back to Vanuatu Log 07/20/2001-07/28/2001

Australia Log

Sunday July 29th, 2001

8:30am: Anchor is up. We have about 1250nm to Townsville, Australia. Bar = 1013. There is no wind, so we are motoring.

I listened in on a ham net this morning. There is a big low to the south that is affecting the weather up here, and I wanted to get a forecast. It looks like a trough will be moving through in the next couple days. This will probably disrupt the trade winds and bring us some rain. Sometimes it's hard to understand all of the weather info we get on the radio, but we are doing our best and will keep following the situation. Right now we have very light winds out of the NW.

Spent part of the morning making up some new fishing lures. I talked to some guys on a sport fishing boat while we were in Port Villa. They were setting up for marlin fishing. They use 80lb line and a 600lb leader. When I told them about the marlin we had on they laughed at the fact the we had only an 80lb leader. The lures I'm making up today have 250 lb leaders, which is the heaviest line we have. I also asked them how often they catch marlin. They said that they had hooked 8 fish and landed 2 in the last 5 days. That seems pretty good.

1pm: The NW wind has picked up a little. Sails are up, and motors are off. Bar = 1009.

2:45pm: Spinnaker up. Bar still 1009.

6pm: Spinnaker down for the night. Bar = 1010.

Stacy made a fantastic rice dish for dinner. She included the last of the dried dorado from Tonga. I'd say that dorado drying experiment proved to be pretty successful. Now that we really know how to preserve them, we are really anxious to catch more. -DWH

Monday July 30th, 2001

Midnight: Still have NW wind. Making about 5 knots. Bar = 1010.

6am: Wind has died. Motoring. Fishing lines out. Bar still 1010.

Noon: The NW wind has been up and down this morning, and we had hard rain for awhile. Our noon position is 17:44 S, 166:20 E. We have come 113nm since leaving Vanuatu. Right now we are slipping along at 5 knots with the spinnaker. Bar = 1010.

I finished "The Spirit of Catherine", my first real attempt at fiction. Now I'm waiting for the rest of the crew to review it before it gets added to the website. I also worked on a funnel for the spinnaker sock.

3pm: Bar = 1009.

4pm: Bar 1008.

5pm: The trough that we have been expecting is moving through. It looks like it might be a lumpy night, but we hope to be back to SE trades by tomorrow. Bar1010.

11:45pm: Since the front passed we have had wind from the south. Bar = 1011. -DWH

Tuesday July 31st, 2001

I'm the first person to make an entry in the log today. -Guy

We have been trying to watch the barometer more closely on this passage, but have to admit that we are not good at figuring out what it means. We usually record our position, speed, and heading every watch change (2 hrs). We have added the bar to this. If we keep a closer eye on it, maybe we will learn to use it better. -DWH

Noon: Our position is 17:38S, 164:27E. We did 108nm in the last 24hrs. -DWH

Averaging 6.14 knots over the last 10 hours. Great pace!! The seas are still pretty smooth so we are all happy. I made soup for dinner to warm us all up. It has been drizzling all day, no sign of the sun. -SLC

Wednesday August 1st, 2001

Maybe I'm not taking this log thing seriously. Apparently it's not my scribble pad for random thoughts. -Guy

We expect nothing less from Guy. -DWH

Noon: Our position is 17:37S, 161:52E. We did 148 nm in the last 24hrs. It is 885 nm to Townsville, Australia. -DWH

4:15pm. Guy had just taken over the watch, and Stacy, Jo, and I were having a little "mafe tiga" (African peanut sauce on rice) for dinner. Guy shouted that there was a fin in the water behind the boat. We all rushed out and sure enough, there it was. I quickly grabbed the fishing rod which already had a rubber squid attached and let out the line. The fin would appear and then disappear. Guy thought that it was a marlin, but we were not sure. Then it hit but did not get hooked. A minute later it hit again, but once again it did not get hooked. Then it hit a third time. This was not the brightest fish in the sea. This time I really tried to "cross his eyes" (a phrase, meaning to set the hook really hard, that I learned from my brother Dan), but after maybe five seconds it was off again. I didn't give up and neither did the fish. After a couple minutes it hit again. This time I really "cross his eyes". Then the line was screaming off the reel. While Jo was video taping, Guy and Stacy got the sails down to slow the boat. I managed to get the fish stopped and still had quite a bit of line to give. Then we saw it. It was a marlin. It started jumping, throwing its head back and forth. What a beautiful fish! The whole fight lasted all of 2 or 3 minutes, but it was really exciting. In the end it threw the hook, but none of us was too disappointed. While I think I could have gotten it to the boat, it was to big to bring aboard anyhow. And even if we got it aboard, we would not be able to eat more than a small portion of the meat, and that would be a terrible waste. Anyhow, in the end we were all just happy to have seen it. -DWH

Finally score: Marlin: 4 vs Dave Hess: 0 -Guy

11:15pm: It's a beautiful night with very thin cloud cover and an almost full moon. Good visibility makes it much more fun to sail at night. We have two birds circling Ladybug. It's hard to tell exactly what they are even though they get very close, hovering over the boat. They might be boobies, but they look bigger. It seems like they are interested in doing a little hitch hiking. I wish I could speak bird ("Hey bird!"). I'd invite them to spend the night. They would certainly be safe on the Bug.

11:40pm: After a couple dozen attempts, our friends have landed. They are on the port bow,one on the deck and the other on the life rail. Even though they are only 30 feet from me, I got out the binoculars (great light gathering). They appear to be boobies or something very similar. They have black wings and white heads and bodies. I can't tell the color of their feet, but maybe they will still be here in the morning. I hope they have a good night sleep. -DWH

Thursday August 2nd, 2001

Happy birthday Julia! We wish you were here so that we could throw you a big party! -DWH

Plato has been quoted as saying: "...and randomness is the source of all logic, structure and..." -Guy

12:39am: Our newly arrived passengers, Golf and Hotel, are still on the port bow. Echo and Foxtrot, our last non-paying hitchhikers, spent the night on the bimini facing forward with their legs perpendicular to the rocking of the boat and slept very well. Golf and Hotel are obviously not as bright as they were and their attempts at sleeping are marred by near falls, every few seconds, into the ocean. Just as one has its head under its wing it has to pull it out again to recover from a non-balance position. They are also getting sprayed by the water coming over that bow. -Guy

