Tuesday, July 31, 2012
First off - the freezer. We still do not know what caused it to go on the blink. It had suddenly cut off during our first 24 hours. A pattern developed wherein it would shut off about every 1.5 hours, we would shut down the main power to it for 15 - 30 minutes and then it would restart. We tried fanning the compressor, troubleshooting using our Frigoboat book's guide, covering it in blankets to keep the cool in, etc. Eventually the cycle became shorter as the freezer would shut off every 50 minutes. Frank continued to worry and tinker while I prayed. Seriously. He started to complain that I had put too much in the freezer, we should take stuff out, we should defrost it (done the day before we left), and on and on. For some strange reason, he was more upset than I was, after all I am the drama queen among the two of us. I was resigned that it was only food, albeit a lot of expensive food, it would not cause us harm AND the boat is operating fine which to me is more important. Eventually he commented that the fridge, which sits beside the freezer, is frozen up along the element in the back. I said I would remove everything and defrost the fridge. Meanwhile, he took apart the connections on the freezer's control switch. While defrosting the fridge I found that the drain was clogged and so we used a hand pump that looks like a giant syringe to sort of suck and blow (no deviant comments, please) into the drain hole of the until it unclogged. We are not sure which of any of these efforts had the right affect but miraculously the freezer came on and has stayed on for nearly 24 hours. Maybe it was none of our efforts and just good old fashioned prayer that worked. We may never know but, knock on wood and fingers crossed, we are good so far and items are re-freezing.
The passage and arrival...
Sighting land was a thrill after nothing but big seas and whitecaps for 3 days. We arrived at the anchorage to find that many, many boats were already here. We discovered later that evening that several of those had jumped the queue and departed Darwin much earlier than the official start time and that some even left on Friday. Isn't it amusing the efforts some will make to try to be first in?
We anchored just behind "Renegade", called in on Ch 77 to report our arrival to Sail Indonesia and to get on the list to be checked in. "Renegade" warned us that they had been waiting since 11:00 AM (it was now 2:30), so sit back have a beer, read a book, get comfy. Meanwhile yachts, whom I will not name here, began nagging at Sam (our contact) to get them checked in. Some were downright obnoxious saying they'd been waiting over an hour which by that time had already been 3 1/2 hours for us. Others were even more rude and tried to jump the queue. What is WRONG with people? The officials arrived on Destiny by around 4:30 (Kupang time)and were so friendly. They were 5 young men who got very excited over two things: that we have a photocopier and that we have a boat stamp. They stamped the absolute heck out of everything, then before leaving they all whipped out cameras and smart phones asking for pictures with us. So cute!
Sam who is our Rally host came on the radio informing us that there is a dinner at 5 PM to which we are all invited. I will blog about that next time.
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Sunday, July 29, 2012
All is well aboard the good ship Destiny, seaworthy-wise that is. We are having a major freezer malfunction that could not have revealed itself at a worse time. Why oh why, in all the time we spent in Darwin did the darn thing wait until we were 24-hours away from Australia and filled to the brim to quit on us? Of course, we just spent a fortune on beautiful steaks, lamb racks, lamb chops, (actually all sorts of lamb and other meats), and other goods that won't be readily available to us in the upcoming months; or if we find these goods, who knows of the quality? We are both over the SICK feeling and yet still cannot imagine WHY this could not have happened when and where we could have had it repaired... Stuff Murphy and his laws!
The journey has been a good one nonetheless, with fair downwinds pushing us through the large waves. We have only used 5 gallons of diesel since leaving port. Not bad so far. The ride has been a bit bumpy, turning Destiny into a "Tilt-o-wheel" at times. Looking at the chart in front of me I see that we have roughly 22 hours to go on this passage. As far as passages go, this one has been unexpectedly pleasant because we did not anticipate getting to sail most of it, so far averaging a speed of 6.8 knots. I was even able to brew drip coffee this morning - unusual on passage for us without a lot of acrobatics and mess.
Leaving Australia for us was an emotional bag of mixed nuts. Economically we were ready for a change. We spent just over 21 months there, rather Destiny has. I made three trips back to States; Frank two. Otherwise we traveled and enjoyed magical, amazing, vast and beautiful Australia as much as possible during our stay. We feel we have done her justice, and have come away much more appreciative of her and her countrymen than we could have imagined. I've blogged extensively about our time in "Oz" and wish Frank would have done the same. His observations and comments would be so interesting to read, but alas he has lost the "oomph" to journal his thoughts and experiences. So we shared some observations and I will do my best to recapture those discussions as they float to the surface of our thoughts. Mainly, we love Australia. We love the people and their fortitude. We have learned how uptight we Americans really are, no matter how laid back we may think we are. When trouble/adversity/crisis rears its ugly head, a typical Aussie response is "No worries, Mate! She'll be right, Mate!" - and they mean it. It takes a lot to get to these guys and gals, and IF it gets to them watch out. We love their honesty, candor and spirit of hospitality. Their hearts ARE bigger than Texas. They love, laugh and give big. I do not know what it is like to cross an Aussie and hope I never find out, because I do not want to know if they swing the other way in retribution. Frank and I choose to love them unconditionally, as those we have met have us in return. We have made lasting friendships here with several Aussies, including a few "transplants". If you've read our blogs you know who they are. We will see them again and are counting on that.
