Monday, January 23, 2012
As luck would have it, our first taste of offshore sailing was on board a friends boat as crew. We had met George and Ellen in Townsville while sharing a dock with their yacht Winddancer. In 2001 they set off for Darwin with the intention of later sailing on through Indonesia into SE Asia. During a working trip to Darwin, Gary again met with George and Ellen and they talkedof the forthcoming sail through Indonesia to Malaysia. At that time piracy was often discussed when planning trips through Indonesia and SE Asia in general. George said that they would feel more comfortable with extra crew aboard for the trip to Malaysia, particularly the legs from Bali onward. The discussion continued and before long we were signed up to help crew Winddancer from Bali to Malaysia. September found us flying to Bali via Hong Kong (where we had a fantastic stopover of week) to meet George and Ellen. On our arrival in Bali, we had just enough time to dump our surplus gear aboard the boat before being whipped of to a lovely hideawy in the middle of padi fields adjacent the town of Ubud. Quite a surprise and totally unexpected. Several days later, after making final preparations and visiting the Denpasar night spots, we sailed from Bali. The next day terrorists bombed Bali and ended paradise as we had found it. We sailed via Pulau Kangaen to Kumai in central Kalimantan. Here we experienced at very close quarters the wonders of our very near cousins the Orangutans. In Kumai we met Herry Hermann (a local guy) who runs tours into the Orangutan reserves at Tanjung Puting and we have maintained this friendship now for many years. From Kumai we travelled the west coast of Borneo experiencing our first 'crossing of the line ceremony' as we crossed the Equator near Lingga Island. We finally berthed at Raffles Marina in Singapore and felt that we had truly sailed to Asia. After 2 weeks we sailed on up the west coat of Peninsula Malaysia before leaving the boat at Lumut. Our taste for sailing overseas had been excited.
In October 1998 we moved aboard Aquarius on a permanent basis after packing our worldly goods into long term storage. Gary left full time employment and started part time employment (while working from the boat) and we set sail north from Brisbane along the east coast of Australia. We reached Mooloolaba, just one days sail north of Brisbane, and called in to see some old friends and to stock up on fresh supplies. We went no further for another 12 months due to our daughter having a serious car accident and needing our attention. Gary's parttime work became fulltime again and this continued until mid-early 2000. Again we set sail, this time from Mooloolaba and headed north. We spent the next 5 years enjoying the sailing life of cruising up and down the northern tropical east coast. During that time we met some wonderful people who are still among our very best friends.
In the first year after we purchased Aquarius, our sailing was totally confined to weekends and some school holidays in and around Moreton Bay in Brisbane Queensland. We learned how to sail Aquarius and how to navigate around the many shallows of Moreton Bay; however, to be honest we often spent some time during trips stuck on unforgiving mudbanks waiting for the tide to rise and float us free. Our children enjoyed the sailing and we think that those times also established a love of the sea within them as well.