Sunday, August 30, 2009

Airlie Beach and Surrounds

After Race Week was over I didn't know what I would be doing next. Polly and Jason were heading back to Sydney. But Paul would be sticking around on holiday for the next week or so. He also didn't have any plans either so we were a good team. We had plenty of food and wine leftover from race week, but nowhere to really put it. So I took it over to 'Tattoo' and offered it to Trevor and Tom. I was welcome to stay on 'Tattoo' while I sorted out what I was going to be doing next. I offered to help organize there 400 DVDs!! This required putting them all in alphabetical order and then putting them each in there own individual sleeve. Meanwhile, Paul asked Trevor if he could also help out on Tattoo for a place to stay, but got turned down. He went looking for a place to set up his tent while I looked around notice boards for cars for sale. The hostels try and charge you $20 to set up a tiny two person tent on a tiny square of dirt, next to a bunch of other tents. After no real luck finding cars for sale at a reasonable price or a place for Paul to pitch his tent we went back to the apartment. Paul had left his bag on the patio of the bottom flat, so he needed to get it before it got to late. The people staying there were really sweet older people, Toni and Dee. Tony was English and Dee was Scottish. They lived in Adelaide, and drove up to Airlie beach for a holiday to get out of the cold weather. They had a little cute lap doggy named Sootie. Dee loved to talk. They had been living in Australia for 20 years or more but she still had a very strong Scottish accent. They offered Paul to set up his sleeping bag on the patio. They even put out their couch cushions for him to sleep on. They were so sweet they said they would let him sleep inside if they had room, but it was a tiny one room flat.

We walked to tattoo and Trevor and Tom were watching a movie and I had the feeling of intruding. I did not feel very welcome in their home. Anyways, I just wanted to stop in and say hi and tell them my plans for the night. Me and Paul were going to go eat and then watch a football game at one of the bars. We only stayed a few seconds then left. Then Paul and I realized the gate to the marina would be locked when I got back that night and I didn't know how I would get in. So I ran back to asked Trevor how I should get in. When I came by the movie was shut off and Trevor was trying to fix the DVD player. I asked him if everything was still cool and told him I felt awkward. He said everything was cool and they were just doing their thing and I was doing mine. The awkwardness went away and I felt more welcome. I asked how I was supposed to get passed the gate. They said they only had one key so they couldn't give it to me but that it was really easy to jump over the fence. Tom came out to show me how to get around it. It really wasn't as hard as it looked after you learned the trick.

That night was fun we went to eat dinner at the food court. We both got Indian food. I really enjoyed it! Then we watched a few different 'football' games. I learned all about all of the footballs in Australia. There is AFL (Aussie Rules), Rugby League (League), Rugby, and Soccer (which can also be called football). They are all very different.

My favorite I think is AFL. 18 players play on an oval shaped field. The primary aim of the game is to score goals by kicking the ball between the middle two posts of the opposing goal. The majority of the game is spent trying to advance the ball down the field close enough to kick a goal. Players may use any part of their body to advance the ball, but they may not throw it. The players usually kick or 'punch' the ball to each other, they can run with the ball but only if they bounce or touch the ball to the ground every 15 meters. Unlike most similar sports, there is no offside rule, and players can roam the field freely. The only person that can be tackled is the person in possession of the ball. If they are tackled and they had prior opportunity to legally dispose of the ball then the tackler is rewarded a free kick. It he is tackled and he did not have prior opportunity to legally get rid of the ball then he has 1/2 a second after being tackled to legally get rid of the ball, otherwise the tackler is rewarded a free kick. If the ball is held to the player by the tackler such that he cannot dispose of it, a ball-up will result. These rules help the game be non-stop. A player that catches a ball that has been kicked and travelled over 15 meters is awarded a free kick. Therefore the strategy of the game is to get the ball far enough down the field and then kick the ball to someone that is open, who will then get a free kick, meaning no one can tackle then behind where they caught the ball. And then they score a goal. A goal is scored when the football is propelled through the goal posts at any height (including above the height of the posts) by way of a kick from the attacking team. It may fly through on the full or bounce through, but must not have been touched, on the way, by any player from either team. A goal cannot be scored from the foot of a defending player. A 'behind' is scored when the ball passes between a goal post and a behind post at any height, or if the ball hits a goal post, or if an attacking player sends the ball between the goal posts by touching it with any part of the body other than a foot. A behind is also awarded to the attacking team if the ball touches any part of an opposition player, including his foot, before passing between the goal posts. A goal is worth 6 points whereas a behind is worth 1 point. The umpire signals a goal with two hands raised at elbow height and a behind with one hand.

