"Arctracer" Letters

Hilary in Australia, Oct-Nov 2001

18 October - Arrive Cairns: At 11:45 a.m. Hilary arrived on Quantas at the Cairns airport after leaving NYC about 27 hours previously. This was an exciting day for us. After having hamburgers on New York Bialys and corn on the cob Hilary went to bed about 5 p.m. Her body was exhausted from the trip and not yet adjusted to the 14 hour change of time. Jerry and I started reading the enormous pile of mail she brought and started verifying our financial accounts. We hadn't received mail since May.

19 October - Yorkey's Knob to Upolu Cay: After going to a store for last minute groceries and to the post office to get postcards and stamps we left Half Moon Bay Marina at Yorkey's Knob and sailed to Upolu Cay on the Great Barrier Reef. The weather was lovely, with little wind. While snorkeling Jerry and I saw a 5' black-tipped shark, so we stayed relatively close to Hilary to let her know that it is harmless. We also saw a ray, a huge angel fish hanging around near the boat, and lots of other colorful reef fish. We stayed anchored for the night, all by ourselves far from the coast. We watched frigate birds and boobies flying around attempting to catch their meals. We had steak, potatoes, green beans, asparagus, and garlic bread for dinner. We introduced Hilary to the game of Hundred Square, which we enjoyed on several evenings. We turned in about 8:30, as we did most nights during their stay.

20 October - Upolu Cay to Green Island to Fitzroy Island: After French toast and melon at Upolu Cay, Hilary snorkeled from the boat. It wasn't long before Hilary felt some stings. Vinegar on the stings helped considerably. Soon we sailed from Upolu Cay to Green Island where Hilary and Nina went snorkeling while Jerry attempted to fix a leaky mask. We both got jellyfish stings so the Jerry didn't go in the water and we stopped snorkeling for the day. We dinghied to walk on the Green Island boardwalk through the rainforest. On the walk we saw herons, rails, sunbirds, and oyster catchers. After ice cream and thick shakes we went to the crocodile show and turtle feeding at Marineland Melanesia where Hilary held a yearling crocodile and we enjoyed watching three large crocs eat pieces of raw chicken. At a dive shop we bought 2 new snorkeling masks that wouldn't leak. We hadn't used our spare masks for a while and didn't realize how bad they were. From Green Island we sailed about five miles to Fitzroy Island. We watched sulphur- crested cockatoos flying around the hills of Fitzroy island. We discussed going out to dinner on the island, but Hilary never woke up from the trip from Green Island so we decided to go out another evening.

21 October - Fitzroy Island: Fairly early in the morning, before it got too hot, we took a hike. The temperature during Hilary's stay usually got up to the low 30's Celsius which is 86-90 degrees F! Not only was it hot, but it was extremely humid too. The trail to the summit was rather steep going up one side of the hill and down the other side. Larry injured his knee on the steep downhill track and found that he couldn't enjoy the snorkeling later in the day for a very long period of time. During the walk we saw sunbirds, metallic starlings and orange- footed scrubfowls. Back on the boat we watched boobies and osprey later in the day. We ordered lunch ashore by the pool, but forgot to tell Hilary that they put lettuce, tomatoes, onions, beetroot and catsup (called tomato sauce in Australia) on their burgers and steak sandwiches. After lunch we took the Hidden Garden Walk where we saw two skinks (lizards) fighting and drawing blood. As soon as we returned to the boat we decided to go snorkeling to cool off. The water felt great and we saw some larger fish than we'd seen at Upolu Cay.

Some of the fish seen at Upolu Cay and Fitzroy Island were the blue-streak cleaner fish, narrow-banded sergeant-majors, white-barred triggerfish and green triggerfish, parrot fish of various colors, several kinds of wrasses, unicorn fish, coral cod, squirrelfish, barred rabbitfish, threadfin butterflyfish, saddle butterflyfish, longnose butterflyfish, surgeon fish, tangs, two- banded anemone fish, white-spotted goby, featherfin bullfish, trevally, double-ended pipefish from boat, sixbanded angelfish (largish), goatfish, blue pullers, boxfish, and a neat long-finned batfish. We ended the day with showers on the boat and dinner at an outside table at the Raging Thunder Beach Bar on Fitzroy Island.

