Tuesday, November 25, 2008


In mid November we know it surely cannot be long until first frost. Other nearby places have had theirs already but somehow we live on in summer country. This has been an unusually dry and sunny Autumn, the big maple leaves have turned yellow and orange and have drifted lightly down to lie as a gentle comforter upon the ground.

The recent rains when they came filled Big Pond in one pelting night and now the seasonal stream once more trickles and murmurs down the hillside. The dampened land and rotting stumps sprout delicate rose-tinted mushrooms. It is an evocative time of year.

This final flair of colour as we creep toward the shortest day of the year brings me along with it. I keep busy with my projects, working hard to complete them before winter makes outside work more limited and also to keep my mood from being pulled too far downward by the fall of autumn leaves.

It is a delicate balance: there is an obvious sadness of farewell to the ending of growth that I could wish to avoid, there is beauty and poignancy that I wish to experience to the full. A third grandchild arrived on Thanksgiving day - Clara Rose - and looking into her lovely little face has reminded me of the march of my own human season as well. No wonder this season, these falling leaves, bring thoughts of my own mortality.

I look searchingly up into the almost bare maple branches and down into their reflections in the dark pools of water and feel them calling that this time of sleep for them is a necessary part of the yearly cycle of life. This is not a time for sadness but a vivid celebration of renewal. It is Spring buds that have forced the old leaves off the trees and the sap recedes to concentrate for renewal when the sun rises higher in the sky once more. Vale, Vale.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shiriri Saga # 71 Out into the Tasman Sea.

                                    Out into the Tasman Sea.

Aukland. N.Z.The e-mail says that we should phone our yacht broker back in Manley. A serious offer! Would n`t you know it, now we have settled into land cruising in New Zealand in our diesel van and have Gwyn visiting us from Canada for Christmas, interest finally picks up with Shiriri.

Soon she is sold, the survey passed and the deposit in the brokers hands.... and then the buyer gets ‘sick’ and backs out! We don`t know it yet, but this pattern of unusual selling fumbles will continue until we finally leave Australia. The Gods are prodding us back to sea. Even as we back out of our slip for the last time, the broker comes to say that the latest ‘sure thing’ buyer who has had his money all lined up for the last month is still saying on the phone this morning that it is too bad we are leaving, he has the money!

We are sick to death of living this high stress life in which on the one hand Shiriri will definitely sell any day and at the same time the period that we can have our boat in Australia without paying import duties is coming to an end and the right season for the trip home approaches. We polish our boat to show for sale, while at the same time we try to prepare for our long and difficult voyage home.

The plan for our voyage must allow for contrary winds and currents for two thirds of the trip. While in the southern hemisphere we must struggle to get as far east as possible before we catch the south-east trades and angle up across the equator. Somewhere past the ITCZ we will be into the north-east trades which will try to set us back toward Japan. Still further north, we will enter the westerly gales wind pattern that should blow us home to Vancouver Island. Dear Shiriri with her gaff rig and full bows does not take well to going to windward in big ocean waves and we have many thousands of miles of this kind of sailing ahead of us. Plus, this year the cyclone season is still active south of the equator and may start early to the north. Things will be tight. A cyclone could kill us.

One day a van arrives with all the food supplies we will need for four months at sea. We are glad that Shiriri has such a large amount of stowage space: we must not count on replenishing our supplies along the long lonely way home except by what we can catch with out homemade lures and perhaps a stop at a coral island along the way.

Anne has stayed longer in New Zealand when Heather and I flew home after four months exploring the north and south islands. We need extra time to haul Shiriri once more to put on a final coat of anti fouling paint so she will not add a layer of seaweed and barnacles to slow us down. On her last day in New Zealand Anne sells the van and flies back to join our final preparations.

One day in mid May we get a favorable forecast, say goodbye to all our friends on the dock and head back out through the sand bars of Morton Bay and into the darkening Tasman Sea.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What`s in a name?

