Saturday, October 20, 2012

Homeward Bound

24th July –14th October 2012

Sydney, Gold Coast, Phuket

Raising the window blind of the Qantas A380, the distinctive orange sandstone cliffs of the Royal National Park were just visible in the early morning light.The clock was approaching 0530 and the twinkling street lights of the suburbs abeam of us gradually began to disappear, as the first rays of sunlight pierced the deep blue skies over the city we call home. It was a magical view, a snapshot in time that is burnt into your memory forever. With a jolt back to reality, a rather bracing 11c Sydney morning greeted us after a marathon flight from Trinidad via Miami and Los Angeles, definitely something we certainly weren’t ready for. It had been a long time since we’d worn jeans, shoes, socks and heavy jackets.This type of dressing will  never catch on for us. Met at the airport by our good friend Pete, within half an hour or so we were sitting in his kitchen enjoying a warming cup of tea. Pete’s house in the northern beaches area is in the same suburb and only one street away from where we had lived for 22 years, back in our landlubber days, and it was here in our old backyard, so to speak, that  we would base ourselves during our visit. Winters in Sydney are crisp and cool to say the least. Every day started the same. Snuggled under the doona, in a bed that you could actually get out of on both sides instead of crawling out the end, it was an absolute joy waking up to the wonderful sound of laughing kookaburras, lorikeets and the early morning warble of magpies. It’s these simple things that most Aussies take for granted, which we really miss living on our floating home.








The  two weeks that we spent  in Sydney seemed like an endless feast and the bathroom scales certainly reflected that! Catching up with friends and family became a bit of a blur, although it was a lot of fun. Liam had a good time wining and dining his three kids and he also became a Grand-dad again with the arrival of his daughter’s second child, Olivier.










I caught up with my sister Helen who drove over for dinner and stayed the night. A couple of days later the two of us hit the malls, indulging in some much needed retail therapy. There were so many people we wanted to catch up with but the clock became our enemy in the end. Between all the lunches, dinners and BBQ’s with friends and family the time just seemed to evaporate.









Before we knew it we were on another plane and Gold Coast bound to stay with long time  sailing friends Susan, Nick and their two children. We’ve stayed with them many times over the years but this time their renovations were complete, and what a fabulous look both inside and out the house has taken on. We’re pretty sure that sooner or later it will turn up on the cover of “Better Homes & Gardens”.  After five days of laughter, eating, socializing and catching up with cruising friends, Sandy and Julian from Catch’us, it was once again time to pack the bags and head to our apartment in Phuket,Thailand for the next two months.

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We love having some R & R in Phuket. Nai Harn, where we spend time when not on GWTW, is situated at the very bottom of the island of Phuket and the beach and village has to be one of the best kept secrets around.The place is just so laid back and compared to the tourist hubs of Patong and Kata sporting their girly bars and neon clad nightclubs, it’s a true breath of fresh air. Maybe it’s our age but the time here once again whizzed by.

Lazy days were spent cooling off in the pool, taking long walks on the beach or hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range.  IMG_4231

Being the wet season, the rain fell like clockwork most afternoons with the odd thunderstorm at night, much like the weather in Trinidad just before we left. You could say that Thai food is pretty much our favourite. We both love the freshness and quality and had many a meal at the waterside restaurants of the Rawai fisherman's markets just a few minutes drive from our apartment.


With such a great choice on our doorstep we ate extremely well and inexpensively at many of our favorite local restaurants and ventured further a field  in search of new ones to try. There is a large Aussie expat community living in the Nai Harn area so catching up with old friends and making new ones was also fun. Even Pete, whom we stayed with in Sydney, dropped in for a one week fleeting visit on his way back from a trip through Malaysia and Vietnam.




Our final week was spent packing and up and storing our belongings in readiness to rent out the apartment in our absence. Before we knew it we were once again heading to the airport to start the next stage of our trip. This time we were off to Hong Kong and then on to Europe for three weeks.


Friday, October 5, 2012

The best laid plans of Mice and Men.

19th - 23rd July 2012

Our time in Trinidad was quickly, almost too quickly,coming to an end. So much to do and so little time. Most of the cruisers, unless they were staying put on their boats for the hurricane season, had already taken to the skies and left. Over the past weeks we’d said hello and goodbye to many of our neighbours who we’d shared a brief stint of land life with in the apartments at Power Boats Marina. We’d also made good friends with the cleaning ladies who serviced our room on a daily basis. Jessie, Barbara, Linda and Liz were a hoot and always made us laugh.They loved to have a chat as they changed the sheets and towels and one one morning they even showed me how to make to make a pineapple chow, which is the Trini version of salsa, but with a whole lot more punch!. P5184049 

With just 6 days until we boarded the big silver bird and were Sydney bound we were both getting rather edgy. It was a nerve racking business when we were told that the work on GWTW wouldn’t be finished  before we left. The jigsaw just wasn’t coming together as planned and suddenly we were juggling lots of balls. Shaun, our canvas maker, had come to an impasse. He’d reached the stage where he wanted to fit our new boom cover and make a few final adjustments, but he couldn’t as the mast, boom and mainsail were still under plastic wraps due to the decks still being painted.The sail maker over at Socca Sails had finished putting the new sun strips on the jib and screecher, but with the boat and all the lockers still taped shut we couldn’t get access on board to store them. On went our thinking caps on and find them an alternative home. The date for the installation of the external A/C unit ,which we’d need to combat the heat, humidity and growth of mould on board, needed to be changed and ditto for our move date from the hardstand  to the secure yard where the boat would stay until our return in November. In a fleeting moment of madness, we considered changing our flights home and stay in Trini till the work was finished but we soon squashed that idea as it would have opened a whole new can of worms.Talk about nightmares!


We knew what we had to do next… take a deep breath, and over the coming days we took many. Believe it or not, we both have quite orderly minds when we are faced with a challenge and realistically this one was no bigger than others which we’d faced over past years. It’s just that when there’s a log-jam in the inbox and the top half of the hourglass is running low on salt, the task ahead takes on a distinctly insurmountable look.

As our last week began to evaporate, we asked the guys working on  the boat if they could give us access to the inside for a couple of days. We needed to tie up some loose ends like shutting down the fridges and freezer, storing electronic gear and turning off soon to be unnecessary electrical systems, as well as moving some our creature comforts from the apartment we’d been staying in, back on board.

Slowly but surely nearly everything on the to-do list got ticked off including packing our bags for the long journey home. Anything that still needed to be done, boat wise that is, we were sure could be sorted out via e-mail or phone.

The day before we left was pretty hectic. A few hours were spent visiting various offices….Customs, Immigration and Peakes Marina, ensuring all of our paperwork for leaving was in order as well as GWTWP7230136’s so that she was legal to stay in Trinidad during our absence. Phil,our good mate from the Aussie yacht Tehani Li, offered to oversee the remaining work on the boat so letters of authority, amongst other things for him to take over our role, had to be lodged with the marina office. 

Finally the morning of our departure dawned. It was very sad leaving GWTW. We felt as though we were abandoning her in her hour of need. After one last visit  to check on her we gave her a pat on the hull and headed off to the airport. It was time to down tools and  go and have a holiday.    P7240139                                                                                                                                      ************************************************************************