22 October - Fitzroy Island: It was very windy today so we stayed in the protected anchorage and looked at information to plan future activities. Nina made bread and we ate two of the three loaves right out of the oven for lunch. We played shanghai rummy and then tried snorkeling but the water was very cloudy from the stronger than normal winds. Nina made tortillas and marinated chicken, then stir-fried it to go in the tortillas. We played the card game Up and Down the River for the second time and turned in early again.

23 October - Fitzroy Island to Half Moon Bay Marina: The wind died down some by morning, so we headed back to the marina. On our sail back we heard a boat on the radio saying that their tourist boat looked like a hospital ward yesterday. After hearing that Hilary was glad we stayed at Fitzroy Island an extra day. Even today, when we ran our diesels with fairly large following waves Hilary didn't feel well from the exhaust combined with the motion. After finding that the marina didn't have a telephone for calling the States, we drove to the local shopping area to make phone calls. Hilary booked skydiving at Mission Beach and rafting with "R&R Rafting" on the Tully River. Jerry & Hilary went to check email, picked up a new mattress that we'd ordered for our master bedroom (firm, like we had on the schooner) and bought some groceries while Nina did three loads of laundry in preparation for being away from the boat for a few days.

24 October - Drove to Mission Beach: We stopped in Cairns so that Jerry could send email. We had heard that our U.S. Documentation was ready to be mailed to us, so we wrote to give the address of Half Moon Bay Marina. While he was doing that Nina bought a lamp for camping and Hilary bought an underwater camera to take on the rafting trip.

We drove along the Cassowary Coast south of Cairns past many sugarcane fields and banana farms. We took beautiful walks at Babinda Boulders and Josephine Falls, seeing masked lapwings, mynah birds, peewees, shags, a paradise kingfisher, brush turkeys, blue/turquoise butterflies, spectacled Monarch butterflies, Ulysses Swallowtail butterflies (also called Dunk Island Blue, Mountain Blue and Ulysses - beautiful blue color on top of wings with a black outline), an eel, and several small crayfish. We had the experiences of going into a "Crazy Clarks" store where most items cost $2, seeing the prices (much cheaper than in the States) of Australian birds at a pet shop and waiting for over 100 cars loaded with sugarcane at a train crossing. We camped at the Town Council Campground in Mission Beach. After finding the meeting place for the skydiving at Mission Beach we ate dinner out, then walked on the Kennedy Track after dark looking for cassowaries. We had learned at the Information Center that a cassowary had been seen about 5 minutes from the beginning of the track in the morning, but we hadn't learned yet that they are diurnal creatures.

25 October - Skydiving at Mission Beach: On our way to find coffee after having cereal at the campground, we saw lots of nests in a tree. They turned out to be the metallic starling nests. Jerry and I ordered cappuccino, but Hilary wanted coffee with a little cream. She asked for the cream on the side as she didn't want very much of it. The poor waitress had a terrible time attempting to figure out what she wanted and we didn't understand why until she brought her a cup of black coffee with whipped cream on the side. We think we should have said "milk on the side," but we aren't sure as she never needed to order coffee again in OZ. During the day we saw figbirds and rainbow bee-eaters for the first time, plus laughing kookaburras and rainbow lorikeets. Jerry and I went on the Kennedy Walk again to look for cassowaries, but didn't see any.

Back at the beach, Hilary prepared to jump from a plane. It was another gorgeous day with very little wind. We all watched the first people of the day landing after their jumps from the two small planes. Everyone really enjoyed the experience. After the parachutes were repacked Hilary left for her first-ever jump, in tandem with experts. About an hour later we took photos of Angie and Teri from Alaska parachuting down after jumping from 8000 feet with 15 second freefalls, then of Hilary who chose a 45 second freefall from 12,000 feet. Hilary paid for a photographer to take both still pictures and a video of her skydiving. He jumped out of the plane with a video camera attached to his head about the same time that she jumped. Hilary was "on cloud nine" after her jump, and definitely plans to do more skydiving. The views of the Great Barrier Reef, Dunk Island, coastal rainforests, sugarcane fields, and the Great Dividing Range were spectacular, and the jumps were thrilling. Hilary's video is amazing!