Rugby league is frequently cited as the toughest and most physically demanding of any team sport in the world. You can tell this buy the way that the men that play it look. The are very tough looking, very different from AFL players who are strong, but lean. Try to imagine American football players that down where any pads and have a whole lot more endurance, that is what rugby league players are like. It is played by thirteen players on a rectangular grass field. The point of the game it to get the ball towards the opposing side in order to score a try (a touch down), or a goal. In order to advance the ball the players throw the ball to each other without getting tackled by the other team. A tackle forces a halt in play for as long as it takes the tackled player to return to his feet, and play the ball. In that time, the defending team, with the exception of two markers, must move back a minimum of 10 metres towards their end of the field. The attacking team restarts play and continues trying to advance down the field. The team advancing the ball can be tackled 6 times before it becomes the other teams ball. Usually after the 5th tackle they will kick the ball unless they think they can score a try. If the opposing team gets possession of the ball but then loses it again the tackle count starts at zero. It is a very fast game. No one likes to hold on to the ball for very long, otherwise they will get tackled so the ball is constantly in the air and can easily be taken by the opposing team. There are lots of scrambles too. If the ball hits the ground it may be kicked or punched to try and get it into the hands of your team mate. Once someone has control over the ball, that team has the chance to advance down the field. If a try is scored the team is rewarded 4 points. Then They get a chance to get two more points by kicking a field goal. The kick is taken at any point on the field of play in line with the point that the ball was grounded for the try. Therefore it is a good strategy to score the try in the middle of the end line to have a better chance of getting the extra 2 points. A goal is only worth 1 point so it is not usually a good strategy to score a goal. If you are really close to scoring a try, because it takes so long to advance the ball down that far down the field it is more worth your while to just kick the ball out of bounds and hope to get the ball back from the opposing team to get 6 more chances to score a try, then getting 1 measly point.

After watching footy games we went to KC's where there was a guy playing blues. It was really nice. I hadn't heard any really 'good' live music in a while. After the blues was over we walked back to the marina and I had to crawl around the gate. I made it just fine, but I was caught on camera and a security guard came and hassled Paul. I just kept walking and didn't turn around. He didn't try and yell out at me or anything. I went straight in Tatoo and talked to trevor for a bit then we both went to bed.

The next day I got up I had a mission to look for a car. I spent the morning on the boat organizing DVDs and then looking online for cars and travel partners. I met up with a guy to look at his car he was selling. Paul met him with me and we test drove the car. I didn't really like it, it smelled like smoke and the inside was a nit torn up, it seemed to run alright. I also didn't like the guy that was selling it. It was worth a try though. The rest of the day was spent by the Lagoon swimming. Then a short trip back to Tatoo where we ran into Mason, who I met when I was on Hooke Island. His boat was docked on the same dock as tattoo. He told me getting over that fence was hard and that is saying a lot coming from a rock climber. I was like "rewind, what's that about being a rock climber?" I told him I had been looking for people that climbed rocks since I had been in Australia and found nobody! He said there was rock climbing right here in Airlie Beach and that he would take me climbing. Unfortunately he was leaving to go to Brisbane to teach kids about rock climbing, kayaking and hiking. But when he got back he could take me climbing. We walked down to his boat and he took my phone number down and we hung out for twenty minutes talking.

Then I reheated my Indian food on one of the free barbecues at the lagoon for dinner. Paul heated up some beef stew and we drank wine and played cribbage. Then went watched more football and danced to the Blues guy. We made sure to get to the show on time to see the whole thing. I as usual was the only one dancing at first and then everyone started dancing until there was no more room to dance. I got Paul to dance with me some too. It was a real good time. I felt like I was back in Asheville!! That night when I got back to the Marina I called Trevor and he came out and opened the gate for me so I didn't have to jump the fence again.

The next day I did the same sort of thing. I finished organizing all of the DVDs in alphabetical order and putting them each in sleeves an hung out at the lagoon swimming and playing cribbage, looked for cars, made dinner at the barbeques. I had an early night. Me and Paul decided we would get up early and go to Mackay to see if I can find a good car for sale there and if we have time go camping.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Airlie Beach Race Week

I caught a ride to Airlie Beach from some of the employees at Hook Island. It took about an hour to get to the marina. There were tons of sail boats all around us. It was the first day of race week and just as we were coming towards the marina the race was just ending. It was beautiful to see all the colorful spinikers full of wind. When I got off the boat I had no idea what I was going to get into. It was the first time I had been somewhere with no immediate plan at all. The only people I knew in Airlie Beach were the two Canadians on the big green tug boat. So I headed there. I walked up to there boat and Trevor was there. He offered me to come in and have a coffee. After chatting a bit he offered me a place to stay on the boat. They had plenty of room on the boat, it is HUGE! Trevor showed me to my room. To get to it you had to go out of the main section of the boat and through a door at the back of the boat that lead to the engine room. You had to go down a ladder through a vertical tunnel. The room was next to the engine room. It was supper nice! I had a full bathroom, couch, refrigerator, full size bed, with a tv with surround sound speakers! Woohoo! Trevor showed me how to watch a movie if I wanted to.

Trevor said I could probably find a sailboat that needed crew for race week. So I walked around where the tug boat was docked. As it turned out almost all the race boats were docked on the same dock as Trevor's boat! The race was just finishing, some boats were still coming in but most of the boats were back and all the crew were just hanging out in their cock pits drinking and having a great time! I walked down the dock amazed at all of the boats and excited to think I might get to sail on one of them. Everyone was very friendly as I walked past their boat. I didn't really know if I should just start asking people if they needed crew or what. Then I passed Speedy's boat. He was a really friendly bloak with a big smile. He offered me to join them for a rum and coke. I asked if they knew anyone that needed another crew member and sure enough they new just the boat! Speedy took me over to the boat that needed crew. It was a 45 ft Swan, the name of it was Tulip. It had the biggest steering wheel I had ever seen! All the people that crewed on tulip that day were hanging out under the tarp on the boat. We chatted for a bit. Everyone kept making jokes and its hard for me to understand them especially with their accents. They asked me about my sailing experience and I told them what I had done. Then asked if I would be hung over in the morning. When I said no they said well that's too bad it was the one qualification you needed in order to be crew on the boat! Of course they were joking and the skipper said I could definitely join them. They were racing in the cruising non-spiniker division. Which is a real relaxed division. They were taking it easy in this race but planning to be more serious in Hamilton Island Race Week, which was the following week. The skipper said to meet at the boat at 8:00 the next morning. I promised Speedy I would come back and hang out on their boat, so I went back to Speedy's boat and finished my drink.

