Ruby Slippers is in the land of OZ-stralia!

We arrived in just over 7 days, and are very glad to be here!  We cleared customs this morning (Monday), and it pretty much wiped us out of meat and fresh food.  I bought way too much for this trip, considering none of us ate the first 3 days.  I had to give up about $100 worth of frozen meat.  But the customs man was really nice, and very apologetic about taking all that food.  He brought a bunch of stickers and pins and brochures down to the boat for Molly and Jessie, and said there would be a test later on about it all.  


There were a few turbulent hours on this trip.  At one point, the wind was blowing 35 knots from the starboard side of the boat for about 6 hours, then stopped completely, turned and came blowing from the port side, with the same ferocity for another 12 hours.  That made the seas, as you might imagine, a bit confused.  They retaliated by forming stiff, sharp peaks and huge boiling swells.  My head actually snapped back on my neck several times as the boat performed its bucking maneuvers against the seas.  I felt like a rodeo cowgirl on an angry stallion.  I remained quite calm throughout all of this.  It was like Doris Day was whispering directly in my ear, “What will be, will be.”  It must be my new positive attitude coming through.

We signed up for a local service called Russell Radio Offshore Communications for this trip.  It is a one-man company, a guy named Des, who we talk to on the SSB each day at the same time, and give him our coordinates, boat speed, and heading.  He tells us what he has learned about the weather in our area for the next 24 hours or so, and speaks words of encouragement to us.  Des must be about 80 years old, and sounds like he has one foot in the grave.  His voice is gravelly and raspy.  But he knows his weather, and he knows the south pacific oceans extremely well.  It’s comforting to talk with him each morning and evening, have him ask about the wife and kids, and tell us to hang tough; better weather is just around the bend.  I know that if we hadn’t called in for a couple of days, he would call the authorities.  He has been spot-on with his weather advice so far.  For 50 bucks a year, just hearing his grandfatherly voice is worth every penny.  We also are getting weather information from Buoy Weather Service, Ocens.Net (out of Seattle), and the McDavitt Report, another local service.  The weather patterns in these seas are so unpredictable that the information can change hourly.

Since we arrived, the weather has been rainy and cold and very windy.  We might take a train down to Sydney, to see the big city, and then head north in the boat toward the Great Barrier Reef.  The current will be against us on the way up the coast, but I think the weather will be nicer as we near the equator. 

No new pictures just yet – we haven’t ventured away from the boat very much.  We did discover that there is a small theater in town, and they are performing “Calamity Jane” starting this Sunday.  We traveled all this way – I guess we better go see an American western!  Stay tuned!  ~  Jeanna

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