We walked in Licuala State Forest among many unusual fan palm trees. There were "watch out for cassowary" signs in several places nearby, but again we didn't see one. After a light meal at "Millers on the Beach" we took Hilary to the Mission Beach Backpackers Lodge (part of the deal with the skydiving/rafting trips). We sent some email, then went back to our campsite and talked with Peter (potter on Dunk Island for 4 years) and his wife Judy (a painter). They used to live nearby, but now live near Melbourne. We drove to the Lacey Creek walk but it was closed so we went on the other end of the Licuala State Forest walk, again looking for cassowaries. We didn't see any, but we did see piles of fairly old seeds from fruits that they had excreted whole. They have relatively inefficient digestive systems which digest only the soft outer flesh of fruits. They travel long distances for fruit and disperse many seeds through the rainforests.

Back at the campground we invited a young woman, Kim Johnson, to our picnic table. She arrived on her bicycle ("push bike" in New Zealand and Australia). She was from Seattle and was biking from Port Douglas to Sydney then going to NZ. She rode her bike across the United States on the same Bikecentennial route that we took from Anacortes, Washington to Maine. We haven't met many people who have done that. She was going white-water rafting the following day, as was Hilary.

26 October - Tully River: The township of Tully has the greatest rainfall of any settlement in Australia. It records over four meters of rain every year. Hilary went white water rafting through the beautiful Tully River Gorge with its World Heritage listed ancient rainforest. We drove our Holden wagon to the starting place of the rafting while Hilary was picked up on a bus at her backpacker lodge. This happened to be the same bus that Kim, whom we met the previous evening, was on. On the bus they decided to go in the same raft and discovered that she had met Hilary's "parents" last evening. During the beautiful drive we saw a wallaby, huge banana plantations, and a dead echidna on the road. We hadn't seen much roadkill in Queensland previous to this. In Tasmania we'd seen lots of dead marsupials along the roads. Also during the drive we explored various paths to the river where we might be able to get photos of the rafts. At the end of one path we met the cook preparing lunch for R&R rafting. At that point we still didn't know which company Hilary would be rafting with. We were really being bothered by swarms of biting horse flies (called March flies here) and the cook gave Jerry some bug dope that he made by mixing citronella and baby oil. This actually kept the March Flies off. Later I put some tea tree oil on myself and this also kept them at bay. . When we eventually got to the beginning of the rafting trips a bus from "Raging Thunder Rafting" was there with a dozen rafts but we didn't see Hilary. Then the bus arrived from "R & R Rafting" and we saw Hilary and Kim. We went down the steep path to the put-in point in the Tully River and took photos with Kim's camera, Hilary's camera, and Jerry's (digital) camera. We also took pictures of them and their guide Adam near rapids and waterfalls and at lunch. Adam told us he was in New Caledonia at the Pacific Arts Festival last year, on the schooner "Endurance."

Driving back towards the campground, we stopped in Tully and bought a few second hand books. About 7km past the town we saw a Cassowary! We were elated, but so surprised to see one we didn't have our camera ready. There are only about 1500 of these endangered birds, Australia's largest, flightless, with colorful red and blue necks and as tall as humans. Supposedly they are common around the coastal village of Mission Beach and there are lots of signs warning cars to drive carefully in certain areas. We did get a picture of a cassowary sign before reaching the campground and later took a picture of the two at Bird World in Kuranda. Hilary took LOTS of pictures on this trip and this particular day she got to look at the pictures of 5 films that were developed in Mission Beach. After she arrived back at the campground and looked at the photos we went to get groceries for dinner. This particular night we had noodles with garlic and oil for the main course. All of us LOVE garlic, so we ate LOTS of it. During the night it rained a fair amount, but by morning the skies were clear and the day was beautiful.

