DREAMCATCHER VOYAGE
Journal 21-DREAMCATCHER DOWNUNDER– NOUMEA to BRISBANE, AUSTRAL
November 2004

DREAMCATCHER DOWNUNDER– NOUMEA to BRISBANE,
AUSTRALIA    
 

We left the dock in Noumea after lunch on Monday 15th, freezer full of prepared
meals, hot on the heels of our cruising pals.  The bigger boats bound for Australia
opted to stay one more day and catch us up along the way.  We had calculated our
passage to be 7 days and were keen to arrive in Brisbane on a weekday to escape
the overtime charges for check-in on the weekend.  New Caledonia has the second-
largest island lagoon in the world and it was several hours before we cleared the
buoys into the Coral Sea (part of the Pacific Ocean).   We’d been given a forecast
which was robust but not detrimental and we set through the reef break with all sails
set (main reefed) into boisterous seas and 28 knots of wind that wouldn’t quit until 3
days later!

We had three magnificent days’ sailing – every boat had a “best time” personal
record-breaker…….it was absolutely ace!!  On Day 4, the wind calmed to 20 knots,
then 15, then on the 5th day down to less than 6, requiring us to motor almost
entirely the last 48 hours.  This is not a leisurely passage: it is essentially a “get
there quick” delivery, so, idyllic days messing with the spinnaker were not the order:
because of the 7-day weather cycles here and the closeness to cyclone season, we
needed to maintain boat speed at a minimum of 5 knots.

As usual, we were busy: the PolyNeedsYa net at 1830 hrs, Gary’s Net at 2030 hrs,
and an informal Coral Sea Crossing net at 0500 hours kept us active and in touch
with our fellow cruisers.  In fact, we had visual contact with 2 other boats for several
days and followed s/v Emma for the last two.  Downloading daily weather
information from the cyclone center in Darwin, the Coral Sea reports from Brisbane,
along with the 12-hourly weather fax deliveries, filled in any blank spots, but we did
do a little reading.  

Gary of s/v Amaden Light (50 miles ahead of us) reported a fly-over by an
Australian immigration aircraft – they talked briefly on the VHF radio and the aircraft
said, “yes, there’s another boat behind you, DreamCatcher”… we never saw or
heard any aircraft but whatever spy gear they have on those planes, it works!
(actually we found out later they’re all equipped with over-the-horizon radar, total
night vision & high tech video recording).  Additionally, two days out of Noumea, we
received an on-board email from the Australian Immigration/Customs people – and
we had never given them an email address nor had any prior contact: spy games
are working well downunder!

In the wee hours of the morning, we slowed the boat down to three knots as we
approached the Australian coastline.  A multitude of brightly lit fishing boats
complicated the coastal lights but we eventually closed on the big Caloundra
lighthouse marking the northern entrance to Moreton Bay.  As the sky lightened with
the dawn, it almost immediately darkened again with the arrival of a storm that
headed up a multi-day low pressure system.  We followed Emma through the long
channel markers, running entirely under radar as visibility had dropped to zero in the
driving rain.  It was an eerie feeling, knowing we were in a main shipping channel
with land close at hand on either side and not being able to see a thing.  Despite
that, we opted for a shortcut through the Bay, thus cutting off 15 miles of circuitous
driving through the Main channel.  Coming to rest at anchor in only 8 feet of water,
we dropped the hook outside the entrance to Scarborough Marina, north of
Brisbane, and awaited our summons (along with 4 other yachts) into the Quarantine
docks.   Given that clearance takes at least 3 hours, we were prepared wait most of
the day in the choppy anchorage while they assessed the other vessels first:
wrong!  No sooner had we showered and started an omelette, the VHF radio belted
out “DREAMCATCHER, THESE ARE YOUR INSTRUCTIONS!”…. we stopped
cooking, weighed anchor and were thus shoe-horned into the Marina’s Quarantine
Dock in the pouring rain.

What followed was a highly entertaining and informative afternoon: being cleared
into Australia by Quarantine, Customs and Immigration.  “Oz” is known to be one of
the most stringent countries in its assessment processes.  Many of the cruisers
were concerned about clearing in at Scarborough, having heard they were strict
and instead had made their landfall further north at Bundaberg, hoping for an easier
assessment.   As it happened, the officials couldn’t have been more cordial, in fact
they were downright funny and convivial and we had a lot of laughs.  The Quarantine
fellow actively encouraged us to cook all our eggs, tomatoes, cheese & onions,
right there and then, resulting in a mega omelette which he shared, and the
Immigration folks arrived just in time to rescue a banana cake that was destined for
the quarantine bin – “looks alright to me…!!”,  my reply being “would you like tea or
coffee with that?”  so over the paperwork, we and the officials filled ourselves with
food, cups of coffee and stories before having to finalise ships’ stores.   The only
item we really regretted losing was 4 frozen home-made meals of chicken chili, not
eaten on the passage: at least we got to keep our tasty Thai Green Fish curries.

