DREAMCATCHER VOYAGE
Journal 22-Waltzing Matilda
May, 2005

“WALTZING MATILDA”  

Waltzing Matilda is Australia’s song: not it’s national anthem, but a song that every
Aussie kid grows up with and holds dear to their heart.  It’s about a “swagman”… a
bloke who travels all over Australia with his “swag” or small bag slung over his
back.

That’s what we’ve been doing.  Since we pulled into Brisbane mid November
2004, we’ve been “Waltzing Matilda”.  From Brisbane to Perth, from Perth to
Singapore, there to the USA,  to Bangkok and Singapore again.  Then Perth, then
Brisbane, then Perth, then Singapore (for Glen), then Singapore (again) for Glen
with Henry in Brisbane and soon, Perth again on May 10th, then Brissie May
19th.   Who knows after that!?     As sailor’s say, “nothing goes to weather like a
747” and that’s the mode of transport we’ve been using while DreamCatcher
remains comfortably at the dock in Brisbane under the care of neighbour Andy,
who airs her out and tends her needs weekly while we’re away.  She’s looking
lovely now with the addition of some beautifully framed artwork we acquired at
islands along the way, and we’ve delighted in sharing our home with long time
friend Erika and our cruising neighbours.

The time we have spent at Scarborough (Brisbane) on the dock has been fun,
though we miss our cross-Pacific friends on s/v Emma*.  The slips are filled with
international boats, there’s a dozen different languages spoken around us and the
atmosphere is relaxed and cordial.  One set of neighbours is Spanish, the other
Swiss, and we bump into Dutch, Brits, Kiwi’s, Aussies and Americans every day.   
We’ve been sharing cocktail hours, paella parties and most importantly, the
Wednesday night RSL dinner with our fellow cruisers!   For those non-Australians,
the RSL stands for Returned Services League.  These clubs exist primarily on the
east coast of Australia and are mostly for the use of families of those who are/were
in Australia’s armed forces, particularly stemming from WW1.
The clubs are large, clean and most importantly, reasonably priced.  For instance,
the Wednesday night special buys two dinners for the grand sum of $12.95 AUD.  
That includes soup, salad bar, main course, vegetable bar and dessert bar in
whatever quantity you can gorge.  Additionally, the drinks bar is subsidized by the
“pokies” or gambling machines and one can have a good night out for very little
outlay – a constant pursuit of the cruising sailor!.  We  gather in the parking lot at
5pm, rides are sorted out and usually a group of 30 or so head to the RSL for the
night.  To call these clubs sophisticated would miss the mark – they have home
grown bands and the “oldies” get up and line dance, the atmosphere is cordial and
family-ish with an emphasis on the over-50’s (gawd, is that us????!) but they’re
great!  It’s particularly important to stand when “taps” is played at 6pm “lest we
forget” the ultimate sacrifice the young Australians made on ANZAC Day at
Gallipoli 90 years ago.

Our days are spent socializing with boat neighbours, pottering with little jobs,
preparing meals and watching  DVD’s at night.  We rarely go out during evenings
(except for the weekly RSL knees-up!), partly to conserve funds and partly as there
is little nighttime entertainment within walking distance.  A noteable exception is
Morgans’ Seafood – a veritable license to print money that includes an upmarket
waterfront restaurant, sushi bar,  fish & chip shop, with a sunny courtyard and an
amazing fresh fish market.  We’ve availed ourselves of the latter on several
occasions but the famous Moreton Bay Bugs, that Queensland seafood treat, are
a little out of our price range at $33 a kilo.   The waterfront on both sides of the
Marina is pretty – it borders Moreton Bay with a view to the Glass House
Mountains and Moreton Island off in the distance.  We’ll often walk the mile in
either direction in the mornings or sometimes move cocktail hour off the boat and
to the bayfront, sit on a blanket, sip wine and watch the sun disappear into the
Bay.  One of the lovely things about this piece of real estate is the birds – the entire
waterfront area is populated by large trees of different types who play host to
flocks of brightly coloured Australian native parrots, some red/green/blue, others
white & sulphur crested and the “traditional” pink and gray galah.  There’s another
variety we call the beak bird.  Ornotholigally impaired, it’s the only name we can
think to call it: a large white feathered thing with leathery legs and a long curved
beak.  They move slowly amongst the trees, people and cars picking for eats, not
the least phased by humanity.   

