August 24-September 17 2022
I meet up with Infinity in Cairns, pronounced “Cans”. Fabian and Daniella brought Infinity north the few hundred miles from Hamilton Island and entertained their friend Gena, on the trip north . Cairns is in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and getting into saltwater crocodile territory so most people stay out of the water here. Infinity included as we bring her on the hard for more rudder bearing repairs and an assortment of maintenance. As mentioned before, everything with boats takes longer than expected and our experience in Cairns is no exception. After several delays we are back in the water and ready to head to Darwin.
I take a day dive trip to the Great Barrier Reef , a reef several thousand kilometers long, hence the name. As incredible as its size and reputation underwater the reality does not hold a candle to Fiji or the Tuamotos . Water clarity was fair and we saw nothing new. I was told to expect this so I wasn’t disappointed; but if I had not dived the GBR while here I would have left with regrets.
Our delays while on the hard put us over a week behind meaning if I wanted to visit the outback I had to fly ahead to Darwin and let Infinity come up without me. Life is always a trade off . I would miss sailing through the nortorious Torres Strait 😣 As it turned out I didn’t miss much. Flat seas with no wind, Infinity took the southern passage, Endeavor strait, named after Cpt Cook’s ship on his 1st voyage .
I flew ahead to spend a week in Darwin exploring the outback and getting a feel for the aboriginal culture , history and tradition . The Northern Territory of Australia is flat, hot and extremely remote. Darwin has a quaint unsophisticated charm and as everywhere in Australia very friendly.
While in Darwin I witnessed Exercise Pitch Black a combined air and naval military exercise where Australia hosted 16 nations for multinational war exercises. The threat of China in the Pacific is being taken very seriously over here. Which brings me to my book recommendation, well actually a periodical recommendation…. Foreign Affairs.
FA is for those interested in gaining insight into the how and why of today’s turbulent world events and are tired of reading the repetitive “ editorialized reporting “ passing for journalism these days. Foreign Affairs with their Foreign Affairs Today email blast provides timely, in-depth, highly informative articles written by academics and NGO executives many with prior state and defense department leadership positions. FA provides real insight into world events absent from todays journalistic press. It has informed and often changed my understanding of our world. You can get a trial subscription for 30 days if interested.
A quick 1 hour flight in a Cessna 210, whose engine fortunately was in better shape than the upholstery, delivers me to a small dirt airstrip near Kakadu National Park. Staying at Bamurru Plains lodge we explore northern Australia’s famous Park by plane , boat, airboat and foot. The Northern Territory ,NT, is homeland to many aboriginal tribes, crocodiles, countless birds and animals and more recently uranium mines. The NT and Kakadu are extremely hot and desolate; leaving me with one overriding thought. The aboriginal people were extraordinarily tough and resourceful to survive in this land for the many tens of thousands of years they have been here.
Australia is working to make up for past sins of aboriginal abuse by constant public recognition of “the original owners of our land “ announcements on air flights, public gatherings, events etc. Attempts at integration into Australian social fabric is complicated as each of the hundreds of tribes have many different languages and traditions. This was a short but worthwhile visit to the NT. Many stops along our voyage I will revisit , but not northern Australia.
The subject of paid crew is widely discussed among the owners and I’m sure the subject of owners is widely discussed among the crew. Lots of interesting stories on both sides. Why have crew? There are 22 yachts on our rally and all but 5 have paid crew. Crew make life easier, safer, allows for more travel and time away from the yacht when on land , but most importantly are more experienced sailors and have technical know on how to repair problems that arise under way. Oysters are yachts with a myriad of complicated systems that can and do malfunction. I am not mechanically inclined so this is an important skill to have on Infinity. Interestingly most of the Oysters without crew are owned by skippers with an engineering background.
The last Oyster Rally saw only 3 yachts finish with the same crew they started the rally with. Crew arrive to the yacht with their own personalities and skill set. Putting 4 or more people in a space the size of a small 1 bedroom balcony apartment creates stress over time. Half of the yachts on this year’s OWR have had at least 1 complete crew change and several have had multiple crew changes. Infinity has been fortunate with no crew changes but we are not without a few bumps along the way. To easy some stress onboard I decided to bring on an additional crew as chef. Elena Bellotti is an Italian chef from Barcelona. She joined us in Cairns and has been an enthusiastic addition to Infinity. Besides her skills in the galley she will help easy the watch schedule on our upcoming Indian Ocean crossing to Africa. I am happy to have her join Infinity.
🇲🇨 September 17 2022
Time to depart for Kupang, Indonesia. Having never been to Indonesia before I feel as if we are leaving western civilization behind and opening the door to a strange new world. We sail across the Timor Sea, leaving the Pacific Ocean behind, Infinity is now in the Indian Ocean. We are fortunate that Elena has lived in Indonesia for 2 years so we have an onboard tour guide.