|Al and Garry|
The last few weeks we've met a score of fascinating people and re-connected with long-time friends. Out on the reefs and after not having met another soul for 10 days, we were delighted when Garry and Al arrived on their Sceptre 43 (a Canadian boat purchased from a Canadian) ‘Magenta’. They came aboard for dinner and gifted us with some magnificent fresh tuna and other fish. They had left home about 4 weeks earlier, and were spending a holiday together fishing and reef-walking. These are pastimes much enjoyed by Australian men as it allows them time away from us pesky women … they get to pursue their passion (fishing). They pick up lots of interesting artefacts during their walks. Of course, they have to wait for low tide as usually the reefs are hidden during the high tides. Apparently they often come upon sea snakes during these walks.Soon after returning to civilization, Al and Garry would re-connect with their womenfolk and cruise northward towards the ‘Sun’ with them.
|Pete from Tonoa|
|Larry with Ralph|
Anyone who knows me knows that I hate fishing … it has to be THE most boring sport to watch, and in childhood I had to do too much of it with 3 brothers and a mother all of whom were mad-keen fishermen. I even asked prospective husbands if they fished or watched TV sports - either of these two obsessions were an instant turn-off. At any rate, I very much sympathize with Australian women if fishing and snakes are the reason we see so few ‘cruising’ in the wilds here. Of course, a few other reasons became transparently clear during our weeks out in the Coral Sea. With no actual land, or land scantily covered with sand, the huge pounders coming over all the way from French Polynesia leaves one wave-swept and unable to sleep easily in a tiny boat. So we met a few buddies out fishing. Another problem here is the chance of getting stuck in the sand. Charts are not totally reliable as the sand shifts and charts cannot stay abreast of all the ‘new’ sandbanks. On our way here to Mooloolaba we ran aground and had to wait for 20 minutes for the tide to come up. This meant that we were ‘late’ to cross ‘Tin Can’ strait and also late some hours later to get through the breakwater here at Mooloolaba while it was light. We then were late tying up to the dock and (because I couldn’t maker out the berth number) we were klutzy in getting into our spot. A number of helpful males were yelling instructions at Larry. Once we were safely ‘in’ we were exhausted. This just illustrates how much more difficult it would be for a 2-person crew here in Australia to sail – men LIKE to yell at each other, but I’m sure most females I know don’t like it. And that’s why we meet few women from Australia cruising offshore.
|Sel and Jen in 2006|
|Larry with Sel|
The first woman I’d seen for a very long time was Nerida at Lady Musgrave Island. She was there for 2 weeks as a watch-keeper along with her husband Ralph. In this Australian National Park, there IS an actual full-time island and retired people are invited to stay and camp for 2 weeks at a time. They orient tourists and campers, make sure paths are cleared and give more information about the island if asked. It’s still very wild and isolated – the boat they were supposed to come out in (a regular tourist craft) had sunk – no loss of life – and the National Park Service had to get them to the island.
|At Noosa beach with Ron and Sarah|
We have had a lovely time here meeting with some long-time friends. Sel Parlane (SV Footloose II) came over and we went out for dinner. We met while were in Hobart in 2006 and have managed to stay in touch ever since. Sel lives here now and Jen is over in Nelson NZ so we’ll get to see her again when we go there for Christmas.
|With Ron and Sarah in 2006|
We just arrived home yesterday from a wonderful two nights ashore with friends Ron Koyich and Sarah Benecke. They live in what is (to us) an amazingly palatial and beautiful home in Noosa (north along the coast from here). We were so spoiled by the two of them that we feel quite unable to get back into our OWN lives. We had a lovely dinner (including a scallop appetizer) and I was served poached eggs for breakfast! I enjoyed wandering around and looking at elegant clothes in the shops on my own. Ron (who was at the University of Alberta with Larry) drove us up to the Timbeerwah Lookout from which you can see the whole coast. We then headed out to look for kangaroos in a spot Ron knows about, but with no success.
|Visiting Ron and Sarah's home|
|Bev and one of the braces|
For me a most fortuitous event took place … a dinner guest and friend of Sarah’s – Bev Trevithick - arrived. Bev is completing her PhD using data from research she’s been conducting on wrist injuries sustained by female gymnasts. She’s a highly educated health professional in all aspects of hand and foot care, and she knew about some braces which will help my problem with arthritic and impaired thumbs. She arrived the next day with some (slightly sub-standard) braces and when I fitted them, I could tell immediately that they would completely change my relationship with my keyboards! Since 2009 I’ve been in constant pain whenever I play. As a pianist, it’s both an actual physical pain and a psychic pain because the contrast between what I used to be able to do and what happens now when I sit at an instrument is huge. Once we get to our next Aussie port Sarah will send me my new braces. I also look forward to being more helpful to Larry – he’s had to ‘cover’ for me a lot in the last years. Of course, arthritis is an intransigent disease and perhaps not ALL will be cured by a set of braces.
|Larry and I relaxing in Noosa|
Larry had not slept ashore since Hallowe’en last year at nephew Peter Unrau’s in Vancouver. So our break ashore was very welcome. Both Ron and Sarah are very busy – Sarah still working practically full-time and Ron involved with many activities including the Noosa Coastguard. We really appreciate their taking us around, introducing us to their beaches and their Indian food restaurant … it is so special to be able to see how Australians live!