Am now psyching myself into leaving for the next leg around Cape York to Darwin, leaving Airlie Monday morning 7th June around 10am. Am almost wishing it were the Southern Ocean again (well not really)- at least down there there was nothing except the odd whale to bump into, not like up here with the reefs, endless boats, and tidal currents - none of which I'm familiar with. It won't be the longest leg of the trip, but it will be by far the most challenging. Have been working out the best route to take and have decided to do a short jump up to Townsville, stopping there for a few days to have a look around, and then go out through the reef just north of there where there is an easy passage through to the outside. I will then stay well outside the reef until I have to come in again around the top of Cape York and that is where things may get a bit hairy for me. I've heard it is beautiful sailing up there, I just hope I can be relaxed enough to enjoy it.
Airlie is just a great place to hang out, it really is hard to move on from if you are into sailing. Also it was great to see some people from home who popped in to say hi - Helen and Don, Norm who I used to sail with back home years ago and his wife Monica, Steve and Lillian, and of course Mum and Dad who have been here for a few days now helping with the boat and giving Bella a welcome distraction from us! . Rodney, the skipper of Zig-Zag which was parked next to Spirit in Fremantle is also here at the moment and dropped by yesterday. Rodney was always a great help when needed, and I look forward to catching up again in Darwin. Have had some work done on the boat, hopefully have solved the electrical issues I was having and I had the engine and gen-set serviced - thanks to Steve Smith - which was fortunate as the impeller on the engine was breaking, and bits had fallen into the heat exchange unit. This could have been disastrous as the engine is crucial to charging my batteries, more so than the gen-set.
Rod and his team at Meridien Marinas in Abel Point are a fantastic bunch and I am extremely appreciative of their support for my stay here. I had numerous offers of assistance from other boaties in the Marina, and even was hosted to a free breakfast from the Abel Point Kiosk at the Marina. Great bacon and eggs, lovely people. I also have to thank Tania and Steve Watson from the Whitsunday Sailing Club for all their help both onshore and in coordinating my arrival. The Sailing Club here is fantastic, really active part of the community and they serve a great meal up on their veranda overlooking the bay. Airlie truly lives up to its motto of being "a drinking town with a sailing problem"! I'm sorry it doesn't look like I will be able to catch up with Ian Thompson (sosoceanracing.com) who by the time I get to Darwin should be in the record books for doing the fastest circumnavigation of Australia. I definately want to get back here so we will catch up then.