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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Departing Australia

It’s early evening on our second night away from the Australian mainland and Bill, Dimity and I have just finished watching an amazing sunset that seemed to last forever,. With every passing moment, the sky became even more amazing until finally the light was gone and the stars began to appear. We departed from Mackay late yesterday morning on an overcast day with a gray sea and gray skies extending to every bit of the horizon. This was actually good news as all we had seen for the past week were gray skies and rain. Lots of rain. It seemed like it was never going to end and we were all beginning to forget what sunsets and the stars looked like. Fortunately that all changed today with clear skies, strong gusts and cool air surrounding us.
Yesterday was a wonderful day of sailing. With the wind at our backs and fishing poles out, we departed Mackay, heading for Scawfield Island. It was only about 25 miles away, but a good place to anchor for the first night out. The winds were light but very cool and after pulling in a healthy sized Queensland School Mackerel, we pulled the fishing lines in as our mackerel would suffice to feed the three of us quite well for a couple of days. At sunset, we arrived at Refuge Bay which we found to be a pretty popular spot compared to some of the more recent anchorages we had been in. It looked like it would be quite a peaceful spot. We would later realize that would not be the case.
After a dinner of fresh fish, some music, and some wine, everyone went to sleep. The night seemed to last forever. It was like the current and the wind were fighting in opposite directions. Strong gusts were howling through the shrouds and the changing current kept the boat on a constant roll. Between all of the movement and noise, I don’t think anyone got a full nights sleep. Captain Bill fortunately was up and decided it would be a good idea to let out more rode on the anchor to make sure we weren’t going anywhere. By early morning, the weather had not changed and we all woke up thinking the same thing, we weren’t going anywhere today.
With the rough and shifting weather, we decided it would be a good idea to take care of all of the finishing touches of getting the boat ready for our journey to the Solomon islands here in Refuge Bay. After a quick breakfast, I spent the morning reworking all of the waterproofing around all the hatches while Dimity cleaned and stored all of the potatoes. In the meantime, Bill rigged us up another support for our second fishing rod so we can have a way to mount two rods and catch all the more fish while underway. From there, we emptied the cabin of all the cushions, carpet and anything that had gotten even moderately damp during our 10 day rain streak. The rest of the day was filled with a few miscellaneous projects and lots of relaxing on the first clear and sunny day we had seen in a while. Although the air was cool, it was still amazing to sit on the deck of the boat and look out at the bay. About every five minutes, someone would spot a turtle swimming by. Of all the places I have ever been, I have never seen so many turtles in one day. The day finally ended, with the toasting to the dropping of the Australian flag with some beer, wine and a few group photographs to capture the moment for a lifetime. Combine that with a beautiful sunset and I can’t think of a better way to say goodbye to Australia.

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