A high-pressure system near Tasmania was responsible for creating the 25-to-30 knots of southeast wind we were experiencing so we gave up trying to find a comfortable anchorage behind some puny island and instead took refuge at the Marlin Marina in Cairns (pronounced 'cănz'). It also gave us the opportunity to rendezvous with our good friend, Mark, on the Fraser 41, Merkava. I had met Mark in San Diego almost three years ago as he had just sailed down from Vancouver, B.C. and we had nearly identical itineraries for crossing the Pacific and indeed we spent a lot of time together in the last couple of years. While we had gone south to Sydney, he stayed in Brisbane and we hadn't seen him in six months. Our dock lines weren't completely secure as Mark pulled up in his dinghy with his crew, Sonia. It was a great reunion and we were happy to meet Sonia.
Sonia is from Poland and just recently signed on as crew for Mark. Even though she's only 25, she has her MBA and is also a certified Dive Master. Her English is flawless as is her Spanish and her passport is completely chocked full of stamps. I would call her a small woman but her seemingly boundless energy fills Rutea's cabin whenever she's aboard.
Last Saturday night, all of us (Mark, Sonia, Ruthie, Corie and I) had been invited to have dinner aboard Dick and Tricia's Malo 45, Geramar. Sonia had plans that were going to make her late but she promised to join us as soon as she was free. Somewhere along the line, Sonia got confused and thought that the dinner was supposed to be aboard Rutea. She rushed from her meeting, ran down the dock, spied the American flag flying and climbed into Rutea's cockpit, announcing loudly enough for everyone aboard to hear, "Here's your Gypsy girl!"
Except that Sonia hadn't boarded Rutea. She had climbed aboard the Island Packet 420, Galatea. Not looking at the boats closely - after all, it was dark - she hadn't thought that there could have been two boats from the US on the same dock. No doubt there was an awkward moment that developed as Sonia was waiting for our welcoming greetings. Needless to say, the owner of Galatea, Dan, was a little surprised, perhaps thinking briefly that this was his lucky day.
Cairns is turning out to be a charming city of 180,000 people, perched on the edge of the enormous uninhabited expanse that makes up most of Queensland and northern Australia, for that matter. From here to Darwin - almost 1,500 miles away - there's virtually no one so we're taking this opportunity to stock up on supplies, take care of some deferred maintenance and enjoy the last bit of civilization we're going to find for a while.