Visitors from Home
Written by Cathy Siegismund
We had a relatively quiet January in Mooloolaba. We had some work to do on
the boat, and started watching the progress on our house via much appreciated
weekly photo updates from Daniel, our realtor.
January progress on the house
We caught up with people at the
marina including GB and Sarah from Djarkka, Brian and Sue from Nepenthe, and of
course Nik and Jenn from Green Ghost. We also moved into the townhouse we had
rented in nearby Alexandra Headlands and moved a great deal of stuff off
Felicity. Since we were now committed to going home,
we had to seriously look at our options for getting Felicity back to the States. We had
decided to ship Felicity home rather than sailing. There are several reasons for
this. To sail to Australia from Seattle is relatively easy taking you through
the tropics in mostly downwind sailing. The return trip either involves a lot of
"up-hill" aka up wind sailing, or a trip through the North Pacific. Neither of
these options really appealed to us, so we started looking at shipping options.
This will cost several thousand dollars, but will take a fraction of the time
and alleviate a lot of wear and tear on the boat. Our first
choice for shipping is
Dockwise yacht transport. Dockwise is a shipping company that among other
things has a yacht transport division. It has specialty yacht transport
freighters. These specialty transport ships have several advantages over
shipping a boat as deck cargo on a regular container ship. Dockwise yacht
transport specializes in shipping yachts vs. a container ship that does not.
Dockwise also does not require the owners to pull the rig, nor have to work
directly with stevedores or find people to build a cradle. Dockwise ships are
filled with water, boats are driven into the "bay" of the ship.
Yachts being loaded and off-loaded into the flooded Dockwise
Next, underwater welders build a cradle under each yacht. When all of the yachts
are loaded, the Dockwise ship is drained of water and sets sail to its next
Dockwise ship underway full of yachts
There are many benefits to Dockwise, but there are also a few downsides. The
bread and butter of the Dockwise Yacht Transport company is mega yachts not
little 31 foot sailboats; and therefore the mega yacht business will often
dictate the sailing schedule. Dockwise has a scheduled sailing in August from
Brisbane to Vancouver, BC. This couldn't be a more perfect schedule for us.
However, this sailing was also scheduled the previous two years. One of these
sailings, on which our friends on Rainsong had been booked, was outright
cancelled because of the mega yacht business heading out of Auckland after the
America's Cup. The following year, the August sailing from Brisbane to Vancouver
was cancelled and boats booked on that trip were delayed until the following
January and routed to Vancouver via Florida. We have friends aboard Bonheur from
Port Townsend who sent their boat on this sailing after a lot of hassle and late
night phone calls to Dockwise.
We have decided however, to go with Dockwise. Our expectations are low, and we
are prepared to be very flexible on timing. So far we are booked on the August
sailing from Brisbane, through Auckland to Ensenada, Mexico. There Felicity will
be transferred to another Dockwise ship and taken to Vancouver, BC. The
tentative arrival date is September 2, 2004. It will be amazing if that actually
ends up all working out, as we sailed out of Neah Bay on September 2, 2000
headed for San Francisco.
We'll be keeping our fingers crossed.
After a busy month of getting settled into the rental townhouse and other
projects, I was very excited about a visit from two of my best friends from
Seattle, Keli and Ellie. I had been working on them for a couple of years to
come visit in Australia. The OZ Chick Fest was going to be for two weeks. I was
going to fly to Sydney to meet them. We then planned to take the train to
Melbourne to spend a few days exploring. We then were going to fly to Brisbane
and spend the rest of the time enjoying the beach and local attractions around
the Sunshine Coast.
On February 8, I caught a very early flight to Sydney from Brisbane. I met Ellie
and Keli, who were a bit bedraggled from the long flight from the States. Ellie,
was particularly knackered after the Seattle - Salt Lake City - San Francisco -
Seoul - Sydney flight from hell. It was a hot and sunny day in Sydney. As we had
all been to Sydney before, we were only going to spend one night there before
we left for Melbourne. We took a cab to the hotel, dropped off our bags, and
waited an hour or so until we were able to get into the room.
Ellie and Keli relaxing on the roof of our hotel after their long flights
After we were able to get into or room, we changed into cooler clothes and
went down to the market held every weekend at The Rocks. We wandered the market
and had lunch.
Ellie and Keli having lunch on a sunny Sydney afternoon
We wandered down to the Queen Victoria Market shopping mall and explored several
Australian art galleries. I picked up an Aboriginal basket and an
Eva Hannah Painting of Sydney Harbour
We were all tired, so we grabbed some light food for dinner and couple of
bottles of wine. We returned to the hotel, where we drank wine and talked until
we all crashed. The
next morning we got up early to catch the 7:30am train from Sydney to Melbourne.
We had purchased a first class ticket, which got us a private compartment. The train
ride was a relaxing way to travel and gave us lots of time to catch up on what
we'd been doing and talk about plans for the rest of the trip.
