Farewell to Australia!
After nine months 'In the land down under' we will finally be departing with 100 other boats tomorrow (Saturday) at 11 am. Cruising the coastline of Australia has been an amazing adventure! We have covered thousands of nautical miles in months and a few kilometers on land too. The most important note being that we made it through this dangerous land without anyone getting injured.
It seems like ages ago we arrived at our first port, Bundaberg, with brother Ron joining us for the fun. A few hundred miles down the coast to Hervey Bay to celebrate Thanksgiving and sail through the Sandy Straits with a stop on Fraiser Island (the world's largest sand island), pulling into Sydney Harbor on Tom's 40th Birthday and seeing the bridge and Opera House for the first time on our boat that we sailed all the way here brought tears to my eyes. Ringing in the New Year at Woolwich Marina and seeing the most amazing fireworks display was a dream come true. A visit from Dad and Grandma really made seeing Sydney that much more enjoyable. Our two week trip off the boat to Tasmania seeing the beautiful Wine Glass Bay and Bay of Fires was picture perfect. Having a special reunion for Tom with his friend Annie in Hobart was also quite memorable. Back on the boat, a 2nd Wedding Anniversary celebrated and off again this time heading back up the coast. One of my most favorite things about Australia are the beaches; how clean they are, the long walks on soft sand, the clear waters, the shell collecting, the amazing sunsets and learning to boogie board, pure heaven. Many nautical miles later I had my own reunion with my dear friends Mike and Iain, whom I wish could have stayed longer but glad we were able to make some memories 'Down Under'. With a month long stay in the aquatic playground of the Whitsunday Islands was shear delight. The reef being so amazingly full of color and life, I could have spent years exploring these waters. A few hundred more miles to the Torres Strait Islands, seeing true Indigiounous folk and how they live sharing in their music and culture was eye opening. Finally, up and over the tippy top of this massive land and one final sail here to the Northern Territory. Just writing and remembering all of these memories brings tears to my eyes, we have accomplished something a lot of others only dream about. Australia has been a real treat for us, it would be great if one day we could come back to experience more.
In these final days here we have been provisioning (again), handing over our passports to the Indonesian Embassy for cruising permits, clearing out of Australia with customs, filling up with duty free fuel and of course drinking as much Australian beer as we can, in true Aussie style.
A few days ago we attended a meeting with the other crew members from the vessels participating in the rally. A meeting with a few hundred other sailors can be a painful exercise especially when some ask questions such as; 'What's the Q flag?'(quarantine), 'Our we starting the rally in IALA or International rules?' (this is a racing ? which is dumb 'cause for one it's a rally and another how would you get 100 cruising boats to cross a start line all together with sails up and there's no finish line), 'Will there be sharks in Indonesia?', 'Exactly how far out should we expect to see fishermen?'. One important item we did talk about was that the rally is suppose to be plotting our positions, after our daily check in on the radio, and post these on their site (www.sailindonesia.net) so friends and family can watch our progress throughout.
I truly feel like a kid at Christmas with my stomach full of butterfly's anxiously awaiting this next chapter of 'Team Sandpiper's' adventures. Indonesia is going to be a cultural experience that I'm sure we will never forget. We will continue to post our progress and stories through our Sailmail account, via brother Ron, and hope to hear from you along the way.
Love to all
Amy and Tom
20 July 2007
Farewell to Australia!