6AM 157 miles in the last 24 hours not bad!! A few squalls this morning. No rain, but we were frequently up to 7 knots with a double reef in the main. Dave was a good sport about waking up in case I needed any help. He slept upstairs without a complaint. I have yet to see the sunset, sunrise, or the moon on this passage. I am always sleeping at sunset and sunrise. And the moon has been scarce, mostly overcast when it is out. -SLC

6:30am: One of our bird friends is back. He has a blue bill and red feet. The wings and back are dark. After looking at our guide to sea birds, I was able to determine that he is a "red-footed boobie: white-tailed and white-headed brown morph." The other one, which I only saw at night, seemed to have a darker head and may have been the same or may have been a "white-tailed brown morph." All this "morph" stuff is a little confusing. Here is a quote about the red-footed boobie from our guide book: "Polymorphic; few sea birds display such a variety of seemingly arbitrary colour phases; different morphs form mixed pairs." -DWH

Noon: Our position is 17:50S, 159:10E. We did 154 nm in the last 24hrs. It is 731 nm to Townsville, Australia. -DWH

I have finally finished "The Spirit of Catherine", my first real attempt at fiction. It isn't a big deal in general, but it is a big deal to me. The story was born during one of my night watches on the passage to the Marquesas. I've work hard on it and had a lot of help and encouragement from Stacy and Guy. In the end I feel like some of the characters are part of my family. When a person writes a book, they get to dedicate it to someone. Even though this is just a simple story, I'm going to do the same. "The Spirit of Catherine" is dedicated to my grandmother, Louise Nelson. -DWH

The speed log hit 9.69 knots tonight with a single reef in the main, but averaging around 6.2 knots per hour. The moon is out tonight, it looks very full. There are also a few stars, but there are still a few clouds high up there. Almost time to wake Dave, then it will be time or me to get some sleep. -SLC

Friday August 3rd, 2001

Midnight: We are making excellent progress under a clear sky and full moon. We have done just over 80nm in the last 12 hours. The bar is at 1014. It has been steadily rising since 4pm when it was at 1010. -DWH

6am The moon just set. When Dave walked outside it surprised him, it look like a large fire on the horizon. The bar is still up around 1013. We are sailing at 5.5 to 6 knots with a double reef in the main. -SLC

10:40am The wind is finally shifting to the SE. The spinnaker is up and we are moving at about 8 knots.

Noon: Our position is 18:04S, 156:22E. We did 164 nm in the last 24 hr. We have is 567 nm to go. -DWH

Saturday August 4th, 2001

We had a full moon, steady wind, and no threatening weather last night, so we left the spinnaker up. Beautiful sailing!

Noon: Our position is 18:14S, 153:33E. We did 158 nm in the last 24 hr. We have is 409 nm to go. -DWH

We had taken the spinnaker down at 3pm, but got an excellent wind shift towards the east at sunset. The spinnaker is back up, and Jo averaged 9 knots from 6-8pm. If this good wind holds up we should be able to make it through Flinder's Pass (through the Great Barrier Reef) by Monday night.

Another bird-friend has landed on our bimini. He was quite swift and had a successful landing on the first attempt. But a few minutes later I lost concentration and flapped the spinnaker. The noise frightened him and he quickly flew away. But he came back and has been with us for over an hour.-SLC

Sunday August 5th, 2001

12:05am Yet another bird. This was a large black gull. It landed on the boom and tried its luck at balancing while I was steering. It didn't have a chance. I swung the steering wheel from one side to the other and it soon lost its balance and flew off. It was so close I could have stood up and touched it from where I was sitting. If it hadn't flown off I would have chased it away pretty soon. We don't want gull-crap all over the sail. -Guy

10:45am - Just 235nm to the next can of cold lager. -Guy

Noon: Our position is 18:27S, 150:22E. We did 182 nm in the last 24 hr. This is a new record for Ladybug. Our previous best day was 181 nm on June 10th. We have is 227 nm to go.

Way cool. I just made a telephone call from the boat. I called in to Townsville radio (150 miles away) on the SSB and told them that I wanted to pass info to customs about our arrival. They directed me to call Brisbane radio (550 miles away) on CH 802. I did that, and Brisbane radio placed a collect call to Townsville customs and patched me through. After I finished talking to Townsville customs I asked if I could make collect calls to the US, and the guy said 'no problem'. I was so excited about it that I wanted to call home, but then I decided that nobody at home wanted a call in the middle of the night. -DWH

Monday August 6th, 2001

6:20am: After our great day yesterday, it looked good for us to get through Flinder's Pass (through the Great Barrier Reef) today, but the wind has given up on us. We were flying the spinnaker and hoping to make 4-5 knots. This morning our speed had dropped to around 3 knots, so we fired up the diesel. It's not as pleasant, but with any luck the wind will come back up, and we'll be sailing again soon. Anyhow, it's a very pretty dawn. There is a full moon ahead, not a cloud in the sky, and to the east the horizon is a beautiful orange. -DWH

Happy Birthday Tasha!

We motored through the Great Barrier Reef in the middle of the afternoon. There was almost no wind and the sea was calm except for a slight swell. We could see breakers 2 to 3 miles away, but that was all. Otherwise it was pretty boring navigation, following our course through the reef on our electronic charts as we motored along. We did see a lot of fish feeding and had three lines out but had no action. We first spotted land at about 3pm. We were surprised because we didn't expect to see anything so soon. We eventually identified Cape Upstart, which was over 50 miles away when we first sighted it. -DWH

4:45pm Two dolphins surfaced right in front of the boat. We could see them so clearly as they were only about 5 feet below us (as we stood on the net), and the water was like glass. We looked at them. They looked at us. At one point they turned and swam upside down, showing us their bellies. We've never seen them so clearly before. Then after a couple minutes they simultaneously turned straight down and disappeared. What an excellent welcome to Australia. -DWH

9:30 pm I just finished reading Cloud Island. This short story was written by Guy a few years ago, and was recently revised while we were on passage. Unfortunately the content is a little too much for our 'G' rated website...but on demand he might mail you a copy. I really enjoyed the story, even though the target audience is of a different gender than myself. The story made me chuckle, very lighthearted and enjoyable. Guy: You should write some more stuff like this - it is good entertainment!! -SLC

Tuesday August 7th, 2001

We arrive in Townsville, clear customs, quarantine and immigration and then get pissed...

