Sailing Yacht SEA BUNNY

Christmas 2007 newsletter

Our annual review of our activities and travels for 2007

Major land touring, unscheduled maintenance, an extra UK trip and another year in Australia


Once again we have not done what we expected a year ago! Had we done so we would probably be writing this from Singapore. We're not! In fact we are anchored off the marina in Bundaberg, the marina being full with boats from the annual Port2Port rally from Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Before the southerly winds drop, allowing passage further south, there is an opportunity to go turtle watching at a nearby beach.

Why are we still in Australia and what have we been doing?

Up until April all seemed to be going in line with our tentative thoughts (which we feel is a more accurate description of what used to be plans).

Land tour - Thailand & Cambodia

Tonle Sap church

Early December 2006 found us in Phuket, Thailand (by air) for a reunion of cruisers we left Gibraltar with in 2001. Barry and Christiane, who sailed into Phuket on the day of the 2004 tsunami, shared with us their experiences of helping to rebuild lives and livelihoods in the area.. It was good to meet up with old friends again. We then took the opportunity to visit Cambodia for a month and, in particular, the Angkor ruins close to Siem Reap. On Christmas Day we were fortunate enough to be able to join in the inaugural Mass in the new Catholic church on the Tonle Sap Lake. We do mean on - it is on a large pontoon floating on the lake, as are all the “houses”, the school and the shops. The whole village moves as the lake expands and contracts with the seasons and the flooding of the Mekong River. There is much concern about what will happen to the lake, on which much of the Cambodian economy depends, if the Chinese build planned dams on the upper reaches of the Mekong. Thirty years after the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime the Cambodian people reminded us in some ways of the Algerians 20 years after their revolution, all having suffered a loss but generally friendly and keen to help.

Land tour - Southern Australia

Land tour - Southern Australia

After New Year in Singapore we were back on the boat for a few days before flying off again. This time our destination was Melbourne and a 10-week land tour by hired car of Victoria, south-western New South Wales, Canberra, South Australia and then Tasmania. The raw beauty of the land and the the extensive animal life will be a lasting memory. We developed a curiosity for platypus and koalas, stopping to spot them at every opportunity. Kangaroos are so common, especially as road-kill, that one reaches a saturation point, but some of the rarer wallabies had us out in remote areas to catch a fleeting glimpse. We discovered that snakes also favour waterholes at dusk. Despite only covering a minute fraction of this vast country we think we got a good balance, concentrating on some of the more off-the-beaten-track national parks. In one, Mungo NP, aboriginal remains have been found dating back 60,000 years necessitating some rethinking of scientific thoughts about the migration of homo sapiens around the world! Following the Murray River for much of its length brought home the extent of the drought from which Australia was and is suffering. The photo of the Hume reservoir at around 5% full bears this out; only the original course of the river has water.

Land tours - Queensland

Land tours - Queensland

From MacKay a weekend in the Eungella National Park provided a short break, with more platypus and from Cairns our final land tour took us for a 10-day tour into far north Queensland, visiting some remote Aboriginal rock art near the community of Laura, which were stunning compared with the more accessible sites one can easily walk or scramble to. There was crocodile sighting (didn't see any) and bird watching in the Daintree National Park, seeing strange birds such as the papuan frogmouth, which looks like a lizard when perched. We went up as far as Cooktown, where the sealed road ends and where Captain Cook patched up the Endeavour after its encounter with the Great Barrier Reef., and toured the waterfalls and lakes of the Atherton Tablelands

Sailing

Sailing

We got back to Sea Bunny from Tasmania in the middle of March and duly headed 40 miles up the coast to Mooloolaba, where we had booked a short haul-out to renew the antifouling paint and do a couple of quick repairs before heading 2000 nautical miles to Darwin. In fact we did not leave Mooloolaba until the end of June (see low points below), by which time we had concluded that we would not be sailing to Indonesia, or indeed anywhere outside Australia, this year.

We made it as far north as Cairns, spending a month in the Whitsunday Islands and a few calm days at the Barrier Reef, snorkelling and a bit of diving. By taking it leisurely this year we hope to be able to go up to Cairns quickly next year and concentrate on the sights up to Cape York and across the north.

The wind gods were kind to us and gave a fortnight of northerlies in late October, enabling us to make good time heading south.

Low points

Finding a lot of diesel in the bilges on arrival at Mooloolaba, which turned our quick lift-out into a three week marathon as the engine was lifted out of the boat, we carefully cut out the side wall of the engine compartment to enable the leaking 225 litre (50 gallon) stainless steel fuel tank to be removed from its location beneath the engine and replaced. Rewiring and re-plumbing took another month.

While this was going on Richard's father died in the UK, after a short illness, and we made rapid plans for a whistle-stop trip back for the funeral. This was not as easy as it sounds as the boat was not really seaworthy and all the local marinas were full. Susan eventually found a place to leave her and we made it to the UK for the funeral, staying for two weeks.

High points

High points

Cambodia, particularly the Angkor ruins.

Mungo National Park and the Flinders Ranges.

The Quinkan rock art near Laura.

Snorkelling with huge humphead wrasse in the Whitsundays.

A new dinghy, easy to row and complete with sailing kit (Susan's birthday present)

Tentative thoughts for 2008

Sea Bunny will probably spend the summer (December to March) between Mooloolaba and Scarborough, just north of Brisbane.

We anticipate a UK visit in February/March.

Sailing up to Darwin for early July and join the Sail Indonesia rally to Kupang in Timor (Indonesia) and on to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand

 


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