23 November 2006

Urangan, Queensland

Happy Thanksgiving, Mates!

Team Sandpiper finally broke free from the clutches of Bundaberg and made the 40-mile trip south, across Hervey Bay, to the Great Sandy Straits Marina in the town of Urangan.

We were also glad to leave where we were anchored in the river. Twice, the Bundaberg Pilot Boat pulled up next to us at midnight, and with their bright spot lights, let us know that a big ship was coming. We were anchored right on the edge of the channel, along with all the other anchored boats. It was lots of fun watching a huge ship pass you in a narrow river.

We tried crossing two days ago, but only made it 10 miles before headwinds and waves knocked our speed down to 1.5 knots. We would have not made port till midnight. So we had to turn back and wait in Bundaberg for a few more days for the winds to slow down . Then we could make our second attempt.

Our friends on Shiraz left with us on that first attempt. They powered on through the winds and waves and made landfall that night at 8pm.

Our second attempt to cross Hervey Bay went much better than the first attempt. I think everyone was waiting for the same weather window. As we left the river at 5am, there were about 10 other boats with us.

We spent Thanksgiving day riding bikes all over town in search of a hot turkey dinner. But we came home with an empty stomach because Thanksgiving is an American holiday, and there is no turkey in town. The local butcher told to wait until Christmas if we want a turkey dinner.

There is no football either. But if your really hard up to watch sports, there is a big cricket match called 'The Ashes' between England and Australia going on right now. It is as big as The Super Bowl in the U.S., except that is lasts for days.

We did find a movie theater and saw ‘Borat’. Not sure if we have an opinion yet. As Amy says, "The jury is still out."

Urangan is on the southern end of Hervey Bay. It is a family beach vacation area. There are lots of restaurants and places to get ice cold beers all around the marina. Too bad the only radio station plays nothing but American country music. Weird.

Our plans for tomorrow is to head through the Great Sandy Strait that separate Fraser Island from the mainland. It is about a 40 mile transit through very shallow water. We exit back out along the east coast of Australia after crossing a shallow river bar.

We have split up with the boats we have been traveling with since Bora Bora. S/V Sheraz is on their way to Brisbane to haul their boat out to have the bottom repainted. They are also going to fly home to the US to visit their family.

S/V Blue Sky is on their way to the Woolwich Marina in Sydney. That is where we will meet them and we will all be mooring there for cyclone season.

Tom and Amy

Notes From Ron:
  • Football, in Australia, means soccer. American football is called "gridiron" here. There is also Australian Rules Football, called "Footy", "Aussie Rules", or "AFL". It is similar to rugby. Gridiron (American Football) is a complete mystery to Aussies. They mistakenly think that American gridiron players are a bunch of wimps since they wear padding (versus Footy where there is no padding).
  • Thanksgiving is another total mystery to Aussies. They know about it, since the see it often in the American TV and films. Many think it must be our independence day, or federation day, or something like that. Most Aussies truly want to know what it is, and then when finally told, why they don't have one too! Looking for traditional Thanksgiving food stuff here is also impossible, as Tom and Amy have discovered. It simply doesn't exist, and no one really knows what some of the things are, like pumpkin pie.
  • I went and saw "Borat" last week. I really loved it. I laughed so hard that I left the theater with a headache. So my vote is "Awesome".
  • American Country & Western music is very popular in outback Australia. In fact, Australia has a large C&W industry of it's own. Many Aussie C&W artists have become very successful in the US. For example, Olivia Newton-John got her start in the US C&W. Keith Urban is another recent Aussie Country-Western export to the US.

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