In your closet...? Oh Jimmy! Don`t you know the difference yet between Monster and Mobster?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shiriri Saga # 70. Home Again to Shiriri.

Penguin viewing on a cool evening.Phillips Island.

After saying goodby to Anne we decide to travel back to Shiriri the long way around. With Edith clinging to the roof rack again, Heather and I head south to the coast and then follow it all the way back to Manley. We visit Mornington near Melbourne where Heather`s father was born, and later dip our feet in the Southern Ocean. We visit penguins who are coming ashore on a chilly night and look south across nothing but ocean between us and Antarctica. Do we detect a bit of yearning to voyage in that direction? No, surely not, we are land voyagers at present!

A windy day crossing the Gateway Bridge.

Back at Manley Boat Harbour we resume our by now familiar life: Heather is now halfway through the third Patti story, I paint more postcard pictures of our south Pacific travels and we use the van to travel locally. Soon we hear that Anne has another school break and we arrange to drive south to meet her at the Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains inland from Sidney. As we both have cell phones we keep track of each other with text messages and arrive at our campground within an hour of each other!

Camping beside the river at Jenolan Cave.

While going underground is not my favourite activity, the caves are really spectacular. We then convoy up to the top of the mountains for a few days and walk along the rim near the ‘Three Sisters’ before we head back west and bid Anne a sorrowful goodby as she drives off back to Mildura and we head back north via towns like Orange and Dubbo and Tamborine. We finally reach the coast again and stop for a visit with Keith and Nora.

A forest walk near Tamborine.

These school breaks of Anne`s have kept us hopping but it is now nearly time to hand our van back to it`s owner ( John, another very kind stranger). It is not the youngest van in the world, but has served us very well with only one fuel filter and two new tires in the six months we have had it.

Our next plan is to fly to New Zealand before we leave in May for the long trip home across the Pacific, buy another van, and explore for four months. Gwyn will holiday with us over Christmas, and then Anne will join us when she finishes her teaching contract in Mildura. It`s funny to think that several years ago when we first imagined what life could be like if we had a live aboard lifestyle our expectations were modest indeed compared to how we are living now. Almost, but not quite, we look forward to the monastic life of sailing again on the broad blue sea.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shiriri Saga # 69. Voyage to the Interior.

Camping beside the Murray.

"Time`s up ! It`s my turn to row!" The winter wind is cool, especially for my wife Heather sitting idly in the stern of our 14' dory Edith. We have had this kind of discussion many times over the past few years: from the west coast of Canada, south along the long coastline that reaches down to Mexico, and west through the many islands that sprinkle the South Pacific across to Australia. Edith is the dinghy to our wooden gaff rig schooner Shiriri and has provided us with many intimate and interesting experiences of the lands we have visited over the last couple of years. Now, here we are rowing down the Murray River in central Australia, several day`s drive from our yacht where we left her in the care of cruising friends near Brisbane on the east coast.

Edith is a pleasure to row at any time with her long narrow canoe shaped underbody and now we appreciate her wide flared sides as well, that allow us to carry ourselves and a full cargo of camping equipment. Our boating experience was begun in little rowing and sail boats like this and as we moved up to larger and more complex boats the early skills of small boat handling have continued to be the most valuable. We had another dory in the past and camped among our own Gulf Islands, so when we finally reached the land mass of Australia and still had westering deep in our psyches it was natural for us to switch from charts of the ocean to maps of Australia. "Look!" we had said to Australia friends, "Inland, just beyond the Great Dividing Range are the headwaters of rivers that we could follow west across the interior plains." They laughed." Not enough water most of the year. Dangerous!" "Hmmm," we thought. "Now that sounds interesting!"

Great ideas do become modified as more information is collected and digested and we began to understand that our Australian friends were right in many respects. Through much of the year the landscape of the dry interior is blistering hot and rivers are low or retreat into damp bits between the sand bars; that is, when they are not flooding from sudden heavy rains. The fascinating flora and fauna as seen in tourist photos also include a lot of other specimens that match the conditions and are anything but gentle. It really would not be wise to wander off into the bush without a lot of careful forethought.