27 October - Tree Day at Yungaburra after Market: Early this Saturday morning we drove from Mission Beach to Yungaburra. We had heard that the once-a- month market was being held in Yungaburra until noon, so we wanted to have a couple of hours to look around. Hilary bought some boomerangs and some emu oil (good for all kinds of ailments). Those of you who know us well can imagine that Jerry and I bought books and fresh fruit and vegetables. We REALLY need to get some of our books off the boat, but it is difficult for us to part with many.

When the market ended at noon we drove to see a huge Curtain Fig Tree. It was so large that we couldn't get a great picture of it. Was it ever beautiful! From this tree we drove to a walk that took us to the Gadgarra Red Cedar tree (35 m high and 500 years old) The trail was so close to this tree that we couldn't even begin to get a picture of it. During this walk we saw bandicoots for the first time. We thought they were huge brown rats, but some Australians came along and told us what they were. We also saw lots of blue fruit from the blue fig trees we hadn't noticed before. After a few more kilometers of driving we arrived at Lake Barrine. We walked around the lake and saw more bandicoots, some whip birds, ducks, chowchillas, and water dragons (according to a sign near the restaurant). Near the end of the track guess what we saw? More trees. Two 1000+ year old bull kauri pines 50 m tall. This was certainly "Tree Day."

While buying groceries in Gordonvale on our way back to "Arctracer" we learned what cheerios are to at least some Australians. We had looked unsuccessfully in several stores for Cheerios cereal. In the cereal aisle a young stockboy overheard us discussing them, and smiled. He said they were in the deli, and took us there. When he showed us the cherrio sausages it was all we could do to keep straight faces and thank him very much. After he was out of earshot we couldn't stop laughing. We'd never seen these sausages before. Back at the boat we had grilled steak.

28 October - Kuranda: Sundays are a good day to go to the markets in Kuranda. Since there are a variety of things to do in this town we decided to spend the entire day there. Before leaving we saw lots of antique cars in the parking lot at the marina. We drove our Holden wagon to the skyrail. On the way, we encountered a traffic circle, and began turning right to go around the circle counter- clockwise. It appeared that this scared Hilary much more than jumping from a plane! Hilary and I took the 7.2 km skyrail ride with stops at a rainforest boardwalk and Barron Falls while Jerry drove the car to meet us at the other end. He had no desire to take the skyrail. It was neat to be above the canopy and see some birds, especially the sulphur-crested cockatoos. Barron Falls didn't have much water at this time of year (just before the wet season), but it was neat to see it. More exciting was the big crocodile that we saw in the Barron River below our skyrail car.

After finding Jerry near the Kuranda skyrail station, we took our time looking around the market. There were a few things different from other markets we'd been too, but it wasn't as large as the Uramundi market outside Mooloolaba. That particular market was the best we've seen anywhere in the world. Luckily, on this day there were no used books for sale, so we concentrated on other things. Hilary bought some honeycomb, home-made ginger macadamia cookies and an "Ernie," while we bought iron bark honey and some mangoes. We really enjoyed some frozen fruit that was squeezed through a machine to become about the consistency of ice cream. Delicious!

After looking through the markets we went to Bird World. We all took pictures of two 5-year old cassowaries. A woman who works there talked to us for quite a while and told us that the female lays 10-15 eggs a season which are taken away from them as the aviary isn't allowed to have any more cassowaries. Hilary REALLY enjoyed feeding parrots which landed on her hands, wrists, and shoulders to shell and eat peanuts. We also saw some birds we hadn't seen before and some baby ducklings. Nice aviary!

Since we like to keep busy and get the most out of a day we then drove to see the Pamagirri Corroboree in the Rainforest Ampitheatre. This group was very good and explained their dances before performing them. After the corroboree they demonstrated boomerang throwing, spear throwing, and didgeridoo playing. The sounds that come out of didgeridoos are amazing. No one except the Aboriginal demonstrator got a boomerang to return. It appears that this takes a good deal of practice, as many tourists were attempting it.