That's enough for now. It's time for me to go cook some more meat that has defrosted on us. I guess we are on the Caveman diet for a while as long as the meat holds out.
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Friday, July 27, 2012
I haven't written for nearly 2 weeks. We have been flat out – Fair Dinkum! Our time here has been wrought with chores and repairs that were intended to be 10 minute, 30 minute, 45 minute jobs that of course took several hours to days to complete. We all know about that I'm sure. In the interest of time I'll not go into particulars. Suffice it to say Destiny is ready for passage – or as ready as she can be for now.
On the enjoyment side of things…we can honestly say we have given Darwin a fair go. We now know the location of every hardware store, boat supply shop, and market in the area. We have eaten some wonderful food, met two new Aussie friends who shall remain forever in our hearts and lives (whether Jo and Lex like it or not themselves), and have taken away a very fond memory of Darwin. The Museum and Art Gallery of the NT is a must do here. The Aboriginal art and cultural exhibits there were the highlight for us, and yet are just a portion of the attraction.
Thanks to Lex and Jo, we saw Darwin through the hearts and eyes of locals, walking along the foreshore where we spotted at least three Rainbow Pittas, beautiful little birds found in the Northern Territory's rainforest and mangrove areas, known to be very shy and rarely spotted in the Dry Season. We now appreciate that NT has not four, but two seasons; "The Wet" and "The Dry", respectively named. The Dry would be our winter and also the tail end of springtime and the beginning of autumn. The Wet is basically cyclone season – hot, wet and humid.
We absolutely pigged out at the Sky City Casino's seafood buffet on Oyster Night, where we each probably consumed over a dozen and a half oysters on the half shell before diving into the crab, prawns, crayfish and other delights. Afterward we swore we would not eat for a week but as anyone who knows us knows, we never keep those kinds of promises.
We thoroughly enjoyed the Deckchair Cinema where we spent a lovely evening with our new North Carolina friends, Sheila and Stewart (s/v Imagine), watching the film "The Lady" (www.deckchaircinema.com/). This cinema is quite unique, and is often missed by visitors.
One day, while the men were otherwise occupied, Jo and I had a lovely lunch and then she took me into the Supreme Court Building (where Lex does his best barrister work) and into Parliament. I must say, NT's Supreme Court building is the loveliest government building I've ever visited. The stunning, massive mosaic covering a good bit of the ground floor is well worth a good look. I felt I was in an art gallery more than a high court. Beautifully set.
We can't imagine having come all the way to OZ and not having made it to Darwin. Thanks to this rally we did. It is unique and special in ways that my words could not possibly do justice recounting. If anyone reading this ever travels here – please get to know a local so that you can love and appreciate what we have during our stay.
Now I'm off to wrap up the last minute Must-do's before we enter the Lock in just under an hour. More to come…
Monday, July 16, 2012
Wednesday, we realized the Staysail did indeed need attention, so Frank took it down to be taken in for repair and picked up the mainsail, which has been doctored. We are continuing the process of plugging along at these never ending maintenance & chores and toward the end of the day our neighbors Lex and Joanne asked if we would like to join them at the Dinah Beach Yacht Club for dinner. A local top Country/Folk singer named Leah Flanagan was performing. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening. We have grown quite fond of Lex and Jo and were happy to have had a chance to get to know them better. The food was delicious and the music so entertaining that we purchased one of Leah's CD's. Joanne is a writer, and has published 4 books one of which is a memoir. She was formerly married to a man whose early life inspired the hit movie, "Crocodile Dundee". Frank and I purchased the book, titled "Outback Heart", that I am now reading. This is an amazing woman. Lex is pretty amazing himself, and in these two we have found kindred spirits.
Thursday, more work, sweat, work, and sweat.
Friday more work, sweat, work, sweat and then another dinner with Lex and Jo at Dinah Beach. This time Jo's son Callum who is a professional diver up from Byron Bay joined us. He is working on a project in Darwin Harbour.
Saturday Frank and I walked into Parap for the weekend market. We also visited the local butcher buying some steaks to try out. We are in the process of deciding where to purchase our meats that we will be stocking for the next several months. We are told that if we like meat we'd better load up on it here, particularly beef, lamb and pork. So the taste test is ON. So far we've not definitively chosen the winner.
Sunday, we joined Lex, Jo and Leonie (Joanne's sister is visiting from Phillip Island), for a trip to the WWII museum. It is little known to most of us that following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of '41, Darwin was bombed to smithereens on February 19, 1942 by the same Japanese regiment. Anyone who saw the movie, "Australia" got a taste of this grim tragedy that was visited on northern Australia's soil. The museum is small but so well done. There is a short film depicting the horrific events that was very emotional to watch. The grounds are laid with lots of relics, including some from the American troops who were also present during the attack. One of our ships, the USS Peary was sunk with many wounded and nearly 90 men killed. We never realized. Hundreds of lives were lost here in Darwin on that fateful day. One of the survivors was Lex's father who was serving in the communications center at the time of the surprise attack. How emotional this must have been for him.