We have yet to visit Moreton Island, one of Australia’s convict settlements –
hopefully we’ll do that soon (the Brits used Australia as a dumping ground for
criminals in the 18th  & 19th centuries).  We’ve seen the boats go often enough –
the “Combi Traders” are home-moored about 60 meters from our stern inside the
Marina – they’re car ferries that take the locals & tourists across the Bay to the
island for a day’s play.  It’s quite a scene watching them reverse and often the
bigger of the two has a hard time turning in strong currents and winds, getting a
little too close to DreamCatcher’s stern.   We’ve had a couple of nervous moments
but thankfully, no contact to date!

Under the heading of “interesting people” is a fellow sailor named Nils.  He’s
Swedish and has sailed his boat from Stockholm, through the fjiords and the
English Channel, the Atlantic, Caribbean, Panama, Galapagos and joined the
cross-Pacific fleet – not unusual for the company we keep, but he’s quite
exceptional: he built “Peter Pan” himself 15 years ago and has been sailing her
ever since….the amazing facts are that the boat is a mere 19 feet long.  Just for
the heck of it, Nils hitchhiked from Brisbane to Perth, via Darwin to see some of
Australia, just after he arrived from his epic voyage.  For his next adventure, he’s
sailing west across the 40’s latitudes, underneath Australia, bound for South
America.  His goal is Brazil as “the girls are easier to get there”!!
Nils turns 80 next birthday!.   We just hope we have even half the guts and energy
he has when we’re that age - Good on him!

Here, we’ve mastered the public transport system, being “sans auto”.   A
combination of bus and train gets us downtown Brisbane in 1 hr 15 minutes,
without the stress of traffic and parking.  Since our sortie to the Sunshine Coast in
December, we haven’t even been tempted to hire a car once!  An interesting side
effect of the cruising life from two folks who owned three cars between them in the
USA!

Our January trip to the States was good, but hurried: mid winter and with a  list of
administrative things to tidy up after our long absence, meant we had to forgo a
trip to Seattle to see good friends.  We seemed to race from here to there and be
car-bound for half the time, but it was lovely to see friends and share our cruising
experiences.  For our next visit we’ve resolved to rent a suite and just hold court!  
Our return track took us to Bangkok and Singapore.  The former was one long 4-
day party compliments of Lorraine & Jonathon, with Hugh & Tammy thrown in for
good measure.  We ate, drank, partied: it was a fantastic time with none of us
desirous to do anything “touristy” – just enjoy the great company and the elegant
environs of Lolly & Johnny’s penthouse pad.
Ali and Graham hosted us (again, how many times is it now???) in Singapore and
we had some fun social times there and of course, our customary dose of chilli
crab at Ubin Seafood, set out over the water with a view to Sentosa Island.

Back to Perth amidst the rip-roaring Australia Day celebrations on the Swan River,
our return then kicked off the serious job-hunt for GT.  While we would love to
continue the cruising life ad-finitum, it doesn’t make sense financially while we still
have some viable grey-matter and a penchant for spending.  Plus, the scary thing
is, with all these mooted medical breakthroughs, we could still be kickin’ around at
age 100! (hopefully!)  So we’re going to “stash the cash” and become long-
weekend or part time cruisers for a while.  The big question is where.  Perth of
course was our intended home, but it’s economic model is a misfit with GT’s
experience and qualifications.  Essentially, Western Australia’s economy is  
resource-based: diamonds, coal, iron ore, gold, oil, LNG, you name it, they dig it:
this activity makes up about 70% of the very prosperous economy, the remainder
being provided by Tourism, Education and Wine.  A high tech marketing
background is not a good match for the available opportunities, and amidst
repeated responses of  “you’re over-qualified” and “this is a head office resume,
go to Sydney”….  I was compelled to go hunt elsewhere.  Subsequently job search
was expanded to Brisbane, Sydney and Singapore (where the top tax bracket has
just been reduced to 20% - yea!!!  At least some governments get the concept of
wealth creation!!!).  Unfortunately Agilent had nothing to offer in the way of
marketing roles, despite the efforts of many of my friends there, so we reluctantly
parted company in March.  That was a sad week, the end of a great career with a
great company.   So, the jury’s still out on the job offers but closing on some
interesting opportunities: will keep you posted.