Had lunch then took Taxi to checkout Rosshaven Marina. Walked back to town, checked email and had a few more beers.

Wednesday August 8th, 2001

I went running along the water front and through town, then Dave and I had a nice breakfast in town. Jo went to buy his tickets to Auckland. Guy was happy because he found Subway! At 11am we moved Ladybug to Rosshaven Marina. Got boat out of water, but then had to return her to the water because of a flat tire on the travel lift. We tied up on the pier with all of the fishing boats for the night. We had an excellent barbecue with spicy hot sausages from the butcher in town. -SLC

Thursday August 9th, 2001

I talked to my Grandma this morning. Phone calls to the US are only 8 cents a minute (that's 8 Australian cents, about 4.5 US cents a minute!). It's great to be able to take time to chat, something that's hard to do when it's a $1US a minute. It was great to talk to Grandma. -DWH

I went running in the suburbs out to the port and then along the river. I went to town to complete customs work, which was a very pleasant trip. Customs lives in a beautiful 100 year old building. They were super friendly and efficient. I enjoyed looking at the displays of things that have been confiscated over the years (black coral jewelry, stuffed lizards and turtles, drugs, weapons, etc...). When I returned to the boat everyone was ready for lunch, so we headed to our new favorite corner bar and had an excellent lunch. Dave found out that 'bugs in chili sauce" is wonderful seafood (tasted like lobster) in a beer batter and deep fried. At 3pm the travel lift was ready, all 4 tires were holding air. After our practice yesterday the haul out went like clock work. Ladybug was all chalked up on the hard in about 1.5 hours. The only problem was the fact that Dave had cleaned of the nonskid on the port transom to prepare it for new paint. None of us realized how how slippery it was, especially when wet. I went down on the steps to hand something to Dave and basically went flying. I slipped from the top and after 2 attempts to stop myself I landed hard in the mud. I landed on my face and knee. It was not pretty, but there was only a little blood on my knee. My glasses weren't even get broken! I will be sore for a few days after this attempt at acrobatics. I am very lucky I didn't break several bones, I guess I will keep drinking my milk. We finished the long day off with spectacular T-bones on the grill. It is weird to be living on land again, and even weirder to be living on land in a boat. -SLC

We had a surprise visitor today. The story goes something like this............when we were pulling up to the dock at the Breakwater Marina on Tuesday there was a woman having her lunch at the seaside. She watched a catamaran named Ladybug tie up at the end of a pier. Then she went back to work. Once the bug was secure, the crew went into town for lunch and beer. Then we hit the internet cafe, sent the "we've arrived" messages to our friends and families, and then had more beers. (I'm guessing at the next part, but it probably went like this.) In Madison, Wisconsin a friend named Pepe (his parents probably call him Greg) received an email from Jo and thought, "Townsville! I know someone who lives in Townsville, Australia.". Pepe flashes off an email to a woman named Sue who happens to often eat here lunch by the Breakwater Marina - "Sue, my friends are in Townsville on their boat. Find Ladybug and take good care of my friends." She does a little searching and finds out that we have moved the boat to the Rosshaven Marina. Meanwhile we are tied up next to a fishing boat waiting for the travel lift to be fixed. I'm working on the boat when a woman walks up and says, "Hi, I'm a friend of Greg's". I'm confused and smile and say "Oh, hi." But wait. I have no idea what's going on. Who is Greg? I ask, "Wait, who are you?" She explains that she is a friend of Greg from Madison, some people call him Pepe. Pepe! Cool. We invite her aboard and feel like we have an instant friend in a distant port. Excellent. When she asks if we need anything, we tell here that all we need is to have someone cool to come have a barbecue with us. Sue says, "How about tomorrow. I'll bring a bottle of wine." Life is so cool. -DWH

Friday August 10th, 2001

We all woke up early to tackle boat projects. Jo and I are sanding the hull in preparation for the bottom paint. Guy is cleaning and working on removing the propellers and Dave is painting the copper foil (ground for high frequency radio) in the bilge to prevent oxidation.

Dave talked to his mom this morning, he has news from Dan in email.....what could this be???? (Stacy has a good guess.-DWH) -SLC

Went to the internet cafe this afternoon. Dan and Jenny are going to have a baby! I'm going to be an uncle. We need to have a party to celebrate! -DWH

We had a party to celebrate! We had a barbecue and Sue brought wine. I am in an excellent mood. -DWH

Saturday August 11th, 2001

Another day of working on the bug. The people here at Rosshaven marina have been really helpful. They helped us get our saildrives apart and also got us a manual for them. This is a great place to work on a boat. We worked until about 2pm and then got cleaned up. It is "Federation Day". Australia is 100 years old. We headed down to "the strand" (beach area). There was an air show, parade, and 45 minute fireworks show. -DWH

Sunday August 12th, 2001

Sue is taking excellent care of us. She offered to do our laundry, loaned us a bike and a cell phone, and took us on an excellent ride to the top of castle hill for an great view of Townsville at night. Pepe, do you have any more friends like Sue scattered around the globe? -DWH

Monday August 13th, 2001

Guy caught an early flight to Melbourne this morning.

Another day of hard work on the boat. Stacy ran around town on the bike. She had excellent luck finding materials for several boat projects. Jo and I stayed on the bug working on projects all day. Ladybug is getting better every day! -DWH

Sue and her son, Karl, stopped by with our clean laundry. Dave gave Karl a tour of the boat. The boat is currently an absolute disaster area with all of the works in progress. But, we will have Karl and Sue over for a barbecue when we are back in the water and cleaned up!! -SLC

Tuesday August 14th, 2001

No surprises here......another day of working hard on the bug. And each thing we fix we fix as good or often better than original. It is very rewarding to fix her up. Tonight we get a treat though - king prawns on the grill! -DWH

Wednesday August 15th, 2001

Finishing up projects and getting ready to leave for our 'vacations' tomorrow. Jo will be off the Auckland, New Zealand in the morning. Dave and I will leave for Bali tomorrow also. -SLC


Friday September 7th, 2001

We've been working hard on the boat since returning from our individual vacations. Some of the completed projects were as follows: 1) Ground and sanded off all old bottom paint, put on new primer and bottom paint. 2) Painted starboard bilge. 3) Non-skid paint and hand rails on transoms. 4) New life lines. 5) Props reworked. 6) Added starboard water tank to SSB ground plane. 7) New zinks on sail drives. 8) Rebuilt starboard water pump. 9) Nonskid on inside steps. 10) Permanently mounted starboard inverter and ran extension cord to saloon. 11) New steering system. 12) Fixed saloon door frame. 13) Fixed gelcoat nicks on transoms and in other places. We've also ordered a new bimini top which was measured up early this morning.

