Saturday, August 27, 2011


I saw a T-Shirt with "yeah, right...whatever" on it and it made me laugh out loud. I should have bought it, expressing as it does for me, a feeling Ive been increasingly troubled by since getting back to Australia. For me its saying "actually youre talking bullshit but I cant be bothered arguing with you". I'm thinking mostly about the political scene in Australia at the moment which is completely dominated by Tony Abbot the Oposition Leader, a man with extraordinary political skill, ruthless beyond belief and utterly focused on getting rid of the Government by whatever means he  can. This week has been typical - he and his party are attempting to unseat the governemnt by digging up dirt on a Government backbencher from a time before he was ever an MP, hypocritically lamenting that until the Government sorts out what he was up to back then, the Government is "in paralysis" - when of course it is the Opposition who are in paralysis, having done nothing but muck rake all week. Given that the Government has a majority of one, its obvious to Blind Freddy that whatever they might want to do with the MP under attack, they are not going to allow the Government to fall over such an utterly irrelevant incident, no matter how sordid it may be portrayed by the Opposition. Sadly, even though Australians are doing better than probably everyone else on the planet, Abbot has them believing in large numbers that they are sufferring, their Government is wasteful and corrupt ,- and this latest episode just confirms it- they are secretly beholden to the crazy  Greens and led by a liar, that action on Global Warming is optional and shouldnt cost anybody anything, that somehow the pathetically few asylum seekers who manage to get to Australia by boat are a serious menace to the Australian way of life, and the country is on the brink, like Greece and Portugal. Yeah, right...whatever Tony!


Ive been back in Australia 3 weeks, and managed to find a weeks work in Swan Hill Victoria . Its on the Murray River and as far as I could tell there were neither Swans nor Hills there, but it was a small friendly country town  and work was quiet. I drove the 400 odd km out and back from Melbourne and therefore managed to see more of Melbourne that I had ever before. I was hugely impressed by their Museum and generally preferred the City of Melbourne to the City of Sydney, but of course Sydney has that wonderful Harbour. I saw the home of the Royal Society of Victoria, the place from which the  ill fated Burke and Wills departed for central Australia exactly 150 years ago. A fascianting book to read about that expedition is "The Dig Tree:" by Sarah Murgatroyd, who, aged 34 was herself dying as she wrote about the fatal journey of Burke and Wills.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Latest Ending

Sunset Beach
The evening before I left Raiatea I went back aboard Sapphire for one last check, and one last nostalgic review of life aboard over the previous five months. But I found myself not thinking about the boat so much as about the sea and about the places I had been and the people I had encountered along the way. I looked at the chart on which I had marked a blue X every day plotting our progress from New Zealand to Rurutu and it seemed such a long time ago it was hardly real to me - those 24 days at sea were a blur of sail changes, waves, meals, sleeps, getting into and out of the harness and tether, mopping up and emptying buckets of bilge water, day and night, reading and writing email, radio checks, weather checks and log and blog entries, some emotional lows and highs - but essentially few specific crystal clear memories, excpet of departing and arriving. I think this is because to a large extent every day is the same, but with  minor variations, so every days  recollection is overlain with the next days minor variation of waves and wind, meals, sail changes and feelings, till they all merge and individual details disappeaar. I did however recall more clearly, but still in a sort of generic way the last week when the wind and seas were consistently more challenging than I had ever  sailed in except for a few hours at a time, and also that last day when I motorsailed  to Rurutu, bashing into the wind and waves at 2 knots for 16 hours and being drenched most of the time. The memory which most often came to mind was the first person I had seen in 24 days, that man in his fishing runabout out off the reef early in the morning as I approached Rurutu. A very simple image, but seeing another human being had a profound effect.

Back at Sunset Beach I watched the last Sunset of my stay, and in the morning flew to Papeete through low cloud, and from there the next night to Auckland, cloud and darkness denying me even a brief glimpse of the seas I had sailed across so laboriously and anxiously. Six hours in a plane and I was back in New Zealand!

I am changing the look of the Blog slightly because though I will continue to Post to it,  it wont be about sailing again until I get back to Sapphire next year. In the meantime I will be visiting family and friends, getting a little work in Australia and then late in September going to Ethiopia for three months, not as a tourist but as volunteer to work in a small isolated hospital, in an environment that from what Ive read is about as unlike French Polynesia as it could possibly be - except perhaps for the heat. The next beginning...

In with the Big Boys