"Arctracer" Letters

Great Sandy Straits to Brisbane, Nov 2004

We have finally arrived in Brisbane! This is more than 27 degrees South of the equator, so is comparable to St. Petersburg, Florida. Here it is Spring, and we hope it warms up a bit more because we need a quilt at night after more than a year closer to the equator. It's quite a shock to be in a big city with high-rise buildings, four-star hotels, gourmet restaurants, glitzy casinos, supermarkets full of an enormous range of wonderful stuff, traffic lights, mass transit systems, enormous shopping malls, museums, concert halls, art galleries, and girls wearing the latest styles. We can't trade our old clothes for vegetables, but have to spend money and dust off our credit card. We've been in remote tropical islands so long it will take us a few days to adjust.

We spent a couple of days seeing Moreton Island with our friends Lach & Becky of "Xephyr." We anchored off the Kingfisher Resort, which combines a hotel with a real estate development and also offers many services for day visitors. We rented a Landrover with four-wheel drive - absolutely necessary for travel on the island's roads. Lach had a fun time driving us along soft sand tracks, up hills which were "paved" with rubber mats, and on the hard sand of the ocean beach. A remarkable variety of trees and other plants are adapted to the sandy, salty, dry conditions. We didn't see the famous dingos (however, heard them howling during the night while anchored farther south at Garry's Anchorage), but did see several kinds of birds and some big Lace Monitor lizards. We swam in one of the clear fresh-water lakes and walked some of the trails through the woods. One evening we ate at the hotel, and though the food was tasty some of the portions were laughably small and the prices were high.

(view Fraser Island photos)

When the wind came at 20 knots from the northwest we fled to better shelter in the narrow part of Great Sandy Straits. A front was forecast to raise the winds to 30 knots, so we stayed in the protection of Garry's Anchorage for a couple of days until it passed. Then we ran south and crossed the shallow Wide Bay Bar in beautifully calm conditions. It was an overnight sail to Moreton Bay, and we had to contend with many big ships working through the channels between shallow sandbanks into Brisbane Harbor. We anchored one night off Woody Point, and then motored up the Brisbane River to the pile moorings beside the botanical gardens. These are usually filled with cruising yachts at this time of the year, but we were just early enough to find a vacant spot. There is no more convenient location for seeing Brisbane, since we are right in the center of the city. All around us are big hotels where one night in a room probably costs what we pay for a month at our mooring. We do have strong tidal flows which sometimes make rowing ashore difficult, and we do rock in the wakes of fast ferries, but these are not big problems for us. It looks like a delightful city to explore. The scenes from the boat include part of the botanical gardens and high cliffs on the other side of the river that are all lit up at night - beautiful.

We've taken our small television out of the closet and are watching the news at night on occasion. The first night we turned it on there was a program called "Survivors - Vanuatu." We watched it since we'd spent 4 months in Vanuatu, only to learn that it could have been filmed almost anywhere as there were no particular features designating it as Vanuatu.

It was neat to see our old schooner moored near us here at the Botanical Gardens. It has been sold again and is now owned by Peter from this area who has had it for about 2 years. He noticed our present "Arctracer" and stopped for a couple of hours of visiting. He seems like a wonderful guy and seems to really be enjoying the schooner although he hasn't taken it too far yet. His story is a very familiar one of "my partner has no desire to go sailing." We both feel very lucky that we both like sailing and this lifestyle. There are so many people that want to cruise but cannot find someone to share the lifestyle.

Tomorrow, Hilary arrives from New York City for a three week visit. We are really looking forward to our time with her, and wish you could all visit (not all at once, please) too.