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In 2005 we sailed 5,700 nautical miles, visited 4 countries and crossed the equator for the eighth time. We are now in Southeast Asia where people are quite affluent compared to most small Pacific islands. Many buildings here are remnants of colonialism, mixed with Asian influences, and the region is fast developing into high-rise and high-tech. We have been pleasantly impressed by the attitudes of Indonesians, Singaporeans and Malaysians. Many of the people we have met in these countries are Muslims, but they showed no antagonism towards us despite the recent actions of the American government. On the contrary, we have been treated consistently with friendship, and local people have often gone out of their way to help us. These countries seem as safe for travelers as the US. Present plans are to see Thailand next, then sail towards the Chagos Archipelago and across the Indian Ocean to Madagascar and South Africa, but we have no time schedule. Here is a summary of our past year:
Jan-Feb (Brisbane, Australia) - Jerry's sister Polly joined us for a month and we had a wonderful time touring Brisbane from our base on the river at the Botanical Gardens. We camped for a week in Southern Queensland's Lamington National Park and tired our unconditioned legs on long rainforest hikes. We greatly enjoyed the magnificent waterfalls and abundant wildlife. Treats included a close look at a rare lyrebird and flocks of Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots, while our only unpleasant experience came when rain brought out multitudes of aggressive leeches. We also sailed across Morton Bay to walk on sand islands with different vegetation, birds and lizards, enjoy a little snorkeling at Tangalooma, and see dugongs feeding.
March (USA) - We flew to visit our parents and other family members for the first time in two years. We spent significant time with our youngest grandchild and traveled from New Hampshire to New York and Washington D.C. to see all our kids. It was a very busy time, but it was great to see them all again.
April (Brisbane, Australia) - We hauled Arctracer" out of the water at Pelican Slipway for new bottom paint and some other maintenance. Then we moved to Scarborough to complete our provisioning and meet our good friends Pat and Jan from Tauranga, New Zealand who cruised up the coast with us for the next six weeks.
May-July (Australia East Coast to Darwin) - It is two thousand miles from Brisbane to Darwin, and we did most of this by sailing in good trade winds by day and anchoring before dark. We visited Bundaberg, Townsville and Cooktown, snorkeled a few times, and explored Lizard Island. We watched a Manta Ray swimming around our boat for an hour, and never tired of watching Sea Eagles and Brahminy Kites. One day we bravely sailed our dinghy in the Flinders Islands to visit an Aboriginal rock art site, and surprised a dugong and a turtle but saw no "snapping handbags" (as the Aussies call their crocodiles). We stayed inside the Great Barrier Reef, and since many large ships take this route too we had to watch for them constantly. We rounded Cape York to get "over the top" of Australia, and at Seisia met Karen & Kevin on trimaran "Hawk" who drove us around and shared stories of their amazing experiences in the area. Then we sailed straight to Darwin.
Aug (Darwin, Australia) - We rented a car and toured the Northern Territory with Warren & Robbin of "Cuchara." We saw magnetic termite mounds in Litchfield National Park, took a boat cruise through Katherine Gorge and visited many Aboriginal sites in Kakadu National Park. We saw magnificent scenery, huge flocks of waterfowl, many colorful birds which were new to us, and started to understand the area's ecology which is due to very wet and very dry seasons.
Sept-Oct (Indonesia) - A huge new country but we were limited by two-month visas and the end of the southeast monsoon. We sailed first to Banda in the Molucca Islands, the historic home of nutmegs, cloves and other spices. We learned a little of the country's language, its predominantly Muslim religion, customs, food, clothing and economics. We made friends during our three-week stay, especially with a schoolteacher and his family, and Nina had several sessions with schoolchildren. The country has not fully recovered from Dutch occupation, and exploitation by outsiders is still one of its major problems. We sailed in light winds to Rinca to see Komodo Dragons, water buffalo, deer and long-tailed macaques in their natural environment, and then to fabled Bali. We were in the city of Kuta on September 27th, just days before three suicide bombers attacked on October 1st. The gentle Hindus of Bali were shocked and dismayed at the terrorist actions of Muslim extremists, and worry (with good reason) that these attacks will badly hurt their economy. On that day we were in Ubud enjoying dance performances, meandering through rice paddies, shopping for Indonesian batik cloth and seeing some of the art for which the town is famous. We traveled into the mountains to Bali's Hindu "Mother Temple" and to the traditional village of Tenganan where "double ikat" material is still hand-woven by the women at a rate of about one month per square yard. We flew to Java with Warren & Robbin of "Cuchara" to visit Borobudur, built about 800AD and still the world's largest Buddhist monument. We also visited Yogyakarta's batik shops and the Sultan's 200 year-old palace. From Bali we sailed in light breezes and onsiderable rain to the Indonesian part of Borneo and took a two-day tour on a small riverboat to see orangutans, monkeys, hornbills, other wildlife and their threatened rainforest environment.
Nov-Dec (Singapore and Malaysia) - We dodged ships through Singapore, the busiest port in the world, to anchor at Johor Bahru, Malaysia. We visited Singapore by bus, and enjoyed the huge bird park, the famous night zoo, and the Southeast Asia Museum. Then we sailed slowly up the Straits of Malacca with feeble winds almost always on our nose, anchoring every night near shore to avoid fouling the ubiquitous fishing nets. We stopped at the famous old port of Malacca and the busy new Port Klang. We took train rides to visit Malaysia's capital of Kuala Lumpur. We finally reached Penang Island, the center of British commerce and colonial influence from 1786 until Malaysian independence. We took busses to Kuala Lumpur and then up the east coast of the peninsula to the Thai border and back across the mountains to Penang during a period of heavy rains. We're spending the holiday season here, enjoying the multicultural attractions of this interesting little city.
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