Day 195, Year 2: Dark and Stormy in Bundaberg
Date: Monday, November 5, 2007
Weather: Overcast, Then Pouring Rain
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia

Late this afternoon, the skies opened and the rain has been pouring down all evening. This part of Australia has not seen rain in months and they have been on water restriction due to the drought. Evidently we need at least a week of pouring rain to make a dent in the diminished water table. I don’t look forward to a week a rain, but on the other hand, I guess I hope it happens and helps to break the drought. We had taken down our dodger and bimini so that I could varnish, but when the black
clouds hung overhead this afternoon, we decided to put the dodger back on and then hang a tarp over the mast to protect the back part of the cockpit. I have only two coats of varnish on the cap rail around the cockpit and need at least six to eight straight days of dry weather to finish the job. We have three weeks before we leave here, so hopefully we will get another dry spell so I can once again be in the varnishing business.

We left the marina early this morning on the tour bus taking us to the Bundaberg Rum Factory. We really enjoyed seeing how sugar cane is processed into molasses and then into rum. We got to walk through a building that was one of the molasses holding tanks. From the molasses “swimming pool” the raw molasses is processed, yeast is added, and then fermented. The alcohol content goes up through each of the processes, and when the final product is poured into huge barrels made of white oak from the
eastern part of the United States, the alcohol content reaches about 78 per cent. The rum sits in these gigantic wooden vats for at least two years, and then it is bottled. The tannins in the white oak give the Bundaberg rum its specific flavor. After the tour, we were taken to the bar and offered free drinks. I had what is called a Dirty Harry. It is Bundaberg Royale Liqueur over ice with cream added. Even though it was mid-morning, I have to admit that I enjoyed that drink. From the rum
factory, we visited the gingerbeer factory, and then on the Bunnings Hardware. I’m afraid Mark and I got in trouble here. We didn’t hear that there was a 20 minute time limit on the visit, so we went up and down every isle looking for things on our shopping list. I finally felt like we had been there a very long time, so I started walking the isles looking for anyone from our tour. I found no one, so I went to the front of the store. Our guide, Judy, greeted me there and said she needed me to
come to the bus. I dashed quickly to look for Mark and couldn’t find him anywhere. I thought maybe he had gone to the bus, but no such luck. I came back and found him, but I’m afraid we held up the bus for quite some time. The last stop was a grocery store. This time we made sure we checked on the time limit and we came back early. Even so, people who went on the afternoon tour told us that we have become infamous and Latebird instead of Windbird.

When we returned from the tour, it was obvious that rain was on its way. We first had darkekned skies and then thunder. That is when we started bringing all of the lines we have been washing and drying for days now and covering the cockpit. We spent the rest of the afternoon organizing the lines and putting them back in storage. We had hoped to get rid of some of them, but in the end, we decided to keep most of the lines to use “just in case.” The rain came down harder and harder and it was
dark long before sundown. We got up our nerve to walk up to the rally tent to see if they were still having the Sausage Sizzle, and indeed, they were. There were only a few cruisers there, but we had a lovely evening as the storm raged on. Mark spent most of the evening talking to the captain of Kasume. The captain is a public health physican and started his circumnavigation solo. He met his wife in Madagascar and they now sail with their 14 month-old son, Pierre-Louis. We learned much about
sailing the Indian Ocean tonight, and it made us very excited for that part of our voyage.

Tomorrow it is off to the horse races. Actually, we will watch the Melbourne Cup on wide-screen TV in the rally tent while having a Champagne and Chicken luncheon. Even if it is raining, it should be great fun.