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Monday, June 4, 2012

June 2 & 3, 2012 - Saying Goodbye to Cairns and Our Friends - and Getting STUCK in The Mud

Saturday was crazyville in Cairns, with hoards of people arriving for the Iron Man events and weekend revelers pouring into the city. Officials, volunteers and vendors bustled about putting finishing touches on tents, stages, and staging areas all around town and up and down the waterfront. This afternoon will be the Iron Man Kids event yet we are determined to get all of our last minute business taken care of and to enjoy our final day here regardless of the pandemonium. Frank kept disappearing on me saying he had to go back to the tourist center for this and that. I was preoccupied with other tasks and didn't give much thought to these frequent absences. All the while, rainstorms continued their brutal assault upon us turning parts of the event's running track into slippery mudslides. Those poor "Iron Kids" have to compete in this mess.

Around 4:00 PM, Pauline and Meimei stopped by the boat for a tour. Meimei just could not imagine life on a boat. We wanted to show her that it isn't as bad as whatever pictures her imagination might have conjured. We spent a little while visiting over the cocktail hour and then walked over to the boardwalk for an early dinner. I think by now we were all bone tired of the weather, which will take the oomph out of any gang of rebels, so after dinner we strolled a bit before bidding each other an emotional farewell. Back on board Destiny Frank and I put the last minute touches on preparations to leave Sunday morning for Port Douglas.

We awoke early to the sound of swimmers at the end of the wharf, and to a brilliant blue sky. Finally the sun has broken through, a bit too late for our week in Cairns, but wonderful for the athletes and nice for our short trip to Port Douglas. Sunshine was a pleasant surprise; yet an even better one awaited me as I sat down to sip my first cup of coffee. Propped on the table in front of me was a large pamphlet titled "Thala Beach Lodge" displaying an alluring beach scene on the front and words written by Frank: "Happy Birthday, Barbara!!! June 4,5,6!" He booked this resort for us to spend my 55th birthday - what a sweetie! He then admitted the reason for his frequent absences; he was going back and forth to the tourist center because he couldn't do a proper online search with me hovering around all the time.

Leaving Cairns, on this magnificently clear morning we were able to take in picturesque coastlines and looming hillside landscapes that were previously denied us. Winds were fair with seas a bit rough for the first couple of hours, but as late morning unfolded we found the perfect point of sail riding the gentle swell up the coast to Port Douglas. We enjoyed the day so much, not believing how beautiful it turned out to be. Frank had timed our arrival in Port Douglas to catch the incoming tide because it can get very shallow in the river leading to the marina. Entering the river mouth our depth registered 1 foot below the keel. Oh, well maybe this is not a good idea. It was now 1:30 PM. We proceeded on in where the depth increased slightly, and as we arrived at the outer pier we began hailing the marina for directions to our reserved berth. We were instructed to stay close to the fingers of the dock and told that with our draft we should be fine. As we rounded the end of the first dock, Destiny's keel got sucked right into the mud bottom. We were sitting in the middle of the passageway between two busy piers stuck fast. People were standing around waiting to grab our dock lines and shouting directions at us. I found this pretty funny since we couldn't go anywhere. I smiled, waved and sat down on the front of the boat as Frank fervently revved the engine and the bow thruster in a frustrated effort to break free, meanwhile accomplishing nothing but stirring up blobs of mud. We were dug in! He waited about 15 minutes, cranked on the engine and tried it again. We managed to move a few feet before once again the muddy bottom bested us. This went on for about another half hour. Frank was not having any of it and persisted in his efforts to float us when Colin and Marion Cashmore (from s/v Avant Garde) appeared on the dock. They were waving and smiling which gave Frank all the more urge to free us from the bottom. Meanwhile tourist boats were coming and going all around us, giving their passengers a good show. I sat, smiled and waved back at them. Finally at around 3:00 we were able to slide into the center of the double berth, tossed our lines to those still waiting and were just able to get a short wrap on the cleat.
Colin trying to pull us in
  We were at least out of the waterway but too far from the finger to get off the boat. Colin and Marion stood and chatted with us for a good while - Frank tossing them drinks while we visited. No one ever thought to take pictures of the debacle. Colin and Marion had rented a car for the day in Cairns, had driven to Port Douglas and were walking the waterfront when we arrived at the river mouth. Watching our agonizing progress ratified their decision not to bring their yacht in here. At around 4:30, we were finally able to inch Destiny close enough to the pier for us to jump off. Colin and Marion had long gone, the Sunday Markets were now closed and we barely got to the Marina office before closing.

By the time we took care of business it was nearing dinnertime, so we took a stroll into town, which is just a few hundred yards from the waterfront. We liked Port Douglas immediately - although very touristy it has the feel of welcomeness. We strolled the center of town and dined at Jade Chinese garden for a very good meal. After dinner we walked around for a good while getting to know our surroundings before heading back to the Marina. Tomorrow we leave for Thala Beach Lodge.

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