Train trip to Melbourne
With that said, the scenery was rather mundane and about 6 hours of the train
travel would have been plenty. After the nearly 12 hour trip, we were more than
ready to arrive in Melbourne. We arrived at about 6pm to a nice sunny,
non-humid, afternoon in Melbourne. Keli, who used to work for Hyatt, used some
of her points to get us a room at the swanky and centrally located Grand Hyatt.
Our room had a great view of the river and large park. We really enjoyed
Melbourne, though a large city it had a more manageable feel than Sydney.
Unfortunately, the weather turned and the next two days were cool and rainy.
This put a bit of cramp in our touring plans, but we managed. We shopped, did a
little sightseeing, and took advantage of the nice hotel health club. Melbourne has real cafe culture feel to it, with lots of
galleries, museums, and theaters.
Keli and Ellie at Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market
Kel "enjoying" some shockingly bad Mexican food in
Melbourne. There are many fantastic restaurants in Australia, but not
surprisingly not many of them are Mexican
We also toured the Old Melbourne Gaol (jail). The old jail was built in the
mid-1800s. Between 1842 and its closure in 1929, the jail was the site of 135
hangings including Australia's most famous outlaw, the bushranger Ned Kelly.
Old Melbourne Gaol
On one of our excursions, we wandered by a theater that was advertising a
musical called We Will Rock You. We had never heard of it, but it appeared to be
all Queen music. We were delighted when we were able to buy tickets for a
performance on our last night in Melbourne. We picked up some available
corporate seats, that where close to front and center.
We had a great last night in Melbourne. The weather was clearing up, we had a
fantastic dinner at a small Italian restaurant, and had an awesome time at
We Will Rock
Australia's We Will Rock You
The next day, we woke up to a sunny day and caught our flight to Brisbane. We
arrived back sweltering heat. Ellie and Keli had thought
Sydney was hot. We were all in for a shock, as Queensland was gearing up for the
hottest February in 30 years. The girls were happy to hear our townhouse
was only a block and a half from the beach, but were a little miffed that it did
not have air conditioning.
We hit the beach our first day, working on our tans -- burns in my
case and Kel's. We finally put our new boogie boards to use and spent a great
deal of time trying to cool off in the surf. Our first big adventure on the
Sunshine coast was a morning camel ride and then a walk around the resort town
of Noosa Heads. Although, all of us are experienced horseback riders, we were
all new to camel riding. Got up early, hit Starbucks and set off for
Company in Tewantin
just north of Noosa. We were the first ones to arrive at the
camel trek operation. We signed up, chatted some with the guide, and waited for
the other busload of tourists who were on the ride to arrive.
Kel and a friendly kookaburra
A monitor lizard crawling across the camel paddock
Lead camel in the camel train
Keli and Ellie waiting in front of our camel train
After everyone had arrived and we received an introduction on how to mount the
and dismount the camels, we all mounted up and started the trek. The ride was a
little over two hours. We first road through the bush full of the many species
of Australian gum trees and palms. We then reached the beach. We road along a
wide white sand beach. Driving on the beach is a popular pastime for the many
Aussies with four wheel drive SUVs. Quite a few trucks and SUVs passed us as we
walked along on our camels tied head to tail.
Keli and Ellie ahead of me in the camel train
Speed limit sign on the edge of the beach
It was a scorching day. After a very hot walk along the beach, the riders and
camels took a little rest.
Camels taking a rest halfway through the ride
Our guide giving his favorite camel a drink
After the camels had a rest and all the riders had a small box of juice, we all
mounted back up and started the ride home. Several of our other camel trekkers
were starting to look a little worse for wear after the hot ride; and a couple
even suffered some heat exhaustion symptoms. Keli, Ellie, and I were pretty hot,
but had dressed appropriately and enjoyed the ride.
Native bush on the walk home
We had a great time, but were ready to find a cooler more relaxing way to
spend the afternoon. We headed off to the resort community of Noosa Heads. We
changed into cooler clothes and enjoyed a nice lunch in a shady restaurant. We
then spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach.
Our next big adventure, was a trip to the
Australia Zoo, home of the Crocodile Hunter. This amazing zoo, has recently
been named the number one tourist attraction in Australia, crikey!
Keli and Ellie with a Steve Irwin, aka Crocodile Hunter,
See the Australia Zoo photo gallery for
Some cloudy weather rolled in for the next couple of days. We spent time
hanging out at the condo, watched some movies, played several games of dominoes,
and went to the Mooloolaba aquarium, Underwater World. We also made a trip up to
market, a weekly farmer's and craft market we enjoy about 30 minutes north
We also hosted a party for our friends Paul and Suzette in the condo we had rented.
They had come up to Mooloolaba for a visit before they flew home for a few
months. The weather was sweltering, but Ellie and Keli and a number of our
cruiser friends had a good time nevertheless.
Paul and Suzette, the guests of honor
Party at the condo!
Ellie and Kel's visit was sadly coming to end. We did decide to squeeze in a
few more things. We took two surfing lessons, which were a blast and celebrated
Ellie all choked up over her "flaming tart" birthday treat
It was fantastic to have Ellie and Keli in Australia for a visit. I think
they both enjoyed their trip, despite the sweltering heat of the