Around 6:00 I went back to 'Tattoo', Trevor's boat to have dinner. We ate some fresh fish they caught that day at the table outside on the back of the boat. It was delicious. I washed the dishes and we all chatted some more. Trevor said if needed to use their internet phone to call back home I was welcome to, it was free. They have what is called a 'magic box', which you purchase for 50 bucks and then get to use it as much as you like to call any phone in the states for no extra cost. It lasts for five years. It is a pretty sweet deal. So I called my mom. She was in Michigan in the UP at Drew and Linda's cabin. It was morning there, and she was just waking up, still lying in the tent with Dad. I talked to her about everything. Leah, and Korah were there too. They all went to Eddie and Megan's wedding and now were enjoying some vacation time in this tiny town. They put me on speaker phone so everyone could hear me. I could even here my Aunt Virginia. I can just imagine everyone huddled in or around mom and dads tent all listening to me go on about my adventures in Australia!! It was neat to hear about what they were doing to. The night before there was a meteor shower, that only the northern hemisphere could see. As I recall they watched the meteor shower from canoes on a river. It seemed like they were having a great time, wish I could apparate over there for a few hours! Funny enough I started to watch a movie that night called 'Jumper' about a guy that cam apparate anywhere in the world! After talking to my family I called Josh and talked to him for another hour! Oh technology, what would we do with out it! I slept well that night in a nice comfy bed, excited to go sailing in the morning!

I woke up early and ate some cereal and had a coffee. I didn't have anything to make to bring for a lunch and I didn't feel comfortable asking Trevor so I went without a lunch. When I got there there were only two other people there and Berny, the skipper was not there yet. We started putting on the jib sheets. They take them off every night so they don't get stolen. Berny and a couple more people showed up that I had met the day before. Then a couple from North Carolina showed up asking if we needed anymore crew! They looked professional, with all their sailing gear. Their names are Jason and Polly and they have been living in Sydney for three years. They came up to Airlie beach for race week, but the boat they were suppose to be racing on had not made it up from Sydney yet. It was suppose to arrive in a few days though, and they would race on it when it got here. Jason is from Raleigh and Polly's parents live in Charlotte! What a coincidence. They both play volleyball too!! Polly played for UNC Greensboro, she was the setter. And Jason is supposedly really good, and got MVP at the high neighbor tournament one time. They are both in there forty's, but don't have any kids. They were really really nice, polite, and helpful. I really liked them, if you cant tell! Another couple showed up to help out too. They were locals to Airlie beach. The girls name was Jo, she was just there for the ride and her husband didn't know much about sailing but could help out a bit. They were both real nice. We ended up with a full crew of 11 people!

Well we motored out with all the rest of the boats around 9:30. Before the race there is 'pre-race'. During pre-race all the boats cruise around each other waiting to hear what course we will be doing that day. Then they announce it on the radio and each division goes one at a time with 6 minutes in between each start. Each division gets a five minute warning where everyone gets in the right position to time it so when the race begins they are at the start line. When the race begins there is a horn and that divisions flag goes down. Then there is a one minute interval with no flags up. Then the next division's color flag goes up, signaling that it has five minutes. Someone on the boat is in charge of watching these flags go up and down and has a timer ready to start a five minute count down. This is the best part of the race. All the boats are really close together fighting for a good spot. And someone is calling out the time left every thirty seconds. then on the last minute every ten seconds, and then the last ten seconds it is 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, RACING!! And the flag goes down and the horn blows! There is always at least one boat that comes close to hitting you but there are rules to who has the right away, so one of the boats has to get out of the way. If the wind is coming from your starboard side then I think you have the right away. There is some yelling between the boats and then they spread out a bit and you can relax a bit. Everyone that is not doing anything has to get on the high side and sit with there legs hanging off the boat. If there is a lot of wind then you have to hang off with your head and arms hanging off and your body hanging on the cord, which conveniently has a cushion around it, so it doesn't jam into your stomach.

The first day I mostly stayed out of the way and watched. I did pull the jib halyard to bring the head sail up. Poly and Jason were really helpful, any questions I had I would ask them. They were very good at explaining things. I learned a lot from them. They both spoke very softly when on the boat as to not disturb what anyone else might be doing. Everyone kept making jokes about how at the end of the race I had to go the the bow and flash everyone. Acting like the figurehead! Supposedly it was not uncommon for girls to do this. But I was not going to do it. It seems like everyone was picking on me about it. half the time I couldn't understand the jokes they were making, but it was all in fun. They only picked on me because they liked me. I did get a little frustrated by the end of the race. Once the race was done I had a headache because I didn't bring sunglasses or a hat and did not have lunch. I hung out for a little bit on the boat with them and had a couple drinks. But felt exhausted so went back to the Tattoo to take a nap. No one was on tattoo when I got there but the door down to my room was open so I went down and had a nice long nap. When I woke up they were fixing spaghetti upstairs and I made it just in time for dinner. Then me and Trevor watched a movie called K-PAX. It had Kevin Spacey plays a patient at a mental hospital who claims to be from a far away planet. His psychiatrist tries to help him, only to begin to doubt his own explanations, and Spacey's character ends up helping him as well. It was a good movie. I enjoyed it. After the movie I went to bed to rest up for the next day.

