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.


  1. release the.....
    Sounds like so much fun! Makes me want to go sailing. Sorry about your misunderstanding with Trevor. Sounds like he was just trying to give you some tips for your future travels. We had a great time camping and also got to hang out with Josh for a while. He took us to a great swimming hole (holes in the rock) before we went home. Miss you. Talk to you soon on Skype.

  2. Hey Mal,
    Once I was at Douglas Falls I defiantly remembered being there with you and Kyle. I think that we had hiked a little on the trail I don't think we got to the second water fall. I remember there being a bees nest in the rock about the falls were the camp site was. I was extra cautions this time so as not to get stung. Last night I was laying in bed and I was trying to remember the Wind One Brilliant Day, and all I could remember was how it began in Spanish "Illamo a me corizon un claro dia con un perfume de jasmen, el viento" and then all of a sudden I switched from Spanish to English and I couldn't remember the Spanish. It was very strange. I do remember memorizing it in the kitchen. I thought we were doing dishes but maybe that was a different time. I'm really glad we were roommates in the dorms as well. I'm sure I was a handful to deal with I wasn't so fond of all the drama.

    I also really enjoy reading your blog. Makes me wish I was there with you. I guess I'll be starting my own adventure soon. Maybe we could met up. I'd really like to go to Tasmania (wishful thinking on my part). Also I'm not sure there will be any colorful leaves here by November. I think it is going to be a early fall. The leaves are already starting to change. I've tried to find you on Skype. I think I found your name but we are never on at the same time. I miss you.
    love, AL

  3. miss you!!!!! Its been a month since your last post! Arent you going to talk about winning money ? ;)