Officialdom came and went, we moved our boat to its resident slip and it was time
to celebrate our arrival in Australia!  Joining Bill & Laura aboard s/v Emma, we
killed off two bottles of champagne in record time!  That, on top of 7 days
passaging with little sleep was enough to see us all hit the hay just after sunset.

It didn’t really sink in till the next morning: we had sailed 12,000 miles - nearly
halfway round the world - just the two of us in a small boat.
Wow!   What a great heart that “small boat” has!  DreamCatcher served us well,
took the brunt of the rough seas and storms and kept us dry and sheltered from
harm.  Nothing went wrong.  Neither of us had any mishaps (except the odd bee
sting) and we didn’t even open a packet of Band-Aids.  What a truly amazing
experience!  How wondrous to visit those gorgeous places where so few people
can go, where there are no airports, only beauty, generosity and caring.  What a
privilege to be hosted by the people and families of those stunning islands.  The
South Pacific is a magnificent, magical place, and we will miss being there.

In a sense, we are still in the Pacific, only, this island nation of Australia is much
bigger, and very much a first world country.  When the marina organised a bus to
the shopping center for the international fleet, we were all so overwhelmed with the
choices: dresses! shoes! gadgets! newspapers! food! Wine!  Stuff and more stuff
and even more stuff!!   All under one gigantic roof! – we were like a bunch of kids,
laughing and squealing with delight at this vast array of colourful discoveries.

The Major and his team welcomed us: in fact, the city put on a fun welcome bash for
the international cruising fleet, to thank us for choosing this destination.  We were
chuffed  – this is the first time any city had made the effort to acknowledge the
contribution that the cruising fleet make to the local economy.

Our time in Brisbane was a mix of boat work, administration (catching up on stacks
of mail), socializing with our cruising friends and playing tourist.  Of the latter, we
discovered Brisbane city and found it’s gardens, malls and river, delightful.  We
took the DreamCatcher 30 miles upriver from Moreton Bay (during a roaring gale!)
and docked in the ritzy waterfront, enjoying the inner-city experience and celebrated
with old friends between the tropical rainstorms.   Additionally, we rented a car for
several days and toured the tiny elegant towns in the hinterlands of the lovely Glass
House Mountains and the glitzy coastal metros of the Sunshine Coast – fun and
impressive.  Australia really is a lucky country.

Reflections of a Voyage…..
For Glen…. It’s easy to tell the “travelogue” aspects, the scenery, the people, but
harder to express my innermost feelings.  We wrote the logs and took the photos for
our friends and family, but mainly for ourselves so that when we grow old we can
look back and say “did we really do that?!” Whilst our achievement is humbled by
those who have sailed earlier, further and for longer, I’m very proud.  I just wish my
Dad was able to see our journey come to fruition in Brisbane.  It is an adventure that
needs stamina and instills courage and sharing it with Henry made it very special.  
When people ask me what I do, I’m proud to say “I’m a sailor”.    

For Henry….Night watches many times were moments of reflection….we are
sailing the Pacific, visiting these wonderful islands, and meeting the natives.  Years
ago these were only dreams and a voyage that I could only imagine.  Now, we have
crossed the largest body of water in the world in a small boat.  Dreamcatcher took
very good care of us; she performed beautifully while Glenys and I took care of each
other to ensure a safe voyage.  It has taken me a while to understand the
significance of this feat; I’m still in awe, every time I think about crossing the Pacific,
and arriving in Australia. The voyage has been one of the greatest challenges I have
ever encountered and the trip will stay with me for a lifetime. The journals and
photos will be a constant reminder of the voyage, and the adventures that we
encountered.     I’m glad I followed my dreams; especially with Glenys, which made
the journey even more spectacular and meaningful.
---o0o---

Consider this, from Mariner and Adventurer: Sterling Hayden…….

"I've always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can't afford it." What
these men can't afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous
discipline of "security." And in the worship of security we fling our lives
beneath the wheels of routine - and before we know it our lives are gone.
What does a man need - really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat
and shelter, six feet to lie down in - and some form of working activity that
will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all - in the material sense. And
we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end
up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages,
preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer
idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked
in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it the tomb is sealed.
Where, then, lies the answer?      
In choice.

Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

by Sterling Hayden (1916-1986), sailor extraordinaire
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OUR IMMEDIATE PLANS…....
We will be in Perth with GT’s Mum during Xmas/New Year, and likely in Asia and
the USA in January.   We’ll revert to our land-based Yahoo email addresses
(please don’t use sailmail).
Australian mobile phone: 041 8858089 (for overseas callers:  61-8-418858089)
or land line 61-8-9528 3374. There is no message facility on the landline and it is
sometimes used for internet.
Perth is on the same time zone as Hong Kong/Singapore (16 hrs ahead of
California).
DreamCatcher is being well looked after and will remain in Brisbane for the time
being.
Once our next-chapter plans take shape, we’ll be in touch.  

Click on link to VIEW PHOTOS FOR JOURNAL 21
Location and Sail Plan