The next day of racing I was more prepared. My big white sunglasses glasses that Brent gave me with a naked Indian girl on them broke. I went to a shop before the race and got a new pair of sunglasses(not as cool as the other ones) and a sandwich. I had my hat too, so I felt much more prepared. The race started a bit later. Jo and her husband were not there but there was a new girl. She new absolutely nothing about sailing and didn't pretend to want to. She was overweight and loud. She was nice enough to bring a big cheese and fruit platter. She started drinking right when she got on the boat, and was drunk before the race even started. The one good thing about having her on board was I was no longer the one being picked on. She was the new girl on boat and it was easy to crack jokes about her. There was not much wind at all this day. At one point the boat speed and wind speed were both at 0.00!! This lasted long enough for someone to go get there camera, take a few shots, look at them, and put there camera back! Yea, were were going SLOW! Meanwhile the new girl was always in the way and kept talking to the 'wind fairy' asking it to bring wind. We still had do work. We kept adjusting things trying to get the sails just right to capture the little wind there was.

I asked Berny before the race started if I could do more work today, so I was in charge of the starboard jib sheet. They call it the head sail and Berny says things like ease the heady or tighten the heady. You have to pay attention to the little strings on the sail. If the strings on the 'in'side are flapping to much you pull the sheet 'in' more, if the strings on the 'out'side are flapping to much you release the sheet 'out' more. When it is time to come about Berny says ready about. That means get in your positions to come about. So I get to the starboard jib sheet. If the sail is on the port side then I pull the sheet and David who was in charge of the port sheet, uses the winch handle and grind until it is tight, while I hold the sheet and tail him. If the sail is on the starboard side then I reales the sheet and then I use the winch handle to grind until the sail is the right tightness. This was fun to do. I got pretty efficient at it. My knees did get a little abused but it was OK. Just before the wind picked up the drunk girl went below and took a nap. We had a fair bit of wind the second half of the race. I got to stear the boat after we passed the finishline and were heading back to the marina!

When we got back to the marina the drunk girl dissapeared without saying goodbye to anyone. No one saw here leave. The rest of us hung out and had chips and drank the rum that we were awarded for winning the race the day before. I liked the 'Dark and Stormy' drink. That's what they call rum mixed with ginger beer. I felt much better after this race. Wearing glasses and a hat really paid off.

After the race I went with Polly and Jason to the tent where all the crew from the race boats gathered. There was music and cheap alcohol. They announced the winners and runner ups. Because we got first place the day before they gave us a huge handicap this day. I think it was 2. something. The day before it was like 1.5. This number gets multiplied by the final race time and is your 'handicap time'. It keeps the really well made boats from always winning. So the race measures the crews skill instead of the quality of the boat. Because of this huge handicap and the lack of wind we got DFL, dead fucking last! When there is not much wind the bigger boats like tulip have a disadvantage. We did pass the finish line first in our division, so that was good!

Polly and Jason invited me to stay with them at the apartment they were renting. They had plenty of room because there crew had not arrived yet. So I got the stuff I needed from off tattoo and walked with them up to their apartment. It had a lovely view of the marina. We dropped our stuff off and changed then met up with Jo and her husband for dinner at 'Mangrove Jacks'. Me and Polly split a pizza. It was good, but it made us tired. Me and Polly went back to the apartment and went to bed while Jason hung out longer.

The next day was Sunday, it was a lay day, so there were no races that day. I did some stretches in the morning and then took a shower. The rest of their crew got there that morning and we made breakfast and ate at the table on the balcony. It was a lovely breakfast. Eggs, toast, bacon, and fruit. I was happy to see peanut butter on the breakfast table. It seems like Australians don't eat peanut butter much. But Polly and Jason aren't Australian, they are from NC!! Me and Polly think alike. Independent of each other we put peanut butter, honey, and banana on some toast! I was sitting next to Paul, who I just met, is from Australia. I got him to try p.b, honey, and banana on toast too and he Really liked it! We talked a bunch, and I knew we would be friends. He had lots of family in the states and had lived in Northern CA for a while and loved it.

After breakfast the boys went to fix something on their boat, and me and Polly went to the grocery store. I had a good time talking to her while shopping. I asked her why she didn't have kids. And she said she just never wanted to. She has god children and lots of nieces and nephews. We discussed this a bit. I told her I couldn't imagine myself not having kids in the future. I remember a few years ago I was thinking I might not want to have kids but I soon realized that life wouldn't be right without a family to share it with. If I don't have kids of my own I would have to adopt. I got a few things for myself at the grocery store. Stuff to make sandwiches for lunch and dinner for Trevor and Tom, his brother. After shopping I went back to Tattoo and dropped off the food I bought. Then I went to the lagoon for a swim. When I got to the lagoon I realize I forgot the top to my bathing suit. It was already getting close to sunset and if I walked all the way back to the boat and all the way back it would be to late and it would be time for me to start dinner. I considered swimming topless, but there were a lot of people there. I realized later that it wouldn't have mattered. I went to the bathing suit shop just to see if there was anything I liked that wasn't too pricey. I couldn't find anything so I just sat in the grass and stretched while listening to my ipod.