10:30am - Ladybug is back in the water! We had a little trouble with the starboard diesel, but after changing the fuel filters we were on our way. After a short motor/sail we tied up at the Breakwater Marina. -DWH

Looked at the charts and Calendar. We are going to have to make a fast trip across the Indian Ocean. If we average 5 knots, we have around sixty days of sailing. We want to reach Durban by December 1st. So at that rate, if we leave the middle of next week, we will have about 2 weeks of shore time between here and South Africa. -DWH

Saturday September 8th, 2001

Did a little boat work and a little shopping but nothing too intense. Tomorrow we are going sailing!!!!! -DWH

Stacy and I went out for a fabulous meal with anniversary money from Grandma. We went to a BYO curry place. We had appetizers and curry and a bottle of our own wine. Even though we tried, we were only able to spend half the money (including the cost of the wine). Sorry Grandma. I guess we will have to go out again. -DWH

Sunday September 9th, 2001

Sailing! We did a day trip to Magnetic Island. Sue and her son, Karl, along with another friend named Anya joined us. Karl turned out to be a natural at the helm. We anchored at Radical Bay and went swimming, kayaking, and had a few cocktails. All in all, it was an excellent day. We got back to Breakwater Marina after dark. Our neighbors on s/v Wings of Fantasy came out to help us tie up. Later they came over for a cocktail. Good fun. -DWH

Monday September 10th, 2001

We have a new guest on Ladybug. Maiko is a university student from Germany who is in Australia on vacation. She will be hanging out with us for about 10 days, probably sailing with us up as far as Cooktown. We all went out for kebabs and them set up the movie pit in the saloon. -DWH

Tuesday September 11th, 2001

Spent the morning sorting our charts. In the afternoon our neighbor, Jenny from s/v Wings of Fantasy, came over and gave me some advice on how to work our way up the coast. The rest of the crew was busy with other preparations and also a big grocery shopping trip. -DWH

Wednesday September 12th, 2001

We were all shocked this morning by the news of the terrorist attacks in the US.

The new bimini top was delivered this morning. Even though we expect to be selling Ladybug in the next couple years, we spent the extra money to get it made out of the best material available. It looks really good and should last for about 10 years.

Spent the day working on charts, copying some sections out of the cruising guides we borrowed from Chris and Jenny, and picking up the boat in preparation for our departure tomorrow.

Went to our favorite curry place for dinner on Grandma again. (Thanks Grandma!) When we got back we had Chris, Jenny, and Clare (their daughter) came over for a glass of wine. Later we went over for a tour of their boat, Wings of Fantasy. It is a beautiful trimaran that they built themselves fourteen years ago. They are a wonderful family. I'm glad we met them, but wish we had time to get to know them better. -DWH

Thursday September 13th, 2001

4am: Good-bye Townsville. We are off to Hinchinbrook Island. No wind so we are motoring. -DWH

Noon: The afternoon sea breeze has come up, and we are sailing. We're not going real fast, but the engines are finally silent for awhile. We should be reaching Lucinda and the southern entrance to the Hinchinbrook Channel a little after 3pm, which is in the middle of the rising tide. The fact that the tide is up a little will make navigating this shallow entrance easier, and we should be helped out by a favorable current in the channel. -DWH

What a spectacular place. Hinchinbrook Island is lush and mountainous. It is separated from the mainland by a narrow, winding 26 mile long channel. We dropped the anchor between Haycock Island (small island in the channel) and Reis Point (on Hinchinbrook, named after "Torpedo Jo"?). There are mangroves all along the shore. We have been told not to swim here. We are in salt water crocodile country. And salties are nothing to mess with. They sometimes get to be over 20 feet long, and apparently the record is around 26 feet. That is a big critter with lots of teeth. And when a salty looks at you he sees one thing...........FOOD! We on the other hand are feasting on pizza tonight. Life is good. -DWH

Friday September 14th, 2001

We had a very peaceful night last night. The water was so still that it almost felt like we were on the hard again. By the time we got underway the tide had started to fall and we had a slight current going south. We motored north through the channel and the current dropped off as we reached the north/south mid point in the channel. After this we started to pick up a favorable current. Along the way we saw some mysterious creatures on the surface of the water. The first ones looked like sea lions. They were definitely mammals and poked their heads up to get a look at us before moving off. After doing a little research, we think that they were probably dugongs (sea cows). We also saw some other surface activity - little bumps sticking and moving along the surface. Crocodiles? Could be. I wish we had been able to get closer so we could be sure. -DWH

We spent the afternoon tacking into the wind heading NE from Hinchinbrook Island. We could see smoke from fires on the eastern slopes of the island, and when the sun set we could see the actual flames. They were small and spread out, but still quite a sight. -DWH

Saturday September 15th, 2001

The wind died out during the night as forecast, and we fired up the diesels. The forecast for tomorrow is 15 out of the SE. That sounds better. The extended forecast is for SE 20 on Sunday and SE 25 on Monday. -DWH

4:45 AM Just watched the coolest moon rise, a perfect crescent. -SLC

There is a lot of traffic here inside the reef. We saw several large ships and fishing boats during the night. -DWH

The wind finally kicked in this afternoon and we had a couple hours of excellent sailing. We arrived in Cairns late in the afternoon. Anchored in the river. There is a strong tidal current here. After making sure the anchor was set well and getting everything shipshape, we headed in to the yacht club for drinks and buckets of prawns. Later we went to the Wool Shed for dinner. -DWH

Sunday September 16th, 2001

Spent the day running around Cairns. We ran into some people that we know from Townsville. They said that they saw a big crock (5-6 meters) just a half mile north of where we anchored on Thursday night. They said it was lying on a mud bank during low tide, and they were able to motor right by it.

