Saturday, 14 July 2012

Return from the North

We left Cooktown around 9.30 yesterday after an unsettled night because Jim had stomach pains all night - not a bug because there were none of the usual signs of that but he didn't get much sleep. However, it was improving by morning so after a very light breakfast we motored south. Jim drove for an hour but then due to fatigue from lack of sleep handed over to Jean for the rest of the way.
We were very conscious of the many road signs warning of Kangaroos because to hit one of those at speed in our little Hyundai would have been disastrous to say the least.
We've described the scenery etc before so no need to repeat (hooray you are saying!!). We passed through Mt. Carbine where Tungsten (a steel hardener) is mined and then varied the route slightly by turning off towards Kuranda from Mt. Molloy a bit further to the south. We had lunch at a very indifferent pub in Mareeba and then visited a Mango winery!! Bought a bottle of Mango liqueur. Now back into rainforest country again and then through Kuranda which is a very pretty leafy place where the Kuranda Railway terminates. Just south we found an organic vegetable place and stocked up on fruit and veges which will go well with the passion fruit we had bought at the Cooktown Farmers Market that morning.
Then Smithfield to buy another internet voucher from Telstra and Bunnings for some rust kill stuff! A short distance later and we were back on the boat and all was well.
It is now Sunday lunchtime and although it has been raining, the weather is looking much better although there is the usual strong wind warning out again - 30 knots. Something you just have to get used to on this coast it seems.
Hope all is well with everyone and lots of love from us.........