From Kuranda we drove along a very scenic (steep and winding) road back to Cairns to eat at the Night Markets. The food there wasn't very good, but we didn't have to cook after being busy all day. After eating we drove by Cairns Central Market (a huge mall) to see if anything was open. We'd had a request from Sara to buy her something at "Just Jeans" since there isn't such a store in the States. She'd learned about it when she visited us from January until March. Anyway, the mall was closed, so we returned a different day. Next we checked out one of the cinemas in the city. Hilary and Larry didn't see anything they wanted to see so we stopped at a video place near the marina and got three videos - "The Wedding Singer" and two of "Seinfeld." Hilary needed a Seinfeld fix (six shows) and she seemed to be missing seeing the opening of new movies in New York City. It appears that she helps keep the movie business alive and healthy.

29 October - Drove into Cairns and shopped: While shopping today Hilary found some new clothes for herself at "Just Jeans" but didn't find anything for Sara. All the clothes in the store now are for summer but it is getting rather cold in New Hampshire. She picked up a few souvenirs and bought us fresh flowers for the boat and a towel to put an aboriginal print on to cover one of the windows. The prints on cloth that they sell aren't quite large enough to use as a curtain, so I bought a towel to sew it on to. These curtains seem to keep out some of the heat and also provide more privacy when we're in marinas. Jerry and I went grocery shopping. We ate a fairly good dinner at the marina restaurant, then watched a couple of Seinfeld episodes on the boat.

30 October - Wild World and Port Douglas: Today after 8:15 when Hilary left to go north, Jerry took our old mattress to the dumpster and someone took it. We are glad that someone was able to use it, but it was much too soft for us. He then finished tying on our new trampoline, put the anchor windlass battery into a battery box so that it wouldn't be as likely to get wet, washed the decks which the swallows resting on our lifelines had messed on, and did more rewiring behind the instrument panel in the main salon. I looked at pictures and general letters the entire day, assembling material for Ben to use in our new website. (We'll let you know when it becomes operational.) In the late afternoon I worked on a placemat showing the activities that we did with Hilary. I also filled our water tanks in anticipation of returning to the reefs for more snorkeling after Hilary comes back from up north.

We were lucky to have our telephone turned on when Sara and Nico called. It is always great to talk with them! Sara gave me permission to publish the journal that she wrote on her trip with us from Brisbane to the bottom of Tasmania. I never had/took time to write a letter about those experiences and she did a terrific job. I may add a little at the bottom of her journal, but it isn't really necessary. Those who look at the future website will see the trip from the view of a 12-year old.

Hilary returned, and told us about the many animals and birds at "Wild World." Hilary had her picture taken with a koala. She went north to Port Douglas, enjoyed Four Mile Beach, stayed at a motel, and got some rest before tomorrow's horseback riding, planned from 8 am until 4 pm.

31 October - Horse Riding and Doctors: While Hilary was away, we refiled all our material/information/warranties on boat "things" like winches, refrigerator, pumps, radios, etc. We wrote a few postcards and printed out some pictures taken with the digital camera. Then Jerry installed a new GPS in the cockpit after putting in a connection block and rewiring the instruments in the cockpit. Again, I worked on choosing pictures to go with text for the future website. This is quite a task, but Jerry has his computer files organized so that I can find the photos fairly easily.

You can imagine our surprise when Hilary arrived back at the boat about 1:30 in the afternoon when she was supposed to be riding horses until after 4 pm. Hilary had fallen off her horse. She arrived after seeing a doctor. Hilary had a Tetanus shot, and got her badly lacerated little finger cleaned and bandaged. Her neck and back were really swollen and her little finger was a mess. She went into Cairns for X-rays in the afternoon. Later we introduced her to steamed garlic and camembert on baguette. We ate so much that we had difficulty eating the stir-fried chicken, along with rice, green beans and asparagus. We watched the Australian film "Paperback Hero," but Hilary fell asleep (in pain) while it was on.

