May 13

It's Tuesday night here in Queensland, Australia and we remain ready to go, at a moments notice. We are not alone however and that brings some consolation. Mooloolaba, where we've spent the last few months, is not a popular jumping off point for cruisers leaving Australia so there are only a handful of us now preparing to depart for an overseas port. 

Most of the "fleet" of cruising yachts clearing out of the country leave from either Brisbane or Coffs Harbor (New South Wales) if heading for Melanesia (New Caledonia, Vanuatu or Fiji). Those heading for SE Asia this season are working their way up the Queensland coast then over the top through the Torres Straits for Darwin in the Northern Territories from where they will leave Australia for Indonesia, Singapore or points West in the Indian Ocean which lead to South Africa. 

But I speak daily with other crews here waiting to go. One other boat on our dock is heading for New Caledonia, a big catamaran named "Rhapsodie" with Sam and Karen and their 2 kids aboard (boys ages 9 and 12). Our neighbors on "Donza" are also heading off any day now, but unlike us they are heading for the Solomon Islands which are more to the North then East as New Cal is. We're all watching the long range weather forecasts each morning and night as they come out. The 5 and 6 day forecasts, unfortunately, have a way of promising good things which turn out to be fantasies. 

Tonight's crop of computer forecasts show a low forming off the coast with high winds and gigantic amounts of rain for Wed. and Thurs. which should move off to the East quickly leaving a nice, calm hole perfect for making Easting in a normally trade-wind filled sea. We have already completed the legal requirements for leaving the country. Customs has given us an official 2 days to depart the country which is customary. 

They have also acknowledged that sailors can't leave if unfavorable weather threatens, so they are quite accommodating and require us only to phone them every 2 days to give an update on our situation vis--vis our constantly shifting imminent departure time. Of course, at any time they could require us to come in to the office and fill out more paperwork. All in all the Australian Customs, Immigration and Quarantine services do a fine job fulfilling their charter and at the same time demonstrate a sincere desire to assist and accommodate visiting cruisers. I could say the exact same thing about the friendly face of government in New Zealand and should. 

Meanwhile, here we are another day in the deteriorating fall climate of Australia, another day in tropical bliss missed. Next week in the promised land...