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Friday, 13 July 2012

Rain forest and Cape York Peninsula

We weren't sure whether we'd be able to visit many of the mainland sites once we continued north next year due to generally poor anchorages so once again we decided to give ourselves a land fix for a few days and have a totally different experience.
We hired a small Hyundai Getz on the 11th. and headed into Cairns to do some errands which hadn't been practical to do by bus. We purchased a water filter for filling from shore sources, some more filters for the watermaker and most importantly a Racor fuel filter to take impurities including water out of the diesel as we fill the tanks. This latter is more for next year when we might take on suspect fuel from depots in Indonesia.
After lunch in Cairns we then set off north via Smithfield where we bought some food for dinner and then carried on past Port Douglas and through Mossman to the Daintree River where we took the car ferry. This is at least as large as the Opua car ferries but it is pulled across the river on two large steel hawsers. $12.50 each way and as they carry up to 20 odd cars each trip we reckoned it must be a very lucrative business, especially since each trip is only 10 minutes.
Once over the river we were well into rainforest territory and we continued north over the Alexandra Range towards Cape Tribulation which Capt. Cook named for all the problems he had on this particular stretch of coast. More of that later. It was a very pretty drive over the range on a sealed but very narrow and windy road until we reached the Crocodylus Resort which is a very basic eco resort in the heart of the rainforest just south of Cape Tribulation. Our accommodation was a room with a double bed and 2 singles (for families) and the outside cladding was shade cloth with a PVC roof. Mosquito nets over the beds which were actually not necessary. We cooked our dinner in the communal kitchen and imbibed a quantity of red wine!! The communal kitchen/dining/sitting area was very large and open to the elements except for an extremely large tent like roof. It all took a bit of getting used to but was clean and everyone very friendly. During the night there were lots of unexplained jungle noises (!) and some nocturnal bird made a huge noise at about 3 in the morning. Probably being chased by a crocodile!! It rained quite heavily at some stage. But a very comfortable bed.
Anyway, we survived the night in the wild and awoke to have a cold shower at 0630!! Bit of a shock to our systems but then felt much more refreshed. We hung around until 8 when we both had bacon and eggs (cooked for us in the cafe kitchen)which were very good. We met 2 very interesting couples while there including 2 nurses (Bill and Terre) and their 3 daughters. They are from Melbourne and lovely people. Also our neighbours during the night - Matthew and Jill. We eventually took our reluctant farewell and motored back to the Daintree as the coast road north is impassable unless one has a 4WD. Beautiful drive mostly under forest canopy with the dappled morning sunlight filtering through.
When we went across the river on the ferry once more we passed huge lines of traffic heading north - many very serious 4WD's with snorkels and businesslike roof racks with water and fuel containers thereon. We then made a mistake and turned towards Daintree Village but that turned out to be a dead end and we belatedly realised that we needed to return to Mossman before heading towards Cooktown on the much refurbished inland Mulligan Highway. About 300 kms from Mossman. The weather had become fine and once again we had a very pretty drive initially through some lush countryside and up onto the higher and drier tropical grasslands which typified the rest of our drive north. The road was excellent and for quite a distance had a posted speed limit of 110 kph. The terrain was dramatic with some very steep ascents and descents as we passed over some minor ranges of hills. There were some spectacular lookouts and then about 20 kms from Cooktown we came across the Black Hills which are composed of very large piles of weathered granite boulders which are black from the lichens growing on them. It is forbidden to try and climb the hills because a number of people have disappeared without trace when they've fallen into underground caverns caused by hundreds of years of water erosion. It's a very mystical place for the local Aborigine people and it's easy to see why. We then drove into Charlotte St., the main street of Cooktown and found the Seawiew Motel which was comfortable and conventional after the eco lodge of the previous night!!
Cooktown consists of museums, old pubs and the Endeavour River waterfront which is picturesque as long as you don't forget that there are crocodiles lurking beneath the murky water! We found the West Coast Pub (apparently named after the West Coast of the South Is.) and had a meal there. The manager it turned out was a NZ'er who had run the RSA in Birkenhead in Auckland - not far from where Jim had lived for 15 years on the North Shore of Auckland!! And he owns a house with his brother in Warkworth! Talk about a small world but we are constantly coming across similar examples.
The following day (Friday) we wandered about Cooktown and visited the excellent local museum. Gold had been discovered nearby in the 1870's and there were fascinating accounts of the hardships of the time. There was no contact with the outside world except by sea - Cooktown was very much cut off. It seems no-one became rich prospecting for gold which soon ran out in any event. There was a large Chinese population as well and they suffered the usual prejudices rife at the time. We went up Grassy Hill where the Great Navigator himself had stood to survey the surrounding waters. This was after H.M. Bark Endeavour had run aground on Endeavour Reef, a little to the south. Cook was very fortunate not to have lost the ship completely as they hit the reef about 11 at night and then spent 23 hours there as they lightened the ship as much as possible by jettisoning cargo and in particular the cannon which have now been all recovered and which are all in various museums. They managed to kedge her off and then set sail for the Endeavour River pumping furiously where they careened her on the bank with the crocodiles while they spent a few months repairing the damage which was considerable. This occurred right where the town stands today. There is an annual re-enactment in June every year to commemorate Cook's involuntary arrival.
Then a lovely dinner at an Italian restaurant whose owner came from Italian immigrants to Melbourne and who for many years had operated a restaurant in Logan St. Giovanni was a great guy and made us very welcome.
Then early to bed in preparation for the trip back to Cairns on the morrow. 350 kms - this is a big country. We would have liked to have gone further north up to Cape York but that definitely is 4WD territory and will have to wait until we go up there on the boat next year.
Love from us again.........

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Monday, 9 July 2012

Jokes and more serious stuff

Irish joke for today:
Murphy was wondering what "lumbago" was, so he decided to ask the local priest as he was the fount of all knowledge! The priest decided to put the fear of God into Murphy whose attendance at Mass was spasmodic at best. So he said to Murphy "Lumbago is what you get from dissolute living; loose women and drinking and generally falling about and making a nuisance of yourself. Why do you ask?" And Murphy replied that he had been reading that the Bishop had it!!!
On a more serious note - if you get a chance to read the NZ Herald on-line and read Bob Jones tongue in cheek article you will see a contribution (blog) from Tiare Taporo III. Thought provoking stuff!!!
Cheers again from us from Yorkeys Knob!!!!!!!!............

