Well as most of you know, the reason I came over to Australia was because the Clipper fleet were doing a stopover here, and honestly it was just too good an opportunity to miss.
It was fantastic to see my boat Bermuda and crew and crew supporters (both ours and crew on other boats), some I haven’t seen since Cape Town, others not since training in Gosport. I really enjoyed catching up with all and swapping stories.
And I really enjoyed helping with the deep clean (which wasn’t nearly as bad as usual, though the crew did have a clean mid leg, when the whole boat was enveloped by smoke and debris from the bush fires).
Then there was the shopping, well I helped with the non food items anyway. The Coral Cove Marina office kindly loaned two of us a Toyota Pick up and waved us in the general direction of the out of town shops we needed. Yet another shopping experience on yet another continent. I hate shopping!
And then some sail repair, or I should say sail preparation for the repair… I can’t use a sewing machine, that’s left to Phil and Heather, but I do enjoy doing the other bits. It’s amazing to see the Spinnakers spread out (the Code 2 this time had a big L shaped tear in it), they are enormous.
It’s always a tense time when dropping them, especially if the wind is increasing. We mostly do “letterbox” drops, which means feeding the foot between the boom and the mainsail and then frantically feeding it down the companionway hatch as fast as we can. Then there’s the job of “wooling” (tying it up and regular intervals with wool in preparation for the next hoist) and repacking it. It takes up the whole of belowdecks….from the sail locker, through the galley/saloon and through the “ghetto” (bunk area) right back to the nav station. But I digress…
Then there was time off exploring, I went on a crocodile tour (courtesy of Clipper) and it was a real eye opener. We saw crocs in the wild and we had the most knowledgeable (and funny) tour guide. He was a mine of information about everything, how the aboriginals used the plants for fishing to the current state of the ecology. So, so interesting, he also provided a beautiful barbecue lunch, and we also got to use a genuine Oz “dunny”. It wasn’t until afterwards he made some idle comments about the vast amount of poisonous snakes that live around and behind it.
Australia seems to be full of oversize “critters” that are out to bite, sting, maim or kill you.
But then it wasn’t the critters that I should have been afraid of! More the human critters!
I hired a jet ski along with another crew member, and taking turns in driving, we went over to Paradise Cove, and it truly is Paradise. It used to be owned by the Russian mafia, but that was a while ago and it’s now in private hands and the jet ski company can visit there four times a week.
It was my turn to drive on the way back and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I found it similar to riding a quad bike (but without the mud) and was quite happily hammering along until we were called to stop – two of our group were struggling to keep up.
I signalled, slowed and stopped… only to hear a scream and an awful tearing sound as the jet ski behind us hit us side on at full speed and we were both fired up into the air…
Floating about amongst the debris I did a mental body scan and all seemed fine, although I think my passenger was in shock. I must admit I was laughing, I was so surprised that we were both unscathed. The jet ski wasn’t so lucky.
Anyhow, the offending girl was taken away, I was brought another jet ski, and we went on to have more fun, though thankfully not quite as much excitement.
As I write this the fleet have done a parade of sail but sadly have had to return to port for another 48 hours before they can race up to China. There’s been some malfunction in the watermakers on three of the boats and the parts just didn’t arrive in time.
Delays aren’t good when you’re all primed to race and all you really want to do is get going, I really feel for all of them.
I’ll be watching and following as usual on the race viewer..
Good Luck All, but especially Bermuda!