It was our intent to stay in Cairns for a week which was supposed to be sufficient time to provision, make some repairs and do some sightseeing. (loud buzzer sound plays here). Not only did we not take into account that everything on a boat takes twice as long as estimated but we had failed to factor in the time spent visiting old friends and making new ones. Our one-week stay stretched into two weeks and even then we were scrambling to fit everything in.
Cairns was in the midst of preparing for the Iron Man Triathlon and was luring visitors in from all over the world. Paul Allen’s 126-meter mega-yacht, Octopus, showed up and dwarfed all other yachts at the marina. Barriers and fences were sprouting all around the lovely Esplanade, transforming it from a verdant and luxurious park into something that looked more like maze for frustrating rats.
|Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia|
All the local residents and visitors notwithstanding, wildlife abounds in and around Cairns. There, on the mud flats just opposite the head of the dock we were on (right next to the heli-pad), Ruthie spied a rare Jabiru, a 2-meter stork with a massive black bill and an extended black neck but the bird had flown by the time Ruthie got back with her camera. The juvenile Jabiru leaps in exuberant play and is the frequent subject in Aboriginal art.
|Warning about Crocodiles|
We left Cairns just as the buzz of activity was reaching a crescendo. Yachts from all over the world were arriving, many on a similar route as Rutea. The cruising clock is ticking and the best time to make passages to either Southeast Asia or South Africa is rapidly approaching. Even though most of northern Queensland has been under a High Wind Warning, we continue to make our passages north, taking 25-30 knots of wind right up our, well, umm, er, ah, . . .