"Arctracer" Letters

Brisbane to Cooktown, Apr-June 2005

We've just arrived in Cooktown after passing Endeavour Reef where Captain Cook came to grief in his ship "Endeavour." After he freed his ship from the reef, he and his men sailed into the Endeavour River here in Cooktown where "they spent 48 days repairing the ship, letting the sick rest, and refilling the larder. Cooktown is the first recorded place in Australia where Englishmen spent more than a few days ashore; where the kangaroo was first sighted and named and where the first true contact with the Australian Aborigine occurred, the indigenes slowly but surely trusting in the visitors' sign of peaceful intent." Cooktown is the last town on the coast of Australia before the top of Australia is reached at Cape York and Thursday Island.

We are finally slowing down a bit. We've had a very busy year as usual. In January Jerry's sister Polly visited us in Brisbane for a month while her husband was at the South Pole for his annual visit. We had a great time sightseeing, especially walking the wonderful tracks in Lamington National Park.

After Polly left we flew to New York and took trains to New England and Washington DC to see our families. Nina had a chance to see her 1-year-old grandson for the first time and spent two weeks with him while Jerry spent some of that time in Vermont with his parents.

Arriving back in Australia we had boat maintenance to do and chose to get hauled out at Pelican Slipway in Redland Bay which is just south of Brisbane. We are VERY pleased with our new batteries and our shortened forestay. Our rigging doesn't seem to vibrate as much any more! Our engines have been serviced with all the injectors overhauled. One engine is still overheating and giving an occasional problem so hopefully we'll figure that out in the near future. The new bottom paint is wonderful so far. All the work we did in New Zealand removing old bottom paint didn't go well, as all the paint flaked off when we waterblasted the bottom. We have now used a bonding agent between the undercoat and the bottom paint so hopefully this time it will adhere better.

After finishing the major projects at the slipway we sailed to Scarborough Marina and met New Zealand friends who then sailed up the coast of Australia with us for 800+ miles from Brisbane to Townsville. We were lucky to catch a couple of yellowfin tuna while they were with us and the occasional mangrove (mud) crab that was legal (males with at least a 15 cm carapace) in our crab trap. We also saw dugongs, many turtles, dolphins, sea snakes, and schools of fish. In the Whitsunday Islands we did some snorkeling and saw wonderful corals and fish and saw Aboriginal drawings in a cave. Our friends flew back to New Zealand from Townsville and we sailed on to Cairns where we did some major stocking up and socializing with cruisers for 10 days, waited for mail (renewed boat documentation and boat parts from West Marine), and continued work on some boat projects before sailing farther up the Australian coast.

Present plans are to sail from Australia (either from Gove or from Darwin) to Indonesia. We REALLY want to see the orangutans and komodo dragons and would like to see Bali if the political situation is okay there. From there we are "thinking" of sailing across the Indian Ocean to South Africa and being in Cape Town sometime in December. Only time will tell if this actually happens as we have been known to change our minds even while enroute.

Hopefully we'll have time really soon to get our 3 computers to communicate with one another. We bought a new laptop in the States, but the wiring on the boat wasn't heavy enough for us to use it without huge screeches from its inverter. Jerry seems to have alleviated that problem with new wiring. We have been unable to hook up the new computer to our satellite phone, but have received new software that we hope will work. Meanwhile, the ancient laptop only has a floppy drive - not even a CD drive, much less a memory stick; while the middle-aged computer has a broken floppy drive. Hence many of the messages we owe are on the ancient computer with no way to get them to the middle-aged one and we've only been able to write email notes on the middle- aged one. We'll get these and other problems sorted out eventually.