Arrival in Australia

15 May 2009

We arrived back in Australia one week ago and have been busy preparing to go to sea ever since. Thunderstorms around Atlanta caused us to miss our connection to LA, as our Providence to Atlanta flight circled for two hours waiting for the weather to improve. We got booked onto another flight but it left 90 minutes late due to the weather. Consequently, even though our itinerary showed a 4 hour layover in LA, we still missed our flight to Brisbane. Virgin Australia put us on their last flight to Sydney with a connection to Brisbane. The flight was less than one-quarter full so both of us had a row to stretch out on and sleep. Amazingly, our bags made it to Sydney even though they were tagged onto flights we did not take. The flight to Brisbane provided nice views of the eastern Australian coast.

We always underestimate how much effort is required to make Sabbatical III seaworthy, and this time has been no different. Everything that was “put away” in December has to be put back into place in May — sails, gear, canvas, transducers, etc. In checking out the main sail furling system, I noticed that two of the four bolts that attach the outhaul gearbox to the boom had sheared. The gearbox and motor had to be removed from the boom, and then the remains of the bolts has to be drilled out and new bolt holes tapped. I had professional assistance from Scott of MRE, and used the opportunity to open the gear box and clean and regrease the gears. It took almost two days, but the outhaul is functioning again.

We had a nice Toyota Rav4 SUV for the past week, returning it this morning. We had ordered a little Hyundai but got upgraded for free. A good thing too, since we had our friends Tom and Suzie from “Priscilla” with us on almost every shopping expedition. We shopped every day, often more than once. We bought enough dry goods to keep us supplied for five months, plus wine and beer, Coke Zero, frozen meat, and all of the other necessities of life aboard. We always returned to the marina with the car stuffed with stuff.


In addition to Tom and Suzie from Priscilla, who we first met at a marina bar in Panama, we have been reunited with Kip and Denise of Adelia, who we first met in French Polynesia.

We still have about 2 to 3 more days of work before Sabbatical III is ready to go. However, it is likely that we will be here for at least one week more. Although the local weather has been great ever since we arrived, it has not been good out at sea and it looks like we will get a strong low pressure system bringing 35 knots of easterly winds, large seas, and rain starting early in the coming week. The weather looks unsettled even out more than one week. But forecasts that far in advance are often wrong and we will be checking the weather daily looking for a window to head north to the tropics.