We wish everyone a very special Fourth of July as we celebrate the Independence of our Nation! We will be arriving in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia late on Sunday, July 4, 2004 after traveling approximately 2200 miles in 37 sailing days with 34 different anchorages since we departed Mooloolaba Yacht Club on April 22nd.
Some of the highlights since our last update on May 16 from the Whitsundays will be recounted below. We spent three nights at the marina in Townsville, where we did laundry, filled our diesel tanks, shopped, and enjoyed "The Living Sea" IMAX show at the Great Barrier Reef Headquarters.
We spent eight days anchored outside the marina in Cairns, switching with the tidal current, instead of paying high marina bills. David had a root canal done by a dentist there on his "problem tooth." We had all our wash done for us by the Wash House, since we did not have access to the laundry at the marina. After David's last root canal treatment and our final provisioning, considering this to be the last port until Darwin, we sailed to the Low Islets, on June 1, where we survived our worse night ever bouncing and rolling at anchor! We felt so sorry for the two girl backpackers spending their first night aboard after being hired as crew on *Sea Fever* next to us! Needless to say, they jumped ship the following day when Walter took them back to Port Douglas! We saw him next at Lizard Island where he was back to "single-handling."
We spent ten wonderful days at Lizard Island enjoying the hike with the incredible view at the top of Cook's Look (Captain Cook hiked up to locate a passage to the open sea through the Great Barrier Reef), a tour of the Reef Research Center, and snorkeling at various spots around the island with many fish and the largest brightly colored clams we have ever seen. David flew back to Cairns to remove the problem tooth on a single-engine twelve-seater prop plane with guests from the pricey Lizard Island Resort. It was the most expensive one hour flight in the world, but it did offer fantastic views of the Great Barrier Reef! Now, he is STILL dealing with pain and will need a bridge or transplant, somewhere sometime. How unfortunate, all because of our schedule!
While anchored at Bushy Islet for the night we were given four large crayfish (lobsters in American!) by the two divers aboard the fishing boat anchored near us. David and Eric were amazed to see at least 1000 live lobsters in tanks aboard when they were invited aboard. The following day we sailed through Albany Passage, around Cape York (the Tip or the Top of Australia), passing Possession Island, where Captain Cook claimed Australia for the British. We had a beautiful drift sail with 2 knots of current and no wind and were anchored in Seisa harbor after entering on a fairly low tide on June 19. Seisa has a small supermarket (well stocked but prices were rather high), a campground with a kiosk with a restaurant and phone booths. We enjoyed seeing five Black Palm Cockatoos feeding under the almond trees. What a sighting for us bird-lovers, but unfortunately, we had no camera with us at the time.
After a very uncomfortable, but not dangerous, two-night passage on June 23-24 from Seisa on the Cape York Peninsula across the lump bumpy Gulf of Carpentaria, better known as "Gulf of Maytag," with 20-25 knots of wind and a SW swell right on our beam, we enjoyed the anchorage at Twin Islands Bay on Marchinbar Island near Cape Wessel in the Northern Territory. In spite of continued high winds of 25-30 knots, we walked along the beach and hiked across the island to the other side, finding rock slabs falling into the ocean and several fresh water streams. We were constantly on the lookout for crocodiles and their tracks, but thankfully, we did not see any. It has been very difficult for us since we enjoy snorkeling and swimming, but north of Lizard Island, it is NOT safe to swim because of the crocs. We are also now in aboriginal land where landing is prohibited unless a permit is obtained in Gove.
We will be very busy for the next three weeks preparing ourselves and our boat for our passage to Thailand and through the Red Sea to the Mediterranean next spring. We have been warned that we should purchase anything and everything that we might need in the next two years while we are still in Australia! We will be joining the Rally to Kupang scheduled to depart, weather permitting, on July 24. We plan to see some of the Northern Territory and the national parks around Darwin while we are here.
We hope that you are well and enjoying a restful and relaxing summer. Please keep in touch, we do love hearing from you with your news. We continue to answer all your nice emails, but it is difficult to do when we are constantly on the move and the boat is bouncing all over, along with my stomach! We will update our website at www.peaceandaloha.com with photos, hot news and ports of call when we arrive in Darwin. Please check out Paul's website at: www.paulkekoa.com where his Mum continues to add pictures! We understand that he is blowing raspberries now and can now almost turn over! News Flash! He did it! He officially turned over today, July 2, 2004! (Please be understanding and patient with a little Grandparent Bragging!!!:)
Take care. Be safe. Be well. Please stay in touch. God Bless.
With Love, Peace and Aloha,
Ellen, David, Jason and Eric
July 4, 2004
S/V PEACE AND ALOHA
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
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