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Sunday, 8 July 2012

Pesky Cairns weather

It's now 0830 on Monday morning here in the Half Moon Bay Marina and it's quite cold and drizzly at the moment. We're sitting here with every bit of warm clothing on that we possess! Very un-Cairns like. There's also a strong wind warning in force (30 knots) which has now been around for the last week and looks like continuing until Thursday or Friday at least.
So, if any of you are thinking of a tropical holiday in Far North Queensland it may be better to wait for a month or so.
We are getting on with jobs on the boat - yesterday scrubbed out the bilges. There are always these fun jobs to do on boats!! But can't do anything outside until the rain stops.
We feel like a couple of garden gnomes (!) but not in the garden - just on the boat! Watched a movie last night - "Mama Mia" with Meryl Streep which had been lent to us very kindly by Raewyn on "Crusoe".
We're hiring a car on Wednesday and are going up to Cooktown (350 kms) as it's historic - Capt. Cook was there - and we probably wouldn't go in there on the boat as it doesn't sound like a good anchorage. And no doubt full of crocs. We are hoping to complete the deck caulking and a bit of painting before leaving for the Louisiades in September. And we still haven't seen any crocs! But we're not swimming.
Jean keeps in touch with Heather periodically by phone and it's very heartening to see how well she is doing.
So, that's it from us for now - not much news.........
Love from us J & J
Yorkeys Knob

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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Fwd: Darwin

We thought it would be good for those of you who are linguists to read our email to Michel and Marianne who are a French Swiss couple who have sailed their 30' double ended cutter "Sostene" (which they built themselves) all the way from Europe to NZ and now are in Darwin on their way home.
We first met them at the Norsand Boatyard in Whangarei in the summer of 2008 and they used to come back to NZ to work on their boat during the southern summer and then return to Europe to care for elderly relatives. We got to know them at various BBQ's at Norsand and Gina remembers Marianne washing her dishes in Norsand's kitchen! We had dinner with them on Tiare and had roast lamb and then they reciprocated. It was a joy to see how they had made the most of the space on their beautiful yacht. They are wonderful caring and courageous people and we miss them very much. They are older than we are and are now on their way home to the house they built on the island of Elba where Napoleon was first incarcerated.
Jim met them briefly again in Bundaberg when they were sailing north but unfortunately Gina had left the day before to return to NZ to look after her sister. Dennis and Jim shared what information we had re the cruising notes north of Bundaberg. We are hoping that we will meet them again in SE Asia next year.
Bon voyage Michel et Marianne.
----- Original Message -----
To: "Michel & Marianne" <>
Subject: Darwin
Date: 04 Jul 2012 08:39:27 -0000
From: ZMQ5985

Bonjour nos braves marins!! Et bonjour au brave voilier Sostene aussi. Nous sommes etes tres heureux de recevoir votre email conseillant de votre arrivee a Darwin. Nos grandes felicitations. Comme vous dites c'est un grand voyage de Brisbane a Darwin.
Nous sommes raisonnablement heureux avec notre decision de voyager aux Isles Louisiades en Septembre et retournant a l'Australie en Novembre, encore un peut decevu que nous ne sommes pas avec vous en Darwin. Gina particulerement etait tres desappointee pour vous manque pendant nos voyages divers.
Toutefois nous esperons que nous vous voir en Malaysie peut etre en Novembre 2013. Pour combien de temps resterez-vous en l'Asie? Nous partirons de Townsville en Mai 2013 pour le Sail Indonesie en Juillet 2013.
Nous nous amusons notre sojourn ici a Cairns (Yorkeys Knob) - 15 kilometres au nord de Cairns - et nous avons un peu de travail a faire avec le bateau. Comme toujours!!
Encore nos grandes felicitations et bon voyage a l'Indonesie et Malaysie.
Jim et Gina
P.S. Escusez le Francais mauvais!!
----- End of Original Message -----

