Bundaberg, Australia, Nov. 2006
Xyclone Xavier finally dissipated and we had a good weather window for our 900 mile crossing to Bundaberg.  The first three days were a little lumpy but not too bad.  After that we had two of our best days ever, 147 nm and 158 nm in 24 hours.  All four sails were up and we were cruising at 7-9 knots, with a current helping us.  We participated in the Port 2 Port rally from Port Vila to Bundaberg, which was very well organized.   There were approximately 20+ boats, every morning and evening we checked in on the ham radio, with our position and weather conditions.  It did not rain on us once, however, it was overcast the whole way.  It was nice to be part of a rally, as Australia is strict on their check-in.  A rumor was spreading that if you have not had your bottom painted within the last six months, they automatically haul you out and require you to have it painted.  This was not true.  Because of this rumor, a lot of boats have bipassed Australia, which is a shame.    The seas were finally comfortable enough for us to put the fishing pole out, this is what Ed was really looking forward to do.
Once in Australian waters we were greated to an enormous dolphin show.  Edward had never experienced so many dolphins.  They came from all directions.  Any where you looked dolphins came to the boat and swam with us for half of an hour.  The booby on my mizzen mast never did get the hang of the rigging.  Good because they always seem to leave something behind.
Phoebe yelled "fish on!" and we all jumped up to see what we had caught.  Grandpa caught a frigate mackeral.  They have a very dark red meat.
The next day Grandpa was not so fortunate, we decided to throw this catch back.
Blue sky under full sail, this is a rare sight.  The sunset was beautiful that evening.  We had a fabulous day sailing, however, all good things must come to an end.
The wind died so we started the engine, Jim didn't like the sound it made.  Upon checking we had to shut it down.
Jim got into his favorite postition, head in the engine room, underway.  We pulled the impellar out and it was shredded, see below.  After retrieving the box of spares, we found that they were the wrong ones, too small!
After sleeping on it, Jim thought if we cut one of the smaller ones to make the two fit it may work.  After installing our made up impeller, the engine started and ran well.  We decided we would sail as far as we could and use the engine at the last minute.   Our friends informed us that entering the Bundaberg river at night was easy, as it is lite up like a run way.  It was dark and we saw the run way and were sailing beautifully down it, until the current hit us.  Once this happened, the sails immediately came down and we started the engine.  The Perkins got us to the anchorage, and after five tries, we finally set the anchor in the soft mud..  We have been anchoring in such deep places, that Jim thought the depth read 105 feet deep, once he looked again it is actually said 10.5 feet. 
We have finally arrived into Australian waters.  At the 96th hour out we were required to e-mail Australian Customs of our impending arrival.  Seems Austraila likes to know who's comming.  (We had another cruz friend who failed to do the manditory email and he, the crew and his boat were impounded and forced to stay aboard until the captain could visit the local judge and pay his fine.)  We did not have trouble with our email and entry into Australia was painless.  Once we cleared Customs and Immigration we were met by Quarantine.  Once again Australia is very serious about the "Q" procedures.  Blue Sky was inspected on the waterline to make certain that we were not bringing in any foreign marine species.  Once inside there was the search for any shells or animal items.  All wood carvings were examined for wood booring insects.  The reefer & freezer were gone through and any fresh foods were placed into a special yellow "Q" bag.  We also had some items like pate and brie that we had removed the packaging, they wanted anything from countries that have had mad cow disease. .  Unfortunatly these had to go in the bag too.  All in all the whole process was very reasonable and completed professionally.
Emma and I were not shocked by the seriousness of Australian Quarantine.  On our voyages we read to the children about the country we are about to visit.  We learned that Australia has had horrible experiences with evasive non-native species that decimate the native plant and animal life.  Thus we were prepared and did our best to make sure that we were clean and compliant.
Blue Sky in her full colors to celebrated us crossing the Pacific Ocean!
After clearing customs we took Blue Sky to her slip and plugged her in for the first time in seven months.  It was Melbourne Cup Day, the famous Australia horse race.  The rally folks had a tent set up and festivities planned for us all day and week.  We all donned silly hats and enjoyed drinking champagne and watching the races.  It was nice to be on land again. The kids were excited that they could ride their scooters again.  Above we are holding our Pacific Puddle Jump Flag, which we got in Mexico.  Blue Sky is displaying all the flags from each country we have visited. 
The Port 2 Port organizers had an event planned for us each night, the food was great.  This worked out well as town was about 30 minutes away and the last bus returned at 3pm.  Do you notice anything missing from Jim's face?  He is pictured with Tom and Tom's brother Ron.  Top right is Team Sandpiper, Amy and Tom.  Drake and Phoebe were excited as there were some other kid around who played baseball or soccer every afternoon.  Grandpa is pictured with our friend Sylvain, who we call Frenchie.  He was crewing on Sail La Vie.
Grandpa won a Bundy Rum package with lots of goodies in it. 
I always have a pack of cards in my bag and the kids enjoy making card houses.  Drake finally made a three story one, he was so excited that he passed out after. They children wrote a poem on our passage and won a prize for it.  Phoebe is reading it to the crowd: "I like the Sun, I like the Sea, I like the Sand, won't you come play with me."
Bundaberg is a lot like west Texas, they have drive thru liquor stores, it is very flat and dry.  Every afternoon we went out to look for wild kangaroos, but never saw any.
Our new favorite drink is called a Dark and Stormy, it is Bundaberg Ginger Beer and Rum.  They had a promotion one day and offered free ones, it was a fun afternoon.
To the right is downtown with their Whale Wall.
We had a tour of the Rum factory top left and the Ginger Beer Barrel on the right.  Phoebe is with Grandpa and discovered she likes Sasparilla, which tastes like root beer.  Tom, Amy and I are waiting for our free tasting of rum.
The beaches were wonderful, white soft sand and nice waves for long boarders.  The two we visited were Kelly's beach and Elliott Heads.  Coral Cove was a lovely resort where we had dinner and the kids swam.
We ended up staying longer in Bundaberg as the weather was not cooperating.  So the kids enjoyed a day at the botanical gardens and riding the train around the park.
Grandpa rented a car so we did a lot of exploring.  People are starting to move up here, as ocean front property is still resonable and the weather is better than points south, it is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.
There was a lovely park that had a petting zoo with kangaroos and wallabies.  There are the most amazing birds here, cockatoos, parrots, lorekeets, all very colorful.  Grandpa enjoys a swing.  Rene and Phoebe are looking for shells, our favorite passtime. 
The Loggerhead Turtle comes ashore and lays her eggs this time of year.  We went to the beach and waited until one showed up, she digs a hole with the back legs, then she layed over 100 eggs, buries them and then heads back to sea, they will hatch in January and February.  It would be nice to head back up to see this. 
It was time to start heading south and everyone was going their seperate ways for a month or so.  As Drake's birthday was soon, we decided to have a party on Shiraz for him.  He received three swords and was very excited.  Top right is Emma, Richard from Sail La Vie and Amy.  Jim is pictured with Richard as well, this time do you notice anything different with Jim's hair? We all had a nice celebration. 

To the right is a photo of a tanker being pushed out of the river by a tug, you can see how small the sail boat looks next to it.  Next stop, Sydney!