Meanwhile, Henry is forbidden to work in Australia (he has assumed the title of
“foreigner”, something which GT has now cast off, being back in the land of Oz!)  
He’s enjoying it, but a little frustrated as we’re now both ready to get back in the
saddle and to have our income  be greater than our outgo.

Fortunately, we’ve been able to keep our sailing up in Perth/Fremantle with
neighbours Peter & Bev who have a 24 ft sailboat and we’ve had several outings
including races (GT helmed for 6 hours straight in the ladies’ helm race)….no
“silver” but lots of fun and a near “DNF” when we came in embarassingly last!.  It’s
hard getting back to racing after a steady diet of cruising!  What, tack again?!  We
just did that!

A significant activity has been collecting and submitting a huge amount of
documentation for the Australian government for Henry’s Oz residency (essentially,
a “green card”).  This will enable him to stay in the country for more than his one
year tourist visa and will provide us with more stability for our future planning.  Of
course, one GT has to “sponsor” him under the Partner Immigration Program, so
he is at risk of becoming a kept man!  Methinks he doth protest too much (!).  
Actually, residency will enable him to work which will be good all round….
especially for GT who still aspires to being a “Tai Tai”.  The government’s verdict
on whether Henry stays or goes will be delivered late May.  Clearly this will have an
impact on our life together, specifically the location of it in the “rocking chair
years”.  In the interim, he regards himself as an “Aussie in Training” and has
adopted Crocodile Dundee as his national hero, watches cricket and taken to
drinking beer and boxed Aussie wine (oh no!!!!) .   Once again, watch this space!

GT’s Mum seems to be in good health and had a hoot of an 80th birthday party
mid April, with 30 neighbours and friends turning up to celebrate with champagne
and cake.   She’s clearly disappointed we may not be living in
Perth/Fremantle……so are we, but our work options are limited there by definition
of our career backgrounds, so, we’ll all have to work around it, at least in the short
term.

Back aboard in Brisbane, like all good cruisers, we decided to pull apart our
perfectly good boat and start a major project: the renovation of the fore-peak.  This
is the triangular cabin at the pointy end of the boat.  Used as a “garage” while
cruising, it was a bit of an architectural dig to get down to mattress level – some
interesting discoveries…..so, that’s where that gadget was, all this time!.... We’ve
taken advantage of the excellent hardware stores here and are lining the walls of
said cabin with Tasmanian Oak, to give the boat even more of a traditional look
and rid her of that 1970’s faded carpet!. This job doubled in time, like all boat
work, not helped by the 4 straight days of rain which precluded any timber
staining.  Henry’s up to his armpits in timber and wood shavings, the boat looks
like a lumber yard, “garage” stuff is now in OUR cabin, and we’re living in sawdust
chaos!!  But, early indications show the effort will be worth it, the forecabin is
starting to look lovely and we hope to have it operational as a full guest cabin in the
not too distant future.

Between helping with this project as chief stainer, finisher and sandwich maker,
GT is writing the marketing plan for the Scarborough Marina.
It’s an excellent marina, well managed, but they are looking at ways to improve and
communicate its value proposition…one GT to the fore!

So, life is interesting and varied right now and we are mentally gearing up to re-join
the workforce.  
-----o0o--------
•        
Re S/V Emma, we just got a call from them, passaging north from Sydney to the
Great Barrier Reef and we were able to join them for a day aboard their boat
anchored off the Gold Coast – we had a super time and it was great to refresh our
friendship.

STOP PRESS:
•        GT has been offered a senior level position in Singapore: Director of
Marketing, Asia-Pacific, for Watson Wyatt (ticker symbol WW).  We’re both
excited -  It’s likely we’ll move in June but leave the DreamCatcher safely in
Brisbane on the hard (ground).  It would be a push to get her the 4,500 miles up to
Singapore through reef-infested areas with a deadline in mind.  A hard decision
and we’ll miss the boat but we think it’s the right thing to do.  We’ll move to
Singapore mid June and we’ll plan to bring the boat up in 2006 in the June/July
timeframe – crew anyone?
•        Henry’s Australian Residency, is looking VERY positive, according to a
verbal confirmation by our Immigration officer.  The Vegemite sandwiches will
appear any day now!


Click on link to VIEW PHOTOS FOR JOURNAL 22
Location and Sail Plan