Lifted the anchor around 6pm. We are off for Hope Island and Cooktown. This section of the Coral Sea is pretty open, so we are night sailing again, but this will probably be the last of that, at least while inside the reef. After Cooktown the reef starts getting more difficult to navigate, and we will probably have to stick to sailing during the day. The other option is to pop outside the reef and take the long way through the Torres Strait. -DWH

Lots of traffic again tonight. We really need to be vigilant to avoid the coral and the ships. -DWH

Monday September 17th, 2001

Hope Island was visible at sunrise. A little later we caught a tuna. I'm not exactly sure what kind of tuna, maybe a longtail. I also saw dolphins. -DWH

Arrived and dropped anchor at Hope Island at 9:30am. We had an excellent but short visit that included swimming and hiking around the small island. I'd never seen coral that was more alive. It was very colorful and also soft. I've never really touched coral before, but I just could not resist. Some of it was soft and smooth, and some was soft and hairy. There were also a wide variety of colorful fish, many of which I've never seen before. The entire shore of the island is beautiful beach, and the island is home to many bird varieties. If I was more ambitious I would have tried to identify them, but as it turned out I just enjoyed watching them. After our wonderful visit we hoisted the anchor at 1pm and headed for Cooktown. -DWH

5:20pm Anchor down in Cooktown. Went into town and had a couple beers at a bar that was established in 1873. Then back to the boat for a pasta and pesto dinner. -DWH

Tuesday September 18th, 2001

We had a good day running around Cooktown. We saw the James Cook museum. Cook's ship, the Endeavour, went on a reef about 25 miles south east of here in 1770. After a few days of throwing stuff overboard and pulling on anchors they were able to free it. Hope Island was named during this time as they were able to see it from the reef. Once the Endeavour was free they looked for a place on the mainland to beach the ship for repairs. They ended up choosing the present sight of Cooktown. Among other things, this is the first place that a European ever saw a kangaroo. After the Endeavour left, life went back to normal for the local inhabitants for a while. Then in the late 1870s gold was discovered near by. Suddenly Cooktown grew to 30,000 people. Eventually the gold ran out and then a couple cyclones and WWII did their part to further reduce the town. By 1970 the population was down to 6000, and now it's only about 1300.

After the museum we stopped by an interesting little tourist shop. I was looking for a book of Cook's journals. I found a small book section that didn't have much on Cook but did have an unusual number of books by some woman who spent several years traveling around Cape York. The photo on the cover showed her in a bikini holding a gun and standing next to a very large crocodile. Interesting. While I was checking out the books Stacy was looking at hats. A few minutes later the shop owner came over to see if Stacy needed any help. There was something very familiar about this woman. Then I realized why there were so many copies of that particular book. We were talking to the author, Linda Rowe. Cool. We had a nice chat with her and bought a copy of her book. In the book she talks about the wild country north of Cooktown. Basically, once you leave Cooktown you need a 4WD to continue north up the York Peninsula. And that 4WD better have an air intake snorkel, because driving through rivers is part of what's involved. This is wild country - rivers w/o bridges, crocs, pythons, poisonous snakes, and beautiful country. While talking to Linda we mentioned that we hadn't seen a salty yet. She said that we just needed to take our dinghy up the river for about a mile, and we'd see plenty. She said that at low tide they like to lay out on the mud banks. We should have been more daring, but none of us was too excited about out little inflatable boat being surrounded by 18' long salties that think we are food.

View from Grassy hill of Cooktown harbor.

After a quick lunch, we went for a hike as suggested by our new friend. We went through the botanical gardens and to a couple of nice beaches. There was a spot were we were told that we might see some crocs, but didn't have any luck. Our hike continued up Grassy Hill, where we had a beautiful view of the sea to the east and up the Endeavour River in the other direction. It is very interesting looking north and west. It must look pretty much the same as it did when Cook was here. From here on up Cape York there is almost no development. -DWH

Wednesday September 19th, 2001

7:15 Said good-bye to Maiko this morning. Maiko was a great guest and a lot of fun, wish she could have stayed on board longer. We just lifted the anchor and we are headed out the channel towards Lizard Island, 53 miles to go today.

This mornings forecast was for SE 20-25, and that seems to be what we've got. Excellent sailing conditions. Our course takes us past Cape Bedford, between Low Wooded Isle and Three Isles, and then straight to Lizard Island. We are making around 7 knots and the sun is shining. -DWH

2:15 The anchor is down at Lizard Island. We had a very quick trip (53 nm in 7 hours, about 7.5 knots). As we were approaching the anchorage a customs plane flew over. A few minutes later they gave us a call on the VHF to ask for or last and next port of call and whether or not we had a cruising permit. The customs people here seem to be friendly, helpful, and very efficient. -DWH

We had some great snorkeling and some nice hiking here at Lizard Island. The reef is very nice, with new coral and fish that we haven't seen before, but the highlight is the giant clams. Some of the ones we saw were close to 3 feet across. They lie partially open on the bottom with their colorful insides revealed. Their flesh is very colorful, often green or blue or purple and sometimes with small bright spots. The smaller ones, 1 to 2 feet across, would often snap shut as we swam by, but the really big ones don't seem to be the least bit afraid.

While hiking Jo and Guy saw a lizard that was about a meter long. There are lots of lizards here.

Lizard Island is also the sight of a famous European/Aboriginal clash. A family set up a home here are were processing "beche de mer" (we are not sure what that is). A group of Aborigines came to tell them that the island was sacred and to tell them to leave. Unfortunately they were not able to communicate this as there was no common language. The husband of the family was off fishing, but one of the servants started shooting a gun. He ended up being killed. It seems like a case of both sides trying to defend themselves at that point. The woman and her baby escaped to sea in a metal boiler and was not pursued as the Aborigines did not which to kill her, only get her to leave. She and the baby drifted to another island, but there was no fresh water and they died of dehydration. When the incident was discovered by the government, solders were sent out and about 150 Aborigines were killed. -DWH

Thursday September 20th, 2001

Happy Birthday Jo!!!!!!