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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Yorkeys Knob 7 days on

Found out the other day who Yorkey was. Apparently a bech-de-mer fisherman from Yorkshire who also owned property hereabouts. And something of a local identity in his day in the late 1800's. The knob is actually the first raised headland you come to north of Cairns. We walked up to the top the other day - quite a steep walk too with a good view from the top.
The weather right now is very pleasant. Fine and sunny getting up to 25C during the day but getting cool at night - down to 10-11C. Some more inland places even up here are down into minus figures at night.
Here in the marina we are right under the flightpath for Cairns International but we are only getting inward descending flights so not so bad. In fact we like watching the aircraft low overhead. It's a busy airport though because sometimes there are 3-4 flights overhead within a 30 minute period.
We've been vacillating (as usual!!) over future plans. Dennis and Jim briefly met another boat ("Crusoe") at NE Percy on the way up from Bundaberg and they are in the marina only 3-4 boats away from us. He is American (away flying helicopters in Nigeria at the moment) and Raewyn is a NZ'er. Another ex nurse in fact. The boat has U.S. registry but was built in NZ - in Wellington so she and Tiare have something in common! The first owner was a man called Robinson - hence the name!! They are leaving next month to head north to Gove on the Western side of the Gulf of Carpentaria from where they intend to leave for Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo via E Indonesia. There was a suggestion that we could follow the same route and the idea has certain attraction as it would mean we would still get to Malaysia this year. However, there is a wariness with making major decisions like that on a quick ad hoc basis. There would be all the Indonesian bureaucracy to attend to (cruising permit and visas) before we could go and then all the passage planning with research into possible anchorages and the navigation between. A lot to do and we just don't feel ready at this stage.
If we stick to our most recent plan which is to go to the Louisiades (PNG) in Sept. and then Darwin/Indonesia with Sail Indonesia 2013 next July we'll take a lot of the stress factor out of things and that's what this life should be all about. We plan to go back south to Townsville after the Louisiades as long as the prevailing SE winds allow and spend the summer there as it has less rainfall than Cairns and just might be a bit more bearable as regards humidity and temperature. It will still be very sticky though and the hire of an air conditioner is probably going to be a necessity. And there's always the wild card of a full blown cyclone which is something we'll just have to play by ear.
Anyway, back to Yorkeys. We are just a 30 minute bus ride from Cairns and the other day had a very interesting conversation with the driver who it turns out has a boat in the other marina here and drives buses wherever he spends any time. They were looking for bus drivers on Magnetic Is.............!!
Cairns has grown since we both (separately) were last here - roughly 15 years. The waterfront on the Trinity River is very swept up with smart restaurants by the score. One wonders how any of them make any money with the undoubted high rents and the tourism downturn. We were accosted by a restaurateur outside his restaurant away from the waterfront and his sales pitch was so good that we decided to have lunch which was a good decision because it was one of the best meals we have had in Australia. Jim had pork fillet on a sweet potato mash and Jean a salmon salad. We'll go back when we next feel we can afford it!! Although it wasn't particularly expensive, but yachties sometimes feel a bit impecunious!!
Half way between here and Cairns is the Smithfield shopping centre which is very large and has absolutely everything including Coles and Woolworths supermarkets. And that's only 10 mins on the bus. The surroundings here are very lush and tropical - big contrast to the general aridness of Bundaberg. Good standard of housing and generally an overall air of prosperity.
Lots to do while we're here - finishing off the deck re-caulking and some painting maintenance. We haven't started yet as Jean's injury has yet to fully heal but it's making good progress. In the meantime we might see the sights - Cooktown 350 kms north, the Kuranda railway and the botanical gardens which are a must see apparently.
So, lots to see and do and the first week has already flown by.
Always pleased to hear from you with your news from time to time.
Lots of love and cheers from us
Jim and Jean xoxoxo
s.v. Tiare Taporo III

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