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.

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.