Started the day with Stacy baking a chocolate cake and doing the prep work for making pizza. Jo and Guy put the dinghy away while I did the dishes. Then we all did a general clean up. Anchor was up at 9:10. We are trying to hit One and a Half Mile Opening at high tide or just after. -DWH

11:30 We are through the pass and outside the reef. It's not too difficult with a GPS, good charts, binoculars with a built in compass, and four sets of eyes watching for reef with sunshine overhead. I can only imagine what it was like for Cook with no engine, a ship that was more difficult to handle and didn't point well, and no charts. I think he actually went through 3 passes in this area. He went out one, got swept back in through another with the rising tide, and then back out another. I bet he was glad to finally get out into some clear water. Oh, I almost forgot about our unexpected help. A large group of dolphins came to wish Jo happy birthday and to help guide us safely out to open water. -DWH

Pizza and chocolate cake for lunch! -DWH

Happy Birthday Dad! I know that you struggle to find this website let alone anything on it, but just in case you do this is to let you know that I toasted your birthday with a piece of pizza. -Guy

Friday September 21st, 2001

9am: The computer tells me that we've done 170nm in the 24 hours since leaving Lizard Island. This isn't a record day but it's damn good progress. I've managed to get myself soaked on my last two driving shifts. The high seas mean that we have the occasional wave breaking over the boat and into the cockpit. -Guy

Noon: Our position is 11 32.7S, 145 15.5 E. We made 169 NM since noon yesterday. -DWH

Saturday September 22nd, 2001

1am: We are passing between Ashmore Reef and Eastern Fields at the moment. We expected the seas to be a bit calmer from the "reef effect" but so far I've noticed nothing at all. There are still plenty of unauthorized waves trying to get into the cockpit. Even though it's 1 in the morning the air temperature is pleasantly warm. I think this is a combination of the impending southern hemisphere summer and the extra 10 degrees we've moved north since leaving Townsville. -Guy

Today from 12:30pm to 3pm:

Obituary to the Bucket:
Today we lost the bucket. Our trusty old rusty handled cream and beige sea water retrieving bucket. It had been overboard many times before and each time a successful MOB rescue mission was launched and the bucket was retrieved. It was usually the rusty handle that detached itself from the bucket that caused its sudden separation from the boat. Today it was Jo's turn to be left with the rope in his hand, the bucket handle at the end and a look of surprise on his face. We instigated an MOB to try and get the bucket back on board. Due to its age it had lost the ability to swim and by the time we'd retraced our steps to where we last saw it, it was below the surface and out of sight. We observed a minute of silence. -Guy

Obituary to the Tuna:
Now the reason that the bucket was being used at all to retrieve sea water today was because Jo had just pulled in a fat tuna. Dave cleaned it and the water was to be used to wash the deck. The tuna is currently being turned into curried tuna and vegetable with rice. We did NOT observe a minute of silence for Mr. Tuna. We ate him! -Guy

Obituary to the Lure:
While Jo was pulling in the tuna Stacy was fighting another fish (probably also a tuna) on the rod. This one broke off the lure and got away. We have plenty more where that one came from. -Guy

7pm: We are about 40nm from Papua New Guinea and are approaching the entrance to the pass through the Torres Strait. Once in the pass we will work our way through the reef in a generally SE direction for about 130nm, eventually passing just north of Prince of Wales Island and the tip of Cape York and into the Arafura Sea. This is a main shipping channel so the charts are good and there are many lights marking the way, so it is considered safe at night and in adverse conditions. We have had SE20 for the last couple days. The forecast is for SE 20-30 (average wind speed, gusts may be 40% higher than the average) )for the next 24hr. That should keep us moving. The wave forecast for outside the reef is for "significant wave height" (average of highest third of waves) at 3m, max wave height of 6m, on a swell of 2m. All that adds up to some pretty significant waves. Luckily we should be protected by the reef and see waves in the 1.5m range with a max of 3m.-DWH

Sunday September 23rd, 2001

4am: We are making excellent time through the pass, averaging around 7 knots. -DWH

It was a wild ride, but by about 3pm we had cleared the Torres Straits. The water was turquoise as we approached Wednesday, Thursday, and Hammond Islands along with a number of smaller islands. It was quite beautiful with the white caps, blowing mist, and a sometimes blue sky. At one point Stacy had the boat surfing at almost 14 knots. Not long after she yelled, "Look, a turtle!". Everyone else was inside at the time and by the time we got out to the cockpit we had left it far behind. Another thing that was weird was sailing for so far with such shallow water (less than 50 feet). For hours we sailed along where, if we had flipped, the mast would have stuck in the bottom. That along with all the reefs and the scattered islands kept me nervous for pretty much the whole trip through the pass. We only have large scale electronic charts of the area, but we do have some good paper charts. To do the navigation I plotted a route on the paper charts. Then I copied the way points into the computer. In this way I could keep track of our progress on both the paper charts (which have the details) and on the computer (which plots our position automatically). In addition we took bearings on lights, buoys, and other physical features to confirm our position. Basically we did everything we could to ensure that we did not hit anything. At times it seemed a little ridiculous. It would have been so easy to just follow the bearing on the computer. Then, just before we were through, I saw something that didn't seem right. It turns out that I had made a mistake on the 14th of the 15 points I entered (Latitude was entered 10 34.5 S instead of 10 34.05 S), and we were headed right for a reef. This was quickly corrected, but it made me glad that we were being so careful. Once we were past Cape York and in the Arafuna Sea the wind died down and the sea was calm. The water was still turquoise, but it was so calm and relaxing. And to top things off, we had a couple exceptionally beautiful little birds stop by for a visit. They were bright green with yellow throats and long black beaks and a black "mask" over their eyes. -DWH

Monday September 24th, 2001

I had a 4" flying fish land in the cockpit at dawn. I added him to one of the lures and put out the hand line. About 45 minutes later we had 28" longtail tuna. Three out of the last four times we've put out a line we've had a tuna within 1 hour. -DWH

9:15am: Fish cleaned and cooked. Spinnaker up. Moving at 8+ knots.

