleaning, Marie called for me to come over to
Ranger. She was also cleaning out her cabinets and she had boxes and boxes of canned food to give away. She thought it would take longer to sell their boat than it did, so she had bought provisions for the next four months. After choosing provisions to bring back to Windbird, I think we have most of the canned goods we will need for our next cruising season. Mark and I worked together to get those things put into our food database, and just when we thought we were about finished we discovered
that our electrical system was not charging. We need that system working to make sure our bilge pumps are working while we are gone, so he had to hurriedly do some troubleshooting. He found that our voltage regulator for the alternator was not working. Fortunately, we had a back-up. We were supposed to meet Paul and Marie for dinner at 6 PM, but that got delayed slightly. But by sundown, we were finally ready to go. We had a last dinner together at Kacy’s in Bargara.

It doesn’t seem quite real yet that when we return, Ranger will no longer be here and Paul and Marie will be “boatless.” The sale of Ranger should be finalized in the next two weeks and then they will start exploring Australia on land. About the time we return from the US, they will be going home. Home for them will be in Rockaway Beach, Oregon. When they left for their trip across the Pacific, home was aboard Ranger in Marina Del Ray in Los Angeles. Since they knew they would be selling Ranger
in Australia, they bought land in Oregon and had a new home built. So moving into their new home once they return to the US will be their next adventure. We have really enjoyed getting to know them and have had a fantastic time cruising with them this season. Paul and Marie, we will miss you, but we wish you the greatest happiness in your return to your new home in Oregon.

We heard from another couple today that we were very close with last year–Doug and Sylvie of Windcastle. Windcastle is in Opua, New Zealand, and Doug and Sylvie have been in the United States since August. They returned for the wedding of Sylvie’s son in San Francisco, followed by another very special wedding. Doug and Sylvie were married on October 20. They are now at Sylvie’s home in Mexico City and will be through the holiday season. In January, they will return to New Zealand to do some
land travel. Unfortunately, they will be a year behind us so we won’t see them next cruising season, but we will keep in touch and hopefully get back together sometime before the end of our respective circumnavigations. So congratulations to you, Doug and Sylvie. We will be in touch once we return to the US.

I’m going to write a log tomorrow and try to send it from Brisbane. We leave Bundaberg on a train at 10 AM tomorrow and then fly out of Brisbane on Tuesday around noon. I’m figuring that I will be able to find an internet connection in Brisbane and can send my final log of the 2007 cruising season from there.

Day 214, Year 2: Turtle Tracks

Day 214, Year 2: Turtle Tracks
Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Weather: Another Beautiful Australian Spring Day
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

The short story is that we didn’t see any turtles last night. Four turtles came ashore, but three returned to sea without laying eggs. Only one Flatback, found only in Australia, stayed ashore and layed her eggs. The first group of onlookers got to go view the nesting session, but groups two and three were without a turtle to watch. We were in Group 2. The Conservation Center at Mon Repos has turtle watching down to a science. Since a night many years ago when there were 2,700 people on the
beach all at once tryting to watch the turtles nesting, the rangers knew they had to do something to organize the watching or all of the turtles would be scared away. Dr. Col Limpus heads the research group here and has been at Mon Repos since he was a young man. He wanted to find a way to let people enjoy the turtles but keep the experience one that the turtles could deal with. They now have rangers that scout the beach each night. Once a turtle has made her way up the beach and dug the hole
where she will lay her eggs, the rangers come get a group to watch. They let groups of 40-60 people walk to the beach with a ranger in front and another in back–no lights, no cameras, until the rangers say it is safe to use these these items. The people are positioned behind the turtle, and once she has started laying eggs, she is oblivious to the people and the light. The group is allowed to stay while she lays her 150 to 200 or so eggs and then starts her trek back to the water. If the turtle
has chosen a place to lay her eggs that might be disturbed by high tidal waters, the rangers take the eggs out of the hole immediately and let the onlookers help carry the eggs to a safer location. If this is done within two hours after the eggs are laid, there is no harm to the embryo. The moving of the eggs to a safer location has resulted in a much greater percentage of eggs that are hatched here. Ranger John Meech was the spokesman last night, and after five hours of waiting, we were invited
to do a midnight sweep of the beach with him. He explained that we probably wouldn’t see any turtles, but it was a beautiful night for a midnight walk on the beach under a full moon. All we got to see were the turtle tracks from the Flatback that had laid her eggs earlier. So we will hope that when we return from the US, we will get to go back to Mon Repos and watch baby hatchlings head out to sea.

Today was another day of getting ready to leave–laundry, inside boat cleaning, cleaning and drying out the water tanks, replacing as many rusty hose clamps in the engine room ander under sinks as could be found, and on and on. I spent the better part of the morning on Skype talking to my brother and sister-in-law, my sister, and our son Justin. It was time to check in about details for next weekend in Charlotte. I guess the weather there was nice but has now gotten cool. Sure hope that turns
around fast. It was a beautiful day here today and I did the laundry by hand just because I wanted to be outside. And why pay for a dryer when the sun does a much better job? We had dinner aboard Ranger tonight. We are still eating that delicious fish Paul caught on the way in here. Tomorrow will be our last day here as we leave early Monday morning for Brisbane. It won’t be long before we are back in the states.

Day 213, Year 2: Turtle Watch

Day 213, Year 2: Turtle Watch
Date: Friday, November 23, 2007
Weather: Mostly Overcast
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Today we packed, unpacked, repacked, and did it all over again. It is tough fitting in everything you want to bring home and stay within the flight weight and size limits limits. There are many books that we want to keep and we had hoped to bring home, but most are staying here as they are just too heavy. We also had many shells that we wanted to bring, but those are staying here as well. The good news is that we are packed and ready to go. Now we can spend the next two days doing the last few
things on the boat and enjoying Bundaberg.

Tonight we are going to Mon Repos beach where there is a turtle reserve. We had planned to go earlier, but no turtles have been coming in. Last night there were four loggerheads who came ashore and laid their eggs. This was after a long dry spell with no turtles, so we are hoping for a few for tonight. The moon is almost full, so it should be a beautiful night on the beach, with or without turtles. Each night this week about 180 people have been showing up and waiting until after midnight to
see nothing but the beach. I hope our turtle watch tonight is more successful. I’ll log a full report tomorrow night.