Our daughter Anne, who had sailed across the Pacific with us, had found a teaching job in an inland town called Mildura which just happened to be on the Murray river: the biggest one in Australia. We had been loaned a van so we decided to drive across country to visit her during the mid winter break and together drive north to the Red Center to see the country around Alice Springs. Ah, we thought, remembering our river dream, we could carry Edith on the van, and after the interior trip, Anne could drop us off some way up the Murray and we could row and camp our way back down river to Mildura through a particularly interesting section that has park land on either side.

So here we are on a wintery afternoon being most solicitous that whoever is at the oars should not exhaust themselves for one more minute than permitted. We decide to camp early on a sand bar the first day, so we pull Edith well up and after setting up camp, prop her up on her side as a wind break against the cool west wind. I soon have a eucalyptus fire started as Heather cooks supper on the single burner propane camp stove. It rained today so everything is a little damp and dreary. The wind drops with the soft grey evening light and we have a strange sense of dislocation as a large shrieking flock of cockatoos settles down for the night in a tree on the next bend of the river: it feels so like tropical rivers we have floated down and yet is so cool and grey. Already, so soon on our solitary little journey into the interior we are feeling the strangeness of this landscape.

A mechanical sound buzzes on and off during the night and in the morning we see a pumping station on the far bank. The Murray River has served mankind in many ways for thousands of years and nowadays it is also a source of irrigation water for agriculture along the banks. We are about to enter the park reserves and will leave these pumps behind for a while but not their effects: the salts flushed out of the soil and back into the river will keep us drinking bottled water for the duration of our trip.

The morning sun filters through the tall red gum trees on the bank behind us, a flock of parrots fly cheerfully by and swallows flit back and forth across the river. The cool west wind is back, so we shake the dew off the tent and are soon rowing down the meandering river. Those curves require that the helmsman in the stern must act as a human compass, continually correcting the changing course with a pointing hand. The person at the oars corrects with a stronger pull on one oar, glances over the stern and finds a mark on the bank behind to steer by until the next course correction. There is plenty of time though, for us to observe this unique landscape. The winding river bends and the ancient eucalypt riverside forest have a hypnotic sameness, but also a subtle beauty. The ancient grey-green trees seem to be quietly chanting a song to themselves and at first, to be indifferent to our presence. A bird calls, "Bo Brady, Bo Brady" from the bank. A red fox trots along under the trees. We stop on a sandbar for lunch, and run around for a while to warm up and get the kinks out. Some of the red gums are enormous but the piles of sticks and fallen trees and the heavy branch that drops just behind us discourages any desire to explore away from the river bank. The river has been dammed for irrigation control in several places and this has meant there are few seasonal floods to spread over the banks and renew the riverside environment as they did in the past.

The wind is still heading us. If this keeps up we will be doubly glad that we left the now useless mast and sail in the van as being just too much extra to burden Edith with. Heather keeps well bundled up in the stern and we regularly remind ourselves how lucky we are to be on the river at this time of year instead of when it is boiling hot. "Yes," I say, "And it is not really cold, we have just been used to tropical temperatures for a couple of years". "Brrr, its still cold!" replies the wrapped figure in the stern. There is lots of interesting bird life on the river though: some big mallard-like ducks, cranes in flocks riding the wind, a red billed black swan and familiar ospreys fishing up and down the river. Serried ranks of massive trees line the banks as we pass. By day`s end we estimate we have traveled about twenty-four kilometers and are now deep into the Park.

Once again we repeat our camping routine well away from the fringe of the forest: that falling branch during our lunch stop felt suspiciously like it was "accidently done on purpose"and we joke about a sense of being observed. Sheltered beside Edith we listen to the sound of silence: no distant sound of traffic, no aircraft, just the sigh of wind in treetops, the creak of branches and the gentle gurgle of the flowing river. I wake in the night to hear the scream of something being gobbled up in the darkness.