Noon: Our position is 10:33 S, 139:55E. In the four days and three hours since leaving Lizard Island we've covered about 663 NM for an average of about 6.7 knots. -DWH

11pm: The spinnaker is still up, but the wind has been slowly dropping off all day. We are now down to about 4 knots. It is still excellent sailing. -DWH

Tuesday September 25th, 2001

The wind picked back up in the middle of Stacy's early morning shift, around 4am. When I got up for my 5-7am watch, Stacy surprised me with fresh baked lemon poppy seed muffins (thanks to Mom for sending instant muffin mix for us!!). She was going to make me coffee also, but the propane tank ran out. The muffin was a wonderful treat. It is now 7:30 and Guy has taken over at the helm. I've changed over to the other propane tank. The spinnaker is still up, and we are back to doing about 7 knots. The wind is from almost directly behind us and the seas are pretty calm, making for a very smooth ride. I think it's time for a little nap. -DWH

A couple of our playful friends.

At around 5:30pm we had visitors. A pod of around 40 porpoises joined us and put on a little performance. Not wanting to be outdone by the porpoises, at 6:30pm, a pod of about 15 dolphins arrived and put on an even better performance than the porpoises with higher jumps and more aerobatics. One of the dolphins appeared to collide with the hull a few times and I'm sure I could see bottom paint on its back afterwards. -Guy

Wednesday September 26th, 2001

5am Nobody has touched the steering wheel in over 6 hours (the autopilot is doing it's work). I don't mind steering some of the time, it is actually quite fun in good conditions. But at three in the morning it is just nice to watch the scenery go by. We are sailing smoothly, averaging about 6 knots. The weather is pleasant, no complaints. We are making great progress towards Darwin. But I can't predict what day we will arrive in Darwin, this is bad luck and assures a 'later than expected' arrival. -SLC.

5pm: It's been an easy day of sailing under clear skies with the spinnaker. When I was at the helm at sunrise, I was hungry for tuna barbecue sandwiches. We've had tuna a lot lately - baked tuna, tuna curry, tuna in peanut sauce, tuna sashimi, tuna ceviche. I'm not getting tired of tuna, but was in the mood for a new twist. Well, after my shift I took a nap. When I got up, Stacy was baking bread. Hey, that's half of what we need for tuna sandwiches! I put out a line. This time it took an hour our two, but eventually we caught a 24" longtail tuna. Like our last tuna, this one had excellent light pink flesh. We had a little sashimi and then I baked the rest in onions and barbecue sauce. Excellent! Along with the good eating, we are also making excellent progress towards Darwin. We've been doing about 150nm/day the last couple days. -DWH

8:45pm: When Ladybug was surveyed in the Virgin Islands, the surveyor filled in "Emergency Steering: NONE". I thought that was funny. In addition to the wheel, we can reach both tiller arms and the cross tube that links them all from a comfortable sitting position in the cockpit. Tonight we got to use our emergency steering. While Stacy was at the helm, the wheel suddenly got loose. I was on backup, so she called for me. I took over steering using the starboard tiller arm. Stacy woke up Jo who had worked on the steering in Townsville, and he came out and tightened it. We will want to look at it again tomorrow, but basically it is back in working order. And the whole operation took place while we sailed along at 7 knots under the spinnaker. -DWH

9pm: My first shift this evening was very enjoyable (except the minor problem with the steering wheel coming loose). I drive from 7 to 9 and again at 3am. The further we head west the later the sun sets. The sun was setting around 6pm when we started this trip, but it is now setting around 7. Also the moon is about 1/2 full. So this means that on my first evening shift it basically never gets dark. Tonight I was watching the beautiful glow of the sunset on the horizon when I noticed my shadow already in the cockpit from the moon. -SLC

Thursday September 27th, 2001

1pm: Another good day of sailing. We've put in about 160nm since this time yesterday. And it's all been very pleasant sailing with the spinnaker. -DWH

There was a sailboat that appeared ahead of us at dawn, and we followed them all day. I think they were aware of us and didn't want to be caught because they appeared to be working very hard with lots of sail changes. At one point their spinnaker when up and down 3 times in just over an hour. We on the other hand have made only a couple sail changes since leaving Lizard Island (started with double reefed main and jib, after clearing the Torres Strait we changed to the spinnaker, the spinnaker was dropped for a half hour to let a storm pass and then put back up a half hour later and we are still flying it). At one point in the afternoon we were getting pretty close, but then without making any sail change they seemed to speed up and pull away. Our theory is that they might have decided to fire up the engine to charge the batteries. Anyhow, now it's getting dark again. They are still ahead of us. Maybe we can follow them right into Darwin and then join them at the yacht club for a post passage cocktail. -DWH

8:35pm Just got a "Pan Pan" message from Darwin radio. An EPIRB has been activated near Cape Wessel, about 250nm behind us. They are asking all ships within 30 NM of the location to report in to help with the search and rescue. It's good to know that there are people who are ready to respond to EPIRBs. I hope whoever set it off is OK. -DWH

Friday September 28th, 2001

predawn: We passed the boat that was ahead of us during Stacy's shift. Then they passed us again about 2 hours later during my shift. This was all under engine power, so nobody gets bragging rights.

11am: We just had a coast watch plane fly over. Stacy and I went out and waved, but for the second time in a row they did not call us on the radio even though they called the boat just ahead of us. We felt a little bad because we wanted to they them good morning. Then we realized that the reason they don't call us is that our boat name is so easy to read. Since they know who we are and have our information, there is no reason to call. I still wanted to say good morning though, so this time I called them. -DWH

I did most of the navigation planning for our trip from Townsville up to Lizard Island and then through the Torres Straits. Jo took over for our approach to Darwin. The route suggested by "World Cruising Routes" is to go the long way around Melville Island. This is what I originally had plotted, but the entire rest of the crew recognized that this meant we would not be in Darwin for Friday night. So Jo plotted a route through Van Diemens Gulf and Clarence Strait. By checking the tides and timing our transit to take advantage of daylight, this turned out to be no problem and much faster. We should be in Darwin by happy hour! -DWH

3:30 PM anchor is down in front of the Sailing Club in Darwin!! Excellent!! -SLC

We registered at the Darwin Sailing Club. We found the showers then had a few beers with dinner and headed for bed pretty early as we were all pretty tired..