I made a stir fry with onion, bell pepper, carrots, cashews, beans, and rice. Mixed with honey, ginger, sesame seeds, and a few other seasonings. It was nice having a well equipped kitchen to cook in. Trevor, Tom, and Tom's girlfriend Toni all really liked it. Then Tom and Toni went out and me and Trevor played cribbage. He is the first person I have met in Australia that knows how to play! It was nice playing someone that new the rules. The games went by much smother and faster. Although he was knew what he was doing, I kept getting awesome hands! I won all three games we played!! It was really fun. We drank wine and chocolate that I bought from the store. I called Josh in between one of the games, it was nice to talk to him. We talked for a good while, but it seemed like we just brushed over all the things we had been doing and didn't really get a chance to "talk". After cribbage I was tired and went to bed. Oh yea, of course I had a coffee, they always have coffee's before bed on Tattoo!

The next day I raced on Tulip again. When we started there was not a lot of wind. There were three new people on the boat. There was a guy that I cant remember much about, an older bloke, with a bald head, and a woman from Scotland. She definately had a scottish accent. She was a true 'blonde' if you know what I mean. She was nice, but she wasn't very good at taking instuctions. Jo was back on the boat too. Jason and Polly were on their boat now, 'The Chancelor'. When the race started the wind picked up a little. Me and David were in charge of the jib sheets again. I had fun asking questions. The new older guy answered some of them for me. I leared about the 'backstay' and the 'outhaul'. The backstay holds the mast back. It is a a wire that is attached to the top of the mast and the stern of the boat. You can tighten the backstay when there is a lot of wind, it helps catch more wind in the main sail. If you are jiving then you would ease the backstay. The outhaul runs from the clew (the back corner of the sail) to the end of the boom. Pulling the outhaul flattens the foot and lower section of the mail sail. You would tighten it if you were in heavy wind when you are tacking to reduce drag and heel.

We thought we did alright in the race but as it turns out we didn't do so great. I think we got eighth place. After the race I hang out for a little bit on Tulip but when I saw Chancelor coming in I went to say hi to them.

I didn't really want to stay on Tattoo again because Trevor had mentioned somthing about not staying more than three days so I didn't want to impose. There wasn't room at Jason and Polly's appartment with all the crew, but Polly said I could sleep on Chancelor, so that was my plan. I went to the Lagoon for a swim and then went to Tattoo to say hi to Trevor and pick up my stuff. It was dark by the time I got there and Trevor was watching Star Wars. He invited me to eat dinner with them, they were just having leftovers, so I stayed for dinner. I did the dishes and Tom and Toni left. I asked Trevor if I could check my email. He said it was OK, so I did. Then he came over to the table and sat down next to me. He started talking to me about letting people know your intentions and being out right with people about what you want. He said something about me showing up and staying on their boat and sort of sticking around without talking about plans with him. It hurt my feelings and my emotions started crying. I was offended by what he was saying because I thought we had developed a friendship, and that my company was enjoyed. I told him I wasn't planning on staying there that night, that I had a place to stay on Chancelor. I didn't plan on sticking around any longer. He could tell he hurt my feelings and said he was wasn't trying to hurt my feelings and he just wanted me to know for future reference that it is good to tell people what your intentions are and keep your thoughts out in the open. I thought I had been doing that. I didn't have any "plans" so it was hard for me to tell him what my plans were. Anyways I got all emotional, tears started falling and my nasal passages were clogging up. I was definately emotionaly insecure. I had not been setting enough time to myself to write in my journal or meditate. I also was in a town where I had no real plans a didn't know anyone. We talked about how it is hard to travel alone. It can be a really good way to meet people, and learn about yourself. But it can be very dificult and lonely too, but thats why I am doing it, I like the challenge. He said I was welcome to stay there longer, until I figured out what I was going to be doing next. I summerized this conversation quite a bit, it must have lasted a few hours. I was emotionally exhasted by the end of it but felt much better. I went down to my room and got ready for bed then wrote in my journal and went to sleep.

The next day I raced on Polly and Jason's boat. Two of their crew members had to go back so they were short crew. I had such a blast sailing on Chancelor!! There was a lot of wind and only six people on the boat. So everyone was needed all the time. That is how I like it! I had a job all the time. Me and Paul were in charge of the jib sheets and I was an extra hand in the cockpit all the time. This boat was also more fun because they put up the spinicker. There is quite an art to putting up and taking down the spinicker. You leave the jib sheet up while you pull the spinicker up. I was incharge of pulling up the spinicker pole and then running to tighten the brace. Which holds the pole back. If you tighten the brace you have to release the kicker. The kicker holds the pole down. You cant tighten one without releasing the other, or else somthing might snap! Then I got to be in charge of the spinicker sheet. This involves looking up at the edge of the sail where the wind is coming in and making sure it is flaping but not to much. If if flaps to much the wind might go behind the sail and forcing the sail to pop and we would loose our wind. It is a huge resonsibility! You keep adjusting it to make sure you are getting the most from your spinicker. That was really fun, I felt like I was in control of the boat!

After the race I got Paul to come for a swim with me in the lagoon. I swam five laps. Paul swam two with me and we raced. I won both of them! Then we met the others at the tent. We were all kind of wiped out and hungy so we went to the apartment. I took a shower and a nap and then we ate spagetti. Morgan the skipper complemented me for my work on the boat, and said I was a big help, and they couldn't have done it without me. Everyone else agreed. It was nice to be appreciated. We were planning on going out, but everyone was tired so we just chilled out on the patio and drank wine. Then me and Paul stayed up listening to music. We each had our ipods and were sharing our favorite tunes. We chatted about life until we were both falling asleep then went to bed.

