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We had another adventurous and enjoyable year in 2001, concentrating on Australia's east coast. We drove 30,000 kilometers (18,750 miles) in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory, and Queensland, sailed 3,000 miles from Coffs Harbour to Cairns and back down to Sydney, and read many Australian books. We also flew home to the States for a month. A major change was moving aboard a catamaran. Some highlights:
Touring Australia with Jennifer, Sara & Nico: We had a wonderful three months seeing parts of Australia by car with daughter Jennifer and grandchildren Sara (13) and Nico (11). We swam over coral reefs, walked through rain forests, toured caves, visited zoos and read Harry Potter. We camped in tents and hiked a lot, seeing koalas, platypus, wombats, kangaroos, possums, wallabies, penguins, snakes and many parrots. Visited Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Canberra too. We enjoyed the Opera House, Cadbury's Chocolate Factory, The National Pennyfarthing Championships, and the Canberra Day Celebration. They spent a week with a friend driving through the outback, visiting remote mining towns and staying in underground buildings. We took time to do some studying with the kids too, so they would not fall behind their classmates on regular school subjects.
Visit to the USA: We flew with Sara & Nico on March 21 to the USA. At home in Vermont and New Hampshire we had wonderful reunions with our families. It was good to spend time with our parents. The snow was deep, and Jerry went skiing with his Dad and siblings. We visited our kids who live in NH, DC and NYC too, renewing our love for good bagels and Ben & Jerry's ice cream. It seemed a very short month, and we were able to see only a few friends before taking the long flight back to Australia.
Nina's Knee: Nina's right knee started troubling her more and more in the early months of this year. It finally "went out" and didn't get better. She saw a doctor in Coffs Harbour, a physical therapist and an orthopedic surgeon in New Hampshire, and then an orthopedic surgeon in Coffs harbour. She had x-rays and an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan, tried exercises, and finally had an arthroscopic meniscectomy. This operation removed a torn piece of meniscus, the "padding" in the knee joint. Her recovery has been slower than she wanted, but now the knee bothers her only after a long walk.
Moving to our Catamaran: Jerry has long wanted to try a catamaran, and this year Nina reluctantly consented. Jerry found his cat soon after returning to Australia, and we purchased it in June. It is a Fastback 43, launched in 1994, the third of eight sister ships designed and built near Brisbane for ocean cruising. We sailed the schooner to Mooloolaba in late June, and put the cat beside it in early July for the big move. Although the cat is much roomier inside, all our stuff from the schooner weighed it down. The schooner received a few more days of work, and then we sadly left it at a marina with brokers who would try to find a buyer who might enjoy and love it as much as we have. We have made many changes to the cat already, to suit our tastes and needs better, and this work is still proceeding as we cruise.
Cruising with Pat & Jan: Friends Jan and Patrick arrived from Tauranga, New Zealand on July 26th, which was the end of work and the start of cruising on the new "Arctracer". We immediately appreciated the cat's interior space, which made it easy for us to accommodate guests. We sailed north along the coast, through Great Sandy Straits into Hervey Bay, and then up through the islands inside the Great Barrier Reef. The Whitsunday Islands are the most developed with resorts and charter boats, but even they provided good anchorages and snorkeling. Pat and Jan left after sailing 700 miles. We had a wonderful month with them.
Sailing up to Cairns: We enjoyed the Bowen Centenary Celebrations, then sailed back to the Whitsundays. With "Xephyr" and "Valere" we ventured out to Hardy Reef and Bait Reef, anchored far from dry land and enjoyed marvelous snorkeling. Then we sailed north by ourselves to Magnetic Island where we heard about the shocking attacks on the U.S. two days after they occurred. The world does not seem as pleasant now, but we try to make the best of it. We sailed on to buggy Hinchinbrook Island where we couldn't swim because of crocodiles, then walked on islands and snorkeled at reefs all the way past Cairns. Temperatures of water and air climbed higher as we got further into the tropics. It was delightful cruising!
Hilary & Larry Visit: We took a marina berth near Cairns and picked Hilary and Larry up at the Cairns airport on October 18th. We all thoroughly enjoyed our three weeks together. We snorkeled at several places on the Great Barrier Reef, went on rainforest walks, saw lots of colorful Australian birds, huge trees, Australian videos, and craft/produce markets. We watched Aborigines demonstrating Corroboree (dance), playing didgeridoos, and throwing spears and boomerangs. The youngsters did tandem skydives and went white water rafting, while we were content to watch and take photos, and were delighted to see our first wild Cassowary. It was difficult to say goodbye when they had to return to their jobs in New York.
Sailing Down the Coast: We took one last road trip to waterfalls of the Atherton Tablelands and north to Cooktown where our hero Captain Cook had to repair "Endeavour." We especially enjoyed the Aboriginal rock paintings near Laura. Then we sold our car and the big aluminum dinghy which came with the cat. (We still have our old sailing dinghy.) We bought an Iridium satellite phone (8816 3144 0044). After a long struggle we received our U.S. documentation for the catamaran and then our Australian cruising permit. We left Cairns November 19 and headed south away from the area of possible cyclones. We made a few stops, but took advantage of the season's northerly winds to get back to Coffs Harbour (1150 miles) on December 10. We spent two weeks in reunions with all our cruising friends there, and bought lots of materials to use on boat improvements. We celebrated our 7th anniversary (still on our honeymoon), and then headed towards Sydney. We encountered strong winds (highest gust 41 knots) on two days, and the cat handled them well. We arrived just in time to see the start of the Sydney-Hobart race. We'll be here for the New Year's Celebrations and the much-talked-about fireworks off the Harbour Bridge.
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