Morning arrives at last with an evocative kookaburra chorus and we start using the wood fire for cooking our porridge and morning tea. The propane single burner is misnamed: it will burn everything! In the sandy world of the river bar we use Edith as windbreak, backrest and kitchen counter. The ribs act as dish racks. We chat about our nights sleep and find we have both had the same disturbing dream: some ancient terror, a massacre on this bend of the river. This is still definitely an alien landscape to us and we feel it fending us off even as we become more in tune with its moods. Realistically, to this landscape, we are the dangerous aliens. Back on the river again.

Civilization! We walk up from the riverbank through the trees to a little store set in an orange grove, to buy drinking water and two chocolate bars. This is the community of Nangiloc and just down the road is its mirror image, Colignan. We have slipped out of the park and into the world of irrigation pumps and intensively farmed orchards and vineyards. Once this was all scrub land until enterprising people developed machinery to rip it out and built big pumping stations to irrigate large tracts of land. It all hangs in the balance now as long droughts reduce the available water and farmers work to adapt to low water use irrigation. It`s tempting to condemn the whole concept of destroying a natural ecosystem and replacing it with this industrial farming model but we are just passers by and know that if we paused to probe the system more thoroughly things would seem less clear cut. We all benefit from this agricultural model after all and so we wish them well with adapting to making less demands on the river. It is a beautiful landscape and our farmer`s hearts respond to all that green productivity. The wind eases and Heather rows five kilometers in the next hour as we follow the river north into wilder country again. The Murray is wider now and flows more smoothly, perhaps we are nearing the long section penned up by the Mildura weir.


The air is still and the clouds are black by the time we find a beautiful campsite, free of big trees, on the south side of the river. We quickly set up camp and cover our gear with a plastic tarp as it begins to rain. Soon the storm rolls away to the east and that evening after an undercooked supper over the propane burner ( We just can not get it right with this devil.) we enjoy the quiet rain washed air, flickering firelight and a star filled southern sky. We seem to have left last night`s sense of weirdness back in the park reserve. Just perfect! It is this image of camping in the outback that we share as an ideal with all the peoples of Australia, even those who never stir beyond their city gates and bathing beaches. We all know that this is the original and essential life of all human kind. Billy tea and damper cooked over the coals are the final touch. We have a dreamless sleep interrupted slightly by a kangaroo doing speed trials behind our tent.

As we prepare to leave the next morning we hear a steam whistle and the chuf- chuffing of a steam engine. A train, we think and scan the river bank downstream for train tracks. Finally, around the bend, comes a paddlewheel steamboat liberally sprinkled with men in blue coveralls. They pause opposite us and one yells "Is there a good depth of water further upstream?" I spread my arms wide to indicate four feet or so and they continue puffing and splashing on their way. We read later that there is a flotilla of private steamboats attempting to reenact another use of the Murray when steamboats were the main form of transportation and roads and trains had as yet not been developed in the interior.

The cut-through.

Edith slides smoothly back into the river again and as we row we soon see a gap in the river bank through which rushes a large volume of water. Here is the cut-through we have been warned about: the meandering river has recently created a short cut that will soon completely cut off a big bend of the river. Fallen trees drape across the rapidly flowing water from both sides. We row over to have a close look, mentally map out a way through and decide to go for it! Rapidly we zig zag through the tangle of sweepers and are soon in calm water again.

We feel a pleasant adrenaline rush. We laugh, we did n`t need to do that, we are ahead of schedule, and an upset amidst all those branches could have been deadly. We have become adrenaline junkies on our sailing trip and needed a hit! A little physical risk in life makes the world shine brighter. If only it would stop the wind as well!

