Seven weeks in St Maarten… well for some. Fortunately for me I took a break for a quick trip ‘down under’ to spend time with my family in Australia, sort out some property stuff and revisit my old stomping ground. In my small hire car I travelled from Tullamarine Airport to the surprisingly trendy city of Bendigo and Axedale (or Actiondale!), through the scenic Yarra Valley to the green and hilly Healesville, across to the flat lands of the Gippsland Lakes region where each morning I’d listen to the familiar song of the Magpie on my parents verandah, then down the sandy coast of the Mornington Peninsula, returning to the manicured beaches of Melbourne’s Bayside where we used to live; In five years I’m amazed how the city has sprawled into the country areas of Victoria. There is wealth and prosperity which I’ve not seen the likes of for some time in my travels.
I had a list of Aussie food that I intended to consume during my stay (sausage rolls, coffee scrolls, meat pies, steamed dim-sims, great coffee, Cheezels – just to name a few) – yum! I can’t begin to explain to landlubbers how nice it is to have a regular hot shower and a comfy bed. Even opening a fridge where the contents stay put is pure bliss!
Each day I would speak with Wayne on Skype and he would tell me about all the wonderful things he was installing or fixing aboard Blue Heeler. The problems with our circulation pump and transmission cooling were promptly fixed before I left and many of the jobs from ‘the never-ending list’ we’re sorted. (Sounds like our boat is in a constant state of repair, but things deteriorate badly out on the ocean). On the trip back I brought with me some treats for Wayne – items that I can’t seem to find overseas (Vegemite of course, jars of Laksa paste, packets of chocolate Tim-Tams and some Cherry Ripes!).
The flight to and from Australia was long – St Maarten/Miami/LA/Melbourne – and took two days each way. But it was worth it to see my extended family gather to celebrate the 60th Wedding Anniversary of my mum and dad – thanks to Diana, Dave, Judi, Mick, Matthew, Timmy, Chris, Shaun, Phill, Bronwyn, Louise, Bailey, Joel and Genevieve for a very special weekend. It was also great to catch up with Kathy, Alan, Brenton and Robina, plus other sailors from the RBYC; and watch my nieces and nephew play weekend basketball and footy – how they’ve grown since I last saw them! Great to see everyone and I hope it’s not so long until I see you all again (even those that banished me to the naughty corner for my sobriety!).
But after two months on anchor in St Maarten, there are a few jobs left. To get Blue Heeler for sailing the biggest and nastiest job on the list was to jump into the unpleasant greenish lagoon water and go ‘down under’ to scrape seven weeks of barnacles and slime from the hull and propeller. While Wayne scrubbed the starboard side and the prop, I scrubbed the port side all the while itching as small wriggly sea-lice crawled on my skin and in my hair. Afterwards I doused myself in a Dettol wash to remove any trace of discharge that other boats may have expelled and squirted my ears with alcohol to remove any possible creatures setting up house in my canals. Yuk! Already I was missing those long hot showers!
So finally with a touch of easterly in the wind, cupboards filled with fresh food and a reasonably clean hull, it’s time for us to continue our trip south and make our way down the island chain to Trinidad where we’ll haul Blue Heeler out for general maintenance and stay south for the hurricane season. Next stop St Kitts…
Until then, keep living your dreams…
(Here’s a few more Aussie pics!)