Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hello, I'm John, I'm a Cruisaholic

The title may be strange but it is becoming a recurring thought. Every other cruiser in the meeting will answer, Hi, John, welcome to Cruisaholics Anonymous. Help, get me outta here!!!!
The reality of giving up this lifestyle is hitting daily and some of it is scary. By the time we get home in March of next year, I will have been away from Canada for 3 and 1/2 years and just over 3 of those years have been spent away from all the things we escaped when we left on this voyage. Imagine, no junk mail, no unsolicited telephone calls from people claiming to know what they could do with those vast sums of money that you really don't have. No surprising knocks on the door from people trying to sell you everything from religion to a set of knives. Out "here", everybody is so very friendly, everybody you pass on the street says hello, they go out of their way to help you and the only pressure comes from yourself. Fortunately, only 1 of us feels this apprehension about returning to our past lives. Linda has returned to Canada a number of times since we departed, visiting friends, painting again and picking up where she left off. Its just me who is feeling this anxiety. Just my paranoia, I guess.
Our beautiful, sleek comfortable home, Don Pedro, our faithful friend who has taken care of us in times of storms etc. is now officially for sale here in Australia and the reality that within a month I won't see her ever again is starting to hit...BIG time. I've had her since she was a baby and we have done so many things together, shared the highs, lows, up, downs, and have seen each other through the best and worst. We have covered about 15,000 miles, crossed and explored the great Pacific and she is now a part of the family. Over the last 2 weeks we have been polishing, cleaning, and varnishing her to the point where she looks like she did when I took delivery of her on October 24th of 2002. It is going to be a very gut wrenching and emotional day.
Some friends have returned home after cruising for a couple of years and found it difficult to adjust to what once was "normal". 1 couple wasted no time and bought another boat within 2 months of returning. Another friend is in the process of buying another boat and is wishing to "get back out here" ASAP.
Enough of me and enough of what might be. The last time I updated this was almost 5 months ago and many things have happened. Erin came to visit for a month and we had a blast. It was so great to spend a whole month with her. We sailed Don Pedro north from the Whitsunday Islands to Townsville(a 4 day journey) where we picked Linda up after her 2 month hiatus to Canada. Along the way we had some great sails and a surprise storm that struck just as we hitting the sack. We tucked behind Cape Upstart to get out of the moderate SE swell and wind, dropped the hook, fired up the BarBy and had a great meal, wine etc. Just as my head hit the pillow, the wind changed 180 degrees and the protecting shore was now the enemy. The wind quickly rose to almost 40 knots and the waves climbed steeply to good 5-6 footers as they came close to the shallows just behind us. At 1 point I told Erin to gather all her belongings, passport etc and get them ready to toss into the dingy that was now almost flying around the stern of the boat. The lightning started crashing around us and the walls of rain were coming at us horizontally. For the next 10 hours I "slept" at the navigation station with 1 eye on the radar as we had to monitor our position with relation the the ever present shore looming not more than 50-60 meters behind us.
Finally as dawn broke we were able to get the anchor up(after 3 attempts as it had dug in so much with all the tension on the rode) and head off to our next destination. The wind and waves were still up but the lightning and rain had abated. We had 30 knots winds abeam for the first 6 hrs of our journey. Needless to say the next night was an early one as we found a very protected anchorage and it remained calm for the night. Once we reached Townsville(Queensland Northern capitol) we had the pleasure of tying up in the heart of town, a friendly Cruising Club, $3. ice cold beers and still waters. Linda arrived a couple days later and we headed off to Magnetic Island only 8 miles from Townsville. Its a beautiful island with lots of great beaches, bays to anchor in, funky little restaurants, bars and things to do.
We now headed South back towards the Whitsundays and eventually to Mooloolaba where we now are preparing Don Pedro for her life under new stewardship. Along our 1,000 kilometer return route we had some great times(Monty's Beach Resort-#1 favorite place in OZ), decent weather(most of the time), great sails and anchorages. We will take those cherished memories with us as we slowly make our way back to Canada via Bali, Vietnam, Thailand and Hawaii. Mark my words, my friends, see and experience 1 of the last unspoiled places in this world, The Pacific Ocean, it's Nations and people before it turns into just another place. Fortunately, you have some time because of the vast expanses and remoteness of some of the islands, they are not within the easy reaches of the hoards of travellers that eventually make everywhere the same. We are so happy that some of you chose to join us along the way and experience this once in a lifetime voyage with us.
This will likely be the last entry to the Don Pedro blog so thanks for following our adventures. Keep your eyes peeled as a new boat and a new adventure in the Eastern Mediterranean might just be coming over the horizon within the next 2 years.
Love to all. See some of you next year when we finally return. Dr Freud, get your couch ready. I just might need you...and you..and you too! Help!
Adios for now, John and Linda

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sailing to and in Australia's Whitsunday Islands

Welcome to Whtiehaven Beach, voted, again, the # 1 beach in the world. It has been the top beach for about 5 of the last 10 years. The sand is pure silica and is almost as fine a icing sugar. There is no trash and in our case, there was hardly a soul. It was ours, we danced, made sand angels, drank champaigne, jumped and goofed around-it just came naturally. It is pure heaven!

I'll let the photos do the talking. We left Mooloolaba May 19th(after Don Pedro's annual haulout-you see 2 shots of us covered in Avatar Blue) and took almost 2 weeks heading up the coast through gorgeous little islands with numerous protected anchorages and stunning beaches-all empty. Pick one-it's yours!! We did. For the last 10 days Linda and I, along with good friends, Dave and sis Delia who joined us for the last 4 days have been exploring and enjoying these beautiful islands and perfect sailing conditions. Also in this posting are some shots of our visit to the famous Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brissy(Brisbane-Aussies can't resist abbreviating every word in existence!) Melbourne is Melbs, chardonnay is chardy etc, etc. et. There are a couple of shots of a beach and anchorage, they are of Airlie Beach which is the nerve center and tourist departure hub for the Whitsundays. Also there is an odd shot of 4 women looking down towards a men's urinal-great sence of humor these Aussies have-bizarre, naughty but quite funny. I couldn't resist including it. There are a couple of photos of the couples who we spent a lot of time in OZ with, Glen, Marilyn and Jaryd off of Tin Soldier who hail from White Rock and Bruce, Nicola and their daughters off of the good ship, BOB, yep, they named their boat, BOB. They are Kiwis-need I say more!! Great people. Sorry Bruce, the only photo I have of you has some guys index finger right in front of your handsome face!!Linda returned to Canada yesterday to be with and help a very close friend. She'll be gone for about 6-7 weeks so I'm just hangin out at Airlie Beach and in the Whitsundays waiting for my youngest, Erin, who is coming to visit the beginning of August. So, without further ado-who invented THAT word, ado-it sounds toopid!!! As they say here(even tho they know they will never see you again, "See ya later"!