Saturday September 29th, 2001

The guys headed into town for internet and errands. I went running up to the East Point. This is a beautiful nature preserve just north of where the boat is anchored. I saw a few wallabies which are like miniature kangaroos and very cute. They hop on their hind feet and have pouches for the babies. Then I headed over to the traditional Saturday market in the village of Parap. This market was a lot like the Farmers Market on the Square in Madison. Lots of veggies and prepared food. Some arts and crafts too. I had a lot of fun checking things out. Later Dave and I met back at the Sailing Club.We exchanged presents.Dave surprised me with a present from town. Our very own copy of the Lord of the Rings trilogy(actually its really a novel in three volumes according to the forward). I just read the Hobbit and really enjoyed it. This should keep me busy across the Indian Ocean! Dave's present was a beautiful mango and some kiwi fruit.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the sailing club partying with lots of fun people and watching the Lions and the Bombers fight it out for the 'Aussie Rules' championship title. It was a close match and very exciting, even though we could only understand a small portion of what was going on. The Lions were the big winners and Dave even managed to win a 6 pack of beer for us. We met Ben and Amy who were a lot of fun to talk to. -SLC

Sunday September 30th, 2001

Dave and I headed out the Cullen Bay along the ocean front walking path early this morning to try to meet up with some people that invited us to do a sailing race this morning. We couldn't find them, but we had a great day discovering town and hanging out together. We had a nice pizza dinner then went off the find something called the Deck Chair Cinema. This is an outdoor theater with deck chair viewing. It was a little hard to find the theater, but we really enjoyed it. We saw Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock (Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly), excellent movie! On our way home we ran into Guy wondering the streets and we headed back to the Sailing Club together. Jo picked us up in the dinghy and we had a very wet ride back to the boat. What an excellent day!! -SLC

Monday October 1st, 2001

Up early to tackle a few projects(propane, website update, boat parts). We will be off for Christmas Island in a few days. -SLC

Picked up our sea anchor today. We also dropped off the starboard tiller arm. There were some cracks in the stainless. We went to a metal shop and are getting it redone. As with everything else on the Bug, if it fails, make it much stronger next time. -DWH

Tuesday October 2nd, 2001

I've been working on the lines for the drogue and sea anchor. We will have to practice with these a couple times before we get into serious weather.

We said good-bye to Guy tonight. He is spending the night at a "backpacker" hostel tonight and going on a four day tour of the interior early tomorrow morning. We really enjoyed having Guy on Ladybug and will miss him. Hopefully he will be able to meet us in South Africa. -DWH

Wednesday October 3rd, 2001

Jo and Stacy went into town to run some errands including picking up the starboard tiller arm. I stayed on Ladybug to finish up some projects. I checked batteries and added water to the starboard bank. I checked oil and transmission fluid on the starboard side - looks good. I checked the port side. The oil looked good, but (nnnooooooooooo!) the transmission fluid was milky. That means water is getting in. And the boat needs to be pulled out of the water to work on the sail drive seals. We decided to delay our departure, so Stacy called the fuel dock and customs to let them know that our plans have changed. -DWH

Thursday October 4th, 2001

We were considering beaching the Bug at high tide to work on the saildrive, but after talking to a couple diesel mechanics we decided to lift out. That way we have time to sort out the problem rather than needing to rush to beat the next high tide. We headed over to Sadgrove Quay in the afternoon. We had to wait until 4:30pm for the tide to come up enough for us to get in. At low tide there is nothing but mud in the slipway and for about 100yds out. The lift out itself was uneventful. The people at Sadgrove Quay are very professional and were very careful with the Bug. We removed the outer bearing assembly and shaft from the saildrive. There is some scoring on the shaft where the seals ride. At that point it seemed that the best course of action was to take these to the mechanic in the morning. Ladybug was left in the travel lift with the hope of going back in the water in the morning. Since there was nothing else we could do today we headed next door to the Dinah Beach Cruising Yacht Club for dinner and a beer. -DWH

Friday October 5th, 2001

Jo and I got a taxi to the mechanic at 8am. Once there are fears were confirmed. The shaft needs to be re-machined It might be done today or possibly on Monday. We left the parts and hitched a ride back to the boat. We waited all day hoping to get our parts back, but eventually we were given the word that it would be Monday. Since we aren't going right back in we were blocked up.

Stacy and I went to the Deck Chair Cinema. They were showing two movies and we ended up watching both. The first was "National Velvet", Elizabeth Taylor's first movie. The second was "When Brendan met Trudy". I think we were the only people to watch both and were given half price for the second movie. It was a fun night. -DWH

Saturday October 6th, 2001

Since we are stuck for a couple days, I decided to investigate the problem with wind sensor (sensing direction but not giving speed). After a couple trips up the mast I ended up pulling the cable through the mast and bringing the sensor down. After taking everything apart and looking over the inbedded circuit board, I put it back together and it worked. Hum? Not sure how I fixed it.

There is a nice grill and plenty of wood next to the sea wall here at Sadgrove's. Stacy and I went and bought beer and meat. Stacy made a fantastic salad. At sunset we fired up the grill and made dinner. -DWH

Sunday October 7th, 2001

Spent the morning getting the wind sensor completely back together and remounted on the top of the mast. Looks good. Jo worked on patching the dinghy floor. Jo and I also both went up the mast to inspect the rigging. Headed into town in the afternoon. We ran into Guy. Ended up sitting in a cafe and along came Jo Jo and Guy went to a movie in an air-conditioned theater. I haven't mentioned it, but it is bloody hot. Stacy and I had dinner and then went to the Deck Chair to see "Best in Show", a movie about a big dog show. -DWH

Monday October 8th, 2001

Still waiting!! Since I have time, I started another project. Our jib does not do much when we are heading down wind. Stacy and I added a couple pad eyes that we can use to sheet the jib out at a greater angle. This should really help when sailing down wind when it's blowing too much for the spinnaker. Jo is still working on the dinghy. The inflatable floor has a leak that he is trying to patch. Stacy is running around trying to mail a story off the a sailing magazine and getting rubber to make a seal around the outside of the saildrives (not a big problem and unrelated to the problem with water in the transmission fluid, but something I'd like to fix anyway).