Afterward, the five of us joined Paul and Glor (Scallywag) and Colin and Marion (Avant Garde) for dinner and an evening of fantastic live jazz, blues, rock and rockabilly at…you got it…The Dinah Beach Yacht Club. It was an absolutely great night out. I shouldn't but I will interject that Leonie has two sons who happen to be rather successful actors in some recent films – I don't want to write their names because I don't want it showing up on a "google" search in my blog because I haven't met either of them, but one starred as "Thor" in the movie respectively named, and the other is one of the leads in the Hunger Games. So if you are a moviegoer, you'll figure out who they are. Gee this family has some amazing talent. Frank and I feel a teeny bit humbled.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
After picking up our Rally packets last week we kicked into high gear in our attempt to get Destiny and ourselves ready to leave Australia. People are giving us so much advice about what to do and how to prepare that we have been siphoning through it all and are realizing that the organizers are not providing the most sound and accurate advice. I'm so far not impressed with these Sail Indonesia folks, at least on the Australian side of things. Apparently none of them live here, have lived here or have even been here to reconnoiter Darwin. We have no idea where they get their information or how current it is. According to several Aussies who have sailed extensively throughout Indonesia, some of the information in our packets is a bit over dramatized, and then in some cases it is not dramatized enough. We suspect that quite a bit has actually been taken from peoples' blogs and put together by some clever rally organizer because the organizers are not cruisers. OK – enough griping but seriously, although we are happy to be going in an organized group to Indonesia we are disappointed in the organization of this organization!
We are very grateful to have had the car for several days, and would recommend this outfit (Bargain Car Rental) to anyone wanting a referral. They are honest and forthright which we have not been able to say about any other car rental outfit in Australia. Absolutely no hidden fees or tricky clauses in our contract, and the car is nice – and new.
Darwin has much to offer if you are into food, Aboriginal art and markets. There is a market nearly every day or night of the week somewhere. We went to the Thursday night Mindl Beach Markets and literally ate our way through. There are hundreds of vendors selling everything from clothing to knick-knacks, art, junk, souvenirs, home crafts and we suspect lots and lots of things we will find in Bali for 1/10 the price. You could get a tattoo, a piercing, and apparently just about everything but fruits and veggies. I couldn't resist picking up a few things to send back to Jen and Trace and now have to figure out how to ship them intact to Texas. We enjoyed listening to the live bands until an Aussie Reggae band took the stage and then our ears had had enough so we called it quits. We were so covered in Deet and dust when we got back home we took our second showers of the day before going to bed.
Saturday my laptop froze up and wouldn't shut down. Rather than fool around we took it straight back to the repair shop. They tinkered and determined it may have something to do with the software on my Telstra "dongle" so the technician uninstalled it and reinstalled an updated driver. We hope this is it for problems on my Mac. If not I'll have to wait until the end of the year and take it into the Apple store in Singapore. We continued our sweep of Darwin, picking up parts and working on boat projects the rest of Saturday and on into Sunday until the very minute our car was due back. We walked back to the boat and arrived covered in red brown dust. Darwin right now is hot, dry and dusty, however there is a humidity element. It reminds me of Texas in the summertime when the grass looks fried and a fine coating of dirt settles onto everything. I cleanse my face at night and the cotton ball comes away nearly black! Imagine what our lungs must be taking in. Our eyes remain red and a bit swollen. It isn't really so different here than Texas, Arizona, Fiji, Vanuatu; we are just really spoiled having not been in this climate for a while so I think we will acclimate by the time we get through the year. Being a 55-year-old female in this climate is the pits that only another female in this stage of life can appreciate.
Frank is still trying to get our AIS fully operational. I do not understand that problem and have given up trying, because I have my own troubles with the blasted sewing machine. I'm about to burn the poor thing up. As I sew it is beginning to vibrate and little knobs and bit pieces are flying everywhere. I spend more time trouble-shooting than anything but at the end of the day am just happy to have a sewing machine. If I whine too much it may hear me and shut down altogether – oh dear, we can't have that because I can't buy a new one here! I keep bugging Frank to consider the possibility of adding 220 to the boat. We can only run US appliances because the entire boat is wired for 110. If it is possible to add some 220/240 lines then in the event we need new appliances I won't have to wait until we get back to an American territory to replace them. As it stands I cannot replace anything that goes. This is something I'm not going to sink my teeth into too much because it is a sore spot with us that Island Packet Yachts didn't consider this when building a "world cruising yacht". I just pray that something can be done for us when we get to Thailand. Nothing can be done about it now – I'm just in a gripey mood I suppose.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
|In the lock and filling with water to raise us|
|Frank manning stern line as water is raising us - halfway there|
|we have about a meter to go (I'm manning the bow)|
|almost level, getting ready to enter marina|