The next day was fun but not as much fun as the day before. There was still alot of wind but not as much. And there were two new guys that came on the boat as crew. One of the guys was going to be the skipper for 'The Chancelor' durning Hamilton Island Race Week, which was the following week. So he wanted to check out the boat. He got a little carried away being bossy and a know it all. It was like he was trying to be the skipper, but we already had a skipper. I liked my jobs from the day before and was fine without him. He was trying to do my jobs and I finally got fed up and just let him. He apologized later and let me back in. I got to work the jib sheet again which was fun.

After the race Paul and I went for a swim again and then went to the house and showered. Then went to meet the others at the tent they set up each night of the race. It was a great time! There was a live band and all the crew from the race boats were there having a good time. I convinced Paul to dance with me and it was so much fun! Speedy, the guy from 'Hans On' who introduced me to 'Tulip', danced with me for one song as well, he was a bit crazy, but it was fun! Then everyone kind of got seperated and me and Paul just went back to the appartment. We were going to order pizza but there wasn't any good dilivery pizza places. So we just ate left overs. I really wasn't that hungry anyways. Then we tried to dance salsa and I taught him how contra dance works and showed him a few moves. The best was when he showed me his Croasian dances. He was born in Croasia and grew up in a Croasian community in Australia. They were really fun. Lots of spinning. It was quite a workout. When the others finally got back we showed them the dances we had taught eachother. Then finially went to bed.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cruising with the Robinsons

We started the trip the morning of Friday the 7th. We motored to 'Whitsunday Island' That is I believe the biggest of the hundreds of Whitsunday Islands. It took us most of the day to get there, me a Claire sat getting wet from the waves crashing on us talking about music, boys, and life. She is mature for her age but a little sassy once you get to know her. We had a great time chatting the whole way laying out in the sun. We anchored at Cid Harbor. We all got in the tender and motored over to a beach, and went for a bush walk on a trail to another beach. We sat on the beach relaxing for a bit then went back to the boat and made dinner. We went to bed pretty early.

The next day we motored to White Haven beach. Which is the most popular attraction in the Whitsunday Islands. It is a sight to see, that is for sure! When we got close to White Haven beach, the sand was almost to bright to look at! That is how WHITE this beach is!! We anchored right next to the beach. After eating lunch we went to the beach. We spent the rest of the day laying out in the sun and making a Sand Castle Estate. We made a road with lots of small houses that lead up to the main castle, and garden. Of course we went swimming and I took the surf-ski out for a bit. Before going back the kids stomped all over the sandcastle. We had a quiet evening and went to bed. We spent the next day on the beach as well. I layed out reading a book on Aero- and Hydrodynamics and boat knots. I learned that when the pressure in air drops the air streams speed up. A sail creates low pressure on the convex side. The airstream over the convex side has to speeds up because it has to travel further to join up with the air traveling on the concave side. When the wind is coming from behind the boat, the sail is sucked along by the airstream rather that being pushed.

After getting blown away by aerodynamics I practiced tying knots. Two guys paddling on a kayak went across the water in front of where we were sitting. We saw them the first day we were on the boat and they had already caught up with us! They must be paddling all day and camping out on the islands at night. What a neat way to see the Whitsundays! It inspired me to take the surf-ski out for a long paddle. There were a lot of waves that day so I got a pretty good workout. I found it was nice also to take a rest and layout on the surf-ski while floating on the water. I closed my eyes and relaxed for a few minutes and when I opened then only 10 feet away there was a ginormous sea turtle!! It had to be over a hundred years old by the looks of its size! Its head was bigger than mine sticking out of the water. When I got back to the beach we dung holes and buried the kids. We made Claire into a mermaid and Nate into a race car driver. Then they buried me and made me into a turtle like the one I saw!

The next day we motored to 'Tongue Bay' which is on 'Whitsunday Island'. On the way I say on the bow practicing tying knots. I can now tie the bowline, sheet bend, rolling hitch, clove hitch, Tugman's hitch, and the Truckee's hitch. After being under way for not too long, we arrived at Tongue Bay. We walked on a walking track to a look out point. It was a great view of White Haven beach and other islands. Then we walked on another trail down to a great beach. It was a cloudy day but it was still gorgeous. It was a big sandy peninsula called 'Dugane beach'. After spending some time on the beach we went back to the boat and motored a little ways to 'Butterfly Bay' on the north part of 'Hook Island'. We attached to a morine for the night. Me and Claire watched he movie Twilight. It is based on the first book in a series that Claire is reading. Its a fantasy with vampires and warewolfs. The main character Bella falls in love with a vampire.

The next day we did lots of snorkeling in Butterfly Bay. There was tons of beautiful coral and fishes! I felt very peaceful in the water listening to my breath and the fish chomping down on coral. My favorite fish had a big circular narrow body. It was black with little crescent yellow moon stripes. and a blue tail. My favorite coral was a peachy color with little star shaped tentacles. We snorkeled twice. My ankle started hurting a little bit but it was worth it. I layed out in the sun on the boat and dried and wrote in my journal and practiced the knots I learned again. Then the boat next to us offered us to come over and drink and eat nibbles. They were nice people but the conversations weren't very deep. We got back to the boat around 7:00 and I was trying to offer to make dinner, Clair was being a sassy know it all and Neil and Deb had something planned that they wanted to make. They had a bit too much to drink maybe and were arguing about something. I decided to just go to my bed and lay down. I fell asleep real early without eating dinner.

