One of the nice things about the sailing lifestyle is that no two weeks, or even days, are ever the same. That’s been especially true as we crossed the South Pacific, where rarely were we on the same island for more than a day, and rarely in the same country for more than a week or two. Since we arrived in Australia a week ago, the pace has changed even more dramatically than usual. After three months of hard core exploration through the islands, we’re now dealing with a bit of reality, meaning that formalities, boat repairs, logistics, and planning are the main items on our daily agenda these days. This is all a big part of what makes up any RTW experience that we finally came to accept (around the time we extended our itinerary from 2-years to 3-years).
Australia presents a few extra challenges because of the cyclone season here, which restricts our ability to sail too far from safety (the disastrous storm now pummeling South East Asia is a reminder to avoid tempting Mother Nature). The sheer size of the Australian continent and the number of interesting sights to see creates further challenges for exploring from the boat. We expect we’ll be here in Oz till around April or May of next year, and with such a huge area to explore, the choice to put the boat into storage for a few months was a no brainer. The last time we purchased a car was for the Black Sea Run last year, where we drove across most of Central Europe, and with an equally enticing road trip opportunity here in Oz, we’re now proud new owners of another beat up car. This time we’ve opted for a van so we can throw some foam in the back and free ourselves from the daily hassles and expense of finding lodging each night.
But before we head off down the road towards Sydney or up to the Outback (haven’t decided yet), we face a few delays. Getting the wagon inspected, roadworthy, and registered takes time, as does taking the boat out of the water and arranging services, as does obtaining extended stay visas, and so on. Unlike most of the lesser developed countries we visit, where a beer, a few cookies, or on occasion even a plant root will smooth out most problems, Australia is squarely in the first world camp, meaning strict compliance with thousands of rules, regulations, and ordinances is the norm. And while on the one hand, we understand the need for all this bureaucratic stuff going on, on the other hand we don’t.
So the good news is that there’s now light at the end of the tunnel, and by Friday we expect the boat to be sitting on stilts, and the wagon wheels will be turning. While Bro and I go road tripping, Tarzan will be heading towards Brisbane where he has friends and a big checklist of his own to start working on. We’re planning to reconvene with Tarzan early next year provided he hasn’t married an Australian or lost himself somewhere in the Outback, both of which are serious concerns of ours.