That last sluice ride has dropped us into the impounded waters behind the Mildura weir at last. We miss the unfettered life of the free flowing river and smile to feel how easily it speaks to us in metaphor. "This river is your life," it says, "This is how it feels to be fettered, controlled and put to work." Our sunny morning gives way to cloud and the familiar cool wind still impedes our progress. Pull, pull, pull, as we wander around curve after curve against it. We stop for a warm lunch of noodles, and then find that at last the wind has dropped and the sun is actually trying to shine. The adrenaline effect was just delayed after all! A long stretch of river is filled with fishing cormorants and as we pass the red cliffs of Red Cliff, long flights of white pelicans patrol the upper air. We had planned to stop for the night at a sand bar near the Lindeman winery but on arrival find it to be a dusty dreary place, obviously near a road. We have absorbed some of the river`s wildness ourselves and instinctively distrust this human place, so we row on and find a camping spot up on a low bank in the Gol Gol state forest. We scrape down to the clay for our fire hearth and Heather uses a stump for a kitchen. The stump explains why this is a young and vigorous forest: it had been logged off several years before. She is bitten twice by big, inch long bull ants and we get in our tent very carefully to avoid bringing any to bed with us. Later that night we hear "Thump, thump,... snurt?" A kangaroo has stumbled across our camp and is expressing... what? Surprise, anger, passion? I stick my head out and say " Get lost!" Thump, thump, thump into the distance. We hope that Skippy the bush kangaroo does n`t have a big brother.

Night encounter.

There were no return visits overnight and we are off again early in the morning. We had planned to camp one last time before we reached Mildura but after a stop at a winery where we found it only opened to booked tour groups ( no one expects stray scruffy tourists wandering up from the river at this time of year), we push on past possible camping spots on the river banks that are too beaten up and easy of access to cars and partying people. " Press on," we say. "Press on!" By late afternoon we pass under the Mildura bridge, pull into a waterside park and phone Anne for an early pick-up. While eating our last camping supper and waiting for our daughter to come home and get our message, we observe the passing scene in the gathering dusk. Just down the way a man is obviously selling drugs to young folk so they can party their Friday night away. We remember our own adrenaline high as we sluiced down the cut-through and partially understand their desire for an elevated mood. Like the river itself, they are feeling confined by this town but unlike the river they can choose an artificial, temporary escape. We think we will stick to an exciting reality though: it may be a bitter pill to swallow at times, but it does you good, leaves great memories and lasts forever.

Endless cold winds, repetitive scenery, biting insects, danger! What kind of a holiday is that?

For us of course, it really was n`t so much a holiday of escape in the usual sense as it was about getting close to the deeper reality of life. This human need underlies the popularity of adventure tourism and in our case there were parallel journeys into the interior of a continent on a flowing river and in our own personal lives. The story of Edith the little rowboat meandering down an Australian river and the perspective it`s occupants gain along the way lies at the heart of what we all seek in life but often end up buying into the easier consumer version instead.
On our way across the Pacific we had stopped at the Polynesian island of Raiatea near Tahiti. It was Canada Day, we had dressed ship with all our signal flags, and I was available at dockside to welcome anyone aboard. Three retired American men off a nearby cruise ship came by to admire our big classic schooner. They were so interested in what I had created that I invited them below so they could see how the whole boat really worked as an integrated system. As they left, one said wistfully, " This is the first Real thing we have seen on this whole cruise." They had bought a fantasy luxury cruise but belatedly recognized that they were missing something essential in the process. Unfortunately it was something that money could not buy: it was the struggle of the voyage itself that gave our life meaning.

"People say that what we`re all seeking is a meaning for life....I think that what we`re really seeking is an experience of being alive ,so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our innermost being and reality, so that we can actually feel the rapture of being alive."
Joseph Campbell.

"Drugs are vehicles for people who have forgotten how to walk.

Shiriri Saga # 68. The Inland Adventure.

On the banks of the Murrumbidgee River.

From the journal:
June 28th.
We are camping on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River in New South Wales. Just 15 K from the town of Hay and only one more day`s drive from Anne in Mildura. We have been driving southwest for five days.