I woke up nice and early in the morning and watched the sunrise and did some yoga and meditation. It felt nice but I had a hard time loosing my thoughts in meditation. That day we went to 'Langford Island' and snorkeled for a few hours. I saw this big green fish with a blue border and bright neon yellow fins There was also one with an orange nose with a crazy blue design on it. There was also one with all different colors, ti had an orange smudge near its mouth. I wish I could remember more details. After snorkeling we motored a little ways to 'Stone Haven' anchorage on Hook Island. We got internet connection and cell phone signal here. I tried texting Josh but his phone was off. I went snorkeling again. The coral was not a pretty as the other places but it was still nice. Me and Claire jumped of the boat and I swam around the boat and floated on my back. It felt nice to swim without a wet suit. I taught Claire how to climb the ladder on he back of the boat. You had to wrap your legs around the bar to pull yourself up. I pulled myself up just using my arms. My arms have definitely gotten stronger. I used the computer, checked my email and posted pictures online. Then watched Blade Runner. I enjoyed it.

The next morning, I sat with Claire and read with her a bit, she is on the third book right now. I enjoyed reading it. It is easy to get sucked in to the story. Then we motored to Hook Island Resort. Where they would be dropping me off. We rented a Morine for the day and night. We hung out by the pool at the Resort. I liked the resort because it wasn't fancy, it was kind of run down. We mostly layed out in the sun and swam all day. I taught Claire how to play cribbage and she picked it up pretty good. I played cards with Nate, getting him to tell me what the number on the card was. He is still learning his numbers. Once he knew 1 through 8 alright we played go fish. Then we all played Uno. We walked down to the under water observatory which was nothing special but still interesting. Right outside of the observatory there was a really big fish just sitting there still a couple feet under the water.

We went back to the boat and made dinner and then hung out at the bar. The bar tender was from California. It's the first person from the states that I have met! It was weird hearing that accent! I played a few games of Australian billiards. Instead of solids and stripes they have yellow and red balls. The eight ball is still black with an eight on it, but none of the others are numbered. The only difference in the rules is you get an extra shot if the other person scratches or doesn't hit their color ball. I only won one game. There was also "The Hook" that was fun to play. There was a small hook on a post and a string attached to the ceiling with a washer on it. The goal is to swing the string from a distance and hook the washer onto the hook. I got it on my second try and soon could get it hooked two times in a row pretty easily. The challenge was to get it hooked three times in a row. I never did get it, but came very close! I also played this drinking game with a group of girls from England it was similar to Ass Hole but called Shit Head or something like that. After a long night on the island we went back to the boat around 12 AM.

Today I said goodbye to the Robinsons and they left me on the Island. They have a friend coming on the boat in a few day and need some family time. I am scheduled to catch a ride on a boat at 2:30 back to Airlie beach. I have no idea what I will be doing next! For now I will go for a walk.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cairns and Ride Down to Airlie Beach

I caught a ride with Jane to Cairns on august 2nd. Jane dropped me off at the Bohemian Hostel. I tried to find people to "couch surf" with but had no luck. It was 20 dollars a night, which is about average, but too expensive for me to do very often. I stayed there two nights in a room with 6 bunks. There were three Swedish boys all about 19, just out of high school. Stephen, Mattian, and Ponotus. They were fun to hang out with. The fist night we hung out at the bar a the hostel. It was an outside bar, nicely lit, with not too many loud people. I ordered a rum and coke using my free drink voucher. And we hung out just talking about whatever. I sang the song "whiskey before breakfast" when one of them ordered whiskey. They enjoyed it.

The next day I didn't do much. I talked on the phone to mom in the morning for a long time, it was nice to hear from her. She called me using Skype. She gave me the news that Kimi and James had separated. I wish I could hear from Kimi how she is taking it but she is hard to get a hold of. Mom says she wont tell her much either but she seems happy. She is with a new guy named Travis, whom I don't think I have ever met. I don't think it is that healthy to get into a new relationship so soon after leaving James, but who am I to talk. I am sure she has thought about this but she must really like him. For the rest of the day I had this on my mind, wishing I could talk to Kim about it in person. She is really bad about sharing her feelings with me and as I can tell other people to. I sent her an email and then went to the grocery store.

I ate breakfast or lunch whatever you want to call it, it was afternoon. Then I went to the mall and bought a new camera. I got the same kind I had before, a Nikon 'cool pics', except the newer version. It is very small, blue, and takes great pictures. The only thing I don't like about it is that it doesn't have a view hole, just a screen. When it is really bright outside it is hard to seen what you are taking a picture of. It was a good deal though, I got the last one, so they took off 30 dollars. I played around with my camera for most of the day, and chilled out near the pool.

That night I didn't do much, I talked to josh on face book for a couple hours. It was really fun to instant message him back and forth, I was all giddy inside, like a little middle schooler on AOL instant messaging! Before we all went to sleep that night I sang the song 'hard times come again no more', which put the boys to sleep. It was great! In the morning I had breakfast and took the necklaces to the post office to send home. It was only 10 dollars to send them by sea so I did that. Its funny thinking that they may not get to the states for up to 4 months!

