Friday, November 16, 2007

Latest Email Update for our Friends and Supporters

Below is our latest email update sent out last week. If you would like to be added to this list and receive these updates via emai, just send a message through the website.

Ahoy to our Friends and Supporters!

Wow! What a cruising year it has been! In some ways it feels like wehave been running to stand still, but though we have put fewer milesunder our keel as we had planned, we have met so many wonderful peopleand had a fantastic experience in Australia.

As many of you know our engine died a severe and sudden death two daysoutside of Sydney prior to our arrival in Australia. We theninstalled a rebuilt engine to save a little money and everything waslooking good as we sailed out between the Sydney Heads.Unfortunately, various issues arose with the rebuilt engine on our wayto Pittwater, and though we thought we had the problems licked, thegremlins kept at the rebuilt engine giving us problems on our way toNewcastle. Once in Newcastle the engine problems outgrew our trust inthe rebuilt engine, and our mechanic and friend Bob kindly took backthe engine and gave us a full refund. At this point we decided toinvest in a new Volvo Penta engine (with a three year warranty), whichhas been completely installed and purrs like a kitten.

We now have the engine issues behind us but it is very late in thecruising season with the cyclone season looming. Therefore, we havemade the decision to keep Starship in Australia for the duration ofthe cyclone season (April 2008).

To fill the time while we wait out the cyclone season, we have set ourfocus on working to feed the ever hungry cruising kitty. Scott hasreturned to the states and is consulting in chilly Virginia and Pam isbeating the pavement looking for work in Newcastle. Scott will bereturning to Australia for the holidays and we hope to fit in somecoastal cruising in Australia's beautiful cruising grounds.

As for our plans next cruising season, they are somewhat similar toour plans for this year (before our engine demise). We will departAustralia sailing north-east making a quick stop in Kumac, NewCaledonia, and then it is off to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. Wewill then turn west stopping in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysiaand finally Thailand for the 2008/2009 Cyclone Season.

As always keep an eye on the website as we will make updates whenitems of interest arise and please continue to share our adventurewith us when we depart Australia in April to continue the BlindCircumnavigation.

Scott and Pam

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Journal Entry - November 6, 2007 Melbourne Cup Day, A National Passion

Author: Pam

On the first Tuesday of November each year, the entire country of Australia comes to an almost complete standstill and happily falls into Melbourne Cup fever. It turns into an unofficial holiday, except in Melbourne it is actually an observed holiday. I was in complete awe of the impact a horse race can have on an entire country and I quickly came to the conclusion there is no event that even comes close in the United States. It is an amazing unifying event, even children in pre-school postpone their afternoon nap to pick their favorite horse, unofficially of course. Many businesses close for the day or around noon. If they do stay open they very often provide lunch for their employees and there is definitely a TV for everyone to crowd around to cheer for their favorite horse.

I spent the day with our new friends in Wickham, Australia. The first order of business was to stop into the local pub, which is a TAB operator (Totalisator Agency Board) and assume the role of a “punter” popping in for a “flutter”, which translates into someone who places a bet. By the time the horses lined up at the barrier at Flemington Racecourse the TAB pool was up to five million dollars (it is Australia’s premier and richest horse race). I bet $12.00 in total and in the end won $9.00 on one of my trifectors when my horse came in second. The horse’s name was Purple Moon and my very scientific choice was based on purple being my favorite color. Melbourne Cup Day is often the only day of the year many Australians bet on the races.
After we placed our bets we went to Joyce’s house for lunch. Luncheons or picnic days are almost as big of an event as the race. The prawn population is seriously depleted on Melbourne Cup Day. We munched on prawns and champagne while we watched the horses and jockeys preparing for their big moment, as well as the speeches by people who had clearly already partaken of the bubbly.

At 3:00 sharp the race began and Joyce went into cheerleader mode. She didn’t really seem to have a particular favorite, she was even cheering for a horse that is legendary in the Melbourne Cup, but might actually be dead. Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing. This event that had caused the standstill of a nation was over in five minutes. The horses were exquisite and it was awesome to witness 24 champions pounding toward the finish line. I must say there is something to be said for the cream of the crop. The 2007 winning horse’s name was Efficient, which is a very apropos name for a winner.

The final important detail of Melbourne Cup Day is fashion. Many women spend months choosing a new dress and sport a fancy and in some cases elaborately decorated hat, especially the woman who attend the race. I was shopping before race day and there were definitely dresses and hats everywhere. There seems to be much more fashion flexibility amongst the men and hats do not cross genders.