First, over the mountains: (we had a plugged fuel filter that got fixed in Glen Innis) then we took the New England hwy. through 3000 foot high rolling hills. It was - 6 C. overnight, so we wore our fleece outfits to bed in the van. Heather spent the evening in the bathhouse immersed deep in a warm tub with only her nose out in the freezing air.

Soon we left the mountains behind and entered forest covered hills. We camped overnight in a rest area in the midst of a Eucalyptus forest.
As we drove south we found vast gently rolling farmlands -lots of cattle and sheep. The roads were very straight and very narrow. 80k. for hours on end gets a little mind numbing. Edith clung tenaciously to the roof racks.

Today we woke beside a river to the sound of a kookaburra morning chorus, saw white cockatoos and Galas and later kangaroos and emus in the desert before the town of Hay.

This is a beautiful site tonight ( a drovers camp). We are all alone, have a fire to warm us ( this is winter in Australia), the river gurgles alongside and our only worry are the overhanging branches of the enormous gum trees that could drop on us in the night. Let it be a calm, if chilly night!

As this is really a boating story, I `ll simply say that we picked Anne up in Mildura, left Edith sitting alone on the grass in the backyard (very sad), and drove west and then north to Alice Springs in the ‘Red Center’ of Australia.
With Anne to spell me off with the driving it was like being back at sea keeping watches as we crept for days across the immense landscape, except that we got to ‘anchor’ every night at a campground, roadhouse, or in the bush.
We visited some spectacular places; King`s Canyon, Ularu, and the Olgas. With recent rains, the desert was in bloom. Eventually however, Anne had to be back at school, so we rescued Edith, and Anne dropped us off with our camping gear a long way upstream from Mildura. I have written of our journey back down the river in the article which follows next.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Shiriri Saga # 67. Stepping Ashore.

Stepping ashore.

Feb. 15th.
"Bill, Bill, come and join us in the cockpit!" Heather call to me as I stand at the bow watching the breakwater at Manley Harbour draw closer. We have squirmed our way back north through the ‘ditch’, passed Peel Island again and are approaching the voyage`s end. This could be our last voyage with Shiriri if she sells in Australia and I feel a need to be alone with her. One can make a sensible decision with one`s head and find that those lazy old feelings have just not kept pace.

This is the ending of a great thing, but soon we are tied alongside in the marina and learning to wear sandals to prevent our feet burning on the concrete docks. We check in with customs, get Shiriri evaluated for sale and I settle into getting the last of the painting done. We discover the commuter train to Brisbane and explore the city. The library just down the road at Wynnum provides us with free e-mail and reading material. We find all the best walks around the local community of Lota. I begin to repaint the interior cabin walls and overhead. Anne comes and goes, still waiting for the paperwork to be evaluated which will allow her to start teaching in Mildura. More rain squalls and southerly gales.

David and Lisa of the Francis vessel arrive in their car from Scarborough and we all drive off to explore the highlands behind Brisbane. Heather and I keep craning our necks to get a glimpse of the land farther west. We are still thinking of Edith`s river project.

By April, we are flying off to Canada to launch Heather`s first Patti story " Life on the Farm"and visit with the family at home, just as Anne drives off all alone to travel half way across Australia and the beginning of her teaching job in Mildura.

Walking home.
May 1st.
Back again. Heather and I get off the train from Brisbane at the Manley station and stagger back along the waterfront with our many bags - some loaded with boat parts. The break has done us good and we settle down to life at the docks. We move across the harbour to a Yacht club and gradually find a whole dock full of new, mostly Australians and New Zealanders, friends who live aboard their boats.

Our days settle into a routine. Heather starts a third Patti story and I begin a series of small postcard sized paintings of our ocean adventure as I reread my journals. I have finally made it to the essential next stage of any major life experience: the evaluation and understanding phase where I pull meaning from the experience, incorporate it into the present moment and use it to build a new foundation for the future. As his wartime stories were for Keith, so this process of painting the highlights of our voyage works to preserve important memories while they are still fresh. I have discovered that I can move forward into the present while preserving the important lessons of the past.