I took a cab to meet up with Allen, the truck driver, to where his trucks air conditioning was getting fixed. We left around noon. We were in a new truck, which was an automatic. Allen didn't like it being Automatic because it was easier to get bored while driving. It was nice for me because it was much less bumpy so I could read. I read almost the whole trip. We stopped in Atherton Tablelands to load his truck with peanuts. It was near where I traveled around with Ben. They are really stingy with how clean the truck has to be and last time Allen stopped there they wouldn't load them. So this time he made sure it was extra clean and sprayed this kitchen cleaner all over the whole thing. We were crossing our fingers hoping they would load the peanuts because if they didn't we would have to go out of the way to load it somewhere else and it would put us behind. They loaded the truck with something like thirty tons of peanuts! Then we continued south. We ate dinner at a truck stop and had ice cream bars. I finished the book, Seduction of Silence just as we pulled into the truck stop in Townsville to sleep for the evening. This truck had two bunks so we each had a bed. I slept up top. Then Allen woke up early and drove he rest of the was to Airlie Beach while I still slept.

Neil met me at the truck at 7:30 AM and helped me carry my things to their boat. I spent the morning on their boat chatting with the Robinbsons: Neil, Deb, Claire, and Nate. Then used my strong muscles to grind the winch, belaying Neil up the mast so he could replace a light bulb. Then we went to the lagoon. It is a big swimming pool wight on the water. Neil, the kids, and I hit a ball around in the water. It reminded me of when my dad and I would try and see how many times we could hit the ball back and forth with out it dropping in our swimming pool at home. I tried with Claire, but she always hit it too hard, so we could only get up to 6. I remember dad and I would get up in the hundreds, until eventually we would have to challenge our self by doing it one handed.

After playing ball for a while I swam five laps, with my goggles on and then went on a long swim around the whole pool. There is even a bridge that goes over the lagoon, I swam under it and all around. It was nice to relax my thoughts. The lagoon looked 100 times bigger under water, it was really neat! When I got out Deb and Claire had left to go to the grocery store. Neil, Nate, and I went to the beer store and carried two cases all the way back to the boat. It is quite a walk when carrying that much weight. I carried the case on my head for most of the way!

That night we made dinner and hung out with two guys that were staying on the big green tug boat across from where we were docked. The one I was talking to most name was Trevor. He and his brother working on the big green boat. Replacing old things and building new things on the boat. Trevor asked me where I was headed after Australia. I said I was planning on going to New Zealand in December. He said they were taking the boat to New Zealand in December and Neil suggested I go with them! We didn't talk much about it stayed in the back of my head. At the end of the night we went over and checked out their boat and had some coffee. The whole inside of the boat is made curly maple. And everything in the boat is top notch quality. I was thinking Dad would really appreciate the woodwork in the boat. Maybe he would be interested in doing some installations in a boat. Just an idea. Anyways I was very tied by the end of the night and fell right to sleep.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Leaving the Farm

Sometimes I wonder how things can work out so perfect! Life is such a blessing! This morning I woke up with the sun in a very peaceful mood. I have been reading the book Seduction of Silence, a novel by Bem Le Hunte. It has helped me become more in touch with God and myself, who is just God in disguise and helped me realize that everything I need is right in front of me, I just have to look.

I got out of bed and made some tea and toast. Then I stretched and did a little exercise. I opened the door in my room that goes to a veranda outside. It was raining and very windy. I meditated in front of the door and sang pujas to Siva. The door closed after I stopped singing and I thought I would start singing again and maybe the wind would blow the door back open. After a while I realized that it was me that had to open the door. The message I took away from this was that my life is in my hands and if I don’t take control nothing will happen. Everything I need is out there for me to use. I just have to have the courage to reach out and use it.

After this thought I sent, Rud, my friend from Sydney a text message asking him if he knew anybody that would like to take me sailing. He rang me back and said his friends Neil and Deb are at the marina at Arely Beach sailing, and they would love to have me. I called Neil and he said I was welcome to come sailing with them whenever I want. They are sailing around the Great Barrier Reef with their kids, Nathan, 4-year-old boy and Claire, an 11-year-old girl. The kids are excited that I am coming.

I am going to catch a ride with Jane when she goes into Carins early Monday morning to sell the fish. Then I am going to couch surf with some people in Cairns for two nights. Then Allen, my friend the truck driver, will pick me up Wednesday and take me to Arley beach to meet up with Neil and Deb. We will leave the Marina Thursday morning and sail around the islands for a week or so. They have an extra bunk down where the kids are sleeping. It sounds perfect!! I can’t wait! It is funny how things just work out! I was just thinking of how much I would love to go sailing, AND I was thinking how it would be nice to be with a family with young kids! Well it was right in front of me I just had to find it!

I got a package in the mail today from Josh. He sent me an old book called To Far to Walk. We are going to paint, draw, write, glue, and cut the book, making it into a work of art! I took a class on turning books into art. We thought it would be a fun to send a book back and forth to one another working on it a little each time. He did a cool drawing in the back of the book. There was also a post card with a picture of the Tetons and a letter about his adventure climbing the Tetons. Getting this package put me in an even better mood! Ben and I got the day off and were driving to Port Douglas while I was reading his letter. I felt so happy looking out the windows of the car, thinking about how lucky I was.

In Port Douglas I tried to use a wireless Internet connection to post my pictures. Something was wrong with I photo, it wasn’t letting me up load the photos. The only way I could upload them was one by one. I was only able to load 15 pictures on to my picasa web album before we had to leave because we had to get back before dark to cross the crocodile river! Check out my pictures at:

Once back at the farm I continued to drill holes in seeds and make necklaces for my sweet mother and sisters back home. It is fun to make the necklaces, but my fingers hurt after a while from drilling. I only have one more to make. Hopefully I will get it done before I leave Monday, early in the morning with Jane to take the fish to Cairns, and then meet up with Neil and Deb.