15 November 2006

Bundaberg, Australia

Good Day Mates!!

So much to report of our first week ‘Down Under’. Today we left Bundaberg Port Marina after a week long of activities and are heading up the Burnett River to Mid-town Marina, in downtown Bundy.

After the easy check in with customs and quarantine we jumped aboard the local bus to check out town. Shell shocked from seeing a real town/city, not a third world country we ate at Hungry Jacks (Burger King), stocked up on veggies and fruits, then back to the marina for the first of many ‘tent’ dinners.

Tuesday was a big day in Australia, Melbourne Cup day. It’s all about the fashion on the field, lots of drinking, and of course a horse race that lasts 3 minutes. It’s something like Easter meets the Super Bowl. Lots of big hats and plenty of booze.

After doing some well deserved recouping on Wednesday morning and into the mid-afternoon, it was time for another tent party. Every night the tent was open with either a themed event, or a cheap BBQ pack buy with cheap booze to boot. The bar was selling beer, wine, and a canned cola and rum drink called the ‘Dark and Stormy’.

The Yacht Club, which is an all female board, ran a few contests to get our brains working. One was a 250-word essay describing any boat trip related event. Tom and I wrote one together entitled ‘Storm Madness’. We didn’t win. The folks that did win wrote a song, which we sang several times throughout the week at the end of booze infested evenings. This was not one of Tom’s favorite memories.

We also entered the photo contest, but again we didn’t win. They had a "dress your yacht" contest, which our friends off S/V Blue Sky should have won. They have every flag. We think there was some conspiracy against us Americans.

We did win a free nights stay at the Mid-Town Marina. Hence our trip up the river.

A big dilemma on the Sandpiper, and for all of us USA boats is ‘how do we plug in’? Australia uses 240 volts, while in the US we use 110 volts. So we were out to buy a transformer so we could plug in and turn on all the gadgets. If you think about it, we haven’t been plugged in for 7 months. Not since Mexico, so the batteries sure would like a full charge.

The first store we went to quoted us AUD$650, which was a big shock to us. We were thinking more like $70. After much research and the formation of the company ‘Sandpiper’ Tom found one online for $250. We are now successfully plugged in and charged up!

We are the cleanest we have been in 6 months. We can even shower twice a day if we want... with hot water!!! Also, Sandpiper is enjoying all the fresh water that the hose can pump out. We have not seen a hose since Tahiti.

Having power at the dock is another luxury. We can turn on every light on the boat if we want to, and we do not have to run the engine or generator to make up for our power needs.

There is also WiFi Internet connection in the marinas here that we are enjoying. So we will be trying to get our photos updated as soon as we can find a fast connection. We have a lot of catching up to do since our last photo’s are of Nuie.

Sunday night we went with our friends from Blue Sky and Shiraz to the Mon Repos Beach near our marina. There is a turtle nesting beach where we got to see a turtle come up the beach and lay over 100 eggs before she covered them up and swam away. Its very well organized, with a visitor center that gives an explanation of what they do there. A ranger that takes you out on the beach after the sun sets, as that’s when the female turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.

On Monday all the cruisers boarded a big charter bus and got to tour the Bundaberg Rum Factory. The best part is the free 2 drinks at the end of the tour. Bundaberg is surrounded by sugar cane fields. There are train tracks for the “Sugar Train” to haul all the cane to the sugar plant right next to the rum factory.

The bus also stopped at a huge hardware store where we were able to get some items we had been looking for, as Sandpiper has broken a few things since we left Mexico.

The people in Bundaberg have been super friendly. We are busy learning a new language as, there are all kinds of new words and terms that we are getting used to. An ice chest is an "esky". We are now on a "yacht". Everyone drives on the wrong side of the road, so you have to look the other way when you cross the street (we have almost been run over looking the wrong way!). Shrimps are "prawns". Lobsters are "bugs". A man is "a bloke". TV is "Telly". Thanks is "Cheers". And slot machines are "pokies".

Our current plans are to stay in Bundaberg till the weekend as we are waiting for our outboard motor to be repaired by a real mechanic. And we are waiting for the weather to clear up. Today there are 40 knot winds, thunder storms, and lightning. The weather here in Australia is extreme. Even the sun feels like we are right under a magnifying glass. The rain comes down in buckets.

We are going to sail across Hervey Bay and take a short cut through the Great Sandy Straight (on the south of Fraser Island). We then cross a shallow river bar and start working our way south, hopping down the coast on our way to Sydney, where we plan to arrive on 15-Dec-2006.

If want to read more “Sandpiper” stuff, check out the Presidio Yacht Club’s newsletter for a write up they published in their Nov/Dec newsletter about our South Pacific travels.

More when it happens,
Tom and Amy

Notes From Ron:
  • "Esky" is slang for Eskimo, and the brand name for a cooler. Exactly like Americans calling a cooler an "Igloo".
  • "Ta" is a common word for "Thank You".

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