On our first full day in Australia, after getting a blissful night of sleep on the calm waters of the marina, we set out to get ourselves settled properly in the marina. First we did a bit of Internet, with the expensive marina WIFI, checking and responding to 4 days of accumulated E-mails. Then at 8 AM I went ashore to check with the marina about where we would be properly berthed, since they had us stay on the customs clearance dock on the first night. They said we would be moved right away to a spot on the end of one of the docks. So, within a few minutes, we were settled on the new dock slip.
Since we had signed up the night before to go on the courtesy bus to the town of Bundaberg at 9:30 AM, we just had a short while to do some important tasks at the dock. One was to use the fresh water ashore to wash off the salt accumulation on Tahina. Jason took care of starting that process, while I went ashore to do paperwork and pay for a few days of marina fees. Next I went to a chandlery to buy a new power cord socket since Australia uses a non-standard plug. The plug they sold me was way too small for our hefty power cord.
On the way down the dock, I noticed our friends on s/v Sea Mist were here. John quickly told me about an electric store in town that could help me solve the power cord issue. It’s so nice to arrive in a foreign country and have friends who can quickly tell you what to do to get settled. We also heard that the best way to get Internet would be to buy a 3G tethering device from the local mobile company called Telstra on a pre-pay plan (30-day contract/rechargeable). They have the best coverage along the coastline, and a reasonable package for 3G service. Unfortunately, it is download-limited, but the rates are tolerable for additional Gigabytes per month.
So, we left and caught the 9:30 bus. Along with us were the crews of s/v Boree, John from s/v Seamist, and two other boats we hadn’t met previously. Within 3 hours, we managed to buy a better cord connector, buy the Internet device, buy SIM cards so we can use our phones, discovered I can’t use 3G on my Nexus One here, eat a quick lunch, and got some fresh groceries to take back to the boat. We then caught the city bus back to the marina.
In the afternoon, we soon had our shore power operating and finished cleaning off the outside of the boat. We then set up our new Internet device and had much faster Internet going. We spent some time meeting up with our friends on s/v Trim. I had intended to visit our friends on s/v Leu Cat who are also here. But, late in the afternoon, we had a surprise visit from s/v Stray Kitty!
We had spent nearly three months traveling with s/v Stray Kitty in Fiji and Vanuatu. And when we parted they had planned to leave directly for Australia and join this year’s rally to Indonesia. So it was a sad farewell when we left this family of five Canadians who we had spent so many good times with across the Pacific. But, their plans changed, and they’ve decided to stay in Australia this season. It turned out they were coming back south and headed for Brisbane. The only problem is they planned to leave the next day and so we only had a few hours to catch up.
It was so great getting hugs from their three kids: Andrea, Ryan and Cari. When the kids jokingly told us they had wished they had been near Tahina on halloween, I quickly ran down and pulled out a box of cookies and a big bag of candy. Needless to say, they were even more thrilled to visit Tahina! Their dad Chris quickly suggested should go trick or treating on some of the other boats here at the marina, and they came back with even more candy!
We all ended up going out to dinner at a nearby restaurant (with a pick-up service). And had a great time over some decent food and beer. It was wonderful to catch up with them, and although they are soon departing, we will visit with them again within a couple of weeks when we head down to Brisbane.
As we continue to cruise, it is amazing how our lives have been enriched with new friends and adopted family to help fill the temporary gap of our friends and family so far away at home. We had such a productive day yesterday, but the visit with our friends truly filled my soul with happiness.