Waking to Lota along the seawall.

We walk the parks and waterfront trails of nearby Lota. We talk to Anne on the phone and plan a visit to Mildura during her holiday break. I read the Murray River Pilot that Carrick Road`s dad has sent to us and begin to plan. This travel plan needs a van to carry us and Edith and we finally find a little Toyota on loan that we rig up for camping. We load Edith on the roof racks and drive carefully around the boat yard to see how much we list to one side or the other with her weight on top. Hmm, she`ll be right, we say optimistically. I learn to drive on the left side of the road.

Walking in the boatyard: confronted by lapwing.

There is not a lot of interest in Shiriri from prospective buyers but really we are good for one whole year in Australia and time and adventures stretch before us!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Shiriri Saga # 66. Hard at work on the hard.

Heather leaps to my side of the saloon seat.

"Are we safe?" gasps Heather as she leaps over to my side of the saloon seat. A massive explosion! The instant flash lights our cabin which teeters high in the air. We are in the midst of the worst Southerly Buster yet with fifty knot winds and a powerful thunderstorm. It is comforting not to be back at anchor in Bum`s Bay in this, but distinctly nerve wracking to be balanced precariously on our keel on a large concrete slab with our masts pointing up into the crackling storm.

We were lifted out over a week ago at the Gold Coast City Marina and have been hard at work in 35 C. temperatures repairing and repainting the hull. The bottom now has two coats of a powerful antifouling paint and Shiriri`s topsides are a spotless white. Edith too, sparkles in a new coat of dory buff. After the storm rumbles on to the north we will launch and tie up alongside the docks here to complete any work on deck.

The Carrick Roadies, have been busy beside us repainting their concrete yacht and had the same saloon experience as us in the thunderstorm. We also talk to them about an idea we have been playing with. Those day trips we have made into the highlands have whetted our appetite for a voyage into the interior. The map of Australia shows the headwaters of a number of rivers not too far away, could we somehow haul Edith over the mountains and row and camp down river across the central plains? When we mentioned the idea to Keith he had laughed and said no, not enough water in the ‘rivers’, too hot, too many nasty snakes etc. So Rob and Michelle, what do you think? Yes, they say, it is possible on the biggest river of them all; the Murray. Rob says that his dad lives on the Murray river and will send us a cruising guide. So it is possible, sort of, and that is good enough for us to begin to plan. We really need a plan, we still itch to keep moving west, we need a replacement challenge.

The newly painted hull.

Once launched again we tie up to the docks and the next morning hear two yard workmen making a list of the boats at the dock. One spells out Shiriri`s name for the other to write down. "Es,haich,oi,arr,oi arr,oi." We smile, we are getting to enjoy a Queensland accent. Then it starts to rain in earnest; 13inches of it in 48 hours. We have plenty of discussion time as the rain drums on the cabin roof.

Anne now has a little car and is off visiting friends much of the time .She has applied for a teaching job in Mildura on the Murray River. We have found that we can stay in Australia for quite a while if we leave and come back every six months. We need to put Shiriri in a marina if we wish to travel around the country. What are our long term plans? Will we sail on around the world or sail home across the Pacific against the prevailing winds and currents? A big determiner is Heather`s health. We have set a three year limit on our voyaging and that would mean we would spend all of that time mostly at sea if we kept sailing west. The voyage here has been pretty stressful and not good for Heather`s heart. Lets take a long break and explore this big continent by land and then..... OK this is it, what are our long tem plans for Shiriri? We know that we will have to sell her sometime at the end of the voyage when we move back home so why not sell in Australia and avoid that killer trip back across the Pacific if possible? One thing Heather and I do well is plan and so by the time the rain stops we have charted out our life for the next year or so.

By the time we sail back down the Coomera river we have located a marina back north in Morton Bay at Manley Boat Harbour just south of Brisbane and, plus plus, we get a reduced price on the moorage if we have our boat listed for sale there. The Gods are smiling on us!