1 November - Hilary on boat all day: Hilary was unable to move in the morning when she woke up, so after a breakfast of French toast, we went to Smithfield Medical Center, recommended by the marina. The doctors there were too busy, so finally a sympathetic woman at the chemist telephoned to make an appointment at Trinity Beach Medical Center. The doctor at the Smithfield Center did open the X-rays and found a report inside saying that there were no broken bones or dislocations. We bought a hot/cold pack after the pharmacist recommended heat instead of cold. Once Hilary put some heat on her shoulder and back, took some Tylenol (panadol in New Zealand and Australia), and read the X-ray results she attempted to move. It was VERY difficult for her! I moved her head on the pillow to the side of the bed so that she could get on her stomach to get up to go to Trinity Beach. She got her finger redressed there and had her X-rays examined. After returning to the boat, Hilary needed to eat so that she could take anti-inflammatory pills and another medication recommended by the doctor. We had lots of leftover rice and chicken from last night so I made Hilary's delicious recipe for stir-fried rice with her help and we had lunch about 2:00.

After lunch I went to get a few groceries & leave some films to be developed. When I got back it was great to see Hilary moving around. She even took lots of pictures of the boat for her website, (and eventually for ours). Jerry drew a plan of the boat, and Hilary will enable someone to click on an area of the plan to have pictures of that area pop up on the screen. She even felt like sitting up long enough to play hundred square again. While watching the news we learned that tonight the Yankees tied with Arizona Diamondbacks (2-2) in the World Series.

Even with numerous welcome swallows nesting under the docks, making huge messes on our deck and eating insects, we still get bites after dark, during the night and in the early morning. We need to have screens made for all of our windows. Presently we only have screens for our eleven smallest windows. With the heat we need to keep more windows, hatches on top, and main doors open to let in some of the air when the wind blows. The heat lately has been incredible.

2 November - Boat and Smithfield Shopping Center: Hilary tried taking a shower on the boat but the water quit so she went up to the marina to finish. Jerry put up the green awning over the house to keep some of the heat out of the inside of the boat. We guess we aren't used to the heat of the tropics any more. We must have stayed too far south for too long. While I did three loads of laundry, Hilary and Jerry went to check email. Her American dollars were so good that Hilary bought a nice camera bag and new headphones. With the current rate of exchange, the prices are much better here for those things than they are in the States. At about 5:30 Jerry and I joined some other cruisers on the dock in front of our boat for drinks while Hilary worked on her journal and organized photographs. We met several cruisers and had a great time talking until it was time for dinner. I sure wish I'd had a paper and pencil to write down all the information that Deb on the beautiful schooner "Buffetteer" gave me about anchoring places in Sydney Harbour! Since I haven't been there in a boat I didn't understand where the places were that she told me about. After Indian-spiced potatoes, grilled steak, peas and garlic bread we were all ready for bed. It had been a long day, especially for Hilary. She was still in a lot of pain.

3 November - Michaelmas Cay: Right after breakfast we started getting the boat ready to leave. Jerry disconnected the barbeque, but neglected to turn off the gas line first. Propane leaked into the boat, and set off our detector and its alarm. Propane is very dangerous and heavier than air, so it settles in the bottom of the boat. After shutting off the gas, we vacuumed (sucked) the gas out of the hulls and blew it overboard. We bet we won't do that again for a while! Also, we need to get rid of the holes in the propane locker that presently lead into the port hull and get a new stove that won't allow this to happen. We will eliminate this hazard soon, but not necessarily before leaving Cairns. We feel we need to start getting south before any cyclones approach this area.

At about 8:45 we left the marina and headed towards Vlasoff Cay. We put the fish line out, but didn't have any luck. We saw a porpoise/dolphin. We arrived at Michaelmas Cay at about 11:45 and decided to stop there instead of continuing another hour to Vlasoff. We thought the 20,000 birds nesting on Michaelmas might be too stinky, but the wind cooperated and we took a mooring where the smell didn't bother us too much. It was a different story on the beach though. Jerry and I left our snorkeling masks on so that we wouldn't smell the stench. We snorkeled while Hilary fed kangaroo pellets (leftovers from Wild World) to the many large fish around the boat. After eating more steak and potatoes for lunch we tried fried "Cheerios." The texture was strange and we all decided that we didn't need to buy them again. If offered them while visiting someone we could easily tolerate them, but.... The snorkeling was superb, with clear water, no jellyfish, and wonderful things to see, so we went again in the afternoon. Even Hilary went in the water to cool off - keeping her bandaged finger out of the water. Hilary went in the dinghy with the look bucket to see some of the coral and fish. We went ashore to take photos of the sign and some of the numerous terns and noddies. Jerry scraped barnacles off the propellers. At about 3:30 we left Michaelmas Cay and arrived back at Half Moon Bay Marina about 6:15. After taking showers to get the salt water off our bodies, we watched LOTS of bats fly over Arctracer. These large bats are sometimes called flying foxes and we've seen them on many Pacific Islands. They feed on fruit at night and roost in big colonies all day. After watching the Australian movie "Soft Fruit" about 3 daughters and a son who visited their mother who was ill and dying, we had chicken on fresh rolls with fried potatoes.

4 November - Doctor, Cairns: Hilary and I had cheese omelettes while Jerry had a garlic and fresh parsley omelette. Then Hilary went to the doctor one more time to get her finger bandaged before flying home. We drove to Cairns where I got some photocopies made and we picked up more of Hilary's photographs. We looked for more souvenirs, and tried to find something special for a birthday dinner for Hilary's 28th birthday (actually on the 6th). We had shishkabobs with porterhouse steak, chicken breast, tomatoes, onions, and green peppers (capsicum here in Australia). We had a Greek salad too. After a very filling meal with lots of leftovers we had a frozen ice cream birthday cake with candles and sang "Happy Birthday" in our best voices. After playing "Hundred Square" for the last time we watched the Australian film "Siam Sunset" that had been recommended to at the local video store. We have decided that, based on the three films this person recommended that the Australians should leave the film making to Hollywood. Now we are curious to know what our Australian friends think of the movies that we watched.

5 November - 5:30 Flight to Sydney: It was difficult to get up when our alarms went off at 3:30 a.m. this morning. We were on our way to the airport by 4 and Hilary boarded the plane about 5:15 for the 5:30 a.m. flight to Sydney. She'll go through customs in San Francisco and arrive in New York at about 5 p.m. on November 5th NY time. After our experience we know she'll be exhausted for a couple of days after that. We had a wonderful time with her and it was very sad to say goodbye - especially not knowing when we would see her again. We feel really privileged that our kids visit us for extended periods. It's always a great time!

(view photos of Hilary's visit)

After reading a few back issues of "Cruising World," we made a list of the things we need to get done before heading south towards Sydney. Besides boat work, we need to wait for the boat's U.S. Documentation to arrive in the mail, get a cruising permit from the customs officials once we have it, see a few more land things in this area before selling the car, try to sell our Stacer 3.3 meter tinny with its 28 hp, 2-cycle Mariner engine so that we aren't carrying two dinghies around, talk with the brokers in Mooloolaba about the schooner and try to get things moving on selling it, call someone here in Cairns that we've heard can set us up with email on the boat (text only) by using satellites, send in the remainder of our medical bills from my knee operation to our health insurance so we can get reimbursed for a good deal of it, and change the outside lights on the catamaran so that they are wired as required in the States, Presently the running lights come on at the same time as the tricolor light at the top of the mast. As our American cruising friends know, the running lights should be used when we are motoring while the tricolor means we are sailing. While Jerry is doing most of the above I'll be attempting to respond to many of the email messages we've received while having company, and working with Ben to start our website. We'll let you all know when that happens. It has taken me a long time to get started, but I'll begin with this letter and related photos, then work backwards with our general letters - editing the letters and putting in photos of the people and places we've been writing about for the past few years.

I've been writing this letter while Jerry went off to run some errands. When Jerry tried to start the car in Cairns it wouldn't start. Over $200 later he had a new fuel pump and fuel filter installed. The pump sits inside the fuel tank of the Holden, so the fuel had to be drained out of the tank before it could be replaced. Anyway, we sure are glad that the symptom of the car not starting didn't happen this morning at 4 am when we were taking Hilary to the airport! What luck!! He accomplished a lot of other things while the car was being fixed too. He found out about the Iridium phone/email system, read a local paper to find out about advertising the tinny with its motor and the car, bought things that we need for the boat, and even had time for lunch.

Soon we'll head south.